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The Glory of Seeking

Scripture: Luke 11:9-10, Hebrews 11:6, John 6:26
Date: 01/29/2000 
The first question in the Bible is, "Where are you?" The first question in the New Testament is, "Where is He?" The Bible encourages us to seek and search for good things. Just as a shepherd searches for a valuable lost sheep, so God seeks for us.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Morning. Some of you may have noticed that in your bulletin it states that Don was going to sing that song at the end of the program. I asked if he would move it up. I wanted him to sing that before we moved into the message on seeking. But at the end of the program we’re going to sing a hymn together and it’s I Will Early Seek The Savior. That’s 539. So I’m just letting you know that now. You know, our bulletins here at Central are sort of just a recommendation. Which also reminds me that we had put in the bulletin that Friday there was going to be another bible study fellowship training program. See, we printed the bulletin earlier this week. We covered everything last night. And so we looked at each other and said, “Well, what will we do at the next program?” And so there will not be another training program. We covered the whole program last night. And just be watching out in the foyer for the sign up list and we’re going to take off from this point. Amen? But I just needed to make those corrections and I apologize for any confusion there may be. The message today is going to focus on the subject of the glory of seeking.

I believe the Lord wired us where we need to have a purpose. God has not only placed within us all a little element of curiosity that makes us want to search, but searching is the big purpose in life. Searching for knowledge, relationships, fulfillment, love. You know the first question that you find in the Bible is; actually I should say this to be more accurate, the first question that God asks in the Bible. He says, “Where are you?” The first question that you find in the New Testament is the wise men saying, “Where is he?” Man has been separated from God by sin. Isaiah reminds us that our sins and our iniquities have separated us from God. And the most important purpose in life is we are searching for a way to get back to the Garden. Amen? It’s the big search in life. Christ tells us to, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.” First thing that Jesus says in the gospel of John, John 1:38. It says, “Jesus turned and seeing them following him, He says to them,” here are the first words of Christ, “What do you seek?” Do you ever ask that question of yourself? What do you seek? What are you looking for? What are you searching for? What is your purpose in life? Where are you drifting or where are you going deliberately? Luke 11:9-10 and this is found a little differently than you find it in Matthew. Christ is speaking and He says, “So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives; and he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

Of course, it talks about asking and knocking, but we want to focus on the seeking here. “Seek and you’ll find.” The glory of searching. Now I’ve outlined 10 aspects that we’re going to look at in the spectrum of searching. I’m sure it’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s enough for us to digest in one message. And we’re going to look at some of the elements in searching and seeking that have a play in our lives. First profound thought I’d like to share with you. People search for that which is valuable. People seek for that which is valuable. Now am I the only one that’s accidentally dropped change at the checkout counter? [Have]You ever done that before? You’re fumbling for your change and you drop some and you reach down to pick it up. Sometimes you drop it and a penny rolls under the counter and there’s six people waiting in line behind you. And they’re already irritated because they’re so far back in line and you’ve dropped a penny that just rolled under the counter. How many of you will just go on and leave the penny? I wouldn’t get down and grovel around on my hands and knees in front of all those people for a penny. So what I do is I drop a quarter down there with it and kick it underneath. For 26 cents I’d do it, see? Because you’ve just increased the value, it makes it worthwhile. No one would do it for a penny.

So if you don’t want to be laughed at for looking for a penny then drop a little more and kick it under the counter. When I lived in New York City, and I’m not kidding, one of the little gimmicks my brother and I used to do, we’d go to these drug stores in these different old stores and they didn’t have the nice clean baseboard there by the checkout stand and we discovered one day by accident. I dropped some change and when I went down to find my change I found a whole bunch of other money I didn’t drop underneath there. So when I’d go to some of these stores I’d always drop money. And I’d get down and I’d look and find whatever else I could find down there. And one time I was at a drugstore and I found a 1909 VDB Lincoln-head penny that was worth $300. Like a dope I didn’t know it at the time and I gave it to my brother who had a coin collection. He later told me that. But you can find things when you search, right? That’s what the promise is. “Seek and you’ll find.” People search for that which is valuable. Matthew 18:12-13, “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety and nine, and go to the mountains to seek the one that has strayed? And if he should find it, assuredly I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep, than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.”

You know, probably I could have a little subcategory here. Not only do we seek for that which is valuable, but when we find that which we have sought for we rejoice. It is very fulfilling to find something of value you have been searching for. But we don’t search for that which is valueless. You know, sometimes somebody is lost at sea. You know the American government after Amelia Erhart disappeared over a period of 10 days they spent $250,000 a day. That was a phenomenal amount back then, $250,000 a day searching for Amelia Erhart. As time went by and it became evident that she was not where she should have been and very likely went down in the ocean and could not have survived over that period of time they gave up the search. Because a person is more valuable alive than dead. And you’re not going to search forever and ever and spend that kind of money for someone that’s probably not alive. You know the tragic news every now and then, someone is lost. And then you’ll hear them come over the air and they’ll say, “After several days of seeking we have opted to abandon the search.” Because it’s very unlikely that person will be found alive. Sometimes they’re shocked and the person is later discovered. I heard about some people that were lost in Alaska and they gave up the search, sure they were dead. Thirty days later, they lived on toothpaste and rabbits that they were able to snare. They found them alive. A man went out there and made some homemade snowshoes. In this big meadow he typed SOS with his feet. A plane flying over found them.

They had given them up for dead. How many of you remember that story? They wrote a book about it called I’m alive. That’s what it is. Interesting thing about that story is there was a man and a lady he was taxiing that crashed in that plane crash and after several days of not being found he told her, he said, she was a heathen, he was a Christian. He said, “You know, we’re not going to be found until you read the Bible. That’s why we’re here.” It’s a true story. She resisted for several days and finally in desperation she started reading the Bible. This is the truth. When she said she’s read through the whole New Testament, not the whole Bible, the whole New Testament. When she got to the end of the New Testament and read, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus,” she heard an airplane engine overhead and they were rescued. She was not only found, but she found something that she didn’t know she needed. That wasn’t’ even in my notes. Thank you, Lord, I just remembered that little story. Any of you ever lost a child? You don’t need to raise your hand because it’s always embarrassing when you lose something that precious, right?

Any of you ever lost a child in some public place? Typically happens between the age of 2 ½ and 4. Where they become preoccupied with what their mission is or what they’re looking at or thinking about and you’re not watching for a moment. Or maybe you think your husband’s watching and he’s not paying attention. And all of a sudden you look at each other and you say, “Where’s Nathan?” Not that it’s ever happened to us before. [Comments between Doug and Karen] Yeah, it’s happened. It happened once with Stephen at camp meeting when he was about that age. Disappeared and, you know, there’s all these mobile homes and everything out there and you lose a little two or three year old, you start getting. First you look around and then you say, ”Don’t panic.” Then you look a little more and then you say, “Panic!” And then you start rushing around. And there’s been a few times where we have misplaced, we’ve never really lost them, we’ve misplaced our children for brief periods of time. You start making vows to God. “If you could only find them again.” You know what I’m talking about? You get frantic. And there’s a lot of weird people out there and strange things that happen. And you start thinking the worst. And it’s such a relief when you find them. People search for what’s valuable. They also search more intensely for that which is more valuable.

Is that safe to say? The more precious, I would search more for my child than a lost sheep. Matter of fact, some of you maybe remember me explaining that when I lived up in the mountains we had goats. And one day I woke up and a bear came under the house where the goats were, hit the house so hard to grab the goat that the whole house shook. I thought someone hit the house with a truck. Four in the morning the whole house shakes. All of a sudden I hear [crying]. My goat was screaming. I knew it was not a normal baa. This bear picked up an 80-pound goat and was running uphill. Now I remembered in the Bible it says that David laid his life on the line to save a sheep. But I also remembered that the Lord makes a distinction between sheep and goats. And He says the goats aren’t going to make it anyway. And so I didn’t really see any purpose in going out in the dark with a 22 and shooting a hungry bear. I thought my life was more valuable than the goat’s. I’m always embarrassed to tell people that. But it’s true. I was scared to death. I don’t know how far to take this story. That’s probably far enough. In any event, we search for that which is valuable. And we place varying degrees on valuables. When the Bible says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God,” how do you value that? How valuable is it to you? Point number two. You might be making notes.

Point number one; we look for what’s valuable. Point number two, and I’ll try and give a scripture with each point, we are told to seek continually. “Seek always.” Psalm 105:3-4, “Glory in his holy name: let the heart of them that rejoice seek the Lord. Seek the Lord, and his strength: seek his face for evermore.” Seek Him for evermore. You know a lot of people out there are searching for purpose. Now I’m still comparatively a novice with the Internet and those aspects. I use it only as much as I have to because I don’t have time. I’ve got friends who I think they must have nothing better to do than to surf the Internet all day long because they’re constantly emailing me stuff they find on the Internet. Nothing, no offence intended. Some of my friends that do that are sitting here right now. But I don’t know how they find all this stuff because I don’t have that much time. I just get my mail. Every now and then I’ve got to find something specific. But you know, how many of you, let me just check, how many of you have computers and you’re on the Internet? Let me see your hands. Hold your hands up. It’s growing all the time. How many of you got on in the last year. Let me see your hands. Well look at that. You know what it’ll be like next year at Central Church? We’ll be worshipping on the Internet. You know they, I’m not kidding.

I was listening to a radio program this week and they’re projecting that, well right now they say 20 million Americans search for religious information on the Internet. They said by the year 2010 50% of Americans may be performing their worship at home, attending services via the Internet. And making their credit card offerings. It seems like that’s the way things are drifting. You know, I thought about that and they’ve got these search engines on the Internet where you can search. There is more information available, and some of it’s not good, but there is more information available now on the Internet than has ever been available through the history of man in all the libraries of time combined, today at your desktop computer, through a modem. Incredible amounts of information. I remember one time I heard on the radio them tell a story about this man in England who is buried in Westminster Abbey and I knew his last name was Brown. He lived to 150 years of age. They documented that he lived through the reign of about eight monarchs including Queen Elizabeth, who reigned 50 years, and Henry VIII. He died; he lived a simple life as a farmer. He died from eating the rich food of the king. And the king felt so bad that he had killed this patriarch in England, 150 years old, he was buried in Westminster Abbey. He was used to eating oatmeal and potatoes.

Went to the palace. The king wined him and dined him and killed him. And I thought, “That’d be a great story to tell during the Satellite Seminar.” So I thought, I looked through my encyclopedias. I thought, “I’ll try the internet.” I started typing in Westminster Abbey and I found it! You can find almost anything. Well you know I got an idea. And I hope you don’t mind my doing a little Amazing Facts promotion during our church time. One of our projects at Amazing Facts this year, when I heard that there are 20 million people in North America searching for religious information on the internet I said, “We need to have an evangelistic website.” And I started thinking, “Let’s find a name for it.” You know all the names are taken. You type in like The Bible; somebody owns it. It’s registered. You can’t take it. It’s like a license plate. Or you type in The Word, The Light and I typed in thousands of combinations of what would typically be good websites for the Bible. They’re all taken. Or someone buys them and they say, “You have to pay me $1 million and I’ll sell it to you.” Really. The Bible is for sale, in case you want to know. That title. I dare you to find out how much it is. And I kept going and going. Finally I started getting creative and I came up with Bible Universe. The ultimate website. Nobody owned it.

Might have guessed that, right? And so we registered BibleUniverse.com.org.net. We also registered BiUni so people can later abbreviate it. BiUni.net.org.com. And we’re building this website. If you go there now you’ll just see, “Under Construction.” But we want to have a website because there are so many people out there that are searching for truth. When they type in words like Jesus, Prophecy, Christian, things like that, they’re going to be directed to this website. Because we get a lot of volume. Andrew’s sitting here. How many hits a day do we get on the Amazing Facts website? 3,000 hits a day on the Amazing Facts website. We got like 180,000 one month. And so people are searching out there for truth. So we’re going to try and capitalize on this. Now we’re to seek forevermore. Seek always. I remember reading sometime someone said, “Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.

Every morning the lion wakes up it knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up you’d better start running.” Spurgeon likewise wrote, “If you’re not seeking the Lord the devil is seeking you. If you are not continually seeking the Lord judgment is at your heels.” In the Christian life it’s not simply enough to wake up. We are called to run. Amen? You’ve got to wake up and get moving. You need to be pursuing or you are being pursued. Matter of fact you’re being pursued whether you’re pursuing or not. Point number three, we’re commanded to seek persistently. Hebrews 11:6, “Without faith it is impossible to please God: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and he is a rewarder of those that aerobically seek him.” Now I knew you’d look up when I said that. It says, “diligently,” but do you know how that translates? To the point of perspiration.

He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him. And then you heard our memory verse, Jeremiah 29:13, “And you will seek me, and you will find me, when you search for me with all of your heart.” You know my father has given a lot of money to cystic fibrosis. I don’t know that he’s given any to muscular dystrophy. I don’t know that he’s given any to AIDS or any of a number of other causes. Why do you think my father gave so much to cystic fibrosis? Because my brother died from cystic fibrosis. He is trying to help people seek and find a cure because it is so important to him because something very precious was lost. You can tell what’s important to people by what they’re looking for. You can tell what people value by what they’re seeking. And if we value eternal life in Jesus then we ought to search continually and we ought to search with all of our hearts. Amen? Point number four; be careful what you seek, you might find it. The promise is, “Seek and you will find.”

It doesn’t say, “Seek for something good and you’re going to find it.” It says, “Seek and you’ll find.” Some people seek and seek and find and they’re sorry they were searching. King David was running from Saul and Saul was searching everywhere for David. A couple of times Saul found David. Both times Saul was humiliated when he found what he sought for. Make sure you’re looking for the right thing. I’ve discovered that people find what they look for. It’s a principle in life. I heard about this man that was sitting out in one of these old gas stations on the outskirts of a small town. And this family pulled up with their station wagon all loaded down. They were moving and while they were gassing up they asked the old proprietor, they said, “Well, we’re moving here into Podunk,” or whatever the town was called. They said, “What kind of people live in Podunk?” “What kind of people,” the old man asked, “What kind of people live in the town you were from?” “Fairly nice folks.” He said, “That’s what you’re going to find in Podunk.” Someone else pulls up and they’re moving into town. They say, “Podunk, we’re moving to town.

What kind of people are here in Podunk?” He said, “Well, what kind of people did you find in your town?” “Oh, there were ornery hypocrites there.” “That’s probably what you’re going to find in Podunk.” You find what you look for. You know, I think it’s interesting. I hope I don’t hurt anybody’s feelings, but I get letters in the church office and I try and read all my mail. And sometimes in the same week I’ll get a letter that says, “Pastor Doug, we were visiting. Thank you so much for your services. It was so wonderful and people were so friendly.” Same week, another visitor, “Pastor Doug, how come your church is so unfriendly?” Same week. I guess they just ran into the wrong ushers or sat on the wrong side of the church or I don’t know. But it’s interesting how you can be in the same environment and find such diversity. Could it be we find what we look for? You know you can find good and bad everywhere.

You’ve heard me share this illustration that any given spring day in California you can see one of two birds flying over the same countryside. One of them looks like an iridescent bug and it’s a hummingbird. And it’s darting, flitting from flower to flower. The other one at first glance looks like an eagle, but it’s really a vulture. It’s soaring high, not because it wants to get closer to heaven, but because it wants a good vantage point of something dead. Two birds, same weather, same area, looking for diametric opposites. One is looking for something dead and one is looking for something sweet. It depends on what kind of bird you are. And you know what? The buzzard finds the dead bunny and the hummingbird finds the flower because they find what they search for.

You’ve heard the expression, “Two men looked out of prison bars, one saw mud and one saw stars.” One’s looking up and one’s looking down. You find what you look for so be careful what you choose to look for. Number five; we do not seek for that which we doubt exists. You ever known somebody that spent their life searching for something and they say, “Well, I don’t really think it’s there, but I’m going to look for it.” Christopher Columbus, you know there’s a lot of myths about him, but there’s also a lot of fact. And the fact is he did believe there was a way to get to the East by sailing west. And he was right. And I tell you what, he not only had to have faith that it was there, he had to have persistence. There were several times his crew almost mutinied because they thought he was going to sail off the end of the earth. And he had to calm them down and make them promises just to keep them going one more day, one more day, one more day in a direction they’d never been, searching for a western route to India. That’s why the Native Americans are called Indians is he thought he’d found it. Searching, searching.

He believed it was there and so he kept on going. Ponce deLeon came looking for the fountain of youth. Well it doesn’t exist, but he believed it. They believed all these wild, fanciful legends back then. Some of the Conquistadors put their lives on the line and they died looking for El Dorado. You know what that is? It’s a county just up Highway 50. El Dorado, it’s named after the city of gold. They believed there was a golden city and they went all over the new world looking for this golden city. And hundreds and thousands of these Spanish soldiers and others died looking for it. Why? They believed it was there. Cortez is the one who sort of found it. When he went to Mexico City and he imprisoned Montezuma. There wasn’t really a golden city, but there was plenty of gold in Mexico and he made them fill a room with gold as a ransom for a king. And then after they filled the room he killed Montezuma anyway. But they believed it was there so they searched for it.

You know why some people don’t search more diligently for God? They don’t really believe He’s there. They doubt. They sort of believe, but they’re not sure. People don’t really sell their lives lock, stock and barrel to search for something that they doubt exists. Would you like to increase the intensity of your search for God? Increase your faith in God. Spend more time looking at the evidence, your faith that He’s there will increase and you’ll search for Him more diligently. Number six; if you’re going to search you want to search in the right place. You know in the Gospel of Luke 2:48-49, Joseph and Mary brought Jesus down to the temple and thereafter celebrating the Passover Feast. It was Christ’s first time. He was 12 years old.

Side 2:

…towards the north to Nazareth with the rest of the cousins and the clan. And after a couple of days they noticed that they couldn’t see Jesus anywhere. They figured that He was in the assembly that was heading north. Then they started getting frantic. I mean, He wasn’t three years old, he was 12, but they started to worry and they searched everywhere and they couldn’t find Him. And then they became very anxious and very distraught. “Where is He?” They started to retrace their steps back down to Jerusalem. When they got into Jerusalem they went to the house that they stayed in and they went to the place where others had camped and they went everywhere. [They] went to the bazaar looking for Jesus. Finally, they thought, “Let’s try the temple.” And they went to the temple and there He is, sitting calmly with all these sage instructors and teachers. And He is asking questions and teaching them. And they were astounded at His wisdom and perception. And Christ’s parents were miffed that He was still there and disconcerted, unconcerned with their anxiety. “So when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said to him, Son, why have you done this to us? Look, your father and I have sought you anxiously. And he said to the, Why did you seek me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” Now we’re talking about first words, first questions, remember? In John the first thing Jesus said, “What do you seek?” This is the first time Christ speaks in Luke. What does He say? “Why did you seek me?”

That’s a good question, isn’t it? Why do you seek Jesus? Some people seek Him for the wrong reason, but I’ll get to that in just a minute. Some people look in the wrong place. They were looking everywhere. He said, “You should have looked in the house of my Father. That’s where I would be. In my Father’s house.” I heard one time about a man who was inebriated and he was on his hands and knees walking around by a light post one night, searching for a key. A policeman came over and said, “What’s the problem?” He said, “I’ve dropped a key and I can’t find my house key any where.” The policeman looked around for him and looked and looked and he said, “I can’t see. You sure you lost it?” He said, “No, I didn’t lose it here. I lost it across the street.” He said, “Why are you looking here?” He said, “Well, the light’s over here.” If you’re going to look for something you want to look in the right place. You know how much money Americans have spent on the Hubble Telescope? Billions. And it doesn’t feed anybody. Why, and I’m not criticizing that. Frankly, I’m very interested. But why did they build it? Why are we making this great big massive eyeball that floats around up in space that gives us information about what’s out there? What’s at the heart of all that? It’s the glory of searching. We’re looking. We’re trying to find out.

You know, I think it’s interesting. Man has this great big old optical device that’s floating around the earth in a geocentric orbit and we’re going, “Is there intelligent life out there?” And God is looking down and He’s going, “Is there intelligent life down there?” He’s asking the same question. But we spend all that money searching. Problem is we’re searching in the wrong place. We’re spending billions of dollars looking up into the emptiness and Christ came down here. He was on the earth. I look in the Bible and find the answer. Number seven; what are your priorities in seeking? If your house was on fire and you wake up one morning and your smoke detector starts to scream and this time it’s not the burnt toast and you jump out of bed and there’s smoke in the house. You’ve got a family. What do you do, first thing? Put your clothes on. No. What’s the first thing that you would try to save? What would you go looking for? Your children. There are variations in value, right? What would you look for next? And the house is on fire, but you can still run around and get a few things. What would you get? How many of you would get photographs? Let me see your hands. I don’t see any men raising their hands. I see one man, OK. Don’t raising his hand. Photographs. What else? How many would get their piano? Anybody? What would be next?

Your wallet? Get your bankbook? Credit cards? Your pets. You know we just got a cat, again. I kind of like dogs. Karen likes cats. And we were up in Covelo and our neighbors up there, they’re cat had about 50 kittens. They asked if we wanted to take one of them. And I don’t know, I was temporarily possessed, I said, “Yes.” Something happened. So we brought this cat home. And now, you know, we travel a lot. And so, Karen and I, where were we, dear? We went somewhere a few weeks ago. We went to Covelo, right? Yeah, went up to Covelo and we left the cat that we just brought from Covelo back in Sacramento. Asked Bonnie to take care of it. On her way home she says, “The cat’s gone.” And I said [facial]. So you can tell what a person values. The cat came back. Don’t worry about it. Can’t get rid of them. They’ve got nine lives. No, really, I’m nice to the cat. Nathan is really tough on the cat, though. We can always find where Nathan is because we hear, “[cat noises].” Stephen, be good. That was him back there. What do you value? Matthew 6:31, “Therefore do not worry, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or, What shall we wear?”

Do you run into your house and get your food out? Will you get your clothes out? “(For after all these things the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” You know in Luke it says, “Seek the kingdom of God.” In Matthew it’s, “Seek ye first.” And I’m so glad it says it that way because it’s a priority. What should be our priority in seeking? You know, I was reading about this man who was a missionary in Indonesia. And very successful. Learned the language of the people and had learned a few different dialects and understood the region. And the Standard Oil Company was establishing a new office in that are and they were trying to find somebody there that could leave the office and be a representative, that understood the culture, that could speak, of course, good English and western business. And they said, “There’s no one better than this missionary.” And so representatives went to the mission where he was operating and they said, “We’d like to have you entertain a job of being our manager for our new district office here.” He said, “No, thank you.” And they said, “You know, we’re offering you $100,000 a year and benefits.” And this was several years ago. He said, “No.” And they offered him more. And he said, “No.” And they said, “Well, name your salary.” He said, “Gentlemen, I apologize.” He said, “It’s not that the salary isn’t big enough. The job isn’t big enough. I’m working for the Lord.

I’m a missionary. God did not call me to work for the Standard Oil Company.” And they couldn’t offer him any amount of money because his priority was seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. It was a kingdom here on earth. What are the priorities in your seeking? It’s a good question to ask. “It’s not that the salary isn’t big enough. The job isn’t big enough.” I like that. If you’re going to seek, seek for the right reasons. That’s number eight. John 6:26, “Jesus answered and said to them, Most assuredly, I say to you, You seek me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves, and were filled.” Christ said there was a lot of people following Him not because they wanted their sins taken away, but because it was free food. It was for the wrong reason. It’s a fact that I have noticed as a pastor, it’s always a little easier to get good attendance at events if you say, “There will be food.” People come. They’re a little more motivated, for the loaves and the fishes. That’s the wrong reason. Now some people seek Jesus initially for the wrong reason, but along the way they learn the right reason. That’s why we’ll sometimes have a potluck. Sometimes we’ll have a basketball fellowship. Get the young people to come for basketball, but then you give them a bible study. They’re coming initially for the wrong reason, but they can find the right reason in the process. And so there’s nothing wrong with trying to use some of these marketing strategies to get people to come to Jesus, right?

The problem is some churches never leave those strategies. They get people to come because they’re going to entertain them. Or they get people to come because they’re promising that, “If you come to this church and believe this creed, have enough faith, know how to say the right abracadabra you’ll never get sick.” Or you’re in financial distress; this church is going to teach you how to be rich. Now I believe there are principles in the Bible that teach elements of prosperity, but that prosperity goes with each person wherever they are. But the Bible doesn’t say all of His followers are going to be rich. You know that don’t you? I hope I didn’t just devastate you. And so there’s a lot of people that are going to church now and they’re not really seeking Jesus. They don’t want to do His will at any cost. They want the loaves and the fishes. They’re seeking for the wrong reason. Have you asked why you want to be a Christian? Let’s get right to the heart of it. How many want to go to heaven? Is that OK, to want to go to heaven? Does the Bible say good things about heaven? The Bible talks about the unpleasantness of the Lake of Fire and we are motivated to some extent ??? glories of heaven and we are detoured by the wrath of punishment. But what should be the primary reason that we seek the Lord? What should be the main reason? Because we love Him.

Not wanting to go to hell and wanting to go to heaven might be a suitable starting point, but if those are your primary motives for searching for God you’re searching for the wrong reason. Ultimately a real Christian is interested in God’s glory no matter what happens to them. Like Moses. You know I’m always ashamed when I think about the selfless love of Moses who said to the Lord, “Take my name out of the Book of Life. But what about your name, Lord?” And Paul who said, “I would be willing to perish if Israel could be saved.” They weren’t doing it because of what was in it for them. You know I really appreciate Amazing Facts as a ministry and sometimes we interview different people. And as we interview the different people for the different positions, a couple of times I’ve been really inspired. The subject of salary, you know, is something we bring up. Some people have said, “Well, salary is not really the issue with me. I want to work for God. And I’m sure you’ll pay me what’s fair.” I know they’re there for the right reason. They’re wanting to be there because they want to serve God with their gifts. And the salary is a secondary issue.

When the first thing out of a person’s mouth is, “Well, I’m thinking about this job, but how much does it pay?” I think, “Oops, they might be here for the wrong reason.” As Christians we should be here for the right reason, right? Because we want to serve God and that’s the priority. There are fringe benefits, but that shouldn’t be the main thing. You know, I was reading this week the story of David Livingston working and exploring in Africa. You know he wanted to be initially a missionary. History records him more as an explorer, geographer. Though he was a very devoted Christian he couldn’t really show that he had raised up churches everywhere, but he did change a lot of people’s lives. There was a very interesting man named Henry Stanley. Now Henry Stanley was adopted by a man Henry M. Stanley. He was a cabin boy on a ship. Came to America. Was adopted by this family in the South. He was enlisted in the Confederate Army fighting during the Civil War.

His health didn’t fare too well, but I think God has a sense of humor because God then sends him to Africa. Some of you didn’t get that. He was hired by the New York Herald to go looking for a missing missionary named David Livingston. David Livingston had been lost for several years. Stanley, who had some experience in Africa in working with the Arabs up in the north, was hired by the editor and he said, “I’ll pay whatever it costs. I’m going to give you a thousand pounds and when that runs out I’ll give you another thousand and when that runs out I’ll give you another thousand. Find Livingston.” So he took off and it began in 1869. Took two years of going across the interior of Africa and that’s a big continent. No highways. No rest stops. They were hacking with machetes through the jungle. You know several interesting things that I found here. When Stanley started across the continent of Africa he had 73 books in three packs weighing 180 pounds. They weighed everything as they packed it. After he had gone 300 miles he was obligated to throw away some of the books, through the fatigue of those carrying his baggage. As he continued on his journey his library grew smaller and smaller until he had only one book left. You can imagine what it was. It was the Bible. He said that he kept his Bible and he read it through three times during that expedition. When H.M. Stanley went to Africa in 1871 to find and report on David Livingston he spent several months in the missionary’s company carefully observing the man and his work.

Livingston never spoke to Stanley about spiritual matters, but Livingston’s loving and patient compassion for the African people was beyond Stanley’s comprehension. He could not understand how the missionary could have such love and patience with these people who he ministered among. Remember he had fought for the South. Livingston literally spent himself in untiring service to those who he had no reason to love except for Christ’s sake. Stanley wrote in his testimony in his journal, “I went to Africa as prejudiced as the biggest atheist in London.” Now he’s talking about prejudice against God primarily, but he had other problems. “But there came for me a long time for reflection. I saw this solitary old man there and asked myself, ‘How on earth does he stop here? Is he cracked or what? What is it that inspires him?’ For months after we met I found myself wondering at the old man carrying out all that was said in the Bible, ‘Leave all things and follow me.’ But little by little his sympathy for others became contagious. My sympathy was aroused. Seeing his piety, his gentleness, his zeal, his earnestness and how he went about his business I was converted by him although he had not tried to do it. When I saw that unwearied patience, that unflagging zeal and those enlightened sons of Africa I became a Christian at his side though he never spoke one word to me about it.” He found something he wasn’t looking for. He thought he was going on a mission where he would be glorified finding the missing Dr. Livingston.

You know when he finally found him surrounded by African, the only blue eyes in the crowd, he uttered those famous words, “Dr. Livingston, I presume.” He found Livingston, but what he found he hadn’t been looking for. He found a man who was living out, who exemplified the teachings of Christ. He ended up finding Jesus. Number nine. Another important principle of seeking. Start your search nearby. Sometimes we begin our search, we think we’ve got to cross oceans. I remember Billy Graham was sitting on a train with a young man one time. I read about this. And they got in a conversation. And the young man was very excited; he was sitting next to the famous missionary, famous evangelist. He said, “Hello, Dr. Graham, I’m so glad that I could meet you. I’m going to be a missionary. Matter of fact, I’m preparing right now to go overseas and do mission work.” And Dr. Graham said, “Well, that’s wonderful.” He said, “How’s it been going at home with your mission work?” “What do you mean?” He said, “Well, if you’re going to be a missionary overseas I’m sure you’ve already started at home. How many have you led to the Lord in your family?” “Well, nobody.” “Your school? Your community? Your friends?” “Nobody.” He says, “Well, don’t go overseas, because if you’re not being a missionary at home you don’t need to go overseas to find out that’s not your calling.” Some people start their search thinking that they’ve got to go to distant places, but the Bible says you might find what you’re looking for is closer than you think. Acts 17, here’s a good scripture. Acts 17:27, “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him.” “Seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us.” How far away is He? How far do you have to go to seek God? He’s a prayer away, isn’t He? Sometimes we think we’ve got to cross mountains and go on pilgrimage to Mecca or Jerusalem or one these distant lands to find the Lord. Go climb Pilate’s Staircase with Luther to find the Lord. The Bible says you don’t have to do that. He’s not very far from any one of you.

Thomas Edison one time was looking for a solvent for rubber. He was a very interesting character. And he went into his laboratory and he told all of his fellow scientists, he says, “We’re looking for something that will dissolve rubber. Rubber’s a great component, but I need a solvent that will dissolve rubber.” He said, “Help me work on it.” So they got out their charts of chemicals and combinations and began to do all this book work and do all this searching and visiting different libraries and talking to other chemists. In the meantime Thomas Edison cut up about a thousand little strips of rubber. And he had in his warehouse thousands and thousands of vials of various chemicals and compounds. He went down the aisle unscrewing the lids. He’d stick the rubber in and say, “Nope, that doesn’t work.” He’d take another one, he’d unscrew it. “Nope, that doesn’t work.” And he went through thousands of different chemical combinations until finally he said, “Hey, this dissolves rubber.” It was right there in their warehouse. And these other guys were going to all these libraries looking for what would finally be a compound to dissolve rubber.

Sometimes the answer is very close by. Finally, number 10. If you’re going to seek, seek soon. What did I say? Seek soon. Sounds like a name, doesn’t it? Proverbs 8:17, “I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.” Not only does that mean that youth is one of the best times to get rooted in the Lord. If God is talking to your heart now don’t put off looking for Him. Seek soon. Do it now. Luke 13:24, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate: for many, I say, will seek to enter, and not be able.” What is Luke talking about? Have you read the parable of the 10 virgins and five of them were foolish? You know why they were foolish? They waited too late to go searching for oil. They waited too late to go seeking for reserves. Now is the time to search for God. Amen? And the Bible says He’s not very far away. He is looking for us. First question in the Bible. Man runs from God and God says, “Where are you?” First question in the New Testament, the wise men say, “Where is He?” We have been separated by sin. God is looking for us. The Bible says if you draw near to God He will draw near to you. But you need to do it soon and now is a good time to start. Amen? Please turn in your hymnals to our closing hymn.

Hymn

The Bible tells us that God the Father so loved the world He sent His son to seek and to save that which is lost. That’s me. How about you? He’s come looking for me. But the Bible tells us that it’s not enough that He’s looking for me. I need to be looking for Him. And He’s not very far away. There may be some of you here today who have given up on your search or you’re not searching very diligently. Or perhaps you’re postponing or looking for the wrong reasons. Right now you can come just like you are and say, “Lord, please accept this as a prayer. I’d like to come forward today Lord and say, ‘I am searching for you.’” And as you draw near to God He will draw near to you. If you feel like He’s far away and you’d like to know that He’s nearby, please come as we sing verse two. We’d like to have special prayer with you.

Verse two.

There may be some here; Jesus has not been your priority. Maybe He’s been down the list. Your Bible’s not the first thing you’d reach for if your house was on fire. The Bible tells us, “Seek first the kingdom of God.” If you’d like to say, “Lord, I want to make Jesus my priority. I want to seek first His kingdom.” Maybe you’ve drifted away and you want to recalibrate what the priorities are. Come, we’d like to pray with you as we sing the last verse.

Last verse.

You know during the week when I pull together my thoughts for a sermon sometimes it’s as much work for me to find a closing hymn as anything else in the message. And I found this song early on, I Will Early Seek the Savior. I read through it. I recognized it and I thought, “Well, this is for children.” But then I found myself, after reading the hymn, humming it over and over again through the week. That’s why you’ll notice there was no closing hymn in the bulletin. I changed it. I thought, “I can’t get this out of my mind.” And I especially like that chorus, “For He loves me. Yes, He loves me. Jesus loves me.” It’s so simple and it’s so true. You know when it says, “I will early seek the Savior,” it’s not only talking to children. The Bible says unless you are converted and become as little children you cannot enter the kingdom of God. Today if you hear His voice don’t harden your heart. Now is the time to seek Him. Seek Him soon. That’s my prayer for you. Is that your desire, friends? Let’s pray.

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Who Do You Think You Are? by Doug Batchelor

Who Do You Think You Are? by Doug Batchelor
God's Promises




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