Tag Archives: Disobedience

February 25; Choice: The Two Sided Coin

Leviticus 26-27

I’m so glad God is Who He is. I love the fact He created us with the ability to choose, although it would have been easier if we couldn’t help but obey Him. Sometimes that gift of choice is a curse.

I love the fact that God is never one and done. Look at how many chances God gave the Old Testament Jews. He blessed, they’d disobey, He’d punish, they’d repent, He blessed, they’d disobey, He’d punish, they’d repent, etc., etc., etc.

God is in the business of second chances (and third, and fourth…). Sometimes those chances look like the things described in these last chapters of Leviticus. Sometimes chances look like sudden terror, wasting diseases… Sometimes like famine both spiritually and materially. Sometimes those chances look like plagues and devastation.

But I love the fact that God won’t give up on any of us. Yes, His discipline meant to drop us to our knees might hurt. Yes, we might have to suffer loss before we humble ourselves. Sometimes we choose to disobey and have to pay the consequences our choices require.

But verses 40-45 remind us that there is another side to that coin. God is only as far away as a repentant heart. The choice to confess sin comes with so much blessing!

If we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)

Here’s the choice: reject God and suffer the consequences. Receive what Jesus died to give you and be blessed.

The choice seems obvious to me.

Jeremiah 1-4; You Can’t Have It Both Ways

We know from history that the Babylonians took the nation of Israel into captivity. We know from the Bible God allowed that to happen because the Israelites sinned, and continued to sin even after God’s repeated warnings.

Don’t ever forget that God punishes sin. Every sin. Oh, maybe not the moment we commit the act. He might give us warnings, or a slap on the wrist first. He is patient. But just because you seem to have gotten away with it because God didn’t zap you the second you sinned, doesn’t mean He’s forgotten it. It doesn’t mean He’ll let it slide. Every sin comes with a death sentence.

As I was reading these chapters, I heard God’s agony over His disobedient children. I heard Him plead with them to come back to Him. I heard Him warn them about the awful consequences they were facing without Him. He reminded them about the times He had been faithful in the past when they called on Him. He begged them to call on Him again so He could rescue them yet again.

But it seems the people heard only half of what God was saying. They heard: “… I will frown on you no longer for I am merciful… I will not be angry forever… I will choose you… How gladly would I treat you like sons, and give you a desirable land…” (3:11-19)

God really did say all of that. Those promises came from His heart. But Israel was still in trouble, which lead to the unbelievable audacity Jeremiah had to call God a liar:

“… Ah, Sovereign Lord, how completely you have deceived this people and Jerusalem by saying, ‘You will have peace,’ when the sword is at our throats.” (4:10)

Wow.

People still question God today, still blame Him when things don’t go our way. And the message of God’s love and provision is still being preached today.

Without the “If.”

God sums things up in 4:18:

“YOUR OWN CONDUCT AND ACTIONS have brought this upon you. This is your punishment. How bitter it is! How it pierces to the heart!” (emphasis mine)

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t expect God to bless you while you are holding on to sin. You can’t expect God to hear you until you first call on Him, repent of sin, bow before Him, and obey Him. You can’t claim His love and protection, and ignore His holiness.

God’s history with the nation of Israel shows us that He not only demands obedience at the exclusion of everything else, He deserves our obedience. It shows us how He delights in blessing our obedience, and how serious He is about our disobedience.

Do you want His blessing? Then obey Him. Period. You just can’t have it both ways.

2 Kings 21-25; God’s Delight

Jewish history as recorded in the Old testament is full of reports of hard times, disease, wars, famines, slavery. Weren’t these God’s chosen people? Wouldn’t that mean they’d be living on Easy Street?

As I read this morning, my mind kept going to my pastor’s Bible Study from last night’s prayer meeting. We’re going through the Psalms, and last night he spoke on 18:6-19, pointing out three things God delights in:

God delights in our prayers.

God delights in responding to our prayers, answering our prayers.

God delights in me. In you.

So as I read 2 Kings today, it occurred to me that God does NOT delight in punishing His people. Oh, discipline is part of His love for us. He will never turn a blind eye to sin. He rejects those who reject Him.

But He doesn’t like it.

He’d much rather enjoy a relationship with us, pure and holy, as we allow Him to clothe us with Jesus’ purity and holiness, through His blood. When I read the accounts of all the bad kings in Israel, and all the ways God disciplined Israel for disobedience, I find myself feeling bad, not for them, but for God. I’m sorry He had to distance Himself from his disobedient people when He so longed to wrap His arms around them and protect them.

And I am sorry for the times He has had to remove Himself from me because of my own disobedience, for the times I have robbed Him of fellowship with me because of my pride, or my neglect of Him, or some sin I haven’t confessed.

Nothing can separate me from His love. His love is a given. But my sin can separate me from a relationship with the One who loves me and gave Himself for me, from the One who delights in me.

As I thought about last night’s Bible lesson, I was reminded that this month is Pastor’s Appreciation Month, and I hope you make it a point to let your pastors know what it is you appreciate about their ministries. I’ve shared that I am blessed to be a part of two fellowships, one in Georgia, and another in Ohio. And I am blessed to call Pastor Whit and Pastor Bill my pastors.

Both men have blessed me, challenged me, and encouraged me to go deeper into God’s Word through their sermons. Both men have demonstrated examples what it means to be ready and eager to share Jesus with people in our communities.

So, Pastor Bill. I appreciate you. I appreciate your heart for the people of Bellville. I appreciate how much you do for our little fellowship, how available you are, and how true to God’s Word you are. Your time in God’s Word speaks to my heart every time I am privileged to hear you share what God lays on your heart. I pray for you and Kris, and for your ministry. May you see the fruit of your efforts in a mighty way, and may God be glorified. I know that is the prayer of your heart.

Pastor Whit, I appreciate you. You inspire me to find ways to share Jesus. I appreciate how you take us verse by verse through the Bible, even those hard passages. I appreciate how God’s Word excites you. Your enthusiasm is contagious. I pray for you and Wendy and the kids, as you serve our Lord on this island. (I love how you love our island!) And I pray that God will continue to guide you as you lead our fellowship into this building  project. May we not just grow a building, but enlarge the church for Jesus sake. I know that is your prayer, too.

Pray for your pastors, and not just because it’s Pastors Appreciate Month. When I read God’s Word I am reminded how important leadership is, not just in nations, but in our fellowships as well. God blesses obedience. Pray that your pastor will be obedient. God blesses true worship. Pray that your pastor will lead you to worship God in Spirit and Truth. God blesses the humble. Pray that your pastor will continue to humble himself before the Lord. Pray for your pastor’s relationship with God.

Pray that God will use your pastor to speak to your own heart, to encourage your own obedience, to prompt you to share the good news of Jesus Christ with lost souls.

And may our fellowships be those which God can delight in as we pray, as we recognize answers to our prayers and give Him the glory, and as we serve Him out of grateful hearts. Remember God delights in YOU. God wants to bless YOU, God wants to fellowship with YOU. He would rather not have to discipline you.

May we delight in the One who delights in us. He certainly deserves it.

 

 

Deuteronomy 7&8; Obedience= Blessing (Not The Other Way Around)

Five times in these two chapters, God makes a direct link between obedience and blessing. Verse after verse describe the Promised Land with all its abundance. But God is not handing the land over to His people without some strings attached.

Clearly He says, all the blessings of Canaan are theirs, IF. Then three times He tells them what will happen if they disobey. First, in 9:14 He warns them they’ll forget Him, then in verses 19, and repeated in 20, He tells them disobedience will lead to destruction.

For myself, I know that when I am blessed by God, it encourages me to obey Him again and again. But I think the Bible is consistent in saying God does not bless disobedience. In fact, there are severe consequences for disobedience.

Sometimes I think people believe God chose Israel (and perhaps the Church) to bless them above all nations, when in reality God chose them (and the Church) to worship Him before all other nations and people, to demonstrate how much He blesses a people who obey Him, in order to draw unbelievers to Himself, so that they can believe, worship, and obey Him, be blessed, and continue to reveal Him to others, and so on, and so on, and so on.

God delights in blessing His children. But obedience comes before blessing, and disobedience comes before a fall.

Genesis 33:16-34:31 A Measure Of Obedience

Often when I’m reading this portion of Scripture, I notice that at the end of chapter 33, Jacob does something different than what he’d said he would do. He told his brother he was coming home. Instead, he got as far as Succoth, about a day’s journey short of going home, and settled there. Not quite the Promised Land. But close. I find myself wondering about this change of plans.

But then chapter 34 starts and I get caught up in Dinah’s tragic story. Jacob forgotten.

It occurred to me that just because a chapter ends and another begins doesn’t mean they’re not connected. So I pulled out some commentaries to see what others think about it. Here is a synopsis of my study:

To begin with, the Lord, in 31:3 told Jacob to go “back to the land of your father and to your relatives, and I will be with you.” Jacob kind of did that. He got just inside Canaan, like a kid who puts his toe on the line he’s told not to cross. Then, and this is what hit me, he had the audacity to buy land, makes shelters, and build an altar to God, naming it “The God of Israel.” Did he think if he named the altar after God, God would be appeased and overlook the disobedience Jacob was committing?

I’m wondering if a person can sort of obey God.  Can  someone ask Jesus into their heart, yet hold on to a sin or two? Can a Christian go to church, give generously, yet harbor hatred toward a brother, and still be considered obedient? Is God ok with our outward display of partial obedience?

Let’s look at the result of Jacob’s actions. His daughter was violated, his sons committed mass murder and theft. And in the end, God told him to keep moving and do what He’d told him to do in the first place. All of that heartache could have been avoided if Jacob had obeyed from the start.

As I read this portion of Scripture I am challenged to check my level of obedience. I believe God is telling me that having a measure of obedience is disobedience. And there are serious consequences for holding back on God.

And I am reminded that God doesn’t demand total obedience because He is a buzz-kill, or some control freak. God knows that there are blessings that come with total obedience, and He is anxious to pour those blessings over His children. God knows that when we obey Him we are spared from the heartaches that come from disobedience. And He wants us to live lives free from those heartaches.

Just obey Me, He tells us. Then see what life can really be.

September 3 – It’s Personal

Ezekiel 22-23

As I read these chapters this morning, I was hit with the realization that God is not indifferent concerning my sin. In fact, when I sin, He takes it personally.

23:38 says, “Again, they have done this to Me…”

I remember when the Jews were demanding a king for the first time, Samuel felt like he had failed God somehow. God told him not to feel that way. “for they have not rejected you, but the have rejected Me from being king over them.” (1 Sam 8:7)

I might feel bad about lying to my friend, or guilty about lusting after my neighbor’s husband, or ashamed concerning a TV show I watch or an internet site I visit. But God is offended. He looks at every sin I commit as a rejection of Him, a slap in His face.

As I think of this I get a picture of Jesus on the cross, in pain and agony as He takes on my sin. And I see me, tossing another sin His way, slapping His bruised and bleeding face, pouring salt into the open wounds on His back, and laughing as I do.

I might think my sin is no big deal. But My Savior takes it personally.

July 23 – God Feels Pain

Hosea 8-14

When I read Hosea’s words this morning I was struck by God’s emotions toward His children. Often I’ve read about God’s anger. Today I see Him a bit differently.

My youngest nephew is going off to college. Even though I’m not his mom, I’m pretty close to this crazy teenager. And it’s not easy letting him go. So many memories rush back as I think about him getting in that car and driving away toward adulthood. The first time I held him in my arms, his first wobbly steps, the funny way he rolled his r’s when he was learning to talk, his first soccer game, playing catch in the backyard, watching Space Jam and laughing over The Great Race (MMMMAAAAAAAAAXXX!!!), Indians games, Disney, Chuckie Cheese. If only I could just hold him in those innocent years forever.

I have tears in my eyes just thinking about my nephew leaving the nest. It’s a natural progression of life, but I am still sad that he’ll be going away.

And that’s how I saw God this morning as I read Hosea 11. He’s like a daddy watching His baby walk away. He loved His children. He nurtured them, held them, taught them, protected them. But God’s children aren’t just going off to college. They have turned their backs on God and rejected him.

I am God’s child, too. He’s like the daddy who loves me completely. He’s held me, and taught me to walk, He’s protected me and guided me. It’s those times when I disobey, when I ignore Him, when I make choices that dishonor Him, that He yearns for the days when I totally belonged to Him. I can almost see Him reaching out to me as I take a step away.

I don’t want God to see my back. Ever. I want to be always moving toward Him, arms open wide, eager to receive everything He is. I don’t ever want to be a source of sorrow for my Lord. I don’t want my choices to cause Him pain.

If I feel sadness because of the new chapter in my nephew’s life, and mine, then God’s sadness must be so much greater when He watches His children turn and walk away. May I never be the source of His pain.