Sermon: Seeking God as Giver

Last week, I preached a sermon on “Seek” – thought I’d share it with you all!
You can read my sermon notes below, or listen to the sermon on the link here:

http://jcboston.org/seek-god-giver/

hide_and_seek_by_artsammich-d5z6iyy

My idea of “seek”

When you think of “seeking,” what do you think of? Personally, I think of someone finding his way through the jungle, like this dude (right)

I did a google image search for the word “seek,” and it might surprise you that the majority of images that came up looked more like this (below)

hide_and_seek11

 

I think this is significant because it points to the relational aspect of seeking – seeking is more about a relationship than just getting things.

The first time I really prayed to God, I was in high school involved in a program called Odyssey of the Mind. Yes, I was, and still am, a nerd. My job on our team was to build small eight-inch structures of balsa wood and glue that held massive amounts of weight. If you were to walk into my bedroom in high school, you wouldn’t see cute actors on my wall, rather you’d see broken balsa wood structures lined up in my room. My biggest dream in high school was to make it to the Odyssey of the Mind World Championships, and the first time I ever remembering seeking God was to ask Him for this. The amazing thing was – we did make it – it was a dream come true! :)

But it wasn’t until college when my understanding of God changed – I was invited to church by some friends, and during worship I was filled with this peace, this love, and warmth. This led me on a journey of seeking God not just for his gifts but as the giver.

Luke 11:10-13 says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

The word “seek” takes asking to another level – the dictionary definition is to endeavor to obtain, to try to locate or discover, to go in search or quest of. So seeking is asking plus acting – rearranging priorities in your life to search for what you desire.

The word “seek” in the Greek, in the original language of the New Testament, is zeteo. I looked into all the different ways the word is used in the New Testament. It is used 70 times for humans seeking things, 35 times for humans seeking God, and the interesting thing is that it is used 3 times for God seeking us. (Luke 19:10, Matthew 18:23, John 4:23). It’s cool to think that God isn’t just up there asking us to come to him but as much as we are seeking Him, He is also seeking us out – this points to the relational aspect of the Father.

What is your relationship with God like? Today I want to share three big ideas as to how we can seek God as giver:

1. Seeking God as giver comes down to our understanding of God
We are all on this process of discovering God as
A. Out there – up in sky
B. Gift Giver – Sometimes you call out to him, like a spiritual slot machine
C. Father – God is a great father that takes care of his children
D. Lover – God is so good he died for me so I can be in relationship with Him and I give my whole self to Him in response

Where are you in this process? I want to encourage you to press in to gain the deepest parts of the heart of God.

If you only talked to your God to ask him for things, would this be a strong relationship?

No, what is between a father and a son is so much more than that. It’s about love, and when you love your dad, you go to him just to hang out and to spend time together.

I really like this quote by Henri Nouwin: “The spiritual life is a long and often arduous search for what you have already found. You can only seek God when you have already found God. The desire for God’s unconditional love is the fruit of having been touched by that love.”

2. Seeking God as giver is more about seeking than finding
Last Thursday night, I was with a friend on the North Shore, and we heard that the Aurora Borealis might be visible. It’s always been a dream of mine to see the Northern Lights, so we plopped into her car and drove to the ocean to see what we could see. We were seeking to see brilliant lights in the sky like this:

interesting-aurora-borealis-backgrounds

But what we found was quote different. Although the Northern Lights weren’t visible, we found the most brilliant shimmering moonlight on the ocean and pinpricks of constellations of stars; we found friendship and laughter. Although we sought the northern lights, what we found was so much more.

Really, there are two ways of reading this passage –
         1. Seek and you will FIND
OR… 2. SEEK and you will find
It depends where you put the emphasis

Note that it doesn’t say “Ask & you will receive the very thing you ask for in the way you want it” or “seek and you will find exactly what you were expecting.” What this passage implies is that when we ask, seek, knock and pray, looking away from our own resources to our trustworthy heavenly Father, he will hear and give us good things. Sometimes we will get just what we asked, but other times he will give us something better, or at a time he knows is better, or in a way he knows is better.

Another thing to notice here is that the verb tense is in the present imperative, which implies that we should “ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, and knock and keep on knocking.” It isn’t that God is reluctant and needs to be persuaded; rather God teaches you something in the seeking, in the knocking, in the waiting. Many times I’ve found that I’m not ready for the answer to my prayer.

I really like what Soren Kierkegaard says – “Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.” Really, the greatest blessing of prayer is not in receiving the answer, but in being the kind of person God can trust with the answer. So our job is to pray, seek God, wait, and trust that He will do the rest.

3. Seeking God as giver means He will give you abundantly more than you ask for

There is a progression here – first, the story is of a man and his friend. The second story is a father and son. And culminates in the last line: “How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

God is saying here that friends help each other out, human parents give good things to kids but I am more lovely than any of these gifts. I can give you the Holy Spirit, the greatest gift ever. Everything I am is through my Spirit – the spirit is the very life of me. What is crazy is that we can be filled by that, just by asking!

God’s promise here is that as much as fathers want to give good gifts to kids, God is abundantly more willing to give the Holy Spirit to us – isn’t that an incredible promise?

The point of seeking is the seeking. Because as you seek you get more than you ask for – you get Jesus. You get the Holy Spirit. And this is something greater than any worldly gift.

So how do we apply this to our lives? If you look to the beginning of this chapter in Luke 11, you see that this passage – is an answer to the disciples’ question “Lord, teach us how to pray.”

If we want to seek God as giver, not just for His gifts, I want to challenge you in your prayer time this week to spend time in ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication)

(A) Adoration – This is where all prayers should begin, telling the Lord that you love Him and appreciate all He has done and created. You can do this by reading a psalm, by worshipping Him in song, or whatever it looks like for you to adore Him.

(C) Confession – Since we still fall short of God’s perfection, we can come to him and be cleansed of every sin we have committed. 1 John 1:9 says that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. Psalm 139:23-24 is one my favorite prayers for confession – “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

(T) Thanksgiving –During this part of your prayer, thank God specifically for all that He has done for you. It’s great if you can write these down in a journal as well; they can become a great source of encouragement.

(S) Supplication – This is just a big word for asking for what you need. We can come to God with boldness & confidence according to the blood of Christ. (Hebrews 4:16)

This week, will you commit to a daily time of seeking God with Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication? Will you take the next step to seek God as giver, not just for His gifts?

 

 

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