Seek

…seek and you will find… Matthew 7:7

To seek is to search, to overturn things, and to look for. People seek many things: peace, truth, riches, fame, popularity, things, God. Even as Christians we seek things: wisdom, counsel, peace, truth.

What do you seek from God in prayer? That your life will go well and that there will be no problems? Do you question the things that God does or just accept them blindly? Of course we question God, though we don’t easily admit it. We’ve been taught that it’s a weakness to question God. After all, the world does enough of that, right?

But throughout Scripture, God wants his people to seek Him. David sought after God hard. Elijah sought God and found him in the still small voice, and quickly after that questioned God’s very existence. He thought that God had forsaken him (1 Kings 19).

There is more to be gained by seeking and searching and hunting Him down than by having all the answers handed to us on a platter.

Now read Genesis 3:9 and tell me who is actually doing the seeking.

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Keep Asking

Ask and it will be given to you… Matthew 7:7

My friend used to say, “if you don’t ask, the answer’s ‘no.'” He always paused, then said, “and the answer just might be’‘yes.'”  In other words, you need to ask before you think that something could never happen.

But Scripture doesn’t stop there. Further in the passage, Jesus states, “For everyone who asks receives…” This has to be one of the most abused Scriptures in the New Testament.

“Claim your mansion!”
“You deserve a BMW because God told you to ask!”
“God wants you rich.”

We call it the “name it and claim it Gospel.” And it is totally unbiblical. So what is this passage teaching us? Pray. Keep asking. Keep knocking on that door. Keep praying for breakthroughs in your life. Keep asking for wisdom and direction and clarity and faithfulness and love. If you keep asking for those things, you will have no need to ask God for the BMW or the mansion.

You will be richer than that.

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Too Perfect

But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. Matthew 12:14

No matter how perfect you are, there will be people who are opposed-even violently opposed-to what you do. Jesus is our example in this. He did nothing wrong. On the contrary. Everything he did was good.

He healed; they got upset. He taught; they got upset. He talked to women of ill repute; they got upset. He confronted their hypocrisy; once again they got upset.

I think that’s what ultimately angered them, confronting their hypocrisy. They couldn’t stand that he was right on target with his message.

So, what does all that have to do with us? Think about this: have you ever tried to do what you absolutely knew was the right thing and were opposed by seemingly good people? What did you do in response? Did you stay the course or did you give in? It’s easy to quit when you’re opposed on all sides. But if it’s the right thing to do and you know God is on your side, then what do we have to fear?

Here’s something someone told me many years ago: never question in the dark what God told you while it was light.

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It is I

He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”  Mark 6:48-50

If you’ve grown up in the church, you’ve heard the account of Jesus walking on the water in a hundred different ways. You always thought it would be cool to walk on the water or to see Jesus walk on the water. You probably wish you were Peter when Jesus asked him to come to Him (slightly different account of the story).

The overall lesson to be learned with this story is the most obvious one: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

How would it change our actions if we were to learn and practice those few words? Would we worry about tests or job pressures or kid pressures or money pressures? Would we concern ourselves with what others think about us when we share our faith?

The question that still bothers me, though, is “When the God of the entire Universe is telling me not to worry, why do I still do it?”

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Envy Rots the Bones

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. Proverbs14:30

Are you at peace? With God? With yourself? With others? What do you think about when you lie in bed right before you go to sleep? If you’re reading this, you’ve probably settled the eternity question, but what about the here and now?

What about envy? Envious of the life that someone else leads, thinking that person has no worries or problems? Envious of that person’s success or looks or wealth or fame or kids or job or [fill in the blank]? The Scripture warns us to be careful about that because it could eat away at us and sap energy from us.

I’ll return to my original question:

Are you at peace?

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The Prophet

…for in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:12b

The Prophets of Old were some very interesting men. Kings sought them out for their wisdom and insight. Some leaders tried to buy them. The good Prophets were those who told the truth as God had revealed it to them even though it might mean certain death (when you tell a King that his kingdom will soon end while you’re talking to him, you have a good chance of losing your life in short order). They were persecuted for doing what God told them to do!

We’re in good company. When God tells us to say something or do something that flies in the face of modern wisdom or common sense, it doesn’t always turn out the way we’d like it to.

When God tells a Westerner to go into Mecca to preach the Gospel, there’s a good chance that a) others-including Christians-will question that wisdom, and b) depending on how bold he is, he could lose his life.
On the other hand, if he doesn’t go when he knows he’s heard “the call,” then he is at fault.

Again, it’s a good thing to pray Muslims around the world (Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Iran, Libya, and Iraq all come to mind. Pray that God will continue to raise up men and women from around the world to march into those often hostile lands. Then pray for their boldness and wait to hear of God’s faithfulness in answering that prayer.

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Insulted?

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Matthew 5:11

Blessed you are when these things happen. God’s kingdom is an upside down world, isn’t it? We are blessed when people insult us because of Jesus. It’s never fun to be insulted. In a thousand years we could not have come up with being blessed as a consequence of us being insulted, but it is.

I probably should point out that Jesus did throw in a qualifier to the verse: “because of me.” Just because someone insults you doesn’t mean that you were in the right. For instance, you’re tootling around in your car with your “Jesus Loves You” bumper sticker. You’re weaving in and out of lanes and you cut someone off. That person may aim a few insults and gestures your way, but you’re thinking that the person must have seen the sticker and is a totally godless heathen who hates Christian. That may be, but the reason he is upset is because you cut him off. You were at fault and the godless heathen driver was just responding to your terrible driving. But I digress.

Continue to pray for the millions of Christians around the world who are facing very real, very painful persecution. Pray for their boldness in the midst!

Sudan. China. Nigeria. India. North Korea. Eritrea. Iran.  All of these countries are very worthy of our prayers.

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Praying to be Persecuted

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10

In 25 years as a Believer, I have yet to hear a sermon, a teaching, or even a devotion on the topic of “praying to be persecuted for righteousness.” We pray for holiness, patience, humility, a loving spirit, faithfulness, and a whole host of other attributes. Perhaps they pray this in other countries.

What would happen if we prayed it? How could it transform us? Would it transform us? I realize that “persecution happens.” I suspect, though, that persecution happens more when there’s a reason to be persecuted. In other words, if true revival is happening in our midst, others will take notice and before long the authorities feel they are losing control. Then they clamp down on the Believers. Persecution.

So I return to my original statement, what would happen in our lives if we prayed to be persecuted because of righteousness’ sake?

(I have added www.persecution.com link to the left if others are interested in The Suffering Church).

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Peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9

Hebrews 12:14 teaches us to do whatever it costs to live at peace with all men. There’s a peace that comes from having an inner peace with God, one that allows you to sleep at night because you have been perfectly honest with yourself and with God. If you’re reading this, you probably have that peace. Quite literally, if you have made peace with God you are a son of God!

There’s another kind of peace that comes when you are at peace with those around you. Let’s face it, not everyone likes you or me. We may have enemies, even in the Christian body. But the Bible is clear that we are to make peace with those individuals. Whenever we encounter a situation that is hostile and fraught with tension, we are to be peacemakers. Listening to both sides of the story and helping to correct the situation is blessed by God. But before we do that we have to have the mind of Christ.

[I should note that I believe that the Beatitudes are very individual in application versus that of a nation. Here’s what I mean. While “blessed are the poor in spirit” could be applied to an entire nation, I believe it is to be applied to the individual man. Jesus was speaking to a group of individuals, his disciples and a host of his followers. It would be possible to make the case of applying to “a nation” if he were addressing political leaders. For example, 2 Chronicles 7:14 seems to clearly address nations when referring to humility and seeking God’s face. Obviously, this interpretation is controversial in light of current political and military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan (for Americans).]

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