Is it Finally Time to Yield?

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I read a story about a radio exchange that took place some time ago between a U.S. Navy ship and Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland. The Canadians warned the Americans and the conversation went something like this: “Please divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.”

The Americans responded, “Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the north to avoid a collision.”

The Canadians said, “Negative. You will have to divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.”

The Americans: “This is the captain of a U.S. Navy Ship. I say again, divert your course.”

“No. I say again, you divert your course.”

“This is the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln, the second largest ship in the United States Atlantic fleet. We are accompanied by three destroyers, three cruisers, and numerous support vessels. I demand that you change your course 15 degrees north. I say again, that is 15 degrees north or countermeasures will be undertaken to assure the safety of our ship.”

After brief moment of silence, the Canadians responded: “This is a lighthouse. It is your call.”

Sometimes we don’t like what God wants us to do, and we want Him to change course when, in reality, it is us who ought to change course.

We need to understand that God’s plans are better than ours. Having said that, it does not mean that they are always the easiest or even the most appealing at the moment. There are times when we are going through life that we might not like the plan of God. But God’s plans are always better for us in the long run.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.

Isaiah 55:8, NLT

Can you say, “Yes, Lord. I am Your servant. Take me, use me, spend me. Fulfill all Your holy, eternal purposes in and through my life, whatever the cost”?
That area you have insisted on controlling, that part of you you’ve just stubbornly refused to yield, where you have insisted on things being your way – it’s time to drop your sword and raise your white flag. It’s time to surrender.
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Harmless Doves

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cyn·i·cal

sinikəl/adjective

1.believing that people are motivated by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity. Contemptuous; mocking.
     “her cynical attitude”
     “he gave a cynical laugh”

2. concerned only with one’s own interests and typically disregarding accepted or appropriate standards in order to achieve them.

I want to speak from my heart. I woke up this morning intensely cynical about the world. I hate to think I’m becoming critical or judgmental, but whatever it is I must take it in prayer to Jesus. I feel like I’ve been bit by a snake– a venomous one at that.

When I think of our Lord’s example, it helps a great deal. He who knows every man’s heart and motives didn’t discourage him. He knew when he came what each of us had done, and was capable of doing. There was this incident at the Temple:

2Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.

John 2:23-25, NIV

People can’t be trusted. Our motives and our desires, although hidden from men, are clear to God. And yet He loves us deeply. And love, “keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Cor. 13:5.) In his humanity, Jesus was tempted in every way. Discouragement and despair over the sin of men was resisted.

We can become cynical and jaded over the wrongs of others– it’s easy to do. There can become a ‘coarsening’ and a hardness of heart. That is dangerous. It requires a touch from Jesus. It means its time we get on our knees.

dove_peace_black_white_line_art_christmas_xmas_peace_on_earth-1979pxWhen Jesus sent out his disciples he encouraged them, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (Matt. 10:16.) He knew the hostile human heart had its own agendas– people would be like wolves. But though they would see first-hand the deceitfulness of many, they were to be wise, and be completely harmless.

The Holy Spirit will keep us close, as we seek his victory in this matter. We will be transformed into the likeness of Christ. Exchange your attitude with His. He will strengthen you. We can renounce the spirit of judgmentalism that is so pervasive. We will love the way he loves.

I know there is much more to say about this. But now the Spirit is prompting me to pray through this issue myself.

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Feeding the Dogs

A toy I grew up with, they were magnetized pushing against each other.

There is a story of a Native American elder who once described his own inner struggles to understand the Bible and Christianity.

“Inside of me there are two dogs. One is black, and the other is white. The black dog is mean and tries to talk me into making the wrong choices. The white dog is good and encourages me to make the right choices. The black dog fights the white dog all day.” When asked by the friend which dog wins, the elder reflected for a moment and replied;

“The one I feed the most.”

White Dog: As a believing Christian, there is a part of us that is Christ-spirited, compassionate, trusting, open, abundant and focused on helping others. We pray and are being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Black Dog: The other part is our flesh. We can be proud, evil, self-centered, greedy, manipulative, sullen, promiscuous, drunken, and only wants to he served by others.

“An analogy is made between the good white dog, our new nature in Christ, and the bad black dog, our old fallen nature. While we cannot eliminate the old nature, we can choose to feed the white dog.”

(From “The Holy Spirit: Activating God’s Power in our Life,” by Billy Graham 1978.)
 

howlingwolf3-300x281The main key for us to remember is that these two parts are in constant struggle.

Two Scriptures to help: One– “If you use your lives to do the wrong things your sinful selves want, you will die spiritually. But if you use the Spirit’s help to stop doing the wrong things you do with your body, you will have true life.”   Rom. 8:13, NCV

Two– “Our sinful selves want what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit wants what is against our sinful selves. The two are against each other, so you cannot do just what you please.”   Gal. 5:17

In thinking this through this analogy might help.  I’m inclined to think that holiness is not so much like an “on and off” switch.  But I think it’s more like a “dimmer” switch is turned to brighten or darken a room.  I actually think there are times when we should make a deliberate decision for God.  And yet other times we just need to turn up the dimmer from 30% to 80%. Maybe all the way?

I’m just thinking out loud here.

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The Savor of the Lord

suffering1“Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.”

Hebrews 2:18, (NLT)

“Whenever you meet someone who has really suffered; been limited, gone through things for the Lord, willing to be imprisoned by the Lord, just being satisfied with Him and nothing else, immediately you scent the fragrance. There is a savor of the Lord. Something has been crushed, something has been broken, and there is a resulting odor of sweetness.”

  Watchman Nee

I remember a time many years ago when I felt like I had a ‘charmed’ life. I had no issues, few problems– life was smooth, there was no ‘roughness.’ I felt like I was God’s favorite, His ‘golden boy.’ I should have known it wouldn’t last :-).

Suffering in the scriptures is often linked with the concept of endurance. Often within the selected verse the writer weaves into it this idea. I believe that to endure something transforms it to good. Believers will suffer, but the issues get transformed into something quite beautiful, if, we add the ingredient of patient endurance.

“We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.”

James 5:11

In many ways, suffering is a tutor teaching us the foreign dialect of the Kingdom. If done under the kind direction of the Holy Spirit, it can give us a working knowledge of patience, endurance and joy. We must learn to speak in another language. A suffering believer will find a new vocabulary in pain that allows him to speak with understanding to those who are also in pain.

I spent several years studying Spanish. Even though I wasn’t really fluent, I discovered it opened a whole new world; being bilingual created new opportunities that I’d never even knew existed. I believe that suffering works under this same principle.

light-end-tunnelDo you speak the language? Can you communicate with love to those who hurt? Learning it can transform you to a person that can speak authoritatively to a wide swath of people. Having had to handle your own pain gives you the privilege of interpreting God’s love into pain and hurt.

From our own hurt (through endurance and joy) we can help others. I can always tell a fellow-sufferer. They are typically gentle and loving people, devoid of pride and control. These are the ones who have learned to speak the idiom of the Kingdom of God.

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us… We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.

2 Corinthians 1:4, 8-9

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