The New Year brings thoughts of ordering our lives to make our desires and hopes a reality. It’s always good to evaluate our lives and set intentions to improve them. But of all the changes we could make, working on deepening our relationship with Jesus should top our list. He even tells us how to do it: by seeking God first in our lives.
Hebrew Word for Seek
The Hebrew word for seek (“baqash”) means to search out with a striving or desire. His “face”- “His presence” in Hebrew- is what we are seeking.
What Does it Mean to Seek God?
We know He is always with us: “And surely I am with you always.” Matthew 28:20. He’s never lost somewhere in the universe or unattainable. His love and care for us never wane. His Holy Spirit lives inside of us. We can’t get much closer than that!
Then why do we need to seek Him?
When Jesus teaches about worry, He explains with the following helpful instruction:
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
To seek Him first means we turn to Him before anyone or anything else for help, guidance, wisdom, and setting priorities. When we seek Him first, we regard Him not only as Sovereign God but as a priceless treasure and the very center of our lives. When we can honestly do that, we don’t have to worry about tomorrow or the future. We trust His promises are true and that He will take care of us.
Obstacles to Seeking God
God knows worldly concerns and pleasures will pull us away from Him. Temptations to seek Him last surround us daily. Our feet hit the floor and the first thing on our minds are the day’s concerns and commitments.
If only I was as single-minded toward seeking God as I am towards getting that first delicious sip of coffee each morning…
There is always something filling our busy days and we can neglect to seek Him. If you’re not seeking God, what do you seek?
John Piper puts it this way- “We give him no thought and do not put trust in him,” … He is “unperceived as great and beautiful and valuable by the eyes of our hearts.” ¹
Ouch! Do I do that? Sometimes… I’m telling Him I don’t trust His plans for my life when I worry about things in the future I cannot control. I’m not putting Him first when the activities of the day come before prayer or Bible study.
If we are going to seek Jesus, we need to be focused and not grow weary in the search. The temptations to look for other things, people, and experiences are all around us. We get discouraged and our priorities get skewed. None of us can honestly say, “Oh, I already give God enough of my time and dedication.”
How to Seek God with Your Whole Heart
“Blessed are they… who seek Him with all their heart… I seek you with all my heart.” Psalms 119:2,10.
Worldly concerns and our own approaches to problems divide our hearts. We sometimes let these things squeeze Him out. God wants your whole heart; not just a piece of it.
Seeking God with our whole heart means He comes first- always. We turn to Him in complete confidence in His promises and trusting in His sovereignty. (Yes, sometimes that can be scary! Fear not!) Our focus needs to be on consciously bringing Him into all situations and seeking God in all things.
Ways to Seek God
David “inquired of the Lord” frequently. He tells us in Psalm 105:4 to “Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually.” NASB.
Let’s break that verse down:
•Seek the Person of Our Lord– knowing His character and attributes creates a loving trust in Him. Do you know Him as faithful, patient, loving, creative, perfect, gracious, and merciful? These are only a handful of His attributes! Reading and studying His word is fundamental to knowing Him and trusting in Him.
•Seek His Strength– He wants to give us His strength as a gift. “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:29.
“Serve with the strength God provides…” 1 Peter 4:11a. I pray this verse back to God every morning before I sit down to work. He has never let me down!
•Seek His Presence– How do you seek the presence of God? Wouldn’t it be great to have the Pillar of Fire to follow around? As awesome as that seems, we have something better- our soul is filled with His Holy Spirit. We don’t need an external visual; we have an internal compass and anchor that we can access anytime. Starting each day with that truth alone in your heart could change everything. ♥
You can feel His presence when you observe a beautiful sunset, look into the eyes of a newborn baby, or through the lyrics of a worship song. His presence calls out to us in so many ways. How can you see Him in the world around you?
Seeking God Through Prayer
Jesus spoke to His Father often. They had “lived together” in heaven, communicating regularly. Jesus’ earthly ministry and all its sufferings didn’t change the need for Him to seek His Father’s presence through prayer. That same relationship is available to us 24/7.
•Seek Him continually– the root word in Hebrew means “stretch” so I like to remind myself that seeking Him first will stretch out throughout my entire life. It may also stretch my faith- to discipline myself to turn to Him and His ways and instructions instead of elsewhere.
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Steps to Seeking God
We are to involve Him in our work, play, trials, and joys. How? By speaking to Him about them- asking Him for guidance throughout the day, telling Him how we’re feeling or observing, asking Him for what we need. Thank Him for the blessings He gives in each of these situations, instead of just saying, “Whew! Glad I made it through that!” or “Wow! That was an awesome experience!”
We can seek Him through worship, praise, and giving thanks to Him throughout our day, no matter what circumstances arise.
Are you tempted to vent or work through a problem with the help of your best friend? Take it to God first– seek His wisdom and counsel, then call your bestie to discuss.
Jesus showed us what it means to “seek diligently” when He told the parables of the Lost Sheep and the Prodigal Son. Seeking continually and diligently means you tirelessly watch for Him, joyously expect His presence, and work carefully and eagerly to find Him. He should be utmost on our minds. That’s the mindset we need when seeking Him first.
Put God First and Everything Will Fall Into Place
We’ve got responsibilities- lots of them. Laundry, grocery shopping, meal prep, cleaning, activities, church, jobs, and family relationships to nurture. Whew. The distractions are endless. Then send in the catastrophes, trials, and sufferings of life, and things can fall apart.
None of these things has to distract us from seeking Him, however. He is there in all of them.
He expects us to work and, if we have families, to nurture and care for them. Trials will be part of our life here on earth forever. It’s when we push His presence away in our busy and troubled lives that we have problems. We get overwhelmed, anxious, and exhausted when we leave Him out of our circumstances.
We can put God first even when we are busy, troubled, and exhausted. Do you remember the story of Mary and Martha?
They both loved Jesus. They were both serving Him in their own ways. Jesus didn’t blame Martha for caring about feeding her guests. He was asking her to set Him as her priority, as Mary had done.
“You are worried and upset about many things, He told her, but only one thing is needed.” Luke 10:41-42.
Putting Him first means choosing to bring His presence and His word into every part of our day.
We hand over our cares and needs to Him, knowing He loves us and cares for us abundantly. That allows us to experience His peace, strength, joy, guidance, and wisdom.
Seeking Him first doesn’t mean our life will be carefree. It does mean God will be there to help us sort through the chaos; everything will fall into place after that.
Bible Verses about Seeking God First
There is so much encouragement in His word about seeking Him. Read through these verses and see which one speaks to your heart the most. If you have time, write out one per day and think about how you can apply it to your life.
“Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the Lord your God.” 1 Chronicles 22:19
“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.” Colossians 3:1
“But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all you soul.” Deuteronomy 4:29
“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10.
Seek the Lord
“Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands.” Zephaniah 2:3.
“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” Isaiah 55:6.
“Whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Hebrews 11:6.
“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12: 1b-2a.
“Look to the Lord and His strength; seek his face always.” 1 Chronicles 16:11
“My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek.” Psalm 27:8.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14.
Would you like to use these verses to help you in seeking Him first? Click on the image below to go to my Resource Page. Scroll down to Bible Verses and click, download and print from there!
A Prayer to Seek God First
Lord God, you are my King, my Rock, and my Redeemer. All praise, glory, and honor are yours forever and ever. Thank you for your faithfulness and unchanging truth. I want to trust and obey you with all my heart, but I let emotions and circumstances pull me away from Your purposes and plans in my life. Remind and convict me, Holy Spirit, to stay focused on Your promises, love, care, wisdom, and guidance. Open my eyes to see You all around me. Thank you for desiring to walk through all my fear, trials, grief, and this flawed earthly life with me. I want to put you first, seek your face, and rely on you above all others. Help me start this new year with a hunger and a fire to seek you first in all aspects of my life.
I pray these things in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.
All Scripture is taken from the NIV unless specified otherwise.
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