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Seeking God

From the series The Real God

What comes to your mind, when you think about God, is the most important thing about you. Do you believe that? In this message, Chip explores how we tend to view God, and how our perception of Him radically alters our view of reality.

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Message Transcript

There’s a quote by A.W. Tozer that changed the course of my life many, many years ago. “What comes to your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you.”

He’ll go on to say, “By a secret law of the soul whatever your mental image is, you will gravitate toward it.” How you view yourself, how you pray, how you relate to others, how you perceive the future – every relationship, every decision will be rooted in how do you mentally perceive God? And here’s what you need to know: All of us are off. We are fallen people.

You have a distorted picture of God; I have a distorted picture of God. The question is: How distorted? Your mental image of God is a montage, a montage of early experiences, family of origin issues, some religious training, an experiment that someone said, “This is what He is like,” or a religious group or difficult times or pain or a parent or someone close to you that has died. All these different things, over the years have brought you to today and today, when you bow your head or when you think about God, you have a picture.

It’s so unconscious, the reason I had you start is I wanted you, for some of you, you thought, I don’t know what the picture is, right? I’m guessing some of you bowed your head and go, Well, He’s God. I don’t know that I really think about who I am talking to. That, by the way, is a problem. But it impacts everything.

If down deep in your heart you don’t view a God who, apart from anything you have ever done looks at you and says, You are precious. I delight in you. Because of what Jesus has done, you are My son, you are My daughter. You are precious. I want to be with you. I affirm you.

If that’s not your God, then you will create all kinds of different things to try and stay “on His good side,” or perform.

And so if you don’t think God really likes you just for who you are and you don’t like yourself for who you are, when your wife starts saying some things that she doesn’t think is so good about who you are, I was very defensive.

So you know, little by little by little, a guy gave me a tiny book called The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer and I’ll never forget, it’s just thin, little chapters. I read, literally, I read a portion of that book for the last thirty-five years. The first ten or fifteen years, a chapter a week.

And I would read these little chapters on the goodness of God and I would just, it was like, God finds holy pleasure in the happiness of His people? Tozer would write that what would happen if we could all but believe that we live under a friendly sky? And that God, though exalted in majesty and power, is eager to be friends with us? He is cordial, kind, benevolent, loving, eager to share hearts. Those were foreign thoughts.

For some, it’s on the whole other end. You think God is like grandma. All He wants to do is give you dessert all the time. That’s what my wife does. Sort of. And the sense of God’s white-hot, unapproachable holiness. And so we have Christians that don’t see that, yes, God is pure and loving but He is absolutely above. He is holy. He is a consuming fire that His commands are for our benefit, but you don’t mess with a holy God. You don’t look at His commandments as options. You bow in reverence. You meet anyone in Scripture who encounters God, they are face down. There is no casual, this isn’t my buddy upstairs. This isn’t pointing, everything is okay, and high-fiving Jesus and Jesus is my homeboy t-shirt. This isn’t the God of jewelry and stickers on the back of cars.

This is the name that is too holy, even to utter that the scribes and the Pharisees would just write the four letters of His name of: Yahweh. They wouldn’t even pronounce it out loud and then go ceremonially and wash before they could continue to copy the Scriptures.

So all of us are off. But the most important journey you’ll ever have in your life that is never too late is to pause at certain seasons and say, God, I want to see You as You are. The real God. Not the God that I have made up in my mind. Not the God that is being passed around in Christian circles. The real God, the God of the Bible.

How He longs for you to see Him. That’s what we are going to study. And the first session here is to ask the question: Is your God too small?

And if you’ll open your notes, we are going to begin by some ground rules because if you don’t get these ground rules, I will assure you, you will never see God accurately.

There are three common mistakes that we make when we think about God. Three things that you have to know that are facts to know Him accurately and then there is one really, really big question that I can’t answer for you. You have to answer for yourself.

But to see God, the real God, with 20/20 vision – and here’s the difference. We are not here to learn more about God. There’s a night and day difference between the knowledge about a person and the knowledge of a person.

You can take a movie star or dignitaries or the president of the United States. We know a lot about people. You can Wikipedia and know a lot about people like that. We are talking about a knowledge of them, a relationship, a heart knowledge, a connection from the heart, knowing God by way of intimate connection and relationship, not knowing facts about them. Not simply ideas that float around in your mind, but a connection with Him.

So three facts you need to know for this to happen is, one, is that God is not like you. Shocking, isn’t it? God is not like you. But our tendency is to take the best that we can think of, the kindest person, the best person, the most holy person and then, somehow, we blow it up by ten or blow it up by a hundred or blow it up by a million and think, Well, God, somehow, someway is a lot like a bigger, better, more pure, perfect vision of this. Here’s what I want you to know: it’s not true!

There are all-created things, even the angels and that is a category. And then there’s another category and that’s God. Completely different category, completely other. That’s the concept of the word “holy.” It means He is separate, He’s a cut above. He is not like us but every religion and even we Bible-followers, we want to make God like us because we want to manage Him. We want to control Him.

Listen to what Isaiah would write when it comes to God because this is not a new problem. Isaiah 40, verse 25, “‘To whom then will you compare Me that I should be like him?’ says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see who created these, who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name. By the greatness of His might, and because He is strong in power, not one is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob and speak, O Israel, ‘My cause is hidden from the Lord, it’s disregarded by my God?’ Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the Everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth, He doesn’t grow faint or weary. His understanding is unsearchable,” or, “beyond what we can fathom.”

He’s just completely different. But that’s helpful. That’s why, when the Ten Commandments, no other gods. No images. No pictures. Nothing that can reduce Him. Nothing that can get Him in a smaller box. See, we have got a box and we want a God that we can know and feel comfortable with.

It’s the great lines by C.S. Lewis and the conversations where Aslan and he says, the little girl says, “Aslan, are you tame?” He says, “No, I’m not tame. I’m loving. And I am compassionate. But I’m not tame.” God is not tame. He’s not on call. He’s the Creator; we are the creatures.

I put in your notes a great passage for me is Romans chapter 11. When the apostle Paul was talking about the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man and the crescendo of that great book of Romans, he ends up with a doxology, “Oh the depth of both the wisdom and the knowledge of God.” He talks about, “Oh the depth and the power and the richness of His wisdom and His knowledge. It’s beyond finding out.”

He says, “Who has known the mind of the Lord that they should be His counselor?” No one. “Who has ever first given to God that God would owe him?” No one. And then he says this amazing thing, “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory.”

Have you ever thought about that? Everything in all the world is from Him and through Him and to Him. And to Him be the glory or the weight. And so what I want you to know is that God is not like you. And He’s not like me. And so there’s this category, this awesomeness, this purity that we want to grasp.

The second is related to it. Left to ourselves we tend to reduce God to manageable terms. I want a God that I can see, I want a God that I can control, I want a God that I can tame and manipulate. And that’s not the God of the Bible.

Every world religion, the old totems, right? Or the moon or the stars or the image of a god is a lion or some animal and it was the strength of the bear and if you go to anthropology all over the world and you see what people worship, we get some concept, whether it’s a strength or some power in the moon or the stars and we take something and we get it where we can see it and we actually, as human beings, will bow down to things that our own hands create.

And Isaiah would later reprove His people and say, “You worship gods that you have made yourselves. They have ears and they can’t hear. They have hands but they can’t feel. They have feet and they can’t walk.” And he was contrasting them to the real God. But we all do that. We just reduce Him.

Exodus 32:1 to 6 is the first and most graphic story. Remember the story of when the people were delivered out of Egypt? And just try to not make it a Bible story and try and imagine what it would have been like. For ten generations you have heard about this invisible God who made some promises to some people that lived a long time ago and Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and some guy name Joseph. And you have heard the stories passed on carefully but you’re a slave and life is hard and it has been four hundred years. And then this Moses guy shows up and then there’s these wild things happening that happen to the Egyptians that don’t happen to you and since you have lived there you know that every one of these plagues is an attack on one of the Egyptian gods.

And so, one by one, that god – psshh! This god – psshh! This god – psshh! The hail god – psshh! And the last god was the Egyptians believed that Pharaoh was god and so his son would be the next god. And so the last plague was the firstborn children.

And you didn’t get it. What is this blood over the door posts? All that was a bunch of weird stuff and then pretty soon it’s the middle of the night and everyone is saying, “Get out of here and get out of here now!” And, “Here’s gold and here’s silver. Take your kids!” You and a couple million people and then there’s this fire hovering over you and then there is this wall of water and you remember that night and the wall of water is up forty, fifty, sixty feet and it’s dry land and it’s like your kids are thinking you’re camping out and this is a weird experience and then the water comes back.

And this is like you have seen power, power, power, power, right? And then you are sixty days in. You’re just sixty days in and it doesn’t feel quite like a camping trip anymore. And you’re in the middle of nowhere and wilderness, wilderness is like desert type and where are we going to get water and where are we going to get food? Where are we going to live?

And it’s sixty days and pretty soon Moses said, “Because God said we’re coming to this mountain,” it’s Mount Sinai, and you get there and he disappears for a while and then it’s like, “Okay, you guys are supposed to come out,” and you come out to the mountain and you purify yourself and just a bunch of weird stuff. What do you mean? You you’re your clothes, don’t have any sex for a couple of days, then they mark off this boundary and if anyone crosses the boundary, you’ll die.

And then you come out that morning, Exodus 19 by the way is where we are at, and you come out that morning and everyone is standing and then pretty soon you hear this ram’s horn. And then it gets louder. And it’s really, really sweet and part of you wants to listen and part of you is like, “Oh!”

And then you hear a voice and it’s God’s voice. And you tremble and the earth starts to shake and you’re face down and you look up and smoke is billowing out and there’s fire and you’re going, “Oh my gosh!” And you are just petrified. And then Moses speaks and you hear his voice again and then, “Moses! Moses! No more. You just talk to Him. We can’t take it.” And that’s God. And, whew…

Right? This is a “You are there” moment. And then after all that, now get this, and then Moses says, “That God, okay, I am going to go up. He wants me to come. And He is going to give me commands. You know what He wants? He wants to do a cutting. It’s a covenant.”

And because of your background you understand a covenant has to do with blood. A covenant has to do that we will make a commitment to God that we are saying that we would die before we would break the covenant. And He is saying the same thing. And He is going to give us the agreement of the covenant – what it is we are going to agree to. “I am going to go up and get that.”

So Moses goes up. And then we are people, right? “Have you seen him?” “I don’t know.” “When is he coming back?” “I don’t know.” “He’s been gone a long time!” The kids are getting restless. This isn’t a camping trip. “Is he coming back at all?” “Aaron! We need a god. People are getting restless. It’s getting a little uptight here. We need a solution.”

“Okay.” Peer pressure is very powerful. “Why don’t you all take off an earring, bring it to me,” and he fashions a calf and they put a golden calf and from their Egyptian background, the bull, the calf, power, fertility. We’ll call him “Yahweh,” because we don’t want to get in trouble, right? Syncretism, it always works.

So we’ll call it “Yahweh” and then tomorrow, bring your sacrifices. And it says, “They brought their sacrifices and then they began to express their worship,” and the King James says, “revelry.” It’s like a really hot weekend in Vegas.

And you need to understand, all the worship, the ancient world, built into all the fertility gods, it was sexuality, all kind of immoral ways. And then God looks down and sees what is happening and says, “Moses, we have got a problem.”

Now, here’s the question I want to ask you: How in the world could you have that kind of experience with God, see those kinds of miracles, that kind of power, actually hear His voice, see the earth shake and then demand that you had to have something you could see?

I want to tell you, it’s human nature. And before we get, I don’t know, as an early Christian I remember reading through the Bible and stuff like this and I’m thinking, Man, these people are nuts. Or the disciples, Jesus would heal someone and then they are uptight about not having bread. I was young and never read the Bible and I thought, Man, I wish I was there. Man, I wouldn’t have those kind of problems.

I have to, I do have a confession I need to make that so far it’s a sign of spiritual growth. I have never come home after a long day of work and say, “Honey, just stay right here. I have put a little statue in the back room. I’m going to go pray to it.” I have never done that. I just want you to know I have never worshipped…

But I have worshipped a lot of idols that I have created in my head. Idols like success, family, kids, education, prosperity, money, comfort, self-fulfillment. See, we don’t worship idols. They actually used God, made a picture, worshipped it in a way that they could actually get “what they wanted” in the way they thought that would satisfy them with total disregard for the real God. And I would like to suggest that we do the same thing.
See, here’s what I want you to know is if we get a clearer view of the real God, some of the things that we have slowly, slowly, slowly become accustomed to and think is normal as Christians would shock us.

And one is the idol of happiness and self-fulfillment. The other idol I think is what I call the salad bar approach to Christianity. And the way it goes is something that we are seeing in Bible-oriented churches now and it’s like, God had a good day when He gave the Ten Commandments, just not a great day. Eight out of ten are good. Now you get to choose which two you don’t like.

In our day, this one about adultery or sexual purity – I think that was very old fashioned, it was probably for the community of that time. And in our more existential, wiser way, I don’t think that really applies today. Oh, this one, oh no. We don’t, oh just no. That thing about greed? Greed is good. He obviously hasn’t seen the movie. We will cut that one out.

And we have taken the Bible and we have decided, selectively, which parts are true, which parts are not true, instead of it being the authority. And we have created it around a lifestyle and an American dream vision and we have taken a book, removed the God of authority and the God that is holy and the God who loves us and the God who wants our best and we have basically said, “How again can this…?”

And so when you decide what is true and what is not true, there is a new god on the throne and it’s you. And it’s massive across America right now. We have tens of thousands of people flocking to services where part of the Bible is taught as though it is some sort of a positive thinking, self-help manual instead of the holy Creator of the universe sent His Son and that He has asked us to join Him in a mission to rescue people off this world called The Titanic that is sinking and we have the only hope and that needs to be our priority.

And, by the way, by the way, as that is your priority and He is Lord and as you serve Him, He is so kind and so generous that the byproduct is very, very often an amazingly deep, intimate marriage. The byproduct is a level of joy regardless of circumstances. The byproduct is that your kids will see that and catch the vision and probably follow in your steps. But it’s a byproduct.

And so what happens is when you make the means the end, it becomes an idol. It’s what happened, I believe, with Abraham. Why would God ask Abraham to give his son? You wait a hundred years for something, you think that by twelve, thirteen the kid kind of was an idol?

So any time we worship an idol, two things happen. The idol can’t deliver and we take God out of the equation in our life. So the whole point of Abraham giving Isaac was for his good to free his heart.

Isaac can’t deliver fulfillment, Isaac can’t fulfill my will, Isaac is a gift. It’s to steward. Children are a gift from the Lord.

And so that moment for him to take Isaac up was a moment of lordship to believe that he could trust – what? God’s Word. And Hebrews 11 says – what? “He went there believing that though he slay him, he would rise.”
And just, we might as well just start this time off together. Just ask yourself, before you hit the pillow, Do I have any Isaacs? And usually they are good things. It’s a good job, it can be a great marriage, it could be one of your kids. Heck, it can be ministry, believe me.

So what we want to do is we want to pause and say, Okay, Lord, I know that You are not like me. I know that I will reduce You to manageable terms.

And, third, God can only be known as He reveals Himself to us.

And He does that in three ways and these we will develop throughout the whole time, but let me give them to you. The first way God reveals Himself to us is through nature.

Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech, night after night they reveal knowledge.”

One of the things I do, I just like to get up early. It has just worked for me. And so it’s always dark and often when I get up, that’s when I spend time with God and my warped personality, sometimes I think of all the things I have got to do and I start feeling pressure and so I usually list the things I am thankful for to get my perspective. And then I will write a little box in my journal and I will put a box and then I will write and I will turn the pressure into a prayer request.

And some of us, sometimes I have eight, ten, twelve going, Oh my gosh. And that’s just today. And then I often, I get that second cup of coffee and I will go outside and when I go outside and I just look at all these stars, and then I just look at my little box. It’s all those stars. And I will just think, Men have been looking at these for thousands of years. You hold, You know every name. This is just the Milky Way. There’s only a billion stars. Only a billion. And You know all their names. By the word of Your power You are holding them right now. Outside the Milky Way, there are between two hundred and three hundred billion galaxies.

I am going to cast my care upon You because You care for me. You are an all-powerful God and yet You care about one, little guy in California named Chip and You know I feel those pressures and You are committed to giving me the grace to either say “yes,” to say “no,” or to do whatever You want me to do.  So I am going to go back inside and I am just going to remember who I am really talking to.

And sometimes it’s three minutes, sometimes it’s ten. And then I go back and I say, Okay, Lord, what do You want me to do? What do You not want me to do? What could someone else do? And then, okay, I know these. Okay, I have got to record this video and prepare me. I need to have a hard conversation.

And it just changes, it just changes. When was the last time you were out in nature and saw it? The theologians call it “general revelation.” In Romans 1, the apostle Paul would say we are all without excuse because from the stars and the balance of nature and the mystery and the harmony of nature alone, God’s invisible attributes, His eternal existence, and His very character is revealed.

What kind of a God has a bird that lays an egg here and flies thousands and thousands of miles way over to here and a year later, drops an egg twelve inches from the same spot? What kind of a God has GPS into whales that travel in crisscross? What kind of a God has six hundred different kinds of beetles? He’s a God of variety, a God of beauty, a God of power, a God of love, a God of design.

But you know what? He can just be the God of, Help me get through this. God, I need a parking spot. Help it to be on sale. Yeah, go to some of our prayer meetings. They are like anatomy meetings. Help Ethel’s toe, help Bob’s shoulder, help George’s ear! Help them clean out that valve in Bob. It’s his second time through. If you listen to us pray you would think, honestly, what we really feel like is I can only pray about things I think I can control and since God is obviously unaware of all this, what I am trying to do is take this awesome, powerful God and bring Him into my little world to get Him to do what I think He ought to do.

Then listen to how the apostle Paul prays. “I pray that the eyes of your heart might be enlightened. I pray that you might grasp the height and depth and length and breadth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. I pray that God would give you insight into His will, that you could discern good from evil in order that you might walk in a manner worthy of Him. I pray that you would understand the depth of His love for you. How precious of an inheritance you are to Him and the power that dwells within you. I pray that you might be filled with the knowledge of His will.”

Those prayers in Philippians 1 and Philippians 3 and Ephesians 3 and Philippians and Colossians. I am not the apostle Paul and you’re not the apostle Paul but, wow, it sure seems like he is asking, not so much about tactical things. And I don’t think it’s wrong. I pray for tactical things. But I think he actually believes that if people could see God for who He is, if people could be aligned, if God would reveal Himself and they would be open and they would follow His will, all those tactical things would probably get taken care of.

The second way He reveals Himself is through His Word. John chapter 1, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. Through Him all things were made and without Him, nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life and the life was the light of the world.”

I love, you might just, in your notes, I think I put Hebrews 1. It’s one of my favorite passages. “In times past God has spoken to us through the prophets and the apostles but in these last days, He has spoken to us through His Son who is the icon,” the exact image or representation, “of the Father.” It’s the picture of, if you have ever, if you took a piece of putty and you took a silver dollar or something like that and if you pressed it into the piece of putty and then pulled it out really carefully, you have the exact image, right? That’s the word.

Jesus is the exact image. Colossians 2. All the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in Christ. See, if you really want to know what God is like, it’s Jesus. The very last night, right? He wants the disciples to stay on track. And He is talking to them and He is preparing them and it’s really encouraging, because they are really slow, which gives me a lot of hope.

And He talks to them. “You know the way I go,” accept to Thomas. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. You know what, Lord?” This is the Ingram translation. “I think You’re talking in circles, candidly, Jesus. I really don’t know the way and I don’t really get it.” And Jesus said, “Thomas, I am the Way and the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except by Me.” And then Philip, frustrated, “Well, Lord, it will be enough. Just show us the Father and it will be enough.” “Philip! How long have I been with you? If you have seen Me you have seen the Father.”

If you want to know how does, your image of God, how does God respond when you really mess up? When you do something that is willful, malicious, sinful, shameful, you wish you hadn’t done it, and you feel terrible about it and you are coming to God. How will God treat you? Exactly the way He did the woman caught in adultery.

If you want to know how God thinks of you and how He will relate to you, when you know some of those times where you feel like, Man, I’m reading the Bible, I’ve got the quiet time going. We gave a little extra money to missions. I think I’m feeling pretty holy.

Then the way He feels about you is Jesus with the Pharisees! If you know when your heart is hungry and you don’t know the direction and you wish you knew what to do and you are messing up but you are making progress and you say, Lord, would You just help me? It’s how Jesus related to the disciples. Did you realize He never got mad at them?

One only issue. All, in all the gospels, only one thing. “Oh you of little...[faith].” God’s agenda is so simple we make it so complicated. Here’s His agenda: Trust Me. Trust Me in the hard marriage. Trust Me with your kid. Trust Me with your money. Trust Me with the decision.

I’ve got a little question that I write down in hard situations. Question: What does it look like to trust God in this situation? Not: How do I fix it? Not: God, will You do this, this, this, and that? What does it look like to trust God in this marriage? In this decision? In this financial loss? In this hard conversation coming up?

Because here’s the thing. Without faith it is impossible to please Him. You can build a ministry, you can build a business, you can have a decent looking family without faith. You just can’t please God.

The heart of what it means to be a follower of Jesus is to trust Him and you can’t trust someone you don’t know. You only trust people that this is their character, this is their track record. And over and over and over, all the lessons to the disciples were – what? You can trust My Word because when you see My Word it is always faithful.

So many of the miracles, why did He do them the way He did them? When He wanted to calm the sea, what did He do? He spoke. He could have done hand signs. When the little girl was dead, how did He, He didn’t touch her. “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” Bam! “Sea, calm! Demon, come out!”

If I am a disciple, what am I thinking? I’m not sure about this guy but whatever He says, you can trust it. And that’s for us. So He reveals Himself through nature, through His Word, and ultimately through Jesus.

“No man has seen God at any time,” John 1 tells us. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, we beheld His glory, glory as of the only One.” And then he says to us, “No man has seen God at any time but He has explained Him.” The word is exegeted.

Jesus explained the Father. You want to know what God is like? It’s Jesus. It’s why I think it’s no matter where we are reading in the Bible, don’t go too far away from the gospels.

I’ve got a buddy; he is a Bible-a-holic. He is my hero when it comes to the Bible. He just, I have never been around anyone, we went overseas together when I was young and he was the first guy who started memorizing small books of the Bible and every time I’m with Glen, and he goes, “Chip, I just learned something.” “What?” He says, “No matter where you’re reading, are you ready for this?” “What?” “If you just read, just three chapters, just three chapters from the gospel, can you imagine? Only three chapters. If you read three chapters every day in the gospels you can get through the gospels fifteen times in a year. Can you imagine? Fifteen times. You really see Jesus.” And I’m thinking, Glen, you are still blowing me away.

But what he is saying is no matter what we are doing, Jesus is the focus. Jesus is the focus. Get to know Jesus, you get to know God.

Okay, the big question. And this is the one we will unpack in our time together. What must I do to see the real God as He is? What must I do to see the real God as He is? The answer is: seek Him. Seek Him.

Jeremiah 29:11, follow along as I read. “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you.’” God’s not The Force. He is personal. “…plans to give you a hope and a future.” The God that you are talking to wants to give you hope deep in your soul and a future and He understands. “Then you will call on Me and you will come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and you will find Me,” what’s the condition? “…when you seek for Me with all your heart.”

And then all I can say is, it’s almost mind boggling. God says, “I will be found of you.” I will be found of you. This isn’t for superstar Christians, this isn’t just for people who went to Bible school or seminary. This isn’t people who are smarter than the rest of us. Jesus would make the same statement, “Seek and you will find,” right? “Knock and the door will be opened.” Ask, seek, knock.

He wants to meet you but here’s the deal. How? How do you seek God where you really know Him? It’s not through external religiosity. It’s not through just intellectual, cognitive information about Him. There is a way to seek God and the wisest person who ever lived, Solomon, lines out for us.

Notice what he says in Proverbs 2, I put it in your notes. “My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you,” put a little arrow and write: initiative in God’s Word. You will never find a man or woman who knows God deeply who isn’t a man or a woman of this book. Treasure His commandments. Receive His sayings.

Second, “Make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding;” put a little arrow and write: teachable attitude. This isn’t like, Oh, I would like to understand the outline of the book of Philippians. Oh, I want to understand what are the major themes of the Pentateuch? Oh, this, oh, I have a reading program. I read three chapters a day to keep the devil away. No, no. This is God! I want You to speak to me! This is me! I’ve got questions, I’ve got issues, I’ve got struggles. I am going to open Your Word. I want You to speak to me in specific ways, because here’s the deal. If You’ll speak, I’ll obey. That’s when God speaks. I don’t want to become a smarter sinner. I want to become a more obedient son or daughter.

So I am going to read this and I don’t understand it all and I may not understand it all but, I want You to speak to me. I have a teachable spirit. “Incline your heart to understanding.” Third, “For if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding;” put a little arrow and write: passionate prayer. Passionate prayer. It’s the kind of prayer God answers.

This isn’t, Oh no. Uh, Lord, it’s good to pray. Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come… [indiscernible praying]. I might have missed a couple. Now I lay me down to sleep, something about my soul to keep. Catch You later. I’m getting deep.

This is the kind of prayer when you’ve got a kid in ICU and the doctor says, “I don’t know if he is going to make it.” This is the kind of prayer when your wife or your husband, positive results. It’s cancer and it’s serious. How do you pray?

And no little form prayers. You bear your heart before God. God, I am asking You, would You intervene? Save my boy. God, I’m serious. God, search my heart. If there is something between us, let me know. But it’s passionate prayer. It’s: Cry out to God. God wants to hear from you. This isn’t religious people. This is people who long to know God.

Notice it says, “If you seek for her,” speaking of this wisdom, this knowledge of God, “as silver and search for her as for hidden treasure,” look at the result, “then,” purpose clause, “you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God.” Circle discover. You won’t get it from a preacher, you won’t get it from a book, you won’t get it from someone else. You will discover you want God to speak to you!

And He wants to speak through His Word and He wants to speak through His Spirit and, yes, He speaks through people. But Solomon is saying as you dig in, as you make it a priority, He will speak. He wants to speak.

Next to the one where it says, “Seek her as silver,” write: priority. Priority. Write: first priority. If I told you right now that, and if you have a really big backyard then just limit it to thirty feet out and across. If you have a small backyard, this illustration works.

If I told you that in your backyard, while you were here, ten million dollars was buried in your backyard. We have re-sodded everything, you have no idea where to look. It’s only six feet deep. You have three days to find it. From the moment you get home you have three days. If you don’t find it in three days, it will be returned to me.

Now, you get home. Your three days starts the moment you hit the driveway. I can’t quite imagine you going, “Well, that NFL season has started. I think I’ll look for it a little bit later. But it’s a big game. The Cowboys are playing.

Pittsburgh Steelers. Love them.” Or, “I think it is Sunday afternoon. Naps are really important on Sunday afternoon. I think I’ll take a nap.”

Or, “We could, I’ll start tomorrow. No, I can’t start tomorrow because the kids have a ballgame tomorrow. I have the ladies’ luncheon in the afternoon. Gosh, I just…”

Is that what you would do? Some of you, some of you would be buying shovels at Ace Hardware on the way home. And some of you are high tech. Shovels? Are you kidding me? The backhoe will be delivered at four thirty-five p.m.

And then this, you knock down the fence and this backhoe is digging up your whole backyard. Your neighbor says, “What are you doing, man? You’re messing up our yard! What are you doing?” “Hey, forget it, I’ll buy you a new backyard in about three days.” You wouldn’t care!

What if you had, if you would have that kind of passion for ten million dollars in your backyard, what if you had that kind of passion to know God? That you would receive His commands, that you would incline your heart to understanding, that you would cry out with passionate prayer, and that you would seek it as for silver and as for hidden treasure. Then here’s the promise: Then, not someone else, you will discern, first of all, the fear of God. You will learn He ain’t your buddy. He’s God.

And then in these great words of Tozer again, the great paradox of the faith is that you will be afraid and in awe and, yet, because of Jesus, fearful but not be afraid to come. And come to the heavenly Father who is eager to be your friend.