Tag Archives: faith

Without Ceasing!

“Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face CONTINUALLY” (Psalm 105:4).

Seeking God’s face is seeking Him for who He is rather than for what He can do for us. When we seek Him in this way, He desires us to do so continually:

Continually: “Continuing indefinitely in time without interruption. Recurring in steady, rapid succession. Forming a continuous series,” says Webster. We are called to seek God’s face without ceasing. That, I believe, is because He first seeks our face continually. He desires unbroken relationship with us.

John quotes Jesus as saying, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned” (John 15:1-6).

Seeking God’s face continually requires that we “abide” in the true vine of Jesus. When we profess faith in Christ, we are grafted into the vine: Jesus. For that grafting to take, we must adhere to the vine in such a way that our very life force flows from Him, the true Vine, to us, a branch in the Vine. Proof of our abiding is seen in the growth of the branch and the bearing of fruit—and even in the pruning, for God disciplines those He loves, digging out roots of sin so we can be all He desires.

Some would say that fruit is the winning of others who will graft to the Vine. That is a type of fruitfulness, but it is not the fruit that is spoken of here. The fruit spoken of here is twofold. It begins with the branch growing and changing to look like and be an extension of the Vine. There is a saying that fits here. “God loves us as we are, but He loves us too much to leave us there.”

Those who have truly grafted to the vine will begin to change and metamorphose to the very image of Christ; growing us in the fruit of the Spirit to produce so as to have within ourselves such characteristics of His very nature as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23, Colossians 3:1-17). Out of that ever growing image of His perfection in nature will come the second part necessary if we are to abide in Christ, the True Vine. Again the words of Christ instruct us:

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him. … Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 14:15-21, 15:9-10).

Abiding requires obedience stemming out of a love for God that desires Him and to please Him above all else. In this obedience to the calling and equipping of God we find a unity with Father and Son in the power of the Spirit that solidifies our union, making for us a successful grafting to the Vine that cannot be broken.

Note that God sends the Spirit to help us. In the first verses of John 15 quoted above, we are told that we can do nothing on our own, but only in Him. It is the Spirit-Helper that empowers change and obedience in us. We cannot do this on our own, to any degree of righteousness; only through Christ, in the power of His Spirit-Helper, can we become all He desires.

We can be good people without the Spirit according to this worlds definition of goodness, and we may even grow in goodness, but there will always be something flawed in our effort of self-righteousness. Such effort in one’s own strength contains within a reliance on one’s own efforts rather than reliance upon or faith in God. Our motives when pursuing our own goodness is generally self-centered. On we could go. The Spirit helps us deny self and come to realize our destitute need apart from God and His power equipping us to live and breathe and have our being; enabling us to do so for His glory and not our own self-exaltation. John again quotes Jesus, revealing His own selfless motives:

 “But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged” (John 16:5-11, *8).

One role of the Helper is conviction of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. The reasoning given by Christ for this conviction shows that we need the Spirit’s work in us to know our need for Christ, and to believe the truth about Him. This begins with the Spirit’s wooing: helping us recognize our complete separation from God, the sacrifice of Christ and our inability to be good enough in our own strength; helping us to realize the righteousness of God that needs to replace our sin nature; and giving to us the good sense to know that, without making the changes needed as provided by the Spirit, we are doomed to an eternity without God in it. Once we make that choice and come into saving grace by this wooing of the Spirit at work in us, there is another role this convicting work does.

How many of you have a decision to make today? If you awoke with breath in your body today, raise your hand; because the very first thing you had to do upon waking was decide whether to lay there all day and while the hours away, or get out of the bed and face whatever challenge the day holds. We all have decisions to make in life.

In His work of conviction, the Spirit helps us to see the sin potential in each decision—the negatives and bad paths of life; He reveals to us the path of righteousness—the positive and good, God-things in life; and grants wisdom to discern the judgment for the path chosen—enabling us to recognize the consequences for our actions, whether we choose the good resulting in blessing, or the bad resulting in curse. The Spirit continually cries out, “Choose life that you may live, you and your children with you” (Deuteronomy 30:15-20).

Thus God longs for us to abide in Him through the True Vine, seeking His face continually, just as He does ours.

“‘For the Lord has called you like a woman forsaken, grieved in spirit, and heart-sore—even a wife, wooed and won in youth, when she is later refused and scorned,’ says your God” Isaiah 54:6)

PRESENCE

“You have said, Seek My face [inquire for and require My presence as your vital need]. My heart says to You, Your face (Your presence), Lord, will I seek, inquire for, and require [of necessity and on the authority of Your Word]. Do not hide Your face from me….” (Psalm 27:8-9a, AMP)

Have you ever tried to talk with someone who is fidgety: constantly moving, eyes wondering, seldom looking you in the eye? How does that make you feel?

I used to do that. I remember standing outside church once, talking with a friend and ministry partner. I was listening—for the most part. But I really focused in on him when he suddenly reached out and grabbed me by the shoulders, stopping my constant sway. Since then I have made a concerted effort to be sure that I look a person in the eye, and I stop my own fidget when I realize it.

It is difficult to visit with someone when they are constantly moving, their focus being stolen by every passer-by. And I have learned that those who habitually avoid eye contact often have issues that hinder their ability to have close relationships: not the least of which is extreme lack of confidence, often from being beaten down in this life.

And then there are those of us who are just so busy that they have no time for relationships? These issues often translate into our inability to truly and fully meet with God.

Note in this focal passage the instruction for our seeking God’s face, “inquire for, require My PRESENCE as your vital need.” We should so desire to have God’s presence and attention, that if we feel He is not listening, we will reach for His shoulders to get his attention and acquire His presence.

But God is not like us. He is all present and all knowing and all sufficient. He does not sway or fidget, nor is He flighty (James 1:17; Hebrews 1:10-12; 4:13). God’s “PRESENCE” waits for us, longing for our full attention so we can commune together in truth. Crying out for us to open up to Him so we can commune together on the deeper issues of life. He longs for us to require His presence as our body needs breath for life: To long to sit with Him, walk with Him, know Him.

“I saw the Lord always in my presence; for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken.  Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will live in hope; because You will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow Your holy one to undergo decay.  You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of gladness with Your presence.”  Acts 2:25-28

Just as God wants us to long for His presence, seeking after Him, so He longs for our presence. He is ready to give each of us His undivided attention.

Look at this passage in Acts. See what it says.

God is ALWAYS in our presence, ready to help us, available to commune together over our situations as we face them, able to help us choose right paths. But what else does it say? “I SAW the Lord always in my presence….” It is a practice of faith. We must believe, as David did, that He is, that He is the rewarder of those who seek Him, and that He is present with us (Hebrews 11:6).

Through David’s testimonial we learn that He stands at our RIGHT HAND. That is the place of protection, ready to fight for us. Thus there is no need for us to be shaken by the issues of this life, knowing that our God is a consuming fire, a valiant warrior, and He stands beside us to come to our aid and protect us. No matter the difficulty of life, we have hope because of the PRESENCE of our God.

“You will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow Your holy one to undergo decay.” God does not always protect us from every difficulty. Jesus warned that there will be trouble in this life. It is inevitable. But we have the promise that anything God allows has good purpose and will work for our good and His glory (Romans 8). We have the assurance that He will comfort and help us, then He will use us to walk with others in their situations to give them the comfort we received (2 Corinthians 1). And as I think on the fact that He will not allow us to come to decay, I realize that He will protect from any difficulty or trouble bringing us to destruction as we trust ourselves in Him. Though our flesh may die, to sin or even physically, as a result of our trouble in this life, the outcome will always be that of greater intimacy with God, in this life or the next.

Our God stands beside us, ready and waiting to make known to us the ways of life—life more abundant and full. Walking with Him, He will make us full of gladness in His presence.

He waits at the ready. Will you enter into the rest of your God through the practice of His presence and be blessed (Hebrews 3-4: focal verses 3:12, 19, 4:1-14)?