Tag Archive | Belief

The Great Contradiction


This post is a reprint, if you will, of an email devotional that I receive from a dear brother in our faith.  I invite you to set aside a few moments to read this and think on these things.  Father, bless all who read this and accept the challenge to allow the Holy Spirit to identify the areas in our lives, one at a time, where we have and do call You LORD and yet do not obey.  We thank You for Your Grace and humbly ask in the name above all names, Jesus Christ our LORD and SAVIOR. Amen.
“He saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners. In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds. ‘Then a voice said to him, ‘Get up Peter; kill and eat them.’…’Never Lord,’ Peter declared. ‘I have never in my life eaten anything forbidden by our Jewish laws.’ The voice spoke again, ‘If God says something is acceptable, don’t say it isn’t.’  The same vision was repeated three times. Then the sheet was pulled up again to heaven.” Acts 10:11-16
 
This account in Acts, which tells of Peter’s vision from God that sets the course for his going and ministering to and having fellowship with a non-Jew. Something strictly forbidden by Jewish law. It is much used by the Church as an illustration of our tendency to restrict just who we will love and reach out to. But in it is something more. Something usually missed by most of us who read the account.
 
I’ve a friend that calls this passage “the great contradiction.” Why? Because of two words spoken by Peter, and in the same address; “Never,” and “Lord.” Do you see it? In the same breath, Peter calls Him Lord, yet refuses to do what He commands. In his relationship with His God, what greater contradiction could there be?
Here’s a more penetrating question for each of us. To what degree are our lives and relationship with Him a great contradiction as well? In how many areas and ways do we call Him Lord, yet disregard, disobey, and even defy His will and direction for our lives? Where has He spoken His purpose to us, and we, for whatever reason or justification, told Him, “Never Lord?” Where are we doing so now?

I think we are most prone to this sin, and yes, it is sin, when Christ leads us to a place far outside our comfort zone. He requires of us something out of our ordinary experience. Something we were sure He never would. I have lost track of all the times I have heard believers say, “I don’t think the Lord would do that.” I’ve said it myself. Surely that mindset was upon Peter. The Jews had very strict dietary regulations and boundaries. He could not envision the Father ever taking him outside of them. Yet He did. Where are the self-made boundaries that we’ve set up in our lives that put a limit to just how deep our obedience to Him will go?
Where are we living “the great contradiction?”

 
Be assured of something. Jesus will call us on this contradiction. In His word He said, “Why do you call Me Lord, and yet do not do what I say?” It’s a piercing question against which none of our excuses, justifications, and rationalizations can stand. All the contradictions in our lives fall before that question. We may spend our lives running from it, but in the end, we will stand before Him and give account. There will be no lives of contradiction in heaven. That being the case, why do we insist on living them on earth?

Christ meets us where we are, and where we are is filled with contradictions. Growth in grace is a process of those contradictions being removed, one contradiction at a time. Do you welcome that? Or, do you go on living “the great contradiction?”

Blessings,
Pastor O

Published by permission.

walking with me


“I am so thankful for the  many “trees” that have stood with me and supported me throughout the years.  And I am grateful to be walking this journey of life-

with my husband

my family

and my family in Christ…

and you!” ~Julie Harris

stepping in time we walk in stride  thankful you  are by my  side…  with no one else I’d rather be-  all is right  when you’re walking with me I came home the other day to BOTH tv…

Source: walking with me

Who are the “trees” in your life and mine, the ones we need to reach out to and simply say thank you for being a part of my life?  Great or small, each has gifted us with a portion of themselves and contributed to who we are and will become.

For those of us in Christ Jesus, God uses everything in our life to work His out the transformation in us into the likeness of Jesus! Paul told us to be “transformed by the renewal of your mind,…” Romans 12:2.  As God uses His word to work this renewal, He also uses brothers and sisters in Christ in this process.  In Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

Blessing and Peace Always,

~Robert

The first gleam of dawn…


“So, stop being so hard on yourself…surrender those thoughts to HIM! It’s a new day to love the Lord and to recognize how much He loves YOU!”  ~Julie Harris

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

 2 Corinthians 10:5  

The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,     which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.  But the way of the wicked is like total darkness.     They have no idea what t…

Source: The first gleam of dawn…

O Light of light, shine in!


“We must stop looking down and keep looking forward,” spoke my wise friend! A simple statement, but a profound reminder to keep my eyes fixed on the path ahead, and not the ground.

Source: O Light of light, shine in!

Heart Thoughts – Wineskins


Today, Pastor O challenges us to realize that we might have again placed God in a box, an old wineskin…
“No one pours new wine into old wineskins.” Mark 2:22……..’We know God easily if we do not constrain ourselves to define Him.” Joseph Joubert….”The life of a disciple may be rigorous, but it is never rigid……Though we can certainly expect Him to be constant, we cannot expect Him to be predictable.” Chris Tiegreen
 
Judging, if I may use that word, from what I see on Facebook and other places these days, there seem to be a great many people who feel they have pretty much figured out what the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will do and how They will act. We’ve done quite the job of putting labels upon each other, so its small wonder we should try to place labels upon Him. We see ourselves as flexible and would reject the idea of being considered, “old wineskins.” Yet our flexibility seems to disappear whenever we come into contact with anyone who might not agree with our concept of the 3 in 1 God. There is much tragedy to be shared in all of this, but the greatest tragedy is that we have succeeded to a very great degree in removing the mystery of who He is. Our western minds want a Father, a Jesus, a Holy Spirit that we can have reasonable expectations as to how They will show up in our lives. We don’t like surprises, and we certainly don’t like living in the unexpected. I believe very strongly in having correct doctrine and theology. However, we can construct a God that we insist stays within the bounds of our doctrine, theology, and especially the characteristics of our own group. We don’t want Him to step outside the boundaries we’ve set for Him. When that happens, we become old wineskins, and we can be just as unaware of that as were the Pharisees Jesus spoke of.

Chris Tiegreen writes, “Do we take the time to ponder which of our own wineskins have attempted to accommodate Jesus and failed?….On what points are we rigid? Where do our expectations lie? Do we insist that Jesus bring about our own vision for the future? Do we try to constrain Him to our church structures? Do we rely on methodology in our ministry? (They)….may be good, but Jesus will not fit. He defies constraint. The Lion of Judah cannot be tamed.”

Jesus said in John 3:8, “The wind blows wherever it pleases.” We cannot control the wind. Why do we seek to control He who is the Source of the wind? Joubert’s quote is powerful. The less we seek to define Almighty God, the more we may know Him. And the desire of His heart, His greatest desire, is that we know Him. He is a mystery. He says so Himself. But He invites us to enter into His mystery, and behold Him to reveal Himself in its midst. To do that, we have to let go of all of our presumptions about Him. I had a very great friend who has since gone home to Him. One of the favorite things he used to say was that he had an “Oops theology.” As in, “Oops, I guess I was wrong.” Old wineskins can never live in such a theology. Only new ones can. He will never violate the truth and authority of His Word, but we must know that our limited minds cannot begin to understand how deep, high, and wide His truth really is.

I continue to grow older, and my natural skin is losing the soft, flexible feel it once had. Yet it is my fervent hope that the “skin” of my heart remain as tender and pliable as that of a child. How about you? In the spiritual realm, we’re all wineskins. Are we old ones…..or new?

Blessings,
Pastor O

Living for NOW


“live for Now… not yesterday, not tomorrow… NOW!” ~JH

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Matthew 6:34

Source: Living for NOW

Create in me… by Julie Harris


Today I am excited to collaborate with some lovely people who write for the blog church set free!  We are all writing about what worship means to us.  I hope you will visit the site and that it will encourage you in your journey to knowing and growing closer to Him…”

 

Source: Create in me…

That Brick Wall Was Meant to Be Climbed


An honest observation about the obstacles that come along in life and then the TRUTH about HIM who gives the plan and leads the way!!! Be blessed by this post.
Blessings and Peace the THANKSGIVING season. ~Robert

Coffee with a Shot of Faith

hole-205448_1280

I am sure you have had one of those periods in life. When you are skating along and everything seems to be going great. You feel confident in the direction in which the Lord has you moving. Then-BAM! WHACK! You slam right into the makings of a brick wall. Or two.

A wall of defeat, maybe.

Maybe it’s a wall of criticism. Or self-doubt.

Hurt. Grief. Loneliness. Sin.

Regardless of what that brick wall may be, it begins to slowly tear away at any progress you have made. Making you feel that instead of moving ahead, you are now starting to move backwards.

Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you the path to take. Proverbs 3:6

This is what I had been doing. I had been letting Him lead me. Allowing Him to show me the path. I had a renewed sense of passion. Of…

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The Timekeeper – by Pastor O Shell


Pastor O asks these questions: “Do we really believe that He’s never late, that He’s always on time? Can we surrender to Him who is “the Timekeeper?”
  “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son.” Galatians 4:4…..”His (Jesus) peaceful pace seems to imply that He measured Himself not by where He was going and how fast He could get there but by Whom He was following and how closely they walked together….deeply contented in the Company.”
Alicia Britt Chole

“How long O Lord?” This is the cry from millions of hearts. Likely from our heart as well, and often. We spend so much of our life energy setting, focusing on, and striving to reach goals, accomplish agendas, and bring to pass the deep desires of our hearts, but all we have in the end is exhaustion. And more often than not, disappointment and frustration as well. We do seek Him in it all, but mostly as a means of reaching our desired end. He said He’d give us the desires of our hearts, and we mean to hold Him to His word. Even if we do get what we want, we miss what we truly need, Him. We can do this in every facet of life, and may well be most guilty of it in the area of ministry. We have good ends that we want to reach, and we’re in a very great hurry to reach them. Jesus said that He “must be about the Father’s business.” Well, so are we. The problem is, we don’t understand what His business is really all about. We have allowed working for Him to take the place of knowing and loving Him. We can have lives dedicated to Him, but I’m not so sure the same can be said of our hearts. This may be best seen when we’re forced to deal with the delays that can come along in getting to the place we want to be. Achieving the end that we’ve been aiming for. Jesus didn’t live this way. We ask what would Jesus do? Will we ask as to how Jesus really walked….thought…..lived?

Jesus spent 30 years in obscurity. In that time He had an ever growing picture of what He had been sent for, particularly by the age of 12. Yet He didn’t deal with the delay with impatience or frustration. He knew what He was here for, but He was at total rest as to how and when the Father would bring it all about. Chole speaks beautiful words as to how He walked in this time. He did not just have His eyes on where He was going. He had His eyes on the One He was going with. He had zeal, but that zeal was first and foremost in His walk with and in the Father. All the energy of His ministry flowed out of that relationship. He didn’t come to show us how to “do.” He showed us what to be. What we can become in Him. That’s why His Life, amidst all the delays, difficulties, trials and tears, was marked by the total rest and contentment He had in His Father. The One He trusted to bring about all things for Him in the fullness of HIS time. Can we?

 
Chole asked a question along the line of “Who will hold the clock as to the timing of His purposes in our life?” Who does hold that clock? As concerns His promises, our calling, our ministry, everything that concerns us, who holds the clock? The Father, or us? Whose timetable are we on? His, or ours? Yes, the seconds are ticking away. Will we trust Him fully as they do? Do we really believe that He’s never late, that He’s always on time? Can we surrender to Him who is “the Timekeeper?

Pastor O

Published by Permission

The SACK


“At that time Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, ‘Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of in the Lord your God, you have missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram……The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.  What a fool you have been.  From now on you will be at war.’ ”  2 Chronicles 16:7, 9

Chinese Christian Brother Yun, known as the Heavenly Man, tells of this happening in one of the Chinese house churches.  The Chinese believers regularly send off other believers to go into surrounding towns and villages to share the love and life of Christ.  Before each sending, the group would take up a collection for the work.  Many of those who were in attendance had nothing of material or monetary value to give. These believers, with tears streaming down their faces, when the large sack came to them, would literally place themselves in the sack.  Yun said that by doing this, these gentle folk wanted to signify to God that their lives were all they had to give and that they were willing to give all of themselves for His glory.  I’m humbled by this.  Are you?

Here in the west, there are many who are willing to give….up to a point, or as I heard one man put it, up to a tithe.  There are also those who are willing to go…..again, up to a point or a place.  How many of us are really willing to give all of ourselves to all that is Him?  When “the sack” comes to us, are we willing to put many “things” in it, but not all of ourselves?  Is giving, to us, a matter of percentage, or totality?  How many invisible lines have we drawn, and boundaries placed on how much of ourselves we’re really willing to be sacrificial with?  Who are we really more like in Jesus’ story of the rich Pharisee and the poor widow?  Jesus watched the Pharisee give a large amount of money out of his  wealth.
The widow gave two pennies, which was all she had.  The first gave out of his surplus, the widow gave all with nothing held back.  Who are we more like?  When the sack comes our way, to which heart attitude are we really drawn to?  What have we really put in the sack?  Every moment of every day, the sack comes before us.  What’s really going into it.  A percentage or a person?

This is not just a matter of our resources or time.  It’s a matter of the self.  All of the self.  The past, present and future.  They all go into the sack. Our motives.  Our dreams, desires, disappointments.  People.  Both those we love, and those we perhaps do not love so much.  All of it goes into the sack.  When the sack comes to us, we cannot stop with a check or a volunteering for some needed church ministry or job.  We cannot stop with a part or percentage.  It cannot be the part. It must be the whole.  The whole of us.

Asa the king had trusted God with much.  He could not trust Him with all.  “War” was the fruit of that.  For us, this means that all that we hold back from him will be under attack from our enemy satan, and we will spend ourselves on trying to protect in our strength what can only be kept by His.  If this is not so, just think on how much unrest is in our lives as the result of trying to bring about the results we desire by our own efforts, be they relationships, professions, and especially ministries.  Like Asa, we suffer constant “war” and have no peace because of it.

The Lord continues to search the world for hearts fully committed to Him.  As He searches, what does He find in ours? Percentages?  Bits that are His, but pieces that are not?  Asa lived in this way, and the Father called him a fool.  What does He call us?

Blessings,
Pastor O

(A special thanks to my brother in Christ and friend for allowing me to share this devotional message.)

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