Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Working Outside the Box

Working Outside the Box
Read: Ezra 1:1-11
Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing.”  (Ezra 1:1 NASB)
            We are not surprised or overly concerned when we witness God using believers to accomplish a divine task.  In fact, we rejoice along with them and praise the Lord together.  A much different reaction occurs when we learn that God has used a person who appears to be outside the mainstream of Christianity.  Can God use someone who is purely secular, an unbelieving friend, or even a pagan ruler to fulfill his plans?  Would he use someone who was his enemy?  What do the Scriptures reveal about God “working outside the box?”
            Consider Samson who was born into a godly family.  He became defiant, unruly, disobedient, prideful; yet God used him to defeat the Philistines and rescue the Jewish people.
            God stirred up the armies of Assyria to defeat the northern kingdom of Israel and take the people captive.  Because of their idol worship and defiance of God, He dispersed them to the point that the northern kingdom ceased to exist.  On more than one occasion God used pagan kings and armies to accomplish his purpose and judgments. 
            Jesus certainly worked outside the box in choosing the disciples.  Among his choices was Matthew (a hated tax collector), Simon the Zealot (who was noted for stirring up trouble with Rome), and Judas Iscariot (who was an unbeliever and traitor). 
            Since God is Sovereign, he has the right and authority to work through whatever means available.  On one occasion Jesus said, “If they (followers) keep quiet, the stones along the road will cry out.”  (Luke 19:40 NLT)  This proves that nothing is outside God’s power to control. 
            It behooves us as believers to “think outside the box.”  We are so prone to operate through sacred rituals, formats, schedules, programs, and traditions.  The Lord is not restricted to our set way of doing things.  He does not operate on preconceived ideas. 
             Is God using people (believers and unbelievers) in your life to bring you closer to Him?  Take time to “think outside the box

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