DayBreaks for 5/12/17 – The World’s Deadliest Illusion

DayBreaks for 5/12/17: The World’s Deadliest Illusion

John 19:10 (NIV) Do you refuse to speak to me? Pilate said. Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?

I’ve got to admit that I’m fascinated by the great illusionists.  To this day, I don’t understand how David Copperfield could make an airplane, the statue of Liberty, or even a nickel disappear like he does!  Fascinating. 

The greatest illusion of life may be the fact that we think we have power, that we put ourselves in a position of judging God.  Of course, there is some truth to this idea that we have power – God has given us the right to choose, but we must not mistake that for having power.  Our choosing is a God-given right and he gives us the power in our hearts and minds to choose many things.  One of those things we can choose to believe is truth – or we can believe lies.  Pilate found himself in a situation where he truly thought he had jurisdiction over Jesus, that he, Pilate, was in charge of the unfolding events and that he would determine the outcome.  He claims to have the power to either free Jesus or kill him.

Think about that a moment: recall how that when Jesus was being tempted to cast himself off a high place so Satan would yield to him, even Satan noted that Jesus had the power to summon angels to come and catch him so he wouldn’t even hit his foot against a stone.  Do you think for one moment that Jesus, as he stood before Pilate, could not have called a million angels to come and obliterate Pilate, the angry mobs, the hypocritical religionists, and the entire Roman army and empire?  In the OT, all it took was a single angel to kill 185,000 Assyrians!  If an angel is that powerful, how much more powerful is the One who created them?!!! 

Pilate had no idea what he was saying because he’d bought the lie of having power over Jesus, and by extension, over God.  We are not so very different.  We think that through our prayers we can manipulate God into doing what we want him to do – and we may even think that He’s obligated to give us what we pray for – but he’s not.  We think that we can lift a passage out of context and make it an absolutely binding promise on God – forgetting that God sets conditions (some of which we know and some of which we don’t), that involves our obedience, or our faith, or our motives.  James says we can ask but not receive because we’re asking for something driven by our own greed and selfishness – not so we can use if for God’s purposes.  So we can’t just take Jesus’ statement that we can ask for anything and that God is under our power to have to give it – we tend to forget the conditions: if you ask in my name, for the things that Jesus wants, that he approves of for us.

If we had power in any way, shape or form over God, He would no longer be God – we would be.  If in any way at any time, humans can force God to do something, God is no longer all-powerful, he would cease to be El Shaddai, The Lord God Almighty. 

The end result of our belief that we have power over Jesus is seen by our rebellion to God’s ways.  If we believe we are in control of our lives, that we have only ourselves to answer to, we will choose inevitably what we believe is in our own best interests.  And because we cannot see the future events before they unfold, we’re at best guessing blindly as to what will be in our best interests in the long run.  Only one who knows the consequence of every decision, the intricacies of every human interaction with absolute clarity, can know what will work out for the best for us in the long run. 

Because Pilate truly believed he had power over Christ, he made the decision to crucify him, not knowing that he was doing exactly what God had planned to have happen from eternity past.  God’s plan will not be thwarted by puny humans who have a god-complex about themselves. 

This calls for deep introspection – not by ourselves, but by the Spirit.  We can’t trust ourselves to be honest or to see the truth.  I need to take some quiet time aside and ask the Spirit to search my heart and show me where I seem to think that I’m God and that He is not.  And then I need to ask God to forgive me, humble me, change me so that instead of being like Pilate, I’m like Jesus, who constantly submitted himself to the will and power of the Father.

PRAYER: God, keep us from the foolishness of thinking that we have any control or power over you.  Help us to remember we are the clay – not the Potter, we are just sheep and You are the Shepherd.  Help us to yield our desire for control to the control of Your Spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

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DayBreaks for 10/22/14 – Faith Walking #5 – The Great Illusion

DayBreaks for 10/22/14 – Faith Walking #5 – The Great Illusion

I wrote a bit yesterday about risk.  I don’t know anyone who enjoys failure, do you?  I know people who learn from it and get better (I’ve even managed to do that a few times along the way!), but I don’t know anyone who either sets out to fail or who wants to fail.  Risk scares us because with risk there is always the possibility of failure.

At least, that’s how we humans see things.  I wonder if Moses, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, Rahab, Deborah, Samson, Gideon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Elisha, Elijah, Peter, Paul, Mary, David or any of the other great women or men of Scripture had second thoughts about how foolish they might look if they attempted something great for God…and failed.  Things like commanding the lame to rise us and walk, casting demons out of a boy (remember – the disciples failed at this one!), knocking a giant down with one stone, interpreting dreams all have inherent risk built into them.  Picture Jesus standing before the tomb of Lazarus and saying, “Lazarus!  Come forth!”…and nothing happening.  Jesus would have looked pretty bad, wouldn’t he?  In fact, his ministry would have crashed and burned on the spot.  The same could be said for all those I mentioned. 

But here’s the rub: it comes down to knowing God’s will and to having faith – real, vibrant, deep faith!  Jesus, of course, knew it wasn’t a risk because he operated totally and always in full harmony with God’s will, so it might be easy for us to dismiss his case as being unique.  We lack that kind of certainty.  He KNEW he was God and that all things were possible for Him!

We read it and have heard it over and over: With God nothing is impossible.  We focus on that word, impossible, a lot because we think things are impossible.  And if we’re just talking about mere humans, MANY things are impossible – in fact, most things, I suppose.  But there are three key words at the start of that verse: With GOD…so we’re not talking about mere humans doing things in their own power, but about an omnipotent God who has zero limitations.  And then perhaps the key word: nothing…no matter how impossible something looks or sounds to us, God laughs at it.  He has never yet met any challenge that even begins to tax His infinite resources and power. 

But the great illusion is that we think things are impossible.  We even tend to believe it in our hearts.  “God, I can’t heal someone.”  “God, I can’t possibly do this.”  To a degree those are true: WE can’t.  But if we are acting in faith on one of His promises, how can we even think it could fail?

Look closely at these words from Jesus: John 14:12-14 (NIV) I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.  

And listen to that same verse from the Message: The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it. That’s how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I’ll do.

So…is it an illusion that keeps us from faith walking?  How much do you believe those words of Jesus?  How much do you believe in Him?

PRAYER: My faith is so weak and frail, Lord!  I see impossibilities and not possibilities.  And I put the limits I see on You and I know that’s foolish and wrong, but I do it all the time. I believe, Lord, help my unbelief!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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DayBreaks for 12/08/11 – Giving Up Control, Trust #8

DayBreaks for 12/08/11 – Giving Up Control, Trust #9

How we love to control things!!!!

From the DayBreaks Archive, dated 11/19/2001:

Being in control.  Isn’t that something that we admire in ourselves and in others?  Most of us men grew up with the idea that a real man is in control of his emotions, if not his actions.  I was raised at a time when it was considered honorable for men to be able to not get teary-eyed (or even start to choke up) in public.  Certainly, any man who lost control of his actions was a weakling, and any man who hit a woman or child was considered a real jerk.  In business, we admire those who seem to be in control.  We admire those who, in times of great adversity, can remain in seeming control of the situation and rise above it.

But when it comes to spiritual things, we need to realize that “being in control” is not something we can do.  When you consider what Scripture teaches us about control, you begin to realize that there is little or nothing that we can control.  We can talk about going somewhere tomorrow to do business or have fun, but we can’t make it happen and we’re given this warning: (James 4:13-16) “13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”)

Do you see the point?  God is trying to get it into our thick heads that we can do nothing, not even go somewhere, unless HE wills it.  There isn’t a man or a woman alive who could do anything unless God is willing for them to do it.  But it is hard for us to get to the point that we’re at peace with that degree of control over our lives.  We believe that there is no one and nothing that knows what is better for us than we ourselves.  But we’re wrong!

Today I double up with laughter whenever I realize that I have started ‘managing’ my life once more – something we all do with astounding regularity.  The illusion of control is truly pathetic, but it is also hilarious.  Describing what I most need out of life, carefully calculating my next move, and generally allowing my autonomous self to run amuck inflates my sense of self-importance and reduces the God of my incredible journey to the role of spectator on the sidelines.  It is only the wisdom and perspective gleaned from an hour of silent prayer each morning that prevents me from running for CEO of the universe.  As Henri Nouwen once remarked, ‘One of the most arduous spiritual tasks is that of giving up control and allowing the Spirit of God to lead our lives.”  (Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust)

Until we realize that our ability to control our lives is merely an illusion, not real at all, we are doomed to be filled with self-importance.  We are doomed to the sin of pride in thinking that we are God and can control our environment.  We are doomed to be responsible for everything, and God is alleviated of all responsibility for what happens.  Is that how you really want it?  Not me.  I’ve realized now that I may have lots of opinions about what is good for me, but that I really don’t know what is best for me.  I’d have to be God in order to know such things because unless I know everything, unless I can understand and consider every possible factor (internal and external) and combination of factors, there would be no way that I can really know what is best.

Do you really think that you know better than God?  Do you really think that in ANYTHING you know better than God what is best for you?  Let the knowledge of God’s omniscience lead you to trust him more.  Every little bit of control you surrender to Him is a testimony to growing trust.  

PRAYER: We release our hold on the reins of our life, Father, and commit ourselves into Your hand!!!!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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