A while back, there was a concert my wife and I wanted to go to. On the day the tickets went on sale, I had two phones, an iPad and a laptop out trying to get tickets. After sitting in their digital waiting room for an hour, a message popped up saying they were sold out. As we got closer to the concert date I began looking at all the resale sites, but the ticket prices were outrageous. As we were driving down the road discussing it, my wife closed her eyes and said, “Lord, it would be awesome if you could give us free tickets to this concert. Amen.” I laughed internally and thought, “No one is going to give up their tickets, but ok God.” The day before the concert she got a message offering her free tickets to the concert. We were both blown away.
In 2 Kings 6, Elisha was the prophet of Israel, and the group of prophets who were with him decided the place where they were staying was too small. They wanted to build a bigger place, but Elisha didn’t think they needed to. After begging him to come, they went to the river to cut down trees to build a bigger place. Verse 5 says, “But as one of them was cutting a tree, his ax head fell into the river. ‘Oh, sir!’ he cried. ‘It was a borrowed ax!’” (NLT) Elisha had him point to the place where the ax head went into the water. He then threw in a stick and the ax head floated to the surface. The man grabbed it and went back to work.
Both stories remind me that God is concerned about the little things in our lives. Going to the concert didn’t change our lives, but God knew it was something we would appreciate. Sometimes we forget that like a parent, God just wants to bless His kids. We don’t need to feel like we’re bothering Him with the little things. He’s just as able to take care of the “little” requests in our lives as the “big” ones. God simply wants to be involved in our day to day lives instead of being our spiritual 9-1-1 call. He’s looking for relationship with us. If we’re going to have one with Him, then we need to let Him into all areas of our lives including the little ones.
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One of the things I’ve loved since I was a kid is trivia games, especially Bible trivia. My parents couldn’t afford to send us to camp when we were young, so they took us to ever Vacation Bible School in town. I got a head full of knowledge about the Bible from all of those. When you combine that with my ability to memorize things, I won a lot of prizes when it came to Bible Trivia. The only downside to having all that knowledge is that for years, I thought I knew God because I knew a lot about Him, but knowing about someone and knowing them are two very different things.
When David was old, he was preparing to hand over the kingdom to Solomon. Like any parent, I’m sure he saw great qualities in his son. He wanted to make sure that his son didn’t just rely on who he had heard God was, but wanted him to intimately know Him the way he did. In 1 Chronicles 28, David was giving Solomon instruction for ruling, for building the Temple and for living well. In verse 9, he said, “Learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever” (NLT).
There is so much wisdom in that one verse, but I want us to simply focus on that first part today. Learn to know God intimately. It’s good to learn about Him, but it’s more important to learn to know Him intimately. Knowledge about God comes from Scripture, but knowing Him comes from spending time in prayer and being still in His presence. All of the Bible is about this one thing: God wants an intimate relationship with you and He’s willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen. The problem is it takes two to have a relationship. God has done His part. Will you do yours and spend some alone time with Him today listening to His voice?
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This life can get to be repetitive, and to be honest, so can our Christian life. It’s easy to settle into a groove and put ourselves on autopilot. We can then fall into danger by allowing our faith the be about rituals more than relationship. Even the disciples were susceptible to this, and they physically walked with Jesus daily. Can you imagine what that must have been like? They heard the greatest teaching daily and were witnesses to countless miracles, yet they were susceptible to letting even that become old hat and ordinary. That’s when someone came up to Jesus and told Him Lazarus was gravely ill and needed healing immediately.
When Jesus didn’t immediately go, I’m sure the disciples started to get shook out of their routine. They thought it was odd that He didn’t immediately go. Instead, He waited two days before beginning the 2 day journey to Him. The disciples objected to Jesus going there because the religious leaders were ready to kill Him. Then, in John 11:14-15 Jesus said, “Lazarus died. And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn’t there. You’re about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let’s go to him” (MSG).
Jesus knew the disciples needed new grounds for believing. If they needed it, how much more do we? I believe when there are things in our lives that don’t make sense to us, it could be God trying to give us new grounds for believing. Notice how urgently we start seeking Him when things happen out of the ordinary. Notice how much more we rely on Him. I believe God allows things to happen to us so we will break out of our rut and find fresh faith. Relationships on autopilot usually struggle. It’s the ones that keep things fresh and new that survive. God wants to have a fresh relationship with us. Don’t let whatever is going on in your life push you away from God. Let it give you fresh grounds for believing.
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One of my favorite games as a kid was Monopoly. We could sit up for hours playing it. The goal was to buy as much property as you could, and if possible, to buy Boardwalk and Park Place. One of the underlying things that game teaches you is if you buy enough things, you’ll win. That reminds me of a guy who lived in my town. He had a customized truck that I thought was awesome. It had a sticker on the back windshield that read, “He who has the most toys wins!” It’s that same attitude of owning things equals winning.
When our identity and self image is tied to things we own, it’s a pretty hard fall when we lose them. It’s not bad to own things; it’s bad to be owned by things. To discover which type of person we are, we have to ask ourselves about the motivating factor in having them. Is it a want or a deep seated need in us to own them? When we feel we need them in order to feel a certain way or to project a certain image, owning things can be a problem.
In Luke 12:15, Jesus said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own” (NLT). That’s the opposite of our Monopoly mindset. We associate winning with owning things and God associates winning with having a relationship with Him. Can you have both? Of course. I know plenty of people who are blessed beyond measure because they give tithes, offerings, and more to meet the needs of others. They’ve recognized that their identity is in God, and all they have is His, so it’s not hard to give away what they have.
We can’t afford to sacrifice our relationship with God in order to own things or to build our wealth. As Jesus said in Luke 12:21, “A person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” Are you spending your quality time building your portfolio or your relationship with God? You can win at life, but lose at eternity. Invest in building a relationship with God. You will find that once you seek Him first, all these other things will be added to you. It’s a matter of priorities and God wants to be first in your life.
Every once in a while, my body gets out of alignment. My back hurts, my neck gets tight and I get headaches. I try laying on the floor to pop my back myself. When that doesn’t work, I have my wife stand on it to try to pop it. When all else fails, I visit a chiropractor to give me an alignment. He hooks me up to a machine that sends electric pulses to the muscles and places warm blankets on top. He then comes in and begins to pop my back and put everything back into alignment. It’s not fun, but when I walk out of there, I feel a lot better.
From time to time, you and I can get spiritually misaligned. We lack interest to go to church, we quit reading the Bible and we barely pray. We tell others that we need to get back to those things, but nothing ever happens. We keep going until something bad happens and we go back to church for a spiritual alignment. It’s a cycle that a lot of us go through. When times are good, we forget we need God. When things go wrong, we suddenly remember He is our help in times of need.
Since the beginning of time, that’s the story of the human race. We are constantly in need of spiritual adjustment. We walk out of church feeling great and have a renewed purpose. We do great for a little while, but slowly we begin to fade. We hit to the snooze button instead of getting up to pray. We fall asleep before we crack open the Bible. We tell ourselves, “Tomorrow I’ll read. Tomorrow I’ll pray.” Tomorrow becomes a week, a week a month and so on. It’s the cycle I’ve been on too many times. So how do we stay spiritually aligned?
It’s much like any relationship. It takes work, time and effort. We need to be adjusted when we begin to look at the things needed to maintain the relationship as a checklist. When we look at them like a checklist, they become chores and no one likes chores. God isn’t into making us do chores. He wants us to love Him the way He loves us. He wants us to want to do the things that keep our relationship fresh. He wants us to want to spend time with Him. He doesn’t want us to feel as though we have to.
Ephesians 4:23 gives us the answer. It says, “Be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind, having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude. (AMP)” We have to constantly find ways to keep our mind and spirit renewed. We have to switch things up. Read a different version of the Bible to gain fresh perspective. Change the time and place you pray. Sit in a different seat at church. Get out of your routine and find a fresh love for God. That’s how you get your spiritual adjustment. Stay out of a rut and constantly renew your mental and spiritual attitude.
One of my regular prayers is that God would shift the prism through which I see Him and others. I see almost everything in black and white. I was raised in an unbroken home and at the same church my whole life. There hasn’t been a whole lot of shifting where I change my perspective of who He is and how I see Him. Over time and with life experience, I have shifted and changed. I see God differently because of what I’ve seen Him do in my life and in the lives of others. I just don’t want to get complacent with where I am or how I see Him. I don’t want to box Him in to what I think He should be.
The early church went through a lot of shifting. In Acts 10, Peter was praying on the balcony while he was waiting for lunch. God gave him a vision of a blanket being lowered down with religiously unclean animals in it. God told Peter to kill and eat, but he refused because he had never touched food that wasn’t Kosher. God came back and said, “Don’t call unclean what I have called clean.” It was then that he was awakened by his vision from visitors knocking. A man named Cornelius was told by an angel to get Peter so he could hear what he had to say.
Peter traveled the next day to Cornelius’ house with the group that came for him. When he spoke to the people who had gathered, they were filled with Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues. Peter was shocked. How could non-Jews have received God’s gift? He turned to the Jews who had traveled with them and said, “Do I hear any objections to baptizing these friends with water? They’ve received the Holy Spirit exactly as we did.” That event created a fundamental shift in how they saw God. They now saw that God’s plan of salvation was for Jews and non-Jews alike. It changed their ministry.
My prayer is that God would radically change me so that I see deeper into His Word than I do now. I pray that He shifts my focus so that I can connect things that I’ve never seen or understood in it. When I understand what He says, then I can know Him more. When I know Him more, my life is forever altered. I cannot accept that I know God as much as I will ever know Him. I cannot believe that I know everything that I will ever know about Scripture. I have to put myself in position to be shifted. I have to spend time in prayer so He can show me. I have to be willing to go with strangers to see what God is doing.
What about you? Are you willing to allow God to reveal more of Himself to you? Are you open to Him showing things that will fundamentally alter how you see Him? What can you do to put yourself in position to be shifted so you see Him in a different light? My prayer is that God would radically change us in the Church who have become complacent with our view of Him. I pray that He would reveal Himself to us like we’ve never seen. We don’t need to fix the Church. It’s not our responsibility. We need to fix our relationship with Him and that will change the Church. We need to change the prism through which we view God and that will change the world.