Category Archives: 08. Seek

Seek (Thursday) – 2 Chronicles 7:12-22

 

2 Chronicles 7:12-22

Romans 15:4 tells us; “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” We need to ask, “Father what are you saying to us through this spectacle from 2 Chronicles? How could this blood bath set to music possibly be intended for our instruction?

For a start its helpful to see the contrast between the old and the new covenants.  It doesn’t take much math to calculate that our new covenant is vastly superior to the old. And, even though ours is better, it is important to note that, with God, things still center around the place of sacrifice – that place God has chosen for his house. In this grand moment in Jewish history the place of God’s choosing was the newly built temple which Solomon had just dedicated saying…

I have built You a lofty house, and a place for Your dwelling forever. Then….

…. the Lord appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice…. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. 

Let’s allow the apostle Paul to speak to us regarding the contrast. He believed that the new covenant revelation that should grip our hearts with awe and wonder was under appreciated by the Corinthian church as well, so he asks….

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  1 Cor 6:19

Has it really dawned on us yet what we have become; what we have been caught up into; the vast superiority of our circumstance in Christ? How are our heart’s effected, knowing that the high and holy God, who once accepted freight train loads of animals as sacrifice, now dwells in our hearts? Instead of attending a worship service where the fire of God consumes the animals offered up by priests, we contrastingly host, in our hearts, the very presence of God. We have become the house of God! But, if our hearts are now the house of his choosing and the place of sacrifice, what is the sacrifice? Hold on to that thought.

Jesus is our great high priest who offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, accomplishing what the blood of bulls could never do. The Lamb who was slain has become the resurrected King of Life, who, astonishingly and scandalously, lives in our hearts!

Scandal:  a circumstance or action that offends propriety or established moral conceptions or disgraces those associated with it:  a person whose conduct offends propriety or morality
 

Perhaps this is why Solomon instructed us in Proverbs to watch over our hearts with all diligence. Perhaps he knew that, being entrusted with our own powers of choice, we would inherently carry co-preisthood responsibility with God, tending the alter of our hearts; that place where both our deepest desires and motives (some still very earthly) exist alongside God -most high and most holy.  It is our holy God’s choice to dwell in flawed beings as opposed to some lofty house, to intimately relate to such radically broken beings that is the scandal. This also reveals God’s great wager, that the Spirit (in cooperation with human will) will one day prevail over the flesh (and its cohorts, the world and the devil).

Most, if not all, of the fire in our temples, comes (always graciously but not without pain) to confront and to consume the idolatrous things we are holding onto as our own. A heart that does not live out of the awareness that it is no longer its own must experience fire to ultimately live. God is not cruel; He just doesn’t want us to invest in and hold onto things that we cannot ultimately keep which will hurt us along the way and will ultimately and certainly break our hearts.

Back to the missing sacrifice I referred to earlier. It turns out that the missing sacrifice is our flesh. While it is true that it was crucified and buried with Christ, the death of our flesh (which is an established reality in Christ) plays out through the course of our lives. In our hearts where the Spirit dwells, intertwined with us, with his eyes and heart perpetually searching for the things that are secretly crouching at the door preparing to ambush and waylay us, Christ invites us to lay down all of ourselves so that he can, in turn, we can experience the “all” of himself.

It is here, within this dynamic, that we work out our salvation with fear and trembling. It here where Jesus Christ becomes Lord in truth. In the depths of our hearts, his story is being etched as we take up our cross daily and follow him. It is from this well we draw when we give an account of the hope that is within us. If we can grasp just a few kingdom principles, new chapters of Jesus’ conquest of this earth (through us) will be published in increasing volumes such that one day His word in and through us shall cover the earth as the oceans.

“Us” being the temple of God, must be what prompted John to say….

My dear children, you come from God and belong to God. You have already won a big victory over those false teachers, for the Spirit in you is far stronger than anything in the world.

We know it was never the blood of animals that God was after. He was always in the process of restoring things to his original design which was mankind relating freely to him and reigning over creation out of a fountain of life from within. It is through the ever-expanding kingdom of God that this will happen. When we grasp that it is in this kingdom into which we have been caught up, and that the kingdom was inaugurated in Christ, and that Christ is in our hearts, the tide of battle between the two kingdoms (that of light and of darkness) will shift dramatically….

The people of God will see themselves in an entirely different light. Our identities will not just be that of sinners saved by grace (with our vision consisting of little more than the hope of not being left behind); Instead of having a tread-water-till-Jesus-comes destiny. We will rise up and intentionally receive the kingdom that Christ has been offering us since he was last here. With a indignant miltancy, we will, out of our rest in Christ, wage a violent war against the powers of darkness, reclaiming all that was stolen during our season of mistaken identity. We will live with a new confidence in the reality that all things really are possible with God, and that as children of light we are vastly superior to our enemies. Truth will topple the strongholds in and around us and the rule of Jesus will expand one heart at a time until indeed his kingdom has come on earth as it is in heaven.

So be it Lord.

 

Seek (Wednesday) – 1 Chronicles 28:8-10

1 Chronicles 28:8-10

….Observe and seek after all the commandments of the Lord your God so that you may possess the good land and bequeath it to your sons after you forever.

….Know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. For the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts.

….If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.

Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be courageous and act.

The spiritual / national rule at the time this was written is the Law of Moses. That Law, with its priest system and sacrifices is the essence of the covenant through which Israel related to God. We who have been born anew are partakers of a newer and better covenant that is administered by the Spirit of grace (not law).  As attractive as many of the old covenant promises may be, they are conditional and pale in comparison to the ones we have in Christ as partakers of the new covenant. There are incredible differences between these covenants that we must understand. One primary one has to do with identity.

The old covenant established a national, corporate identity’. Their collective mind was, “We are the children of Israel.” They were a nation established and sustained through very particular rituals and the blood of animal sacrifice.” Theirs was a corporate identity dependent on a priest class that served as mediator between God and his people. Contrastingly, the new testament establishes an individual’s identity as an offspring of God.  Having no mediator, establishing the opportunity for a more personal relationship with God is, in part, what we are told the ancients were longing to see. The new covenant is without the constraints of any rituals and is established and sustained by the blood of Jesus, the sinless human sacrifice which would atone for our sin, once and for all.  A definite covenant upgrade!

Here is the primary difference though. While the Lord told Solomon that he has chosen him to build a house for the sanctuary and for him to be courageous and do it. God has told us something far far greater. In the new covenant, God is saying that he has created us as the house of his sanctuary and tells us to go and courageously be my residence (and therefore my witness) on earth. What a scandal that he chose willful man with his dismal track record instead of the dependable compliance of bricks and mortar! Such is the risk and wager of God.

What could God possibly be banking on? Based on what new variable could man possibly succeed in knowing and serving God with a whole heart and a willing mind? The crux of this answer is that with the new covenant came a new nature. As the Spirit has entered our lives, our natures have been awakened and altered. We no longer are constrained by a heart of stone. We have been given softened hearts. We can live (unburdened) by God and his commands not just because we have gotten more serious about sin and have doubled down with holy resolve against it but rather because, we are now children who share God’s DNA as did the two prototypes God once breathed life into, who themselves had their own covenant with God -the original one that God has never forgotten. To Adam and Eve he said..

I bless you; Go and be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.

The common denominator of both testaments is God’s heart and his original intentions. These things have not changed. The old testament is simply the story of one of the covenants God implemented to re-establish his original human-administrated, global-dominion plan. The new covenant reveals God’s secret weapon in this battle – Jesus Christ and a body of people in whose hearts he lives and reigns. I do not think I will ever tire of saying; It is Christ in us the hope of God’s original and ultimate glory. Given that so much is riding on our new hearts, he still…..

searches them, and understands every intent of the thoughts. For the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts.

What he hopes to find in our hearts is not our doubled-down, dead-serious resolve of holy convictions and compliance but rather a simple rest, keenly aware of our altered identities and natures – hearts that know that God will never reject them (as was apparently possible with Solomon and the old covenant).  One day the resurrected Christ will establish his kingdom reign in this earth through the collective hearts of those where he is dwelling and has established his rule. (which is immeasurably more than being save from hell!)

The foundation God is endeavoring to build his kingdom on is under repair just now. That repair has to do with our identities. Only sons and friends can build in the kingdom. Fear-motivated slaves, laboring under the burden of performance religion, motivated by fear, working for God in the strength of their flesh will receive whatever rewards they have coming in this life – not in eternity. Things we do in our own strength are wood hay and stubble.

Since our hearts are God’s base of operations in the establishment of his kingdom (aka; taking dominion), he endeavors to burn these things (mere human motivation) up before we must stand before him and give account.  The refining process of our fiery trials on earth, when they are necessary, are useful in exposing where our flesh is ruling instead of his Spirit.

The baton has been passed again from the old testament saint to the new. It will also be passed from old wineskins to new wineskins. The new ones are not bound by conviction, rules and rituals. Through brokenness they are being weaned from the strength of human resolve and are becoming pliable and responsive to the Holy Spirit – God’s primary agent on earth and the Occupant of our hearts.

So, if it is not yet clear, God is banking on the Holy Spirit in our hearts. He has hedged His bet with himself. If we can grasp this, we will be free to unbuckle our religious seat belts and move about the kingdom. We will possess this good kingdom real estate and we will bequeath it to all in our spiritual linage all to the glory of Jesus Christ.

Father, in the sight of the great cloud of witnesses and a skeptical and unbelieving world establish your throne in our hearts in wisdom and rest. May we go out and courageously be the kingdom agents who establish your reign in this earth. May we grasp this overarching Kingdom Commission. So be it.

 

 

 

 

Seek (Tuesday) – Matthew 7:7-12

Matthew 7:7-12

There is a type of seeking (and serving) which is very intentional and energetic. It has to be because at its core assumes God is way up in heaven and that intimacy with him is hard for us who are way down here on earth  (fallen wretches that we are)This type of wrong-heartedness evidences our entanglement in religion. It spills over into everything we do “in relationship” with Him and what we perceive we are doing “in ministry” for him.  It gets down into the very roots of how we perceive our selves (our identity) and how we perceive of God (His character). Truth be known, this deception is so subtle I could even now be operating out of a religious spirit – being religious about being non-religious. I would probably not know this if I had not been there and done that. And, like I said, maybe I’m doing it now.

You might ask, “Then why don’t you stop doing all you’re doing in case you’ve gone toxic in-religion again?” Fair question. I do it because the idea of telling my story to those whom has brought (and brings) my way came to me in a fashion I have learned to understand as God speaking.  First; This “word” came for the most part out of nowhere yet it sounded familiar. It didn’t come from behind me as a goad to perform. It came from in front of me as an invitation. It had a Father/son – let’s-do-this-together kind of feel.

Second: The familiarty may have come from His always present voice in the scriptures weighing in with its “yes” and “amen” saying; “Give an account of the hope that is within you.” “Comfort others with the comfort with which you have been comforted.” “Hold fast to your confession.” “Pass these things (I have taught you) onto other faithful men who will do the same. ”

Third: The prophetic word Daneille and I received at the beginning of 2013 that indicated our family was going to undergo a major change. This aligned with an attachement to the original word which was: “When you tell your story you will you will find family.” This final witness to the word I believe I had heard has been an ongoing joy as a community of spiritual friends and family with a passion to know Christ intimately has formed doing good deeds to boot everywhere they go.

When I discover I have drifted back and am operating out of this spirit, I feel a bit ill. It is as though I have betrayed him. When I am thinking that my doing of anything (my seeking or serving) effects his love for me or the fruit I bear in him, I have violated something very fundamental to the spirit of our relationship. In essence, I cannot reconcile “seeking” in this spirit to God with Jesus’ words….

Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

God is a generous Father but we treat him like a reluctant slot-machine that only pays out with relationship, blessing or anointing when we adhere to a creed or heed the proscriptions of a our religious sub-cultures. While we are storming heaven with our zealous seeking, he is saying,

“Kids, I am down here already. Recall my address on earth is your heart. Keep this in mind when you are knocking and seeking. Paul understood this….

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

When I tell you I love you and I invite you to, in turn, love me and to seek me with all your heart, don’t let your feelings which have been conditioned by religion-birthed estrangement flavor your seeking. When I told you I would never leave nor forsake you, that means I am right here, right now in your heart and right here in the midst of your life in all its expressions. We are inseparable. Trouble in no way indicates my absence. Your heart becomes whole-hearted only when it is at rest in the reality of my immediate presence which is totally independent of your feelings and actions. I don’t descend on demand when you say my name. I’m here already! Simply ask.”

The lyrics to an old Jackson Browne song come to mind….

Father, my eyes have seen the years / And the slow parade of fears without crying
Now I want to understand  / I have done all that I could  / To see the evil and the good without hiding / You must help me if you can.
Father, my eyes tell me what is wrong  / Was I unwise to leave them open for so long ? /
Cause I have wandered through this world  / And as each moment has unfurled
I’ve been waiting to awaken from these dreams
People go just where they will / I never noticed them until I got this feeling  / That it’s later than it seems  / Father, my eyes  / Tell me what you see / I hear their cries / Just say if it’s too late for me  / Doctor, my eyes  cannot see the sky  / Is this the prize for having learned how not to cry?

I suppose its the seeking I hear in Brown’s poetic-honesty that has moved me. I wonder if there is not more hope in discovering God through a broken hearted minstrel’s search than through the seeking that tries to bring God down from way up there with zeal and methodology. This secular psalmist has captured the ache without the hope of Christ.  I trust he will forgive me for having substituted Father for Doctor in his lyrics.

Father, if we need to cry a bit over how we have thought about you and treated you, so be it. Apply your salve to our eyes. Tell us what you see. Fill our hearts with pure and simple devotion that trusts in you alone. Ween us of all the religious supplements  we take to improve our spiritual lives when you yourself are our life. Help us to rethink our thinking in light of your truth and grace ruled-kingdom. We aspire to love you rightly father. Amen.

Seek (Sunday) – Psalm 63

 
Ok King David, help us out. What is it going to be? We are looking to you for direction. Are we to be thirsting in the desert or content at a banqueting table? Please tell us. To be people after God’s own heart as you were, are we to anticipate our Christian lives to be a feast or a famine? If we cannot answer this question for ourselves, it is a good chance God has not yet become our God in the fullest possible sense. Continue reading

Seek (Friday) – Isaiah 55:6-13

Low-way: a generic term describing the pathway mankind travels in his thinking in light of God’s thoughts which, contrastingly, are infinitely higher. Example; “In man’s low-ways, he perpetually errors in thinking that he sees things as they actually are, when in reality his fallen nature has radically obscured his vision.  (Surprisingly, low-way thinking is especially prominent in the religious mind where, ironically, high views of God and scripture are supposedly held.) Continue reading

Seek (Thursday) – 2 Chronicles 7:12-22

We are peeking in on the greatest of all old testament worship services. Solomon has sacrificed well over a thousand semi-loads of livestock. He has drained enough blood to fill an olympic swimming pool. To musical accompanyment four animals were slain every second over the course of seven days. The Israelites were thinking, “Wow, now that’s worship!” But… we ask, “What is this to us?” Continue reading

Seek (Wednesday) – 1 Chronicles 28:8-10

The baton is being passed from David to Solomon. David has announced publicly that the temple will not be built by himself, a man of warfare but instead by Solomon, a man of wisdom. Solomon was also a man of rest who would establish peace with all Israel’s enemies on every side.  God has made a covenant with David promising that he would reign over Israel for ever. Solomon is being given the opportunity to be a continuance of God’s promise. But there are conditions…. Continue reading

Seek (Tuesday) – Matthew 7:7-12

I believe God’s Spirit is so inter-twined with us….no, that is misleading. He is closer than that.  A  literal consummation has happened for those who have been born anew. We now share a new nature with Him. We are flesh of His flesh, bone of His bone and, most importantly, spirit of His Spirit. We live and move and have our being in Him. He is in us and we are in him.  Like a married couple, we have become one. Yet, we behave as though God is in heaven and by way of our behavior, we can bring him down. Without an understanding of our radically altered natures we will always do violence to the spirit of this text….

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Continue reading

Seek (Monday) – Matthew 6:25-34

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own….

If we are just studying this passage which begins with reference to this reason we need to understand what that reason was. It was this….

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

There are few if any places in scripture where the word of God is any sharper or any nearer to our hearts than with these words. I don’t know how the sacred texts of other religions read but I could imagine some of them just placing demands on its adherents without explanation and levy heavy consequences for non-compliance. Instead God appeals to us with story after story ever so gently and ever so directly, inviting us into the high places. Here is a paraphrase of what I believe Jesus is saying…

“Children, this is what your hearts are like. I made them such that they only function when they are dependent on me. Your heart’s task is simply to learn to listen to and to heed the voice of the right master. Think about birds, with nothing more than my gift they soar. They never exchange worry for bread yet, even with your superior worth, you manage to worry. This is my point. Worry is a malfunction of your heart and is evidence you are listening to the wrong master; you have embraced the appeals from an alien kingdom and are unable to soar as I intended you to.

The flowers are preaching the same message. Take some time and look at them.  With nothing more than my gift, they are relaxed and radiant. They never exchange worry for rain. They do not sweat to gain sunshine or labor to be planted. 

Test yourself. How heavily is the uncertainty of tomorrow weighing on your heart?  The answer, if you will hear it can lead you into the skies where you were intended to fly. My remedy, if you can swallow it, will adorn you as the radiant beings from another realm that in fact you are. My council? Seek first My kingdom and My righteousness, and you will discover a Life within you that, in the joy and satisfaction it provides, displaces the false and fragile external things your hearts are tempted to trust in. As alien as it might seem in this worrisome moment, the abundant life I describe is not a life to be had after death. It is the Life of the kingdom of God that was and is and is to come. 

I assure you, the false and familiar gods of this temporal world will ultimately break all their promises to you. They will all make themselves wings and fly away. Choose my kingdom and you shall indeed soar far above the clamor of this world that is fading away. If you are hearing my voice yet you do not know where to start stop worrying, here is my council….

Go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

Father, take us by the hand and lead us out of our entanglements with this world. Show us the bad temporal investments we have made. Help us to be honest about our anxiety and recognize what it is saying about our grounded hearts. May your kingdom come and may we soar on the wings of eagles. May the enslaved and downtrodden captives of this world see us and hunger for flight. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.