Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘Paul’

More Than the Eye Can See

eyes

Sleight-of-hand and trick photography have shaken our faith in the reliability of what we “see.” On the other hand, there’s so much we accept without seeing—from the tiniest workings of the human cell to the movements of the farthest stars which scientists only postulate. And there’s another world that intersects with ours which can be seen only by eyes that are supernaturally opened.  Here are some examples:

Balaam saw only a stubborn donkey who refused to budge down an apparently clear pathway. But when “the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes,” he saw the angel that had been visible to his donkey all along. (Numbers 22:21-34)

Hagar sat weeping in the desert waiting for herself and her son to die, when “God opened her eyes,” showed her well full of water, and promised to make a great nation of her son. (Genesis 21:19)

Elisha’s servant saw only the frightful enemy army surrounding the city. Then when “the Lord opened his eyes,” he saw the hillside was filled with horses and chariots of fire—God’s mighty army of protection! (2 Kings 6:14-17)

Two men were captivated by the words of a “stranger” who joined them on the way to Emmaus. Then “their eyes were opened” and they recognized it was Jesus!  (Luke 24:31)

After Saul (a.k.a.) Paul had been blinded on the road to Damascus, he regained his sight and was commissioned by Jesus to the Gentiles “to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light…and receive forgiveness for their sins.” (Acts 26:18)

And how about us?  Paul prays for the believers: “I pray 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. (Ephesians 1:18-19)

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1)

Just as surely as the inner workings of the cell are real, the things that God tells are true, and we can rely on them.  There is “a whole ‘nother world” out there beyond what we can see.  Let’s take off our blinders.

Open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus
To reach out and touch Him and say that we love him.
Open our ears, Lord, and help us to listen
Open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus!

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The Mind of a Martyr

What is a martyr?

According to Islam, a martyr (Fedayeen) is one who kills infidels [that is, non-Muslims] and commits suicide as a means to that goal. He is “encouraged with liberal promises of earthy rewards in heaven, including food and sex.”   (TheReligionofPeace.com)

In Christianity, a martyr is “a person who suffers death rather than renounce his faith” (Collins English Dictionary).  His motivation is faithful commitment to his Savior and the hope of eternal life with Him.  However, Christians see life as a precious gift from God and they don’t seek martyrdom.  Neither are they seeking to kill anyone but rather they pray for God’s mercy on those who persecute them, as Stephen, the first Christian martyr did in Acts 7:54-60.

Meriam Ibrahim is a hero of mine.  A Sudanese doctor, devoted wife & mother, and faithful follower of Jesus Christ, she has been shackled in prison together with her toddler and baby girl born there in prison. And she has made it clear that she will not renounce her Lord even if it means suffering her sentence of 100 lashes and hanging!

She reminds me of the apostle Paul, also chained in prison, who wrote the verses I’ve been memorizing:

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed,
but will have sufficient courage
so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body,
whether by life or by death.
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  (Philippians 1:20-21)

When my time comes, I pray that I will have the courage and conviction of Paul, Meriam, and others like them.

Meriam, I pray for your release, but more than that, I pray that you will continue to have courage to honor Christ whether through freedom, suffering, or even death.

The Word Spreads

Step by step, the beautiful plan of Acts 1:8 unfolds in sequence:  And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Some of the key players in the stages of this plan are featured in Acts 6-10.

Stephen (chapters 6-7) was originally selected for a food distribution program in Jerusalem.  But along with that, he made good use of his God-given wisdom and power for preaching and doing miracles.  As we know, he was falsely accused and killed by jealous religious leaders. 

Philip (chapter 8) was also chosen for that feeding program, but like Stephen, he couldn’t help but preach and do miracles to spread the Good News about Jesus, especially when persecution drove him out of Jerusalem.  God used him in the neighboring province of Samaria to bring crowds of people to faith in Christ and also to an Ethiopian convert to Judaism.

Saul (chapter 9), more commonly known by his Greek name Paul, was a sworn enemy of Christ and His followers.  But he was arrested by Jesus, was turned around 180 degrees, and called to service among Gentiles in “the ends of the earth.” 

Peter (chapter 10), though his primary ministry was to the Jews, was chosen to “midwife” the first real Gentile conversions—Cornelius and his household. 

And on went the Good News from there, reaching around the world, and still spreading. 

Aren’t God’s ways and Word amazing?  I’m so glad His plan includes me!

Maranatha!  Come, Lord Jesus!

Painful Reminders

I can identify with Jacob these days. 

After this conniving character met God face-to-face – and even wrestled with Him – he was never the same.  He had a memento of that occasion to constantly remind him of that life-changing encounter:  a limp where God had touched his thigh and put it out of joint!  (Genesis 32:22-32) 

Paul also had an irritating “thorn in the flesh” which reminded him of his dependence on God.  Some think it was an eye problem related to his life-changing encounter with God on the road to Damascus. 

Lately I have developed a pain in my left hip that plagues me with every step.  Instead of complaining about it, I’d like God to use it to remind me to stay humble and dependent on Him.  That’s when I’ll truly be strong.  Even if it hurts a bit.

To keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.  Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.  Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me…. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  (2 Cor. 12:7-10 NLT)

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