Have you ever seen the movie Aladdin? Here’s a short clip where Genie reveals to Aladdin that Aladdin is Genie’s master, and Genie’s job is to grant Aladdin any three wishes he wants.
Can you imagine?! Having a genie that would grant you any three wishes? How amazing would that be? I’ll take . . .
God’s Not Your Personal Genie
Well, I’m sorry to break it to you, but unlike Aladdin, you’re not “the king, the boss, the shah.”
God doesn’t exist to grant your wishes . . . you exist to carry out His.
And God is not your maître d’ or your personal genie.
Actually, it’s quite the other way around.
God is “the king, the boss, the shah.”
And you’re His servant.
In Revelation 19:16, we’re told that Jesus is “King of kings and Lord of lords.” It doesn’t get any higher than that. Jesus is the greatest. The highest. The bestest. (Sorry, I know that’s not a word, but I just had to.) As the King of kings, He deserves our respect, our obedience, our honor, and our celebration.
Fact is, God doesn’t exist to grant your wishes . . . you exist to carry out His.
History = His story
Even your life story is His story of rescue and redemption.
Your life is not about you but about God.
We exist for God; He doesn’t exist for us. It even says so in 1 Corinthians 8:6:
Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
We forget this, though, all the time. And instead of remembering that He created us, that He’s our Master and we’re His servants, we shake our fists at God when He doesn’t fulfill our plans like Genie would.
Do you relate, or is it just me? Have you ever wished God was a little more like Genie?
Now that you know the truth, though, will you begin to live for and serve this wise and loving King? Or will you continue to insist on living like you’re “the king, the boss, the shah”?
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen (Rom. 11:33–36, emphasis added).
This blog post won’t paint me in a good light. But that’s okay, because it’s true. And the truth is always good, right?
My Superior Response
Recently I got an email from a young girl asking for my advice. I chuckled inwardly when I read it because it seemed so . . . juvenile. Oh to have problems like that again! I refrained from laughingly sharing her email with someone else (thank goodness!), but that didn’t change my feelings of superiority inside.
God Exposes My Superiority Complex
Oh, I never would have called it superiority. But this morning the Holy Spirit called me out on it as I read Hebrews 4:14–16:
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Our Sympathetic God
These verses encourage us to run toward God’s throne of grace with confidence. Why? Because He’s a God who sympathizes with our weaknesses!
He sympathizes because He’s been there, too. He willingly laid His position aside (as the King of Kings so high, high above us) and became one of us. Actually, He became a servant to us. He spent time with us, listened to us, taught us, washed our dirty feet (and our dirty hearts!), and healed us.
‘Cause He’s Been There
And while He was with us, hell threw every temptation it had to offer directly His way. Hebrews 4:15 tells us Jesus was “tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
What does that have to do with me and my big, fat superiority?
God’s Shocking Sympathy
Jesus, too, was tempted just like that young girl was. Like I was. But He didn’t sin in that temptation.
In the past, I’ve been tempted just like that young girl. But I sinned in that temptation. Sympathy should come easy for me, then, right?
Jesus, too, was tempted just like that young girl was. Like I was. But He didn’t sin in that temptation. If the same were true for me, I’d really, really feel superior! Not Him, though. He still sympathizes with our weaknesses, in spite of His perfect record of success.
Turning From Superiority to Sympathy
How quickly I forget that I’m a recipient of His grace. I’ve made it out of that pit—not on my own—but only ’cause Jesus entered my pit for me so I might stand on His shoulders and climb out.
Shame on me for thinking myself superior to any person because His grace has carried me past a particular struggle. Oh for His sympathy in place of my superiority!
Would you pray for me in this? As you can see, I’m a girl who’s still in process, just like you. Good thing for me, Jesus sympathizes with my superiority in spite of His perfect humility.
How about you? Maybe you don’t have girls emailing you for advice about a past struggle. But have you secretly thought you were better than others because you weren’t tempted by what tempted them?
Do you ever chalk up other girls’ problems as just silly drama compared to the challenges you face? Where do you see superiority popping up in your life? And how might Jesus’ sympathy for you change the way you view others’ struggles?
Here’s the thing, though. That brother or sister of yours is handcrafted by God and, believe it or not, will one day probably be one of your best friends!
In fact, did you know that the Bible says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Prov. 17:17)? Part of the reason God gave you siblings is so that you would have someone to walk through the peaks and valleys of life with!
High school and college friends will move far away, but you’ll keep seeing your family on birthdays and holidays. Why not begin to not just survive in the same house without killing them, but actually . . . befriend them? (By the way, this applies to your parents as well as your siblings!)
2) At church. So they’re different from you, those people you sit next to Sunday after Sunday. Fact is, you’ll be spending a lot more than holidays and birthdays with them—you’ll be living with them . . . forever! In Christ they’re family now—a tighter bond even than your own flesh-and-blood relatives.
Forever is a long time. Why not learn how to get along with them now? I wish I’d understood years ago that friends don’t have to be your age. Read “An Unlikely Friendship” to hear about a dear friend of mine who is thirty (yes, thirty!) years older than me.
PS: Did you know you should seek out friends who are older than you to learn from (Titus 2:3–5)? Also, don’t forget that you’re an “older woman” to someone. Do you have any younger friends who can learn from your example?
3) In the Book. Proverbs 7:4 tells us to “Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister,’ and call insight your intimate friend.” The Word of Truth (another name for the Bible) is chock full of wisdom. Consider it your dear friend, and it will lead you well. Are you spending time with and listening to this friend?
4) In God. Did you know that God has friends?! He called Abraham His friend (2 Chron. 20:7; Isa. 41:8), and He talked with Moses face to face, the way good friends talk (Ex. 33:11). Abraham and Moses weren’t His only friends. You can be His friend, too!
Believe in the One who sacrificed more at the cross for you than any friend ever will, and you will find Him to be the best friend you’ll ever know.
Psalm 25:14 says, “The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.” Jesus says, “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14). And what does He command?
The secret is found in James 2:23: “‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’—and he was called a friend of God.” Believe in the One who sacrificed more at the cross for you than any friend ever will, and you will find Him to be the best friend you’ll ever know. He will never leave you, never let you down, never stop loving you.
I’d love to hear from you. Which of these four friends are friends of yours?
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm (Prov. 13:20).
I’ll never forget the fifth grade talent show. Samantha Gilman offered to turn the pages while I played a difficult classical piano piece. But I was ashamed to sit next to her. She was a Christian; she was a friend. But she wasn’t cool, and she didn’t fit in at school.
Truth was, I wasn’t all that cool, so I didn’t want to be associated with her. I wanted to become more cool, not less! So I told Samantha no, I’d be just fine.
And fine I was—for a few measures. But then, just as I was turning the page, my book crashed down on the keys, interrupting my performance with a jarring bang. So much for my cool factor.
The notes swam as I finished the rest of the piece through my tears. Why oh why hadn’t I gratefully accepted Samantha’s help? Oh yeah . . . I was concerned about how she would make me look.
Instead of girls like Samantha, I wanted the “cool” kids as friends. Only problem was, the “cool” kids were also what the Bible calls . . . “fools.” They didn’t fear God, and they weren’t looking out for my best interests.
One “friend” convinced me to date a non-Christian guy behind my parents’ backs. Another “cool fool” sneaked a pair of short shorts to school for me to wear without my parents knowing about it.
How to Spot a Cool Fool
Here are just a few ways you can spot a “cool fool.”
Whether you realize it or not, your friends are taking you somewhere. They’re either leading you closer to God or further away from Him. So which direction are you headed? What do you look for in your friends?
Take it from me: Don’t think more highly of yourself than you should. Receive help from the “Samanthas” in your life, and steer clear of the cool fools.
Oh, I still read it nearly every day. I even make sure it’s on top of my stack of books, out of reverence for it (or is it just habit now?).
But my hunger and reverence for it has waned. There are a myriad of reasons for that, but here’s a big one.
As you probably know, Christians disagree about how we hear from God today. I have Gospel-believing friends on both sides of the fence—some who claim to be led by God’s Spirit as they listen to Him throughout their day, and other Gospel-believing friends who claim that the Word of God is the only way God speaks to His people today.
As a communicator, I’ve had to learn how to carefully nuance how I talk about hearing from God. That, for a girl who’s naturally more of a feeler than a thinker, and more gray than black and white, has felt stifling and rigid at times.
It has been confusing, too. Which is it? Is it the Spirit who leads us . . . or is it the Word?
This past Sunday, my pastor preached on the Word of God. This stood out,
The further I move from the written Word of God, the less confidence I can have that I’ve heard a word from God.
After his sermon, I went back over my notes and looked up all the Scriptures (one of my favorite Sunday “rhythms”), and I stumbled on 2 Peter 1:21 where we’re told how the Book was written,
No prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Oh, yea! I was reminded that the Word IS the Spirit’s personally-breathed-out words. Oh to treasure and revere it more.
Then this morning, my ears perked up when Nancy Guthrie unpacked Nehemiah 8:1,
All the people [50,000 of them] gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel.
Picture Times Square on New Years Eve, except this crowd was gathered to hear a book read rather than to watch a ball drop. We don’t know for sure, but maybe one piped up, “Bring out the Book!” And another and then another pitched in until the whole crowd cried, “Bring out the Book! Bring out the Book!”
Oh, that God might raise up women in our day who are hungry for the book,” Nancy said.
Yes, Lord. I want to return to the Book. I want to be a woman of the Book. Not a rigid, puffed up woman, but a God-knowing, God-fearing, God-hearing woman.
I still don’t have all the answers, but this I do know. The Spirit still speaks today through His personal, living words in that Book.
“How was your day?” your mom hollers from the laundry room as she separates towels from underwear, sheets from jeans.
“Crummy,” you snap as you pillage the fridge for . . . well, something more than mayonnaise, a bag of carrots, or a carton of eggs. You’ve got to be kidding, you mutter under your breath, turning to the cupboards.
Exhibit B, A Better Day
“How’s it going?” your friend asks, her voice muffled from inside her locker, searching for her chemistry book.
“Great,” you exclaim as you turn to her, a giant smile spreading across your face. “This has been the best day ever!”
Have you ever stopped to think about what makes a good day . . . good? Is it an A on your World History quiz or a Facebook “like” from that guy who’s never far from your mind?
How about a crummy day? Is it waking up ten minutes before the bus comes or spilling orange juice on your favorite shirt?
Well, what if . . .
What if a good day has nothing to do with your circumstances?
What if a good day is waking up alive?
What if a good day is knowing you’re never alone, no matter how lonely you feel?
What if a good day is remembering that the best is yet to come?
Most of the time, our definition of a crummy day isn’t really all that crummy in light of God’s goodness to us.
What if a good day is not based on how much you accomplish, but on how much Jesus accomplished for you on the cross?
What if a good day is knowing that every crummy circumstance that crosses your path is something God promises to work together for your good and His glory?
What if a good day isn’t attention from a guy or affirmation from your boss, but the steady, constant love of your heavenly Father?
What if . . . what if this day isn’t all that crummy after all?
This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it (Ps. 118:24).
(Interesting timing . . . just as I was polishing off this post, I heard of a friend’s son who lost thousands of dollars after unknowingly buying a stolen vehicle. Turns out there are crummy days. Really crummy days. I don’t mean to downplay that. I just think that most of the time, our definition of a crummy day isn’t really all that crummy in light of God’s goodness to us.)
How about you? How do you usually define a “good” or a “crummy” day?
I wish you could meet my sister. In addition to being a downright awesome friend and woman of God, she has a great sense of humor. Growing up, she’d often ask outlandish questions like:
Would you rather only eat green olives dipped in mayonnaise for the rest of your life, or would you rather never bathe or shower again?
Her questions were always so "out there." Both options seemed hilariously . . . horrible!
Today let’s play a more obvious version of "Would you rather." Here are four questions you shouldn’t even have to think twice about:
Would you rather:
Live in Ahwaz, Iran (the city filled with the dirtiest air in the world), or would you rather . . .
Live in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada (boasting some of the cleanest air you’ll find of any city in the world according to the World Health Organization)?
Would you rather:
Fill your Nalgene bottle with water from Lake Karachay in Russia (the world’s most polluted spot thanks to the Soviet Union dumping nuclear waste from their largest nuclear production facilities into the lake from 1951–1953), or would you rather . . .
Last week we asked the question, Why does God want your money? We made the important clarification that it’s not your money but God’s money. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get back to the original question:
Why does God want your (er, His!) money?
Here are just two reasons from Matthew 6:19–21:
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (emphasis added).
When we go, we’ll leave everything behind. Everything except the money and stuff we’ve invested in God’s forever kingdom.
God wants your money because He wants you to have treasures that’ll last. As in, forever.
My sweet neighbor has let me watch two of her births. Elijah came out clutching a flat-screen TV, and Mercy came out with a sparkling pair of twenty-four-carat diamond earrings. (Kidding!) They both came out naked and empty-handed. No surprise, right? Paul says it like this in 1 Timothy 6:7:
We brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world (emphasis added).
Have you ever asked your mom what you brought into this world the day you were born? Probably not, because you already know the answer. Nada. Zippo. Nothing.
But have you ever stopped to think about the fact that when you leave this world (whether it’s through death or through Jesus’ soon return for you), you will bring nothing with you? Nada. Zippo. Nothing.
I like how John Piper says it:
There are no U-Hauls behind hearses.
In Matthew 6:19, Jesus isn’t saying it’s wrong to store up treasures; He just doesn’t want us to be stupid about it. We can’t take our favorite possessions or clothes with us (sorry to disappoint!). When we go, we’ll leave everything behind. Everything except the money and stuff we’ve invested in God’s forever kingdom.
Randy Alcorn says it like this, "You can’t take it with you—but you can send it on ahead." He continues in his fantastic little book The Treasure Principle:
Jesus has a treasure mentality. He wants us to store up treasures! He’s just telling us to stop storing them in the wrong place and start storing them in the right place!
God wants you to have treasures that’ll actually last—as in forever.
God wants your money because above all, He wants your heart.
There’s another reason God wants your (ahem, His!) money.
"Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matt. 6:21).
What if God is really after your heart? And what if the way to your heart is through . . . your wallet?
As I read The Treasure Principle, I learned that 15 percent of everything Jesus says in the Bible relates to money—more than His teachings on heaven and hell combined!
Why does He care so much about money? It’s ’cause He knows that wherever our money goes, our heart goes.
More than your money, He’s after your heart (Matt. 15:7–9). He wants you to share a relationship with Him that’s closer than any other relationship you have on this entire planet. (And yes, when that happens, He’ll also have your money.)
Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t payback. God didn’t sacrifice His life for you so you could pay Him back (as if you could!). Your salvation was a free, lavish gift. Don’t pull out your wallet to pay Him back. Give out of joy and gratefulness for how He gave to you, and watch your love for Him skyrocket as you do. Because where your money goes, there your heart goes.
You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich (2 Cor. 8:9).