The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 8/27

Posted on | August 27, 2015 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 8/27

scripture reading: I Samuel 4:1–11


But our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases. (Psalm 115:3. NASB)

When I was a child, I loved my Jack-in-the-Box. I remember turning the handle again and again and again, listening to the music of Pop Goes the Weasel. It didn’t take long for my little brain to figure out exactly when Jack would pop out of his box with a bang! At first it was frightening, but only a little. I intuitively knew that it was all very safe, controlled, and predictable. I actually enjoyed the rush that came when Jack jumped, but the bottom line was always clear to me: I was in charge and Jack performed only when I turned his handle.

As an adult, I now realize that many treat God like I treated my Jack-in-the-Box. These people keep God safely tucked away in a toy chest until they feel the need for him. Then they bring him out and expect him to perform on command . . . their command. They believe if they say the right words and perform the right rituals, then God will jump into action and do what they expect him to do. Similar to Aladdin and his magic lamp, they believe that rubbing the lamp in the right way is the secret to getting God to perform. Abracadabra. Poof! Turn the crank and see him jump. Of course, once God has done what he has been asked to do, these people expect him to return to his little box so they can go back to their normal lives. They will call him again when needed.

The Old Testament tells a sad story about an occasion when God’s people treated him in a similar fashion. Because his glorious Presence resided in the Ark of Covenant, the people imagined he could be manipulated and controlled like a God- in-the-Box. Thus when their armies were defeated in battle by the Philistines, the Jews thought that if they could bring out the box they could make God perform according to their wishes.

Why did the Lord bring defeat upon us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Shiloh, so that it may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies. (I Samuel 4:3)

These people had to learn the hard way, however, that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is not a God-in-the-Box. He is no genie in a magic lamp. Regardless of how furiously they turned the crank or how hard they rubbed the lamp, this God could not be manipulated! Their rituals and liturgies were impotent to make this God to perform on command. The result was tragic. Though the Ark of the Covenant was with them in battle, Israel was soundly defeated and to heighten their humiliation, their God-in-the-Box was captured
(I Samuel 4:10–11)!

Today, if God doesn’t seem to be “working” for you the way you think he should be working, don’t rub harder or turn the crank more furiously. No. God’s great purpose in life is not for you to control him but for him to control you! Exchange your God-in-the-Box for the true and living Lord. Rather than looking for magic ways to get him to do what you want, why not bow in surrender and ask him what he wants of you!

Take my will and make it Thine, It shall be no longer mine. Take my heart, it is Thine own, It shall be Thy royal throne.(Frances Ridley Havergal)

It’s been said that “Dogs have masters—cats have staff.” Cats may call you Master, but tend to live a self-centered life—where you are there to serve and take care of them. On the other hand, dogs are eager to see and please their master.
—Gerald Robison

point to ponder • The point in worship is not for me to get God to do what I want, but for God to get me to do what he wants.

prayer focus • Find a place with no distractions so you can listen to God speak.


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