Seeking His Face
SEEKING HIS FACE
Sermon By Terry Siverd /January 01, 2023 / Cortland Church of Christ - - www.cortlandcoc.org
I've had four dogs in my life. First came Penny, when I was a lad still living in Florida. I don't recall much about her. Then, when I was a teenager I had Spike the boxer who tended to be rather aloof. Sigfried, a feist, came to be quite near and dear to me. After Siggy died I didn't think I could ever be so attached to another dog. While Siggy clung to me like glue, our current dog Bodie, a jack-russell mix, is joined at the hip. Most of the time he is where I am. If he chooses to go outside without me, when he returns indoors the first thing he seems compelled to do is to seek me out, and he's not happy until he sees my face. When I was hospitalized for a week this past July, Jeannie and Mark conveyed to me how Bo moped around. When I was discharged I had Jeannie drive me home and sneak into the driveway. I sat quietly on the bench by the entrance to my study. Jeannie opened the door and called for Bo and he came sprinting out the door pausing briefly to catch a familiar scent.
I whispered, “hey Bo!” and he turned quickly and greeted me with the greatest of joy.
For several years I attended the Pepperdine University Bible Lectures in the spring. The setting is pretty much idyllic.
The lush university campus in Malibu sits on hills overlooking the Pacific ocean. The lectureship always ended with
one final Friday-PM grand assembly in the Firestone Fieldhouse. That farewell gathering always closed with the
singing of the hymn, The Lord Bless You And Keep You. The singing was heavenly, bringing tears to your eyes.
That hymn comes directly from the Old Testament Torah (Num.6:22-27) - -
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 'Speak to Aaron and to his sons saying, “Thus you shall bless the sons of Israel. You shall
say to them: The Lord bless you, and keep you; The Lord make His face shine of you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift
'up His countenance on you and give you peace.” So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I will bless them.'
I want to urge us all to begin this new year by making a firm commitment to seek the face of God.
This quest is not a short-term endeavor, but rather, it is a lifelong undertaking - - SEEKING HIS FACE EVERY DAY.
To engage in seeking the face of God is both a serious and sobering assignment.
Prov.15:3 states, The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good.
In this single verse, the wisdom of King Solomon synthesizes the sovereignty of God.
Our God knows all. Everything we do is within His purview. He sees it all - - both the good and the bad.
Many passages in the Scriptures humble us, but this one takes the cake in giving us a cause to pause.
As Heb.10:31 declares - - It is a terrifying things to fall into the hands of the living God.
In Dan.9:17f, the prophet Daniel recollected God's charge to Moses (Num.6:22f). His prayer included these words:
So now, our God, listen to the prayer of Thy servant and to his supplications, and for Thy sake, O Lord, let Thy face shine
on Thy desolate sanctuary. O my God, incline Thine ear and hear! Open Thine eyes and see our desolations and the city
which is called by Thy name; for we are not presenting our supplications before Thee on account of any merits of our own,
but on account of They great compassion. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action!
For Thine own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Thy city and Thy people are called by Thy name.
The Old Testament confirms that the children of Israel were well aware of the importance of seeking God's face.
Without a doubt they were conscious of the joy of basking in the glory of the face of God.
But they also had learned in a first-hand way the terror of living without the face of God.
By that, I mean - - living in the absence of the blessings of God.
The prophet Isaiah bemoans this awful and tragic state of existence beyond the face of God (Isa.64:6-7) - -
For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither
like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. And there is no one who calls on Thy name, who arouses himself
to take hold of Thee; For Thou hast hidden Thy face from us, and has delivered us into the power of our iniquities.
God warned the nation of Israel through Moses about the peril of breaking covenant with Him (Deut.31:17 & 32:19ff) - -
Then My anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and HIDE MY FACE from them...
With the utmost candor, Isaiah had addressed the dire consequences of sinfulness (Isa.59:1-2) - -
Behold, the Lord's hand is not so short that it cannot save; neither is His ear so dull that He cannot hear. But your sins have made a separation between you and your God God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear.
In one of his prayers, the prophet Habakkuk spoke with similar clarity (Hab.1:13) - -
Thine eyes are too pure to approve evil, and Thou canst not look on wickedness with favor.
Ancient Israel was not ignorant of the penalty of sin, knowing well that the face of God is against evil-doers (Ps.34:16).
Their awareness was reflected in the repetition of one of the most common prayers found in OT wisdom literature.
Ps.27:9 / Do not hide Thy face from Me... cf. Psalm 30:7; 44:24; 69:17; 88:14; 102:2; 104:29-30; & 143:7 and Job 13:24.
They realized the dismay and distress that came to them when God's face was hidden from them.
On the other hand the saints of old also knew the joy that accompanied them when God's face was upon them!
They prayed Asaph's psalm (Ps.80:3 & 14) - - O God, restore us, and cause Thy face to shine upon us, and we will be saved...
O God of hosts, turn again now, we beseech Thee; Look down from heaven and see, and take care of this vine.
They prayed the psalm of David (Ps.31:16) - - Make Thy face to shine upon Thy servant; Save me in Thy lovingkindness.
Let me summarize what I've said thus far.
We all know the joy that comes from being on the receiving end of a smile from a loved one.
A wife/husband who blesses you with her/his good seal of approval.
Parents and grandparents who gush and glow brightly when we their children and grandchildren excel in doing.
Friends, classmates and co-workers who grace us with a hug or pat on the back when we have done well.
I'm aware of the importance of being a good example to the non-believers all around us, but that which drives us
is not their endorsement but rather the APPLAUSE OF HEAVEN: well done, good and faithful servant (Mt.25:23).
Eliza Hewitt has penned the words to a song that we sometime sing.
There's sunshine in my soul today, more glorious and bright than glows in any earthly sky, for Jesus is my light..
O there's sunshine, blessed sunshine, while the peaceful happy moments roll;
When Jesus shows HIS SMILING FACE, there's sunshine in my soul.
We've been pondering the many Christian disciplines - - a sense of gratitude … seasoned with joy …
filled with glad tidings … praying … and all those sub-categories noted on Tracy's white board.
These are aspects of the fruit of the Spirit - - a storehouse of Christian virtues that need to ripen & blossom in our lives. These are not to be occasional “beauties” that reveal themselves only on special days. Qualities like those delineated
in Gal.5:22-23 - - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control - -
these are to be constants in our lives, cultivated intentionally with due diligence as Peter notes in 2Pet.1:5ff.
Paul reminded the Corinthian Church saying, We are the aroma of Christ (2Cor.2:25).
Later on in this epistle Paul writes (2Cor.4:6) - - For God, who said, 'Light shall shine out of darkness', is the
One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
Our future as the church of the living God depends on this!
Bearing the fragrance of Christ is the lifeblood of the Church.
Next Sunday our plan is to clarify the notion that God's grace nullified on need to embody the Spirit of Christ.