“Seeking God”

Does it seem to you that we spend our whole life chasing something?  How many movies have been made about the endless pursuit of “something”?  There are those that are comedies, dramas, adventures, and tragedies — but they all portray man’s pursuit of what they deem to be most important, or what will make them happy.  The Billy Crystal movie, “City Slickers”, where Jack Palance kept reminding him of the “one thing”, is one of the premier examples of that.

It is not just in movies where this pursuit is featured, it is featured in our lives.  There always seems to be something out there, that we think will make our lives a little better.  It seems to start early in our lives:  a place of acceptance in a certain circle of peers, a romantic relationship (with the one that sets our hearts to fluttering), a car (and not just any car, the right car), graduation from high school, college, and a host of other things that attract our attention.  Even as we get older, the “pursuit syndrome” is still there is still there.  We want a loving, lasting relationship; a job that pays well and makes us feel good about ourselves; a house that becomes a home for our safety; and security for the future; and, ultimately, retirement.

Have you ever wondered why we are that way, or at least most of us?  I believe that God intended for us to have this “pursuit syndrome“, and wanted us to focus it on a relationship with Him!  That we recognize, that the most important thing that we pursue in our life, is the relationship with a Holy God!

We have often wondered about “how” the Bible could say that David was a man after God’s own heart (I Samuel 13:14).  It certainly was not because of his sinless perfection!  The key word, in my mind, is “after” — that David was “seeking” God, and a relationship with Him.  Regardless of how man times he faltered and fell; he would get up, confess the wrong that he had committed, and begin to seek God again!

When you read the Psalms, there seems to be two ideas that jump off of nearly every page — the steadfast love of the Lord, and the admonition to seek God.  There is a beautiful description of what we are seeking, in Psalm 89:15-18 – – listen closely:

Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,
     who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.
They rejoice in your name all day long;
     they celebrate your righteousness.
For you are their glory and strength,
     and by your favor you exalt our horn.
Indeed, our shield belongs to the Lord,
     our king to the Holy One of Israel.
May the “ONE THING” that we pursue be God!  Isn’t that what Jesus said, Seek first his
kingdom and his righteousness, … (Matthew 6:33, NIV).  Peace.
(This was first posted on Facebook, May 12, 2016.  It is being posted here, as one of our “Psalms for Saturday.”  It is our prayer that it will be a blessing to you.  Bill)

 

“It Ain’t Over til It’s Over”

Probably, most baseball fans recognize the title of this post as a “yogi-ism.”  Yogi Berra was a catcher for the New York Yankees for 18 years; during that time he was on a World Champion team 10 times (more than any other player ever), an 18 time All-Star, and has been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Interestingly enough, many people that are not baseball fans, know his “yogi-ism”, better than they know Yogi.  What is a “yogi-ism”?  Well, Wikipedia gives this definition — “Berra was also well known for his impromptu pithy comments, malapropisms, and seemingly unintentional witticisms, known as “Yogi-isms”. His “Yogi-isms” very often took the form of either an apparent tautology or a paradoxical contradiction, but often with an underlying and powerful message that offered not just humor, but wisdom. Allen Barra has described them as “distilled bits of wisdom which, like good country songs and old John Wayne movies, get to the truth in a hurry.”  It is pretty obvious what the wisdom and truth is behind “it ain’t over til it’s over” is.  Don’t ever give up!

If you are an Arkansas Razorback football fan (as I am), there are some games that have been lost, that we thought we had won.  We may have even started celebrating too soon.  The pain is so indelible in our minds, that just a word or two brings back the memory, for example; “Street to Peschel”, or “Stoern-over”.  It is really not fair to remember losses for one play, because all during the game plays were made, or not made, that could have changed the outcome of the game.  But it is also true, that there are many games in Arkansas Razorback history that have been won, when everything looked lost.  We also remember those games with just a brief description, of just a word or two; and everyone knows exactly what we are talking about.  For example, if you have been a Razorback fan for very long, you will remember — “The Miracle on Markham”, or “The Henry Heave.”  If you are an LSU fan, or an Ole Miss fan, you probably remember those games with other descriptive phrases.

This morning, as I was reading in Luke 4, I was reminded of Yogi Berra’s famous saying — “It ain’t over till it’s over.”  Observe what the text says:

When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.  (Luke 4:13, NLT)

There are times that I think, we only believe that Jesus was tempted those three times that Luke enumerates in the 4th chapter.  But, if you examine the text closely, you will see that is not true.

Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River.  He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days.  (Luke 4:1-2, NLT).

It appears to me from those verses, that the devil was constantly working on Jesus for 40 days, trying to get Him to disobey the will of God.  At the end of the forty days, which included the three temptations that Luke specified, he left Him.  But it was not over, whenever Satan got an opportunity, he attacked Jesus again.

The message for you and me in this story, is that when we defeat Satan — there is no time to relax and celebrate.  He will be back!  Just as strong and powerful as he ever has been, looking to defeat us!.  He knows our weaknesses, and if we become over-confident, he will attack, hoping to catch us off guard.  Don’t ever forget:

Stay alert!  Watch out for your  great enemy, the devil.  He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.  (I Peter 5:8, NLT).

In the words of Yogi, the battle against Satan for control of our lives “…ain’t over, til it’s over.”  Peace.

“What are You Chasing”

There was a customer that I had for many years, who once told me “that he did not build houses, he built landmarks”.  I want you to know, that he was telling the truth.  He built some of the most magnificent, large houses that I have ever seen.  Malia and I always made it a point during the “Northwest Arkansas Parade of Homes,” to go through his entry for that year; and she always says “he never disappoints.”  The Parade was about 5-6 weeks ago, and I believe that his entry this year, was the best that I have ever seen.  Truly, a magnificent structure!

It was, and still is, a breath-taking pleasure to go through those homes — that are so beautiful, that are decorated exquisitely, and with fantastic curb appeal.  Some of them are so large, that they have a master bath larger than our master bedroom.  As we have toured these homes, we have often wondered where these people worked; and what exactly did they do.

Don’t misunderstand what I am saying, I am glad that people have the jobs that they have, are able to build the homes that they want, and to live the lifestyle that they have chosen — that is one of the advantages of living where and when we do.  People building, and buying houses, is how I made a living for 12 years.  We just need to recognize that money, fancy cars, luxury items, and big houses are not the ultimate test of success.

When I read this passage, there were a couple of thoughts that stuck out in my mind about life, success, riches, and big houses:

Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases.  (Psalm 49:16, NIV)

First, is the use of the word “overawed”.  Most of the other translations, use the concept of don’t be “afraid” of someone’s wealth.  Afraid may be a more correct translation, but I like what the word “overawed” says to me.  There are things that we see that are purchased with the wealth of this world, that really will take your breath away.  But don’t let the “things” of this world consume you.  So many people are consumed by the “desire” and the “chase” to be wealthy, that they hardly think of anything else.  God doesn’t want his people to be that way!  It’s not wrong to be wealthy, but it is wrong to put it above “seeking God”.

Secondly, the rest of the chapter is fascinating, because it  very bluntly teaches — you can’t take it with you!  About a year ago, there was a picture on Facebook of a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer, with the caption saying “I was wrong, you can take it with you.”  As funny as that is, you really can’t take it with you!  A life chasing riches, without seeking God. may make for a luxurious life now — but that is all it will be.

A man who has riches WITHOUT understanding is like the beasts that perish.”  (Psalm 49:20, NIV).

Never leave God out of your plans, your wealthy, or your future.  Peace.

 

(This is a revised and updated version of a post that first appeared on Facebook on May 4, 2016.  It is being used as one of our “Psalms for Saturday,” and I hope that it is a blessing to you.  Thanks for reading, Bill.)