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CONVERSATIONS
WITH GOD

Hearts That Can Hear: Commitment                                                                    

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Archived Conversations with God

Our hearts often have a difficult time hearing the call to commitment as something positive or rewarding, instead seeing these calls as dangerous, expensive, and ill-advised.  When God calls for us to commit ourselves to him, is he looking to take advantage of us? Obviously not, since that would put God in the position of needing something from us, which would make us his superior. Instead, when God calls us to commit to him, he is wanting us to give everything of ourselves for the purpose of transformation and glory.  The more we give, the more we get.  The minute we do this out of selfishness, however, it all falls apart since we haven’t really given ourselves. So, how do we overcome our natural tendency to fear the commitment to God? Let’s spend some time this week thinking about that.

Day 1

Accept Fear

 

God has given us the fear mechanism for a reason, so we should pay attention to the things we are afraid of, for much can be gained through listening to our fears. When we were kids, many of us feared animals of various kinds, and that fear existed for a reason.  When I was young, I had a fear of German Shepherds, and this was not an irrational fear, because German Shepherds are big and dangerous.  Children should avoid approaching dogs they are unfamiliar with, because they lack the means to defend themselves from aggressive animals, and it is often difficult to tell, especially for a child, which dogs are aggressive.  It is interesting to me that very young children and babies are often afraid of masks when they have had no previous exposure to them, as if there are inherent qualities in them that instill instinctual fear, and so they do. This exposure to fear should not, as we are sometimes told, be dispensed with on principle, as if all and every fear we have is unreasonable. We should seek to understand why God has given us the fear we have, and we should also seek to understand when it is helpful and when it has become detrimental to our blessing. Someone who commits too soon or too often is not healthy, in fact, they often have trouble valuing themselves and what they offer accurately, and so find themselves in unhealthy commitments often. What is God expecting from you, and what is he asking you to give? Are these things commensurate? If God expects everything from you, what do you get in return? Is everything from God a fair price to pay for everything from you? Could you find a better deal elsewhere? Is there another commitment that would bring the same return for your investment? Would failing to invest and keeping yourself to yourself bring you a better return? If not, perhaps committing yourself to God may be the most rational decision you make.

Verses: Psalm 23:1-6, Psalm 34:4, Psalm 56:3-4

Prayer Topics: Danger, Awareness, Wisdom

Day 2

Go Exploring

 

If you can make the rational case for committing yourself to God, yet you are still hesitant or afraid to do so, it might be time to go exploring. Why are you still afraid or reluctant to commit yourself to God? Have you been hurt by unequal commitments in your past? Has this been a pattern for you? Do you often find yourself giving too much of yourself too soon, or not receiving at the level you have given? Many people come to fear commitment because they have been robbed in the past, and have difficulty getting over the feeling that they will always be robbed. What has God promised to give in exchange for giving yourself to him? Does God expect everything from you? When the bible speaks of taking up your cross daily and dying to self, is it being serious? How can God expect you to give so much? Does God withhold himself from you? Has he already given you something? What was the value of what he gave to you? How sure are you that this happened? What are the promises of what God will give you in the future? How certain are you that this is true? If God has everything, why does he need you to give yourself to him? Why does God not make it easier or make his demands less demanding? Why can’t God just appear to you and make it easy for you? What is the worst thing that could happen if you give yourself to God? What is the best thing? Which outcome is more likely? How sure are you about God’s power to give you blessing in return for giving your commitment to him? How sure are you about God’s love motivating him to give you blessing? If God has the power and desire to bless you, what could keep that from happening? Are your fears about commitment to God rational? What things could you do this week to start overcoming your fears?

 

Verses: 1 Thessalonians 5:21, 1 John 4:1, James 1:3

Prayer Topics: Curiosity, Truth, Endurance

Day 3

Label It

The changes in the dating scheme of our culture over the last decade or so has necessitated a whole new lexicon in order to talk about it. We have been treated to the wonderful new world of situationships, a term that refers to a relationship that is so ill defined, so devoid of commitment, that no label can adequately convey its ephemeral nature. It is a thing, and is not a thing at the same time.  The very attempt at putting a label on it gives it a substance that it lacks, making those who are in it uncomfortable with the deception and, of course, the implied weight they wish to avoid. When I used to teach teens about dating as a youth pastor, I used to tell them to avoid the jungle, the place where you get lost. My point in teaching them about this was that they should always know what word applied to their relationship, because someone always gets hurt when the relationship was a great unknown. In our relationship with God, it is important to use the right words to label where we stand in relation to him. If you are lost, and do not know God, make sure you are honest about your condition. As humans, we tend to avoid the truth, believing there is salvation in equivocation. When you come to faith in Christ, it is important to say it, to label it, and to talk about it. Scripture tells us that confession of our relationship with Christ is vital, and this has its foundation in the way that the word makes the world, and makes us. If you have ever been in a truly terrifying situation, or even a situation that requires some skill to navigate, you might find yourself telling yourself that you can do it, that you can get yourself out of the problem you are in.  The power of our words is so important, that when I asked a golf pro what the greatest lesson he ever learned in his thousands of hours golfing was, he said it had to be the way you spoke to yourself. You cannot long talk and act in opposition. We must confess that we are committed to Christ, and he is committed to us.

Verses: Matthew 10:32; Romans 10:9-10; Philippians 2:9-11; 1 John 4:2-3, Revelation 3:5

Prayer Topics: Identification, Meaning, Purpose

 

Day 4

Put Weight On It

After making sure to change our language about our level of commitment to Christ, the next thing we need to start doing with our commitment is to put some weight on it. If you have ever seen any shows about car restoration, you will know that if you want to keep a car in good working order, you must drive it.  Many people think that they can put a car away and keep it for later, not understanding that the lack of use will damage a vehicle, as hoses, belts, fluids, and tires tend to rot and seals dry out when they are not used. Just repairing the damage caused by lack of use can exceed the value of a vehicle. In the same way, when we make a commitment but fail to act on it, it will not be long before the commitment fades. Many people come to Christ and have great emotions about their salvation, but they then go on living their lives as if nothing has happened, and they find that they eventually lose their faith all together.  Faith is more than belief; it is something more like confidence and commitment.  If you built and airplane and had faith that it would fly, but then made every excuse not to take it into the air day after day, it wouldn’t be long before the thought of taking it up would not even occur to you, because you would have come to think of it more like a piece of furniture or an industrial sculpture than a flying machine. What is your commitment to Christ calling you to do? Do it, or at least make a beginning of it. Take the first step. If you think God is calling you to become a missionary, then start applying to mission’s originations, finding out what their requirements are. Start witnessing to the foreign-born populations that live around you. If you think you need to change the dynamics in your family, start reading books that could help you, talking to pastors or therapists that are believers, and coming up with plans to take the initiative to heal the broken and dysfunctional relationships. So many people end up doing nothing with their lives other than dreaming. Don’t be one of them.

Verses: James 2:14-26, James 1:22, 1 Peter 1:13

Prayer Topics: Trust, Hope, Change

 

Day 5

Plan A Future

 

Before I met my wife Angela, I had a future planned. I was going to go to the most remote mission field I could find and spend my life there. When I met her, my plans changed a little, now including another person and the modifications that were necessary to include her in my future. When Tyler was born, it was not long before we found out he had severe enough asthma that going to the middle of nowhere was not advisable, and we modified our plans once again, still wanting to serve God in ministry, but now planning to do it in the United States, because we took our commitment to providing for Tyler’s health seriously. When you make a commitment, it is no longer “I”, but “we”. As the “we” grew, the plans changed, though not completely.  The plans were modified to account for the new commitments, and if that did not happen, the outside observer might be led to believe the commitments were not made in earnest. Now that you are a Christian, what has changed about your plans? If nothing has changed, perhaps your commitment needs to be strengthened. When Christ transforms us, when we are committed to our relationship with him, there is no part of our lives that are untouched. The failure to imagine a new future that takes into account our new commitment is often what precedes a commitment that is weakly fulfilled. Spend some time today thinking about your future, one that includes a “we” with Christ.

Verses: Proverbs 16:3, Proverbs 4:7-13, Luke 14:28-32

Prayer Topics: New Direction, New Life, New Responsibilities 

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