by Vida Earnshaw

May Prinsep by George Frederick WattsIt has become my custom to choose a verse, theme, or spiritual goal at the beginning of a new year.  This year, January 1 dawned with the phrase “Set your heart to seek the Lord” ringing in my mind.  After a bit of searching, I found that the phrase was from I Chronicles 22:19, “set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God.”  I took this as the theme the Lord has for me this year–to be seeking Him with all my heart and soul. 

Now, these words sound very good, but what does it really mean to set my heart and soul to seek the Lord?  What will such a goal entail?  As I searched the Scriptures to discover more about this phrase, it became apparent that those who set their hearts to seek the Lord are determined to obey and please God, despite the cost. 

 Psalm 119:2, 10 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.

With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.

When King Asa decided to seek the Lord, he tore down idols, destroying the places that were dedicated to their worship, and commanded his people to obey God’s law and commandments.

 2 Chronicles 14:2-5 And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God: For he took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places, and brake down the images, and cut down the groves: And commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers, and to do the law and the commandment. Also he took away out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the images: and the kingdom was quiet before him.

By contrast, King Rehoboam “did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD” (2 Chronicles 12:14).

Ezra 6:21 tells us that those who were seeking the LORD separated themselves “from the filthiness of the heathen of the land.”  This is commanded to God’s people today as well:

2 Cor. 6:16-7:1 …for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

 

Setting my heart to seek the Lord then is far more than a half-hearted desire to be in right relationship with the Lord.  It involves an all out eradication of sin and determination to obey God. 

 

This desire to seek the Lord does not occur naturally in the human heart.  Romans 3:10-18 says, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”  Instead, we are by nature God’s enemies–born in sin and at war with God.  That is why Jesus died on the cross, to reconcile us to God! 

2 Corinthians 5:21  He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (NASB)

Colossians 1:20-21 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.

 

If you, dear reader, have not yet sought the Lord for Evening Prayers by Eugene Ernest Hillemachersalvation, He invites you to turn to Him for salvation and cleansing today.  

Isaiah 55:6-7 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 

Receiving salvation is the first step in seeking the Lord.  Oh, that after salvation the heart would continue on following hard after the Lord!  Sadly, many things tend to enter life that hinder the believer from wholeheartedly seeking God.  Idols of the heart are one such hindrance.  While we may not bow down before statues of wood or stone, posessions, activities, and people vie for the place of God in our hearts.  All such idols must be torn down and we must worship and serve God alone.  

Worldliness is another hindrance to seeking the Lord.  

I John 2:15-17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Loving the world and being like it is such an easy trap into which to fall!  The pleasures of the world beckon us on every side—through television, radio, advertisements, catalogs, at the mall, even the grocery store.  Loving and seeking the things of this world keeps us from wholeheartedly seeking God. 

There are also many lawful things which can hinder us from seeking the Lord.  A lawful thing is something that is not expressly forbidden by Scripture, something that is not evil or sinful in and of itself.  This category could include entertainment choices, hobbies, food, clothing, etc.  While we have the liberty to enjoy lawful things, if a lawful thing keeps us from seeking the Lord it needs to be either cut back or completely expelled from our lives.  Dr. Mark Minnick brought to my attention a very helpful test by which to try such things.  The “Lawful Things Test” can be found in I Corinthians 6, 10. 

I Cor. 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient [profitable]: 

(Is this lawful thing profitable, or is it a waste of time? Does it profit me spiritually or cause me to lose ground?)

all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

(Is it mastering me?  Does it dictate my schedule?  Does it control my thoughts/responses?)

I Cor. 10:23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

(Does it edify others, build them up in the faith? Make them more like Christ? Or is my choice to participate in this lawful thing hindering others from seeking the Lord?)

I Cor. 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

(Does this lawful thing glorify God?  Does it make Him big in my eyes and the eyes of others? )

Determining what is hindering us from seeking God requires personal examination before the Lord.  Over the years, the Lord has been gracious to point out a number of such hindrances in my life.  One example comes from my high school days.  I have always enjoyed reading and used to have a particular fondness for novels (Christian fiction or classic works).  Every spare moment (as well as many that were not) was spent engrossed in a book.  Even when not reading, I was pondering the plot.  The stories were mastering my thoughts.  The Lord convicted me that novel reading needed to be pruned back in my life because I was meditating on these stories instead of His Word.  As a start, the Lord laid it on my heart to give up novel reading on Sundays, not because it was sinful or evil, but because reading the novel snatched the freshly planted Word of God out of my heart.  My reading choices, although lawful, needed to be pruned in order to leave my heart free to seek the Lord. 

The New Novel by Winslow Homer

Not only are there things we may need to lay aside in order to set our hearts to seek the Lord, there are also certain disciplines we must add.  Because our hearts do not naturally desire God, we must discipline ourselves to seek Him. 

I Timothy 4:7 discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.  (NASB) 

These disciplines include Bible reading and study, prayer, fasting, even journaling

Please understand that by speaking of giving up things and adding certain disciplines to our lives, I am not talking about legalism–this will not earn you merit with God–or having a “holier than thou” attitude.  Consider an athlete training for the Olympics.  This athlete will give up many things (junk food, free time, anything that does not help him reach his goal) and follow a grueling regimen, all for a chance to make it to the games.  No one looks at that Olympic hopeful and thinks that he is too strict or legalistic.  He is going for the gold!  How much more should we as Christians do all that is necessary to seek the Lord?

I Cor. 9:24-27 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may win.  Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things.  They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.  Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.  (NASB)

This new year, may we, by God’s grace, set our hearts to seek the Lord!

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

© Copyright 2008 by Vida Earnshaw

Advertisements