Tag Archive | prayer

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.

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

obedience in the little things


One evening I was standing at the checkout counter at a local pharmacy, and like countless times before- I was asked if I wanted to donate a dollar to a charity.  I usually said no, and honestly it was just a natural response.  But something was different this time. I had an entire conversation in […]

https://isingbecauseimfree.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/obedience-in-the-little-things/

Life’s Tools


“It’s funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools—friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty—and said ‘do the best you can with these, they will have to do’. And mostly, against all odds, they do.”
~Anne Lamott

Amen!

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