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A GREATER PURPOSE


“Three times I begged the Lord to take it (His thorn in the flesh) away. Each time He said, ‘My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.’ ” 2 Corinthians 12:8-9….”Broken things in life find their greater purpose in His story of redemption.” Laura Story……”God takes broken pieces and makes them masterpieces.” James Robison
 
In the reading of Pauls words in 2 Corinthians 12, did you catch the fact that not only did Paul ask the Father to remove the terribly painful “thorn” in his life, but that after each request, God said the same thing. “My grace is sufficient for you.” Apparently Paul had a very difficult time accepting and believing this the first two times He spoke it. We do as well. We feel and experience the pain, the need, and it blinds us to the truth of His promise.

Laura Story, a singer and author of the book “When God Doesn’t Fix It,” tells the story of her 10 year walk with the Father through the brain tumor that afflicts her husband. This tumor has not only robbed him of the sight in one eye, it has also caused him many mental and emotional problems as well. Much prayer has gone up for his healing. Yet he is not healed. At least in the manner that most of us understand healing. We expect when we pray that the Lord will answer and fix everything. But as Story writes, what happens when He doesn’t? What happens when the thorn remains? What happens when He either doesn’t remove the problem, or remove us from the problem? What happens then? What are we left with then? If someone tells us that we are left with Him, all that is Him, and nothing else; no change, no healing, no deliverance, can we accept that? Is He really enough?

Story said that “He doesn’t have to ‘fix it’ in order to get us where He wants us to be.” Can we accept that? Are we really willing to walk a road with Him that leads us through places we don’t want to go or see? Are we willing to go to the place in His Life He calls us to be even when He allows all the mountains, giants, and needs to remain? Do we have a trust that goes that deep? Do we even want to?
 
When we think of the blessed life, our flesh is usually it’s definer. We’re comfortable, safe, provided for in all ways. Troubles come, but they don’t touch us because He makes them disappear before they can. This is the usual western/American church view of the blessed life. Story, in a song she entitles “Blessings,” sees this life not through eyes of flesh, but of His Spirit. She asks in song, “What if Your blessings come through raindrops, What if Your healing comes through tears, What if a 1000 sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?…….What if my greatest disappointment or the achings of this life is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy.” 

We are so rooted into this world and its ways that we can be staggered at the thought, the truth, that His ways with us have their end in eternity and not the here and now. Paul had a great desire to have that thorn, whatever it was, gone. He had an immeasurably greater desire to know Him in intimacy. If that meant that the thorn would be the Father’s path to that intimacy, He would go there. Willingly, joyfully, completely. That path will meet all who seek to be His entirely. It is human to cry out to Him for the removal of life’s painful thorns, but it is the truly God centered life that goes on with Him even if it’s not. Trusting, believing, knowing, that there is a greater glory to be had when we do. Who do we really want? God the Fixer, or the God of Glory?

Blessings,
Pastor O

Published by permission

Heart Thoughts -Silent Partner


“But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16
I’ve mentioned before that I keep a prayer journal. I do so not because I am so “super-spiritual” but because I am so prone in my flesh to not be spiritual at all. One of the prayers I have written down is based on the above scripture, and simply reads, “Father, may I at all times pray in the Spirit, speak in the Spirit, hear in the Spirit, and live in the Spirit.” This is the only way we will not live in a manner that consistently sees to it that we carry out the desires of our flesh. Many of those desires will be good ones. The great problem for us lies in the fact that they are not necessarily God’s desires. Watchman Nee asked the question, “How much of our work for Him has been based on a clear command from the Lord, and how much simply on the ground that it was a good thing to do?” There were many good things Paul wished to do. The Holy Spirit closed the door on all of them in order that he would go to where the Father wished him to be; in Macedonia and Greece. He saw a “wide open door for effective service.” He also saw the “many adversaries” that would be against it.I think we seem much more comfortable in the Church in the west with the idea of the Holy Spirit being a “silent partner” in all we do. This would be true even in those fellowships that say they are Holy Spirit centered bodies. Indeed, the consistent observation of those brethren from non-western cultures who fellowship with us is how much we are able to get done without the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. There are a number of books out right now from prominent church leaders saying that the voice of the Spirit ceased at the end of the first century of the Church. That the Lord has said all He needs to in His Word, and He doesn’t need to say anything more. Now scripture is the final authority in all things, especially that which we hear in and from the Spirit, for He will never speak anything contrary to it. This is where spiritual discernment comes in. It’s what Paul meant when he told us to “test the spirits” in order to discern what was and was not from the voice and heart of God. I would also add this to those that hold the view that He no longer speaks to us. In those same congregations, the people are regularly asked to “pray about” how much they should give to building programs, mission efforts, and special projects. Somehow the Lord finds His voice when it comes to money. I’m only partly joking with that.

I heard James Robison say recently in the midst of interviewing one of his guests, that he, “heard the Spirit speaking over their conversation.” What he meant was that in the midst of their talking, He heard the Lord break in and speak into it all. He said that some might find this “spooky,” but that it was his life in Christ reality to hear the Lord in such a way regularly. What struck me was that the Holy Spirit, so integral a part of our three in one God, would be perceived with fear by so many in His Church. So much so that we proceed in our walk, relationships and ministries with far more reliance upon ourselves and our own understanding, than in His leading. We don’t recognize His checks or His voice, and so we miss both His open doors, and His closed ones.To our own harm and loss. He remains our “silent partner.” We mention Him, but we don’t walk in Him. We’re not overly anxious for Him to “show up” either, unless it’s in ways that allow us to maintain control. We build a lot of things, but they don’t last.  In the end they’re just wood and stubble. We miss that which is His silver and gold. If we doubt that, we can simply look at how many of those things we’ve built in our own strength have crumbled after the human architect of the building left the scene.

Paul wrote to two totally different fellowships; the Corinthians and the Ephesians. The Corinthians were a flesh centered fellowship, and though He spoke in love and encouragement, his words also carried His rebuke. To the Ephesians he wrote in exhortation of their going on in the life and fullness of the Holy Spirit. Through those letters, he writes to our own fellowships. Which letter is for us? Corinthians or Ephesians? Wood and stubble or silver and gold? Which are we really, and which do we really want to be? Are we living in Corinth or Ephesus?

Blessings,
Pastor O

(Shared by permission)

He Washed Me White as (Ivory) Snow


What a great observation on missing the details. Julie again helps us to see that desiring to be CLEAN is the point, appearing clean is worthless. Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” ~Matthew 23:27

Just like the fabric softener isn’t a cleaning agent, we can’t “fake it till we make it”. We must purpose to follow HIM, know HIM through HIS word and focus our life’s intent on HIM. Protecting our heart, mind and soul by paying attention to what we hear, say and see! Paul said, “Everything is permissible for me—but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me—but I will not be mastered by anything.” ~1 Corinthians 6:12 I should only seek to be around things that are drawing me to Christ always! If I’m not being drawn to HIM, I’m moving away from HIM.

It is our responsibility to yield to HIM and this is accomplished by HIS grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit, who gives counsel, guidance and peace. When we speak HIS words, when we seek HIS presence and when we hold HIM dearest of all things, HE blesses us in ways we could never have dreamed.

We have a choice and we must choose, HIS way or our own…. Let’s join Julie in her closing prayer; that HE will help us to “mind the ‘small print’ in HIS Word, to take time to pay attention to details, and to continue to see You in all things.” I’ll tell you this, HE will honor this prayer as you honor HIM through a life dedicated to honoring HIM daily.

Blessings & Peace Always,
~Robert

I Sing Because I'm Free!

I am going to share something slightly embarrassing today… yes, folks, I have been a victim of “laundry bottle identity crisis”.  I cannot be the only one that has suffered from this condition, so I felt the need to come out of the closet…

One evening when my youngest was still a baby, I was carefully switching the laundry from the washer to the dryer.  As I  mindlessly took each article of clothing out, my dear, darling husband sweetly pointed out  that the bottle of laundry detergent I had been using for weeks was, in fact, not detergent at all- it was….. wait for it…. FABRIC SOFTENER!!!!  The horror!!!

I did not know what to do!  I mean, I thought wow, my clothes sure have been smelling good!!   And then I worried- what if it was just like spraying Febreeze on them?  What if I was just covering up…

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