Aug 21 Psalm 119 10-11

Has God ever seemed distant to you and you begin searching for Him? When we seek the Lord, we are seeking His presence. Maybe it we just need to feel His presence around us or maybe we are seeking Him because we need wisdom, strength, joy, peace, understanding, guidance, or salvation.

Since God is omnipresent, He is always near us. In Deuteronomy 31:6, God says that He will never leave us or forsake us. And In Matthew 28:20, Jesus said, “Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” So then, why do we need to seek Him?

Throughout life, there are times when we neglect our relationship with God. We get busy with life or life is going great and we just don’t think we need God right that minute. Instead of trusting Him, we begin to do life on our own. We neglect Bible study and prayer or going to church. But then the minute we need His help, we want to pull Him out of the box we stored Him in and we look for a miracle or answer to some problem. Even when we are doing all the “right things” (i.e.: Bible study, prayer, church attendance, etc.) there are just times when it seems as if God is not as close as He does at other times.

To help us understand, think for a moment about a marriage relationship or friendship. The relationship may be going well. You’re not angry with each other, but yet your spouse or friend just doesn’t seem as close as they once did. If you don’t invest in the relationship, cultivating and nurturing it constantly, then the closeness fades away and in place of closeness we find staleness. We feel “out of touch” with each other. The same is true for our relationship with God.

In Psalm 105:4, we are told to seek His presence continually. But the question becomes…How do we seek his presence? 1 Chronicles 22:19 says, “Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God.” Colossians 3:2 tells us that we are to set our minds on things that are above, not things in the world. And In Psalm 119:10-11, the psalmist writes that he sought God will all his heart. If we set our mind to something, we become determined to achieve it. So instead of just coasting through life, we become determined to do life with God as we align our will to His. If we are seeking Him with all our heart, then we want and desire the presence of God more than anything else. (click to tweet)

As in any relationship, a close, intimate bond occurs when both people are working together to create a close relationship. In 2 Thessalonians 3:5, Paul prayed, “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” On God’s part, He draws us to Him, inviting us into relationship with Him. Whenever we begin to slip away, God invites back into the close relationship He desires to have with us. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” (Isaiah 55:6-7) In the book of Jeremiah, the God said, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you.” (Jeremiah 29:13-14). In the New Testament, Jesus gave the highest priority to seek God. He said in Matthew 6:33 “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

God always wants to be close to us and He is never lost. He never wanders away. It is us that moves away in the relationship. But even still, God desires to have a relationship with us so much that even when we neglect our relationship with Him, he draws us in so that we begin to yearn for Him, which causes us to seek Him. (Click to tweet) He loves us beyond anything we could ever imagine and He patiently waits for us to seek Him – with all our heart. We can see throughout the Bible how God constantly wants to be near to the people He created. In the very beginning, He planted a garden and he would come in the cool of the day to walk in the garden with Adam and Eve and talk with them. As the Israelites leave Egypt, God leads the way with a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day. At Mt. Sinai, the people hear him, describing His voice like thunder. God met with Moses on the mount and gave him the 10 Commandments.  Later, God gives instructions for building the tabernacle where He would commune with the priest in the Holy of Holies. Later, Solomon built a temple. But then came the New Testament and God Himself took on the form of man as Jesus was born and came near to mankind for the purpose of taking our sin debt on Himself so that we could have eternal life where we will be with Him forever. Without the Jesus’ sacrifice of His own life on the cross, we would never be able to draw near to God. But as a Christian, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin and God sees us as if we’d never sin.

God provides ample ways to reveal Himself to us. Psalm 97: 6 says, “The heaven declare His righteousness, And all the peoples see His glory.” When we see a beautiful sunrise or the expanse of the starry sky on a cloudless night, our minds are drawn to Him. We see God as he works in the lives of others around us or even in our own life. We reveals Himself to us through the Bible. He reveals Himself to us through the work of the Holy Spirit within as He convicts us of sin. He reveals Himself to us through answered prayers. We can see the fingerprints of God all around us and as we recognize Him, we feel drawn to Him.

So God did his part of drawing us to Him and we must do ours. James 4:7-10 is the recipe for revival that will bring us back into the close relationship with God that we so often find ourselves seeking:

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hand, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

Drawing near to God begins with us submitting ourselves to God – to His will for our lives, to obeying His commands, living for Him and serving him with all our heart. We must also resist the devil. We cannot understand God or know how he expects us to live if we do not read His word. Neither can we resist the devil if we do not know the Word of God. In Psalm 119:10-11, the psalmist wrote: “don’t let me wander from your commands. I have treasured your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Jesus set the example of this. When he was being tempted in the wilderness, he resisted the devil but quoting scripture to Satan. God’s Word should be like a great, costly treasure that we store up within ourselves by committing it to memory, meditating on its meaning, and seeking out how the Holy Spirit is leading us to apply it to our lives.(Click to tweet) Then when we have stored God’s treasured Word in our hearts and the devil comes knocking, we are armed and ready for the fight. He might hurl fiery darts at us, but we can hurl back the Word of God at him and the Word of God is much more powerful! (click to tweet)

So James tell us to submit and resist – but next he says, that if we draw near to God, God will draw near to us. But to draw near to a holy, righteous God, we must cleanse our hands and purify our heart. We do this through deep, soul-searching repentance. (Click to tweet)  This is what James meant when he tell us to “lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.” Repenting is more than saying your sorry. If someone close to you hurt you through words or actions and said, “I’m sorry” yet they continue to do it over and over again, are they really sorry? When there is true repentance and one is truly sorry, then there is a heart change and a desire to not do the action that caused them to be sorry. Without a change of heart, there is no true repentance. (Click to tweet) 

True repentance, then leads to humility. The closer we get to God and see His righteousness, the more of our own unrighteousness we see. We then can see and understand the extent of His love for us that caused Him to send His only beloved Son to die on the cross as payment for our sin. Once we understand the depth of God’s love for us, pride and arrogance is vanquished and we are able to draw near to God with clean hands, pure hearts, and humility. In Romans 8:38-39, Paul wrote: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

So if you are seeking the presence of God – seek Him continually and earnestly with all of your heart. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you.

 

 

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Cover_m God, Love and Marshmallow Wars: This book contains 365 daily challenges for couples to strengthen their relationships to each other and with God. Couples will complete activities such as Scripture memory, conversation starters, relationship builders, learning about Biblical marriage, romance builders, personal reflections, and date ideas. Click here to purchase your copy. (This link will open a new widow and take you to Westbow Press’ bookstore.) It is also available at Christian Book Distributors, Amazon, and Barnes & Nobel

 

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Julia is CEO of Wellspring Christian Ministries, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people and couples develop a passionate relationship with God. A public speaker, conference trainer, event planner, and blog writer, Julia is a two-time graduate from Grand Canyon University with a bachelor in Psychology and a masters in Professional Counseling. Saved as a child and raised in church and in a Christian home and private Christian School as a Pastor’s kid, Julia has taught Sunday school, led music, played the piano, served as Children’s Director, and engaged her gifts in many other areas of church life. Previously employed with the Florida Baptist Convention, Julia organized events and led conferences for church ministry assistants.

Julia enjoys sharing her journey as a growing Christian with others looking for a deeper connection with God. Through Bible study and her own life experiences, God has given Julia a passion to help couples understand God’s design for marriage while they learn to place God first in their marriage, cultivate meaningful relationships, build intimacy, and address the tougher issues that come in every marriage so that they can experience a marriage that honors and glorifies God. Julia also loves mentoring, teaching, and working with women to help them learn to live as Godly women.

With her history and experience growing up in both small and large churches, Julia enjoys bringing top level quality events to churches of all sizes. Her father largely pastored small churches and therefore she understands that these vital parts of the believing community need to be good stewards of the resources God provides them with. This knowledge inspires her passion for being available with a fresh perspective for those who want to provide their congregations with meaningful spiritual growth opportunities.

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