Saturday, February 23, 2008

Godly Confidence

Acts 4:13-14:
"Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John, and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were marveling, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in reply."

Godly confidence comes comes from being with Jesus. No one can dispute a changed life. Peter and John weren't popular by the world's standards. Their lack of education and training gave them no status, honor or respect from their peers. Human confidence is often built upon those things. The confidence Peter and John displayed was foundational in their lives and real because it was built on the unshakable reality of Christ in their lives. People saw the difference and it blew them away.

I once helped found a Christian elementary school. I was to be the first junior high teacher. I had never taught full time before, and never at this high a grade level, and never so many grades (5th-8th all in one class). It was quite a challenge. Kind of like "the toughest job you'll ever love." My husband, a veteran high school teacher and college professor, gave me these words before I entered the class room on that first day: "Be confident. You know more than they do." That helped me navigate that year a great deal. Teenagers are apt to say some pretty heady things and challenge authority in their attempt to figure out who they are and where they fit in to their world. Being able to reach out to them with affirmation and doing so from a place of confidence helped establish mutual respect between the students and I that year. I could have confidence because of the reality of experience in my life.

Our experience with Jesus should result in a confident that isn't built on status or popularity with the crowd. Our confidence, if it is to help change our world, needs to be rooted in the unchanging reality of knowing Christ and hanging out with Him on a daily basis.

Lord, help us to "show what we know" - not in a human egotistical way - but in the beautiful reality of how our encounter with you has dramatically changed our lives.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Lift Up My Eyes

"In the morning I will order my prayer to Thee and eagerly watch." Psalm 5:3

We should expect for and "eagerly watch" for the answers to our prayers.

Something I love about the Christian life is that it is an honest life. While, as believers, we are the recipients of beautiful promises from God there are still mysteries about His nature with which I wrestle. I don't get the sense that God is annoyed with my honest questions. In fact, I think He delights in answering my questions in unexpected ways. Honestly is always O.K. as long as it is accompanied by reverence. I'm glad God doesn't distance Himself from me when I have questions, and He always knows where exactly the "end of my emotional rope lies."

At times there are strings of seemingly "unanswered prayers" and our souls can "steel" themselves against the hurt of things not going the way we had hoped. God has shown Himself to be trustworthy because He often creates beauty from the soil of disappointment. Yet, there is sometimes a fear that we can become so accustomed of that "hunker down" mindset that we can forget to "eagerly watch" for His answers. There are seasons of grief and seasons of joy. If we have been through a season of sadness, let's not miss out on the season of exuberant joy. We can rejoice that He does ultimately answer prayer on His timetable, which is always the best. Lord, lift up our eyes to "eagerly watch."

Be Ready for the Power Switch

"It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you." Acts 1:7-8

God doesn't always reveal timing. Time is such a fixation in culturally sophisticated countries like ours. God "keeps His cards close to His chest" on that one. But what He does offer us freely is power when the Holy Spirit comes upon us. This makes for a relationship where we need to be dependant upon God continually and to be completely trusting of His work in our lives. We may not know ahead of time the way God will choose to work or when His hand will move. However, if we're always ready - that is if we re in an abiding relationship with Him - keeping our hearts open through prayer and being in His Word and applying these Biblical lessons to our throughts and attitudes, then we will be ready to be used by the Master when He turns the power switch on.