A Feast Doesn't Just Happen

A well planned and prepared feast.
Yesterday I decided to cook myself a big dinner. No matter what, I had to go to the shop to buy some food, so I decided that I would at least make it worthwhile; I would make a hearty stew. So I bought all the ingredients and was beginning to really look forward to my dinner. But as I drove home from the shop, I passed a building with a big digital clock on display (there's no clock in my car!) and began to get the sneaking suspicion that my plans had not been well enough laid. Sure enough, when I got home I checked and saw that it was going to take 3½ - 4 hours to cook, by which time I'd be at Christianity Explored. So alas, no stew.

You see that's the thing with a good meal: it takes planning, time and preparation. As yesterday's lack of stew reminded me, you can't just decide to have a feast on the spur of the moment.

As a church, we've been talking in Leeds recently about seeking the face of God. We've seen that, in the Bible, seeking the face of God really means seeking God Himself. And we've seen that God promises that 'He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him' (Heb. 11:6) and that 'if you seek Him, He will be found by you' (1 Chron. 28:9).

Not only are we to seek God's face, and promised that we will find Him in His gracious presence, but the Scripture also tells us where we will find Him. The Old Testament speaks of God's face shining on His people. In those passages the shining of God's face points to His gracious presence - His presence to bless, His presence to act in strength on behalf of His people, His presence in mercy and grace, His presence to show His favour. And the Scriptures are very clear about where we find all those things - only in Jesus Christ. Ultimately God's face shines upon us in Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). It's from the darkness of Calvary that God's face shines most brightly.

So, if to seek and find God's face in Christ means knowing God Himself in His gracious provision and presence, then seeking and finding God's face is a way in which we feast upon the Bread of Heaven.

Yet, we don't normally partake of his feast on the spur of the moment. Like our feasts of earthly food, feasting takes planning, time and preparation. The Scriptures teach us that seeking God requires that we 'set [our] heart and [our] soul to seek the LORD [our] God' (1 Chron. 22:19). We have to be intentional about it. We don't suddenly wake up and find ourselves seeking God. Rather, we need to consciously 'set' ourselves to seek Him. We need to plan to seek. We need to set aside time for it. We need to prepare.

The New Testament also talks about this 'setting.' ‘If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.’ (Col. 3:1-2). What are those 'things above' we're to set our minds on? They're the things where Christ is. Where is Christ? 'Sitting at the right hand of God.' That means those things are the Father and the Son themselves. We are to consciously turn our attention away from the things of this world and to God Himself.

But, how can we turn our attention to God Himself? How can we set our minds on those things which are above? How can we set our hearts and souls to seek the Lord our God?

1. By Considering His Word

If we want to turn our attention to God, a good place to go is the Word of God, for it tells us what He's like and what He has done. So consider God's Word and meditate on His character and His works.

2. By Considering His Cross

The Cross is the place where God is most fully revealed. The Cross is the very place from which God's face shines upon us. So if we want to seek God, looking to the Cross is the best place to look. And as we look to the Cross, the glories of Calvary will turn our attention away from 'the things on the earth.' As Isaac Watts put it so well:
When I survey the wondrous Cross On which the Prince of Glory died My richest gain I count but loss And pour contempt on all my pride.

3. In Prayer

In seeking God, we should call upon Him (Isa. 55:6) and plead with Him (Job 8:5). If we want to seek God's face, we should ask Him to show us His face; we should pray that God would reveal His gracious presence.

4. Trust in His Promises

'He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him' (Heb. 11:6) and 'if you seek Him, He will be found by you' (1 Chron. 28:9). As James puts it, 'draw near to God and He will draw near to you' (Jas. 4:8).

So, be intentional; set your heart to seek God. But remember that you need to be intentional about it. You need that planning, time and preparation in order to enjoy the feast.