“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, and He will abundantly pardon!”
"And you will seek Me and find Me, when you
search for Me with all your heart."
search for Me with all your heart."
It is a very humbling experience at times to publish a personal blog, or to post on social media some sort of journal chronicling one's walk of faith. As I work on this first post of 2019, my heart yearns to simply be silent about some of the details of the previous year, and to carefully guard myself against those who might misunderstand my motives, or who would desire to discover some kind of ammunition to use against me. Nevertheless, what I have experienced needs to be told, and what I am learning needs to be taught.
The verses above from Isaiah and Jeremiah have always rebuked me when I have been too busy to spend adequate time in the Lord's presence. And they have also reminded me that His promises to restore my position of fellowship, renew my passion for worship, and reinstate my power for ministry are hinged upon my simple acts of faith, repentance, and surrender. Faith is necessary to seek, call, and return to the One who says that He can abundantly pardon. Repentance is required in order to forsake our ways and our thoughts as we complete our u-turn towards Him. And surrender is revealed in that this can only be accomplished by those who long for new experiences of His divine grace and delightful mercy with all of their hearts. To seek Him in such a fashion means that you must be all in. This promise is not for the worldly minded, fence-straddling, carnal hypocrites that can so often dominate a local church. This promise is reserved for those who long to see God work in mighty power, even if it costs them absolutely EVERYTHING!
I believe that God is showing me and calling me to a deeper level of intercession in this new year. I hate to admit it, but my commitment to a strong prayer ministry has often been diminished by the demands of a more visible ministry. If you are a pastor, you know very well what I mean. Hospital and shut-in visitation, families in bereavement, couples needing counseling, sermon preparation, community outreach, youth and children events, committee meetings, and the list can go on and on. These are good, necessary, and important areas of ministry in a church, but if we are not careful, they rob us of the most pressing issue of life: SEEKING HIM!
Changes have taken place that have been both emotionally upsetting and personally challenging for me and my family during the past year. My ministry assignment in our home church was terminated in September, a decision that was very disturbing. This is not what I envisioned as the year unfolded, nor is it an experience that I would wish upon anyone. As a result, I was forced to return to my previous employment of driving charter buses for ACR Coach. God has used this scenario to show me that I may not currently have a ministry opportunity that occupies a great amount of my time, but I can now invest more time in intercessory prayer for needs around the world. Those hours that I would normally invest in meeting the needs of hurting people, can be spent praying for pastors, denominational workers, missionaries, evangelists, seminary professors, etc. (I can also spend time praying for the owners, staff, and the many drivers that I have learned to love and enjoy working with at ACR. Which should be a reminder to all of us that are gainfully employed outside of a church field or home business: we are on the mission field wherever we might be at all times.)
I recently observed from a distance as a friend was named President of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. As Paul Chitwood undertakes this new assignment, my heart aches over the challenges that he will face, the decisions that he must make, and the pressure that he will endure in this strategic role of ministry. What can I do for this brother? I can pray for him! And I can pray for you, and I can pray for the biblically focused churches of our land, and I can pray for the Spirit of God to work wonderfully in and thru all of our lives for His glory around the world.
If you have encountered changes in your life that has caused you to rearrange your normal routines and activities, I implore you to use the added time that you might have to become a prayer warrior. We desperately need to experience seasons of refreshing from the hand of the Lord, and no one can close Heaven's door to you, but you! "Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near...And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." AMEN!