By Ben Doggett
Psalm 27 is one of my absolute favourite chapters in the Bible. There are many verses in it that leap off the page as they display who our God is and how we can know Him more.
In amongst many verses that show the power and faithfulness of God, in verse 8 the Psalmist expresses his desire to seek God:
As a church, in the coming months, we are going to be exploring a theme of ‘Seek My Face’ and responding to the incredible invitation of a God who wants to dwell with His people. We’re setting off on a journey to discover love, joy and peace in new depths that can come only from a life that is orientated towards relationship with the Father.
There are two things that it is important to notice in Psalm 27:8…
1) IT'S TIME TO SEEK!
I was recently at the lovely Glebe Pond in Lenham with my children. We had had some tasty treats from our local bakery and fed the ducks when the children decided that the next thing they wanted to do was a game of hide and seek! It was wonderful to see the delight they took in taking turns to run around and search for one another behind trees and in the bushes!
It made me wonder why it is that at some point in our lives we lose the childlike joy of seeking?! As an adult, seeking things often feels like an inconvenience and something we no longer have the patience for! In a world in which more and more things are available quickly and easily, we seem to spend less time patiently seeking the most worthwhile things.
Seeking the Father is the greatest pursuit of our lives. There is an opportunity to slow down, to not see seeking Him as a task to complete or something for our to do lists but instead for it to become an adventure of great joy. What wonders await as we seek for God’s face!
2) IT IS HIS FACE THAT WE ARE SEEKING
Throughout the Bible, including many times in Jesus’ own words, we’re encouraged to ask God for the things that we need. But as Jesus himself demonstrates when he teaches his disciples to pray, we begin with “Our Father..”
We are first called to remember who it is that we are seeking. We are seeking a perfect Father and are called to seek His face. All else flows from that place of intimacy of being face to face with the God of love!
GOD'S HEART FOR RELATIONSHIP
On Sunday mornings, we are going to explore God’s heart for relationship. We are seeking a God who passionately desires us and has consistently demonstrated his heart for his people to be in relationship with him.
So we will look at this truth from various angles to see what the scriptures show us about a God who paid the ultimate price so that we prodigals could come home.
Why is it so important to know what the Bible tells us about God’s heart for relationship? One simple reason is that the way we approach someone changes drastically based on how we perceive they feel about us.
If we believe they are a bit disappointed in us and find us quite underwhelming, we are likely to be hesitant, reserved and to have low expectations. However, if we know that their heart will always be for us and that they passionately desire to be with us, then it's a totally different picture!
That's why we have to understand what the Bible is telling us about His heart for relationship - because it will transform the seeking!
USING THE PSALMS TO EXPLORE SEEKING GOD IN PRAYER
In our midweek groups, we want to experience different ways of seeking God’s face and connecting with Him through prayer. We are going to ground that exploration in the Psalms.
Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:18 to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests". The Psalms demonstrate how dynamic prayer is and the incredible range of ways and reasons through which we approach God and spend time with him.
In our groups we are going to do that really creatively and practically, making sure we go beyond simply talking about these things to truly meeting with our God together!
LET'S SEEK HIS FACE
This idea of ‘Seek My Face’ can't be about just learning more information. It also can't stop at a genuine appreciation for how much God desires to be with us.
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face. And the things of earth with grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace."
We get to enter in. We get to enjoy seeking the greatest thing that can ever be sought. We get to seek his face. The face of our creator. The face of our saviour. The face of love.
You can watch Ben's original talk on YouTube:
How are you feeling about starting a new year?
However you may be feeling, we do know as a leadership team that God has already spoken to us about HIS plans for us as a church! There is good reason to be hopeful! We can now introduce you to our new theme for this term: CHANGING CLOTHES!
This theme was very clearly given to us, with some remarkable confirmations, and is going to be setting us up for what God has indicated He wants to do in our lives this year.
Hazel Pattison initially brought a word about this at Ben and Kaat’s induction last October. You can find a link to the audio/text here: “A change of season requires a change of clothes.”
We already know that we are entering a new season, and it has already begun with the changes last year. But seasons change slowly, and there is more to come: This year we believe that more things are going to shift.
what does CHANGING CLOTHES mean?
In the bible, clothes are used to represent our internal state. For example, sackcloth was often worn during periods of mourning. The sackcloth material was scratchy and uncomfortable. The outer discomfort represented the internal emotional discomfort that the wearer was experiencing.
So when we talk about changing clothes, it represents changes happening in different areas of our life. This is a great theme for New Year, thinking about what things we want to leave behind from the past (take off) and things we want to put on in the year ahead.
Biblically, we can broadly group them into four areas of life that clothes can represent:
1. spiritual state
Clothes can represent our spiritual state or condition. Think about the following verses:
So we can take off things like fear, unforgiveness, spiritual bondage, generational curses, shame and condemnation. We can put on our new self in Christ, e.g. our new identity, salvation, oneness with Christ, freedom, holiness, righteousness and the power of the Holy Spirit.
In particular, white clothes or washing clothes represents spiritual cleansing, purity or righteousness:
We are believing God for some spiritual breakthrough and change in our lives this year! Also, let's believe for good spiritual shifts in friends and family, and in people who are close to us.
reflect and prAY
2. character or attitude
Clothes can represent an inner quality, such as our character or attitude. Here are some examples:
So we can take off attitudes and character traits that that are not good. (Galatians 5 mentions some, such as sexual immorality, impurity, anger, selfish ambition, dissections, factions, idolatry, outbursts of anger, envy, drunkenness… but there are many more.)
We can put on good attitudes and character traits in line with the fruit of the Spirit (listed in the same passage) such as love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control.
I can think of some people in Pathways who have visibly grown over the past year in terms of their character and attitude. We are believing God to see visible evidence of positive change in all of our lives this coming year!
reflect and pray
3. SOMETHING WE DO
Clothes can represent our job, role, purpose or calling. In real life we have specific clothes for performing certain activities, like a nurse's uniform, business suit or swimming costume.
Here are a couple of examples from the bible. There are many more, such as wedding clothes and armour for battle.
So we can take off old roles. You could say Dave took off his business clothes and put on his handyman overalls. Nicky put on her children’s ministry clothes when she came to Pathways. Some people have put on parenting clothes.
We believe more of us are going to be called to change job, ministry role, or the things we do in some way. So don’t assume that what you have done in previous seasons or in previous churches, is what you will be doing in the coming season!
reflect and pray
The type or condition of our clothes can be indicative of our situation or circumstances. In the bible people often changed clothes when their circumstances changed. Here are a couple of examples:
Our circumstance includes having the necessary provision and equipping for what we need to do:
Our circumstance in Christ is that we have everything we need provided and available to us. That is our situation! But are we seeing that manifesting in practice? Does our situation need to change? Do we feel held back, restricted or imprisoned by circumstances, by lack, or by doors that won’t open?
We might need financial provision, practical provision, a job or a new house. We might need the power of Holy Spirit, or understanding/training (e.g. equipping).
We are believing for some of our circumstances to be changed this year!
reflect and pray
THROW OFF ANYTHING THAT HINDERS...
As per the verse in Hebrews 12 above, we want to encourage all of you to partner with the Holy Spirit to throw off anything that hinders you from walking in freedom and fulfilling your destiny.
fixing our eyes on jesus...
But we also need to fix our eyes on Jesus. It is not just about the changes that we would like to see happen. This is the time to seek God for what HE sees for you, in the new season. Ask Him to give you a renewed vision for your life.
You can use the prayer and reflection points in this article as a starting point to talk to God about these things.
This time next year things could look very different; You could look different! Your situation and what you do could look different. Let's trust that we will look back and be amazed at what God has accomplished, and at what we have accomplished in Him!
Here is the YouTube video version of this talk: