We Seek Him 5

Mark 3:31-35

During that stretch of years when the relatives in my generation were all getting married, my cousins and I would often joke around by declaring to one another, “Hey, after this wedding we’ll be related!” Well, of course we would be related after the wedding. We were related before the wedding.

The joking aside, people joining together in marriage not only create their own small family, they become a link between two larger families. In a sense these separate families are united and a new family emerges.

Jesus himself made reference to a new type of family relation during his ministry. Who has come to visit Jesus? What question did Jesus pose? What does he say of those who do God’s will?

We are looking forward to this coming Sunday when two adults will be joining the church as new members. Joining the church is a public declaration of faith in Jesus Christ and a public commitment to becoming part of the church family. As members of a church family we have a shared claim on Jesus as our Savior, as well as a shared sense of caring for one another.

When we seek Jesus to have an encounter with him and enter into this relationship of faith, we are becoming part of a much larger group of people. We are becoming part of all those who have accepted Jesus. We are becoming part of all those who have believed and served the Lord in all the world.

As we seek Jesus and find him, we are changed. We are no longer alone, but united with the faithful across space and time. But there are some requirements that are expected of us. Just as joining the church is a declaration of the faithful behavior we will exhibit, declaring your belief in Christ is a commitment to doing the good work of God.

To be a brother or sister to Jesus we must not only seek him, we must do God’s will. And what is God’s will? In John 6:40 Jesus says, “my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life.” For us to do the will of God means that we will take part in helping others seek Jesus to have that relationship with him.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What do you do that makes you a brother or sister to Jesus?

We Seek Him 4

Luke 11:9-10

There was a time a few years back when our doorbell stopped working for some reason. We have since had it replaced, but when it wasn’t working it was not unusual for any one of us in the family to unexpectedly discover a person standing on our porch waiting patiently for someone to come to the door. If a person wanted our attention during that time they needed to knock.

Jesus gives some simple instruction and encouragement for anyone who would like to have an encounter with him. What three approaches are presented? What will happen if we do these things?

There are lots and lots of people who are either intimidated by the Bible because it is so complicated, or they are intrigued by the Bible because it is so mysterious. Many people view religion as a complex maze of secret words and mystifying rituals that somehow, if we do it right and we’re lucky, will connect us to God. But that is not true at all.

God is not hiding from us. Jesus is not a puzzle that must be figured out, and the Bible is not a code book.

Jesus wants us to have an encounter with him. God wants us to be in a relationship with Him. And to seek Jesus, to find God, we must do the simplest of tasks. We need to ask God to be in a relationship with us. We need to seek Jesus by trying to learn about who he is. We need to knock on the door of the Lord.

How do we do these things? To seek God you should be certain that you are attending worship as often as you can. You should read your Bible, even if it is just a verse or two a day (and since you are receiving the “10/2 Grow” you are doing that).

But simple prayer is the first step. If you truly want to be a Christian and you truly want Jesus in your life, all you need to do is pray to Jesus and invite him into your heart. Say, “Lord Jesus, I want you in my heart and my life.”

Pray it every morning for a few days and see if your attitude in life doesn’t change. I believe that Jesus will never turn away from us, so if you invite him in – really, honestly desire him to be with you – he will come into your life and that incredible, rewarding, fulfilling relationship will begin.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Are you ready to ask, seek and knock?

We Seek Him 3

Luke 18:18-22

I used to absolutely dread going to the Department of Motor Vehicles to have anything done. It seemed that every time I went I had to wait in line for nearly an hour only to get to the counter and learn that I did not have all the documents required. It can be frustrating to find out that you are not prepared for whatever it is you are planning to do.

Jesus encountered a rich man once. In the encounter Jesus had to let the man know that he wasn’t as ready as he thought he was. What question does the man ask? What “good things” does Jesus list as requirements? Where does the man stand as far as these commandments? What is he lacking?

If you continue reading this story you will find that the rich ruler, or rich young man, is unable to do all the things that Jesus has listed as requirements to inherit eternal life. When he first came we can imagine that he may have been feeling rather cocky. He already obeyed the Ten Commandments – no adultery, no murder, no stealing, and so on.

But Jesus adds one more thing as a requirement for eternal life. Give away everything.

This story is frequently used when talking about financial giving. I wonder, though, if Jesus’ response about selling everything was specific for that person. He was rich. What he lacked was the ability to give up his money.

I think the overall message of this encounter is not about money, but about commitment. If we will seek Jesus we must be committed to that encounter and that relationship. We can’t just go through the rituals of faith – I sit in a pew; I sing the hymns; I pray, therefore I am a good Christian. We must be completely committed.

The rich man claimed to be a good man and probably thought himself very devout. But really, how hard is not to steal, murder or commit adultery? His investment in his faith was minimal and superficial.

Jesus calls us to seek him, but we must seek him with conviction and with a whole-hearted attitude.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What must you “sell” so that you can seek after Jesus?

We Seek Him 2

John 3:1-3

When our children first expressed an interest in being involved in sports at our local school we wondered what was required to get on the team. The schools where my wife and I attended when we were younger required try-outs, demonstrations of skill and ability, to be chosen for the team. When we asked about our local school someone from church told us the way to get on the team. “Just show up,” he said.

The requirements were not as extreme as we anticipated. Likewise, having a relationship with Jesus is not something you can buy nor does it require a special code. In John 3 we have an encounter between Nicodemus and Jesus. Nicodemus was seeking a relationship with Christ and what was required was not exactly what he was expecting.

Who was Nicodemus? What would you assume about Nicodemus and his faith based on that information? What does Nicodemus know about Jesus? What requirement for seeing the kingdom of God does Jesus give?

As a high-ranking member of the Jewish faith we might assume that Nicodemus would know how to have a relationship with God. But when Jesus tells him what is required Nicodemus is taken off guard. If you continue with the story of this encounter (John 3:1-12) you will see that Nicodemus was perplexed by what was required.

If we seek a relationship with Jesus there is little that is required of us. We need to be merciful and acknowledge God as Lord of all (see Hosea 6:6). But if we will be in a relationship with Jesus things will need to change. We will need to be different than what we are now.

To see the kingdom of God, that is to be part of this incredible experience of being a child of God and companion to Christ, we must be born again. We must have our spirit changed.

We need to let go of our former, earthly and selfish attitudes and take on a heavenly attitude. We must allow the Holy Spirit to give us a new spirit within, a new attitude and desire to live a good and holy life of compassion, love and care.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Are you willing to be born again?

We Seek Him 1

Hosea 6:6

We have just recently celebrated Mother’s Day and soon we will be honoring fathers as well. As we think about holidays where we give gifts we may be struggling with exactly what we are supposed to give to that person who will receive the gift. It is always nice to get a gift that is exactly what you wanted, something that fits your needs or desires perfectly. However, I believe what is most essential is not the specific gift, but rather the idea that you took time to think about that gift and remember the recipient.

We encounter Jesus in several different ways in our faith. We are invited into communion with God. Sometimes we need the help of God. And other times we realize that we need to have that relationship so we seek Jesus.

As we look at how we enter into a relationship with our Lord we can ask ourselves what it is that we are supposed to bring to this encounter. Are we supposed to give expensive gifts? Are we supposed to act like someone we are not? Are there certain words we need to speak?

In truth, although God can use the gifts we bring and there are certain words we may use as we worship the Lord and pray to God, the most essential part of encountering Christ is our attitude. Hosea offers a message from God. What does God want? What does God not want?

If we truly want to encounter Jesus there aren’t any special tricks or rituals we need to perform to have that relationship. Instead, we need to come to the Lord with a willing heart and a soul that desires to be in unity with Christ. To achieve that, we must begin with a heart of mercy. We must come to Jesus with a humble attitude acknowledging that God is the Almighty One who is to be honored and praised.

We can’t buy a place in God’s love. We can’t sacrifice enough things in our life to make God reserve a place for us. God wants us to be loving and caring, humble and merciful. God desires that we should desire the relationship that He wants to have with us.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you be certain to have the right attitude when you come to God?