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As one gazes across the landscape of American Christianity, one can easily see that we are experiencing very little of the power and grace of God at work in our lives. When one considers God’s intention that there be so much more in our experience with Him and His people, this is indeed an incalculable tragedy.
It seems that we either think that the spiritual realm is merely mythical or hypothetical and that God simply doesn’t “come near” to us as He did in the Scriptures or we feel that God should only have access to a limited number of spheres in our lives, ranking little more than just another spot on the calendar or one other thing to juggle in our busy schedules.
How sad when we come to these conclusions. Cynicism with people is one thing; cynicism with God is another. When God’s people stop believing that God desires to bless them, then they themselves shut the door of His grace and enclose themselves in a tight spot without access to the provisions of joy, peace, wisdom and love that can only be found in God’s larder.
The most significant roadblock, however, to experiencing God is satisfaction with what we’ve already got. When content with ourselves and our circumstances, we are not inclined to go out and look for more of God. Like the companions of Ulysses in Homer’s Odyssey, we eat the fruits of the Lotus (namely achievement, pleasure, success, and fame) and we forget that our “home” isn’t here. Thus, we stop seeking Him. We stop desiring His presence. We settle for the intoxicating lures of a world that is simply way out of step with God.
How infinitely more sad when we “forsake Him, the fountain of living water, and dig our cisterns for ourselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water” (from Jeremiah 2:13). Imagine trudging along away from a fountain of clear, cool water, while saying to yourself, “No. I want to get my own water in my own way.” Imagine sitting beside a cistern that you have built with your own hands, hoping for rain, only to watch the sparse drops that smatter down, instantly trickle through the cracks left in the bottom of your basin. Wouldn’t that fountain of clear, cool water begin to haunt your thoughts and dreams? Wouldn’t you long for that?
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” said Jesus in Matthew 5:3. Another way to say the same thing is, “happy are those who see their spiritual poverty for now the power and provision of heaven can come to them.”
We are horribly impoverished without God. We are miserably bankrupted when we seek sustenance for our souls in things other than His love. Sadly, we often just don’t get it. We feel confident in ourselves and in the security of our accomplishments and have no clue as to how precarious the position is in which we rest.
The Lord Jesus though, in addressing significant problems among His people in Laodicea, says in Revelation 3:17 and 18, “…You say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.”
If we come to our senses (see Luke 15:17) and realize the spiritual squalor in which we live, and our hearts “turn to home”, doesn’t it make sense to toss aside whatever rotten Lotus we hold in our hands, and cry out to God, “Lord, I need more of You!” and believe that this is indeed a prayer He longs to fulfill?
I often hear Jeremiah 29:11 quoted, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” How wonderful! But the next two verses spell out the necessary conditions for you and me to receive the benefit of His plans, “Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find Me. When you seek Me with all your heart,” (Jeremiah 29:12-13 ESV).
God is not likely to pour out the blessing of His presence upon a life that passively hopes that God “might do something.” No, He waits for us to seek Him. “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV).
Copyright © Thom Mollohan.
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