Seeking the Lord for Spiritual Awakening

Sept. 20, 2012 Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Session Transcript

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Well, our theme this weekend is: "Seeking Him Together for Spiritual Awakening." We have come together to seek the Lord.

I met a woman today who said, "I came all the way from . . ." It's escaping me right now, I think it was Texas. She said, “I came by myself.” But now she's not alone because this weekend we are seeking Him together. Tonight, we want to talk about what it means to seek Him, and then we are going to take some time to do just that.

We don't want to just talk about seeking Him; we want to really seek Him. And so for these next few moments, I want to unpack some of my own meditations in recent weeks about seeking the Lord.

The first thing that struck me is, we were created to seek the Lord. That’s why we were made.

Acts chapter 17 tells us that "He made from one man every nation of mankind, that they should seek God in the hope that they might feel their way toward Him, and find Him" (vv. 26–27 paraphrased).

Now, that says to me that God wants to be found. He's not playing hide and seek. His goal is not to hide Himself from us, though at times we may feel that He has hidden Himself. But His goal is to reveal Himself to us.

He is a God who makes Himself known. He wants us, He created us to seek Him and to find Him. In fact, the Scripture says that the Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.

Just envision the eyes of the Lord tonight from heaven going to and fro throughout the whole earth and settling here on this Convention Center in Indianapolis. And looking and saying, "Is there anyone who understands? Is there anyone who seeks after Me?"

God is looking for those who seek Him. However, there's a problem. Ever since Genesis chapter 3 in the Garden of Eden, when the man and the woman turned their back on God, there's been a universal condition that the Scripture describes this way.

"In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek God" (Ps. 10:4). In fact, "all his thoughts are, 'There is no God.'"

You say, "Well, I'm not one of those people who says there is no God. I wouldn't be a wicked person." Romans 3 says, "None is righteous, no, not one" (v. 10). No one understands; no one seeks for God.

The fact is, we cannot seek God, and we have no desire to seek God, apart from His initiative. The fact is, when we are born, we are born with spirits that are dead. We are separated from God. We have no heart for God, no interest in God, no inclination toward God. We cannot seek Him apart from being quickened and awakened by His Spirit to seek after Him.

Next year in May, this coming year, I'll be celebrating my fiftieth spiritual birthday. I came to know the Lord at the age of four. It's my earliest memory. And you know, I look at four-year-olds today and I think, "Can four-year-olds really get saved?"

But I believe God did call my name and draw me out and chose me and draw me to Himself. And you’re thinking, "Oh, how sweet, a little four-year-old girl chose Jesus." No, I was dead in trespasses and sin, I had no appetite for God, no heart for God, no inclination for God, but He reached down from heaven and chose me.

He took the initiative to quicken my heart to want to seek Him. If you are a child of God, it's because God first sought for you and gave you a desire to seek Him. If God didn't first seek us, no one would ever seek after Him. In fact, we are prone to seek everything but Him. But the good news is that we have a seeking God.

Remember back again in Genesis 3 after Adam and Eve sinned and in their shame and their guilt they hid from God? God came seeking Adam and Eve. He called out to them. He took the initiative to be reconciled to have a relationship with Him.

I'm so thankful that we have a seeking God and that our seeking after God is always in response to His initiative. Aren't you glad that He initiates relationship with us, that He invites us; He calls us to seek His face? Is that not amazing? That God would say, “Seek My face? I want you to seek Me. I want to be found by you.”

I believe that this weekend God has brought us to this place because He is seeking after a relationship with us. And I'll go further than that. I'll say I believe there are many, many people in this room who perhaps have never had a personal relationship with God, and God has brought you here this weekend because He's a seeking God.

You may say it's your neighbor who brought you or somebody from your church or mother or your daughter or a friend. No, ultimately it's God who brought you here. He is a seeking God, and He wants to meet with us this weekend.

Now, in the time we have tonight, I want us to, let me tell you where we are headed.

First I want us to consider three questions. I'll tell you the three questions, and then we'll come back to them in a moment.

First: What does it mean to seek the Lord?
Two: How are we to seek the Lord?
Three: What keeps us from seeking the Lord?

Then we want to look at two examples of women in the Scripture who were seekers. And then I want to close our time with the rewards of seeking the Lord and an invitation to seek the Lord.

Let’s get started. Number one: What does it mean to seek the Lord?

I looked up the word seek in the dictionary this week, and it said "to seek means to go in search or quest of; to make inquiry; to try to find or discover by searching or questions." That's what it means to seek.

Now, to seek something, to seek the Lord, implies recognition of a need. You don't seek for something that you don't need or that you don't lack or that you aren't missing. So, positively, what does it mean to seek the Lord? Well, as I've been meditating on this, here are some thoughts that have been on my heart.

To seek the Lord means to prize Him so much that we proactively set out to know Him and to walk with Him. We say there's something so incredibly value about Him that He is worth dropping other things to seek after.

To seek the Lord means to incline our hearts toward Him; to live in a conscious awareness of His presence with our hearts tuned to listen to Him. It's kind of sitting forward on the edge of our seats, to hear what God will say. To listen to Him, but not only to listen to Him, but to respond to Him, inclining, leaning into the Lord, inclining our hearts toward Him.

To seek the Lord means to inquire of Him; to seek His direction, His wisdom, His understanding, His perspective.

When we have a problem, the question is, where do we turn for answers? Do we turn immediately, instinctively to the Lord and seek Him above and before all other sources of help? Do we ask Him, "Lord, what should I do?" And when He reveals through His Word and His Spirit what we should do, do we do it? That's what it means to seek the Lord.

I love those phrases in the Old Testament where it says particularly of David, as the king, a brilliant military strategist and leader and authority, but it says David inquired of the Lord. Time after time after time, when he didn't know what to do, he lifted his eyes heavenward and said, "Lord, what should I do?"

And I remember, I was reading this past week in the book of 1 Samuel, and he asked the Lord in one situation, "What should I do?" And the Lord gave him direction. And then the exact same situation presented itself again, and it says again David inquired of the Lord.

I'm thinking if God gave the direction the first time, I might have just assumed the second time around the answer was going to be the same. But the answer wasn't the same. God said, "No, this time I want you to do it differently." So David in wisdom, inquired of the Lord.

Now, think about another king in the Old Testament, King Asa. The Scripture says that in his disease Asa did not seek the Lord, but he sought help from physicians. Nothing wrong with doctors, but the question is, where do you turn first to get your answers, to get your help? Do you inquire of the Lord? 

To seek the Lord means to desire Him, desire Him for who He is—not just for what He can do for you or for what He can give you; but just because you want Him, to desire Him.

 

To seek the Lord means to set our hearts and our hope on that which is eternal rather than that which is temporal.

See, most people, as Jesus said in Matthew 6, they are running hither and yonder and to and fro, looking for things of this earth. What they're going to drink, what they're going to eat.

How many of you spent at least an hour trying to figure out what you were going to wear this weekend? Come on, let me see. My hand is up there. I'm not going to tell you how many hours that was. Jesus said the heathen, the people who don't know God, they seek after all these things.

Now, it's important to have something to wear and to eat and to drink and a place to live, but Jesus says to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness—the eternal, invisible, unseen things and then all these visible temporal things that you need will be added to you.

So to seek the Lord is to set our hearts and our affections and our hope on that which can never be taken away from us, that which is eternal.

The fact is, we are all seekers. We seek after those things that matter most to us. The question is, who or what are you seeking? And the answer to that question might differ from day to day or within a few hours in the course of a day. But it's a question I find myself asking myself more these days as I've been preparing for this event. Who or what am I seeking?

  • What am I pursuing after? 
  • What is my heart inclined toward?
  • Where am I inquiring? 
  • Where am I looking for answers? 
  • What do I prize? 
  • What do I desire? 
  • What am I seeking after? 
  • Am I seeking Him?

Now, let's think about a second question here for a moment. How are we to seek the Lord?

The Scripture gives us a lot of insight into how to seek the Lord. Let me bring up three of those considerations.

Number one: We are to seek Him intentionally.

First Chronicles 22 tells us "now set your mind and heart to seek the LORD, your God" (v. 19).

Seeking God is not first and foremost an emotion. Rather, it is a conscious, deliberate choice to set our affections, our mind, our heart, our attention on Him.

It's an intentional focused effort. We are to set our minds to seek the Lord. It's proactive, not just passive, "Oh yeah, I'm seeking the Lord." No, it's something you set your heart, you set your mind to do.

And then we are to seek Him, as Psalms says, with our whole heart. Wholeheartedly. Earnestly.

Some of you know what it is for you or your mate to be earnestly looking for a job, to be out of work and to need a job. And you're intentional and wholehearted about this pursuit. Or maybe you have lost something that's really precious to you, a precious possession. You seek for it wholeheartedly; you seek for it earnestly.

A number of years ago I was sitting down with a friend at her kitchen table with a contractor who was talking with me about the possibility of building a house. I didn't have a house, so we were meeting at a friend's home. Diane had served us up some apple pie, and all of a sudden, I noticed that my friend Diane kind of lost attention, got distracted from what was happening at her kitchen table. She was not interested in the apple pie, she wasn't paying attention to the conversation and didn't say anything for a while. She was just in and out of the room. And then she finally told us that her three-year-old child, Jordan, was missing.

She hadn't seen him for an hour or more. She didn't know where he was. She looked through the house, she looked in the yard, and finally she said, "I don't know where Jordan is."

She couldn't think of anything else. And at that point, nor could we. The apple pie was forgotten, talking about building a house was forgotten. Friends, neighbors, a lot of us live in that area, we came together. There was an all-out search party for Jordan for hours until we found the little guy sleeping in the woods in the next piece of property. He had just wandered off. But I thought that woman was earnest about seeking. Seeking earnestly.

Now, God is not lost. But I think there's a picture there of what it means to seek earnestly.

We saw another picture recently. Those of you who watched either the Republican or Democratic National Conventions, did you see some earnestness in those conventions? Oh, my goodness!

These party delegates gather together to nominate and promote a candidate for President of the United States. And for days on end there was no shortage of enthusiasm. We’re talking long sessions, late nights, people cheering until you think they must be hoarse. How do they have any more energy left to cheer? A picture of fervency, of intensity.

And I thought, "How many of us seek the Lord with all our hearts?"

Scripture says, "You will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul" (Deut. 4:29).

We are talking here about a concerted effort, a focused effort. Not a casual glance in God's direction every once in a while. Let me suggest that the earnestness with which we seek anything reveals the value that we place on what we are seeking. That little Jordan—that three-year-old son? He was incredibly valuable to his mother. So she sought him earnestly. The more valuable the thing you're seeking, the more it means to you, the more earnestly you seek. So the question might be raised based on how earnestly we seek God, what does that say to the world around us about the value we put on God?

And then the Scripture tells us we are to seek the Lord in His strength, seek His presence continually—intentionally, wholeheartedly, and continually.

What does it mean to seek the Lord continually? I think it means every day to seek the Lord. I think it means to seek the Lord all day throughout the day, from the time we wake up in the morning until we pillow our heads at night and throughout the entire course of our lives in every season.

While we're young. We have some teenage girls here. Girls, it's time for you to seek the Lord. Don't wait until you're old. But it also means seeking Him when you get busy with college, when you get busy with a job, and when you get busy with lots of little children, and then lots of grandchildren. It means in every season of life to seek the Lord continually.

I think to seek Him continually means to seek Him in the good times and in the bad.

Some of you are in a good place in your life right now. Maybe your marriage is growing and you're experiencing God's blessings in your life. Maybe you have just married off your son or your daughter to the godly mate that you prayed for for years. Could I say when things are going well, don't become complacent?

Don't forget to seek the Lord. You need Him now as much as ever. Prosperity is not a friend of grace in most of our lives. That's when we are prone to become complacent. This is the time to seek the Lord.

Then there are others in this place—many, many in this place—who are in a difficult season of your life. Maybe there's intense financial pressure or health issues or your family is falling apart. Maybe you are here with some fresh, raw wounds.

There's a woman here who lost her husband suddenly just two weeks ago. She felt God wanted her to be here to seek the Lord. She's hurting. There's another woman here who buried a five-month-old grandson on Tuesday afternoon—two days ago. She left early yesterday morning, traveled all day so she could get here from northern California to seek the Lord. 

These women are hurting, but they're not letting adversity turn them away from the Lord. They're letting it push them to seek Him in the midst of their pain.

The psalmist said, "In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord" (Ps. 77:2).

I was reading just this morning in my quiet time in 2 Samuel 21, it says, "In the days of David there was a famine year after year." And then what does it say? "David sought the face of the LORD" (v. 1). And when he did, God revealed the reason for the famine and what they were to do about it.

Maybe there's a famine in your life right now. You are in that dry and weary land where there is no water. Can I say that desperation can be the impetus to seek the Lord?

That's why trouble, trouble of every description, can actually be a blessing. It can be a gift if it motivates us to seek God in a way we might not otherwise have done.

Over the past eighteen months, I’ve had some desert experiences in my own life, some relational strife and struggles and things I have had no clue how to deal with.

I felt so helpless, so burdened, so heavy-hearted at times, but I’ll tell you what it's done. It has caused me to seek the Lord more intentionally, more wholeheartedly, more earnestly, more desperately. Seek the Lord.

Now I want to talk for a few moments here about what keeps us from seeking the Lord. And, let me just ask, what keeps you from seeking the Lord?

So let me get you started by sharing some things that often keep me from seeking the Lord with all my heart, some hindrances to seeking Him earnestly.

Here is a first one, and that's self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency—no sense of need, no sense of desperation.

It makes me think of the church of Laodicea in Revelation chapter 3, where Jesus said to them, You say of yourselves, 'I am rich, I am increased with goods and I have need of nothing'" (v. 17).

Most of us would not say that, but aren't there times when we live that way? "I'm doing okay. There's nothing desperate going on in my life."

Here is the second thing and that is busyness. Let me just show you a video here, a clip, maybe this is something you relate to when it comes to this matter of busyness. Turn your eyes to the screens if you would for just a moment. How many of you, like you have been that way this week? [video of a squirrel hanging on a feeder spinning around and around]

Are you glad nobody was shooting video of you going around in that circle? Busyness. How many times do we take on responsibilities without consulting the Lord, and saying, “What are your priorities for this season of my life?”

As a result, we live these chaotic, dizzy, stressed out lives that are so full that there's no room for God. We are just hanging on for dear life, hoping we don't fall off that spinning wheel of busyness.

Here's something else that keeps me from seeking the Lord a lot, and that is distractions. Distractions. Now, I have to tell you, my picture is in the dictionary next to the word "distractible." That's me. I'm telling you, when I go to have my quiet time, that's when I get super-distractible. I get this whole new burden for house cleaning when I’m sitting in that quiet time. No other time do I ever have that burden, except for when I'm trying to quiet my heart to seek the Lord.

Noise and clutter. We are a culture that is entertaining and amusing ourselves to death. We talked earlier tonight about social media. I made a list the other day of some of the distractions that keep me from seeking the Lord and you know, every one of them can be found right here. [pointing to iPhone]

Now, there are other places to kind them, but right here. This is a blessing, but I want to tell you—Facebook, Twitter, email, Words with Friends, those are the top four things on my list. Am I the only one?

Those things distract you. Do you ever find yourself, as I do, meeting with the Lord, but letting this thing—letting your own heart interrupt you to check out an email, a Tweet, something on Facebook. And these distractions, they take a toll on relationships.

Some of you know, you have teenagers doing this all the time. They won't look in your eyes. They can't sit up at the dinner table; they're doing this under the table. This is not good for family life, nor is it good for life with Christ. It takes a toll on our relationship with Him if we're too distracted to seek Him.

And here’s a fourth thing that keeps me and perhaps you from seeking Him. I just summarize it under the word substitutes. Substitutes. Competing desires and appetites and passions. Becoming enamored of other things. Not necessarily bad things or sinful things or wrong things, but things that we desire and long for more than we desire Him.

We have such a tendency to be drawn toward things that are temporal rather than things that are eternal. Things that can be felt and seen, rather than things that are invisible.

How do we identify what are the substitutes for God in our lives? Well, ask yourself:

  • What do I long for?
  • What do I crave? 
  • What do I invest my time in? 
  • What do I pursue? 
  • What do I meditate on? 
  • What do I dwell on? 
  • What will you go to great lengths to obtain or to avoid?
  • What do you devote your time, energy, and efforts to?

What are some of the other things that people seek, things that can be substitutes for seeking Him? I just made a short list here:

  • stuff, possessions 
  • money 
  • physical beauty 
  • having a great figure 
  • comfort 
  • relief, escape from pressure

It's why so many people turn to entertainment or shopping or food or alcohol. They are substitutes.

  • seeking after approval
  • acceptance 
  • praise
  • relationships 
  • longing for a mate

Seeking earnestly for a mate. Some of you have a mate, and what you are longing for is a different mate or for your mate to be different.

We seek to fill the empty places of our hearts with things, with substitutes for God, which by the way, there’s a word for that in Scripture. They are idols, aren't they?

And the problem is, if you fill up with junk food, you lose your appetite for the real feast. Self-sufficiency, busyness, distraction, substitutes.

A few other things that keep people from seeking the Lord—fear, fear of intimacy, fear of getting too close, bitterness, disappointment with God or others. And then for some in this room, you know what keeps you from seeking the Lord? It's the fact that you have no relationship with Him.

You don't know it. You don't have a heart for Him, an appetite for Him. You don't desire Him. I believe God brought you here because He wants to pursue your heart and relationship with you.

So what does it look like to seek the Lord above everything else in our lives? We want to get past those obstacles and hurdles.

Well, there are two women in the Scriptures who were wholehearted seekers and would not let anything deter them from seeking their beloved. We find one in the Old Testament and the other in the New. I want to take you briefly tonight to two passages of Scripture to look at these women.

The first one is found in the Old Testament book of the Song of Solomon. In a nutshell, the Song of Solomon is a love story. It’s a story of a bride and her beloved and their love relationship.

In chapter 1 there’s a description of this passionate honeymoon love, but by the time we get to chapter 3, we have the first of two accounts (the other one is in chapter 5) of a breach in her relationship with her beloved.

Now, some understand this passage we are getting ready to read here at the beginning of chapter 3 as the bride recounting a bad dream. Others think it's something she actually experienced. Regardless, I think it illustrates what it means to seek after the one you love. Let me read beginning in verse 1. She says:

By night on my bed I sought the one I love; I sought him, but I did not find him. "I will rise now," I said, "And go about the city; in the streets and in the squares I will seek the one I love" (vv.1–2).

And then for the second time she says:

I sought him, but I did not find him. The watchmen who go about the city found me; I said, "Have you seen the one I love?" Scarcely had I passed by them, when I found the one I love. I held him and would not let him go (vv. 2–4).

I think we can outline just those four verses this way, in verse 1, we see she's missing something. She’s missing her beloved. And then verses 1–3, she's seeking something, seeking her beloved. And then verse 4, she is finding.

Missing, seeking, finding, and it's a progression that I believe all of us can experience in our relationship with the Lord.

Let's unpack those versus for just a few moments here.

Verse 1, she realizes something is wrong, something has separated her from her beloved and she misses him. She says, "By night on my bed I sought him." The word actually in the original is not night singular, it's nights plural. Night after night after night, over a period of time, I sought the one I love.

You see, she has lost intimacy that she once experienced with her beloved. Do you know what that is like in your relationship with the Lord? If you’ve experienced at times that kind of breach, you can even be involved in spiritual activities but not experiencing the reality of His presence in your life. I know what it is to be in full-time ministry, but to have a heart that is cold, distant, and separated from my beloved.

This woman is not content, this bride is not content to be separated from the one she loves. So she begins to pursue restoration of intimacy with her beloved.

Ladies, an evidence that we love Christ, that we belong to Him, is that we seek Him. When there's that breach in the relationship, our hearts pursue reconciliation and restoration.

So where does she start searching? It says in verse 1, "By night on my bed I sought the one I love." She starts right where she is.

It's convenient, it's easy, she didn't have to go anywhere, there’s no great effort required. I think at this point this woman is concerned, but she's not yet really desperate.

But then as she starts to search from her bed, she doesn't immediately experience the restoration of the intimacy once she begins seeking. But notice, she doesn't give up. She is not willing to keep going on without him night after night after night.

So what does she do? She seeks even more earnestly. Verse 2, she says, "I will rise now."

Does it remind you of the prodigal son in the far country when it got really, really, really, really desperate, he goes, "I will rise now and go to my father." I will rise now.

She doesn't go back to sleep, she doesn't wait 'til morning. She's resolved to do whatever it takes to find him. She's finally willing to move, to get up off her bed during the night, to have her rest disturbed. She takes intentional steps to find the one she loves.

I wonder how many times God has wanted to be found by us, but we just rolled over and went back to sleep. Listen, we are not likely to find Him as long as we are unwilling to rise up out of our current circumstances and take intentional steps to seek Him.

So she goes on this intensified search. She's determined, she's resolved. "I'm not going to stop until I’ve found him. I'm going to keep on seeking." She goes out on this full-scale, all-out search, missing person, APB. She goes out into the city streets and squares and wants to check in every possible place he could be.

This is a thorough search. It's a focused search. She is not going to give up. She is not going to be deterred in her search. I think that kind of focus and intensity is required when we want to experience restored intimacy with the Lord Jesus.

It doesn't just happen. We have to be willing to turn our attention away from other competing desires and distractions so that we can turn our eyes upon Jesus, focus on Him. We can't seek the one we love while we are loving and seeking after other things that compete with His place in our lives.

So in verse 3, she inquires of others who know him. They are called the watchmen in this passage. She's not ashamed; she's not embarrassed to ask for help, to tell him that she loves him, and to say, "How can you help me find him?"

She declares her love and her longing. But as it turns out, not even they can solve her problem. You see, friends, spiritual leaders can be helpful, but ultimately we can't expect them to restore our relationship with Christ.

This bride is not satisfied to be with those watchmen; she wants him. She wants her beloved, and she refuses to give up, she refuses to go back home. She is not going to stop until she has found him. So she perseveres and she presses on beyond those watchmen.

Then verse 4, finding—oh, the joy of finding. She says, "Scarcely had I passed by them when I found the one I love." Her search is rewarded. It doesn't say where or how, and at this point it doesn't really matter. But the fact is, those who seek and those who keep seeking will find.

I wonder, she says, "It's just a little bit after I passed by them." I wonder how many times we give up just short of finding Him, the One we love. "I found the one I love," she says, "I found him."

We are talking about seeking Him. She's not satisfied with anything less, anything else. It's not enough to find the blessings of Christ, the gifts of Christ. Maybe you want a changed husband or you want some other thing in your life. It's not enough to get answers to those prayers. Our seeking is after Him. Oh Lord, my heart seeks for You.

It's not enough to find sound doctrine to just know more about Him. None of those things can take the place of finding Him, enjoying personal communion with Him. And so she says, having found him, "I held him, and I would not let him go."

Can you just imagine the joy of that reunion? She doesn't ever want to lose him again, so she clings more tightly and with greater fervor than she had previously.

Now, it turns out, and we are not going to go into this part, but two chapters later, once again, there's a breach, a brokenness in the relationship. So having found Him, clinging to Him tightly doesn't mean that you can stop pursuing. In fact, I believe from here to heaven we are going to be on a lifetime pursuit seeking the One we love; clinging to Him. And that's what this bride illustrates.

I want to take just a few moments to look at a second woman in the gospel of Luke. Luke 10. Listen as I read this passage. It will be a familiar passage to most of us.

As they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, "Lord, do you not care my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." The Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things" (vv. 38–41).

Many things. Can't you hear the Lord saying that to you? I can hear Him saying it to me. "Many distractions, Nancy, Nancy, you are anxious and troubled about many things. But one thing is necessary." Only one thing in life is absolutely necessary. What is it? "Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her" (v. 42).

Now, by any human measurement, Martha was a good woman. By modern standards, she would be considered a godly woman. After all, she was hospitable; she was serving the Lord. But self-sufficiency, busyness, distractions, and substitutes kept her from seeking the Lord while she was serving Him. As a result, she was left frazzled, frayed, and frustrated.

Do you ever look in the mirror and see that looking back at you? Frazzled eyes. I do so many times; it’s because I become distracted. I'm serving the Lord, but I’m not seeking Him.

By contrast, Mary had her sights fixed on Christ. Everything else could wait. Yeah, they've a whole crew of men at the house for dinner. It could wait. In fact, Jesus could make dinner, right? He could just say the word; He can feed 5,000. Or we can eat peanut butter and jelly or we can fast. Everything else can wait. Nothing mattered more to Mary than seeking the Lord.

She didn't drift into that posture. It took intentionality. Mary has chosen the good portion. Mary said "no" to distractions, "no" to her iPhone—mine is buzzing crazy, like crazy up here. Somebody is tweeting. She said "no" to other good things to sit at His feet and listen to the Lord.

Here is something that struck me as I have been meditating on this whole thing of seeking the Lord. According to God's Word, we are either seeking Him or we are forsaking Him. If we are not seeking Him, we are forsaking Him. There is no middle ground.

So how do you know that? Listen to this Scripture where David said to his son Solomon in 1 Chronicles 28:9: "If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him he will cast you off forever." A sign that you are a child of God is that you seek the Lord. That's your heart.

Zephaniah 1:6 speaks of "those [in Judah] who have turned back from following the LORD, who do not seek the LORD or inquire of him." If we are not seeking the Lord and inquiring of Him, then we are turning back from following Him.

Are you seeking Him tonight? Or have you turned back from following Him? You may have experienced what it means to seek the Lord in the past. You may have had a heart to seek Him, but maybe in this season of your life your heart has become barren and dry and cold.

Are you desperate to experience restoration of His presence in your life? If so, are you willing to get honest? As that bride did when she lost fellowship with her groom? To acknowledge your condition and your need to the Lord to ask Him for help, ask Him to give you a heart to seek Him, ask others around you, "Pray that God will give me a heart to seek the Lord"?

Are you willing to say to Him, "I will rise now. I'm ready to get up from my bed. I'm willing to take whatever steps are necessary to be restored to intimacy with You. I don't want to stay in this place of separation. I want to live in union and communion with You, Lord. Please make Yourself known to me. I must have You. Nothing else matters."

And then can I say, "Keep on seeking." And don't be content until you can say, "I have found the One I love."

The psalmist said it this way in Psalm chapter 27, "One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple" (v. 4).

Doesn't that sound like Mary? One thing, to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to His Word. Psalm 27 goes on to issue an invitation that I believe God is issuing to our hearts tonight.

Verse 8 of Psalm 27, "You have said," here is what God says, "Seek my face." Now, in the original language, that's a plural command. God is saying to all of us in this place tonight, "Seek My face."

Y'all, as they say in the South. All of you, plural, "Seek My face." That's God's invitation to us tonight. But then the response is a very personal one. "My heart says to you, 'Your face, LORD, do I seek.'" It's not plural there. It's singular.

So God says to all of us, "Seek My face." And one person, the psalmist, says, "My heart says to you, oh Lord, 'Your face, oh Lord, do I seek.'"

Will you be one who will respond tonight? Personally, "Oh Lord, I will seek Your face. I will seek Your face. I will seek Your face. I will seek Your face. Yes, Lord, yes, Lord, I will seek Your face. If nobody else in my family does, if nobody else in my church does, if nobody else in my row does, if nobody else on our bus does, oh, Lord, I will seek Your face."

To do that are you saying, "Yes, Lord"? To seek the Lord you may need to say "no" to some other things. Because it's real easy to sit in here and wave our white hankies and seek the Lord. We don't have anything else to do in here, right? But when you go to your room, you have TV, Facebook, Words with Friends, you have phones. And maybe you need to call in and check on your kids or your mate. I understand that.

The question is, when you have a choice, are you going to seek Him, or are you going to seek other things? Are you going to say "no" to some of those things, maybe fasting from Facebook, maybe limiting your computer use, maybe turning off the TV?

There's no list of rules here, I'm just saying whatever it takes to seek the Lord, do it; do it. Maybe it means getting up early or setting aside time. That's our most precious commodity. Seeking Him takes the willingness to make those sacrifices.

And what happens when we seek Him? Just a word about the rewards of those who seek Him. He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, Hebrews 11 tells us. Let me read to you some of the verses that talk about the rewards:

Psalm 40:16: "May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you."
Psalm 69:32: "You who seek God let your hearts revive."
Psalm 34:10: "The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing."
Lamentations 3:25: "The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him."
Jeremiah 29:13: "You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart."

What happens when you seek Him? You get joy, satisfaction, your deepest needs will be met, your heart's longings will be fulfilled. Why? Because when you seek Him, you will find Him. And all we need is found in Him. If you have Him, you have everything else that you could ever, ever need.

That's what some of the old-time, old souls used to call the beatific vision. What do we mean by that? It's the ultimate vision of seeing God.

We read about that in Revelation 21 and 22, where faith will become sight and prayer will become praise and all the seeking of the Lord we have done when He seemed so far and we couldn't seem to find Him and we had to walk by faith and not by sight, the veil will be removed, the distance will be removed. We will be with the Lord. He will dwell with us. He will be our God. We will be His people, and we will see His face.

That's the reward of seeking Him. That's the reward of seeking Him.

Let me close with this illustration and challenge to our hearts as we move into the rest of this weekend. There was an old-time revivalist whose name was Gipsy Smith. Perhaps you have heard of him.

The story is told that Gipsy Smith would go to a town to preach. He was an itinerant preacher. He would come to the town where he had been invited and come to the outskirts of the town. He would stand and draw a circle in the ground in the dirt on the outskirts of town, and then he would step inside that circle. He would begin to pray for God to move in that town. He would say, “Lord, please send revival to this community.

"But, oh God, let the revival start inside this circle. Let it begin in me."

Your face, Lord, I will seek. It's not my brother, not my sister, not my mother, not my pastor, not my friend who came with me, it's me, oh Lord, standing in the need of You.

You may have noticed that around this convention center there are white circles at different places all around this arena. As you pass by those in the days ahead, I want to encourage you, if there's room, to just step inside one of those circles as I'm stepping inside a circle here we have put around the podium, because seeking Him starts right here, in our hearts, as we are speaking in this conference.

Step inside that circle and say, “Lord, would you send revival to my family? Would you send revival to my church? Would you send awakening to our nation and to our world? We desperately need it. But oh Lord, would you start the revival inside this circle? Let it begin in me.”

So take those circles throughout the weekend as a prompt. And then if you need one more, let me just tell you that inside your tote bag there's a piece of white chalk. This is for you to take home. It's a reminder throughout this weekend, but beyond this weekend, you may want when you get home . . . I counsel you not to do it on the convention floor or your hotel room, but when you get home, you may want to draw a white circle.

I've had a hula hoop in my bedroom for the last couple of weeks. I didn't want to put chalk on my carpet. But I have been stepping inside that circle and saying, “Lord, start a revival inside this circle. Let it begin in me.”

As we bow our hearts before the Lord tonight, let me just ask, if your desire is to seek Him, would you just let the Holy Spirit draw a circle in your heart right now? And say, “Oh Lord, I want others in this place to seek Your face. I want them to be revived.”

Some of you have left a mate back home who desperately needs to meet with God. Some of you have prodigal children who desperately need the Lord. Some of you are in a workplace that is so pagan and people need the Lord. Your heart is so heavy. Would you draw a circle inside your own heart and say, “Lord, send revival to this circle. Let it begin in me.”

You have said, oh Lord, "Seek My face." Tonight my heart says to you, “Your face, oh Lord, do I seek.” If it is your desire tonight to say, "Lord, if nobody else does, I want to seek Your face" would you join me in standing to your feet? Say, “Lord, I want to seek You. Whatever that means, whatever that looks like. Lord, I want to seek Your face."

Oh Lord, I pray for my sisters who are standing and those who maybe there’s a battle going on in their heart, and they couldn’t bring themselves, honestly, to stand before You. Oh Lord, You know all our hearts. But may our hearts cry out to You, "Your face, oh Lord, I will seek." Thank You for Your incredible promise that when we seek You with all of our hearts we will find You.