Our reading today comes from Isaiah 54-56. I want to share three truths from today's passage:1. It's important for us to seek the Lord, that we may know Him and understand His ways. 2. It's important for us to discover God's will in situations and what He is is doing, and to align our prayers with God's will. 3. It's important for us to "Come Together" to pray. This is key in allowing the Holy Spirit to develop the bond of love in us.
Let's look at Isaiah 55:6-9 together,
"Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
All throughout scripture we are instructed to Seek the Lord. Isaiah 55 suggests that there is a window of time, a time sensitive opportunity to do this. Isaiah also says there is a window of time when the Lord is near. We should never take for granted our window of opportunity to seek and find the Lord. Verse 8 goes on to say,
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts.."
What is the relationship between being instructed to seek the Lord and then being told that our thoughts are not like God's thoughts? It is critical that we seek the Lord and His council because what appears right to us often is not. The way we assume something needs to happen is often different than God's way. Our ability to reason is finite, God's is infinite. Even our prayers to God don't always line up with Heaven's agenda. Regarding prayer, Jesus instructed us to always pray for God's will to be done. Our prayers have much greater impact when we come into alignment with heaven. It is only through seeking the Lord, through drawing near to Him that we begin to discern His will(that which He is doing). This is why many times our prayers are not answered in the fashion we anticipate. This is why prayers sometimes go unanswered. If God intends for a door to be closed, nothing will change it. The door will remain closed. It is important that we seek the Lord so we may know Him and understand His will. In Isaiah 56:7 says,
"for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations."
God's house is to be a house of prayer. It's sad that in our churches today, if you ask a congregation to spend 3 or 4 minutes praying without a pastor facilitating it, people get uneasy not knowing what to do. Are we building "houses of prayer" in our churches today?
A house is designed to be a place of habitation. It's designed not just for one person but for many people. In Hebrew culture, multiple family generations would all live together in one house. This is how it is in most of the world. America is one of the few places where we look to isolate ourselves and live alone. A house of prayer is not a place of isolation or a prayer closet. A house of prayer is a place where people gather and pray together, united as one body.
God intends for His people to come together and seek His face in unity.
I want to draw on the experiences of the early church in Acts. After Jesus rose from the grave and before ascending into heaven, he instructed his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promised Holy Spirit. Most of the disciples were from Galilee which was 70 miles north of Jerusalem. It had already been over 40 days that they had been gone from their homes. Why did Jesus want them to physically remain waiting together in Jerusalem? Couldn't they remain one in spirit and still return home to their families? The Holy Spirit is not limited by time or space, couldn't the outpouring of the Holy Spirit have moved on them just as easily while they resided in their individual homes? Jesus gave them specific instructions to remain together in Jerusalem and that's exactly what they did. They waited and they remained together seeking the Lord.
Acts 1:14 "They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers."
Acts 1:14 is a snapshot of what their week looked like, leading up to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Lets look at a few more scriptures:
Acts 2:1-2 " When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like a blowing of a violent wind came from heaven.."
Acts 2:44 "All the believers were together and had everything in common."
Acts 4:23-24 "on their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God."
When you look at the early church in Acts, you discover that they were always together. They prayed together, they ate together, they fellowshiped together. What was the significance of Jesus wanting them to wait in Jerusalem and remain together? I believe this is God's word for us today. He is not just calling us to be one in spirit but He is calling us to come together to seek His face and pray. I believe that our break through as a church will take place when this happens.
1. It's important for us to seek the Lord that we may know Him. 2. It's important that we discover what God's will is in each situation. 3. It's important for us to come together in prayer.
In the book of Jeremiah, the people of Israel were in captivity. The prophet Hananiah prophesies that Israel would be released from their captivity within 2 years. This certainly was good news. Even the prophet Jeremiah was excited over this good word. But God tells Jeremiah that Hananiah is a false prophet. God gives Jeremiah the true word of the Lord.
Jeremiah 29:8-13 'Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel says: "Do not let prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them," declares the Lord. This is what the Lord says: "when seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you." declares the Lord, " plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.'
Now is the time for us to come together and seek His face.