Seek God

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God is omnipresent and is therefore always with us.  In Matthew 28:20 we read that Jesus makes a covenant with believers when He says “surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”.  So if God is always with us, why doesn’t it feel like it at times?  Why do we become depressed, lonely, or feel empty when the Almighty is near?  Why, even though we pray and read His word, don’t we sense His presence?  Are we looking in the wrong places for God?  Are we even looking?
Our relationship with God requires intentional effort on our part.  He offers us much in terms of eternity and asks that we set our minds and hearts to seek Him (1 Chronicles 22:19).  He wants us to share His story with others.  He also expects that we share our story with Him; how we lived before we chose Him, what caused us to choose Him, and what our life has been like after we choose to follow Him.  Some have assumed that, after offering a few words confessing their sinful ways, they were automatically in because they asked to be a follower of Christ.  However, God wants more than words.  He wants us to have a change of mind and heart so that our focus is on Him and not ourselves.  He desires daily, ongoing fixing of our eyes on Him.
Maybe we don’t sense Jesus presence during the week because we don’t know how to look for Him outside church.  We might engage in spiritual practices out of obedience and routine but forget they are a means by which we can grow closer to God and be offered His grace.  Maybe we are ignoring the signs around us and are missing out on how He is revealing Himself to the world through others.  It can be uplifting and enlightening when we connect with God first thing in the day and that experience can carry us through to the next encounter and so we should seek Him often.
How can you sense God’s presence?  May I suggest three ideas that have been helpful to me? Confess sin.  Many theologians remind us that to be in God’s presence we must come clean with Him.  We may have unconfused sin in our life that needs to be addressed.  Nothing can be hidden so why bother trying to act as if nothing is wrong.  The psalmist shares in Psalm 32:3-5 that when a sin weights heavy, God’s presence seems far, but when sins are confessed a burden is lifted.  We want to be clean in His Holy presence.  Be attentive.  Start your day asking God to see His works in the world around you.  You will encounter people who will bless you and people you can bless.  Pray throughout the day.  There are different ways you can pray.  You can offer scripture, pray words spoken by others or react to the moment.  As you come across something turn that scenario into a prayer. “Lord, bring calmness to that driver whose horn honking suggests frustration and maybe anger which could lead to other issues”.   This prayer alignment with God allows you to see the world through His eyes.  If you are not use to this type of prayer, then offer a BREATH PRAYER where you ignore the noise, the traffic, the world around you, take a deep breath and just say “Jesus, I need you” or “Jesus, give me a heart for you”.
We want God’s presence as assurance, as comfort and as strength and not just as a fall back when we run into trouble.  He is available always if only we choose to seek Him.

Oh Lord, what should I do?

Oh LORD, what shall we do? 2016-05-20

Christians declare they want to live within God’s will. They want to have a complete comitial of their heart, soul and strength to God. They want their actions and words to reflect a trust in God’s purpose for their life. Yet when faced with choices, they face uncertainty as they try to understand God’s will in the choices offered. How do we choose what to do? How do we choose between “open doors” that lead to serving Him? How can we know God’s will?

Is God’s will whatever opportunity works out for you? When Paul and Silas were in jail and an earthquake opened the jail doors they stayed put. They didn’t interpret the literal “open door” as God wanting them to go through it. They stayed put and the jailer and his household came to put their faith in Christ. Paul and Silas’ ministry was about spreading Jesus’ truth, which is God’s will. Given their circumstances at the time of the earthquake, fleeing would have made sense. They would be safe allowing for greater opportunity to spread the word to larger audiences outside prison. However their decision to stay was not reckless. They had wisdom and understanding that aligned them to God’s will such that their own needs were secondary.  When we seek to align with God’s will, is it OK to also hope that the choice include, what is best for us and our families or must we put them aside?

The Hebrews slaves in Egypt were oppressed. Their situation was grave and they suffered daily. No matter what daily choices they made their circumstances remained dismal. However they chose to cry out to God who heard them and responded with Moses. When they cried out their circumstances were certainly on their mind. However it was God’s will that a community focused on loving Him would be established in a new land. He had waited 400 years for a generation wanting to be part of that plan.  The Hebrews did not rationalize or over think their prayer – they just asked God to do something. Choices do not automatically seem clearer if we ignore our circumstances or our families. Decision making can be dependent more on whether we are in the habit of choosing and trusting God.

God does not yell out daily instructions to us to help us choose. He offers the Holy Spirit, scripture, and even other Christians whom He has blessed with wisdom and understanding to help His children make choices. Often our choice comes down to choosing how to serve God knowing we have families and jobs.

If you are contemplating or struggling with a choice linked to following God’s will may I offer these suggestions:

1. Ask others to pray for you as you seek clarity.

2. Go to God’s word seeking answers. Scripture is our ultimate source of authority in all areas of life. Ask God to lead you to specific passages of how your choice fits into His plan.

3. Seek the advice of mature Christians. Look for someone who knows you well, who will be objective with you and who knows and walks with God and knows His ways.

4. Trust the Holy Spirit’s ability to help you reason. Christians are given sanctified minds and Christ expects us to use wisdom and reasoning when making choices.