Sunday, June 28, 2015

2015: Year of Prayer, Week 24-25

For it is God's will and intention that by doing right (your good and honest lives) should silence (muzzle, gag) the ignorant charges and ill-informed criticisms of foolish persons. (1 Peter 2:15, AMP)

This morning, I started on Psalm 34:8  (Taste and see the Lord is good!)  But in weeks like the last couple, it gets real easy - too easy - to move from a position of grace to a position of anger (righteous, justified or otherwise).  I ended up in 1 Peter 2 because the Apostle references Psalm 34:8, as he is instructing Christian believers (I tend to think they were probably Messianic Jews; his words apply to us Gentiles too.)  He is helping them understand how to act in a time when their faith was a liability in the eyes of the world.

These last 10 days make me think our faith looks like a liability to some now too.

Between the shooting at Emanuel AME church in Charleston 10 days ago, or the ruling by the Supreme Court on Friday morning making same-sex marriage legal nationwide, it seems more than ever as Christians, we need to not only KNOW the right way to act to please God and draw others to Him......but do it. 

(Of course that means we will apply that to life differently, so grace and love must be the rule in every situation...especially in the family of faith.) 

One of my very good friends got a word from the Lord about 2015: RAPID.  Now is the time, there is probably not many more moments to waste if you are on the fence about making Jesus front and center in your life.  I'm not a harbinger of doom, but based on some of the commentary I've seen on social the United States being a Christian may start doing us more harm than good.

But there is lies the challenge and what Peter was saying.  Jesus is either a stumbling block or a stepping stone (1 Peter 2:8).  He is either going to trip you up or raise you up.  He will either cause you to fall on your face or He will turn His face upon you (Num 6:24). 

In the case of Dylann Roof killing 9 brothers and sisters in Christ during a prayer meeting on 6/17/15, Christ was obviously a stumbling block.  But for those believers left behind, He was a stepping stone to lift them up to show what is possible with Christ.  Last Sunday, our pastor preached the quintessential message on this and in it, showed the video where Roof was confronted by several of the victim's family members...and they forgave him.  The clincher was the last lady to speak.  She was actually there, a witness to his crime....and she only spoke forgiveness.  Here is that video:

What is impossible with man is possible with God.  Forgiving the man who you watched murder 9 of your church family members less than 48 hours afterwards is impossible, short of the indwelling and overflowing of the Holy Spirit.

To the other major event this week, I'm not going to say much about same-sex marriage, other than I don't agree with it.  I have prayed and sought the mind of the Lord repeatedly on this issue and my heart is never changed.  However, I don't have to agree with a lifestyle to love someone.  In that same vein, as children of God, we don't have to be on the same side politically to worship Christ together.  The Lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives trumps every human institution and affiliation.

Our cultural system accepting and even promoting the LGBT way doesn't shake me.  What causes me concern is when it starts to affect our ability to freely live our faith.  That's where this is going, in case you didn't realize it.  Christians who support gay marriage will eventually feel the squeeze on their faith, just as those of us who don't agree with the ruling. 

My prayers (and the prayers of others) for the last 2 weeks (even longer really) have been for the Body of Christ.  We have got to put aside our doctrinal, denominational, political and self-serving issues and come together.  Revival is here and if anything gets in the way of you loving a brother or sister in Christ, it is time to sweep that leaven out of the house.  

Peter's words in his nearly-2000 year old letter are so critical to us now.  We must conduct ourselves properly, not according to our own understanding.  We must lean even more heavily into who the Lord has revealed Himself to be.  We must love the brotherhood - the Christian family - taking pains to make sure we don't give unbelievers any more ammunition not to come to Christ.  We have tasted and seen the Lord is good.  We KNOW HE IS.  It is time to demonstrate that to the world so they, too, will see He is good.

I know this doesn't sound much like a record of my prayer journey but it is.  This is a post for me.  This is me pouring out my heart to God.  This is me going vertical.  This is what is on my mind.  I am not perfect, nor will I ever be on this Earth (praise God, I will be in heaven!).  It is convicting to look back on my day yesterday and see how many times I failed to reflect His heart especially when emotions and hot-bed issues are involved.

So, I repent.  I ask for forgiveness.  I ask the Lord to create a right spirit in me, not one of my own making, but right in His eyes.  I don't want to be known for anything other than my faith.  It speaks the loudest, through the actions of my life and my character. 

It is a challenging business being a Christian.  I pray for me.  I pray for you.  I pray for all of us.  We are heading into perilous waters.  But I know the One who walked on the waves.  And so did Peter, which is why he could tell us how to live, even as he was walking it out too (pun intended). 

Let my heart reflect Yours, Oh, Lord.  Help me.  Help us, Your People. Help our nation and our world.  Let us become more aware of Your Presence.  Let us experience....let us taste and see and live for...the glory of Your Goodness.

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