In his defense before King Agrippa, Paul, in Acts 28:8 wrote, “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?”
Do you believe God can raise the dead? We have numerous examples in Scripture of Jesus doing that very thing. For example:
· He raised the son of the widow of Nain.
· He raised Jairus’s daughter. Luke 8:41-46
· He raised his friend Lazarus, who had been dead for four days. John 11:3-44
Obviously, Jesus can raise the dead. We have records that show He did that very thing. He is God. He can do whatever He is pleased to do. In Ephesians 3:20, we read, “Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us.”
Since Jesus is able to do far more than we can ask or imagine, why doesn’t He? Once again, the answer is very clear — our unbelief.
He would have loved to bless the people of His home-town, Nazareth, but we are told He didn’t because of their unbelief. To them He was just a carpenter’s son.
Peter stepped out of the boat and began walking on the water to meet Jesus. Then he saw the wave, became fearful and began to sink. He cried out to “Jesus —“LORD save me!” As they walked back to the boat, Jesus said to him, “Why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:31
In Matthew 6:33 Jesus admonished His listeners — “But strive first for the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you, as well.
Are you seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness? What does that mean? Jesus is saying that we are to make God’s sovereign rule, and a right relationship with Him, the highest priority of our lives.
God’s kingdom is defined by His righteousness. In Matthew 5:20, we read of Jesus saying, “For I say to you that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus didn’t criticize the Pharisees for their strict observance of the law. But, He did criticize them for their emphasis on outward conformity to it, without a proper inner attitude. They focused on external factors and thereby avoided the real intent of the law. In so doing, they obscured the real demands of the law. The Pharisees were “seekers after smooth things.” They accommodated and compromised the law to fit the realities of life. In doing this, they removed the awareness of the need for grace and dependence on God.
In 1 Samuel, we discover that God had pretty well had it with King Saul. He had a great beginning but over time, stopped listening to God and obeying Him. So, God sent Samuel to the home of Jesse to anoint one of his sons who would become the new king. When Eliab showed up, Samuel thought to himself, “Surely the LORD’s anointed is before Him!” But, the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:6-7
Folks — our God is incredible. He is amazing. He is particular. He looks at your heart and mine. That is what is important to Him. In Matthew 15:8-9, He declared, “These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me, and in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”
I have been reading a book titled, “Knowing Christ Today” by Dallas Willard. He was a professor in the Philosophy Department at the University of Southern California. In many ways, when he refers to “Knowing Christ Today”, he is referring to having fellowship with God at the deepest possible level. He refers to Dr. Frank Laubach, a great Christ follower of the twentieth century. Frank finished his education at Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University, then taught for several years in a Christian seminary in the Philippines. He had expectations there that didn’t materialize so he went to live among the Maranao people on the island of Lanao. When he landed there, he determined to seek the LORD as he never had and he found Him. Laubach was guided into a practice of constant fellowshipping with God through listening for Him; speaking to Him, about whatever was being done at the moment and what was in his heart, and finding God acting with Him as he went through his daily activities. With much effort and practice, he trained himself to bring God, and what is of God, back before his mind every minute or so, and from this he constantly drank in power to guide and strengthen himself.
He wrote, “As for me, I never lived, I was half dead, I was a rotting tree, until I reached the place where I wholly, with utter honesty, resolved and then re-resolved that I would find God’s will, and I would do that will though every fiber of my being said ‘NO’, and I would win the battle in my thoughts. It was as though some deep artesian well had been struck in my soul— and strength came forth. I do not claim success even for a day, yet — in my mind, not complete success all day — but some days are close to success, and everyday is tingling with the joy of a glorious discovery. That thing is eternal. That thing is undefeatable. This spirit which comes to a mind set upon continuous surrender, this spirit is timeless life.”
I believe what Laubach shared is what it means to have fellowship with God that enhances our fellowship with each other. This is what it means to seek first the Kingdom of God. It has the staying determination like Jacob when he wrestled with a ‘Man’ (we believe it was the LORD) and as the new day was coming on, the ‘Man” said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.”
Jacob responded, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” Do you and I have that kind of hanging in there with the LORD where we say, “I will not let you go unless You bless me.”
This is the kind of fellowship with God that I long for and will seek after because I will then be forever changed and useful in God’s Kingdom.
Will you seek Him first, as well?
For His Glory,