It’s Only Logical

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Mike’s post yesterday gave me much to chew on, and I started to remember all the ways that the Bible makes my brain hurt. One in particular stood out to me:

So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.
Matthew 20:16 NKJV

The verse above is a perfect example of just how NOT human our God truly is, and how maddening His ways are to me when I’m not in the Spirit.

Can you imagine the reaction if we tried to implement that verse into the world? Oh, the fistfights that would break out, the bloody howls of outrage that would echo through the halls of every building that had people queued up for something—utter pandemonium would ensue! That’s to be expected, of course, but I’m not sure that the reaction would be any better if the last were made first in your average church. Think about the parable that this verse caps.

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.  And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went.  Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise” (Mt. 20:1-5).

This goes on until the last group of workers is there only an hour. And then the vineyard owner pays each man exactly the same amount, regardless of the amount of work they’ve done. Needless to say, the first group isn’t very happy. Honestly, I remember reading this parable when I was young and I wasn’t very happy either. I remember thinking, “Well, God, that’s not fair!” And by any definition of the word “fair” (i.e., treating people in a way that does not favor some over others), God is absolutely not.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8-9 NKJV

And how! When Mike likened each surrender (encounter of the Cross) to paying a toll before continuing down the road, what really leaped out at me was how many of those tolls have to do with God’s absolute sovereignty. It ever and always comes back to the fact that I’m not in charge, and the One who is, doesn’t do things the way I think they should be done. Just look at the Almighty burn leveled by the landowner at the end of the parable:

‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’

Not so much as a “By your leave, good fellow!” Nope, if there’s one thing that God makes plain through sheer repetition, it’s His inviolate, immovable sovereignty. Paul asked, “Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?” That’s not even nice, let alone fair!

And sometimes I think that that’s the point. My fallen nature, which is always accessible to me, ever flirts with the lie that there are no consequences for disobedience to the Word of God. (“Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die’” [Gen. 3:4].) It is the enormous love of God that hammers home, over and over, the indisputable FACT that He rules ALL—and I exist only as He sees fit to let me.

Sandy commented on Mike’s post, “Talking about an exchanged life, it seems one needs an ‘exchanged’ brain first!” I think that’s brilliantly right. The mind of the Spirit is NOTHING like my natural mind. I cannot comprehend the mind of God, let alone His alien ways, without the mind of the Spirit. I cannot walk in His ways, or carry out His will, without the indwelling life of Jesus Christ exchanged for my own. And without the unearned, inexplicable, and life-giving love of God the Father, I wouldn’t even know how much I just don’t know.

Every toll represents the death of my pride, the sacrifice of my rights, the surrender of my thoughts, and the end of my life as I know it. It’s humiliating and painful. And that’s how He set this up. Strangely, the less I try to understand Him, the better I know Him and the more I love Him. God is just…GOD.

Comments:

Posted by Cindy Pollard
April 4, 2014 at 7:11 pm

I seem to handle the big tests by surrender to the Lord, in the world, in the church, but when God puts the tests in my family, wow! That’s way too personal. After all, home is where I rest & get personal time with Jesus. Home is where is supposed to be safe. Home is where I have my personal comforts & delights. Last place at home?

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Posted by Tina
April 3, 2014 at 1:10 pm

My heavier crosses test my heart. They separate my mind from the mind of Christ. They test whether I surrender and trust that my Father’s love or whether I am holding on to the promises meaning what I want them to mean. God is faithful. His promises are true. I can trust Him.
When He does not come the way that I hoped He would, the way that I envisioned His promise to be, the way that I interpreted His Word or revelation to me…this is where I really begin to discover both the cost and the reward of surrender. His Word is always exactly perfect and true, it is never what I perceived it would be.

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    Posted by Tina
    April 3, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Ahh Jennifer summed it up best in the initial quote that took me on this path…”Every toll represents the death of my pride, the sacrifice of my rights, the surrender of my thoughts, and the end of my life as I know it.” lol

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Posted by Tina
April 3, 2014 at 12:27 pm

“Every toll represents the death of my pride, the sacrifice of my rights, the surrender of my thoughts, and the end of my life as I know it.” After a recent “toll” I am beginning to appreciate the necessity of it…at least I can now see the fruit of the cost more readily without it taking years and being able to look back and see God’s purpose. I can appreciate now having seen how blind I am in my own ways that the cost is high in part to force me to the surrender of my sight, the awareness that my light was darkness, that my path was death…despite the knowledge that told me otherwise. There is truly a tree of knowledge of GOOD and evil and then there is the tree of life. Tasting the fruit of life only comes when the taste of all the other is recognized as poisonous.

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Posted by Sandy
April 3, 2014 at 8:16 am

“Strangely, the less I try to understand Him, the better I know Him and the more I love Him. God is just…GOD.”

Loosing me… Finding Him!

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Posted by pearl
April 3, 2014 at 8:16 am

I woke up with a thought this morning…”The word of God is a totally different reality” And our faith is a fight and battle to continually believe what His word says vs what our flesh, the world and the devil say…
Sounds simple enough…I am fighting a battle to rest secure in what He says, that by His stripes I AM literally now…healed- Its apprehending that for myself in my situation. When on one hand I am scheduled for Major knee surgery next Tues on the other Gods word Says…it is written….That Jesus bore all my sickness and disease and sin….I am coming over into faith , which is just believing a totally different reality…Faith is in Him and His word. Faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things now seen (yet)…. We are in a Kingdom where all around us appears one way, but as we are transformed in each area by renewing our minds with His living and active word, sharper than any 2 edged sword, able to pierce to the division of soul and spirit , joint and marrow and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of my heart! It’s truly saturating ourselves in HIS reality, that is where we win over what we see vs What He says…. Its each of our battle and our fight of faith…Lets fight the good fight of faith today, believing Hymn above All else…amen!

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    Posted by pearl
    April 3, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Oops it actually says in Hebrews 4:12 the evidence of things NOT seen…typo

    Reply

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