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Monday, July 25, 2011

Sermon Lessons: Contact

7-11"Don't bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn't a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we're in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn't think of such a thing. You're at least decent to your own children. So don't you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?"
(Matthew 7:7-11)

The very fact that we can make frequent and open contact with a holy God is always a thing of amazement to me.  I cannot fathom that degree of love and grace that welcomes sinners into the presence of the holy!  Jesus is very forthright in his reminders about prayer - first in his instruction to the disciples about "how to" pray (we call that the Lord's Prayer), and now in his reminders that God is not to be "bargained with" in prayer.  It is not a "you do this for me" and "I will do this for you" kind of contact.

Two instructions appear here:  Don't bargain with God and be direct.  When we are in the position of bargaining, we are saying we have something "worth" trading for.  Either our price is what the owner of the item really can "get by" with, or the advantage of having what we are trading is something to be desired by the owner of the item.  

The fact is, we come to God with a whole lot of needs and not much else.  God isn't looking for us to bring him something as a "trade" for his blessing - he just wants us to fall so totally in love with him that we enjoy spending the time with him.  The "side benefit" of that time with him is often the blessing!

Being direct for some people.  In fact, it is a way of life for them.  They were raised in a home that actually made this an expectation.  Yet, for most of us, being direct was not the expectation and often was taken as a little bit of an affront - we were viewed as being "too" direct.  So, we learned to "skirt" the real intention of our actions or requests with subtle "clues" and "little bargains" that would eventually get us what we hoped for.  

Being direct is simply proceeding by the shortest course - in other word, get to the meat of what you want to express, don't mince words.  God actually doesn't mind that his children are that open with him.  He wants that freedom of expression - even if the thing being expressed is disappointment, fear, or doubt.  God can work with that kind of "directness"!  

Contact with God is the best when it is by the shortest course possible!  Whenever we put up "obstacles" to that access - like the idea that we have not "performed" well today, so God doesn't want to hear from me until I get my act together - we are doing ourselves the most harm!  God doesn't need our perfection - he needs our heart.  He doesn't reward our "perfect performance" - he rewards our commitment.

Today is a fresh day for "direct" and "open" contact with God.  Don't let anything be an obstacle to keep you from that.  In fact, maybe you have never discovered the "shortest course" to his feet - it is on your knees!  So, crawl right up into his lap, open up your heart, and enjoy that time with him today.  You won't regret that "contact"!