Thrilled or Chilled? Week 3
I’m not a fan of professional wrestling. I know there are a great many people who may find joy in watching it, but it definitely isn’t me. If I could define professional wrestling in one sentence, I would say that a character from Days of our Lives, dressed as Nacho Libre, is handed a wireless mic and told to walk around looking confused and mad until he is hit by a flying table. It just doesn’t make much sense to me. But one thing that has always struck me as funny is that each time I watch a few minutes of a match, it always includes someone’s teammate turning on them or failing to help them when they’re about to get thrown across the stadium. I mean, if you’re a professional wrestler, is there anyone you can trust? Now that example might be a little extreme, and even weird, but the point is this: If you don’t know who your allies are, how can you fight with confidence? If you are daily going to battle, never knowing or relying on the one that can help you, how do you ever expect to win?
Read Isaiah 41:10, Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalms 54:4, Psalms 86:7. After reading these verses, answer this question as a group: Can God help and strengthen me? If the answer is yes, then why don’t we live like it? Why do we fail to consistently ask God for His help? Why do we fail to yield to the Holy Spirit every day? I think the answer is pretty simple. We don’t have a true relationship with Jesus.
Read James 4:7-8, Amos 3:3, Galatians 5:16 and spend 5 minutes identifying what it takes to get close to God. Submit, resist, walk, and draw are all words used in these verses. They are cluing us in on how we are able to get God on our side and to work for us. I fear that many Christians have fallen prey to a very dangerous lie. “I’m close to God because I’m saved”. Friends, this is not so. You may have the Holy Spirit living inside of you and have Jesus making intercession for your sins, but this does not make you a Christian who is close to God. After salvation, then a relationship starts. A relation and a relationship are two different things. One is constant and never changes. The other is a living entity that requires your everyday attention.
Read Hebrews 12:1, Romans 12:1-2, Matthew 6:6, Philippians 4:6, II Timothy 2:15. When I think of a relationship, naturally the first example I think about is my wife. After seven years, I can honestly say that she is the best earthly thing that has ever happened to me. However, just being married doesn’t entitle me to a relationship with her. Sure, I have a standing position as her husband, but that doesn’t mean we are close. See the funny thing about having a friend or ally is that you must do your part as well. The Bible says that they who have friends must show themselves to be friendly. Is that why so many Christians are anemic in their Christian walk? Quite frankly, yes. We require God’s presence in our day for spiritual success. He is mighty and great and can be such a daily help to us. Furthermore, He’s on our side. It’s no obligation to Him, He wants to help! There are three things that a relationship of any kind must have to thrive.
Devotion (Hebrews 12:1, Romans 12:1-2) When I was a kid, I remember seeing a Snicker Bar commercial about a football player who had gotten a tattoo. The tattoo was his team’s logo and it covered his entire back. As his coach walked into the locker room, he proudly stood up and showed everyone in the room, asking the coach what he thought. The coach replied “you’ve been traded”. Talk about a disappointing day! There was some devotion in that relationship, but it was only on one side. Relationships that do not have a shared devotion are alive, but crippled. The Bible commands us to lay aside everything in our lives that keeps us from our relationship with God. It asks us not to be conformed to the world. God is not trying to ruin all of our fun or put us in a box, He wants a growing meaningful relationship with you. But this requires your devotion to Him. You can’t be half way in. You can’t be more concerned about other things that aren’t really important to begin with. You can’t forget He’s there. I am completely devoted to my wife. All my life decisions are decided with her. All my wishes and desires, I tell her. If I need help, she is the first person I turn to. I love exchanging stories about our day. Christians, are we devoted to God in the same way we are devoted to those on earth? Do we have a longing to be close to God?
Communication (Matthew 6:6 Philippians 4:6) Have you ever tried to get in contact with someone and can’t? You leave them three voicemails, two text messages and they still won’t return your calls. We get so frustrated when things like that happen to us. Maybe we find ourselves talking to a customer service representative and they are cold and uncaring. We get so offended when someone treats us like that. Question: Do you treat your heavenly father that way? Sometimes we read verses like “draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you” and somehow get the idea that God is sitting in heaven with His arms crossed not caring if we want to get close to Him or not. This is not true. God longs for a relationship. It’s why He created us. He wants our fellowship. Often times we are too busy or distracted to answer Him. We don’t understand the value of prayer and Bible reading. And the further away we grow, the easier it is to ignore. The hardest part of communication is when you’re getting to know someone. Once you build that relationship and grow closer to that person, communication becomes a breeze. But you have to start communicating! Talk to God, He wants to hear from you.
Study (II Timothy 2:15) I think buying flowers is a waste of money. They aren’t helpful or tasty, and they will be dead in three days. So for the first few years of my marriage, I didn’t buy them. You want to guess who DOES like flowers? That’s right, my wife does. For the first few years of our marriage, I didn’t know she liked flowers because I was unlearned on the matter. The more I study the likes and dislikes of my wife, the better husband I become. The same is true with the Christian walk. The more and more I study God’s word, the more and more I’m able to please Him. People ask “how do I get close to God?” The most appropriate response is “how can you get close to someone you don’t care to know more about?” The start of any relationship is filled with questions about that person’s past, their experiences, their likes or dislikes, and the more we know, the closer we are. God has given us HIS story, HIS desires, and HIS commands. Are we studying them like we should? Do we truly care to know what the Bible says? Many Christians want the life that God gives and the blessings He bestows without ever wanting to study who He is and what He asks us to be. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's”
Each one of us must make the decision to allow God to work in our lives. He’s our strength and fortress. Spend the rest of the time taking prayer requests and praying for each other. Pray that we will get God on our side and allow Him to fight our battles.