Fitting God into My World

For in Him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28a).

A Venn diagram is an illustration used as a way of picturing the relationship between two different groups of things. It is made up of two or more intersecting circles. The intersecting parts of the circles show characteristics that they share; the outside parts of the circle show characteristics that are unique to each.

Let’s compare dogs with cats as an example. The outside part of the cat circle might have “climbs trees” or “grooms itself.” The outside part of the dog circle might have “barks” or “has to be bathed.” The intersecting or overlapping parts of the circles would have characteristics they share like “has four legs, a tail, fur.”

Where am I going with this (Please tell me that your brain leaves the box sometimes, too)? I’ve been thinking a lot about God’s place in my life. There are obvious things that I can’t do without God’s “intersection” like breathing and living in the world that He created. And we definitely intersect on Sunday morning. But there are areas where I more or less ignore God, telling Him, “I got this one.”

How do we enlarge the intersecting parts of the circle? The scriptures give us some great guidelines—Pray without ceasing—recognize God’s presence in every situation; Work as unto the Lord—not unto our boss; In all things give thanks—those dirty dishes mean that I ate today.

Jesus desired for us to have this relationship with God when He prayed, “I in them and You in me–so that they may be brought to complete unity.” One with the Father.

We really don’t need to fit God into “our” world. He is already there, waiting patiently for us to recognize that His circle completely covers or interposed on ours—a total eclipse.

For in God we live (physically), are moved (emotionally), and are (intellect and will).

 

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A Pure Heart

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me (Ps 51:10).

Are there people in your life, too, who knowingly or not, cause contention? When I choose to admit it, those people and uncomfortable situations are so often what send me to the Lord in prayer. Often times I have prayed for them to change when God shows me that it is I who need to change too.

Isn’t this exactly what God wants? A change in my heart?  When Jesus dealt with the people who despised Him so much that they took satisfaction in the brutal suffering that He endured until death, He looked at them with love, forgiveness, and understanding, realizing that they didn’t really know what they were doing.

Oh, to have that much love in my heart! Maybe the table He is preparing before me in the presence of my enemies is really my own heart.

Recognizing the Enemy

For Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14).

In one of Priscilla Shirer’s studies she notes that there are two mistakes that we make concerning the enemy. One is that we overestimate his impact on our lives and are therefore laden with much fear and anxiety. The other is that we underestimate the impact of his influence.

I would guess that in our sophisticated culture that we don’t recognize that many of our societal and personal problems are coming from Satan, the father of lies, the master deceiver. How many “forbidden fruits” are now thought to be not only acceptable, but even worth pursuing? In our culture, he doesn’t work in black and white, but in shades of gray, slyly whispering, “How could this be wrong?” or “Don’t you have rights?” or “Did God really mean that?”

Our relationship with the Lord is vital for a clear vision and the only way to evaluate situations with discernment. As a child of God, we have defensive weapons to protect us, and offensive weapons to unleash power through the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, and prayer because greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world.

Answered Prayer

 

So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him (Matt 7:11).

God hears the prayers of believers, and answers them. We discussed before how His answer may be “Yes” or “No” or “Not yet,” but faith comes into play when we trust that God knows our needs, and even more important, that He knows us.

As earthly parents, one of our goals hopefully is helping our children to develop a godly character. We instinctively know that saying “yes” to every whim or desire would do much, much more harm than good. Our Heavenly Father knows exactly what we need. He may not say yes to the lottery, but He would never give His son a stone when he asked for bread.

We may be praying for a change in circumstance like maybe a better job, or a change in the demeanor of a spouse or child. We may find that God answers our prayer, not by changing the externals, but by changing us—our heart, our attitude, our inner peace.

His answers to our prayers—His good gifts—are always right on target.

Random Thoughts

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails (I Cor 13:4-8a).

Today’s discussion is not exactly about relationships; it is about prayer. It has been said that in order to communicate with God effectively, we need to discipline our mind. I know that personally I like to start with a prayer of thanks, but often I end up with random thoughts a thousand miles away. My question today is, “How do we know whether or not a thought comes from God.”

This is why I chose Corinthians 13 as the verse. God is love. Any communication that comes from Him follows the principles outlined in these verses. If our thoughts are selfish, revengeful or even prideful, they did not come from the Father.

We can certainly be honest with God about our feelings, but His answer once we leave our “secret place” (Matt 6:6) will never direct us toward any idea or action but love.

These are just beginning thoughts on understanding God through prayer, but it seems that time and time again, the right answer to most questions is love.

Walking with God

Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away (Gen 5:24).

There are so many principles in scripture that sound so simple, but because of our human nature and the attacks of the enemy, are not easy. This verse tells of one. One translation says that Enoch walked in close fellowship with God.

Now I have days when I feel very close to God—when I spend time with Him in prayer and scripture, and when we “text-talk” while I’m doing daily tasks. But many days, when I pray at bedtime, I think to myself that I only spent a few minutes out of today’s thousand, even thinking about Him.

Hebrews 11 tells us that Enoch was commended as one who pleased God. We know that there was only one perfect person who walked on the earth. Enoch lived for 365 years. There had to be times when Enoch fell short.

It is my desire to please God, and I know that my forgiveness is a done deal. I pray that when He looks at my heart, as with Enoch, that He will be pleased.

 

Turn to the Father

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe His commands (Deut. 8:10-16).

As a believer, when times of trouble come, I immediately turn to God. I stay in His presence whether I am totally focused on prayer or talking with Him while doing daily tasks. It’s easier to trust when we must, in situations where we have no control. But this is God’s desire in the good times, too.

God doesn’t enjoy our pain, in fact, it tears His heart too. In all their distress, He too was distressed (Isa 63:9a). Although He doesn’t initiate our suffering, He uses it to draw us into His fellowship so that He can dispense His love and mercy and bless us with His better plan.

When times are good, it is easier to lean on ourselves and forget the Giver of all good things. If I could only always be mindful of this and avoid what is documented time and time in scripture when pride led to destruction.

May His praise continually be on my lips.