Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Don't wait to be born again!

“Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near;” may be better translated, “Seek the Lord, because He may be found: call upon Him, because He is near.” The prophet Isaiah tells us that God is near; He is eagerly waiting for us to just seek after Him. He urges us to repent of our sins before we die, because after we die there is no renovation available for our soul. It is hinted that the time will come when the offer for repentance will be withdrawn. That word “while”, means that the time will end when we can seek Him. The obvious time it will end is when we die. Like I said a minute ago, death is final. I mean, I don’t know how much more final anything could be, your dead, that’s it! The option for repentance is only available in this lifetime, and we only get one life. I also want to point out that the time may come when after we’ve rejected God so many times that His Holy Spirit just won’t deal with us anymore. John 7:34 says: “You will look for Me, but you will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come.” But the important thing is: God is available to everyone in this life, if we seek Him while He may be found, and call upon Him while He’s near. See at the point in time when Isaiah’s writing these words, the Israelites here have gotten to the place where they assume that they can find God when they please. And likewise, when we decide that we’ll seek after God when we think it’s convenient. When we play games with the Holy Spirit, when we feel that tug at our heart to respond to God’s grace and mercy, and we put off responding to those emotions (you know, telling God that next week I’ll accept You as my Saviour, or if they sing this certain song, or do this certain thing in the next month then I’ll believe You’re real) those games we play with God make it harder to ever respond to Him. This could also cause a huge problem for we have no guarantee that those feelings will ever return, there’s no promise that the Holy Spirit will again deal with us in His loving and inviting way after we reject Him, and we can only “seek and call upon Him while He’s near.” We can’t choose when to seek God; God chooses to pursue after us then we must choose to reach out and grad a hold of Him. Why is it like this? Why can’t we choose when we want to accept Christ, and then just do it? It’s simple, if salvation were a matter of purchase (if it were like going to the grocery store when we need a gallon of milk), we might expect it to be dependent on our good will (that we might think it’s something we can earn or purchase for ourselves). But salvation is totally a matter of God’s grace, and it’s only dependent on God’s good will.

However, during the period of Isaiah’s writing the Israelites have chosen death; basically they are preoccupied with wicked ways and selfish thoughts that cut them off from communion with the source of life. Maybe that describes some of you here this morning, and if so the prophet Isaiah is also saying to you, “Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah called them to repent while they still had time, and He urged them to trust in God’s ways. This isn’t the first time that God has promised mercy and pardon. In 2 Chronicles 7:14 a general promise of forgiveness of sin upon repentance and alteration of life is given to Israel through Solomon. Nothing has changed since that first promise, if we will repent of our sins, and change our lifestyle, and turn to Him, God’s will is to abundantly pardon us of our sins. Brett, you say repent of our sins. What exactly is that? Well, sin means separation—our soul is separated by sin from its Creator, who is God. That sin must be dealt with, it must be removed, there must be a putting away of all wrong-doing. What we know is wrong, we must tell God that we’re going to stop doing that. There must be a positive turning towards God. We must start seeking after Him; we must make a turn from walking away from God, and then start going the opposite direction and start walking towards God. That’s what repentance means—return; leaving behind our sinful soul and its evil ways, and allowing God’s righteousness to fill our soul. People ask all the time, yes, but can I really be forgiven of whatever I’ve done? I mean I’ve done some pretty terrible things that no one even knows about; can God really forgive me of them? Is there really forgiveness, grace, mercy, and pardon available for free? I really don’t have to pay anything, or do so many good deeds? Is it really that simple? The answer to every one of these questions is a resounding, yes! God knows that we could have never done what was necessary to remove sins, so He made it so easy for us. He has done all the work on the cross; He’ll do all the work when we come to Him. Then if we seek after His will on a daily basis there will be a moment in our lives when we allow Him to cleanse our thoughts and our heart. The love of sinning must go, and the act of sinning must cease. Isaiah 1:16 says: “wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong,” And that’s the hardest part of repentance, forsaking sin, but with God’s help it is possible! I wonder: why would He tell us to do something if it were impossible? Why would He tell us to remove all sin from our lives if it were an impossible task? Clearly, God has made away for us to be sin free through His infinite mercy. See God’s mercy is not just enough for our needs; it is far more than enough for every need! His mercy is not just a lake; it is a deep and wide sea! It is not simply a hill, it is a gigantic mountain. When we come to God repenting and believing, God will not only have mercy, but He will abundantly pardon us! Are you tired? Are you weary? Exhausted from being slapped by the waves of broken dreams? Worn out by being stepped on and run over in the game of life? Drained from trusting in someone only to have that trust returned in an envelope with no return address? Exhausted by starring into the future and seeing no hope for where you’re headed? It’s this type of weariness that makes the words of Jesus so compelling when He says, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Come to Me…The invitation is to come to Him. Why Him? He offers the invitation as a poor rabbi in a broken nation. He has no connections with the authorities in Rome. He hasn’t written a best-seller or earned a diploma. Yes, He dares to look into the tough faces of farmers and tired faces of housewives and offer rest. He looks into the disappointed eyes of a bartender and makes this absurd promise: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” And the people came, and we can come. They came out of the cul-de-sacs and office complexes of their existence and He gave them, not religion, not doctrine, not systems, but rest. Folks, that’s what He offers us. Those of you that have been beaten down by society, drawn the short straw, have no hope for a future, God invites you. He invites you to call Him Lord, Saviour and Friend. Not because of what He said, but because of what He did. Max Lucado says because of “what He did on the cross during six hours, one Friday.”

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