​Looking, Searching, Seeking,
Never Finding

Week 3 • September 16-22

 Quarterly Theme:
Freedom Journey

 Lesson Text
Luke 15:11-31

Key Terms
Search - Try to find something by looking or otherwise seeking careful­ly and thoroughly.
Enlightenment - The state of under­standing something
Distraction - A thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else.

Memory Verse
"And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:13. NKJV

Suggested Emphasis
Once I was in an extreme hurry to make a very important appointment. I was literally running out of the house when I noticed that I did not have my keys. I ran all over the house looking for my keys. I was frantic as the minutes continued to tick away, and it was becoming more and more obvious that I would be late for the appointment. Finally, my wife came and asked me what was the problem. She joined my search and found my keys within 30 seconds. I could not understand how she found the keys so quickly. On my way out of the door, I asked her where were the keys and she told me, "Where they were supposed to be!" My intentions were in the right place, but I was not looking in the right place.

Emphasis 1— We have to look in the right place.

There are many people who have made this same mistake, but this type of mistake is not funny when it is made with life. There are countless people who are running in the rat race of life looking to be "somebody," but they are not looking in the right place. They look, search, seek, but never find satisfaction or success. This is mainly due to the fact that they have had to begin the journey over and over again due to being on dead-end streets. The freedom journey which is necessary for holistic success, is so obvious, many people ignore it.

I am very familiar with the quest to be somebody in this world. As a child, I would look at the clouds and wonder why I was I on the earth and what my purpose was in the world. I could not, at that time, come to grips with either my purpose in the world or my role in society. I remember when my parents accepted Christ in their lives. When they accepted the Lord, they transferred their enthusiasm for the club scene to the church scene; therefore, we were frequent and faithful members in the church.

My parents were in the church, but I was merely around the church. The creed of the Church Of God In Christ states that "you cannot join the church; you must be born into it." When they state this, they mean being born of the Spirit into God's church. Well, I had not actually accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, and I just came to church because my parents required that I attend.

Emphasis 2 — There are consequences to our behavior.

When I became a teenager, my stance against God became an adamant one because I felt that I should wait until I really meant it. I had seen so many people who declared that they loved God, but they did not live like they were a part of His kingdom. Not understanding that the church is the only place where a hypocrite can go, I rejected the church in an attempt not to be like the hypocrites that I had seen.

Soon, however, I began to feel a deep void in my life, and I tried to fill the void. I began to fight in school and at church with other boys to get attention from my peers, and even though I won, it did not fill the void. Soon I thought a girlfriend would make me complete. So I would ask girls to go with me even though I was not going anywhere! That was okay, but I was extremely shy and never could get the girls that I wanted. I began to feel as if I was ugly.

The only thing that I thought would garner attention was fighting and playing in class. Soon, I gained some friends, but they were not positive ones. I did not care. My only concern was to become popular and have everyone know my name in school. I acted differently at school than I did at home because I wanted to fill the void with friends. I did not understand that most of the people that I considered friends were actually enemies. I even refused to do my homework at school because I did not like my teachers. I refused to do their work. I figured that this would punish the teachers when, in fact, I was only severely punishing myself.

Well, my behavior digressed to the point in school that my teacher contacted my mother and held a conference with me present. My teacher told my mother of the problems that I was causing in school and how much of a disruption I was. She also informed her that I was not performing academically. Finally, at the end of the conference, the teacher recommended that I be placed on medication that would help me focus. Additionally, she felt that it would probably be best that I be placed in a class with learning disabled individuals.

My mother was not pleased with the report from my teacher and the ensuing recommendations given. When we got home, she dealt with me and warmed my bottom. When my father arrived home he warmed my bottom also. They talked to me after the bottom warming, and that conversation served to be an epiphany in my life. They told me to go to school the next day, pay attention, and do my work, proving to the teacher and all others that had low expectations for me that I was clearly able to perform.

The next day when I arrived at school, I was focused and ready to perform (especially since I did not have a choice). When the teacher began to demonstrate the day's concepts on the board, I did not understand what she was explaining. This was due to the fact that for so long I had played around and messed around that I had actually fallen behind on my studies. For the first time in my life, I began to feel dumb.

I felt both dumb and ugly, and my behavior began to reflect these feelings. I was fortunate because I had parents and family that believed in me. My mother would stay awake with me until midnight making me do my homework assignments, and also think critically and analytically. I was also fortunate in that I left the school that I was attending and went to a Christian school. The school was brand new and its emphasis on God's love and power served to transform the lives of children that previously were outcast in other schools.

I left that school in my junior year of high school and transferred to another school. I was not only excited about the academics, but also the opportunity to play on the football team. When I arrived at the school, they reviewed my transcripts and engaged in the pre-entrance interview. The counselor soon came to the conclusion that I was deficient in some subjects. I quickly became aware of the fact that the choices that I had made earlier in life were catching up to me. Even though I had avoided acting the fool in school, I was still suffering the consequence of my previous actions.

My parents and I discussed my deficiencies and they allowed me to make the decision as to how to deal with them. I decided that the best thing for me was to go back from 11th to the 10th grade and learn what I needed to know. This was a tough decision, but I had to do what I had to do.

Emphasis 3 — Christ is the answer.

That school served tremendously to help me grow spiritually, physically, and academically. Three of the teachers influenced my high school life. These individuals intensively worked with me and gave me heightened responsibility, forcing me to accept the challenges that manhood brings.

Well, I graduated from that school, which was one of the top high schools in the state of Michigan, and entered college on a football scholarship. However, I continued to seek for fulfillment in life. I could not put my finger on it, but I knew that there had to be more to life. I pledged a fraternity and thought that school, football, and the fraternity would fill the gap, but I continued to feel incomplete. I resorted to drinking forty ounces of malt liquor and attempting to be a "player," but the void persisted. I joined the Army Reserve and sought enlightenment through reading hundreds of books in addition to my school textbooks, but the more I learned the emptier I felt. I then began searching for spiritual fulfillment and began regular attendance at Nation of Islam Mosque, and even though I thought they spoke great from a human rights perspective, there was a void the Mosque could not fulfill. I joined Price Hall Mason Lodge, and this did not fill the void.

After graduation I went to graduate school and obtained a Master's degree, but that was not the answer either. I was grossly confused until one day I came to the realization that I had been looking, searching, seeking, but never finding the answers for my life. God showed me that the answer had always been right before my eyes, but I felt that it was too simple. The answer was in God.

Prior to going to Tanzania, East Africa, on a Fulbright-Hayes fellowship through Yale University, my father led me to Christ. I jumped on the plane the next day armed with his Bible and with a will to give my all to God just as I had to football, Omega Psi Phi, the Masons, and partying! Upon my arrival in Tanzania, I was excited about being finally free from the empty feeling, but I did not know how to fully submit myself to God. Even though I had grown up around the church, I did not fully understand the concept of sanctification (setting myself apart). However, when staying in the small town of Morogoro, Tanzania, I met some young men who were my age, and they were on fire for the Lord. They witnessed to me and encouraged me to be strong in the Lord. These African brothers were "sold out for Jesus" and they encouraged me to be the same way. I finally found God, who filled the void, and it was the African missionaries that encouraged their African American brother to live life to the fullness. I finally found what I had been looking for and was finally ready to find success in my life.

You too can find what you're looking for to fill that gap that is deep inside you. All of the road signs on the journey are there waiting to be followed.

Missions Application Questions
1.Why does it seem difficult for some people to find their way to God's truth?
2. Do you think the percentages are equal in churches when comparing sons of the Father in Luke 15?
3. Why does it seem to take a long time for people to find the answer in God?

 World Missions Prayer Points
Let us pray that the sons and daughter who have left home searching for an­swers find Jesus and come back home.
Let us pray against the distractions that the enemy presents in our churches and homes that make people not want to know Christ.
Let us pray that the body of Christ seeks first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.




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