Tuesday, August 14, 2018

God of Surprises

Chuckle: Two political candidates were hotly debating. Finally, one of them yelled at the other, "What about the powerful interest that controls you?" The other guy screamed back, "You leave my wife out of this!"
Quote: "You pray in your distress and in your need, would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and your days of abundance." --Kahlil Gibran

"So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. . . .Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. 'Quick, get up!' he said, and the chains fell off Peter's wrists. . . . But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished." (Acts 12:5, 7, 16 NIV).
This passage reminds me how surprised and astonished we are sometimes when God actually answers our prayers. I must admit there have been times when I've prayed for something to happen while not really believing that God would grant my request. There have also been times when God totally surprised me by answering my prayers in ways I could never have imagined.
We may think these early Christians showed a lack of faith by praying while not expecting the answer they received; but is that really the way it was? I believe they had faith that God would answer their prayers; but when they saw Peter at the door, they couldn't believe it. They were astonished by such an amazing demonstration of God's power. Evidently, the middle of the night rescue of Peter from prison by an angel of God was far beyond their expectations. Perhaps they expected that God would answer in a more "normal" way. Do we expect God to answer our prayers by doing certain things in certain ways?
If we make a habit of praying earnestly and continually, no doubt we will be astonished by God's mighty works far beyond what we expect. If we are never astonished by what God does, is He really working in our lives and around us? Remember, it is God Himself who answers our prayers, not our finite mental image of God.
I believe God expects us to be a people of faith who always believes that God answers our prayers if we are praying in accordance with His will. When you pray, you should believe you will get an answer, and when the answer comes, be astonished but don't be surprised. Instead, just be thankful. "But when he (a person) asks, he must believe and not doubt" (James 1:6 NIV).
A final thought: If we pray selfishly, we have every reason to doubt that God will grant our requests. James warns us about praying selfishly. "When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures" (James 4:3 NIV).
Love, Jerry & Dotse


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