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Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son. This hypocrisy angered God who rebuked them in Joel 2: Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. The flip side to repentance is obedience, and authentic repentance always leads to obedience. Repentance is looking to the past concerning sins and acknowledging what needs to be brought before God.

Obedience is daily walking in holiness and surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord. God delights and draws close to those who live righteous lives. Every culture has characteristics that reinforce and commend the eternal commands of God and yet also has values that are contrary to the will of God, which need to be brought into alignment with Him.

American culture in the 21 st century has much going for it, including a strong value on racial tolerance, faithful stewardship of the environment, and caring for the poor. Faithfully walking with God even when this brings one in conflict with the surrounding culture exemplifies a righteous and holy life, and God loves the righteous and draws close to them.

In the category of sexual integrity, American culture has strayed far away from the Biblical norms it once embraced. Fornication, pornography, homosexuality, adultery, and divorce are all common in Christian as well as non-Christian culture in the United States, greatly grieving the heart of God. Much of this sexual immorality results in abortion, which has claimed tens of millions of lives in the last 50 years amounting to a holocaust much worse than the holocaust of World War II and even worse than the era of slavery in the United States.

God forgives when there is genuine repentance, and America and American Christians have much to repent over in this area. Another American cultural norm that grieves the heart of God is materialism and greed. How has our thinking been so altered that we are so wealthy yet so stingy at the same time? Every Christian must break free from this demonic stronghold and learn to live generously.

Seeking God is a way of life and not something solely to be done in times of desperate need. American society thinks nothing of pursuing education ten hours a day in classroom and homework time for many years, and American society thinks nothing of pursuing athletic excellence through many hours of practice every day year after year.


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The same diligence we show toward these other worthy causes should be shown in our single-minded pursuit of pleasing and following the one true God. As the Scriptures say in 1 Timothy 4: It is extraordinary to notice the hard work and diligence that some apply to various aspects of their lives, be it education, athletics or a hobby.

In season and out of season, many Christians faithfully and diligently work hard to be better educated or skilled in athletics or a musical instrument. Those who are out of shape physically usually know why they are out of shape: Those who do not perform well on their tests know that often the reason is that they have not studied.

Yet, many Christians have little victory and power in their lives and they honestly have no idea why. They have not been praying and reading the Scriptures diligently, fasting, humbling themselves, repenting of their sins, and practicing consistent obedience to God. God is displeased with them and perhaps even opposing them, and yet they are completely ignorant of it. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. It is this perspective that must be the mindset of every person who seeks after God diligently. We must hunt after God, never being satisfied with anything less than His divine blessing and presence in our lives.

Jonathan Edwards, perhaps the most respected theologian on the subject of revival, wrote that the best Biblical passage on the topic is Zechariah 8: I myself am going. Notice the zeal of those seeking after the Lord. It was not enough that they themselves were seeking after God, but they were compelled to encourage others to seek God as well. Not only is the gathering of others important in seeking God, but gathering with others is critical. It is important that Christians gather with others on a weekly if not daily basis to encourage each other in the faith to remain strong in the Lord and to minister to each other, building up the body of Christ.

Christians should be regular participants in churches, small groups, and other large and small group gatherings to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. Moreover, it is important that Christians follow the Biblical example of gathering for several multi-day Christian conferences per year in order to deepen their love and devotion to God. The ancient Israelites were told to keep three feasts per year: During these times, there was celebration, public reading of the Bible, teaching, praise and worship, and confession of sin see Exodus All families as part of the nation of Israel were required to keep these three annual feasts so that they would be strengthened in their love for God, ready and able to serve Him and walk with Him all year long.

Unfortunately, the Israelites did not always keep these feasts and their hearts strayed away from the Lord. However, periodically during the years, they would repent, return to God, and hold these feasts with spectacular results. As examples, read Nehemiah 8 and 2 Chronicles 30 to notice the extraordinary joy and zeal for God that would develop during these feasts. The same pattern should be true of those who seek after God in our current age. A person remains strong and devoted to God when he has regular multi-day experiences of teaching, encouragement, worship, confession and prayer.

Examples of Living Out the Beatitudes

For the Christian seeking after God the question should not be whether he or she will attend a few multi-day Christian conferences in the upcoming year, but rather, when and which ones he or she will attend. There are two significant obstacles to adopting a seeking-God lifestyle that need to be briefly addressed.

There are few concepts more misunderstood in American Christian culture than legalism.

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To the average American Christian, legalism refers to having to do something in the Christian life that they do not want to do. This is very different from the Biblical principles from which the concept probably originates. The word itself only appears once in the Bible in Philippians 3: Legalism, rightly understood, refers to three possibilities:. For example, if a person believes you must attend church service a certain number of times before you can become a Christian, that is an inaccurate and legalistic understanding of the gospel.

A requirement in addition to the gospel has been added, which is unacceptable.

The Practice of Love: Real Stories of Living Into the Kingdom of God by Jonathan Brink

For example, they decided that it was a violation of the Sabbath for Jesus or anyone else to perform a healing on the Sabbath. Jesus rebuked them, pointing out that every single one of them would rescue one of their prized animals if it fell into a pit on a Sabbath, so how could it be impermissible to heal a person on the Sabbath?

For example, to tell someone that they must pray at 6 am every single day or otherwise they are disobedient to God is an example of this kind of legalism. The Scriptures do indeed teach us to pray and read the Bible two or three times per day, but never is it stated at exactly what time that should be done. You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.

You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. The problem was that they were extremely fastidious about their tithing, even making sure they tithed the increase in their plants, yet they neglected even more important commands including justice, mercy and faithfulness. A parallel example today would be for a person to pray and read the Bible regularly three times per day, yet commit sexual immorality and not think anything of it. The solution is not to neglect the daily prayer, but to remember to be faithful to God in all matters.

It would be much better to miss prayer once in a while and have sexual integrity, than to be extremely fastidious about set prayer times while living in sexual immorality. A wrong understanding of legalism has kept many from following God with the diligence and wholeheartedness that He is owed. The seven principles listed in the foregoing essay are not legalistic but an explanation of what the Scriptures teach about how to seek after God. Take a close look yourself and become convinced about what the Scriptures are teaching on what it means to seek God and then be faithful to those principles.

Their love for God has grown so cold that even when it becomes clear to them from the Scriptures how they ought to spend their time, they will not make God the priority that He demands.

Love in the Kingdom of Gods

They will rarely state it so starkly, but instead will point to their responsibilities at work, at church, in studying, in driving their kids to events, and the list goes on and on. When a student decides he wants to play sports at the college level, it means that now he needs to spend time getting in shape and practicing, which means that other priorities will be left behind.

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By necessity, the student athlete will not have as much time for other organized campus events or entertainments, including movies, TV, video games, and surfing the internet. There are days it feels almost impossible to escape sin. Other times, I feel overwhelmed by the violence, hate, and fear pressing in from the world around me.

I can only take so much heartlessness, so much brokenness, so many facebook arguments, before I find myself curled into a fetal position and refusing to leave the couch.

Seven Principles of a Seeking-God Lifestyle

To be honest, I probably ask that question every couple of days. The books of the Bible are many and varied, but if there was a single thread running through them all, it might be love. God not only has love - God is love 1 John 4: All the commandments found in the Hebrew laws, or given by Old Testament prophets, hang on the idea of loving God and loving one another. But how can we live out this love in our own lives?

What does it look like? What examples can we find in Scripture to inspire us to keep loving, no matter how dark and cold the night may become? This is one of my favorite episodes in Gospels. In a society that, in many ways, treated children as little more than property, Jesus refused to let them be brushed aside.

Throughout his ministry, Jesus also blessed and worked alongside women - another people group relegated to the status of property and lesser citizens in most ancient cultures. He teaches them John 4 , Luke We can emulate the love and care Christ showed to the poor, the marginalized, and the sick. Learning from his example, we can remember to be kind to children and those who are socially disadvantaged.

We can remember to show love by prioritizing those who have nobody looking out for them. Patience is not something that comes naturally to most of us.

Do you have a good example to share? Add your example here.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance 2 Peter 3: According to Peter, God longs for each of us to have life and right relationship with him. If an eternal and holy God can display such grace toward us in the face of our stubbornness, can we not show a portion of the same grace to one another? Patience in the midst of frustration and trial is one of the most shining examples of biblical love. There are two aspects of generosity.