I just spent part of the other day reading through the book of the prophet Jeremiah. One main thing kept striking me and standing out to me that I want to share. That one main thing is how the people of Jeremiah’s day were not seeking the Lord with all their hearts. In fact, they were committing spiritual adultery in that they worshipped other gods (idols) and they had forsaken the One, true Living God, unwilling to listen to His voice and obey His Word. The same is true in our days, even if the “gods” we worship are different.
An idol is essentially anything that replaces devotion to the One true God. For example, for 18 years of my life, my “god” was baseball. I cared more about baseball than I did my relationship with God. There is nothing inherently evil about baseball, but what I did in becoming more committed to baseball than God was evil. It was spiritual adultery. I loved baseball more than God. I was devoted to baseball more than Christ. I lived for baseball, not Jesus. I sacrificed for baseball, but not my Savior. My mind, my heart, my affections, my desire was for and on baseball continually, not the Lord. Then God convicted me that I needed to seek Him with all my heart, surrender my life to Him and love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I did and I am not turning back. That is not to say I have lived perfectly, because I haven’t. That is not to say I haven’t stumbled and sinned at times, because I have. But I have set my heart to seek Christ and surrendered my life to Him and to serving Him with nothing coming before or above or even equal to Him.
And this is the place we need to get to and live from because Jeremiah 2:11 still rings true today in a lot of cases: “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Notice this is God’s own people who have done this, not merely the world living like this!
What we need to see happen in our country, but beginning in our churches among Christians is a revival where there is a genuine and wholehearted seeking of God.
Amos 5:4-5 says: “This is what the Lord says to the house of Israel: “Seek me and live; do not seek Bethel, do not go to Gilgal, do not journey to Beersheba.”
Put in modern day language, Amos is saying, “Seek the Lord and live; don’t merely go to church!” Church is not what saves you and simply going to church does not mean you’re truly seeking God. Seek Him! It’s not about doing this or doing that or being involved in this activity or that activity or this study or that study. It’s about our hearts turning fully to the Lord and our lives being devoted and committed to Christ.”
Joel 2:12-13 puts it this way: “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”
Why are there so many problems in church and in the United States? One reason. We are not seeking God but have gone astray and turned away from the One, True and Living God.
But in Jeremiah 4:1-2 God says this: “If you will return, O Israel, return to me,” declares the Lord. “If you put your detestable idols out of my sight and no longer go astray, and if in a truthful, just and righteous way you swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ then the nations will be blessed by him and in him they will glory.”
Later in Jeremiah 29:12-14 God says that eventually after judgment has come and they have suffered through 70 years of captivity, being chastised for their sin, He says this: “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.”
That’s a wonderful and beautiful and gracious promise, but unfortunately, like with the Israelites in Jeremiah’s day, for many it takes being brought to utter misery before they will seek the Lord and live! We seem to turn everywhere and to anyone or anything but God until we realize there is nowhere else to go and no one else who can help and heal but God!
Hosea 5:13-6:3 puts it this way: “When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his sores, then Ephraim turned to Assyria, and sent to the great king for help.”
Notice it doesn’t say they turned to the Lord first for help, but man for help. How often we turn to others first and God last!
So God says this: “But he is not able to cure you, not able to heal your sores. For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, like a great lion to Judah. I will tear them to pieces and go away; I will carry them off, with no one to rescue them. Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me.”
It is sad that before some people will seek the Lord earnestly, they must be humbled by God. It would be so much better if we would just humble ourselves before the Lord and earnestly begin seeking Him.
And until we admit our guilt, until we acknowledge our sin, God will not pour out His blessing and we will not know the joy of rich and real fellowship with Him.
Are you earnestly seeking the Lord? Is your heart fully engaged in seeking Him?
Hosea goes on (as all the prophets do in different ways) to promise something awesome: “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hosea 6:1-3).
If we seek Him with all our heart, God will not hide Himself or continue to remove His blessing from our lives.
Proverbs 8:17 says: “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.”
Isaiah 45:18-19 says: “I am the Lord, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob’s descendants, “Seek me in vain. I, the Lord, speak the truth; I declare what is right.”
This is what we need to do: seek the Lord with all our heart. This is our only hope, yet seems to be the one thing, the only thing people will not do. While we can’t force anyone to seek the Lord, we can make sure we are seeking the Lord ourselves wholeheartedly and then share with others the need to seek the Lord. God is after our hearts. He is looking for those whose hearts are fully His. In fact 2 Chronicles 16:9 says: “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
But the context of that verse is a warning to a king whose heart was not fully trusting in the Lord and committed to Him. In fact the prophet speaking this to him goes on to say: “You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.” (2 Chronicles 16:9). Because He did not seek the Lord or set His heart fully on the Lord, committing His heart fully to God, he would have constant conflict.
There are many people today in constant conflict, because their heart is not fully committed to the Lord. They do not know God’s peace, His power, His provision, His blessing, His joy, His strength in their lives because their heart is not fully committed to Him and they do not seek the Lord with all their heart. It doesn’t have to be this way! If we will just repent and return to the Lord, He would give us peace!
Lastly, let me point this out. When the Apostle Paul was preaching in the great city of Athens, a city that was religiously zealous, but had a plurality of gods and different philosophies (much like our day), part of what Paul said to them about God was this in Acts 17:26-28: “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’”
Your birth was not an accident. God determined when in history you would be born and where. Why did God do this? He did it so that you would seek Him, reach out to Him and find Him.
Some of us need to stop being angry and bitter towards God because of our upbringing or circumstances in life or lot we have received in life and turn to God. Instead of them causing us to stray from Him, they should cause us to seek Him!
And it’s not God who is hard to find or is far away. It is man that is hard of heart in seeking for Him and who has walked far away from God.
How we need a people who will seek Him with all their hearts!
How we need a revival and returning or turning of hearts to Jesus Christ!
If we would just seek Him with all our hearts and surrender our lives to Him, we would live!
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.