Steve’s Devotional – How to Go to God
SEPTEMBER 3, 2018
A man once called me to talk about some very difficult problems. After he finished his story, the man said, “Please pray for me…I’m not on speaking terms with God.”
My first reaction to that was, “Oh, come on now, you don’t have to be on speaking terms with God…he loves you. You just talk to him the way you talk to a friend.”
While what I said was true, it is not as simple as that. One of the problems with parents is that we sometimes forget what it was like to be a child—filled with wonder and with questions, filled with joy and with fear. It is the same way with us as believers at times. We forget what it was like to be an unbeliever. We forget that the things that seemed so true, so simple and so real are not always that way when Jesus is a stranger.
I remember when I was a teenager and had just come to know Christ. I had some questions about a Bible translation and someone said to me, only kidding, “Why don’t you ask Billy Graham?” Needless to say, that suggestion was almost beyond my comprehension, but Dr. Graham was preaching near by. I went to hear him and waited around until everyone else had gone. Then I went up to Dr. Graham with fear and trepidation to ask him what he thought about the Bible translation. I was surprised as Dr. Graham bent over to talk to me about his thoughts as if he had all the time in the world.
My feelings on that occasion were probably similar to those feelings people have who have not yet met Christ, as they contemplate coming to know him.
So the questions are: If you aren’t on speaking terms with Jesus, what do you say? How do you act? What should you expect? When you go to God, if you go to him, how should you do it? Let’s find some answers in Mark 2:1-12.
Go to God with persistence and faith (Mark 2:4-5).
One of the reasons people never really experience the reality and the joy of a relationship with Christ, and one of the reasons why many Christians are so far from him, is the flippant attitude we take: “All right, God. I’m checking you out and if, in the next five minutes, you don’t reveal yourself to me, then I’m going to show you. I just won’t believe in you.”
How different from that attitude are the comments of the psalmist: “My soul waits for the Lord More than those who watch for the morning—Yes, more than those who watch for the morning” (Psalm 130:6). It reflects the truth of James 1:4, “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
We live in an instant society. However, God is not like frozen food we plop into a microwave and is ready to eat in two minutes. When you care enough to try long enough, God will be there.
Back to, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). It is also the persistence of the widow in Luke 18.
Doubts? Stay with it. Afraid? Stay with it. Wondering what the Christian faith is all about? Stay with it. Problems? Stay with it. You will be surprised at where such persistence leads.
Go to God with others (Mark 2:3).
The fact is no one ever comes to Christ by himself or herself. A lot of times I have heard people make the comment, “No one led me to Christ. I just quietly, in the privacy of my own room, asked him to come into my life.” The truth, though, is quite different. When hearing such a comment, I want to ask…Who told you? What did God do—just zap you with knowledge? Did you not read the Scriptures? Where did you get the Bible? Who wrote the words? Did you not meet his followers somewhere who had peace, meaning and love, and then cry out that you wanted it too?
Peter had his Andrew. Paul had his Stephen and Ananias. Timothy had his Paul. John Mark had his Barnabus. God has ordained that when we come to him, we usually come with others.
Have you ever been completely helpless? Have you ever had to trust someone else? If you have ever been lost in the mountains, faced an operation or tried to learn a new skill such as swimming then you know what I mean. Sometimes it takes that kind of trust.
What is interesting about this is that the person who leads you to God for the first time or for the umpteenth time back to him may be the least expected person. It may be the man or woman who works for you. It may be your neighbor. It may be a distant family member. If you come to him, though, you will probably come with others.
Go to God despite opposition (Mark 2:6-7).
If you are a Christian, you are in the minority. If you search for Christ, you will be in the minority. But, you see, truth is not decided on by an election. Truth is true because it is true, not because anyone voted on it.
Matthew 7:13-14 teaches this: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
If I had a nickel for every time I have been called a fanatic, I would be a very rich man. If I had a nickel for every time a believer I know faced opposition, hostility, mocking or anger, I would be able to buy whatever my eyes set upon, without exception.
The principle is this: If there is a God, there is his opposite. If God’s purpose in this world is to draw all men and women to himself, the purpose of his opposite is to keep all men and women from him. When you get serious about God, don’t think for a moment that there will be no opposition. If there is no opposition, then you’re walking down the wrong road.
Go to God accepting what he has to give you…not what you want him to give you (Mark 2:5).
The paralytic and his friends here wanted to see a miracle. They did not want forgiveness…but Jesus is always surprising people.
What happens when you encounter a surprising God? You may pray for power, but receive patience. You may pray for money, but receive trust. You may pray for time, but receive discipline. Like a good doctor, God is accurate in his diagnosis and treatment. He knows exactly what we need.
What should you expect when you go to God? I don’t know. He treats each one of us as individuals. We are not a number with him. God knows your particular story and will respond to you differently than the way he responds to others. But go to him, open and waiting. Whatever he gives, take it, for that is always best.
Go to God expecting to come home whole (Mark 2:9-12).
I don’t know much, but I do know this: Jesus is in the business of putting things together. Jesus is in the business of creating balance. Jesus is in the business of making people whole. That is what Jesus sells in his store: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Remember that God is not playing a game with you. He gave up his only Son for you on a cross. It was not a joking matter. He broods over your wholeness. It is not a game.
Sometimes God’s goodness and holiness are hot and hurtful, but it is the heat and the hurt of a surgeon’s knife that you might be well. Sometimes he will appear distant and withdrawn, but it is the distance of a leader who would beckon his follower to the top of a mountain to see the magnificence of the world. Sometimes his love will seem angry, but he is a Father who loves his child more than his own life. Sometimes his demands will seem impossibly hard, but those demands are the demands of one who would teach you to trust, to wait, to be still and to know.
Samuel Rutherford many times gave the following advice to those who had come to him depressed and doubting: “Take you a house next door to the (great) physician, for it will be very singular (indeed) if you should prove to be the very first he ever turned away unhealed…” God’s purpose for you is always wholeness. Outside of him, there is no wholeness.
So decide to go to him. God is waiting with the open arms of love and acceptance.
Time to Draw Away
Read John 3:16 & John 20:24-29
Are you on speaking terms with Jesus? Are you afraid to even approach God? No matter where you find yourself on the belief continuum between certainty and doubt, God will meet you right there. We are saved by his grace. We grow by his grace too. So go to God with your questions, doubts and struggles—without censoring a thing (he can take it). You’ll find him waiting.