Christianity 201

April 6, 2019

God Didn’t Need It, But God Used It

Today we’re back with Jim Thornber, who’s website is called Thinking Out Loud. (Weird, huh?) This is the first devotional here that begins to focus our thoughts on christ’s path to Jerusalem. Click the header below to read this article there.

The Never-Ridden Donkey

“Go into that village over there. As you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.” (Luke 19:30)

I’ve been teaching through the book of Luke at my church, and this one passage about Jesus riding the young donkey has been on my mind for a couple of weeks. I like this part of the story about Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem because it reveals a number of things. It shows how often Jesus requires the use of our possessions and why it is always an honor to give back to God a portion of everything He has given us. But the takeaway part of the story for me is to realize how God can use those things little things in our life the rest of the world wouldn’t say is possible.

Matthew tells us the two disciples looked for a donkey tied with its colt beside it and brought both the donkey and the colt with them (Matt. 21:4-5, 7). Now, I’m thinking about the owners of this young donkey no one had ridden. Did they look back after they understood the significance of the event and marvel, saying, “God used us! US! All we really had were two donkeys and Jesus used the smallest one, the one no one had ridden, the one with the least experience, the one no one else would think of using, and with the least of what we had Jesus used it to accomplish His purpose on earth. Wow!” Ponder this: Can you see God using those little things in your life everyone else has dismissed as unusable?

God doesn’t need to use what I have. He could use anything He wants. The Father could have created a donkey out of mud and placed it where Jesus needed it, but He didn’t. Instead, this story tells us He wants to invite us into the events of His purposes. He invites us to trust Him with the gifts He has given us. To be honest, if I was the owner of this little colt, I’d be wondering when I’d be getting my livestock back. “When are you going to return it, Jesus?” would be my question. Or, I might go selfish and wonder how the Lord will bless my donkeys. Will He bring back four donkeys? Will my donkeys always have healthy colts? What’s in it for me? You’ve heard preachers tell you, like with Job, “God will give you double for your trouble?” That might be true, but I don’t want to go through what Job went through to find out!

Furthermore, I want to be like the owners of the animals who, when they heard, The Lord needs them,” (Luke 19:31), they immediately (Matt. 21:3) let them take his possessions. While most people would consider the miracle part of the story being Jesus sitting on a donkey who had never been ridden without being thrown off, in my life the challenging miracle of the story is the “immediately” part. To be honest, I’m still working on my “immediately” responses. In too many ways, I don’t always believe Jesus can use my unridden donkeys, those areas of my life I don’t think anyone has any use for. But this story tells me differently.

Here’s the question I’ve been pondering, so I’ll share it with you. What is your unridden donkey, and how can God use it for His purposes? Then, when you find out, work on your “immediately.” I know I will!

 

March 29, 2014

Are Your Prayers Charismatic or Contemplative?

Mark O. Wilson tweeted a link to this 2013 article yesterday, and while it’s not a typical item for this page, the more I considered it, the more I had to include it. To read it at source, click through; it appeared under the title Believe Like a Charismatic, Trust Like A Monk.

In Bible believing circles, there are two influential schools of thought regarding prayer.

1) The Charismatic Claim it Boldly in Faith Circle
2) The Contemplative Listen in Childlike Trust Circle.

Christians pray differently, when facing a challenging circumstance, physical illness, financial adversity, or perplexing dilemma, depending on which circle they’re in.

The “Charismatic Claim it Boldly in Faith Circle” people pray something like this:

“Lord, you said a grain of faith can move the mighty mountain! You said a prayer of faith will heal the sick! We take you at your Word and claim your promise! Mountain, MOVE in Jesus’ name! By His stripes we are healed! Your faith has made you whole!”

The “Contemplative Listen in Childlike Trust Circle” people pray along these lines:

“Abba Father, I come to you as a hurting child. I am broken, poor and needy. Yet, I know your love and grace flow freely to the darkest place. Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Please be near me as I walk this difficult valley, and help me not to struggle against it. Teach me, from this experience, that I may be more like Jesus.”

So — which way should we pray?

I propose that we approach the throne of grace with a blend of both! Pray with the boldness of a pentecostal preacher and the trust of a contemplative monk! Both perspectives are valid, yet both can lead to error. Jesus blended the two approaches in the prayer he taught to his disciples: “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done.”

We must pray with forceful strength: Thy Kingdom come!
We pray in faithful surrender: Thy will be done.

Pray with Forceful Strength.
God is bigger than any problem, and we need to pray in light of this greatness. God is big enough for anything! People who fail to pray boldly will see few miracles. When we refuse to engage in the spiritual battle, we won’t experience the victory. As Jesus said, “the Kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men take hold of it” (Matthew 11:12).

Yet, the “claim the promise” people can easily fall into arrogance, judging those suffering adversity as “lacking in faith”, and promoting their own agenda rather than Christ’s. When prayers are not answered according to expectation, the great faith often evaporates into despair and disillusionment. Genuine faith runs much deeper than bluster.

Pray in Faithful Surrender:
Our prayers should share the spirit of Jesus in Gethsemane, “Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done” (Luke 22:42 KJV). Step out in faith to pray boldly — and then, in simple trust, leave the results to God.

He might work a mind blowing miracle and change the entire situation. Or, he might perform a hidden work of the heart, and grow us in grace. The way He chooses is always best, and it’s not our job to second guess Him.