Summary: A call to repent and seek the Lord, stresses urgency.
While There is Time
Imagine that you only have one hour in which you could pray. Now, I’m not talking about the length of one prayer at a time—you literally had just one hour left in your entire life to seek the face of God. If that were the case, only one hour to seek the Lord, would you squander that hour, waste it with thoughtless mutterings? Or would you treasure that hour of time, making certain everything you’ve always wanted to say to the Lord would get said.
The truth is, most of us in this room today will have much more than one hour to seek the Lord. In fact, we will have a lifetime available (or so we think). And it seems to me a shame that when we have all of this time available, when we can seek God whenever we are ready, we give little thought to prayer; we don’t pray whenever we can.
This is not a new phenomenon. God spoke through his prophet, Isaiah, to the people of Judah who were enslaved during the Babylonian captivity. The time had come for the people to return home, but they were hesitant. Perhaps they were afraid of what they might find. Perhaps they were afraid that after seventy years of captivity, they wouldn’t know how to be free anymore. Perhaps they were afraid that God would not really help them. So, instead of moving ahead in faith, they hesitated. The words spoken by Isaiah years before would encourage them to trust in God. The message of our text this morning spoke to the fearful hearts of the people of Judah. The words rang loud and clear—the people of Judah were to seek God in order to find their way home.
My dear friends, we have a frightening journey ahead of us as well. It is the journey called life. Ahead of us may be great joy; but, there may also be great disaster. Out there are countless possibilities of joy and happiness, fulfillment and peace. Out there are also countless possibilities of sorrow and pain, frustration and trouble. Now, if you are an optimist, you may never consider the difficulties that might lie ahead of you. If you are like most people, those considerations are part of your life almost daily. “What if?” is a question you have probably pondered many a time. I say this, not to depress or discourage you. I say this to remind you that if we are to “find our way” in this world, like Judah, we must learn to seek the Lord. Now, when I speak of seeking the Lord, of calling upon him, my major focus is not “praying” in the sense of asking for things. The call to seek the Lord is a call to prayer, but the prayer of commitment, the prayer of turning one’s life over into the hands of the Living God. And this is the prayer that I am convinced we need to pray. Why is this so important? Why must we seek God’s direction? Why must we give our hearts to God? Consider these lessons found in the prophet Isaiah’s words.
I. There is a time to seek the Lord.
A. It was a dangerous thing for Judah to think God was at her beck and call.
1. Isaiah warned the people that they must be in tune with God’s timing and not presume that they would always have the ear of the Lord.
2. His words, “seek the Lord while he may be found,” stressed the urgency of the time of decision.
3. God was ready for the people to seek him, to follow him right then—if they refused, they might not get another chance.
B. Procrastinating on the decision to seek God, to turn to him in prayer is a dangerous thing.
1. When God is prompting your heart to do business with him, the opportunity for response must be seized at once!
2. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians and reminded them that: “now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:2b)
C. Do not presume that you will always have the ear of the Lord—seek his face now, while there is still time.
1. The story is told of an unbeliever who, even in death, tried to mock God. It seems that he willed his farm to the devil. The court which oversaw the estate gave months of deliberation to the matter, and came to this decision: “It is decided that the best way to carry out the wish of the deceased is to allow the farm to grow weeds, the soil to erode, and the house and barn to rot. In our opinion, the best way to leave something to the devil is to do nothing.” (Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, Green, 293).