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Have You Inconvenienced God Recently?

Wed, 05/21/2014 - 9:15am -- Rob

When I was a boy, secular TV shows would occasionally insert a "God-moment" where a child or adult character would "pray" to God.  Typically, it was a "God, if you're up there, would you do this for me, or get me out of such-and-such situation?" kind of prayer.  Often times too, there would be a "I know you're probably busy, God, but if you'd kindly squeeze just a moment in to hear me, then... (selfish, spoken prayer request was shared)".

While the days of "God moments" on network TV have long passed, the "God, I don't want to inconvenience You..." type of prayers and attitudes continue on- even in our day.

Chip Ingram, in his book, God As He Longs for You to Know Him, shares, "What you think about God shapes your whole relationship with him.  In addition, what you believe God thinks about you determines how close you will grow toward him."

Let's consider that statement.
Notice that the things we think and believe about God determine both what our relationship with God is like, plus how close we choose to grow in intimacy with him.  It's not about how much or little time he spends with us or desires to spend with us.  It's not about what he believes to be true about us that makes or breaks our relationship with him.  He's constant and unchanging; ever-loving (even while we were sinners separated from him- he loved us) and more.  The difference-makers are you and I!!!  We can greatly expand or hinder our relationship and its depth simply by what we believe or think about God himself or what we think he thinks about us!  As a result, what we think and believe about him also affects if and how we pray to him as well!
Ingram also shares three errors we commonly make: 
"Left to ourselves, we human beings regularly stumble into three gaping errors as we are learning to think accurately about God:

  • 1.  We tend to assume God is just like us.
  • 2.  We tend to reduce him to measurable and controllable terms.
  • 3.  We tend to overlook the obvious and significant ways that he has revealed himself to us."
When we consider the errors we make in thinking about him, we uncover sources of sin in our lives that we rarely, if ever, consider.

1.  Assuming God is just like us.
I think we all agree that God is God and we are not.  He is unique, set apart, and like no other (definition of the word, holy).  He created us, not the other way around.  Yet, when we think or begin to assume God is just like us, we immediately warp our minds to begin thinking he's sinful.  I don't think we purposely do so, but can you begin to see the results of these erroneous thoughts?
If we assume God is like us, God takes on our fallen nature and immediately ceases to be God.  In our mind's eye, he can become aloof, petty, one who prefers some people over others, too busy to have time to listen, and other fallen ways.  He can hold grudges, plot murderous schemes filled with hatred, he can lust after others and their possessions, and on and on. 
God is not at all like us!  He alone is holy, righteous, loving, affectionate, kind, wise, just, merciful, faithful, all-knowing and ever-present; perfect in all of these attributes and many more!  Lord, help us renew our minds to accurately, wholly, and lovingly think of you as you truly are.  Establish and/or restore the appropriate awe we should have of you in and through our lives!

2.  Reducing God to measurable and controllable terms.
The world, our flesh, and our adversary feed us countless lies and deceptions every day.  Genesis 3 tells of one particular lie that has been fed to us repeatedly since the Fall in the Garden of Eden. 

Within the rebellion against God in the Garden, and ever since, was woven a desire to be like God, or be in complete control.  While God desires us to be self-controlled in our actions (Titus 2), and to take each thought captive (2 Corinthians 10), we can easily and selfishly seek to control others, situations, circumstances, and more; even God!  When we control or measure God in measurable terms, he becomes our Self-help-Genie or God-on-Demand. 

Ingram continues (pg. 37-38), "Once we've redefined God, we proceed to reduce the Christian life to a formula.  'Let's see.  If we read the Bible in the morning, if we pray a few prayers, if we give some money, if we go on a short missions trip to an exotic place, if we read some Christian self-help books, then life will be great.'  We've done our part, so God is obligated to do his part, which is:

  • to give us unbelievable marriages
  • to make all of our kids turn out right
  • to never allow us to be depressed, or even sad
  • to keep any bad things from happening to us

We've got a checklist of expectations that God must meet.  But ultimately what we're saying is that we worship our own happiness.  In the meantime, we've reduced God from the sovereign Lord of the universe to a servant who's supposed to fulfill our personal agenda."

I believe it's within this error in thinking about God where many Christians fall into the "vending machine" mindset of prayer.  That's a mindset in prayer where people will go to God only with cares and concerns, but seldom, if ever, with thanksgiving or praise for who he is or what he's done (even thanking him for permitting suffering that He may use to draw us even closer to himself).  From a fleshly vantage point, who wouldn't want the God of the universe serving us instead of each of us rightly aligning our hearts and minds with His- seeking him and his will to be done in and around our lives?!  He's so much better and greater than that.  He will not submit to our reductions.  He is not like we are.

We error greatly when we lower God to controllable terms.

3.  Overlooking obvious and significant ways he has revealed himself to us.

God reveals himself to us daily in many ways.  But are we looking for him?  Are we watchful?  Are we busy (Burdened Under Satan's Yoke)?  Are we so focused on the latest busying event we're into that we miss him altogether?  Do we see him in what we might consider the mundane?  Do we only look for Him to do spectacular, jaw-dropping, feats; then moments later, busy ourselves with our tasks and to-do lists, forgetting how he's just revealed himself through what he's done?  If we're only expecting to see him do unmistakeable, jaw-dropping things, what will he have to do to outdo the last thing he's done? 

Many people in Jesus' time only looked to him for the miracles he did around them.  Some placed their faith in him, but many others didn't; only seeking the next thrill they believed he could provide them.

Take 30 minutes to get out and observe nature.  Don't try to solve anything; just look around.  Consider all that he's created, then consider all the intricacies of each creating thing or being.  What do these things tell us about God's character, personality, or attributes?
Set aside some time to read a Psalm or a chapter in the gospels.  Consider what it says.  What does it say about who God is?  What can you learn about God, his character, attributes, or more?  How do these truths personally affect you or cause you to worship him?
Set aside some time to talk with Jesus Christ.  Share the joys and concerns on your heart.  Tell him what you're thankful for, then ask him to share his thoughts with you.  Be still and listen for his reply.  Get to know his heart.  There are many other ways God reveals himself around us in each day, too.
So, go ahead and inconvenience God all you want.  What you'll find instead though, is that your fleshly heart, mind, and thoughts will be inconvenienced as they're confronted and conformed more into God's image and understanding.  That's a good thing!  Who ever guessed that inconvenience could be so useful!?
Lord, You are perfect in every way I can imagine, and in ways far beyond my comprehension or imagination.  You alone are God.  I thank you that no matter how many people pray to you at any given moment; all with matters large and small, that you can or will not ever be inconvenienced.  You alone are God.
I'm sorry for reducing you to a man-sized god at times; limiting you by my fallen ideas or expectations.  You are much greater always.  Help me to know you better.

I confess that I am dissatisfied with my relationship with You; in the ways I've slowed and limited You in growing and maturing me.  Although you can never be inconvenienced, I invite you to inconvenience me, however and whenever you desire- that I may grow in patience, faith, and Christ-likeness in each day and night to come.  Have your way in me.  Thank you for your care, compassion, kindness, patience, and so much more that you lavish upon me daily.  Help me to quickly realize these each day.  I'm not deserving of anything you've given me; but I gladly and humbly accept You and all you're doing.  I praise you in Jesus' name.  Amen.