ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE JEREMIAH 29:13: “Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”

What does it really mean to have an attitude of gratitude? An attitude of gratitude means making it a habit or an essential part of you to always express thankfulness and appreciation in all parts of the things that happens to your life, on a regular basis, for both the big and small things alike to whoever and most specially to God Almighty. I always hate being approached in a shop and asked, ‘What are you looking for?’ I know what it is I want, but don’t want assistance. I’m a relatively private person and like to process things in my head and on my mind on my own. My private attitude of wanting to process things in my head, heart and mind on my own is something that no doubt assists my contemplative nature. Contemplation refers to thinking deeply and profoundly about something, in the religious life, contemplation is a kind of inner vision or seeing, it is the transcendent or the exceeding usual limits of the intellect, facilitated by means of practices such as prayer or meditation. When people try to intrude in my privacy often my response is dismissive with a grumbled, ‘No thanks’, as I abandon my search and leave the place or shop. Whenever I encounter people in this manner and give them the type of attitude and behaviour that I have just described above; the phrase ‘cut off your nose to spite your face’ often comes to mind. "Cutting off the nose to spite the face" is an expression to describe a needlessly self-destructive over-reaction to a problem: "Don't cut off your nose to spite your face" is a warning against people acting out of pique, irritation and slight, or against pursuing revenge in a way that would damage oneself more than the object of one's anger. In my case in the shop, disturbed and disgruntled, I left without getting what I was looking for. When you get indulged in this type of attitude, the result is Lose and Lose in every way. It has taken time and effort to develop more of an attitude of gratitude, and to assert my preference despite uninvited interruptions. Gratitude demands that I engage my whole heart in something. It makes no good simply going along for the ride. Going along for the ride emphasises, they join in an activity but do not do it seriously or get very involved wholeheartedly. For then, whatever anxieties or low expectations I carry will be realized. If I’m looking for them I’ll find them. Whereas when I start to respond gratefully for the opportunity, I quickly find positive sensory feedback. My worst fears are dislodged by an unexpected wave of pleasure. It is with gratitude, or wholeheartedly, that we’re invited to search for God. It’s far easier to miss God than to find God. A few years ago I felt really close to God. I was growing in my faith, talking and walking with God, and even though things weren’t perfect, life was going well. Then, for the next year or so, I felt stuck in a rut, a mess a blunder. I felt like I wasn’t maturing in my faith and was becoming distant from God. It wasn’t until I tried the steps below that I noticed a positive change in my spiritual walk. Here are three simple steps to deepen your relationship with God no matter how far away you may feel you have fallen away or you have backslidden in faith. • First is to Reach Out: It can be easy to become overwhelmed by life, but instead of holding everything in, reach out for help from the Almighty God. If you don’t feel God in your life as you used to, don’t be afraid to come to Him no matter what you think you have done wrong. God knows our deepest thoughts and the desires of our hearts; always have this in mind. No matter how long it’s been since you’ve truly felt God’s presence; please know that calling out to Him is the solution. God doesn’t push us away. He loves us, He pursues us, and He wants us to grow in our relationship with Him and remember that a growing child will always have a time he or she falls and get up. God see us like a child, which means no matter the sin that make us fall, we should always try to get up again in His presence. Admitting that we need God’s help isn’t a sign of weakness; instead, it’s expressing a desire to know God better. • Second is to Limit Distractions: Life is full of so many distractions of various forms and shapes and unfortunately there are many things that can hinder our walk with God. The heroes of the Bible weren’t strong on their own power, but the Bible says that they walked with God. They had temptations and weaknesses of their own, but their desire to do God’s will had a greater hold on them. Sometimes in order to walk with God, we need to walk away from the things that are driving us away from Him. If anything in your life has taken precedence to spending time with God, consider putting it away or on the back-burner for a while. When social media or entertainment or future plans take precedence, it can be nearly impossible to find room for God. Consider limiting the amount of time you spend on these distracting activities and use that time to grow closer to God. • Third is to be Intentional: When you are intentional you choose to make decisions and take action on what's really important to you. Being intentional means getting clear up front about what you want to achieve. ... You intentionally set an intention to achieve a specific outcome, goal or result in the future. Set aside a time where you can be alone with God in a place with few distractions. Waking up a half hour earlier to read the Bible and pray might be just the thing to help you strengthen your relationship with Christ. Or maybe you could listen to an audio Bible or the radio while preparing dinner. God will meet you where you are and since the Holy Spirit dwells within us, we can spend time with God in a variety of places. When we seek God with all of our hearts and draw near to Him, we will feel His presence once again. Our major problem is that we do not seek God with all our heart, soul and spirit because often we like to consider too many other options in an issue instead of focusing on God alone. James 4:8 says, “Come close to God and He will come close to you. [Recognize that you are] sinners, get your soiled hands clean; [realize that you have been disloyal] wavering individuals with divided interests, and purify your hearts [of your spiritual adultery].” When we seek God with all of our hearts and draw near to Him, we will feel His presence once again. There’s no better feeling than being close to God and I encourage you to give your all to Him. Yet, since God’s presence is perpetually alongside us, it should in theory be far easier to find God. “Objectively, what brings us into the presence of God is the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. If we ascribe to worship (meaning, in this context, our corporate praise and adoration) something of this power, it will not be long before we think of such worship as being meritorious, or efficacious, or the like. The small corner of truth that such expressions hide (though this truth is poorly worded) is that when we come together and engage in the activities of corporate worship (including not only prayer and praise but the Lord’s Supper and attentive listening to the Word…), we encourage one another, we edify one another, and so we often feel encouraged and edified. As a result, we are renewed in our awareness of God’s love and God’s truth, and we are encouraged to respond with adoration and action” Wholeheartedly literally means with enthusiasm and without doubt. In honesty, I’m not sure I find that degree of wholeheartedness. I do, however, deliberately choose to move in that direction. Life is certainly more fulfilling, despite many ups and downs as my mood shifts and old habits make a play for my heart once again.

  THE PARADOX OF SEEKING JEREMIAH 29:13:

Jeremiah 29:13: “Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) When persons seek the Lord aright, they always find Him; a God hearing prayer; a God in Christ; bestowing favours or grace upon them; granting them His presence; indulging them in communion with Him; and favouring them with fresh supplies of His grace, and everything needful for them; every mercy, temporal and spiritual; that is, when they seek Him in Christ, who is the only way to the Father, under the guidance and influence of the blessed Spirit; in the exercise of faith upon Him and His promises; with fervency of spirit and ardour of mind; with diligence and importunity; with earnest desires and strong affections; and, as follows, with all sincerity of soul: when ye shall search for Me with all your heart; which, as Calvin rightly observes, does not design perfection, but integrity and sincerity; when they draw nigh with a true heart, and call upon Him in truth, and search for Him with eagerness, with a hearty desire to find Him, as men search for gold, and silver, and hidden treasure. “Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) “No one understands [no one intelligently discerns or comprehends]; no one seeks out God.” (Romans 3:11)

  INTRODUCTION:

Today I am speaking on “The Paradox of Seeking.” It is important for you to know what the word “paradox” means. The Penguin Dictionary defines it like this: Paradox, absurdity (as appears at first sight, yet not so in fact), seeming contradiction or in another definition A paradox, also known as an antinomy, is a logically self-contradictory statement or a statement that runs contrary to one's expectation. It is a statement that, despite apparently valid reasoning from true premises, leads to a seemingly self-contradictory or a logically unacceptable conclusion. The two texts we just read are paradoxical, that is, they appear at first to contradict each other, yet on further careful examination there is no contradiction. Let’s look at the paradox of our two texts again. “Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) Which statement is true, for they seem to contradict each other? Are we being asked to do what is impossible? We are told, “No one understands [no one intelligently discerns or comprehends]; no one seeks out God.” (Romans 3:11) But we are also told, “Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) These two verses appear to contradict each other. If there is “no one seeks out God,” how can we be told again, ““Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart”? I. First, we will study Jeremiah 29:13. “Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) This verse tells the sinner to seek Christ. It is a very strong word of advice, and it contains an equally strong promise. The unconverted are advised to seek the Lord, and are promised, if they will seek Him, they will indeed find Him. The text demands that you search for Christ with all your heart. There are several ways of seeking Christ that will fail. One is to seek Him with no heart in the seeking, no real purpose in the heart while seeking Him. People who seek God like this simply come to church as a routine, sit in the pews, and listen half-heartedly to the sermons. They may read their Bibles and pray before meals and at other times, such as praying before going to bed at night. But it is all just a routine. As you have known this today, try and examine yourself if that is what you do. John Bunyan had a real illumination from God before he was converted. He read Matthew 7:14, “14 But the gate is narrow (contracted [a]by pressure) and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it.[Deut. 30:19; Jer. 21:8]” After reading that verse, he said, But [because] the passage was [very] narrow, even so narrow, that I could not, but with great difficulty, enter thereat, it showed me that none could enter into life [in Christ] but those who were in downright earnest. To find God you just have to be very serious in your seeking of Him. But today false teacher have made those who otherwise would have been serious in their search for Him to be very lazy and doubtful of Him. That’s what Jeremiah 29:13 is talking about, being “downright earnest.” It means eager, as a man inside a burning house is eager to get out! “Downright earnest” means enthusiastic, as a man who wants to make high grades in school is enthusiastic in his studies. The opposite of “downright earnestness” is laziness, sluggishness, slowness, “chilling out,” like a couch potato. “Downright earnest” means that you want Christ so badly that you “24 Strive to enter by the narrow door [force yourselves through it], for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able.” (Luke 13:24) Did you get that statement right? Others are seeking Him from a false heart. They say they want Christ, but they really want to be accepted by others in the church. They want to be “passed” so they can go ahead and live their lives any way they want with no abiding to God’s word. Others have their minds on something else. Many young people are so engrossed in worldly things that it sucks up their mental energy and diverts them from seeking Christ. Their minds are so set on these worldly things that they do not seek Christ at all and things of Christ does not impress them no matter how you present God to them. They are so obviously at enmity against God, so obviously in rebellion against Him, that they do not seek Him. They are far from what Bunyan called “downright earnestness.” I could go on and say that there are those who are “locked in” with unconverted people, so they have no earnest desire to find Christ. They must see that their non-Christian friends are a hindrance to their own conversion. The Bible says, “17 So, come out from among [unbelievers], and separate (sever) yourselves from them, says the Lord, and touch not [any] unclean thing; then I will receive you kindly and treat you with favor, 18 And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18) The question that is supposed to come readily in our minds as we read the above passage is am I really converted in Christ or am I still an unconverted person that is hypocritically claiming to be converted? Remember, that only those who wholeheartedly seek Christ will find Him. “Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) But now we will look at Romans 3:11, which seem to contradict Jeremiah 29:13, as a paradox. II. Second, we will study Romans 3:11. “No one understands [no one intelligently discerns or comprehends]; no one seeks out God.” (Romans 3:11) “Well,” you may ask, “since there are none who seek after God, how can you expect me to seek Him?” Actually the answer to this seeming contradiction is quite simple. Before God shows His grace to you, Jeremiah 29:13 should seem like a law to you. You should seek God. You should seek Christ with all your heart. But when you hear this it is law to you, and your heart rebels against God and His laws and rules. When you are still in the habit of getting angry whenever God’s word is being preached to you or is at variance with what you want, know that you are still having an unconverted heart, a heart of flesh that is so hostile to the things of God because it chastises your wrong attitude, behaviour and actions as seen in the passage below: “7 [That is] because the mind of the flesh [with its carnal thoughts and purposes] is hostile to God, for it does not submit itself to God’s Law; indeed it cannot.” (Romans 8:7) You will not seek Christ with earnestness, because Jeremiah 29:13 is law – it is what God wants you to do – and so you rebel against what you should do, and do not seek God as the law tells you to do. You deliberately react and refuse to seek Christ out of rebellion against God. Only when God’s grace comes to you will you be changed. Only by God’s grace can you be set free from a world where “No one understands [no one intelligently discerns or comprehends]; no one seeks out God” as seen in Romans 3:11, do you still want to be a part of this type of world and people who do not always want to seek God? Only by God’s grace will your heart be opened, and only then will you want to obey Him when He says, “Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” as seen in Jeremiah 29:13. Luther went so far as to say that a person who seeks Christ from the depths of his heart is already converted. I don’t think that is quite right, but I do think Luther was close to being right. When a person truly seeks Christ with all of his heart, he is at the very threshold or door of salvation, and only a one more step will take him to Christ. I have seen that again and again across the last thirty-eight years of my being in the ministry. A person whose heart longs for Christ will find Him soon enough, for it is grace and grace alone that has transferred him out of a world where “No one understands [no one intelligently discerns or comprehends]; no one seeks out God.” (Romans 3:11) and has brought him to seek Christ. A person who is brought thus to the door of salvation only needs to take a simple step of faith and he will find Christ and be saved, his sins vicariously paid for on the Cross, and washed away completely by the Saviour’s precious Blood. Amen.

  Does Jeremiah 29:13 apply to us as well or only to Israel?

Bible Answer: God spoke the words recorded in Jeremiah 29:12-13 which says, “12 Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you. 13 Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” to Israel through the prophet Jeremiah. This is a wonderful promise that states if Israel would seek God, He will let them find Him. This is a divine principle that also applies to everyone. Throughout the Bible we can find statements that reveal God wants us to seek Him and search for Him. If we will, He will let us find Him. Seek Me and Search For Me – Old Testament; In the Old Testament there were a number of men who seriously wanted to know God and have a deeper relationship with Him. One of those men was Enoch whom we will discuss later. In Exodus we find another man called Moses who seriously begged that God would reveal Himself to him. As you read the following verses you will sense Moses’ desire to know God. 12 Moses said to the Lord, See, You say to me, Bring up this people, but You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You said, I know you by name and you have also found favor in My sight. 13 Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You [progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with You, perceiving and recognizing and understanding more strongly and clearly] and that I may find favor in Your sight. And [Lord, do] consider that this nation is Your people. (Exodus 33:12-13) Here Moses begged that God would let him Moses know Him more. God responded by promising that Moses would be able to know God’s ways so that he could understand Him and Psalm 103:7 says “7 He made known His ways [of righteousness and justice] to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel” reveals that God did that. For a wonderful study about Moses’ desire to know God and the ways of God listen to the message, “Moses – Call To Faithfulness.” In this message there five major things to note and they are as follows: 1. Be faithful to obey. 2. Always give God the credit. 3. Be an example of godliness. 4. Remember we are only His tool. 5. There is joy in being used by Him. In Deuteronomy Moses promised the Israelites that if they seek and search for God, they could find Him. Moses had learned from his dealing with God that God will respond to those who seriously long to know God. This is a wonderful promise, but it requires that we seek God with all our heart. 29 But if from there you will seek (inquire for and require as necessity) the Lord your God, you will find Him if you [truly] seek Him with all your heart [and mind] and soul and life. (Deuteronomy 4:29) While King David was alive he told his son, Solomon, the following. Notice the universal promise is repeated. 9 And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father [have personal knowledge of Him, be acquainted with, and understand Him; appreciate, heed, and cherish Him] and serve Him with a blameless heart and a willing mind. For the Lord searches all hearts and minds and understands all the wanderings of the thoughts. If you seek Him [inquiring for and of Him and requiring Him as your first and vital necessity] you will find Him; but [a]if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever! (1 Chronicles 28:9) Note that 1 Chronicles 28:9 are God’s promises to men and women invariably are dependent upon the other party to the covenant meeting His conditions, whether He says so at the time or not. In 1 Chron. 28:7 we find Him promising to establish Solomon’s kingdom forever. Yet in I Kings 11:9-11 we find that God became angry with Solomon for all his degenerate and abominable conduct and his treachery or betrayal of heart towards Him; and without mercy, except for David’s sake, God declared that the kingdom would be torn from him. Was God breaking His covenant with Solomon? No, rather Solomon had broken and nullified that covenant long before; it no longer existed. There was now no promise for God to keep judging from the word ‘if’, and Solomon did not keep what the ‘If’ stipulates. Christians are prone to think that God will keep His part of a bargain whether they do or not, but the wisest man who ever lived died knowing that God is not mocked; “[He inevitably deludes himself who attempts to delude God.] For whatever a man sows, that and that only is what he will reap” as seen in Gal. 6:7. “If you seek Him [inquiring for and of Him and requiring Him as your first and vital necessity], you will find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever!” David was telling Solomon all this, but as the new king grew in power, popularity, and personal aggrandizement, step by step Solomon set himself up as privileged to ignore God. In all his wisdom Solomon failed to comprehend that “Something greater and more exalted and more majestic than the temple is here!... Someone more and greater than Solomon is here” as seen in Matt. 12:6, 42 “6 But I tell you, Something greater and [b]more exalted and more majestic than the temple is here! 42 The queen of the South will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, Someone more and greater than Solomon is here.” In the Psalms we find the same principle is repeated. 8 You have said, Seek My face [inquire for and require My presence as your vital need]. My heart says to You, Your face (Your presence), Lord, will I seek, inquire for, and require [of necessity and on the authority of Your Word]. (Psalm 27:8) 1 O God, You are my God, earnestly will I seek You; my inner self thirsts for You, my flesh longs and is faint for You, in a dry and weary land where no water is. (Psalm 63:1) 2 Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are they who keep His testimonies, and who seek, inquire for and of Him and crave Him with the whole heart. (Psalm 119:2) 13 Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will release you from captivity and gather you from all the nations and all the places to which I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I caused you to be carried away captive. (Jeremiah 29:13-14). There are many things that can carry us away and hold us captive, God promise is that He will bring us out of every captivity if only we will seek, inquire, require and search for Him. Are you really searching and seeking for the Lord God Almighty? 4For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: Seek Me [inquire for and of Me and require Me as you require food] and you shall live! [II Chron. 15:2; Jer. 29:13.] (Amos 5:4) 6 Seek the Lord [inquire for and of Him and require Him] and you shall live, lest He rush down like fire upon the house of Joseph [representing the ten tribes] and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel [the center of their idol hopes]. (Amos 5:6) So far, we may have discovered that seeking the Lord Jesus with all your heart, with all your mind and soul includes finding Him and knowing Him deeper. Next, we will look at the New Testament. Seek Me and Search For Me – New Testament; In the New Testament we discover that the apostle Paul, who was already a Christian, longed to know more about God. Notice how strongly he longs to know Christ Jesus. “8 Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One)” (Philippians 3:8) This reveals that a growing Christian will want to know more about God. Paul’s statement is truly amazing since he wrote many of the books in the New Testament; still he wants to know God more. How many of us here truly want to know the Lord Jesus Christ more and deeply; rather we all want to know Him based on what we want Him to do for us, too bad! Do you want to please God? Then seek Him. Enoch was taken to heaven early because of his faith in God and because he sought God. Meaning God will withdraw you from this earth early once He is satisfied that you have known Him deep enough. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out]. (Hebrews 11:6)

  Conclusion:

Jeremiah 29:12-14 “12 Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you. 13 Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will release you from captivity and gather you from all the nations and all the places to which I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I caused you to be carried away captive” are wonderful verses. God wants us to seek Him, to know Him, and to love Him. Matthew 11:25 “25 At that time Jesus began to say, I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth [and [a]I acknowledge openly and joyfully to Your honor], that You have hidden these things from the wise and clever and learned, and revealed them to babies [to the [b]childish, untaught, and unskilled]” here are hints at the fact that God hides Himself from us. Isaiah 45:15 says “15 Truly You are a God Who hides Himself, O God of Israel, the Savior” also hints that God hides Himself. Why do God hide Himself? Because He wants us to seek Him as a man seeks for gold. God wants us to seek a relationship with Him. Do you want to be one with Him? I would encourage you to read, “God’s Great Passion.” God wants us to be searching for God in the pages of Scripture with all our hearts. The search does not end when we find Lord Jesus and begin to trust Him to forgive our sins. It is only the beginning. He wants us to continue searching the pages of Scripture so that we can discover His acts, and then to ponder, dwell on, and reflect on what you have read in order to gain a deeper understanding of Him. Think on the Word of God throughout your day and ask Him to reveal Himself to you in a new way. Start every morning, by thanking Him for who He is and what He has done for you. Talk to Him as a friend. That is what we do with those we love. We earnestly seek a close relationship with them. He wants us to be passionately seeking a closer and deeper intimate relationship with Him. He wants us to desire to know Him and to love Him. Is that the longing of your heart? This is the great passion of God’s heart. Seek to know Him as you would a close friend and search for Him as for expensive treasure. The greatest honour you can give God is to believe and trust in Him and to daily, earnestly seek a very close relationship with Him. Thank Him for loving you! The great passion of God’s heart is that we believe in Jesus Christ. Therefore, the most important question for non-believers is, “Are you searching for God?” If you are not a believer God desires that you search for Him as for expensive treasure. He wants a relationship with you! In wanting a relationship with you let it be known to you also that He will put you to various test for you to prove to Him how much of Him you have known.
Lord, make my heart whole that I may become more wholehearted in my approach to all of life this year and beyond in seeking to know You more. Help me Lord to be able to frequently search You Word and when I do help me to gain the required knowledge of You. In Your name Lord Jesus I pray. Amen!