Tag Archive | Lord

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.

Always Thank God the Father…


I have a classmate from an online class that stays in contact with me.  Today’s post is the result of his challenge to me in that email.  He called my attention to Ephesians 5:20 and believing that God’s word alone can rightly divide itself in context, I backed up to start with verse 17.  I hope you enjoy this and I look forward to your comments.
Turning our attention to the passage you referenced yesterday, it is very familiar to me.  I read it though for the first time in the God’s Word translation and noticed a couple of “new” things.  Here’s the translation for easy reference: 17So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord wants. 18Don’t get drunk on wine, which leads to wild living. Instead, be filled with the Spirit 19by reciting psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs for your own good. Sing and make music to the Lord with your hearts. 20Always thank God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
 
First; “Instead, be filled with the Spirit by reciting psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs…”.  The NIV says, “…speaking to one another…”  What caught my attention this time is the implication that being filled with the Spirit starts with reciting psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to ourselves, first.  As with everything else in our lives, the spiritual, emotional, and physical all begin from within and work their way our in our actions, deeds, and words.  This is why is it so important that we constantly fill our heart, mind, and soul with God’s word and everything that will edify our spirit.  Jesus said, “…it’s what comes out of a person that makes him unclean.” God’s Word  The original question was about physical food and Jesus declared that what goes into the stomach doesn’t make us unclean.  But, what we take into our souls can corrupt.  So, we must be diligent to feed our souls those things which edify.
Second; “Always thank God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  I believe that Job said, both good and bad are from the LORD.  Meaning that HE allows both to come into our life.  Romans 8:28-29, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God—those whom He has called according to HIS plan.  This is true because He already knew His people and had already appointed them to have the same form as the image of His Son.  Therefore, His Son is the firstborn among many children.”  Everything that God allows to take place in our life has the sole purpose of bringing us into the image of Jesus.  So even though our life is filled with what we call “good” and “bad,” the best and worst of what takes place (when we are pursuing a relationship with Jesus) has purpose in God’s plan for our life and growth into the image of Jesus.  Every time that I think about this, I am reminded of Paul and Silas singing in the prison.  Arguably, to us, the worst of times for them and yet their joy in Jesus overflowed from their hearts and into the air.
I believe, if we follow God’s word and fill our spirit with only those things that edify and vocalize those same truths, we will soon find ourselves being able to live out verse 20.

John, Peter, Paul…


“Which disciple do you think you are most like?”  This was the question I recall that started a conversation not long ago from my pastor.  Honestly, I returned the question to him knowing he’d say Peter.  I am a bit impulsive and can be more than just a little direct.

Being the first-born, most first-born children will agree, you find yourself in a leadership role at a very early age. In this position you necessarily feel those burdens of setting the example and the need at times to choose a course and stay with it, believing it will work out and that you have the unction to get it done and see it through.

Then, by God’s amazing grace you discover that you need redemption, salvation, a savior who you can trust and lean on. In accepting Christ there is relief and hope. Now, all of that energy you had as the first-born becomes focused on intentionally living out this new life. So you are still the example for younger siblings except, now you are not focused on setting an example for them. Now you are focused on Jesus and in that focus, brazen statements are made. Commitments are made that without the Holy Spirit’s power can never be kept.

Over the course of my life, I have found myself joining Paul in being content in all situations. “I know how to live in poverty or prosperity. No matter that the situation, I’ve learned the secret of how to live when I’m full or when hungry, when I have too much or when I have too little. I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12-13 (God’s Word) We have had plenty in our life and we have had very little and eaten what we could. Sometimes, having less has been the greater blessing.

The greater struggle is in learning to be content in my spiritual walk. Knowing that regardless of what I feel, faith is not about what we feel, Christ is with me in the trenches through His Holy Spirit. When I am seeking Him with all I have and He “seems” very far away, He is closer still than my own breath. Lord help me to know Your presence at all times and in all things—to be content in Your blessed presence when known and when unknown without any doubts!

I recently read a devotional and agree with the author that, God sets a grand tapestry before us for our pleasure to view. He also sets before us a field of harvest that needs workers. I pray in both that He will fit me for His use and that I will always be found faithful to be available and submissive to His call and will.

Blessings and Peace Always,

~Robert

FAITH is a Verb!


Faith is declared to be a noun according to Webster’s Dictionary and yet it acts like a verb. Faith is used as a name and, as such, it makes perfect sense to be a noun. However, when we say he or she has faith or is exercising faith, this is an active statement for faith. Faith involves unquestioning belief, complete trust, and loyalty.

Unquestioning belief is the state of believing or having no doubt. This unquestioning belief is the driver of faith. The active part of faith is the state of being. We say, you exercised your faith today when you approached that individual and witnessed to them about the good news of Jesus. Your faith enabled you to share the Gospel through the action of faith. “What does Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and that faith was regarded as the basis of Abraham’s approval by God.” Romans 4:3 “Then Abram believed the LORD, and that faith was regarded as the basis of Abram’s approval by the LORD.” Genesis 15:6 (God’s Word) In both cases his belief and faith are the same; the action of his unquestioning belief, his state of being, and having no doubt was faith.

Complete trust is a matter of being confident and having assurance in someone or something. How often do we display complete trust? The answer is daily: in things like the brakes on our car or truck; when we want to stop we simply put our foot on the brake pedal and press the brakes into action. We display our faith in each other in varying degrees, our spouse to be faithful or our doctor to know how to help us get well. “Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 (God’s Word) Faith is the action that builds our confidence and assurance into complete trust.

Loyalty is dressed in the faithful adherence to the word of God. We learn as we grow in our journey with Jesus; faith is a companion who works along side us in our endeavors to fulfill the great commission. “And remember that I am always with you until the end of time” Matthew 28:20b (God’s Word) Our best friend is Jesus and he has promised to be with us always! God faithfully adheres to His word. This faithful adherence of God is shown through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for the remission of our sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us always…this is loyalty.

Because faith is unceasing belief, absolute trust, and devotion, we know that faith is a verb. Sure we are able to say, “Hello Faith, how are you today?” and calling her by name is placing faith in the context of a noun. When we then say that Faith displayed her faith in the word of God, faith was a verb.

Blessings and Peace Always

Grace…..


“Grace, Grace, God’s Grace…” such a beautiful song laid on the heart of Julia H Johnston, titled “Grace Greater Than Our Sin”

I woke up to the chorus of this song this morning and although I know the whole chorus, the Holy Spirit has me dwelling on just the first four words.  We all go through “stuff” and it is the life we live today.  Nothing has changed over the life of humanity, “stuff” or “things” happen and it becomes what we make of it all.  As HIS child, my perspective should be different than that of someone still lost, “dead in their trespasses and sin”.  My perspective should be that of constant opportunity!

HE, my Heavenly Father, has a plan for my life!  As such, the “stuff” offers me the opportunity to embrace HIS Grace and accept these opportunities for growth in faith and greater intimacy with my Savior and Lord.  Paul said, “…and everything that does not come from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23b).  I’m taking a very specific view of this last portion of the verse, but I think it’s a shorter reach than you might think when looking at the whole passage.  As HIS child, I should live as HIS child and this means believing that HE has already met every need in my life.  When I have a need, whether great or small, do I believe HE has already met my need or not?  Do I move forward in faith or do I question whether “HIS Grace is Sufficient”?

“Grace, Grace, God’s Grace”, HE provides us grace on HIS terms…FREELY.  His terms are, He’s has provided it, always and in abundance, period.  There are no strings attached, no conditions and nothing we can do that will change HIS provision.  We will either accept it or refuse it.  He doesn’t even require a “thank you”…..  How humbling is that?!  We, Tracy and I, have had and I expect we will again in time have the opportunity to extend this same grace.  Father, help us to always be willing to accept and then share Your Grace in exactly the same way YOU have and will provide.

By Faith, we accept that Your grace is available and ours without condition, we need only take hold of it and know that Your Grace is Sufficient.

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