Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Expect the Unexpected

                Acts 12 tells us James, the brother of John, was killed, and Peter was arrested. It also tells us that constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. Then God sent an angel to miraculously remove Peter’s chains and free him from prison. When he showed up at a house where a group was praying, they were surprised to see him. I’ve always wondered why they would be surprised if they were praying. Verse 16 says they were astonished.
                Perhaps it was because this was not the expected answer to their prayers. Perhaps they were praying for God to give him strength or for Herod to release him the next day. Perhaps they were praying for the religious leaders that were exciting persecutions to have a change of heart. Perhaps they were praying Peter would endure any beatings and then be released. They might have just been praying for his life after Herod had recently killed James. Or perhaps they were praying for their own safety.
                Whatever they prayed, they were not expecting this miraculous answer. God answered above and beyond their expectations, and they were astonished.  
                How many times do we pray with our predetermined vision of how God will answer? Because of this, how many times do we miss God’s answer to our prayers? Keep your eyes open and look for His answers. Many times, perhaps even most times, He answers in unexpected and unimagined ways.
                The awesome thing about this is that we then know it’s God and not us. Continue to pray and expect the unexpected.
“My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him” (Psalm 62:5).

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Content or Complacent

            Are you content? Yes or no? Before you answer, realize that both answers are right and wrong. It all depends on the definition of contentment.
            The apostle Paul stated the following in scripture: “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Philippians 4:11) and also “Now godliness with contentment is great gain” (I Timothy 6:6).
            Does this mean if we are content, we are happy with the status quo and never strive for more? Or does it mean we are thankful? It’s actually a perfect condition where you have all sufficiency independent of external circumstances. I think of it kind of like joy. The joy of the Lord is not dependent on happiness.
            Many times in our spiritual lives we look at scriptures such as these and claim to be content, but are we actually complacent? Do we just get by with our Sunday spiritual nourishment?  Do we only pray when we have an immediate need? Does a daily devotional book replace personal time in God’s Word? Do we read our Bible and pray out of routine habit without thought, or are we growing spiritually?  Are we challenging ourselves? 
            Paul also stated the following, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).
            Don’t allow yourself to be satisfied with cursory routines. Press toward the goals God has for you. Be content, but don’t become complacent.