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Seeking The Face of God - Rev. Funke Ewuosho
“When you said, ‘Seek My face", my heart said to You ‘Your face, Lord, I will seek".” God is calling His people to seek His face. More than ever before, this is the time to seek the face of God, for His intervention in our nation, our families, and in every area of our lives. God didn"t say we should seek His hand, but to seek His face; there is a great difference between the two. But, like someone said, if we seek God"s face, He will embrace us with His hand. Yes, “with His mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm” (Deut 26:8). God said “if His people will humble themselves, and pray and seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways, then He will hear from heaven, forgive their sins and heal their land” (2 Chron 7:14). Unfortunately what we have mostly today are groups of people seeking the hand of God and not His face. People are no more humbling themselves; they are not willing or ready to turn from their wicked ways; yet they want God to heal and bless them.
In Psalm 63:1-2: “O God, You are my God; Early will I seek you... So I have looked for you in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory.” David wasn"t looking for God"s power and glory; He was seeking God, thirsting after Him and looking for Him in the sanctuary! We have got everything the wrong way round. I believe that we will begin to see the power and the glory of God when we begin to seek Him.
To “seek” means: to search out; to strive after, to ask, to beg, to beseech, to enquire, etc. In Isaiah 64:7: “And there is no-one who calls on Your name, who stirs up himself to take hold of You, for You have hidden Your face from us, and have consumed us because of our impurities”. This sounds like both an indictment against the people of God and also a challenge to stir themselves up to lay hold of God. 1 Chronicles 16:11 says: “Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face continually”. Oh, how we need the strength and the might of God in our situation!
But why do we have to seek God or look for Him; after all He said He will never leave nor forsake us? (Hebrews 13:5). He is the ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). He is Jehovah Shammah, the Lord who is ever present with us. Even Jesus said, He is where two or three are gathered together in His name (Matt. 18:20); and He is with us always, even to the end of the age (Matt. 28:20). For one, God is everywhere but He does not manifest or show Himself everywhere. Jesus said to His disciples: “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him" (John 14:21).
To “manifest” means: to appear, to come to know, to reveal, to exhibit, to make visible, be conspicuous etc. God wants to manifest Himself in our gatherings and in our personal lives. When God shows up in a place we see the different dimensions of His glory, His shekinah glory, His ethical glory and His functional glory! Remember that Jesus was at the wedding in Cana of Galilee but that didn"t stop them from running out of wine. Even when they did, Jesus didn"t do anything about it until someone asked Him. Jesus could be the unseen Guest at your table, the silent Listener to your conversation; but He wants to be visible and audible - the choice is yours! When they asked Him to do something about the wine, Jesus did. And the Bible calls that the “beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee and manifested His glory...” (John 2:11).
Why do we have to seek God? Isaiah 45:15 says: “Truly, You are the God who hide Yourself, O God of Israel, the Saviour”. However, God does not hide from us but for us - to seek Him out. He said His plans for you are for good and not evil; to give you a future and an expected end. “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord , and I will bring you back from your captivity” (Jer. 29:12-14). In Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty (ie. Inaccessible) things which you do not know”. God wants to give us “inside information”. In the parable of the sower, Jesus said some things or some dimensions of the Spirit are not given to those outside to know but to those inside (Matt. 13:11). They are called the mysteries of the Kingdom of God!
The word translated as “call”, often describes calling out loudly in an attempt to get someone"s attention or for calling on the Lord"s name as in Isaiah 55:6: “Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near”. And in Joel 2:32: "and it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (or delivered).
The children of Israel cried out to God in their bondage and their cry came up to God. The Bible actually says “so God remembered His covenant” and looked upon them and acknowledged them (Ex. 2: 24). Does God actually forget? Did He forget He had a covenant with their fathers? Why did they have to cry out to Him, and what if they hadn"t cried out? Hannah wept greatly and cried out to God; she asked God to remember her and not forget her (1 Sam 1:11).
In Psalm 61: 1-2: “Hear my cry, O God, Attend to my prayer; From the end of the earth I will cry out to You...” Psalm 71:1 “...attend to my cry”; Psalm 55:2 “attend to me and hear me” Psalm 86: 6-7: “Give ear, O Lord to my prayer, and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of trouble I will call upon You, for You will answer me”.
Do you remember Blind Bartimaeus? When he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me” (Mark 10:47). The people warned him to be quiet, but he cried out the more until Jesus heard him and commanded him to be brought to Him. Why did Bartimaeus still have to cry out to Jesus? I believe that one of the conditions we must fulfil to see the manifestation of God in our lives, is to cry out to Him.
James 4:8: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you”. And also in 2 Chronicles 15:2: “...The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you”. Zechariah 1:3 “...Return to Me, ...and I will return to you”. God said exactly the same thing in Malachi 3:7. The truth is, God never left; we were the ones who did. God is constant, there is no variation or shadow of turning with Him (James 1:17). He says: “For I the Lord I do not change... Yet from the days of your fathers, you have gone away from My ordinances” (Mal 1:6-7). Psalm 145:18-19: “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them”. Psalm 73:25: “But it is good to draw near to God”.
Why do we have to seek God? In Proverbs 25:2, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings to search out a matter”. Deuteronomy 28:29 says: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed to us belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do the words of the law”. Job talked about when the secret of God was upon his tabernacle - in the days of his youth (Job 29:4). Psalm 25:14: “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him”. God said He will give us the treasure of darkness and hidden riches of secret places (Is. 45:3).
God isn"t keeping those things from us but for us. The Bible talks about “an inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled, and does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4).
It is our glory to search out what God has kept for us, and when we do, it is ours and our children"s for keeps! When we seek God, He reveals those things to us; He said when we call on Him, He will answer us and show us great and “inaccessible things which we do not know” (Jer. 33:3).
HOW DO WE SEEK HIS FACE?
The first step towards seeking God is for us to have a deep hunger; a desire to seek God"s power and glory. The Psalmist said “Early will I seek Him, my soul thirsts for Him, my flesh longs for You” (Ps 63:1). Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness are blessed because they shall be satisfied (Matt 5:6). We must have deep hunger in our souls to see the genuine move of God in our time. We must stop playing religion “having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof" (2 Tim 3:5). It takes the power of God to change a nation; to transform a sinner to a worshipper of God; to break yokes of bondage, etc.
Gideon asked the angel, “If the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are the miracles which our fathers told us about?” (Judg. 6:13). I believe the time has come to not only ask those questions, but also to be willing to be positioned accurately enough for God to move in and through us. If the Lord is with us, why are all the things happening in our nation, in our society, in our families, in our lives, and even in the church? And where are miracles we read about in the Bible? We must remember that each generation needs to see the power of God and not just be told about it, or else these things will become fairy tales or myths! Someone must take up that challenge in their generation, and for their generation, like Gideon. When God saw the hunger and passion in Gideon, He said to him, “Go in this might of yours and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites, have I not sent you?" (Judges 6:14). God is always looking for someone to send; someone with enough hunger and desire in them to see a change, to see God"s Kingdom come and His will being done on earth as it is in Heaven. When God sees such a person, no matter how insignificant they are, He empowers them. God said to someone who was threshing wheat in the winepress in order to hide it from the Midiantes, “Go in this might of yours.”. Why would the Angel of the Lord call such a man a “might man of valour”? (v. 12). Take a look at Gideon"s credentials: “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh and I am the least in my father"s house” (Judges 6:15).
It isn"t your background or your own ability that God needs to get the job done; rather, it is your availability, your willingness, your readiness and your desire. 1 Cor. 1:26-31: “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God - and righteousness and sanctification and redemption - that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.” God can"t force anyone to be used who doesn"t want to be used. Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” (Is:6:8). Then he said “Here am I, send me”. God said He sought for a man among the people, who would make a wall and stand in the gap before Him, on behalf of the land so that He should not destroy it, but He found none (Eze. 22:30). Take note of the state of things in that land - “The people of the land have used oppression, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy, and they wrongfully oppressed the stranger (verse 29). Doesn"t that sound familiar?
The Psalmist said he looked for God in the sanctuary to see His power and His glory. He said in Psalm 42:1-3, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul pants for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God (or see the face of God)? My tears have been my food day and night, while they continually said to me ‘Where is your God?”.
There are things in and around us today asking us “where is your God?” but we can turn that around if we would begin to seek the face of God. Instead of them asking “Where is your God” they can be saying among the nations “The Lord has done great things for them” (Ps. 126:2); when the Lord shall turn back our captivity! Verse 5 says “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy”.
We should stop being satisfied with how things are, we must desire to see things the way they ought to be. The Apostle Paul said “For the Kingdom of God is not in word but in power” (1 Cor. 4:20). And he said when he came to the Corinthians his speech and his preaching “were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that their faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God”(1 Cor 1:4-5).
It seems to me we are living in the days where our faith rests more in the wisdom of men, than in the power of God - the power of God to heal the sick, make the lame walk, raise the dead, give sight to the blind, set the captives free, etc. Thank God for the wisdom of men; thank God for what doctors are doing - but we need to see the miracles again! God is well able to heal, save and deliver without the help of man; He is the self-sufficient and all sufficient God. We must stop being satisfied with just speaking words, we must become hungry to see the demonstration of the Spirit and the power of God when we preach. After all, “The word God speaks is alive and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb 4:12). Jesus said the words which He speaks are spirit and life (John 6:63). And “Where the word of a king is thee is power” (Eccles 8:4).
God anointed Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit and with power, He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil (Acts 10:38). Jesus said we shall receive power to be His witnesses when the Holy Spirit has come upon us (Acts 1:18).
However, it isn"t enough to have a hunger and a desire to seek the Lord, those things must translate into action. The proof of desire is pursuit; “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to enquire in His temple” (Ps 27:4). To seek the face of the Lord, we must learn to dwell in His presence; we must learn how to withdraw from time to time from the busyness of our age and to spend time in His presence. The god of this age has so much arranged our lives that it is almost impossible to have time to dwell in God"s presence; yet he is mounting up challenges that would require nothing short of God"s intervention to solve.
It is in God"s presence that we can find the solution to life-threatening challenges; break-ups in marriages, terrorist attacks and turmoil in the nations, etc. The Psalmist said he did not understand the things going on around him until he went into the sanctuary of God (Ps. 73:16, 17). God has the answers to our issues, but we must learn to seek His face to get those answers. God wants to give us counsel; the Spirit of God is also called the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel and knowledge (Is. 11:2). “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right had are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11).
How do you seek His face? How do you cultivate His presence? What do you do to dwell in that presence?
One of the ways the people of old sought God was through fasting. The psalmist said his soul thirsts for God and his flesh longs for Him (Ps 63:1). Jesus said those who hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be satisfied; and those who ‘mourn" shall be comforted (Matt 5:4). In the Old Testament, when people sought God"s face through fasting, they put on sackcloth, this signifies mourning “But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth, I humbled myself with fasting” (Ps 35:13). Psalm 69:9,10: “Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, and the reproaches of those who reproached You have fallen on me When I wept and chastened my soul with fasting”. He said his knees are weak through fasting and his flesh is feeble from lack of fatness (Ps 109:24).
We have so many examples of people in the Bible who sought God"s face with fasting when they needed his intervention in their cases.
Jehoshophat - When he was told that a multitude was coming up against him he “feared and set himself to seek the Lord and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord, and from all the cities of Judah, they came to seek the Lord” (2 Chron. 20:3-4). When they sought the Lord He answered and sent help to them.
Ezra - He proclaimed a fast so that they might humble themselves before God to seek from Him protection for themselves, their little ones and their possessions as they travelled along the road. “So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer” (Ezra 8:23).
Nehemiah - When he heard about the state of Jerusalem and the survivors he said he wept and mourned for many days; “I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven” (Neh 1:4). Nehemiah laid his requests before God; he needed great favour with the king to go and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. That was a difficult thing, especially because Nehemiah was a slave. But after seeking the face of God in fasting and praying he testified: “And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me” (Neh. 2:8).
Esther - She faced a humanly impossible and life-threatening situation. She asked Mordecai and all the Jews in Shushan to fast for her and she and her maids would fast likewise; then she will go to the king. Rather than the king ordering her death, he stretched his sceptre towards her. Esther didn"t perish, she lived and also had all her requests granted and more!
Daniel - When he discovered from the Books God"s prophetic word through Jeremiah, he set his face toward God to make request by prayer and supplication with fasting (Dan. 9:2-3). God told Joel to consecrate a fast and to call a sacred assembly of His people. He asked His people to cry out to Him and if they did, the Lord would answer them and turn their reproach around (Joel 1:14; 2:15-19). In the healing of the boy with epilepsy, Jesus cast out the demon. When His disciples asked Him why they could not do it, He said to them “This kind does not go except by prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29). Fasting intensifies your prayers.
It seems to me there is a connection between faith and fasting; and also between the Anointing and fasting. Fasting empowers our faith and generates the anointing. Jesus lived a fasted life. He was in the wilderness and fasted forty days and nights. At the end of the fasting the Bible says, Jesus returned in the Power of the Holy Spirit and He declared thereafter: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor... to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:14-18). The yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing. Fasting, however, does not usually stand on its own, it must be coupled with other spiritual activities.
I believe that one of the keys God has given to us to operate in the Kingdom effectively; to lock and unlock, to bind and to loose, is the key of prayer. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (Jas. 5:16). The Amplified Bible says “The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available (dynamic in its working)”. No wonder Satan fears a praying Christian, or a praying church, because prayer is one thing that can put him in check. Jesus said whatever we bind on earth is bound in heaven, and whatever we loose on earth is loosed in heaven. Heaven responds when we pray on earth! Elijah prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months; and he prayed again, and heaven gave rain and the earth produced its fruit (Jas. 5:17,18). How powerful is the prayer of God"s people?
In the Book of Acts, Herod, when he saw that the killing of James pleased the people, then took Peter also to kill him. The truth is, when the devil gets away with something he gets bolder and stronger, except someone stops him! This time around, the Church woke up; “but constant (I.e. Earnest) prayer was offered to God for him by the Church” (Acts 12:5). God responded from heaven; He sent an angel who delivered Peter from the maximum security prison where he was being held to be killed. God delivered Peter from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people; because the Church prayed earnestly. Things will change if, and when, we pray.
The enemy fears your prayer life, so he seeks to attack it. In Babylon, a decree was written that whoever petitioned any god or man for thirty days, except the King, should be cast into the den of lions (Dan. 6:7). This was aimed at Daniel; he knew it but he didn"t allow that to stop him from praying. His praying momentarily got him into trouble but God delivered him. His test became a huge testimony to the king of Babylon.
Jesus lived a life of prayer “So He himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed” (Luke 5:16). (See also Mark 1:35, Luke 4:42; 6:12; 9:28-29; 22:39-46)
Jesus sought the face of God in prayer all through His earthly ministry. Prayer was one major key to His being focussed on His assignment on earth. He said He does only what He sees His Father doing. In the place of prayer, Jesus maintained communion with the Father. It is in the place of prayer that we can dwell in the presence of God.
III. TIME IN THE WORD
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). One of the ways we seek God"s face is by spending time in His Word. His Word reveals His mind, His ways, His will, and His plans to us. Jesus said: “If you abide in Me, and my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire and it shall be done for you” (John 15:17). God and His Word are one, so if we have His Word abiding in us when we pray, our prayers will be in alignment with His will. As we fellowship with His Word, His Word begins to shape even our desires; and then when we ask what we desire, we get it! “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 34:4). Psalm 1 talks about the man who delights in the Law of the Lord and meditates in it day and night. God"s Word is not only His will; it is also His covenant and His Bond. We come to Him based on His Word - the provisions of His Word. “Now, this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petition that we have asked of Him" (1 John 5:14-15).
When Daniel understood by the books the will of God concerning the Jews in Babylon, he set his face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplication with fasting (Dan. 9:23). Can you see the connection between the word and prayer? Daniel saw something in the books that prompted him to pray, because he understood God"s will by the books! Gods says after seventy years are completed in Babylon He will visit His people and perform His good word to them, “then (not before then) you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me and I will listen to you” (Jer. 29:10). God only listens to us when we pray in line with His will. Let us spend time with God in His Word. Martha was busy with domestic matters but Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and heard His word. Jesus said Mary had chosen that good part which will not taken away from her (Luke 10:38-40).
There are matters that God has hidden in His Word, not from us, but for us, and it is our glory to search them out. The Bible says the things which are revealed to us belong to us and our children forever (Deut 29:2); but the responsibility is ours to dig them out. We must position ourselves in the study of, and meditation in, the Word of God to reveal those things to us.
IV. PRAISE AND WORSHIP
“But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel” (Ps. 22:3). The KJV says “O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel”. God reigns in the praises of His people; He dwells in our praises. “Those who seek Him will praise the Lord” (Ps. 22:26). After Jehoshaphat and Judah had gotten a prophetic word from God and they were to go out in battle against the multitudes; Jehoshaphat appointed those who should sing to the Lord and praise the beauty of His holiness, to go in front of the army. The Bible says, as they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against their enemies and they were defeated (2 Chron. 20:21-22). What about Paul and Silas in prison? At midnight they prayed and sang hymns to God and suddenly there was a great earthquake that shook the foundations of the prison and loosed everyone"s chains (Acts 19:25-26).
We can always set aside time to seek the Lord by spending time praising and worshipping Him. As certain teachers and prophets in Antioch ministered to the Lord and fasted, God spoke to them by His Spirit (Acts 13:1-2). God speaks to us as we minister to Him. Have you noticed that, strictly speaking, the only times in our church meetings that we minister to the Lord is in the time of worship. We should make more time for that even in our closet. The Psalmist said he desired to be in the house of the Lord, just to behold His beauty! (Ps. 27:4).
V. WAITING ON GOD
“The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him; 26It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (Lam 3:25-26). Apostle Paul said, we should stand, having done all (Eph 6:13). Waiting is one of the most difficult things the flesh finds to do. The flesh loves activities - Jesus cursed a fig tree that had leaves but no fruit! “I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me and what I will answer when I am corrected” (Hab 2:1).
God has a lot to say to us, but we must learn to wait, watch and listen. After Jehoshaphat and all of Judah fasted and prayed, they waited to hear what God would say to them. Moses said to the children of Israel; with the Red Sea in front of them and the host of Pharaoh behind them: “Do not be afraid. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see them no more forever. The Lord will fight for you and you shall hold your peace” (Ex. 14:13,14).
In seeking the face of God, don"t jump ahead of God, wait on Him and wait for Him. “For thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” But you would not, And you said, “No, for we will flee on horses” - Therefore you shall flee! And, “We will ride on swift horses” - therefore, those who pursue you shall be swift!" (Is. 30:15-16). Have you noticed that because we are under so much pressure, taking out a day or two to seek God"s face, and hear His counsel, before making a decision, seems unaffordable; we fear all hell may break loose on us if we did. The swifter and faster we run, the swifter and faster our problems are catching up with us. One day spent with God can save us a lot of chaos and crises. Jesus said the cares of this age, the deceitfulness of riches and desires for other things come in and choke the word and we (not the word!) become unfruitful (Matt. 13:22). Someone actually said, you are too busy not to pray! “Life is fragile, handle with prayer”. God said “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10).
God wants to be God in our lives and in our situations; but we must let Him. Seeking God is rewarding - He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6). “Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You” (Ps. 40:16).
God bless you real good