Saturday, June 30, 2018

Hide and Seek with God

Probably every one of us has played the game of hide and seek when we were children, where one person or a group of people hide and then another person tries to find them. While that is just a game, there is a reality version of hide and seek that I want to discuss, which is played out in real life every day.

Adam and Eve
Ever since the day that Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, God and man have been doing this exchange of hide and seek. Before the fall, Adam and Eve enjoyed sweet fellowship with God in the garden. They were also naked and unashamed. But once they disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit, then came the need to cover up and hide themselves.

"Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden." (Gen 3:7-8)

The first thing they did was to cover their nakedness and the second thing was to hide themselves from the Lord's presence. It was human nature for them to do that, but God already knew what they had done. He was aware of their sin and disobedience. He saw their nakedness and shame, and although they tried to hide from Him, He sought them out. He came into the garden looking for them. 

"Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, 'Where are you?' He said, 'I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.'" (Gen 3:9-10).

Notice that Adam was afraid when he heard the sound of the Lord coming, because he was naked, and that is why he hid himself. He felt ashamed. But the Lord asked him who told him he was naked. The Lord used questions to help Adam see the connection between his sin and his sense of shame. 

"And He said, 'Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?'" (Gen 3:11).

There is always a direct correlation between sin and shame, and the tendency is always for man to run from God and hide, as if He doesn't know about it. 

The Nation of Israel
When the nation of Israel fell away from the Lord into sin, it seemed to them as if God had hidden Himself from them. But the Lord called them to seek Him.

"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." (Isa 55:6-7)

There are many such admonitions in Scripture, whereby the Lord calls upon men to seek Him no matter what they have done, and turn from their wicked ways, so that they may find Him.

"But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to the LORD your God and listen to His voice. For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them." (Deu 4:29-31)

"'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 'Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. '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, 'and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,' declares the LORD, 'and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.'" (Jer 29:11-14)

"And if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2Ch 7:14)

The Righteous Seek Him
It is not only the wicked who need to seek the Lord, but the righteous, too. It's a joy for them to seek Him continually.

"Glory in His holy name; Let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad. Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually." (1Ch 16:10-11; cf. Psa 105:3-4)

The righteous devote their heart and soul to seeking the Lord.

"Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God; arise, therefore, and build the sanctuary of the LORD God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the holy vessels of God into the house that is to be built for the name of the LORD." (1Ch 22:19)

The psalmist sought the Lord with all his heart that he would not disobey Him. "I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands." (Ps 119:10, NIV)

David said, "O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water." (Psa 63:1).

David also said, "My heart says of you, 'Seek his face!' Your face, Lord, I will seek." (Ps 27:8, NIV). He had the desire in his heart to seek the Lord's face and he determined that he was going to do it. In fact, seeking the Lord is what David wanted to do all the days of his life. He said, "One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple." (Ps 27:4, NIV).

I believe that this last verse speaks not only of seeking the Lord in His temple here on earth, but also throughout eternity in His holy temple in heaven. For David spoke of gazing on the beauty of the Lord there. I believe the righteous will enjoy seeking the Lord and gazing upon His beauty forever and ever.

Promises to Those Who Seek Him
In addition to the promises I have already mentioned, the Lord has given many other promises to those who seek Him.

He promises never to forsake those who seek Him. "And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You." (Psa 9:10)

He promises that those who seek Him will lack no good thing. "The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; But they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing." (Psa 34:10)

He promises to be good to them. "The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him." (Lam 3:25)

Blessings are promised to them. "Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart— they do no wrong but follow his ways." (Ps 119:2-3, NIV).

He promises to draw near to us as we draw near Him. "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded." (Jas 4:8)

He promises to reward those who diligently seek Him, and anyone who seeks the Lord must have faith that He will do so. For the apostle wrote: "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that he exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him." (Heb 11:6, NIV)

God Wants All Men to Seek Him
It's God's desire that all men would seek Him, and that's why He created them and caused them to be born in the places where they were born at the exact times they were born.

The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God." (Ps 14:2, NIV)

"From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us." (Ac 17:26-27, NIV).

This passage tells us that while God wants all men to seek Him, He is actually not far from any one of us.

The Kingdom of God is Like Hidden Treasure
In fact Jesus compared the kingdom of God to hidden treasure that a man found buried in a field.

"The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it." (Mat 13:44-46)

You will find that many things in God's kingdom are like that, including finding Jesus, hearing the Lord's voice, and discovering the truth in Scripture. If you read the Bible, praying and asking God to speak to you, then search the Scriptures like you are searching for buried treasure, you will never be disappointed. You will find many passages to be like nuggets of gold that you have found.

Jesus Came to Seek the Lost
Amazingly, the reason Jesus came to earth was to seek and to save the lost. He said, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”(Lk 19:10, NIV). He admonishes us all throughout Scripture to seek Him, and yet He Himself is actively seeking the lost. Just as the Lord walked into the garden after Adam and Eve sinned and sought them out while they were hiding from Him, He continues to seek and save the lost today. 

In order to illustrate His great love for lost sinners and His eagerness to search for them, Jesus told them this parable, saying, "What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!' I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." (Luk 15:3-7)

The parable of the prodigal son also illustrates how God seeks the lost. When the prodigal son comes to his senses and returns to his father to repent, the father is already watching for him. And while the son is drawing near to him from a long distance, the father runs to meet him and embrace him. "So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him." (Luk 15:20).

Ways That Men Hide from God
I have already covered some of the ways that men hide from God. We do it much the same way as Adam and Eve did so.

One way that men hide from God is they carry out their sinful deeds under cover of darkness. Paul said, "For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night." (1 Thes 5:7, NIV). One reason why people do their dirty deeds at night is that the darkness hides their identity. Whether they are partying, doing drugs, getting drunk, dancing, carousing, committing sexual immorality, or stealing, they often do so in the dark of night.

One reason I think they do so is that the people who see them do their dirty deeds are those who approve of them and do the same things. But if other people were to see them during the daytime in broad daylight and disapprove, it would bother the sinners' consciences. Our conscience is something God has given to each one of us, and He speaks to us through our conscience telling us when we have done something either bad or good. Either our conscience convicts us of wrongdoing or commends us when we do what is right. By hiding in darkness from the disapproving gaze of the public, those who do so are in effect trying to avoid having their consciences bothered. By avoiding the pangs of conscience, they are actually trying to hide from God.

Jesus said, "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. "For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." (Joh 3:19-20).

It will not go well for those who seek to hide their sin. "Woe to those who deeply hide their plans from the LORD, And whose deeds are done in a dark place, And they say, 'Who sees us?' or 'Who knows us?'" (Isa 29:15).

Another way men hide from God is they cover up their sin and deny it. The hypocrites that Jesus encountered did this. Their hearts were full of greed and wickedness, and yet they covered over it by acting and dressing piously. "Then the Lord said to him, 'Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.'" (Lk 11:39, NIV). It's human nature for men to desire the approval of men, rather than the approval of God, so rather than confess their sin to God and men, they conceal their sin and go out of their way to look good in front of everyone.

When men do this, then they should not be surprised if God hides His face from them. He says, "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that he will not hear." (Is 59:2, NIV). When the Israelites deserted God and forgot Him, going after idols that were merely false gods, this is what happened to them. "The Lord saw this and rejected them because he was angered by his sons and daughters. 'I will hide My face from them,' He said, 'and see what their end will be; for they are a perverse generation, children who are unfaithful.'" (Deut 32:20, NIV).

Blameless Job once asked, "Have I covered my transgressions like Adam, by hiding my iniquity in my bosom?" (Job 31:33). Although Adam hid his iniquity from God, Job did not. He had the wisdom to know that "He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion." (Pro 28:13)

Nothing is Hidden from God
Why should we try to hide from God what He already knows? The Scriptures teach us that nothing in all creation is hidden from God, so we cannot keep secrets from God. The apostle wrote, "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." (Heb 4:13, NIV).

Also the Lord said, "For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity concealed from My eyes." (Jer 16:17).

Hiding from the Wrath of God
Those who do not fear the Lord and continue on in their sins will regret it deeply one day. But then it will be too late, because it will be the time for God's wrath to be poured out on them. Then they will try to hide themselves from His wrath.

"Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?'” (Rev 6:15-17, NIV).

Putting it All Together
As we have seen from Scripture, since the time of Adam's sin, there has been a real-life hide and seek with God going on, which all of us are involved in, one way or another.  Either you are hiding from God, covering up your sin, or you are diligently seeking the Lord while He may be found. I hope you are among the latter who seek the Lord, because there are many wonderful promises of reward from God for those who do so. But there are only dire warnings and woes for those who refuse to seek the Lord and conceal their sins.

If you think it's an exercise in futility to seek the Lord, you are badly mistaken. It's quite the opposite. It's actually a very profitable undertaking. On the other hand, it is a waste of time to hide from God, since nothing is hidden from His sight.

If you are already a Christian, and you do not think that you are hiding anything from God, let me encourage you to pray and ask Him to reveal anything in your life that is hidden that must go. Then as He reveals anything to you, confess it, renounce it, and forsake it. Ask Him to forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.

I hope this has encouraged you to see the seriousness of this reality you are in, because it's not a game. The Lord is calling out to us all to seek Him. Don't delay another day. He wants you to reach out and find Him, even though He is not far from any one of us. In fact, even while He seems hidden from you, He is seeking to save the lost. Won't you seek Him while He may be found?

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, copyright the Lockman Foundation, used by permission. Other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan, used by permission. Image copyright ATD Developer used according to Fair Use Act for commentary and educational purposes only.

Author's note: You are invited to read Seeking the LordThe Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer, The Cost of Discipleship, Strive to Enter the Kingdom of God, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, Separation from the World, Life Transformation Groups, and Ask for the Ancient Paths. You may access the Main Directory for this Seeking the Lord blog for more articles like this, as well as my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Messages from the Lord for Catholics Worshipping Idols Only the Holy -- Three Shocking TestimoniesAngelica Zambrano Hell and Heaven
Baptized by Blazing FireTaken to HellAngelica Zambrano Second Visit to Hell
Australian Pastor Raised from the DeadNigerian Pastor Raised from the DeadRevelation of Hell to Seven Colombian Youths

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.









Saturday, June 23, 2018

Our God is an Awesome God!

Dear God-seekers,

Let me encourage you today to seek the Lord with all your heart. He is awesome! Here are some Scriptures about the awesomeness of God:

"He was afraid and said, 'How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.'” (Gen 28:17)

 "Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?" (Ex 15:11)

"Then the Lord said: 'I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you.'" (Ex 34:10)

"Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?" (Deut 4:34)

"Do not be terrified by them, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God." (Deut 7:21)

"For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes." (Deut 10:17)

"He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes." (Deut 10:21)

"If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law, which are written in this book, and do not revere this glorious and awesome name—the Lord your God—  the Lord will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illnesses." (Deut 28:58)

"And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt?" (2 Sam 7:23)

"Then I said: 'Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments...'" (Neh 1:5)

"After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, 'Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.'" (Neh 4:14)

"'Now therefore, our God, the great God, mighty and awesome, who keeps his covenant of love, do not let all this hardship seem trifling in your eyes—the hardship that has come on us, on our kings and leaders, on our priests and prophets, on our ancestors and all your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria until today.'" (Neh 9:32)

"Out of the north he comes in golden splendor; God comes in awesome majesty." (Job 37:22)

"For the Lord Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth." (Ps 47:2)

"You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds, God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas,'" (Ps 65:5)

"Say to God, 'How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you.'" (Ps 66:3)

"'Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind!'" (Ps 66:5)

"You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God!" (Ps 68:35)

"In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; He is more awesome than all who surround him." (Ps 89:7)

"I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments," (Dan 9:4)

"The Lord will be awesome to them when he destroys all the gods of the earth. Distant nations will bow down to him, all of them in their own lands." (Zeph 2:1)

Testimonies of Those Who Saw the Lord
Many people have given testimony to seeing the Lord, like the prophet Isaiah, who saw Him on His throne high and lifted up with the seraphim above Him crying, "Holy, holy, holy!" (Is 6:1-7). Or like the prophet Ezekiel who saw the Lord high above the expanse above the living creatures, and described his torso as "what looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire," and below His waist what "looked like fire with brilliant light surrounding him." He saw the radiance around him with the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds (Ez 1:25-28, NIV). The apostle John saw the Lord on His throne in heaven, "and the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne." (Rev 4:3, NIV).

I have written about these in depth, as well as modern-day testimonies of those who have seen the Lord, in my articles The Bodily Form of God the Father and The Bodily Form of the Lord Jesus Christ. For further reading on this topic, I have also written about the testimonies of those for whom God has done amazing things in Testimonies from Budapest. And I have recorded many amazing testimonies of those who have seen the Lord and seen heaven and hell on Eternal Destinations. I invite you to check those out if you are interested, and you will be blessed if you do.

Putting it All Together
God is the only One whom we can truly say is awesome. I have often heard people misuse that word. For example I once knew a guy who, when asked how he was doing, would respond by saying, "Awesome!" I really don't think he was awesome. He may have been doing well by the grace of God, but none of us are awesome. Only God is awesome. That word means "extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear."

I have seen Him do so many awesome things. I have seen the Lord miraculously heal people. I have seen Him even cause a lady's leg to grow out right before our eyes in answer to prayer. I have watched as the Lord miraculously dissolved a lump in a man's throat within a few minutes in answer to prayer. I have seen Him instantly heal a young lady from neck pain. I have witnessed Him bring my mother back from the verge of death in the emergency room within just a few minutes in direct answer to prayer. I have seen Him overwhelm people with joy in His presence, and experienced that myself. I have seen Him bring people to their knees beneath the weight of His awesome glory, and I have experienced His glorious presence myself so many times. I have seen Him deliver people of demons. I have witnessed His miraculous provision for me and others. I have seen Him save sinners and bring backsliders home. He is good and He does good! He has done great things for us and we are glad!

Doxologies
When you consider Who God Is, it inspires thoughts and praises like those found in the wonderful doxologies of Scripture. Here are a couple that are appropriate to close with:

"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
    How unsearchable his judgments,
    and his paths beyond tracing out!
Who has known the mind of the Lord?
    Or who has been his counselor?
Who has ever given to God,
    that God should repay him?
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
    To him be the glory forever! Amen."
(Rom 11:33-36, NIV)

"God, the blessed and only Ruler,
  the King of kings and Lord of lords,
Who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light,
  whom no one has seen or can see.
To him be honor and might forever. Amen."
(1 Tim 6:15b-16, NIV)

“Great and marvelous are your deeds,
    Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
    King of the nations.
Who will not fear you, Lord,
    and bring glory to your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
    and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
(Rev 15:3-4, NIV)

Attribution notice: Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan, used with permission.

Author's note Also see Who is God?, Who is God - Part IIKnowing the Lord, Known by God, The Knowledge of the Holy, Is Jesus God?, Jesus is Yehova, The Bodily Form of God the Father, The Bodily Form of the Lord Jesus Christ, The Light and the Glory, Jesus Alone Reveals the Father, and The Glory of the Lord Revealed.

You may find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.