Changing the Unchanging

1 John 5:14-15

Pray in God’s will.

Just between you and me, when I read the scripture for today, there’s a part of me that thinks that God sounds like a bit of a con man. It’s sort of like when you walk onto a car lot that brags that they let you “Name your own price.” That’s right, you can name any price you like, but only if it is a price that they like will it do you any good.

God will give you anything you ask as long as you ask Him for what He wants to give you. Isn’t He trying to have it both ways?

That’s a natural human way of looking at things. God will, I hope, forgive us for letting our minds drift in this direction, but it is not at all the whole story.

Prayer will not–in fact it cannot–change God. If God needed changing, that would be a problem, but God doesn’t need to change. Sometimes we’d like to bring Him around to our way of thinking, but in reality we don’t want that. If I could change God through my prayers, then He wouldn’t be much of a God.

Prayer will, however, change the world within the parameters of God’s will. And perhaps more importantly, prayer will change us. Genuine prayer–prayer in God’s will–brings us more firmly into that will. Regardless of other outcomes, being in God’s will is its own reward.

  • Do you have tendencies to pray for things that are clearly not in God’s will? What are they?
  • Have you experienced a correction to your prayers, making them conform with the will of God?
  • Ask God, as in Romans 12:2, to transform your mind to know His will perfectly.

The Cars on a Thousand Hills

Matthew 7:8-11

Ask of God as of a loving father.

Please don’t share this with my son, but I have been forming a plan for him. You see, Thomas is getting married in October. I’m very pleased. He’s pleased. She’s pleased. It’s all good.

Weddings, as you’re probably aware, can be really expensive; however, as the parents of the groom, we’re not finding it too burdensome, which is good because of a desire I have.

Thomas is driving a cast-off minivan with all manner of problems. One of those problems is that left sliding door is held closed by a strap. My desire is to sell the old clunker (which is still in my name) and buy the new couple a better car. Would I buy them a brand new, fancy-schmanzy car? No, but I’d love to put them behind the wheel of a more reliable, newer vehicle.

The problem is that I’m not sure my bank account can make this happen. The van won’t bring a huge sum, and our savings account has other demands on it. Still, I’d really love to make this happen.

My intentions are not as pure as God’s. There’s a part of me that looks at that money selfishly. My abilities are nowhere near as great as God’s. He can provide anything He wants.

If this sinful, limited father can have such positive intentions toward his son, what generous intentions will our sinless, unlimited Father have toward us. We just need to ask.

  • What results have you experienced when you ask God for worthwhile things?
  • Are there important matters in your life in which you don’t ask for God’s assistance?
  • Think of something important that you should ask of God. Then ask of it all this week. See where that goes.

Relative Stranger

John 15:7

Abide in God’s presence and His Word.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the scammers who call senior citizens. Apparently, the conversation goes something like this:


“Lester? Is that you?”

“Yes. I’m in trouble in Nairobi. I need $1,000 to get out of jail.”

“Oh dear! Did you call your father?”

“I can’t get him on the phone and I need it within the hour. Could you wire it to me?”

You can guess how the rest of this goes. Obviously this sort of ruse isn’t always going to work. Maybe Grandma doesn’t have any male grandchildren. Maybe she knows that Lester is actually in his apartment across town. The whole scam depends on grandparents not being well enough aware of their grandchildren’s lives to spot the deception.

Of course, for the con-man, it’s a numbers game. You make perhaps 100 calls a day, reaching maybe ten realistic targets. Of those, you get one who doesn’t see through the game and you’re suddenly $1000 richer.

I have four grandchildren. None of them is old enough to be traveling to Kenya independently (although a couple of them could conceivably run afoul of the law). Regardless, I would like to think that I know them all well enough that I’d recognize a voice not belonging to any of them. Hopefully I’ll always maintain that sort of relationship.

God will not be fooled when we come to Him asking for favors and trying to convince Him that we’re His best buds when in fact we’re rarely in contact. If we want results from God, we need to maintain our relationship carefully.

  • How much time to do you spend abiding with God through prayer and meditation? Is it a sufficient amount?
  • How regularly and meaningfully are you invested in the Word?
  • Pray that God will draw you closer to Him over the coming days.

Keep Calm and Grandparent On!

Matthew 6:10

Place God’s will first.

Help! I have been abandoned by my wife and invaded by grandchildren. Bo, my poodle, has wisely retreated to the safety of his kennel, leaving me to face the onslaught of these kids by myself. So far I have endured the ordeal. Fifteen minutes down and about eight hours remain to go.

Let’s be clear. I love my kids and grandkids. I enjoy their company–at least in the right situations. But having several of them, of different interests, genders, and ages, simply sharing the house with me for a day is not something that I do easily or naturally. Let me take them on a hike or to the museum or camping or something, but don’t make me just hang out in the land of TV’s, tablets, and computers.

It’s not my desire to spend my day overseeing these kids, but then I have to remember that my desires are not the ruling force here. Is it my desire that these four stay cooped up in their mom’s apartment unsupervised all day? It sure isn’t God’s will.

Do I trust God? Do you? We hopefully say that we do, but do we really trust Him? If I trust God, then I’ll trust that putting His will before mine will work out for the best and my actions will prove that trust. Today that act of putting His will first involves keeping a good attitude during the occupation.

  • In what situations do you find it hardest to put God’s will ahead of your own?
  • Do you ever struggle to distinguish God’s will from your own will? How do you manage?
  • Pray, just like Jesus instructed, that God’s will be done in and through your life.


Budge the Grudge

Matthew 6:12

Square your accounts with God and man.

Why does Jesus seem so intent on getting us to forgive each other? I thought the most important thing for Christians to do was to pray and listen to K-Love. Instead, rather than dwelling on the really important stuff, like my sins being forgiven, Jesus is muddying the waters here by telling me that I have to forgive others.

Forgive us our debts–yay!–as we forgive our debtors. Why did He have to throw that in? Then, should we decide that that whole “as we forgive” was just a meaningless addition, He tags on with verses 14 and 15, making it abundantly clear that forgiveness is not optional.

I’m typically not a grudgy sort of person, but I do have a couple of people who have–in my humble opinion–wronged me in the past.  Two of these were definitely Christians, people who should have known better than to deal with me so poorly. Why did they do it? I’m not sure.

What I am fairly sure of, several years down the road from both of these conflicts, is that I’m not really a blip on these people’s radar. Do they remember this event? Probably not. So why do I? Is it doing me any good? Does it advance God’s kingdom or make me happier? No and no.

Forgiveness is hard, but it is essential. It’s essential to be forgiven by God and it’s essential that we forgive others.

  • Who do you find it difficult to forgive from your past? Are you justified in feeling badly used by that person?
  • Does God give any indication of caring about the righteousness of your grudge?
  • Pray that God will expose the grudges that you hold and help you deal in forgiveness going forward.