Seeking God Successfully (Part Five)

Psalm 27:8

You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek” (ESV).

So then, we should through faith obey God’s command to seek his face. God’s pattern for our behavior is always to follow his will, trusting him to supply what is need to walk in the way he directs us to walk in.

Now, it’s your turn. Answer the following questions after reading both passages to learn more about seeking the Lord through faith according to his word. What promise did the Lord give to Joshua prior to the conquest of the Promised Land (Joshua 1:1-9)? How is this promise like the one given to the church (Matthew 28:18-20)?

“So though David said, ‘I will seek thy face,’ yet there was a spiritual virtue that enabled him. God must find us before we can seek him. He must not only give the command to seek his face, but together with the command, there goes a work of the Spirit to the children of God, that enableth them to seek him” (Sibbes, Works, Vol. 6, p. 119).

Consider Christ’s commands to the paralyzed man (Mark 2:11-12) and to Lazarus (John 11:43-44). Christ commanded both what they were unable to perform, but with the commands came to them with the ability to obey. We might wonder how weak creatures could seek the face of the Almighty, Eternal God, who is beyond our comprehension. But with the call to draw near to God comes the power of the Holy Spirit to approach the Father through the Son.

What kind of obedience through faith should we give to the command to seek God’s face?

  • We should give an immediate obedience . To seek fellowship with our Father is not something that we should put off. Don’t be like the child who calls, “I’m coming dad,” while he or she continues to play with the toys.
  • We should give a cheerful obedience. For example, Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7 CSB). God is always to be approached joyfully. Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! (Psalm 100:2 ESV). This was the kind of attitude that Isaiah had when he heard God’s call (Isaiah 6:8). It was the kind of response that the apostles manifested after they experienced the pain they would suffer from obedience (Acts 5:41-42). “God would have things in the church done by such people” (Sibbes, p. 120).
  • We should obey sincerely; that is, we should be seeking God himself and not merely benefits from him. God sees through all hypocrisy. Though he wants to supply our needs and commands us to pray accordingly, the Lord first wants us to fellowship with him. Let us not mix these things up in our attitudes. It is far too easy for all our communication with the Lord to degenerate into sessions in which we only ask for stuff! Would you like to talk with a child who had that kind of attitude?
  • We should seek God perpetually. Resolve on seeking him now; determine to keep on seeking him daily. Our lives are made up of far too many false starts. We fizzle out like a sparkler that a child plays with. Think of something that you really like to do. How do you persevere in doing that action? You seize every opportunity! Seek God in that manner.
  • Our obedience must conform to the command. We only conform when we seek God’s face, regardless of our circumstances. Above all else God wants us to be devoted to seeking him, though we may not see how we will find him.

So then, we seek God successfully when we seek him in Jesus Christ through faith, and as James wrote, this faith produces actions consistent with who God is. “There is no good received by religion if we be not earnest for it. Religion is not a matter to be dallied in” (Sibbes, Works, Vol. 6, p. 304).

Grace and peace, David


IMG_0909Psalm 5:1-3

O Lord, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you. Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly (NLT).

I think Psalm 5 is a neglected psalm. Over many years among many Christians, I have never heard anyone refer to it. In a way, this does not surprise me, since most believers run in narrow streets when it comes to the passages of Scripture they read, especially when they feel troubled, and the few hymns or praise songs they sing in their churches. I like the modern hymn “In Christ Alone”, but I don’t want to hear it every week. Romans eight is a great chapter, but others are just as valuable. I’m not sure why most Christians don’t refer to Psalm 5; perhaps the neglect can be traced to their pastors and teachers. However, this is not our topic today.

This Psalm, which is also by David, shows a man with spiritual intensity. David clearly was a man of strong desires and concentration. He was able to lead a band of unruly men for many years, while being godly. This is a rare combination. David’s passionate nature carried over into his friendship with the living God. He was not reluctant to use bold words and to tell God plainly what he thought about his circumstances and his opponents and about sin and its effects.

  • David’s intensity appears in his repeated requests for God to listen to him. Picture someone waving their arms as they strive for attention, or perhaps the endless sending of texts and emails. Throughout his life, David had enemies, who were also the Lord’s enemies, who wanted to destroy him. David knew his desperate situation and kept on asking, seeking, and knocking (cf. Matthew 7:7-8). Christians today would rather moan and groan to each other than pour out their heart’s concerns to their Father in heaven. Attendance at prayer meetings or involvement in prayer times in small groups lays bare the apathy of many. David gives us a better example. Call out to the Lord and ask him to hear.
  • David’s intensity led him to express how he felt. Believers in our time are too formal and socially obsessed. To cry or to groan in prayer…? Can’t do that; what might someone think? He wrote about groaning. This word is related to the word for mediate, and so we can think of a groaning meditation. To meditate is not to seek a feeling of passivity but of engagement with God and his truth. David sang about crying out to God for help. If you softly say help to people, I doubt that anyone will notice. Surely, God knows all our words before we speak them (Psalm 139:4). But that is not the issue. The Lord wants us to share our lives with him, and this involves making our desires, fears, and perplexities known to him.
  • David’s intensity caused him to focus on the Lord. He confessed his total and sole dependence on the Lord. He did not pray to anyone else. He also prayed in the morning. He started the day in fellowship with his God. This strengthened his commitment to the Lord. We can pray anytime of the day we wish. Sharon and I usually pray together at night. Praying in the morning is not a command, but it might be a helpful example to build our spiritual intensity.

I boldly suggest that we all think though the words of our text. Perhaps we need to read them out loud before we pray, yes, even when we pray with others. The Lord wants our hearts (Matthew 22:37). We can start by praying from our hearts instead of merely by reading our requests off prayer lists that are so common in churches. David the king was a man after God’s own heart. Let’s learn from the words of this song.

Grace and peace, David