20 November 2013

SEEKING THE FACE OF GOD


Psalm 80

There is something about a face to face conversation with people that I thoroughly enjoy rather than a telephone conversation. there is just something about interacting with another person and looking them in the face, is much more refreshing than holding an electronic devise in my hand or at my ear; but I also realize that’s not possible at times due to cost and location! I've had many good conversations with my friends online and on the phone! I guess we can thank the good people of Skype and Mark Zuckerberg for giving us avenues to have face to face conversations via internet. But we have something that Skype and Mark Zuckerberg don’t have and that is the greatest Facebook access to Heaven! The word of God  and the Holy Spirit and when we are in the word of God we have access to more than just falling deeper in love with Him but an avenue into His presence through prayer. Throughout the scriptures we see many desiring an intimate connection with God’s face.....Seeking the Lord means seeking his presence. “Presence” is a common translation of the Hebrew word “face.” Literally, we are to seek his “face.” This is a wonderful privilege we have as His called out ones. But we also see many incidences of God hiding His face which prevented them from experiencing the intimacy and benefits of His face. In the Old Testament we read passages of God hiding His face or even setting His face against the people because of sin. FOR EXAMPLE:

Deut 32:20 “And he said, 'I will hide my face from them; I will see what their end will be, for they are a perverse generation, children in whom is no faithfulness.”

Job 34:29 “When he is quiet, who can condemn? When he hides his face, who can behold him, whether it be a nation or a man?”

Isaiah 54:8 “In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you," says the LORD, your Redeemer.”

We need to understand something before we go any further. God desires and truly wants a face to face connection with His children. In 1 Peter 3:12 we read “FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE ON THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ARE OPEN TO THEIR PRAYERS; BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL." Similar truth is found in 2 Chon 7:14  “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, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” Isaiah wrote these words “Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.” Isa 55:6. We need to recognize who is sovereign and in control of our lives. We need to recognize who we are approaching when we seek His face. Again, God desires a relationship with you and me! But we need to remember God is just and perfect and we must come under His conditions not ours. Praise be to Jesus Christ who has made those conditions available through His death and resurrection in the New Testament. What’s amazing is that the writers of the Psalms in the Old Testament prayed earnestly during those times when God’s face was hidden. Psalm 80 is a window into the heart of the broken over the sin of the people. This indicates greater desire; a deeper sense of the need to seek the face of God.

In a study I read, just recently said “In 1978 pediatric researchers coined a term known as “still-face effect” Through experimentation they discovered that normal feedback that new born babies receive from their mothers in face to face interaction is distorted by having the mother face their baby but remain facially unresponsive. The negative impact this has was “significant” according to researchers. The study showed that the baby reacts with intense wariness and eventual withdrawal, demonstrating the innate need of a child for interactive encounters with their mother. Just like a baby needing a mother’s responsive attention and love…..we are desperate for a life giving encounter with the face of our Creator and heavenly Father. There are many things we can lean when we seek God’s face through the avenue of prayer whether corporately or privately or as married couples.

GOD IS GLORIFIED

Next to salvation and a genuine walk with the Lord….nothing glorifies Him more than coming to Him in prayer, seeking His face. Why? Our hearts are sensitive to His presence, His power and His purpose for our lives. Our lips are free to glorify the One who gives us our next breath. Our lips are free to glorify the One who gives us access to His unlimited grace. Again He loves the call of His people through the gift of prayer. Acknowledging the awesomeness and power of our mighty God as we approach God through the power found in prayer. It’s by His power and might that we are able to come and continue in prayer and in the Christian walk. “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, But to Your name give glory, Because of Your mercy, Because of Your truth.” Psalm 115:1. When we pray and God gets the thanks and the credit for what happens.

WE ARE SANCTIFIED

Sanctified means to “set apart” the beauty of seeking God face as powerless at times you might feel brings us closer into likeness of His Son. God is working in me, around me and through me to make me holy, to make me more like Jesus and prayer is one of those privileges that God has set us apart too. We are being transformed every time we humbly approach His throne. By definition “transform” is a marked change in form, appearance, nature, or character. As one writer said “The great fruit of transforming prayer is that praying Christians, while not perfect, are growing every day to the point that they act, think, speak, and serve like Jesus.” John 17:17-19 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.” This is why Jesus makes it a part of His prayer to God.  He says, “Father, make them holy.” As Charles Spurgeon said “Children of God should exhibit the love of God, they should be filled with zeal for his glory, they should live generous, unselfish lives, they should walk with God, and commune with the Most High………"Holiness to the Lord" be written across the brow of our consecrated humanity!”

THE CHURCH IS EDIFIED

Pray causes God’s face to shine in our sanctuary, so that the church can grow as one body under Christ. Nothing is more edifying then praying with one another whether it’s a praise, request or critical situation in life. Prayer as a body of believers not only brings glory to God and sanctifies us deeper in holiness it also edifies us as we pray together. As a family when we are being edified our outlook on prayer changes from seeking the hand of God to what’s more important…. and seeking God’s face. “Edify” by definition “is understood as to build up. In the Christian context it means to strengthen someone, or be strengthened, in relationship to God, the Christian walk, and holiness. As Christians, we are to "let all things be done for edification" As Jude 20 says “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,” By saying the church is edified means…..that our lives, marriages, families and ministries within the church are built up, made strong and healthy through the foundation of biblical prayer. That’s why it’s one of the pillars of the local church found in the book of Acts. This is why the church is edified as we grow in His sovereign grace.

THE WORLD IS MYSTIFIED

The world doesn’t understand why or who we pray too! Even false cults don’t know why we pray! If you don’t believe me talk to a Jehovah’s Witness and ask if they pray! They will look at you like a deer in the headlights facial expression. They don’t get it because they are in darkness…chained to the bondage of sin. Paul said the only way for the world to understand or have the veil removed from their eyes to why we pray or who we pray to………. is by the power of God. “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” 2 Cor 4:6-7. Until God lifts their ignorance and blindness they will continue to be mystified by the church. They will continue to misunderstand the beauty of prayer and the fellowship it brings. But, this doesn’t mean we stop praying for them, evangelizing them, and loving them as Christ loved us. Jesus said "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matt 5:14-16. Let your holy life, your pure conversation, and your faithful instructions, be everywhere seen and known. Everything that you do in this life let it be revealed to others that you are real Christians.

THE DEVIL IS PETRIFIED

Do you realize that Satan and his fallen angels hate when you pray? And he will do whatever it takes to stop you. Though Satan isn’t omniscient, he is supernatural and powerful and is supported by millions of demonic forces that you and I have no clue too.But one thing is for sure he cannot read our minds or thoughts! With saying that though! He has had however some many years to observe our behaviour and actions.
  • He eavesdrop on our conversations
  • He observes what keeps us interested and occupied.
  • He watches to see what excites us or angers us
  • He looks for ways to breach the walls of your life.

Corrie Ten Boom said “When a Christian shuns fellowship with other Christians, the devil smiles. When he stops studying the Bible, the devil laughs. When he stops praying, the devil shouts for joy.” What is the enemy looking for, door or a wall to scale over? No! He’s looking for a crack, holes in the wall of your life. And when he finds a crack or an open door…….this is where he sends his attacks will full force.
  • He will find ways to keep us busy and not pray.
  • He will find ways for you to loss the victory found in Christ.
  • He will find ways for us to make excuses for our lack of prayer.
  • He will find ways to draw you to sin and shame.

That’s why Paul wrote …..“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Eph 6:11-13. When we are in the habit of continues prayer and seeking God’s face the enemy is will always be defeated and our walls are indestructible to the enemy. “Satan trembles when he sees, the weakest saint upon his knees.” William Cowper. As R.A Torrey said “When the devil sees a man or woman who really believes in prayer, who knows how to pray, and who really does pray, and, above all, when he sees a whole church on its face before God in prayer, he trembles as much as he ever did, for he knows that his day in that church or community is at an end.”

Seeking the face of God transforms us minute by minute as we love and serve Him with our whole heart with our lives and through the gift of prayer. John Piper said “The heavens are telling the glory of God. So we can seek him through that. He reveals himself in his word. So we can seek him through that. He shows himself to us in the evidences of grace in other people. So we can seek him through that.” As the Apostle Paul wrote “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Col 3:1-12. Prayer brings us into the presence of God….coming face to face as it was when Moses approached God in the mountains alone. Prayer brings us into a deeper, more intimate relationship with God. Prayer is a powerful thing in the life of a sanctified sinner saved by sovereign grace. As James wrote “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” As one writer said “It has been said that “prayer moves the arm that moves the world;” and if there is anything that can prevail with God, it is prayer - humble, fervent, earnest petitioning.”

Maybe your relationship through prayer feels like a “still faced effect” just like a new born when the mother doesn’t give a response of acceptance or love. Maybe there is something you need to ask the Lord so that He will communion with you as He once did. The problem is never God’s…..it’s ours! We are the hindrance to our relationship with Him. Seek His face as Daniel did and encounter the intimate blessing of God’s face through the privilege of prayer.

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