Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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from a sermon on Wednesday, October 4, 1989
“Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” Now, forget about verse one for a minute, and just look at verse two. “Yet, they seek me, daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice, they take delight in approaching to God” (Isa. 58:1–2).
Now that sounds like us. Or does it? It sounds like me. I’ll volunteer. I seek God daily. I delight to know His ways. I ask of Him the ordinances of justice. I delight in approaching to God. But God wasn’t found by these people — because they didn’t prepare their heart to seek God. They sought God with an unprepared heart, and their prayers were not answered. In other words, they approached God without having the life to back it up. And God didn’t answer.
God still is like that. That’s why a whole lot of people don’t receive the holy Ghost; they seek God in mouth only. They don’t prepare their hearts to ask. Listen, if you come to God with a prepared heart to receive the holy Ghost, you’ll receive it right then, that minute! Glory to God! With a prepared heart, He will not tell you no. That’s why He doesn’t answer the people who are asking for the holy Ghost just with their mouth. But when a person finishes repenting, God gives His Spirit.
Look at this from Isaiah 58, starting at verse 6: “Is this not the fast that I have chosen? to undo the bonds of wickedness, to loosen the thongs of the yoke and let the oppressed go free, and that you remove every yoke? Is it not to break your bread to the hungry, that you bring the homeless poor into your house, that when you see the naked, you cover him, and that you do not hide yourself from your own kindred? Then [when you have prepared to come and ask me a thing] shall your light break forth as the morning, and your health shall spring forth speedily.”
Now is God a liar, or is He telling the truth? He’s telling you that your health will come forth speedily when you prepare your heart to seek your God. “And your righteousness shall go before you [and put fear on your adversaries]; the glory of the Lord shall be your rearward.” Listen: “You shall call, and the Lord shall answer. You shall cry out, and He shall say, ‘Here I am.’ ” Glory to God, hallelujah! Glory to God! Isaiah said in one place, “While they’re still asking, I’ll show up.” Hallelujah!
I’m not talking about just seeking God. The whole world is seeking God. I’m talking about preparing to seek Him. Jesus went down to the river of Jordan, and John didn’t have to baptize him but once and the holy Ghost came. You hear what I’m saying? Jesus prepared himself to go down to that river. He prepared himself to seek God. And when he opened his mouth and sought God, God came and said, “This is my beloved Son!” And He’ll come today, and He’ll still speak through you, and the essence of it is “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” He is well pleased with you before you get the holy Ghost, or you don’t get it. He’ll show up in a hurry when you prepare to seek God. Seeking God is not going to bring you your answer; seeking God is not going to do it. You answer will come when you have prepared your heart to seek God. You’ve got to get clean enough to get your answer from God. You must be clean enough in God’s sight. “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to God.” Every prayer that you’ve had answered from God was answered because you prepared to pray it. You prepared your heart. Did you know that you’re supposed to search your own heart before you approach God? Listen to what David said: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, God will not hear it” (Ps. 66:18). The man that Jesus healed from blindness said, “We know that God doesn’t hear sinners, but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him.”
Now, look at this from Isaiah in the middle of verse 9: “If you take away from the midst of you the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; And if you draw out your soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul, then shall your light arise in obscurity, and your darkness shall be as the noon day. And the Lord will always guide you, and satisfy your soul in dry places, and and strengthen your whole being, and you shall be like a watered garden”. You’re going to be like a watered garden, bearing fruit in its season. “And like a spring of water, [you will be], whose water’s fail not.” That’s what Jesus was talking about when he declared, “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water!”
There’s no need to ask God anything with an unprepared heart. But with a prepared heart, you hardly even need to finish your sentence, and He’ll be there! He’ll be there. Glory to God.