Thanks to an early birthday gift from my husband, I spent the weekend at a women's conference hosted by my church, which featured Bible study teacher and author, Priscilla Shirer. It was a conference I had wanted to attend but didn't feel I could afford, so I was truly thankful my husband recognized my need to get away from the chaos and drama of my life and be spiritually refreshed.
On Friday night, Priscilla's anointed message centered on the patience of God and how much power his patience not only requires, but also reveals. One thing I struggle with daily is patience with people who frustrate me. I jotted down a few noteworthy statements, which really caused me to think about my lack of patience and seek God for more of his.
"God's power is seen not only in what he does, but in what he doesn't."
"His patience is demonstrated not only in his release of power but also in his restraint."
When I am in the heat of conflict with someone I often lack restraint, particularly when it comes to verbally communicating my position on the issue causing the conflict. With every reiteration of my position, particularly if the other person doesn't get it the first time around, I grow increasingly impatient and angry. In an effort to get my point across I often bludgeon my poor opponent with an unwarranted verbal assault, effectively destroying any chance God might have of softening his hard heart or breaking through with the kind of revelation that might turn his life around.
Teaching from a passage in 1 Timothy 16, Priscilla said that perhaps no one better understood the patience of God than the apostle Paul. The reasons Paul could testify to God's patience were that (1) "God saved me" (v. 15), (2) "God changed me" by showing his great mercy (v. 13); and (3) "God is using me" (v. 12). God could use Paul, the "chief of sinners," because he changed Paul from the inside out. How often do we feel that God could never use us because we too often lose our cool and overstep boundaries?
Using the example of popcorn, Priscilla taught us that corn doesn't "pop" because of the heat exerted on the outside but because of the heat exerted on the inside, causing a tiny water drop within the kernel to turn into steam and through heat and pressure, result in the external change we know as popcorn. The same is true when the Holy Spirit changes us on the inside -- the rotten fruit of our anger and bitterness are transformed into the sweet fruit of God's love and compassion. All too often, we resist the Holy Spirit's work in us and, as a result, cheat ourselves and others of God's blessing.
Life is difficult and our circumstances may cause us to respond in very unhealthy and ungodly ways. Priscilla said that "the enemy does not want us to value where God has put us." But what if we could? What if we could see our present season as God's opportunity to change us and use us for his glory? We needn't feel that we have been cheated of God's blessings in the hard seasons of life, but rather encouraged that God has chosen us, even in our difficulties, to be his vessels of amazing grace.
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