Seek Him Early. Seek Him First.

This article is based on the message "Seek Him Early. Seek Him First" by Pastor Arthur Green at RiverALIVE in Gainesville, TX on April 26, 2020. To listen to this message as it was presented by Pastor Green, go to the RiverALIVE Online Audio/Video library at  https://riveralive.org/media.

"Man doesn’t live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Mt. 4:4) This verse used to confuse me because I saw lots of people living by bread alone. Then it dawned on me. They weren't really living. Not the way Jesus was talking about. God’s Word gives nourishment to both our spirit and soul and is health unto all our flesh. (Prov. 4) Jesus says the words that he speaks “are spirit and they are life.” (Jn. 6:63) The Greek word used to describe the kind of life Jesus was referring to is “zoe”. Zoe refers not only to biological life but to the divine spiritual life that comes from God through faith in Jesus Christ. In John 5:26 the scripture actually reads, “As the Father has [zoe] in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have [zoe] in himself.” Jesus came so we could have this same zoe in us and have it more abundantly. (Jn. 10:10)

The word for used for “abundantly” is interesting too. It’s the Greek word "perissos" and it literally means: superabundance, excessive, overflowing, surplus, over and above, more than enough, extraordinary, and more than sufficient. The zoe life of God is the eternal abundant life of the kingdom of God. Eternal life is more than a length of time reserved for the future. It's a quality of life made possible by God’s grace through Jesus Christ and it is available now. All things pertaining to the life of God have already been given to us through God’s Word. I think this is one of the reasons Jesus said what he said about not living by bread alone. I think he was saying the life of God we experience is tied to the revealed knowledge we have of him. The greater revelation of God we have the more grace and peace is multiplied to us and the more we can partake of His divine nature. (2 Pet. 1:2-4) This means we should no longer see ourselves as trying to get something from God. Instead, what we need is a revelation of what God has already given us in Christ. Such promises should cause everyone of us do as Pastor Green says and seeking God early and seek God first.

Relationship with God isn't about whether you're "good or bad" or "right or wrong." It's about whether you're alive or dead. If you've been born again, you have the life of God living on the inside of you and you're alive. We have to seek God in order to figure these things out. The same life of God that dwells in the Lord Jesus Christ dwells in us. Sad to say, a large majority of Christians hardly know anything about that; much less tapped into it. Many follow right along with the rest of the world living and thinking the same way they do, and wonder why things aren't working out in their life.

One of the fundamental truths of the Bible we need to understand is, with God is better than without God. Both situations generate certain expectations in us. The bible describes living without God as evil and the expectation of death comes with it. Living with an expectation of death is plagued with constant worry and fear that something bad is going to happen. On the other hand, living with God is described as good and there is a certain expectation of life and blessing in it. This expectation of good comes only through Jesus Christ.

Jesus' life and death was one of substitution and accomplished much for us. First, he lived for us the life we couldn't and perfectly fulfilled the righteous requirements of the Law that God commands. Secondly, his death paid for our sins and everything we’ll ever do wrong. This satisfied forever the wrath of God against us for our sin and paved the way for reconciliation between God and us. This is the good news of peace with God the angels were proclaiming at Christ's birth. Jesus took our sin and gave us his righteousness. It’s his righteousness that justifies us in the sight of God, not ours. This sovereign act of justification by grace from God, qualifies those who confess Christ to receive all the advantages, rewards, and privileges that result from perfect obedience to the Law. As if this wasn’t enough, we also have the gift of the Holy Spirit. One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to enable us to experience the spiritual blessings God has given us in Christ. (Eph. 1:3 with Jn. 16:15) Our relationship with God needs to be based on these truths. The better we understand these crucial elements of the gospel, the more it will protect us against unrealistic expectations from God.

God wants us to know His plans for us are good and that they're outlined for us in His Word. It’s impossible for God to lie; therefore, we can know exactly what to expect from God in terms of our relationship with Him. (Heb. 6:18) God says, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." (Jer. 29:11) It’s obvious from this verse that God has expectations for us. His plans for us are good. It is unrealistic of us to expect anything less. It’s time we raise our expectations of God. Instead of believing that God won’t bless us, we need to believe that He will. God wants us to believe more, pray more, know more, experience more, and expect more from our relationship with Him through Christ.

Some find themselves able to enjoy the presence of God at church but lack any real experience with God throughout the rest of the week. Sadly, this is simply the result of not seeking the Lord. Instead of seeking the Lord, many are preoccupied with looking to other things and people to either justify or validate their lives. Neither of these are capable of producing any real life in us and the reason none of us are truly living to the degree Christ spoke of.

If this is you, Pastor Green has a simple plan of action for you that's guaranteed to fix this disconnect. Make your relationship with God a higher priority and take time to seek Him early and seek Him first. Naturally, when people hear this, they immediately think of seeking God in the early morning hours. That’s good but what about seeking Him early in terms of the onset of life’s circumstances and daily situations? Many times this is the difference maker between victory and defeat. Don’t wait. Seek Him first before everyone, everything, and every other responsibility you have. Make it your number one priority. Jesus says, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Mt 6:33)

Those who seek Him early and seek Him first have little to worry about. Those who don't tend to worry about everything and everyone. Seeking other things and other people's approval instead of God leads to unrealistic expectations that kill relationships, hopes and dreams, business ventures, and leads to the giving up on life-long goals. The corporate anointing at church is definitely a powerful thing to be experienced but God wants us to experience Him at other times as well, such as work, home, and even driving down the road.

In Psalms 63, David was longing to see the same power and glory of God he experienced in the sanctuary experienced in other areas of his life as well because as he put it, "its better than life." There were times when David's soul was dry and he thirst for God. He declared, "Early will I seek you...and my soul shall be satisfied." David's expectation was that if he would seek the Lord early and seek Him first, then God would be true to His word and refresh him. We need this mentality. God expects us to expect Him to be true to His word. How do we get to where we can do that? Well, first of all, we can take Pastor Green's advice and make a conscious effort to spend more time in God's word. This is the only way we can really be certain as to what we can expect from God. We also need our mind renewed to the truth that God does in fact want to bless us. Not because of our goodness, but because of His.

The blessings and curses of the Law are found in Deuteronomy 28. If we're honest, most of us expect more curses than blessings because we know the kind of life we're living. But a belief in the gospel should produce a different expectation in us than that. Deuteronomy 28:1-2 says, "And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God." Now that Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, a believer under the new covenant of God's grace should read Deuteronomy 28 as, "And it shall come to pass, [because Jesus] hearkened diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, [because Jesus] hearkened unto the voice of the LORD thy God." While the fulness of everything Jesus provided for us is reserved for the life to come; to the degree that we can believe, we can receive. In fact, "all things are possible to him that believeth." (Mk. 9:23)

What Jesus accomplished for us forever changes what we can expect from God. We should expect God to hear us when we pray. We should expect to have what we say. (Mk. 11:24) It's not unrealistic to expect God to answer your prayers. It's not unrealistic to expect God to use you according to His purpose. It's not unrealistic to expect to be blessed. Thank God for His grace and favor towards us in Christ and develop a lifestyle of seeking Him early and seeking Him first.

God cannot be an afterthought. We'll end up dry, lifeless, dissatisfied, hungry, and frustrated if He is. Not putting Him first causes us to make bad decisions based on wrong information producing bad results. This is a recipe for disaster. God deserves the "first" of our lives.

Like David, Gideon had certain expectations from God. The Lord appeared to him and said, "The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valor." And Gideon said unto him, "Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?" Gideon didn't say this out of disrespect to the Lord but out of expectation. Gideon expected victory if God was with him and he was right. Deliverance is exactly what God had in mind and the reason He came to Gideon in the first place. (Judges 6:12-14)

Lastly, let's quickly look at King Joash in 2 Kings Chapter 13. Joash, the king of Israel came to visit Elisha the prophet when Elisha was on his death bed. Israel was under attack by Syria at the time. Elisha told Joash to go get a bow and arrow and open the window. So he did. Elisha told him to put his hands on the bow. So he put his hands on it. Elisha reached up and put his hands on the king's hands and together with Joash, drew back the bow. Then Elisha told him to shoot the arrow out the window; and he shot. He told Joash, "that is the arrow of the Lord's deliverance." 

That arrow represented the power of God unto salvation. The shooting of the arrow of deliverance meant salvation had gone out from the Lord. Next, Elisha told Joash to take some arrows and hit the ground with them. Joash took the arrows and struck the ground with them three times. Elisha got mad because he only hit the ground three times. Then explained that if he would've struck the ground more, he would've experienced greater victory. King Joash failed to ask enough. Don't make the same mistake. Seek Him early. Seek Him first.