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God is in the Small Stuff
And It All Matters
By Bruce Bickel, Stan Jantz
Barbour Publishing, Inc.Copyright © 1998 Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz
All rights reserved.
Understand the Nature of God
Who is God? Is He a mystery to you? Do you want to know Him better? Maybe you wonder if God even exists. That's okay. People have wondered about God for as long as ... well, for as long as there have been people. They wonder if He's really out there. They wonder if He made the world and everything in it. And if He did, they wonder if God still cares about what's going on.
Perhaps you've gotten past all of those questions. You definitely believe in God, but you don't know Him. You don't understand His nature—in other words, His personality. You aren't alone. For many people—even those who claim to be religious—the nature of God is a mystery. It's like God is behind some dark cloud, occasionally speaking in a deep voice to prophets and such (you know, like He spoke to Charleton Heston in The Ten Commandments). Other people think God wants to prevent them from having a good time. If they get close to God, they're afraid they'll have to give up their freedom.
While it's true there are things about God we'll never know (after all, He is God), there are many things we can know. For example, when we look at our universe—whether it's through a microscope, a telescope, or the naked eye—we observe incredible design and order and beauty. That means the Designer (that would be God) must be a being of design and order and beauty. And He must be pretty powerful.
When we look at ourselves and see that we all have some idea about God (even when you deny God exists, you have to think about Him), that means the Creator (God again) put that idea in us. Yet God is more than an idea. He is more than a symbol for good or an impersonal "higher being." God is a very real spirit Being who has always existed in the past, who exists now, and will always exist in the future. God is personal. God is involved in our world. And God has revealed His nature to us. All we have to do is stop, look, and listen.
... In the Small Stuff
God knows what's in our hearts. We might as well get right to the point.
Remember that God values you for who you are, not what you do.
True faith involves doing all you can and letting God take care of the rest.
God will never send a thirsty soul to a dry well.
God speaks. Do you listen?
God commands. Do you obey?
God leads. Do you follow?
God is more likely to speak to you with a gentle whisper than with a loud voice.
God won't take away a sin until you give it over to Him.
The times when you need God the most are when you don't think you need Him.
Faith is not an emotion. It is objective trust placed in a very real God.
The way you think about God does not define Him.
One quality of God's nature that should make us tremble is His justice.
One quality of God's nature that should give us comfort is His love.
Don't worry about proving God's existence, because no one can disprove it.
You can't network, strong-arm, or sweet-talk your way into heaven. Your faith is all that counts.
Religion is man's attempt to find God. The Gospel is God's plan to reach man. Don't let religion stand in the way of your salvation.
Thank God that your salvation does not depend on you.
Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord ... All the while, you will learn to know God better and better.
Colossians 1:10 NLTCHAPTER 2
Get to Know God Better
Does God seem distant? Is He detached from you? Maybe that's because you are waiting for God to come to you. If so, then you've got things backwards.
God has given us His Word, His Son, and His Spirit. That is more than we will ever need in order to understand God (and certainly more than we can absorb in a lifetime). But the next step belongs to each of us. It's up to us to read God's Word, to believe in His Son, and to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
You see, God is a perfect gentleman. He never forces Himself on anyone. He anxiously desires a deep and meaningful personal relationship with you, but He won't force the issue. It must be voluntary on your part. So, if you want to get to know God better, you must approach Him. When Jesus taught about this principle, He presented the relationship as an invitation:
Look! Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me calling and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal as friends.
Revelation 3:20 NLT
God makes Himself available, but you must respond to His invitation. Take Him at His Word. Go to Him. Open the door of your heart to Him.
You don't have to move to a monastery to know God better. You don't have to learn ancient Hebrew or memorize the names of the twelve disciples in alphabetical order. All it takes is your time and attention—reading His Word and talking to Him. Start with a few minutes each day, and grow from there. You don't have to call to schedule an appointment. He has already extended the invitation, and He's waiting for you to respond.
... In the Small Stuff
There is a direct relationship between the desire to know God and the struggle that follows.
Never be ashamed of your faith.
Feeling good about God does not bring you closer to Him.
God's anger lasts only for a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime.
You are responsible for the depth of your spiritual understanding. God is responsible for the breadth of your ministry.
Seek to know God and faith will follow.
To love God is to obey God.
Rather than worry about what you don't know about God, concentrate on what you know.
Love God, not godliness.
Discover what pleases God, and then make them habits.
Exposing yourself to God's truth is risky, but it's a risk worth taking.
The highest learning is to know God and, from that knowledge, to love Him.
Knowing God takes tremendous effort, but the reward is great.
Get a concordance and look up the names of God.
Get a concordance and study the names of Jesus.
You begin to seek God for who He is when you stop seeking Him for what He can do for you.
Ask the Lord to teach you His ways.
Have a passion for God and compassion for people.
This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us ...
1 John 4:10 NLTCHAPTER 3
Realize That God Loves You
Love is a powerful emotion, perhaps the strongest of human emotions. People will go to great lengths to express love, and they will do almost anything to get love. So if love is in such demand, why does it seem in such short supply? To paraphrase the song, "Why is love the only thing that there's just too little of?"
The problem with human love is that it's usually self-centered. Much of the so-called love we feel could be summarized by the phrase, "What's in it for me?" We may think we love someone, but in reality we may simply love what he or she does for us.
The great writer C. S. Lewis identified four different kinds of love, all but one of which are basically self-centered. First, there's affection, which is the kind of love we can have for something other than people, such as a dog or a home or a car. Then there's friendship, a valuable love in the sense that it's the basis of most human relationships. And there's erotic love, which is beautiful between a husband and wife but a mess outside of married love. All of these are wonderful and necessary loves, but each of them depends on the object of our affection for complete fulfillment.
The only love that is completely other-centered is called agape love. This is love of the highest order. It's what Lewis called "Divine Gift-Love." When we love with agape love we desire the best for the people we love. We are even able to love those who are unlovable.
We are capable of agape love only to the extent that we give the details of our lives over to God and allow Him to work in us. But even before that can happen, we must realize that God loves us, and that He can only love us with this kind of love. God's love is never self-centered, and God's love is always sacrificial. While we were enemies of God, He loved us. When we ran from God, He loved us. And He loved us so much that He sacrificed the Son He loved most so that we could experience eternal life.
Love is the essence of God. Love is what motivates Him to do what He does for us—down to the last detail—even when we don't love Him in return. Knowing that should give tremendous meaning to our lives.
... In the Small Stuff
Whenever you feel insignificant, remember how important you are to God.
We love God because we know who He is. God loves us despite who we are.
Love yourself as the unique individual God created you to be—nothing more, nothing less.
Unconditional love comes only from our Heavenly Father.
God does not help us because we deserve it; He helps us because He loves us.
Find your self-worth in God's unconditional love for you, not your accomplishments.
The love of God has no limits.
The reason we can love God is because He loved us first.
God's unconditional love for us should motivate us to love others unconditionally.
Never confuse love with lust.
Love isn't an option. We are commanded by God to love others.
Loving God is the greatest thing you can do.
If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.
Matthew 21:22 NLTCHAPTER 4
You Can Know God's Will
God's will is a paradox. It's both easy to find and difficult to discern. God's will can be immediate, or it may take years to figure out. God's will can frustrate you or give you tremendous peace.
One thing is for sure. You can know God's will. Although it may seem mysterious, there's really no mystery to it. If you know where to look, God's will is there. And if you listen carefully, God will speak to you in amazing ways.
First of all, God speaks through His Word, the Bible. Everything we need for living a life that pleases God—and what could be more in His will than that—is in the Bible. As you get to know God's Word, you will get to know God's will.
Second, God speaks through your own judgment and common sense. But beware. Your decisions will line up with God's will only if you know God personally in the first place, and then only if your relationship with God is right. When you're in this condition, you will operate with "the mind of Christ." The Holy Spirit will guide you from the inside.
Finally, and most commonly, God speaks through the details of your life. Oswald Chambers put it this way: "God speaks in the language you know best—not through your ears but through your circumstances."
You think your life is an accident? Not a chance. You're here for a reason. And what you do matters to God. Everything. Not just the stuff you do in church or Bible study (although that is very important), but in the everyday small stuff. That's where you'll find God's will most often.
Take a look at your life. Think about the moments and events—the details—and see how far you've come. Those "good things" weren't coincidences. You weren't just "lucky." If your heart has followed after God, then God has been leading you, and you have been doing His will, perhaps without even knowing it.
On the other hand, if you feel like life is dealing you one bad hand after another, and you feel sorry for yourself—and you're mad at God—maybe it's time to get back to basics. Take the focus off yourself and get to know God better by reading His Word, praying, and associating with people who are in God's will. God wants to direct you through the details of your life. Give Him a chance.
... In the Small Stuff
God's plans are always perfect. That said, seek His will.
Don't make plans and then ask for the Lord's approval. Ask God to direct your planning.
If you're going to wait for someone, wait for the Lord.
God may be using people who disagree with you.
The call of God is sometimes difficult to hear.
Once discerned, the call of God is difficult to avoid.
Remember that God's will is not so much a function of time and place as it is an attitude of the heart.
If you want to know God's will, spend time with Him.
No one can please God without adding a great deal of happiness to his or her own life.
Circumstances may be outside your control, but the way you respond to them is not.
When you feel like settling for less than the best, think about what God wants for you.
You will begin to live when you lose yourself in God's purpose for you.
When God speaks, listen.
When God commands, obey.
When God leads, follow.
Dear brothers and sisters ... we are thankful that your faith is flourishing and you are all growing in love for each other.
2 Thessalonians 1:3 NLTCHAPTER 5
God Wants You to Grow
When it comes to progress, there are no shortcuts. If you want to improve in any area of your life, you have to pay attention to the small stuff. You have to take one step at a time.
Say you want to get into shape physically or lose some weight (or both). Contrary to the promises made by miracle programs, machines, and drugs, there is no such thing as instant success. You have to pay attention to the details by eating and exercising correctly every day in order to realize long-term results. The same principle applies to improving your mind. There's no quick way to get a college degree. And even if a diploma isn't your goal, the only way to accumulate useful knowledge is through disciplined, consistent study. You can't even train a dog overnight! It takes repetition, consistency, reinforcement, and practice. Otherwise Fido will look at you as if to say, "You've got to be kidding!"
Well, we're not kidding. It's a fact of life. To grow in any area, you've got to do the little things over and over again. The principle of growth through detail is especially true in your spiritual life, yet people think that by praying once in a while (when they get in trouble), by going to church twice a year (on Christmas and Easter, of course), and by cracking open a Bible once in a blue moon, God will smile on them and give them blessing upon blessing.
Make no mistake about it. God won't love you any more just because you do certain things. His love for you is always the highest love. But you will experience certain spiritual benefits if you pay attention to spiritual details. Like reading the Bible consistently. Or talking to God on a regular basis. Or helping others in need when the need is clear. We're not talking about spiritual legalism. Paying attention to the details of your spiritual life is all about discipline.
God wants you to grow spiritually because when you do, your life becomes more meaningful and more satisfying. Just like you feel when you make the consistent effort to improve physically, you will feel great about yourself when you make the effort to improve spiritually. And even better than that, the people around you will experience the benefits of your growth.
... In the Small Stuff
Recognize that you can't get holy in a hurry.
Little is much if God is in it.
A spiritually mature individual places more importance on God's internal presence than on the world's external signs.
The person who looks up to God rarely looks down on anyone.
It's better to run behind God than in front of Him.
Rejoice in the Lord's discipline as well as His blessings.
Live the Christian life as if the Lord were guiding your steps.
Be cautious in telling others what you can do, but be bold in asserting what God can do.
The person dependent on Christ has the amazing ability to maintain a steady ship on a stormy sea.
Realize your inadequacy without God and your sufficiency with God.
Faith does not demand miracles, but often accomplishes them.
Make God's provision the foundation of your performance.
You will never be humble before God if you think He needs you.
It's a good thing to delight in the Lord, but how much better when the Lord delights in you.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
Isaiah 40:28 NIV
Excerpted from God is in the Small Stuff by Bruce Bickel, Stan Jantz. Copyright © 1998 Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
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