I love Francis Frangipane's messages. I find them inspiring, challenging, wise and practical. This one is no exception. In fact, I think it is one of his more important ones because Western Christianity has become complacent in seeking God and has instead determined to 'let the pastor do it.' It is time we returned to the Biblical mandate to seek God with our whole heart, mind and strength.
Everyone Who Seeks Finds
It is not hard to recognize one who has spent extended time at a newsstand: his conversation overflows with the drama of current affairs. And it is not hard to discern a person who has come from a sporting event, as their face reveals the outcome of the game. Likewise, people can tell when an individual has spent extended time seeking God. An imperturbable calm guards their heart, and their countenance is radiant with light, as with the morning dew of Heaven.
Beloved, to seek and find God is everything.
The Eternal Imprint
It is to our shame that, in our era, church services do not focus more on actually seeking God. Yes, we do honor God and thank Him for what He has done. We sing and hear a sermon and, perhaps, enjoy a time of fellowship with others. Yet only rarely do we depart a congregational meeting with the fire of eternity reflecting off our faces. Instead, we fill up with information about God without actually drawing near to Him. Most of us are still largely unaware of God's presence.
While we rightly need church programs, fellowship, and times for ministry training, we must not automatically assume that religious indoctrination is the same thing as actually seeking God. And while I am often blessed listening to contemporary Christian music, even godly entertainment is no substitute for my own worship encounter with God.
Therefore, let us ask ourselves: Is there a place and a time set apart in our spiritual lives where we can give ourselves to seeking God? What if the Spirit of God actually desired to manifest Himself during our worship service? Would the Lord have to wait until we finished our scheduled program? I respect and recognize the need for order; we need the scheduled times for announcements and the defined purposes that currently occupy Sunday mornings, but have we made room for God Himself?
"He Knew Not That His Face Shone"
When we first determine to draw near to God, it may seem we have little to show for our efforts. Yet be assured: even the thought of seeking God is a step toward our transformation. Still, we often do not notice the first signs of our spiritual renewal, for as we grow increasingly more aware of God, we simultaneously grow increasingly less aware of ourselves. Though we may not see that we are changing, others certainly will.
Consider the experience of Moses. The Lord's servant had ascended Mount Sinai, and there stood before the living God. The eyes of Moses were actually filled with God's sun-like glory; his ears actually heard the audible sound of the Lord's voice. Yet when Moses returned to the people, the Bible says he "did not know that the skin of his face shone" (Exod. 34:29). When the Israelites saw the fire of God's glory on the face of Moses, "they were afraid to come near him" (v. 30). They saw he had been with God.
The church needs more people who have, like Moses, climbed closer to the Almighty, people who have stood in the sacred fire of God's presence. Instead, we exhaust ourselves arguing over peripheral doctrines or styles of music in our song services. Perhaps there are benefits to constantly debating the nuances of our doctrines, but are we not more truly thirsting for the reality of God?
The Enemy's Resistance
What happens when we seek God? The Bible says at the very moment we are drawing near to Him, the living presence of God Himself is drawing near to us (James 4:8). Help is coming, redemption for our situation is on its way, strength will soon be arriving, and the powers of healing are activated.
But, one may argue, what if we seek Him and He does not come near. Fear not, He will. He may not manifest as we supposed, but He will come. However, let us also acknowledge there may be a spiritual battle. We must be persistent.
Recall the experience of the prophet Daniel (Dan. 10:2-13). For three weeks he sought the Lord with fasting and mourning. Then, suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, assuring him that "from the first day that you set your heart … on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard" (v. 12). What took so long? The "prince of the kingdom of Persia," a demonic spiritual ruler, stood against the angel sent to Daniel (v. 13). There was spiritual warfare.
So strengthen your heart for the likelihood of battle. There may be delays and resistance. Remember, it is those who overcome who inherit the promises of God.
Beyond the obstacles caused by spiritual warfare, we also have inherent weaknesses that can hinder our quest for God. For example, you begin to seek God, but instead of making progress, you find yourself distracted, thinking of things you need to do. To silence a persistent memory, simply write down the things it tells you. Once they are written down, your memory will quiet and your heart will return to seeking God.
Another hindrance to drawing closer to God may be the emotional burdens we carry. Just as we have cleared our memory issues, so we should take time to cast our burdens upon the Lord (1 Pet. 5:6-7). Ironically, our cares and worries may have helped motivate us heavenward, yet they can also dominate our consciousness and, together with other issues, even "choke the word" (Matt. 13:22), leaving us unfruitful in our pursuit of God.
So, as you seek the Lord, as issues and personal concerns arise, place your burdens upon the Lord's shoulders. If your concern is for a loved one, commit that person into the Lord's keeping; if you are struggling with sin, ask God for forgiveness. If it is unresolved conflict with another person, forgive them as much as you presently can and move closer to God.
If you are troubled by the lack of depth in your forgiveness toward others, remember: the grace to fully release people who have wounded us does not abide with us but in Christ. The closer we draw to Him, the greater power we possess over sin and our reactions to life.
Our goal is to, day by day, draw nearer to God. He has commanded that we come boldly to His throne of grace. To receive the help we need, we must arrive at His throne. Remember also that our confidence comes from Christ Himself. He promised, "Everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened" (Matt. 7:8).
We are seeking a lifetime of increasing devotion, though it may certainly begin in a season of drawing near. In spite of natural and spiritual obstacles, as we persevere, the Lord assures us, "How much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!" (Matt. 7:11).
If we do not cease seeking and knocking, we will discover unfolding degrees of intimacy with God. Even now, He's drawing near. The Lord promises, "Everyone who … seeks finds" (Matt. 7:8).
Master, to possess more of You is the heart-focus of my existence. Draw near, blessed Redeemer, and fulfill Your desire for me by fulfilling my desire for You.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The preceding excerpts are taken from Pastor Frangipane's book And I Will Be Found by You. A few months ago a new version was published by Passio, a division of Charisma Media. To make way for this new edition, we are offering the original version for just $5.67 (a 58% discount). Limited quantities so act soon, especially if you want bulk quantities.