Acts 16: 20-35
The early Jewish Christians who received the letter called Hebrews had faced difficult times of hardship and they were about to face even more hardships nationally, emotionally, and physically. This letter reminds and encourages them that they have in Jesus Christ what is much more valuable than anything they will ever lose to hardships in this world, and that God will indeed use their hardships to train them for a harvest of righteousness and peace (Hebrews 10: 32-39; 12:1-11).
Seeking the Lord: Repentance
Repentance – every Christian has heard the word, you can’t come to God without it. God demands it, and we know that. However, do we believe that repentance is something that is only done, initially? Is it to us a one and done, ideal? Do we think that because everything is going well for us that we do not need repentance? Repentance comes from our faith (Rom 10:17; Heb 11:6), and faith is not a one-time event, it is a continuing choice for us.
Proverbs 1:8 says … “do not forsake your mother’s teaching.”
We would do well to hear the king’s advice to his son on how to be a godly king and leader of God’s people. Mothers are to thank for so many godly characteristics and principles in our lives. We ought to give glory to God and remember to follow the teaching of godly mothers!
Seeking the Lord: Worship Not in Vain
God, our God, the Living God is not like idols that He should be worshipped by human hands, as if He needed anything. We do not worship God in order to obligate Him to save us (Matt 15:1-9; Acts 17:24-28). True worshipers worship God in spirit and in truth. They are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks because they are seeking Him (John 4:23-24; Acts 17:27).
Seeking the Lord: Victory by Our Lord Jesus Christ
In seeking the Lord, we find the streams of life giving water Jesus promised (Jn 7:38-39), the Spirit. The Spirit gives life to our mortal bodies, the flesh counts for nothing (Jn 6:63). Jesus, Himself is the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor 15:45). And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven (1 Cor 15:49).
So by the freedom given us as sons by the Spirit (2 Cor 3:17; Rom 8:2) we have hope in a world that is hopeless, we have peace in a world that does not know peace, and we have purpose that overcomes suffering and the sacrificial love of God poured out into our hearts by His Spirit (Rom 5:3-5).
Not only so, but we have ultimate victory over the greatest enemy – death! We have borne in the flesh of the first man, Adam, but we have been born again of the water and the Spirit, so WE SHALL BEAR THE LIKENESS OF THE MAN FROM HEAVEN, Christ Jesus our Lord (1 Cor 15:44-58).
This is why we labor in the Lord, we know that our labor is NOT in vain!
Seeking the Lord: Life by the Spirit
Are we afraid, angry, and frustrated?
If these words mark us, then you and I need to hear and answer this question: W____ are you c__________ on? Are you and I counting on m____, flesh and b_______, our s________?
Human effort, flesh, can never accomplish God’s purpose for us.
God said: C________ is the one who trusts in m___ and depends on f_________; But blessed is the man who t_______ in the LORD, whose c___________ is in H___ (Jer 17:5, 7).
Jesus said this: The Spirit g_______ l______; the flesh c________ for no________ (John 6:63).
Paul says: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the S________ of l_____ has set you f______ in Christ Jesus from the law of s___ and d_______ (Rom 8:1-2 ESV).
God’s purpose of life, peace, and fruitfulness come by His Spirit!
Like a tree planted streams of life giving water fruitfulness never fails to come to those who trust in the LORD (Jer 17:8).
The m_____ controlled by the Spirit lives by the Spirit, and is blessed with life and peace that the flesh cannot afford (Rom 8:5-6).
The Spirit gives life; the flesh is no help at all (John 6:63 ESV).
Seeking the Lord, we are seeking Him who is the Spirit.
Now the L_____ is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Cor 3:17).
The Spirit gives us life and peace, freedom from fear, anger, and frustration!
Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them. (Luke 8:1-18, NIV)6Sacrifice and offering you did not desirebut my ears you have openedburnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.7Then I said, “Here I am, I have comeit is written about me in the scroll.8I desire to do your will, my God;your law is within my heart.” (Psalm 40:6-8, NIV)
4The Sovereign Lordhas given me a well-instructed tongue,to know the word that sustains the weary.He wakens me morning by morning,wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.5The Sovereign Lordhas opened my ears;I have not been rebellious,I have not turned away.6I offered my back to those who beat me,my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;I did not hide my facefrom mocking and spitting. (Isaiah 50:4-6, NIV)
In order to seek the Lord, we must humble ourselves in obedience to Him. Christ is our ultimate flesh-n-blood example of faith, holiness, and commitment to God. Our attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, as He humbled himself in obedience to God (Philippians 2:5-8). Christ’s food, the thing that sustained Him, in this world was to do the work of God, His Father (John 4:34).
We may think of Jesus as having magically overcome the desires and temptations of His flesh, but He did not overcome the flesh magically. Instead, He faced every sort of temptation we face yet was without sin (Hebrews 2:14; 4:15).
Humility and obedience came to Jesus Christ the same way they come to us, or else God could not have elevated Him to the highest place and given Him the authority to tell us what to do and how to do it (Philippians 2:9-11).
We do not like to do more than we have to do. So, a closer look at the attributes of those who are blessed by God in seeking Him and the kingdom of the Son He loves will help us to know the value placed on humility. The attitude of the humble servant avoids selfishly being the first or the greatest and trying to do no more than necessary.
(Mark 9:34-37; Matthew 5:1-12; James 4:6, 10; Matthew 10:25; Micah 6:8)