http://ralphhoweministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/seeking-jesus-logo.png 360 2299 elizabeth http://ralphhoweministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/ralph-howe-ministries1.png elizabeth2019-04-24 17:40:302019-04-22 17:55:35SeeKing Jesus
The title at the top of the teaching (on the screen) is not a typo…
It is a time for Jews to come to Jerusalem to celebrate their feast days remembering all that God has done for them in the decades and centuries past
They come as commanded by their holy book – seeking to please God and find favour with Him
Jesus has come up to Jerusalem with His disciples – they are fulfilling the requirements of the Jewish law that all Jewish males come to Jerusalem at certain times of the year
In among the multitude of Jewish men were some Gentiles (non-Jews) who were from the part of the Roman Empire known as Greece (the former Greek city states)
Let’s pick up the Bible story at this point…
John 12:20-22 “Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.”
“Sir, take us to see Jesus’
They were seeking Jesus and because they were they would eventually find Him
Seeking Jesus – SeeKing Jesus
These Greeks approached Philip and asked him to take them to see Jesus
There must have been something different about Philip because they would have had to pick him out of a major crowd that almost always followed Jesus
They wanted a private and personal interview with Jesus and so found someone who knew Jesus
Even today this is the way it most often works… a believer leading the non-believer
True in the early Church – true now
Andrew saw Jesus and he went and invited Peter to “see Jesus” (John 1:40-42)
Philip meet Jesus and he invited Nathanael to meet Jesus (John 1:43-45)
If someone is hungry and seeKing Jesus – If they want to “SeeKing Jesus”
If someone is “SeeKing Jesus” – be assured that they will “see Jesus”
But note: it usually involves someone else helping them on their journey of discovery
And, that someone can and should be you!
Be assured they will find Him for Jesus is God – revealing the Fatherhood of God to us – and God said:
“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
The Greeks came regularly to feasts held in Jerusalem to worship
They were known as God-fearers
They were not “one time carnival party goers”
They were seekers of the truth
They were not converts to the Jewish faith
They were simply non-believers hungry to know God
They came seeking Jesus because they had heard of Him from others
Jews – who thought they knew God and had cornered the market on God – did not come seeking God – they came seeking a sign
Matthew 12:38-40 “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
Seriously important – and interesting – What are you / we seeking?
Christians are still running about looking for signs instead of seeking Jesus
“Seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness (Jesus)” (Matthew 6:33)
“Signs would follow us” so there is no need to seek after them
SO, WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO SEEK THE LORD?
Seeking the Lord means seeking his presence
“Presence” is a common translation of the Hebrew word “face.”
Literally, we are to seek his “face.”
In the Jewish understanding – seeking His face is to find and have access to God and know His presence (sense, feel, see, know)
To be before his face is to be in his presence (obviously)
But today aren’t his children always in his presence? Yes and no.
Yes in two senses:
First, in the sense that God is omnipresent and therefore always near everything and everyone.
He holds everything together. His power is ever-present in sustaining and governing all things.
And second, yes, he is always present with his children in the sense of his covenant commitment to always stand with us and work for us and turn everything for our good.
“Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
WHEN IS HE ‘NOT WITH US’?
Meaning: When is it that we no longer sense and know His presence / face?
God’s manifest, conscious, trusted presence is not always our constant experience.
There are seasons when we become neglectful of God and give him little to no thought and do not put trust in him …
It is then that we no longer “see Him” or sense His presence or “talk face-to-face”
He has “unmanifested” — His face — the brightness of his personal character — His presence – is hidden behind the curtain of our carnal desires and wrong lifestyle
This condition is always possible and ever ready to overtake us if we are not seeking Him every day
That is why we are told to “seek his presence continually.”
Psalm 105:4 “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!”
God calls us to continually seek and be conscious of his supreme greatness and beauty and worth … His awesomeness and the majesty of His being
He must be valuable, beautiful and great in the eyes of our heart or else He “unmanifests” Himself
There are three levels of His presence – we have only mentioned two so far…
He is OmniPresent … present everywhere regardless of setting or sinners
There is His manifest presence … when a group of people physically experience and touch His presence and power
Then there is the personal manifest presence … when you see Him and experience His presence and power
“See His face” – In my life, November 9th, 1976
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO CONTINUALLY SEEK? (SeeKing Jesus)
Continual seeking means “the setting of the mind and heart” on God.
It is the conscious fixing or focusing of our mind’s attention and our heart’s affection on God.
“Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God. (1 Chronicles 22:19)
“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.” (Colossians 3:1–2)
This conscious fixing and focusing of our mind’s attention and our heart’s affection is the opposite of mental coasting.
It is a conscious choice to direct the heart and mind towards God.
This is what Paul prays for the church: “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ” (2 Thessalonians 3:5).
It is a conscious decision and a conscious effort on our part to find Him regardless of the cost or the inconvenience
We need to decide that He is more valuable than anything and everything else
We need to to believe that to know Him is worth giving up anything and everything
Like the man who found the treasure in the field and went and sold everything so that he could purchase the field (Matthew 13:44)
Like the man who found one pearl of great value and sold everything that he had and bought it (Matthew 13:45)
To seek Him and follow Him we must ‘pay the price’
To seek Him we must give up anything that stands in our way
To seek Him means He must be first all the time and everywhere
To seek Him means giving up, going around, moving through any obstacle standing in the way
The seeking is the conscious effort to get through the natural – the things around us – to God himself
The seeking is the conscious effort to set our minds on God in the midst of all our experiences
The seeking is the conscious effort to direct our minds and hearts toward him allowing Him to reveal Himself to us
So, my point is this:
We need to be “SeeKing Jesus”
Not seeking to have our needs met
Not seeking to be healed
Not seeking ministry
Not seeking to see your dreams and desires come to pass
Not seeking more power, insight, wisdom
Not seeking signs and wonders
Just “SeeKing Jesus” who is our ‘daily bread’ and without whom we are not complete, fulfilled, or satisfied
If we don’t seek we won’t see! – “SeeKing Jesus”
A PRACTICAL SUGGESTION:
Read through the New Testament gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
Look at how Jesus related to people
See how He handled those who disagreed with Him
What did He do differently than those who were religious?
Notice the way Jesus accepted people
Study the way He forgave people who hurt Him and spoke against Him
How did He interact with those who were spiritually disconnected?
So, we are called to be “SeeKIng Jesus” continually
Psalm 105:4 “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!
We need, as well, to be relating to “seekers” who have yet to experience and encounter Jesus
Seekers = spiritually disconnected people
“Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” (John 12)
Then, as you continue to seek Him… others will, as in our original Scripture, come up to you asking you to help them to find Jesus
1> We need to be continually seeking Jesus – daily … like Philip and Andrew
2> We need to be relating to and building relationships with others who are seeking and do not, as yet, know Jesus … like the Greeks who asked Philip to help them
3> You need to be ready to tell your story of what Jesus is currently doing in your relationship with Him … it is unlikely that the Greeks got a private audience with Jesus
There were multitudes wanting to be ministered to
I am sure many wanted a personal audience with Him
Scripture does not say that they actually got to meet Jesus personally
But, they were talking to Andrew and Philip and, most likely, others who did know Jesus who had a personal story to tell – a recent encounter with Jesus and truth (Jesus is the Truth)
3> Be ready to tell your stories … the ways Jesus is currently touching and transforming your life
If you know Jesus you have many stories to tell – many encounters – transformations
SOME HINTS AS YOU SHARE YOUR STORY > Times have changed – New approach
1> ASK FOR PERMISSION AND DON’T BE PUSHY
If you have a sense that the door is open to share a testimony, first ask for permission
“Would you mind if I told you a little about a way that God has changed my life?”
“I would like to tell you how I first came to have a relationship with Jesus. Would that be alright with you?”
We honour people and show them respect when we allow them to tell us whether they are ready to enter into this new level of conversation.
2> USE ORDINARY LANGUAGE
The longer we follow Jesus and the more time we spend with other Christians, the more sensitive we need to be about our language when we tell our story of faith
Do not assume that the person you are talking to will know what your Christian / Bible words will mean
Words like: sin, grace, salvation, Good Friday …
These words and others like them are rich and helpful when believers are talking together
But when we share a testimony, it is best to assume that others won’t know these terms and so use plain language when you share
Not as easy as it sounds
3> START BRIEFLY AND SHARE MORE AS IT BECOMES APPROPRIATE
A short testimony is always better than a long one
Rather than telling your whole life story, try sharing just one experience with God or one event that led you to have faith in Jesus
Then you can always ask, “Could I share a little more about my relationship with Jesus?”
This question gives listeners a natural opportunity to enter into the conversation or to let you know that they have heard enough for now
If it looks like the conversation is winding down, make sure they know the door is open to talk at any time
When the door is open to share a testimony, do it with clarity and boldness, but keep it brief.
It could lead to questions and deeper discussion, but be careful not to launch into a fifteen-minute story that feels like a sermon!
Learn to share your “current” story in 100 words of less (Bill Hybels’s “Walk Across the Room”)
4> HIGHLIGHT GOD’S PRESENCE AND POWER
As you tell your story, make sure God is central
A testimony is not so much about us as it is about the presence and power of the God who is alive in us
If God has moved in your life in a powerful way, don’t be shy to talk about it
Has Jesus brought you healing?
Have you been delivered from an addiction or bad habit?
Has the Holy Spirit given you clear leading and direction?
People want to know if this God you say is real has power to move in this world
If you have seen His power, tell the story
Testimonies are also about declaring that the presence of Jesus is real
As believers we are not playing religion or just going to church events
We have met the living God, the Holy Spirit dwells in us, and Jesus is alive
We can talk with confidence about how we experience the presence of God in our lives, in the hard times and in the good times
When people hear us affirm God’s power and presence, they know we are serious about our faith
They might not agree with us, but they can’t deny our faith is authentic
5> CLEARLY PRESENT THE BEFORE-AND-AFTER PICTURES
From hate-filled and self-centred relationships to loving and caring relationships
From life without purpose and direction to a life of deep meaning and clear direction
From fear of death to confidence in this life and hope for eternity
From anxiety to peace
From selfishness to generosity
6> SHARE THE SOURCE OF LIFE TRANSFORMATION
As we share how our life has been changed and transformed – it is critical that we let people know that Jesus is the source of the change
People need to know that the transformation was not:
Because you changed the people you hang out with
Because you now go to church
Because you did it through sheer will power
The only power that can change a person from the inside out is the work of Jesus
7> LET JOY SHINE THROUGH
Joy is a universal language
If we talk about God in our lives, the amazing changes we are experiencing, and the relationship we have with Jesus, but do so without joy – we will send the wrong message
Knowing the Father, walking with Jesus, and being filled with the Holy Spirit should bring a flow of joy that is visible and contagious
8> COMMUNICATE WITH HUMILITY
A testimony is not a hammer we use to pound people into submission
It is a witness to what God is doing in our lives and a gift for others to enjoy
We need to be careful that our testimony does not come across as a speech in which we tell people that we are right and they are wrong
Or, point out how good we are now and how bad everyone else is who doesn’t know Jesus
Rather, a testimony is a humble declaration that God is moving in our lives and that we are grateful for what He is doing
9> REMEMBER YOU HAVE MANY TESTIMONIES
Be careful not to get locked into one testimony
Don’t just memorize a script and robotically deliver the same words with the same inflection every time you tell your story
Instead, listen to the people around you and discover where they are in life
When you share a testimony, make sure it is relevant for them – speaks to where they are
People love to hear stories, and that’s all a testimony is
In the course of most days you will have opportunities to share organically and naturally about the difference your faith in Jesus is making in your life
Pray for these opportunities
Notice when the door is open
Then share your stories in natural ways
The Holy Spirit will infuse what you share with power
Remember, your part is not to change lives or even to have all the answers
But you can talk about the ways God is moving in your life
And, your story might be just what another person needs to hear
Remember, whether they know it or not, everyone is looking for what Jesus is offering them
So, when someone shares a concern or a need, a feeling or an emptiness, they are really saying, “Sir, we would see Jesus.” … They are “SeeKing Jesus”