Monday Morning Devotion-August 15. 2022
The Great Chess Match
*previously posted March 6, 2017
He prayed regularly to God. Acts 10:2
How do you like this statement? :
" And when you pray to God regularly, irregular things happen on a regular basis."
I love that! Why? Because it is true. I have found that it happens time after time in my life.
As Mark Batterson says: "You never know when or where or how God will invade the routine of your life, but you can live in holy anticipation, knowing that God is orchestrating supernatural synchronicities."
By the way, to start my daily devotions during Lent I picked up, for the third straight year: Batterson's "Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge." Pastor Betsy challenged Good Samaritan UMC to read this book each day during the 2015 Lenten Season. It has held countless blessings for me, so I'll probably share some of the main ones with you during the coming weeks as we approach Easter.
That brings us back to those supernatural synchronicities that Batterson says God is orchestrating for us and we will uncover in our prayer life.
Psychoanalyst Carl Jung said that synchronicity is "a concept which holds that events are 'meaningful coincidences' if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related."
Personally, I don't believe in coincidence as an explanation of why something happens in my life. I think everything happens for a reason. And while I sometimes can't figure out why something happens, I do know that God is in control therefore, an explanation will be revealed some day. Maybe that same day. Perhaps, many months or years later.
But that's why I like the way Batterson talks about these synchronicities as supernatural.
He says that God is always preparing us and positioning us for divine appointments…like a grandmaster who strategically positions chess pieces on a chessboard.
Why a chessboard? Because history is a chess match between good and evil. God is continually making strategic chess-like moves to counteract and defeat the moves of the evil one.
Today's story in Acts 10 points out one of God's classic moves that still has ramifications in our lives today.
Acts 10 reveals the story of Cornelius, a Roman centurion in charge of 100 soldiers. The LAB describes him and his family as "devout and God fearing, and he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly."
While praying Cornelius received a vision from God. An angel told him that his kind and generous acts had been recognized by God, and instructed him to send men to Joppa to "bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter."
OK so what's up with that? Cornelius didn't know Simon Peter from a hole in the wall, but he was faithful and followed the instructions without having any idea why he was told to do this. He just trusted God and did it.
This act of faith set up one of the all-time greatest supernatural synchronicities ever.
It just so happened that Peter was praying at the same time Cornelius was sending his men to get him. Another coincidence, right? Not!
A vision was revealed to Peter as well. And when those visions came together the grandfather of all supernatural synchronicities happened. Here is how Batterson describes it:
"Those visions collided in a divine appointment that radically altered the course of history. Up to this point, the Way was a sect of Judaism. It isn't until Cornelius, an officer in the Roman army, put his faith in Jesus Christ that the gospel is opened up to the Gentiles. If he doesn't get saved, you can't get saved. It's not even an option. So if you're a non-Jewish follower of Jesus, your spiritual genealogy traces back to this genesis moment. When Cornelius put his faith in Christ, the door of salvation swings wide open to the Gentiles.
It started with two people praying. Those two prayers have been answered billions of times over the last two thousand years. In fact, they were answered yet again when you put your faith in Jesus Christ."
Batterson points out that Cornelius and Peter should never have met each other. They lived about 32 miles from each other in a day when the average person never traveled more than 30 miles from home. They were also separated by ethnicity. And Peter broke every Jewish law by visiting the home of a Gentile, risking everything that he had accomplished in the Lord's name.
Thus Christianity was opened up to you and me through this amazing chess move made by God that created a beautiful supernatural synchronicity.
The key to all that happened was that two people were praying. Prayer opens up the entire chessboard for God so He can make the moves that bless your life.
If you seek God, opportunity will seek you. "If you meet with God, God will make sure you meet the right people at the right time. After all there is nobody He doesn't know. It's one degree of separation.
Praying and trusting God will open up the entire chessboard that is your life so that He can do the good works that your faith can bring about.
Remember the great chess match in your life is being contested between good and bad.
Your prayers open up the moves that God will use to checkmate evil.
Prayer: Lord please help us to pray always and be open to the ways in which you counteract and checkmate evil in our lives. Amen!