Far More: God Pursues You

Good morning and welcome to Journey Church.  My name is Phil Human and I’m one of the pastors here on staff.  And if this happens to be your first time here we are very thankful that you would take the time to invest in your faith today.

We are, of course, more than physical beings.  Many people pay great attention to the emotional health and their physical health, but it’s good to remember we have a soul that needs restoring – and so we hope that, wherever you might be on your spiritual journey today, that you walk away feeling that it was good for your soul to be here today.

Thanks to Kirsten for taking the time to share a bit of her story.  I really like that phrase Kirsten used that God ‘snuck up on her’.  I was here all along.  And I’m very thankful for a mother in law that Kirsten wanted to impress.  And you. know, that’s the deal – and it fits perfectly with what we’re talking about this morning.

We serve a God who pursues us.  Jesus said he came to seek and save the lost.  He came to seek and save Kirsten.  And we want you to know that you might be here today because you wanted your kids to learn about God, but keep an open mind about it, because perhaps God has his eyes set on you – to do a new and different thing in your life.

I’ll start our talk today by asking – Have you ever heard of something that is called a ‘life hack?”  Thanks to the interweb we now have the ability to pass along ideas that may revolutionize your life, and make your life so much better – so much more simple.

I found some ideas as examples for you – Ever wish you had a way of amplifying the sound on you phone – well you can drop a hundred dollars on a bluetooth speaker – OR You can use this toilet paper roll!  Classic Life Hack!   

Ever wish you could amplify the optics on your Iphone?  Maybe you forgot your reading glasses?  Waa laa!  Just drop it in your water glass and all your problems are over.

  1. Sometimes small repairs around the house can be a big burden. Tired of smashing fingers while trying to hammer in one of those tiny nails in order to hang a picture?  Simply Use an old clothespin to hold the nail and smash up the clothespin – it doesn’t mind.

            Tired of looking at outlets that are crooked or loose?  Here’s an idea- Straighten the outlet with a common fork. 

  1. We all love eating oreo’s, right? But let’s be honest – no one likes getting milk on their fingers – it’s gross and feels all wrong.  Try this – once again – use a fork – this time to dip your oreo’s without the mess.

            I personally have found a spoon to be helpful – Here’s what you do… 

  1. Maintaining a home office can be a challenge. Here’s a great way to keep those wires from getting all tangled up – or falling behind the desk.  Clever, Yes?

Here’s another idea.  Next time you are out of paper – take your last blank sheet and make photocopies of it –

  1. Don’t you hate it when you try to clean your kitchen floor but find yourself out of Swiffer sheets? No worries.  Take an old sock, and Waa laa.  Clean to your hearts delight.

            Or here’s another idea – glue old sponges to your baby.  Put that baby to work!  Don’t have a baby?  Use a cat!  They love it!

Life hacks are great.  they make life simpler.  And today I want to look at a passage of scripture that I’m going to call a spiritual life hack.  It’s easy to understand.  And if we put it into practice this summer, we will see great results.

It comes to us from the book of Matthew 6:33, 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  NIV

I’d like to encourage you to allow this verse to be your life hack verse for the summer.  Keep the Summer Simple.  Seek first the Kingdom, and His kind of rightness, and all these other things will take care of themselves.  It’s simple, effective, helpful.  And I’d like us as often as possible to put practices into place in our life that will remind us to seek first the Kingdom of Heaven – and to display God’s kind of rightness.  And then all these other things will take care of themselves.

So let’s start by thinking about this idea of seeking.  And the first thing I would say is that God is a seeking God.  God sought us out.  Check out these verses…

2 Chronicles 16:9

The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

God has searched mankind out – from the very beginning – after Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden and ate the forbidden fruit, they tried to hide from God – but what did God do?  He searched them out.

Genesis 3:9  But the Lord God called to Adam, “Where are you?”

And check out Jesus – it doesn’t get any more clear than this – in Luke 19:10  The Son of man has come to seek and save the lost.

God is a seeker – he is searching for people who are ready to give him a chance.  He is a pursuer – he is a woo-er.  And it might just be that even right now God is calling your name – As he sought out Kirsten and woo-ed her to himself, He might be drawing you to himself, even now.

Maybe you are thinking, well, God should just make me want him – but God wants to be wanted.  He wants to be sought.   That’s why he doesn’t run you over.  God will not crash your party.  He waits for us to want Him.

But that doesn’t mean God is not indifferently sitting on his hands, waiting it out.  Do you think it’s accidental that you are here today?  No, God is actively pursuing you.

That’s the kind of God He is – He is a pursuer.  A poet named Francis Thompson wrote a poem in 1893 called The Hound of Heaven, and it begins…

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;

I fled Him, down the arches of the years;

I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways

Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears

I hid from Him, and under running laughter.

Up vistaed hopes I sped;

And shot, precipitated,

Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,

From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.

But with unhurrying chase,

And unperturbed pace,

Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,

They beat – and a Voice beat

More instant than the Feet –

‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me’.

With unhurrying pace, so does God follow the fleeing soul by His Divine grace.  Our God is the Hound of Heaven.

And yet that is only half the story.   There’s two parts to stepping into the Kingdom of Heaven.  God’s part and our part.  God is faithful to take care of his part.  But eventually the call must be made by us to want God and to want His Kingdom to rule and reign in my life.

We must seek him.

Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 

“But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 4:29)

God wants us to want a different kind of kingdom than the kingdoms of this world – the kingdom of selfishness, power, money, fame, fortune – he wants us to want a different kind of kingdom.

That’s why Jesus said, Matthew 13:44 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.”

Why did the man sell everything he had to buy the field?  Because he really really really wanted that treasure!  It was worth giving up everything to get.  Well, the Kingdom of Heaven is the treasure in the field.  And when we see God for who he is, and we get a glimpse of the kind of life that can be ours – then we are willing to give up everything to have it.

Ever lose a set of car keys?  You search the house – what does it look like to search for lost car keys?  You look everywhere.  Seek first the Kingdom – look for God at work everywhere in your life.

Seek to live the kind of life He promised we could live – seek to be transformed from the inside out and everything else will take care of itself.

If you read the context of Matthew 6, you’ll see Jesus giving examples of the kinds of things that eat up people with anxiety and worry.  What kind money will I make, what kind of clothes should I buy, how big a house can I afford??

All of those kinds of worries belong to people who don’t understand reality.  At least they don’t understand the reality of the Kingdom of Heaven.  Because if they understood the Kingdom of Heaven they would understand that God will fend for our needs.  The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  That’s reality in the Kingdom of Heaven.

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  NIV

For many years I as a pastor contributed this idea that, the Kingdom of Heaven is the place you go when you die.  I used to think my job was to get you to pray a prayer that will get you into the pleasure factory of Heaven.

The crux of my communication was – Jesus died for your sins.  And you need to believe in Jesus so your sins are forgiven.  Here are the minimum requirements to get you into heaven.   And when you die you get in.  And in the meantime, while we are waiting to die, let’s make the most of it and hang in there.  Hang in there kitten!  We’re all going to die someday and then life will really begin!  P.S. don’t sin anymore!

I had it all wrong.  Jesus came preaching the Kingdom of Heaven is near.  Not that it is coming, or that when we die we’ll get in.

Here’s Mark 1 14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

The Kingdom has come near to you.  It’s right here right now.  And whosoever will may enter.

What does it mean to repent?  Change your way of thinking.  You used to think you were marooned on this god-forsaken rock called earth.  But it’s not God forsaken – quite the opposite – for God so loved the world that he sent his one and only son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

And that everlasting life begins today for those who place their faith in Jesus.  An eternal life lived with God by my side every moment of every day  – that begins today for the person who trusts in Jesus.

Change your way of thinking.  Stop running from God and enter into the Kingdom of heaven that has been made wildly available through faith in Jesus Christ.

It’s the place where we allow God’s will to run in the foreground of our life.  Where we begin to live out the words – Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

And wonderful things result – our lives take on a beautiful new significance.  See, we’re not just another inhabitant in the Kingdom of Heaven.  NO!  We must understand that what we add something to the kingdom of Heaven.

We bring something to the table no one else has.  The gifts and abilities that you bring with you into the Kingdom of Heaven are unique and aren’t provided by anyone else.

Let me put it this way – see many people feel like Jesus came to earth to try to get people into heaven.  When in reality – God’s divine plan all along was to bring up there, down here!  To bring love, joy, peace – down here into this kind of world.

And so – through faith in Jesus God begins the process of transforming you into a different kind of human being – a loving, compassionate, humble, selfless human – and sends you out among your friends and family and co-workers and neighbors, and spouses and children, and says – love the ones you are with.  I know that is a Crosby, Stills, and Nash song and I know they meant it entirely different than me, but I am repurposing that song.

The most important people in your life are the people in closest proximity to you wherever you might be.  Love the ones you are with.

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.   All these other things we deal with in life will take care of themselves.

So how do can we go about honing our sense of the Kingdom of Heaven, how might one go about searching for the kingdom?

This will be an unusual application – but I want to encourage you to talk to yourself – and in particular I’d like you to get into the habit of asking yourself three questions.

Maybe over the course of this week – you ask yourself these three questions and see if they don’t get you in touch with the right now Kingdom of Heaven and help you as you seek it daily.

These questions – they remind me about what is real.  Sometimes I get caught up in the unreal world – and I need to drag myself back to reality.

So I ask myself, Who am I?  I am a child of God.  My father, who are in heaven!  I call him Father and he calls me his son.  I am a child of God and need not fear him, or flee him or flatter him, I am his child.  I am an unceasing spiritual being, created and loved by God, who has unique gifts and talents that contribute to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Then I ask, Where am I?  I am alive living in the Kingdom of Heaven right this moment.  Where God promises to fend for me.  He is my good shepherd I lack nothing.  Even when circumstances are aligned against me, even thou I am surrounded at times by trouble – I fear no evil, for thou art with me.  And what can separate me from the love of my father in heaven?  Nothing.  Nothing.  NOTHING!

And often that’s enough, but sometimes, in certain situations, I need to ask myself this third question:  What do I know to be true.  I know that God will never leave me or forsake me.  I know that death is a defeated foe.  I know that God is at work in the hearts of every person I see.  I know that I am a work in progress, I am under construction, but I know that the life Jesus is teaching me to live is the happiest, strongest, mist fulfilling and significant life that can be lived.  And I know that God will use me to do good in this world.  He has a plan for me.  And I can trust him.

Three questions to bring us into the reality of the Kingdom.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  NIV

Dallas Willard’s prayer:  Lord, please touch each person with how unique they are in your eyes and how their dignity in your eyes is so great that you will not override them; you will woo them and pursue them and help them to accept that you are seeking them and you will allow yourself to be found by them if they simply cry out to you for help.  I pray that great freedom will come across them because of their awareness of where they stand in the Kingdom.  That will make Jesus very happy and the angels in heaven will jump up and down.  Amen.

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