Diminishing God

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“Wherefore, as I live, says the Lord God; surely, because you have defiled My sanctuary with all your detestable things, and with all your abominations, therefore will I also diminish you; neither shall My eye spare, neither will I have any pity.” Ezekiel 5:11

 

How often do we think of desolation of the Temple as coming from within? This is so easy to miss. When thinking about the destruction of the Holy Temple we think about Rome coming in and forcing a pig to be offered to desecrate the Temple. Or maybe we think of the final desecration of the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem before the last days, and an anti-Christ who does the same. But God is telling us in Ezekiel that desecration is closer than we think, that God’s own people desecrate the temple.

Isn’t that a terrible thought? The Jews themselves were guilty of defiling the sanctuary and bringing detestable things within its walls. The Jews themselves, yes, the people of God, were bringing abominations in. Really? Were they bringing pigs and things like that in? No. But they were busy bringing diminished ideas of God inside His own temple.

 

That word for diminished is gara in Hebrew. It means “to clip, diminish, restrain, keep back, withdraw.” Now listen to what Eliphaz said to Job, “Do you hear the secret counsel of God, and limit wisdom to yourself? (Job 15:8) That’s a good question. Do I hear God’s word and then think I can interpret it how I want? Do I really understand everything as I ought? Can I really know it on my own or do I need the Holy Spirit, the forefathers and other believers who have really dug in? Is this a process of becoming or do I know all right now? Can I decide for myself or is this something I live out in the community of believers? Would I really think so highly of myself as to “limit God’s wisdom to my understanding?”

Do I forget that though God comes to us individually and leaves the 99 for the 1 that is lost, the goal is to bring the 100 into the fold? Do I forget that the power of God exists in community, in unity with God and with other believers? Do I forget that I need accountability? Do I forget that I need others to help me see in myself what I’m blind to? Do I forget that the Holy Spirit will never teach me or lead me in a way that is against God’s words?

But that’s what happens when I diminish God and His word. Yes, God comes to people personally, but not for us to be our own people. He comes to us personally so that we can choose to become His people, grafted in as one, grafted in not only with each other, but grafted in with Him. Therefore, we live like Him and love like Him and respond like Him and make much of Him because He becomes our everything and all those who are held so dear to Him become dear to us.

When I think I am the gift of God, I make living about me, not about God and not about His people. I make my goals and my desires more important. I diminish God and make myself a type of god. I think I have the right to point out specks in other people’s eyes and not see the log in my own. (Luke 6:41) I bear fruit of my own liking and not of God, bad fruit instead of good, bad fruit that I somehow convince myself tastes and looks good. (Luke 6:43) I call God, “Lord,” but I don’t treat You as Lord because really I’m my own lord. (Luke 6:46) I hear what You say but I don’t do it because I’ve diminished Your agenda and glorified my own.

When I take care of number 1, you know, me, I desecrate Your Holy Temple because that’s not what You desire. Your command is to love God and to love others. Acts 4:32 expressed true “temple” worship, “and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.” And that’s the truth that doesn’t defile. Everything I have or am is because God has given it to me or in me. The Temple belongs to God. The instruments are His, the design is His, how it works is His idea. My purpose is to fulfill His idea, not mine. My purpose in life is to be fit in like His divine puzzle piece. I don’t even have the ability to fit myself. To think I do is the greatest farce. This is God’s playwright, He wrote it, it’s His, and we’re His players, and that’s the best place to be, looking to Him as Director so we get it right.

Lord, I don’t want to diminish You by having an attitude that I have it all under control or even know what I’m doing. I want to live under Your direction and I want to be sensitive to the direction of those who have heeded before me and along with me. I want to remember that I’m not a lone player and that I don’t get to write the script, or my script, or any one else’s script, but that You are the Script Writer. I don’t want to look clean on the outside and be a nasty cup on the inside because I’m in control. I want You to be in control, because who in the world am I to even think otherwise? I concede. After all, the temple was just a model of something greater. And Jesus, You told us, “something greater than the temple is here.” And I’m more than willing, I’m desperately in need of surrendering to You because the one who created the temple is greater than the temple. I want You to be God. Don’t let me diminish You in my life or in anyone else’s life. Let me let You be God in my life and all those around me. You know, You’re gonna be God because it’s who You are and I or anyone else can’t stop it. But I can keep myself and others from seeing it. Lord, don’t let that happen. I want to see You as You are. And I want to be an instrument that allows others to see You in Your fullness also.

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The Watchman on the Wall

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Photo credit to farm4.staticflickr.com

“What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies?  For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols!”  Habakuk 2:1

Counting the cost is always a good idea.  Even Jesus promoted counting the cost, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14:28) But what are we supposed to take a stand for?  Anything?  When You shared this thought, Jesus, You were telling of the cost of discipleship.  People were starting to follow You.  And maybe You were telling them that just following wasn’t enough.  Maybe belief is a radical commitment.  Because not only did You attach it to the idea of counting the cost, but You started the crowd off by telling them that following You required radical thinking and radical living.  “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.  Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”  (Luke 14:26,27)  That is not mamby-pamby. 

So what does Habakuk have to do with counting the cost?  Here, Habakuk says, “I will take my stand at my watch post and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.”  (Habakuk 2:1)  Habakuk has counted the cost.  His life reflects that decision.  He is taking a stand and accepting the cross that God has chosen for him to carry.  He takes his position at his watch post and stations himself in his place on the tower.  He looks expectantly and carefully and listens to know his next command.

Habakkuk isn’t on that watch post because his family or friends are there or because they sent him there.  His family and friends probably thought him extreme and maybe a kill-joy.  He was there at that watch post because He had counted the cost of being a God follower.  He had chosen to take His stand in God, no matter the cost.  And because he did, You shared Your plans with him, Lord, in a way that he could warn others.  And he wasn’t just there to warn of wrath to come, but of hope in You, if others would count the cost of clinging to You more than their friends and family or lifestyles.  And it’s not really tough stuff that’s only for the elite.  You told Habakuk to “write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” (Habakuk 2:2)  It’s clear for everyone to understand, it’s plain, and easy.  It’s so easy that those who read will know how to respond and in this case, the proper response would be to run.

I’m not going to get into the destruction of the Chaldeans today as You bring judgment upon them.  Because it’s not only about the Chaldeans here.  Scripture isn’t just a historical account.  Paul reminds us “whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”  (Romans 15:4)  In 1 Corinthians 10:11 he tells us that things happened as an example and were written for our instruction.  And let’s acknowledge that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16)  Why?  That the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

It’s not for every man.  It’s only for the benefit of the man or woman of God.  Well, that’s exclusive, isn’t it?  Not really.  You, Lord, offer the teaching to everyone.  You make it plain and simple and write it out for us so we can respond rightly to it.  The problem is, many of us don’t want to hear and we won’t even pick up the tablet and read.  And if you won’t even read it in the first place, how can you respond appropriately?  We’d rather write our own tablets and promote them before others.  We take the created and call it the creator.  We puff ourselves up.  You put it this way, “What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies?  For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols!” 

The problem was, and still is that we won’t take a stand for our Creator.  We would rather puff ourselves up and think that we can do what You do.  We create idol after idol and think ourselves so brilliant.  We make knowledge an idol and yet, by it, refuse to educate ourselves and refuse to look at all the facts.  We make race an idol and in the name of equality and rights for one race hate another race.  We make relativity an idol and while we declare there is no particular truth, we stifle those who believe in a truth.  But if truth is relative then one should have the right to whatever truth they believe, at least that’s the pretense there.  But our idols are false.  They are life seen through the eyes of the created, like little idols creating little idols. 

You can take something like this Noah’s ark replica being built and make fun of it and mock it by showing a picture of a giant dinosaur and how it wouldn’t fit.  You can mock with all the things you believe to be false about it.  But if you never stopped to see even a little of the other side, to see any evidence of how it could work, then how intelligent an approach is that?  I certainly wouldn’t brag about it to my kids if you haven’t done your research honestly.  But, that’s a stand you can take.  You can weigh your research, even as a scientist, in whatever direction you want.  Sure, go ahead and skew your results to make them look good.  You can take that stand if you want.  But I want to be honest.  I want to know the truth and I want to help others to see the truth, not just my view.  You can take it or leave it.  We all can.

In the long run, we’re not accountable to any idol.  Idols have no power, no matter how much we want them to and no matter how much we invest in them.  Only God is God.  There is a Creator whether you choose to believe or not.  All the evidence is out there and easy to read if we only pick up the tablet and look.  Every one of us has the invitation to take a stand not only for the Creator but in the Creator.  We have this Creator who took a stand for us, these creatures who think so much of ourselves and yet we are really so little compared to the entirety of creation.  But the Creator of the universe sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem us from ourselves and our idols and to make a way to see Him again in His fulness in our lives today and into eternity.  Idols don’t love like that.  People with their own agendas don’t love like that.  But You do.

I know I didn’t create myself.  You created me and You have every right to me.  And I can’t think of anyone that I want to take a stand for and in, more than You, because before I ever took a stand for You, You took a stand for me.  I don’t want people to read what I write and compliment me or make much of me.  I want people to read what I write and see You.  I want You to write Yourself so clearly on this tablet that people respond rightly to You and to Your words.  I want to see the mocker stop mocking and rejoice in delighting in You.  I want to see the hater, intent on their agenda, let go and love Your ways because they love You and know how much You love them and how much You love those around them.  I want to see the self-righteous humbled and awed by Your glory and presence.  I want to just enjoy You and love You and sit at Your feet and walk with You and talk with You and enjoy those You created around me with You.  I want to be a watchman on the walls and I want others to want to stand with me, together, standing with You.

On Passion and Agendas

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“You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16)

Things have actually gotten pretty crazy here in the U.S.  We’ve lost the idea of sacredness.  We’ve lost the idea of right and wrong.  An idea of relativity has been adopted.  The way that seems right to a man, is the way people are being taught to go.  (Proverbs 14:12)  Whatever you want to do, do it, and hate the ones who don’t agree.  That’s a sad state of affairs.  When it’s more important to be right, or to have my way, than it is to care about someone else, even if they disagree, well, we’ve become less than human.

This idea that we ought to be holy because our God is holy isn’t just an old fashioned, Old Testament idea.  Peter reiterated it.  Why?  Because our natural tendency is unholiness.  What we see in the world today is man’s natural tendency.  This is what man is like without God.  But the thing is, we were created to be with God.  We were created for God.  We were created to bear His image in the world, not to be empty shells bearing empty, selfish images.  But it’s a supernatural undertaking to get back to being who we were created to be.  It takes surrender and surrender is a bad word nowadays.  But surrender is the only right response before a God who created us and gives us every breath we take.  And only when we surrender to Him do we find out who we really were meant to be.

So here is Peter in chapter 1 telling us how to surrender to God.  To be holy like Him we first have to surrender our minds and our thinking.  We have to fill them with His ways by His word and that’s not enough.  We have to prepare our minds to act on those truths.  Yes, America, there is a truth, and it belongs to this God who created us and everything that is.  And it belongs to this God who loves us more than we understand.  It’s His truth that will set us free, not freedom from His truth.  Freedom from His truth is just captivity to a lie and a liar.

So we must prepare our minds in Him and act on the truth we learn from Him.  Be sober-minded.  Stop being drunk.  Get out of your drunken stupor where your mind is distorted by sin and you can’t see straight so you wouldn’t know the truth if it hit you in the face.  In 1 Corinthians 15:34,  Paul says, “Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.”  It’s a shame.  It’s a shame when we want to hold on to our bad habits that strongly even though they hurt us and our families.  It doesn’t matter if I’m a believer or not.  It’s a shame to choose the gutter over truth.

But sin gives us that buzz.  It’s all about my feelings.  It ceases to be about what’s right for anyone.  I just want to validate my feelings, despite those around me.  What happens to my morality?  It’s diminished.  My moral compass becomes skewed or non-existent.  My spiritual sensitivity becomes dull or void.  My ego gets high on itself.  Everything gets out of focus.  And the thing is that sin is worse than alcohol because there isn’t a single person who can tolerate even a drop of it without being effected.  And the more we drink, the more addicted we become.  The more we drink, the more we imprison ourselves in it’s power and lack of thinking.

But the truth is that there is power in God and in His word and in the truth of all that He is.  To reset our minds on Him is to have hope that as He reveals Christ to us day by day, more and more, until one day, we see Him return, that He is working Himself out in us.  I can choose to obey Him as my loving Father and be conformed to Him and walk away from the passions that I sought in ignorance.  I can choose the fullness and love of my Heavenly Father and be free from the passions that controlled me and made me empty.  He’s holy.  He’s Something Other, Something Above all I could imagine.  He’s better.  He’s fuller.  He’s love unimaginable and yet I can experience Him.  He’s relationship though I don’t deserve relationship.  He’s Faithfulness and Forgiveness and Fullness and Satisfaction and Joy and Hope and Peace.  Everything else is an empty sham.

I don’t care if you are a Christian, an atheist, or just John Doe out there.  If you think your money is your own, your wrong.  If you’re aiming at prestige and power, your missing it.  If your choices are made to protect your own best interests, how sad.  If all you want is recognition, how empty.  You can even be influential and look like a good American, a good person, but if you are just full of the wine of the world and drinking the best of it, you’re empty, you’re just a shell of what you were created to be.

There is a truth and there is a God and His will, will be done.  His will is that all men would come to know Him and what they were created for- to be in relationship with Him.  Peter tells us, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)  And repentance isn’t just about being sorry for choosing against Him.  Repentance is acknowledging our wrongness and turning from it to Him.  Repentance is recognizing God for who He is and turning to Him in relationship because You realize that everything else is emptiness without Him.

It’s not only those who are not believers who are living in error and emptiness.  Error and emptiness also creeps into the lives of believers.  This isn’t a hate message, this is a call to be loved and to love as we are loved by God.  Paul tells this to the church, but it doesn’t just apply to the church.  It applies to all people, everywhere, because God is a holy God and He is calling all people unto Him in relationship in salvation.  “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: neither sexually immoral, nor idolaters,  nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you.”  (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)  It’s not just people on the outside who choose to listen to their feelings over the truth.  Any of us can get drunk on ourselves, drunk on our anger, drunk on our feelings of what we think we deserve and how someone isn’t meeting that need that we think they should.  We can get drunk on our own passions and lose sight of You so easily.  And then we want to change the truth into a lie.

You know, I could explain that list of things that God is telling us is so foreign to what we’ve been created as and for.  And hearing that list is going to anger some people but that’s because they’re being angry drunks, letting lies control their minds and lives.  This isn’t who you were created to be.  Read the list.  Do you fall under any of those categories?  Are you feeling angry and empty and like people are against you?  Maybe it’s because this isn’t where you were created to be.  Maybe you were created to be loved in holiness and by Holiness.  And maybe you were created to be like Him, loving others in holiness, not selfishness.   Read the list, I have.  I’m a believer and I’m so glad that I didn’t stay in that drunken stupor.  I’m glad that You didn’t give up on me, God.  I’m glad that You remind me that the drunk I was, isn’t who I have to be now.  Yeah, I can pick up the wine of my passions again.  I can let them control me again.   It’s my choice, just like anyone else.  But You washed me, You sanctified me and set me apart for You, and You justified me in Jesus and by Your Spirit. I’ve lived in the drunken stupor, more than once.  I don’t want to go there again.

I don’t want my mind to be my own.  I don’t want my life to be about my passions.  That’s emptiness.  I want to live in the One who loved us so much that He sacrificed His passions by sacrificing His life for me a sinner and a rebel.  I want to give my all to the One who chooses to stick closer to me than a brother, to the One who gives of Himself to allow Himself to live inside of me.

People say today, “I can do whatever I want.”  They said that in Paul’s day too.  “All things are lawful for me.”  Paul was quoting that from the people of Corinth, not because it was truth, but it was the attitude.  He corrected that attitude.  Not all things add up when they’re added to our lives.  They’re just not profitable for us.  But why was Paul quoting that?  Because it was a misinterpretation of the people.  Paul was reminding that there is law, there is a structured order, and we are free to obey as we can in our culture.  It’s not license to sin.  It’s a freedom to obey even when we are restricted from obeying fully.

There is a law and it’s higher than man’s law, it’s the law of God.  We can acknowlege it or we can fight against it.  Surrendering to it brings peace and love and personal knowledge of God.  Fighting it brings pain and emptiness, it doesn’t matter if you’re a believer or a non-believer.  It doesn’t matter if you are involved in a homosexual relationship or a heterosexual relationship if you are going against God’s design.  It’s not about hate.  It’s about experiencing the love of God but we can’t if we are so caught up in loving ourselves we won’t even let ourselves see Him.  Look at the list.  Do I think that homosexuals are worse than the sexually immoral?  Do I think that adulterers are worse than idolaters?  Do I think that the greedy, or the thief, or the drunk, or the reviler, or the swindler is better or worse than the others?  No.  And neither does God.  Sin is sin.  All sinners are equal.  We all need to surrender to a God who knows and is the way to life.

I can choose to live according to my passions or I can choose to surrender to a God who created me to be filled with His passion.  He demonstrated the intensity of His passion for us through Jesus.  “For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in Him, who is the head of all rule and authority.” (Colossians 2:9.10)  David understood what a lot of us are missing.  “You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)  I don’t want to live for my own passions.  It’s too easy to be controlled by them and for my focus to get warped.  I want to live in Your presence where You fill me with everything that is right.  I want to live in Your presence by the power of Your Spirit in the power of Your resurrection because then I am loved and then I can love others rightly.

It’s funny.  There are so many angry people today.  They’re so focussed on their passions and their agendas that it’s all they can see, and they’re angry but don’t even realize how that doesn’t go together.  I mean the “tolerant” can’t tolerate anybody else.  How is that right?  But I could get there just as easily if I also choose to focus on myself, my passions, my agendas, my rights.  There’s a better way, and His name is Jesus. ” I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No man comes unto the Father but by Me.”  ( John 14:6)  It’s true.  There is a right way.  There is one truth.  And there is real life.  I don’t want to live in an alcohol induced dream world.  I hope you don’t either.  I want to choose to seek the One who sought me out and continues to seek me out.  I want to choose to be sober minded and to actually know the One I follow.  I want Him to make me like Him, just like Him.  I want Him to be my passion but I want His passion to be what controls me.  I don’t want to look like the world.  I want to look like Something Other.  I want to be holy like He is holy because I want to help others be filled with all the goodness and love that is You, Lord and it can’t be found in ourselves without You filling us.

Life Is Like a Seesaw

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“Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.”  Acts 13:12

Sometimes life is like a seesaw; you have to take the ups and downs.  I don’t know if the ups are better or the downs are better, but a seesaw wouldn’t be a seesaw without both.  And life wouldn’t be living without having to experience the ups and downs.  Because it’s the ups and downs that teach us the most.  Without the ups and downs we don’t get to learn to balance the seesaw.  And learning to keep under balance the ups and downs in our lives is pretty important.

This account today from Scripture is about keeping a right balance.  On one side of the seesaw there is Elymus, a Jew, and a magician and false prophet, who was the “friend” of the proconsul Sergius Paulus.  On the other side of the seesaw there is Sergius Paulus, Roman proconsul, a prudent man who had called for Barnabas and Paul to hear the word of God.

Now Barnabas and Saul had been going to the different synagogues and teaching.  They come to Paphos where they meet this Jew, Elymus, who wasn’t acting much like a true Jew.  And through him, they meet Sergius Paulus.  So on one side of the seesaw we have falsehood and on the other side we have prudence.  One side is promoting lies, the other side is seeking wisdom.

This seesaw started with Adam and Eve.  It started when one of us decided we had our own agenda and that our agenda was better than God’s.  But just because we decide to believe something, it doesn’t make it true.  Thus started the worst seesaw ride ever created.  But, You, Lord knew it was coming and had designed life around it.  This was all in Your plan.  No surprises here.

We were created naked, with no agenda of our own, and it was good.  We lived in the fear of the Lord.  That was the beginning of knowledge.  But like fools, we despised wisdom and instruction.  (Proverbs 1:7)  And it wasn’t just anybody’s wisdom and instruction we despised.  It was Yours.  We tossed Your agenda to the side and replaced it with our own.  And our agenda became like sport to us.  How much mischief could we get away with and not be caught and not suffer the consequences?  The sad thing is that both Adam and Eve sought mischief.  Neither one stood strong.  And what about us?  Are we any different?  But You give us hope that we can understand, we can have wisdom instead of foolishness.  (Proverbs 10:23) 

Now, it’s interesting that the word used for someone who is choosing wisdom and the word used for the craftiness of the serpent in the garden are the same word, “arum.”  But maybe that’s not so shocking after all.  Remember the time Jesus said, “Be wise as serpents, but harmless as doves”? (Matthew 10:16)  Here’s that whole idea of how we make our decisions again. Jesus, are You saying that I should be crafty like the serpent?  Or, are You saying that just as the serpent was intent on making his own agenda happen, I should be so intent on bringing Your agenda to pass?  What if the craftiness that went into the serpent’s agenda, was turned around to support Your agenda?  “Because the wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but the folly of fools is deceit.”  (Proverbs 14:8)  If I’m prudent, I understand the cost of making my own agenda.  But if I’m foolish, I live my life based on lie after lie and I ignore and cover up the truth all for the sake of my own agenda.

Now Elymus had been created by God to be a light unto Sergius Paulus.  But Elymus had adopted his own agenda so much so that he deliberately withstood the message of Barnabas and Paul.  Not only that, he was looking for ways, probably very crafty ways, to dissuade Sergius from the truth and from believing and changing his agenda. 

But Sergius Paulus was crafty in a different way.  He was craftily seeking the Truth and he was open to the truth.  He wanted to hear what Barnabas and Paul wanted to say.  And not only Barnabas and Paul knew that.  The Holy Spirit knew.  And the Holy Spirit decided it was time to do something about it.  Because the Holy Spirit’s agenda trumps everyone else’s agenda.  Elymus didn’t have a chance.

See, the Holy Spirit saw all kinds of self-agenda stuff in Elymus.  He was full of distortion and misinterpretation.  He was corrupt.  He was acting like a decoy.  He was using trickery and deceit.  He was full of mischief, recklessness, and malignity.  He was not only reckless with his own life but with all those under his influence.  To live by our own agenda is to live by the devil’s standards.  Do I want to be a child of the devil or a child of the Lord?  My agenda will make that choice for me.  The Holy Spirit called Elymus a child of the devil and an enemy of righteousness, who twisted the ways of the Lord.

So what happened?  The Holy Spirit struck Elymus blind for a season.  It wasn’t forever, but it was for a set time and a set purpose.  And notice the part where it says “and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.”  That is so awesome.  Because all this time, Elymus was trying to lead others according to his own way, and now he has the opportunity to learn to seek out the guidance of others.  Here he is learning for a time what it is to be dependent.  And the funny thing about that word seek, is that the Hebraism means to worship the Lord.  Was this a time for Elymus to learn to seek the Lord’s agenda instead of his own?  How’s that for mercy!

When Sergius Paulus witnessed what came to pass, he believed (pisteuo).  He was as astonished as if a hard ball had just hit him in the side of the face and knocked him down.  That’s how strong astonished here is.  But was he astonished by what happened to Elymus?  Luke says he was astonished at the doctrine, the teaching of the Lord.  Sergius heard the word and he saw the power of the word. 

What end of the seesaw am I on?  Am I willing to seek the truth or am I only searching for my own truth?  Do I want to come to know the power of the word of God?  Or am I seeking my own power?  Have I set up my own agenda?  Or do I realize that I need Your agenda?  Lord, I want to live in Your agenda.  And I know that believing and being amazed by You didn’t stop that day with Sergius.  I am still amazed at how You bring Your words to life in my life and in the life of other believers and those who are coming to believe.  Lord, guard me against deception, both against being deceived and deceiving others.  I want to be done with my own agenda.  I want to toss it out the window.  Well, actually, I would love to see it utterly destroyed because it has a tendency to creep back in the window.  But my agenda brings nothing but death and disappointment.  Yours, brings life and satisfaction and overflows with truth and power.   Open our eyes, Lord, to see the treasure of Your agenda and may it be our hearts desire to dwell in it.