Christian Devotionals

"Don’t Put God in a Box"

What does your picture of God look like? Sometimes we have such a small and limited view of God, don’t we? There’s a great song called “Be Magnified.” One verse is right on the money: “I have made You too small in my eyes – O Lord, forgive me. I have believed in a lie, that You were unable to help me.” God, unable to help us? Do you ever feel that way? Oh the faulty preconceptions we have about our Awesome God. We sometimes think we have Him all figured out. “Oh I know what God has done in the past, and He won’t do this … God doesn’t operate that way.” Hogwash! Let me share a great story from1 Kings 20. God loves to surprise people who think they’ve got Him pegged. You see there was this Aramean king named Ben-Hadad and he was mobilizing his numerically superior forces against Israel. Hadad knew a little about Israel’s God, but he made the tragic mistake of thinking that the LORD was only a god of the hills and not a god of the valleys. So he set out to fight Israel in the valley – beyond the range of the LORD’s power.

This is what God – the omnipresent God – had to say about that:

'Because the Arameans think the LORD is a god of the hills and not a god of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know that I am the LORD .'

If you read the whole passage, you’ll learn that a smaller Israelite force fought the Arameans in the valley, and killed and wounded 100,000 of them in a single day. I guess that makes the LORD the God of the valleys as well. Newsflash, He’s LORD of all.

What about you? Are you trying to put God in a box or do you think you have Him pegged? Not a good idea. Ben-Hadad learned the hard way in 1 Kings 20, but I  learned the generous way on August 18, 2004. By the end of that summer, we were out of money. All my ministry work was on a volunteer basis and no money was coming in. I was strongly considering getting a paying job – 30 or 40 hours to hold us over and then do ministry part time (just like the apostle Paul being a tentmaker or so I rationalized). That morning, I prayed a desperate prayer for God’s guidance and provision. “Lord, this ministry and this family is nearly out of money. Do you want me to get another job? If not, I need to know TODAY! I need your provision now!” I had a sum of money in mind that I had calculated for our near-term needs, but I never verbalized it to anyone – I didn’t even tell it to God. But guess what? Within two hours of that desperate prayer, I was holding a check for that exact amount of money in my hand – to the dollar. God was telling me, “Joe, I am the God of the hills and God of the valleys. There is no other. I am Your Source for everything! Trust Me. I am with you in this ministry – I called you to this. I’m not going to let your family starve.” As God would have it, He later steered me to a scripture that I had relied on for years: “I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you. I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (Isaiah 46:4).

Guess what? This great big God of the hills, the valleys and beyond wants you to trust Him as well. Maybe it’s not about quitting your day job to pursue full-time ministry, but we all have ministries: at home, at work, in our communities. God wants you to step out in faith and join Him where He’s at work. Spend some extra time with God today and ask Him for direction and provision. Speaking from personal experience, where He guides, He provides.

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