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Archive for the ‘Why’ Category

“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 (NIV).

It was not what he was hoping to hear, “My grace is sufficient for you.” He wanted the fix-it grace, the grace that makes it go away, the grace that makes weakness, pain, and suffering disappear.

“Why others and not me?” The healing, delivering, restoring power of Christ had worked through Paul countless times, “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them” Acts 19:11-12 (NIV).

If you had to choose between deliverance from pain and strength to cope with pain, which would you prefer? If you have physical limitations or handicaps would want restoration or grace to bear it? If as a parent (since it is Mothers’ Day) are both at the end of your wit and your rope what would you ask for, sufficient grace or fix-it grace? Dumb questions.

Paul did ask for fix-it grace, because there is nothing wrong with asking for healing, deliverance, restoration, and permanent change. Our Heavenly Father has given us the green light to ask away (Matthew 7:7-11, James 1:2-6). Paul didn’t just ask once, but twice, and again. Then he got a clear word, a definite answer from God, “Your thorn in the flesh will stay, your weakness will not be taken away, your pain, struggle, and frustration will not just dissipate, but you will receive sufficient grace, for today, and tomorrow, and every day after that.”

It can knock you for loop, when God grants you sufficient grace when you asked for fix-it grace, when God hears your request but responds to it differently. We see little purpose in pain, suffering, sickness, limitations, handicaps, frustrations, trials that last, and … It is easy to get confused when the God of love for whom nothing is impossible doesn’t fix it and instead hands us the cup filed with sufficient grace. It is tough drinking water while others are sipping champagne.

Many criticized God and Christ and walked away at this intersection of receiving sufficient grace while asking for fix-it grace. But Paul didn’t, after hearing, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” he adjusted himself to Christ’s answer, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NIV). We’d much prefer for God to adjust himself and acquiesce to our requests than the other way around.

Sufficient grace is never cheap grace; it is not lesser than fix-it grace. When God gives us the cup of sufficient grace it is because that is exactly what we need. Paul recognized that this sufficient grace kept him humble, it kept him much closer to Christ, it made him depend on power far greater than his own, and realized that Christ shines through women and men who embrace and live out of his sufficient grace.

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

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I wonder how many sermons have been preached on Numbers 5:11-31? That’s the passage the outlines the procedure of a jealous husband bringing his wife to the priest because he suspects her of adultery. She has to drink water mixed with some dirt from the sanctuary and the ink with which the curses were wrote down. If she is innocent no harm no foul, if she is guilty she’ll end up childless with swollen belly and shriveled thighs. If you are grinning I don’t blame you, because so was I on reading Numbers 5 again. I also felt this tremendous sense of relief that my pastoral duties do not include administering this procedure; I don’t want to have anything to do with women’s shriveled thighs and swollen bellies. I do however have some questions:

  • How often was this actually practiced? Because what husband with even an ounce of smarts will subject his wife to this kind of humiliation. If she passes the test and emerges unshriveled I venture to guess that all kinds of things shriveled in her heart concerning what she feels about her husband.
  • Why are there no repercussions for the husband falsely accusing his wife? I take that back, he will have repercussions. “Babe, can’t you just let it go? I only did it because I love you so much.”
  • Why is there no equivalent procedure for the wife to put her husband through, to shrivel some of his parts? He probably will grow the gut all on his own.
  • How would this fly in my own life? “Susie, you’d better not mess with me or else it’s some bitter water for you.” Nah, I don’t think she’d ever think that was funny. Can you feel the ice?

There probably were some good reasons for this section of the Old Testament Law. Jealous husbands can be impossible to deal with and this allowed an innocent wife to establish her innocence, “If you don’t believe me then take me to the priest.” More importantly, no matter how strange this ritual may seem to us, is the fact that God sees and God knows the truth about each one of us. He knows what we are innocent of and what we are guilty of. A jealous husband might make his wife’s life miserable for something she has not done, but God never does that to us. We can rely on God for truth, fairness, and justice.

The complete truth about each one of us is that we are guilty, that we all have sinned (Romans 3:23), that we are all slowly shriveling up. That’s why we need more than truth, fairness, and justice, they cannot erase our guilt or deliver us from its consequences and penalty, for that we need mercy, grace, and forgiveness that only God can give, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7).

That dumb jealous husband dragging his wife before the priest has a dilemma. If she is found guilty he has to decide whether to forgive her or not. If she is found innocent he will need her forgiveness. The truth exposed will shrivel something, something that only mercy, grace and forgiveness can restore. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32, NASB).
To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

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Why?

Why?!

Why can just be curious, “I wonder why bald men are better looking?”

Why can be an exclamation, “Why I’ll be, that kid does know how to clean his room!”

Why can be accusatory, “Why did you do that?”

“Well I thought it was funny.” (bad, very bad answer)

Why can be mean, “Why you’re just dumb, you’ll never amount to anything.”

Why can be filled with self-pity, “Why me (God)?”

Why can be confused, “Why do the wicked prosper?

Why can be mad, angry, “Why are you not saying anything? Speak to me when I am talking to you.”

Why can be hurting, filled with pain, “Why am I suffering?”

Why can be a combination, “Why did you let this happen God?”

God is no stranger when it comes to our whys. In fact He is often at the end of our whys, especially when we suffer, are in pain, confused, hurting, and think things are unjust or not fair. When we do not understand why God who is all powerful and loving does not intervene, prevent evil from happening, come to our aid, or set things right.

The pages of scripture are filled with people who asked, “why?” Habakkuk is known as the prophet who asked, “Why?”

Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.

Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?”  Habakkuk 1:3-4, 13 (NIV)

God knows we ask, “Why?” confused, angry, hurting whys. I am glad I get to bring those to Him as well. In fact I have found God and Christ to be the best resting place for myself and my whys.  If I don’t rest them there I will rest them somewhere else like in anger, or bitterness, or apathy, cynicism, and a host of other attitudes, behaviors, and destinations – none of which I care for and God has in mind for me for. So I pray you and I will bring our whys to God and rest them there and find God’s incredible peace in the midst of it all.

To God be all glory, love you pastor Hans

P.S. On the flipside, how good are we at hearing God when He asks, “Why?

 

 

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