Monday, September 22, 2008

Seek the Lord while He may be found

Pentecost 19
Isaiah 55:6-9
Bror Erickson

[6] "Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
[7] let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
[8] For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
[9] For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:6-9 (ESV)

“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while he is near.”
I find this peculiar, since God is eternal, and present everywhere, when could He not be found? When is He far away? Yet this isn’t so peculiar, because though He is everywhere, He is also often hidden, and this for our sakes. His glorious majesty is a holy burning fire that, were we to be in his presence outside of Christ, without his grace, would consume us in our sin. He is not always to be found, He does not always come near in grace and mercy. But He has come to us in grace and mercy through his Son Jesus Christ, who sacrificed Himself for us, to atone for our sins, to sanctify us and prepare us for His coming in majesty and glory. So He may be found today in His son, who comes to us in His word, and with His Body and Blood, given for you for the forgiveness of sins, those very same sins that keep God at a distance, and do not want us to find Him.
But how often does God come to us in grace and mercy, forgiving our sins, and we shy away in unrepentance, with hard and proud hearts that do not want to be forgiven, who refuse to acknowledge their sins? Our hearts would have us believe that we have done nothing wrong, or are justified in our wrong doing. Our hearts hold tenaciously to our sins. Our hearts would find refuge in sin, that is in our works, and not in God’s forgiveness, or the cross of Christ. Oh we might confess to mistakes, to imperfection, maybe even to sin, and lack of judgment. But how many of us really believe God is addressing us when He says let the wicked forsake His ways, and the unrighteous man His thought? It wasn’t my first thought. Sinful maybe, but wicked? That is harsh. We like to candy coat our sin. Minimize it. But to God all sin is wicked, it is this wickedness that gives birth to our sin. Seek the Lord while He may be found.
Too often I have seen it. Talking with friends, with neighbors, complete strangers. Too often I have seen it right here in the church, people warming the pews. Their sin blinds them to the grace of God, to the forgiveness of sins. Their hearts won’t have it. Pride tells them it is to easy. That is cheap grace you are preaching pastor. It can’t be true it is too good to be true. Yes it is too good to be true, but this time it is, and it isn’t cheap, it was purchased for you with the blood of God, a price you can never, could never pay. Do not despise the gift, do not cast it aside as worthless, as if you could do better than Christ. For if you want to save yourself you will have to do better than Christ. Christ had no sin to make up for to begin with, and you can never lead as perfectly an obedient life even starting now as he led. How often have I seen it? I tell them about Christ, and am dismissed sometimes politely, sometimes impolitely. The people don’t think they need it, or don’t think they are ready to accept it at this time. “Church just isn’t my thing. Maybe later I will be ready to commit my life to God, and the church. Maybe at the eleventh hour I’ll go work in his vineyard, maybe then I’ll be ready. Right now I want to drink coffee with my friends.” No you won’t be ready, and you aren’t now. None of us are ever ready for that. I don’t ask you to commit yourselves to Christ. I want you to realize Christ committed His life to death for you.
What is this evil draw to sin that our hearts do not want to give up. That will not allow us to forsake our ways or our thoughts. No it is not enough to clean up our lives on the outside, to become upstanding citizens. Our thoughts have to be abandoned also. They get in the way, they want to judge God by human standards and limitations. We are better to take God at His word, and leave it at that. We don’t even fully grasp the world we live in, how do we expect to understand the things of God. These we believe even when we don’t fully understand. We would expect God to require things of us for our salvation, a higher stricter moral code for living, at a minimum to do at least all we can do. Yet He gives us salvation freely in His Son Jesus Christ. Our thoughts do not understand why His son should have to die for our sins to be forgiven. Shouldn’t we just be required to give more to the church, sacrifice more of ourselves for God? I won’t even speak of attempts to confine explanations of the Triune nature of God to first grade math. But we are comfortable with our thoughts, they justify us with made up loopholes and technicalities. But God’s law has no loopholes, no technicalities, it is holy and just, and only condemns. We are not the judge, He is, and we are guilty. We can only seek His mercy where it is to be found, when He draws near in His son with the forgiveness of sins. And then we begin to comprehend how heavenly are His thoughts, that love us men despite our sin, and forgives us in the death of His Son, which we proclaim every time we eat this bread, and drink this cup until he comes. Come Lord Jesus. And so He does today, here in this bread, and in this wine with His body and blood for the forgiveness of our sin, our ways and our thoughts.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, all earthly thoughts, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.


Es ist das Heil said...

Great one Bror!
I wonder how we can seek Him anyhow, when it is HE who draws US. John 6:44 and Psalm 65:4
What do you think?

Bror Erickson said...

Well that is another problem altogether. But I'll try to stick to the text at hand. The jist of it is when he seeks and finds us, don't put him off.

Es ist das Heil said...

That is the way that I took it.