Constraining the LORD
Constraining the LORD.
•A few years ago my washing machine broke down – guy came to fix it – interesting bloke, a Jew, got to talking. I was keen to talk the LORD, New Zealanders don't like talking about a God or religion but he was very keen to talk about religion – he'd tried everything – drugs, T.M., eastern religions, Judaism, the lot. What about Jesus? "I've tried that. It didn't work for me." Trying all kinds of religions, playing the field, experimenting see which one worked. Actually God cannot tolerate that! He demands exclusive allegiance. It also reveals a self centred attitude – God exists for me, not me created to serve Him, made by Him and for His purpose. But what struck me was the casual attitude – oh, Christianity didn't really do much, move on an try something else. How much does God matter to you? Can you take Him or leave Him. How important is God to You? Is there anything more important than God? We've all been given a life, talents, time, abilities, energy – what we do with them is up to us. Many pursue money, or material things, maybe friends, maybe pleasure, an easy life. What really matters? What is really worth pursuing? If there is one thing worth seeking, it is God! Is God going to reveal Himself to one who is not that bothered, the washing machine mechanic who could take Him or leave Him?
•Let me read to you about a lady called Lydia. Paul met her when he visited the Macedonian city of Philippi [Acts 16:13-15 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled. A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.]. Lydia was seeking God, that's why she was meeting at the riverside with others. Paul came to town and here was evidently a man who knew God! Her heart was open – and God is not going to reveal Himself unless your heart is soft and open. This man had something and she wanted more, wanted to know more. She received his message, believed what he told her about Jesus – and she prevailed upon him. She wasn't going to let this opportunity pass her by. You know I've been in churches and there are many attending there but there stand out a choice few who evidently know the LORD – when I'd just come back to the LORD I sought them, wanted to be with them, learn from them, find what they had. There is something about them, You can tell that they've met up with God.
•Meeting God changes you, you can never be the same again. A man called Jacob met with God at a place called Bethel: [Genesis 28:10-16 Jacob left Beersheba and started towards Haran. At sunset he came to a holy place and camped there. He lay down to sleep, resting his head on a stone. He dreamt that he saw a stairway reaching from earth to heaven, with angels going up and coming down on it. And there was the Lord standing beside him. “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham and Isaac,” he said. “I will give to you and to your descendants this land on which you are lying. They will be as numerous as the specks of dust on the earth. They will extend their territory in all directions, and through you and your descendants I will bless all the nations. Remember, I will be with you and protect you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done all that I have promised you.” Jacob woke up and said, “The Lord is here! He is in this place, and I didn’t know it!”] You know God is here tonight – you may think that this is just a meeting that happens every Sunday evening but God is here – it's just that you may not know it. But if your eyes are opened you can meet with Him as Jacob did. He met Him again some twenty years later at a place called Peniel [Genesis 32:22-28 Now he arose that same night and took his two wives and his two maids and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream. And he sent across whatever he had. Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.”] Jacob knew that this was God that this was something worth having – he wasn't going to let him go – move on to something else like the washing machine man. I will not let You go! He clung on to God until he found the blessing. He was never the same – he walked with a limp for the rest of his life. It takes a brave man to wrestle with God, but He is worth seeking. Jacob wrestled and prevailed – we need to prevail upon God. You want God? Prevail upon Him, wrestle, cling until you find Him. If you are casual, He will pass you by – He is in this place and you never knew, you missed it. [lying on my face on the floor, not going to go to bed until I meet God – woke up cold and stiff, no great revelation, but there is something in the heart that will not let go until it finds God, that prizes Him as worth having above all else. The seeking is not just a night – it is your occupation life-long].
•There were some people who met Jesus, and like Jacob they didn't realise that He was with them and He almost passed the by – but they prevailed upon Him. It was just after Jesus had risen from the dead and they were on the road to Emmaeus [Luke 24:13-32 And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him. And He said to them, “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?” And they stood still, looking sad. One of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?” And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.” And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther. But they urged Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.” So He went in to stay with them. When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?”] They had a tremendous revelation, Jesus became real to them – but He almost passed by, He was going further on – if they hadn't urged Him, He would have passed by and they never would have known. What a tragedy to miss God when He is so close! We need our eyes opened to see Jesus, the revelation that the Holy Spirit gives that makes Him who is unseen real to us. You meet with Him and your heart burns within you – set on fire because you've met God, His word becomes real and vital, if you are earnest about seeking Him. He is worth seeking. Don't let Him pass by – you will be amply rewarded. The diligent seeker will be rewarded.
•There was a queen of ancient time – she left her country and went all the way to Israel on the strength of a rumour. She had heard of the reputation of king Solomon, of his wisdom. She sought it out. Came all the way from Arabia with a great caravan loaded with riches. When something is worth seeking – you go to great effort. [Waihi mine]. Here is something more valuable than God. [Matthew 12:42 The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.]. She will condemn the Jews of Jesus day because they had a casual attitude, the Messiah was there among them and they couldn't care less. It is the thing today to be cool, casual, laid back – maybe, but you won't find God that way! Is God worth seeking? There is something more valuable than gold, more valuable than human wisdom that is available. It is worth seeking. It can be found but it must be searched out [Proverbs 2:1-6 My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you, make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding; for if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.].
•I'd like to leave you with three verses: [Jeremiah 29:13 "You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord] - God's promise is that we will find Him but the prerequisite is that we seek Him, search for Him with all our heart. Jesus said [Luke 11:9-13 So I say to you, keep on asking, and it will be given to you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, 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. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?].
•The second verse is: [Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.] Our seeking is not works by which we get to God but it it is the response of faith that believes that God is and that He can be found – God will reward the faith that diligently seeks Him.
•The last is: [Isaiah 55:1-3 The Lord says,“Come, everyone who is thirsty — here is water! Come, you that have no money — buy corn and eat! Come! Buy wine and milk — it will cost you nothing! Why spend money on what does not satisfy? Why spend your wages and still be hungry? Listen to me and do what I say, and you will enjoy the best food of all. “Listen now, my people, and come to me; come to me, and you will have life! Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.] Why waste your time and effort seeking that which will soon be gone? What futility. Seek the LORD while He is near.