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Posts Tagged ‘divine power’

trustThe truth about trust is tricky. I mean, I have struggled with trust all my life. Sure, betrayal is a stumbling block to trust. But personal strength and intelligence can get in the way too. My mother taught me all the ways to combat trust: self-sufficiency, stick-to-it-tiveness, if you want it done right do it yourself, and so on. Trust requires a perpetual surrender.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; don’t rely on your own intelligence.” [Proverbs 3:5, CEB]

On Sunday, Pastor Jess Bousa, taught the message this way: to recognize the sovereignty of God, we must acknowledge God’s control of situations when things are “bad” and not just when things are going swell. After all, it’s easy to trust God when life is moving along sweetly and securely. It’s the tough times that call on the truth of our trust and faith in this One God.

One of his examples was II Kings 6:15 – 17, when Elisha’s servant feared the encampment of the vast army of the Arameans out to destroy the prophet. But Elisha could see what his servant could not, God’s army that encircled them all: the “second circle” that is God’s domain. This is the circle where trust is engaged. This is the circle where God operates, the bigger arena where our human strengths are worthless, where our intelligence can no longer figure things out, where our manipulations no longer have impact. Trust happens there.

Elisha prayed that God would open his servant’s eyes to see that second circle.

I pray the same. For me.

And yet, I must remember this, unless I go through the chaos and clatter of life’s challenges, I will never get to see God’s power in my life. It’s a paradox of faith. I surrender this day. I must. I will to do it.

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St. John is obsessed with love and its power. But to speak of it in today’s world sounds trite and cliche. Love has been relegated to movies and teenagers. Do people really believe love is a power so strong, so rich, that it can change a life, a culture, a world, a civilization? Or is it just a Valentine?

I John 4:12
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

I don’t really feel qualified to write about this topic at length, mostly because of my own anemic love life, and by that, I mean loving the unlovable, the unlovely.

It’s not that I don’t believe God is in the love of family, friends, and loved ones, but I have a sense that loving in the hard places, the paradoxical times, the nontraditional people, the unexpected situations: this is where God manifests more profoundly. These would be the occasions I might actually experience the same God who loved me when I was deeply entrenched in life-killing habits (drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, and the like). That love turned me around. That love upended my perceptions. That love was conscious and real, almost tangible. It was one of the reasons I committed my life to becoming a follower of the Christ: I saw God by being loved unconditionally.

For whom can I do the same? Why am I so afraid? There was so much grace in being on the receiving end and yet, it has become so difficult to get out of my safety net and love others the same way, without judgment, without expectations, without strings attached.

Our current church has a lot of buzz phrases, some more meaningful than others, but without a doubt, the one that resonates the most with me is that we offer love and service to others “with no strings attached.” I know that our pastor, Jess Bousa, pulled this mandate out of his own experiences, out of the God-love that was given to him when he least deserved it. The church, Good Cause Foundation, the open door policy he has established, are all an outgrowth of seeing God and thereby showing God through himself. Jess got it and he’s one of the reasons I’m hanging around this young pastor, I want to catch the fever.

It’s all simple: love others if I want to see God. And as I see God, I will want to love others. Infinity. Circle. Mandala. Synergism.

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I knew there was a reason this phrase jumped out at me: it’s the only time I can find that it appears in the Bible. Jesus, the Christ, is the fullness of the Deity, and like AA, I’m thinking, that deity is whatever you consider your higher power to be. That’s the point. Jesus is the 3-D version (bodily form).

Colossians 2:9-10
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.

This is strong stuff. If anyone, then, accepts that Christ is this fullness, this complete form of God (the Deity), then the next revelation is equally exhilarating: we have access and the potential for experiential relationship with the Deity through that Christ.

I know there is great controversy on whether Christ is the “only way” and all that and I’m not going to enter that fray here. But there is something to be said for the stated headship of the Christ — the power and authority. So, whether it is or isn’t the only way, apparently it’s a powerful way.

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I confess, I don’t like this idea in general, that God’s supernatural creativity might be, in some way, self-serving. Instead, I would like to ponder his generosity, his love, his willingness to create . . . for me!

Colossians 1:16
For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

Aren’t my own prayers ultimately self-serving? Help me be a better parent (for my kids is it? or for my success vs. failure as a mother?); give me favor at my work (so that the business will grow or people will love and congratulate me?); help resolve our financial situation (to show God’s power in this area or help me get out of debt so I can buy something else?).

I need to get over any kind of surprise that God, all God, all knowing, powerful and present in all things, can operate in His will and not only will it please himself, it will please me as well . . . if I let it. If I trust God, if I go with the flow of God’s spirit in and through both my invisible and visible life.

There is a story of a human who questioned God’s right to do as God wishes. His name is Job and it takes 42 chapters to get to the essence of it. God is sovereign. God is God. That’s just how it is.

I can either fight God and walk against the wind or row upstream or I can yield to God. Pretty simple really.

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To know . . . to know . . . to know. What does it mean to know Christ? What does it mean to know the power of his resurrection? And what does it mean to know the fellowship of his sufferings? I mean, really!

Philippians 3:10a
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings . . .

To understand with certainty, that’s one definition. Or, to establish or fix something in the mind (like memorization). Or, to be acquainted with (like a friend). Or, to understand with experience (like baking a cake). And finally, to be able to distinguish one thing from another (like right from wrong).

In some ways, each one of these definitions can be applied to this verse. Like Paul, I want to “know” Christ with certainty. I don’t want a casual acquaintance but a deep knowing that comes from exposure. I want the sunburn of Christ (no sunscreen) inside and out. With that kind of knowing, there is trust, contentment, patience, confidence, and security. To the degree that I don’t have those attributes is the degree to which I don’t really know the Christ. Perhaps “to know” really means “to love” (which is how the more archaic definition for knowing meant a sexual union). There is nothing more beautiful than transparent sex, the give and take of pleasure, the concern for other. Too bad. most sexual unions miss the sacred part.

And how about knowing the “power of his resurrection?” That’s formidable. Can anyone imagine being acquainted with this type of knowledge or certainty? That is supposed to be the case for every Christian, but we don’t walk our lives with that kind of confidence. I know I don’t: I still fear illnesses and teens driving home late at night and violence. Besides, isn’t Paul actually asking for the knowledge of this power to operate in the present and not just for raising his own body. Undoubtedly, this kind of power heals the sick, makes the blind see, the deaf to hear, and the lame to walk. Same power, I’m sure of it.

And lastly, to know and share in the afflictions that Christ suffered: not just physical but emotional, mindful, and spiritual. Can I bear the pain? Can I accept it? Or do I still run away from pain. Sweet paradox again.

I’m thinking they all go together. I cannot “know” one aspect without the other. I cannot be acquainted with healing power without knowledge of pain and hardship. My certainty is strengthened by the operation of all three in my life.

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I pray for my eyes to be opened! I pray for enlightenment (knowledge, understanding, awareness and clarity). And I pray that this awakening would not be an isolated event but a groundbreaking moment that prepares the way for a turn in my story.

Ephesians 1:18-19
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

Power is promised and I consider power dangerous, particularly for humans untethered by the seal of God. In some ways, I want power and control. If I said otherwise, I would be lying. I struggle with “control issues” all the time. And successful control translates into power. But that is power abused and we see that every day in our culture. The power of influence or money or position.

But here, we are told that an enlightened heart, eyes wide open, understands power in a new way. It’s an inheritance from God in Christ. It’s a focus. And as I’ve written a million times before, I’m sure there’s a paradox involved. Power is probably in letting go of one’s own “power.” It’s submitting to divine power. And of course, that power will not be the way I would expect. Would I even recognize that kind of power?

Will I recognize what I see when those spiritual eyes are opened?

When the prophets of old described all the unbelievably fantastic things they saw in their visions, they could only use their limited understanding. Am I any different?

And yet, it is my heart’s cry today. Open the eyes of my heart Lord.

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Back in the day, particularly for the Israelites, the Law was everything. The law was their standard, their crutch, their security, their hope. Why a curse? Because no one could follow every jot & tittle of the law, and for this reason, they participated in the rituals of sacrifice and atonement. That was the point. The Messiah was promised to be the ultimate reconciliation.

Galatians 3:10
And all who depend on the Law [who are seeking to be justified by obedience to the Law of rituals] are under a curse and doomed to disappointment and destruction, for it is written in the Scriptures, Cursed (accursed, devoted to destruction, doomed to eternal punishment) be everyone who does not continue to abide (live and remain) by all the precepts and commands written in the Book of the Law and to practice them.
[Amplified]

This was the proposed road for the Israelites. For them to accept Jesus as the Messiah, they had to accept one final sacrifice as efficacious and complete. To accept the Messiah and then go back to the old way, was restoring the power of the curse.

The second leap for the Jews who accepted Jesus as the Messiah was to accredit the blessings of Abraham (once relegated to their people alone) to the Gentile believers. The exclusive club was no longer a matter of birthright, history, or ancestry.

A single act reboot the system.

As a believer, I am confessing that the work of Christ is the restoration act between me and God. Where the door was closed, it is now open. I may enter the realm of God, the divine. I may participate in holiness. I am permitted to be in relationship . . . not because of what I have done (or not done) but because of who “He” is, that is, the Christ/Messiah for the world.

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