We live in a much faster paced world than that of our youth. Gone (or almost so) are the days when we would write a letter, place it in an envelope, and drop it in the mailbox. Days or weeks would go by before we would get a response from the person with which we were corresponding. Even with all the time in between sending and receiving, we thought the process was fairly effective.
Today we live in what some call a “microwave” or “popcorn” society. We no longer send letter through the U.S. Postal Service, or as some call it the “snail mail.” We send correspondence by electronic mail, or “email.” We send little cartoon characters in an effort to get emotions across. These little pictures are called emoticons or emojis. Try as they may, these little faces can’t hide the fact we want answers quicker than with snail mail.
I must ask how long do you think is appropriate for a response when you send a text message to someone? Is it two weeks? Maybe a week? Or how about a day? Face it, we expect an answer almost immediately don’t we! It’s true we have an amazing communication network with all the devices at our disposal. But is this impatience altering our prayer life?
When we pray, what is the purpose? Is it to lift someone up who is in need of divine intervention or healing? Is it just to spend time with our Heavenly Father, as we would a best friend? Sadly some look at prayer as a time we can ask God to do something for us. And when we pray, we expect God to give us what we want within the same time span of popping a bag of popcorn in the microwave! Adults are the worst about this. Children pray expectantly, but some adults pray impatiently!
God knows what is best for us. If He gave us exactly what we prayed for, would we be limiting Him in pouring out the riches of Heaven upon us? We cannot fathom all God can give us. So why would we want less than what He wants to give us.
In all our prayers, pray in a manner of certainty that God hears our prayers. Jesus opened the throne room door with His sacrifice on the cross. Our prayers reach the ears of God the Father. But we also must pray with a sense of acknowledgement. Remember those four words in the model prayer – the Lord’s Prayer: “thy will be done.”
If we expect God to answer our prayers within the limitations of human understanding, we are not ready to receive His fullness. May we all pray fervently, places all the decisions in God’s hands, allowing Him to astound us with His love and grace. He loves us and wants His best for all of us, and not what we think is best!
Ever looked for your glasses only to find them on top of your head? It sounds so cliché, but it happens. People get so sensitized to the feeling of having them up there they don’t realize their presence. Or maybe you hunt for your car keys only to find them in your pocket or purse – exactly where they were supposed to be! We can get extremely frustrated looking for things, only to find them in obvious places.
How do we look for God? Do we find Him in church on Sunday morning, and then expect to leave Him there until next Sunday? This sounds like a very ludicrous question, but unsurprisingly it happens. Some people have had the wonderful experience of visiting the grand cathedrals in Europe. My nephew is one such person. He sent back picture after picture of the beautiful structures. Just looking at them one might think, “God must be present in this place.”
When is the last time you looked outside of grandeur of the large church sanctuary, outside the cathedrals, or even outside the small, historic churches with beautiful stained glass windows that dot our country and thought, “God must be present in this place.”
God is always with us, no matter where we go. And just to make it clear, God is already present where we are going, and is still in the place we just left! This thought can be comforting to some of us, and it can be concerning to others who may not know God as well as they should.
Jeremiah, one of the major prophets writes, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” When we hunt for our keys because we are running late to an appointment, we don’t look for them half-heartedly! We look for them feverishly. The same is true in the words of Jeremiah. Looking for God half-heartedly is not the way to find Him. Seek Him with your whole heart, and God says you will find Him.
It doesn’t take a lot of turning over of the couch cushions. You won’t need to remove all the papers on top of your cluttered office desk. God is waiting for you to be still, open your ears to listen, and open your heart. The Psalmist wrote, “Be still and know that I am God.” Find time to be still this week. God will reveal Himself to you in many wonderful ways. He’s as close as the glasses on top of your head, and we don’t even realize it!
A word that can bring fear into students everywhere at any level – STUDY! Teachers and professors do their best to convey subject matter during classroom time, but work outside the classroom is needed to be successful. But try as they may, the professor just can’t get some students to understand it’s important to not only study classroom notes, but to also read the book!
Don’t think for a moment text books and instructional materials aren’t read. Students who are driven to achieve graduation honors will digest every page in the text. Professors will even pull one or two questions out of the text to place on test to reward those students who heed the warning to study. And of course, let’s not forget those professors who write their own textbook. They want a return on their investment of time and research to compile a tool for learning; to teach as much as they can to the students in their class.
I heard about a high school history teacher admit to his students “eighty percent of everything I told you in class is true, and the other twenty percent is made up!” The reason he admitted to this is history is elusive and no one has all the facts. Therefore, subjectivity comes into play in an attempt to fill in the gaps. History is like a paved road which has some of the pavement missing. We can see the trail, but some of the surface is gone forever from point A to point B.
Can the same be said about the Holy Bible? Some say it has been embellished in places and true in others. But how can we know if this is correct or not? To determine what the Bible is, we have to say what the Bible is not.
First, the Bible is very philosophical, but it is not a philosophy book. The Bible contains proven historical facts and events, but it is not a history book. It contains laws under which the nation of Israel was to live, but it is not a law book. It contains scientific facts as proven by leaders in the scientific field, but it is not a science book. The Bible is a book given to man from God revealing His Son, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man. Christ is the center and circumstance throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.
There is so much more that can be said about what the Bible is and what it is not. Suffice it to say, it is a difficult book to fully understand. But if we agree it was written through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, then one inarguable point remains – it is a spiritual book, one which can be best understood or discerned spiritually.
To read the Bible as an academic text is altogether possible. However, if we approach it in this fashion, we miss the intent of it, which is to come to a greater understanding and relationship with the creator of the universe – our Heavenly Father.
So get into the “Text” and study! We can learn a great deal in the “classroom” on Sunday mornings. But the Author wants us to study every day, and prepare us for the ultimate graduation to a place Jesus has personally prepared, and receive the riches stored up for us!
God, here we are caught up in the midst of this season we call Advent…a season of hope, peace, love and joy.
A season that is high and holy…a season steeped in expectation and promise…a season where we mark our days and remember how God sends to us a Savior, a baby nonetheless…to unite us and free us from that which keeps us from being what God intended.
It’s a season that reminds us to lay down our fluffed-up selves and humble ourselves before the Savior of the World..born in a stable…where the animals moved over to make room for this divine moment to happen.
This Advent season is a time for us to not only remember but to also journey with Mary and Jospeh, to wake-up with the Shepherds and hear the Angels sing…to consider once more what this gift, this baby born in a manger means to us…today, tomorrow…for a lifetime.
May this Advent season be filled with a peace that passes all understanding…may our hearts be filled with joy that overflows to those around us…may we know that hope is possible…and may we become the very essence of love that God so sweetly gave to each of us in the gift of God’s Son.
Bless us in our gathering with friends and family…guide us in our travels to and fro…and lead us to those unexpected places…equip us to push past our own comfort to seek and find all of those we are called to love. Empower us with a supernatural strength to be your people, who look east and west, north and south…sharing the message of the Angels; glory to God in the highest…and may we know peace and goodwill to all people.
Bring us to our knees, as we bow before this newborn King. As we sing our songs and share our gifts, stir in us a newness of life. And on Christmas morning may we rejoice with world; Joy to the World…the Lord has come! Let it be so…amen.