Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Seek Ye First

I realize that this blog has taken a turn towards the wordy side lately, and I promise, I will soon get back to cooking and crafting. I actually have a project in the works as we speak and several more just itching to get out. But for the moment, I feel it is imperative that I share what is on my heart because the change that is occurring in my life personally has opened my eyes to a world of complacency that has slowly lulled the church (as a whole) into a comatose state.

First of all, let me say that this message is intended for the believer. It is under the assumption that we agree Christ is Lord and that the God we serve is the God of the universe, completely sovereign in every way, and worthy of ALL our time and attention, in EVERY area of our lives. If you do not believe this, then the rest of this message will most likely have no meaning for you, and I encourage you to seek out the truth about this foundational belief for yourself.

Now that we all agree that God is God and we are not, what does that mean for our lives? John 3:30 says, "He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less." John 12:24-25 says, "I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels - a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity." 1 John 5:14-15 says, "And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases Him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for." (emphasis mine)

We have all heard of dying to ourselves so that we can live for Christ, but what does that mean, and are we really doing it? Have we really given EVERYTHING to God or are we still holding something, or maybe a lot of somethings, that we just can't bring ourselves to part from? Is the possibility of difficult times or the feeling that "I just don't want to" keeping you from giving something to the Lord? I find that many Christians talk about trusting God and that trust seems so deep and spiritual when they are forced into a difficult situation that they know only the Lord can get them out of. But what about the rest of the time? Do we still have to "trust" when times are good? I think that's really the hardest thing. It's one thing to trust God when you have no other choice, but when your life is going just as you'd like it to go and you are enjoying being the one in control, then it gets hard to hand over the reins. I will admit, being a self-proclaimed control freak, that this is much harder for some of us than others. But even the most "laid back" of us have something that we refuse to give up power over. What is it for you?

Now, earlier, I emphasized that what I'm seeing happening is affecting the church as a whole. I am not here to judge or condemn. The decisions you are making in your life are between you and God, though I must point out that despite popular opinion which claims we are all individuals with our own lives to live and our own decisions to make that are our business and shouldn't be interfered with, we are part of one body, and every single action that an individual part makes, whether good or bad, WILL affect the entire body either for good or for bad. If we are all concerned with only ourselves and fail to recognize and address a potential danger in another we are putting the entire body at risk. Galatians 6:1 makes it abundantly clear that we are to "gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path..." And if that person, or group of people are unwilling to listen to loving correction, then they are willingly walking in their sin. Now, I am not claiming to be the one who has figured it all out, or saying that if you don't listen to what I have to say, you are sinning. I am not God. I am simply one body part, passing along a message that God has been repeatedly revealing to me through several otherwise unrelated sources, asking that you simply consider them. I am asking that you honestly examine your own life choices and decisions and PRAY about them. That's it. If that request bothers you, offends you in some manner, then I will say, without apology, that you are indeed living your life outside of God's guidelines, because in all things, we are commanded to pray and seek God's will.

So, then, that poses the question: What is God's will? Now before anyone jumps up out of their seat, steaming over the notion that I am about to tell you God's will for YOUR life, you can all breathe - I'm not going to do that. What I am going to do is ask you "Have you HONESTLY sought God's will in EVERY area of your life?" Don't answer too quickly. Stop. Think about it. Really think about it. Don't just assume the answer is 'yes'. I am talking to the Christians here, those of us who are playing in the praise band, singing in front of the congregation every Sunday, teaching in the kids' ministry, standing in the pulpit and preaching, or simply sitting in the front row and listening every week. I am not talking to the ones who are clearly living in sin, the ones who don't believe God is sovereign, the ones who think church is a waste of time. I am talking to all of us who for the most part are doing the things God calls us to do. However, it's very easy to get comfortable, to simply assume that we are living the life we believe God has called us to or are currently striving to obtain the life we believe he has called us to. But are you really? I'm not here to make that judgement or even give you an outline to make that judgement for yourself. I am simply asking you to pray. I am asking you to consider every area of your life and humbly bring it before the Lord. Are there any areas of your life that you are still vying for control of, that you are unwilling to surrender to God, that you maybe hadn't even considered would be something worth praying about? I am here to tell you that there is no such thing. Everything is not only worth praying about, but absolutely imperative.

I want to address one such issue, not because I believe it is any more important than another, but because it is the one issue in my life that God has used to snap me out of my spiritual coma. Over the last month or so, God has been slowly working on my heart, painfully pulling me out of my complacent and comfortable life. It's actually ironic that I believed I was living a "comfortable" life, because ever since I finally gave God what he has been so eagerly asking me for, I have realized that the thing I was holding onto was in fact making my life miserable. The issue I'm referring to is that of family planning and the use of birth control. If ever there was a topic in our lifetime that people, including Christians, didn't even give a second thought to, this is it. Now, I'm not going to get into a debate about whether or not everyone should or shouldn't use birth control. If you are interested in learning more about this issue, which if you are married and fertile, I certainly hope that you at least consider it worthy of prayer and consideration, first study what the Bible has to say about children and really consider God's opinion of them and the place they are to have in our lives. Second, in my previous post, I referenced a wonderful blog by the name of Generation Cedar, which is abounding in both biblical and medical information about this issue. I am asking you though, if you are married, have you prayed about this issue or was it simply, as it was for me, a given? We think, of course we must use some form of "protection" to "protect" us from having children, which by the way, God calls blessings, not curses, something to be sought after not protected from like an unwanted disease, before WE are ready, or from having more than WE want. If you are married, have you sat at the feet God, and asked, REALLY asked, "God, do you want to use this body to bring another life into the world? When would you like that to happen? How many would you like to give us stewardship over? Your will be done, Lord, not mine." Sadly, the prayers we bring before God are often not those just listed, but instead look more like this: "God, I have decided that I want two children, and I would like to have them sometime after I turn 27 but no later than 36, and I would like one to be a girl, so if they are both boys then maybe I will try again, if I feel like it, to see if I can get that girl, but then I'm definitely done. There's no way I'm having more than three kids. Ok, God?" And if we're in a really "humble" mood, we might ask God to show us when the time is right to have those two kids instead of being dead set on age 27. So my question is, have you TRULY sought God's will in this area?

Have you sought his will in every area? Remember, this isn't about the details. The details are between you and God. I obviously have a strong opinion about the aforementioned issue because I DID seek God's will, and he faithfully gave me an answer. I can't say that he will definitely give you the same one, but have you asked?

Have you asked about the other areas of your life?

If you are pursuing a certain career, have you asked God, "What kind of job do you want me to have? Do you even want me to work at all? Am I supposed to go be a missionary?" Or has your question instead been "Well God, I have narrowed it down to two jobs that I just can't pick between. Which one should I pursue?" never even considering the fact that maybe the answer is neither.

If you are looking for a good school for your kids and you just can't decide between the great private school down the road or the public school with such great academics, and you've been asking God to give you a peace about which one your child should attend, have you even considered that maybe he wants you to homeschool?

If you are tirelessly searching for a new home, so anxious to live anywhere but where you are, and you've been asking God to show you where in the country you are supposed to be moving to, have you considered that maybe he wants you to stay right where you are, and maybe for the rest of your life? If that's the case, can you trust him to provide for you in the way that only he can, and know that even though it's not even close to what you want, it is exactly what you need?

Whatever the issue is in your life, whether it's big or small, maybe you haven't even figured out yet that it's an issue. Maybe you, like me, just assumed it was a given. Why would I even consider asking God whether or not I'm supposed to be doing this thing? Of course I'm supposed to, the question isn't yes or no, the question is which one, right?

Think about it. Pray about it. Whatever IT is. And remember that EVERYTHING is IT. Don't take anything for granted. Don't ASSUME anything. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you!"

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