“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”
–Psalm 23:5 (NLT)
If you ever watched the TV show “Home Improvement” back in the 90’s, you know about Tim “the Tool Man” Taylor’s program, Tool Time. You might remember an episode in which Tim had a table glued to his head, or the one in which he fell off the roof while putting up Christmas lights. His assistant, Al, was always trying to prevent similar mishaps, but Tim always shot him down.
While Tim usually had the right tools, he didn’t know (or want to know) how to use them correctly. He also ignored his assistant–the voice of reason.
We Christians are often a lot like Tim Taylor in a couple of ways. First, we have all the tools we need–God’s Word and prayer–at our disposal, but instead of learning to use them correctly and sit at His table, we often go around with the table on our heads, figuratively speaking. In other words, we don’t learn to use the tools we have properly, because we think we can live just fine in our own strength.
Secondly, like Tim’s attitude towards Al on his home-repair program, we often fail to listen to God when we do open our Bibles. I encourage you to make a few changes while learning some things that will help you dig the ditches we talked about last week.
Remember to ask God for wisdom as you read his Word. Your reading may seem dry and boring at first, but over time God will fill the empty ditches you’ve dug with the water of His Holy Spirit.
Keep in mind that the Bible isn’t like any other book. Instead of a dry list of instructions, this book is God’s living Word. That simply means that as we listen to what He is saying in the scriptures, His Spirit will quicken the things we need for that day to our hearts. In order to learn what God has to tell you, find a quiet place where you can think about what you are reading, and have a conversation with God about the words and ideas that are meaningful to you.
Another thing that has made God’s Word come alive for me is learning how to personalize it. You can do this very simply by taking a verse that stands out to you, and putting your name into it. Really think about how this verse applies to your life, and what God might be saying to you.
As you do the things I have mentioned, try to look at God’s Word through new glasses, letting it shape and mold you. As the scriptures become more of a filter in your life, cultivate the habit of looking through the window of praise and expectancy.
If everything seems to be going wrong and you don’t think you can do this, you might want to take a look at Paul and Silas’s Bible story. They had been beaten and put into prison wrongly, so if anybody could have had a pity party, it was definitely them. When they began to praise God at midnight, however, the doors of the prison flew open.
The Bible says that God is enthroned upon the praises of His people, and His mercies are new every morning. It also says that with God all things are possible, and effective prayer has praise as its lubricant. Many times we grope through the darkness, bumping into the walls of life, when we don’t have to remain in the dark. If we would only look up, we’d learn that the light of the world is walking beside us.
If you still don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere, or you just want to improve your prayer life, pray with scripture. Take the verse you found especially meaningful, and state God’s promises back to Him. This isn’t because He has Alzheimer’s and forgot about them, of course. He just wants us to be on the same page with Him. He wants us to be persistent, digging the ditches of prayer and Bible study, whenever the enemy of our souls tells us that things look hopeless. Therefore, the ideas of praise and persistence are tied together.
All of us tend to give up too easily, instead of going forward. However, scripture challenges us to keep moving forward, knowing that God is in control. Jesus taught that the kind of prayers God answers are those that are intense and relentless in their abandonment. So Open your heart to God today, as you replace emptiness with spiritual blessings!
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Tuesday night Bible study. These studies are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 6:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 313-209-8800. Our PIN is 8699032. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.