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But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

 

Isaiah 55:1-13
December 4, 2016
St Paul's Anglican Church

"Seek Ye the LORD"

 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, 

call ye upon him while he is near…
Never were more exquisite words ever put to parchment!  Never were more compelling words ever directed to the mind… to the heart… and to the will of the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve!  
The night that Christ was born, very few were seeking Him.  He was incredibly near, but only a few sought an audience with the divine Infant! 
Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, 
call ye upon him while he is near…
In reading these words, it would appear man has somehow lost his vision of God… For why else would instructions be given to those made in His very Image to seek Him? 
And this, of course, is precisely the case.  
All we like sheep have gone astray… wrote the prophet of old.  …we have turned every one to his own way… 
It is, of course, the folly and the bane and the blight of mankind that we are naturally inclined by sin to make ourselves more important than the Almighty Creator!  It is the self-imposed affliction of worldlings to wander... wander away from the LORD – from close communion with Him… from His infallible guidance…. from a keen knowledge of His acts in history… from faith and confidence and trust in His Revelation…   
Since that fateful day in the Garden of Eden when our first parents deliberately turned away from the Ancient of Days, it has been the curse of mortals to meander… to roam… to drift… and to stray… from His care and His protection… from the mooring of His Holy Orders… from the security of His Sacred Doctrines… from His commands... from the wisdom of Early Church councils… The end result, of course, is that men… women… children… and young people… are easily misled, all too easily losing sight of the Almighty… and becoming lost…  And thus the prophet’s Word which cannot be silenced…
Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, 
call ye upon him while he is near…
There are three components which make up this delightful verse!
First, the verbs!  Seek ye the LORD… call ye upon Him!  There is a sense of something resembling desperation in these words which the lethargic… the indolent… the apathetic – who can either “take it or leave it” – have a hard time understanding!  This is not something we can “farm out” for another to do for us because we are just too busy!  This is something we must do!  This is something we may do!  This is something we are privileged to do.  It is likened unto a banquet in the text!
Probably the most faithful parishioner I have ever met was part of an humble parish Barbara and I once served!  A retired military man who had almost died – not of wounds suffered in combat, but of alcoholism!
One night he found himself in the VA Hospital at the point of death; he could feel the cold breath of the grim reaper upon him.  Talk about going “over the cliff” – that is just where he was!  He was on the edge and looking into the abyss!
By his own witness he called out to God for help.  “Help me” he prayed, “Lord, re-enter my life before it is gone and save me!  Bring me back and I will serve Thee the rest of my days!  Please do not let me perish!”
And God did save him!  And he did keep his promise as well!  He was faithful in attending all services of the Church!  He was always on time – in fact, early, saying his quiet prayers!  He read the Bible through from cover to cover each and every year!  He was always willing to help in any way possible!  He filled out tax forms for the widows of the church gratis – for free!
He knew what it meant to seek the Lord!  He understood the import of the phrase, “call upon Him.” 
Second, there is the direct object of the verb!  The LORD.  Seek ye the LORD.  Call ye upon Him!
Seek ye Him Who is all-powerful!  Seek ye Him Who is all-knowing.  Seek ye Him Who is the Alpha and the Omega… the Beginning and the End!
But a tragic thing has happened in our own day!  Christ’s Church in our own generation has painfully and embarrassingly reduced itself, it would seem at least in some measure, to a man-centered... entitlement-driven... celebrity-approved undertaking... the furthest thing in the world from reverent worship and seeking of the Almighty!
It would appear that many churches – perhaps most... and certainly “cutting edge” groups -- are not seeking the LORD at all, but rather (in some perverse manner) they are seeking God re-shaped into the form of thisworldIf any man love the world, wrote the Apostle John, the love of the Father is not in him.
“What are they seeking?” We ask.  Some are seeking great crowds while they may be found… great numbers, great statistics and great worldly methods to get them there!  I once witnessed the “exciting” stunt of a preacher parachuting from the sky to the church parking lot for the start of church services... The congregation was out standing in the parking lot – not with a single thought toward the LORD.  
Some are seeking great funds while they may be found!  To pay off great debts incurred to bring in great numbers.  A great circle of great expectations traveling at great speeds… 
Some are seeking to be more holy than God Himself... more tolerant than He is!  More compassionate than He is!  And this is how people lose their way!  That is how people lose God’s way!  Charlatans and frauds -- who do not seek the LORD -- still abound!  
Seek ye the LORD while he may be found... wrote the prophet 
call ye upon him while he is near…
The Almighty looks down from Heaven in disbelief.  “What are they doing now?” He asks.  “Have forgotten to seek Me?” He asks!  May God allow us always to maintain at least one place in His wide world which still seeks Him in holiness and in reverence!
Third, the descriptive phrases “while He may be found” – “while He is near.”
We do not live forever!  We all will have our own appointed end – it may be today… it may be tomorrow…it may be ten years from now!  But we do well to make sure we seek Him out “while He may [still] be found!”
We are approaching the end of the calendar year and a sobering listing of celebrities who passed on during 2016 is now being circulated, as always!
Chief Justice Antonin Scalia (80), former First Lady Nancy Reagan (95), singer Merle Haggard (79), actress Patty Duke (70), musician Prince (58), writer and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel (88),  boxer Cassius Clay (74), golfer, Arnold Palmer (87), Cuban dictator, Fidel Castro (90)... to name a few!  
The window of opportunity has closed for them!  But by God’s mercy it still remains open for you and me!  What work do we still need to accomplish for Him?  What praise and worship with our fleeting days?  Let us take care how we use our time, how we use our energy, our capabilities, our resources…
Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, 
call ye upon him while he is near…
As we continue our preparations for the arrival of the Christ Child in three weeks, let us throw off the works of darkness... and put on the armor of light!
This is the Word of the LORD… and may it endure forever!  World without end... 
Amen.



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