There have been times in my life when I’ve been ready to give up the hunt for God. God has never given up on me, and He’s not giving up on you either. There’s hope in today’s sermon for the lost and weary.Help us advance the Kingdom, support our online ministry (harmonychurch.cc/give). Got kids? Check out Harmony Kids online (updated weekly) https://www.harmonychurch.cc/harmony-kids-online/!
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PERSONAL ILLUSTRATION: Years ago about 10 years into ministry I found myself not just lost physically but lost spiritually.
Early on when I came to know Jesus I was passionate and following Him closely. I would read the scripture for hours, turn off the tv to spend time with God. But then I went to bible college, I know sounds strange, but I started struggling in my relationship with God there. All of the sudden, you had to read the bible for a class. I transitioned to doing ministry and all of the sudden I had to read the bible to preach a sermon.
Can you imagine writing a 10 page research paper every week that you then have to get up and deliver to a crowd of people for them to judge whether it gave them anything to think about for the week? The stress was high and honestly, I was like this bucket on stage…
[have a bucket with some water in it and a ladle to fill up cups on the stage]
I was giving but never filling
I had gone from being a guy who couldn’t get enough of Jesus, to having just enough to barely hold on
Literally, I would lay in bed at night feeling the tension between who I claimed to be and who I was and my prayer was this…
God, I want to want you…
I was just barely holding on. My sermons began to be lifeless – I would yell in them and fake cry – I’m not proud of this – but I did it to manipulate peoples emotions so I could feel like I was good at what I did.
And then God totally removed the gift of preaching from me. I would get up and preach and they would be stink bombs – every time (this is why if you ever tell me how good of speaker I am, I’m like, “thanks” – it’s because I’m hyper aware if it’s good, it’s because of God – not me)
I was lost and had no idea how to get back. you feel me? ever been there?
I felt like such a hypocrite and fake that I decided I was done. I had to take the teens to a camp and my plan was to try and find a job and quit ministry and maybe even give up Christianity.
This isn’t easy to share, but it’s the truth. I was done. I was at this camp and my buddy Jason Schmidt was leading. He brought all us adults in and said, “hey, we are going to ask our kids to read the bible this week, and I need all of you to read to so they can see the example you are living out.”
I hadn’t read my bible in weeks for anything but sermons. Maybe even months.
I decided I’d be good and read it and put in my time knowing I was almost done.
So, I opened up to the middle of Isaiah, a book of prophecy – thinking, I can pretty much read this and ignore it.
But what I meant for evil, God meant for good
I started reading and started reading things like Isaiah 30
“Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the Lord, “to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin;”-Isaiah 30:1
That was me…It was like God was pointing at me and saying… You Kent…I kept reading… Listen to where God brought me…
12 Therefore this is what the Holy One of Israel says: “Because you have rejected this message, relied on oppression and depended on deceit,13 this sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant.14 It will break in pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found for taking coals from a hearth or scooping water out of a cistern.”-Isaiah 30:12-14
I was shattered… Broken – I had relied on oppression and deceit. I was collapsing…
Here I was trying to evade God and He was pointing right at me – seeing me as I was…
reminds me of something Jesus said21 He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? 22 For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.”-Mark 4:21-23
Everything I thought had been hidden was suddenly exposed. I was exposed
But I didn’t stop reading…15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.-Isaiah 30:15It was right there – in repentance and rest is my salvation, quietness and trust is my strength but…. I… would have none of it….
and then God spoke these words over me…Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!-Isaiah 30:18
I was trying to walk away from God and he answered my prayer b I wanted to want Him and He showed me that He had never stopped wanting me
CLOSING:I got up at camp that night and shocked everyone. I told them that my plan had been to leave ministry after we got back, and probably Jesus. I told them how I had only read my bible to preach, not to know Jesus. And I repented then and there before them as I confessed my sin.
since then, I’ve only had a few days when I haven’t spent time in God’s word on the Hunt.
I now hunt for God and His heart, because I realize He’s been on the hunt for me.
It is the story of the son who ran from his father, took everything he had and spent it all on fast women and fast cars, but the moment he turned back, His father came running to him. God is hunting for you. He’s longing for you…
We are going to be spending our time this month in the book of Isaiah, I want to take you to some pictures God walked me through…
But if I could call you out for one thing, it would be for you to turn and let Him hunt you down.
You know, when Jen and I were on that interstate lost, with no exits, what we finally realized is we needed to go back. I drove down through the ditch, we went back to where we entered – the offramp was completely blocked off – I didn’t let that stop me, I drove around it and got back where I needed to be.
God is calling you home. b Why are you letting barriers keep you from turning around and coming back.