Ducky Quack-Quack!

224598_7042Whenever anything bad happens the first thought to go through my head is, “Why me?”  “What did I do to deserve this?”  “How did I tick God off this time?”  “Things were going so well, why now"?”  Here is what I have become convinced of.  It’s hard to focus on God when He’s blessing me.  Sounds dumb I know.  It is however, true.  When He is blessing me, when things are going well, when life is ducky quack-quack, God tends to be put on the back burner. 

Oswald Chambers said it this way- “Troubles nearly always make us look to God; His blessings are apt to make us look elsewhere.”  Here, here Mr. Chambers.  I see that happen to me all the time.  When life sucks, I’m talking to Jesus.  When life is going well, I’m talking to everyone but Him.  My prayer this morning was “What have I been doing?  Why am I playing at being a Christ-Follower again?  Why hasn’t my walk at work matched my walk at home?  Why haven’t I really talked to you in a while God?”  Then He answered me, “Because life is going well right now.  Life is good and you’re taking me for granted.” 

 5-12 Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
   don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
   he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
   Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
   your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own;
   give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
   your wine vats will brim over.
But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
   don’t sulk under his loving correction.
It’s the child he loves that God corrects;
   a father’s delight is behind all this. (Proverbs 3:5-6, The Message)

I am NOT a prosperity preacher type guy.  (see 1 Timothy 6:6-10)  I think most of that is garbage.  Just my personal opinion but I can’t back up the belief that God wants me to have a Corvette or a Benz.  However God does bless us tangibly and intangibly, but rarely in the way we want.  He may give us peace in a dark time or help us pay for groceries when money is tight, but as far as I can see He isn’t going to give me a Corvette when  what I need is a mini-van.  God gives us what we need to serve Him, not what we want to serve our egos.  But no matter what the blessing is, tangible or intangible, it still tends to make us forget God. 

Maybe you are more spiritually disciplined than I am, if so- you are awesome.  But I imagine that 99.9% of us, if we really looked at, and I mean put a 500 watt quartz light bulb in the lamp in the living room of our heart and looked in the corners and under the love seat I bet what you will find is that, like me, you slack off when things are ducky quack-quack.  Your relationship gets stale.  Your prayers are shorter with way less emotion.  Bible reading is boring and nothing seems to be jumping out at you. 

If this is happening, be careful because the next step is for God to do something or allow something to happen that will get your attention.  Why?  Because He knows the longer you take Him for granted, the farther you get from Him.  The more comfortable you get with not praying or reading, the easier it is to ignore Him.  No one likes to be ignored, God definitely shouldn’t be ignored.  But we do.  I know I do. 

This morning He gently reminded me that I have been ignoring Him.  Hopefully I listen, because usually the reminders get a little more intense each time. 

1195551_what_not_to_do_3 Sometimes I hear my wife but I don’t listen.  I know she is talking, I hear her voice but I’m not listening to her words.  Usually a few minutes later a pillow or something comes whizzing at my head.  If I still don’t listen the object gets bigger and harder.  Ouch!!!  “What honey, I’m ready to listen!” 

 

 

God’s discipline (see last few verses above)  tends to start gentle and get a little harder each time as well.

“I hear you God, please help me to listen.”

 

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It’s all about Him,

Shawn

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Learn to Listen to The Holy Spirit

Part 4 on Obedience

big-ear3.jpg     Yesterday we looked at meditating on the Bible and spending time with God. This in itself is great but lets face it, what we really want is to hear God speak to us. I mean, what’s a relationship if only one person does all the talking? I read a joke the other day, please don’t be offended ladies.

Here it goes. “Two guys were in a boat fishing. One of the men says to his friend, “Joe, I think I am gonna divorce Martha.” “Why?” asks Joe. “Because she hasn’t spoken to me in 6 months.” Joe pauses a second and then says, “You might want to rethink that decision, a woman like that is hard to find.”

While funny, and maybe a little true sometimes (you know I am right ladies.) It does illustrate a great truth, a relationship where only one person does all the talking stinks. My wife and I have been married for going on 5 years now. Most of the time we have nothing new to tell each other. She has heard all my stupid jokes and she tells me the same childhood stories over and over. We have to find things to talk about. We both are well read, she like celebrity gossip and I like sports gossip. We share the same life. We talk about our kids, our house, our church and our hobbies. Sometimes we go days without anything substantial to talk about, not that we don’t want to talk, we just know everything about the other person. However, occasionally, something pops up that we didn’t know about the other person. When that happens we talk. Or maybe one of us will see a truth about God that we had never seen before and we will discuss it. But more often than not our conversation revolves around what medicines the kids are on, what the doctor said about the kids or which medicines the kids need to be on. (I often tell my wife that were she to die on me I would have to marry a pediatrician)

Our relationship with God is the same but at the same time, different. We get to know God the longer we are following Him. He shows us the basics and we no longer need to pray about certain things. We know it is His will to go to church, to read our Bible, to give to the poor etc… But while I can know my wife to the point where I don’t learn new things about her as often, God is so amazing and so big that there is never a time where I can’t learn if I am listening.

I must admit that I struggle with this as well. It is hard for me to settle down long enough to listen. But when I do, He shows up and I see something new.

Let’s get practical. How do you hear God? First, there is no magic formula, know set way or place. Here is how it works for me. I get up early. I wake up at 4:30am and get a cup of coffee. I sit in my lazy boy and read my devotion and then the Bible, right now I am in Psalms. Sometimes I get 3 or 4 chapters read, sometimes only a few verses. As I read I am trying to discipline myself to read it as a prayer to God and to find how the verses that I am reading apply to my life. If something hits me, (I describe it as God’s Holy Highlighter because the verse looks like it jumps off the page) I stop and pray about it. I mentally chew it up and savor it. I mull it over and try to get as much from it as I can. I pray about what it is saying and then I either read some more or quit. Next I move into prayer time. I do this on my knees, not because I am holier than you, it just helps me stay awake. I have fallen asleep before while praying.

Sometimes God speaks to me and sometimes He doesn’t, or at least I don’t hear Him.  Sometimes He chooses to speak to me through someone that day.  Maybe I hear something on the radio or I read something later that brings a Bible verse back to my mind.  The three ways God has spoken to me are: through the Bible, through other people and through circumstances.  Some people say they receive visions but I have never had one.  I am not saying they didn’t, I just haven’t.  God speaks in many ways just like my wife, verbal, body language and the occasional frying pan (just kidding).  There is one thing that you can take to the bank though.  If you feel like God is telling you to do something the He expressly forbid in the Bible then you can rest assured that it is not Him that is telling you that.  God will never go against His own word.

Listening to God is not easy.  It takes time and practice.  There is nothing uber-spiritual about it.  It is no more mystical than listening to your friend.   The hard part is cutting out the distractions i.e. kids, sports, soap operas, spouses, bills, surgeries, basically life in general.  God won’t take a back seat to anything.  He wants your undivided attention, and you know what?  He deserves it.

Remember- Learning to listen takes more time and effort than learning to talk, but the reward is worth it.