In Mark 6:33-44, Jesus asked the disciples to go and see how much bread there was to feed the multitudes. They came back and replied “Five, and two fishes” (Mark 6:38b, NASB). It’s interesting that Jesus didn’t ask how many fish there were. The disciples took the initiative and found that out on their own. The disciples get a bum rap most of the time…they lacked faith, they denied Jesus, they lived in fear. But here, they did more than the bare minimum, and God was able to take it and do a miracle with it. Sadly, we can get so comfortable in our relationship with Jesus and in “being a Christian” that we end up doing the bare minimum for Him. In essence, we go through the motions of what might be called “the Christian life”. We read a couple chapters from His word each day, we spend some minutes in prayer, we give our 10%, we try to witness every now and then, and then we get on with life and we believe that it’s OK. We live as if our “life” is separate from the “Christian life” we live. Does God deserve more than the bare minimum from us? Does a lost and dying world where billions haven’t heard the Gospel deserve more than our bare minimum? Do the orphans, widows, hungry, thirsty, oppressed deserve more than our bare minimum? He gave His all for us at Calvary, can we give more than just the bare minimum for Him? If we give more than the bare minimum, God may just be able to do a miracle through it and a lost world might finally hear about Jesus!
I threw out my 2010 calendar today. It was a nice calendar, given as a gift last year. As I threw it into the trash can, I wondered whether I had done the same thing with the time given to me during the year. This year contained 31,556,926 seconds, 525,948 minutes, 8,765 hours, 365 days, 52 weeks, 12 months. However you decide to count it, it’s gone and it is a year of time that can never be regained, recaptured, restored or re-lived. Have I spent it well? What have I accomplished? Am I closer to God and living in greater obedience that I did at the start of the year? Have I loved people around me with the love of Jesus? Have I shared my faith and seen somebody come to Christ?
As we enter into 2011, these questions are still important to ask for the following year as well. Every day is a day we can not reclaim, and we need to live it in obedience, grace, faith, love and joy. If we do this, we will indeed have a Happy New Year!
Who would have thought that a tagline from a beer commercial would describe so well the essence of the Christian life? It is sad that we can so easily lose our thirst for knowing God in all of His fullness and glory and majesty and holiness and splendor. We get caught up in, as John writes "…everything that belongs to the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one's lifestyle…" (1 John 2:16, HCSV) and lose our desire to know God. Oh, that our lives would reflect the heart of the Psalmist when He wrote "Whom do I have in heaven but you? And I desire nothing on earth but you." (Ps. 73:25, HCSV). God. help us to live in the promise "I am the bread of life. He who come to me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst (John 6:35, NKJV). Lord, help us stay thirsty for you!!!
I struggle with my intimacy with the Almighty. I know Scripture tells me that "…the nearness of God is my good" Ps. 73:28, NASB), but I find at the end of the day, the end of the week, that I have not spent nearly as much time with God as I desire to. Life competes for my attention…family, ministry, work…it’s all good, but it still leaves me feeling fragmented and missing time with my Lord.
As I pondered the issue of intimacy and what it means, the Lord gave me some insights that I am seeking to use to draw me closer to Him.
- Intimacy doesn’t happen in bits but in chunks – much in the same way that we can’t hope to get close to our spouse or our children or our friends if we only spend a couple minutes with them here and there, we won’t ever hope to grow close to God if all we give Him is a quick read of a daily devotional book and a couple quick prayers for those in need. Growing close and intimate with God requires that we be willing to break out the Word of God and read it for extended periods of time and set apart time for significant prayer that God would work deeply in our lives to bring about a closeness and would wash away all that keeps us from drawing close to Him.
- Intimacy happens in the present – Intimacy is not a bankable commodity. Yes, we can draw on our experience of what God has done in the past to give us strength for whatever is happening now, but His past acts on our behalf were not meant to replace being intimate with Him now. He wants to work in our lives now and to speak with us now and relate to us now, and not have us live on "good old days" Christianity. In Psalm 103:7, it’s written that "He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel" (Ps. 103:7, NKJV). We can joyfully and longingly look back on His acts from the past, but we’ll never know His ways if we aren’t with Him in the present. We need to ask if we want to be content with merely experiencing God’s activity, or do we want to experience God Himself?
- Intimacy must be intentional – We plan a weekend away with our spouse. We take our child out for lunch or to a special event they want to see. We meet a close friend for coffee. These events don’t happen without some prior planning. We look at our calendars, we make phone calls, we make reservations or purchase tickets, all so we can spend special time with that person. Sadly, we don’t and won’t do the same thing with God. Too often, we wear our "round-toit" buttons with God and tell Him we’ll spend some time with Him when we get "round to-it". We have no reason to really question why we aren’t as close to God as we’d like to be when we don’t schedule time with Him. Does it make sense to schedule a morning, a day, a weekend to retreat and be with our Lord? If we’ll do it to be with our family and friends, we should also be doing to be with Him as well.