Tag Archives: Disobedience

(I Samuel 13-15) God Regrets

God’s Sovereignty is such a mystery. Some people believe life on earth is predestined to play out exactly how God causes it to be. Others think God set the world in motion, then stepped back to see how it would progress without His intervention. Some people place themselves somewhere in the middle, and believe God’s will will always be done no matter the choices we make, because if we make one decision, He will orchestrate situations which lead to His will, if we make another decision, God will manipulate circumstances in another direction to bring about His will. Still others believe something in between all of those.

(Let me say here that I know there is one indisputable aspect of God’s will that will ALWAYS be true. That is that anyone who believes in Jesus will be saved. It’s the “whosoever” of John 3:16. Anyone who comes to God on His terms, He will in no wise cast out. Take that to the bank!)

The question of God’s Sovereignty comes up when Scripture tells us God “regretted” making Saul king. Does that mean He wished He’d appointed someone else in light of what Saul did? Is God really saying hindsight is 20/20? Are we to assume this is the same as an unhappy husband regretting he’s married his nagging wife?

The definition of regret is: “a feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done.”

I think what we see here in I Samuel is God’s expression of sadness and disappointment. God has nothing to repent for! Remember His will for Israel was that HE would be their king. They chose a human king instead. I think God mourned the inevitable pain their rejection of Him is going to cause. What Saul did was the tip of the iceberg as we will see as we read on in the Scriptures. And that made God sad.

When you watch your child make a decision that you know is going to end up hurting them, isn’t there a bit of regret, or sadness, or disappointment? It’s the same with God. He loved the people. He loved Saul. And it grieved Him to know how their choices were going to hurt them.

God was disappointed. But He was not surprised. After all He, in His Sovereignty, had already watched the scene played out before it happened. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t break His heart.

My Apologetics Bible said this about this passage: “(God’s) relationships with people are authentic and personal, not pre-programmed.” I tend to agree.

As I think about this passage this morning, I am determined not to cause God any disappointment or sadness. I pray that I – that we all – will decide to obey Him today and bring Him only joy. No regrets.

(Numbers 11-15) It Will Kill You

God wants us to take a good look at sin from His vantage point. Whether it’s the coveting of what non-believers seem to enjoy as in the case of the Jews wishing they were back in Egypt where they were well fed; not trusting God like the Jews who campaigned against going into the Promised Land; or open defiance of God’s Law like the Jewish man who gathered firewood on the Sabbath, God wants us to know He will not tolerate sin in any shape or form.

You want meat like the Egyptians? You’ll get meat. And it will kill you.

You can’t trust God to give you what He’s promised? Don’t go into Canaan. And it will kill you.

You think an act of disobedience is no big deal because you think collecting wood is more important? Go get your wood. And it will kill you.

How much more clear can God be? You can defy Him, reject Him, rationalize your sin…

and it will kill you.

That is a death, my friend, worse than anything you can imagine. That death, eternal agony, void of any hope, endless pain and suffering is the death God wants you to understand.

Your only hope is to confess and repent of your sin, accept the fact that Jesus paid your death sentence, and allow Him to cleanse you and give you the power to be obedient.

You can live in your sin… but God wants you to know it will kill you.

(Exodus 20) The 10 Suggestions

I have seen in my lifetime the gradual, and not so gradual, rejection of God’s Laws. The inevitable result can be seen on the news every day. We can remove the Ten Commandments from our walls, re-write them to be politically correct, but the end will be lawlessness, immortality, violence, disrespect, and a Me First society that is more about the perceived rights of individuals than what is right.

Are we to take these Ten Commandments literally, and obey them to the letter? Absolutely. Why would anyone think life wouldn’t be better if we did?

I am reminded God gave these instructions to Israel AFTER He saved them from slavery in Egypt. They are not conditions for salvation, but rather behaviors that honor our Savior.

I believe if Christians were the only ones taking these commandments seriously, our nation and our world would not look like it does today. Sadly, many Christians make choices to disobey every day. No wonder we are witnessing such a decline.

Common sense tells me if these commandments were followed by all, believers and non-believers, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in. I challenge you to point out one of the ten that would make matters worse if it was obeyed.

You are not responsible for how your neighbor obey’s God. You are responsible for how you obey, however. Read them. Memorize them. Live by them to the letter and in the spirit of them.

They are not The Ten Suggestions.

The Promise of Obedience (Jeremiah 41-45)

I confess that I can wake up in the morning and, before I get out of bed pray, “I give you this day, Lord. Anything you want me to do I will do it! I’m ready.”

But then when God lays on my heart the name of a person I need to call, I know I should, but I don’t. God nudges me to change the channel from an ungodly TV show, but I don’t. He prompts me to speak to someone about sin, but I talk myself out of it. I overeat, I gossip, I think bad thoughts, I get jealous. I don’t love like Jesus loves.

I am like the Jews who told Jeremiah that they’d do anything God told them to do. But when Jeremiah told them what God wanted them to do they said, “anything but that.” They flat out disobeyed God, and they paid the consequences.

I am reminded that God doesn’t want me to promise to obey Him. We demands that I obey Him. He doesn’t want me to say the words I think He wants to hear, He wants me do the things He asks me to do. God is not impressed with my promises, or my good intentions. He tells me to be holy, to love my neighbor, to go and make disciples, to flee temptation, and be set apart.

He will accept nothing less. And neither should I.

This Is How You Talk… (Jeremiah 3)

God is patient and merciful. But sometimes I think people misinterpret that as being tolerant and weak. God is neither tolerant nor weak in any shape or form.

We are watching the rapid decline of our society. We are witnessing blatant immorality to the point that anyone who dares speak truth is immediately shut down, and labeled a hater or a bigot. There is a growing portion of the Church that has exchanged its Glory for a feel-good experience, stopped worshiping a Holy God and instead worships a sweet old grandpa who pats his disobedient children on the head.

Many of us are pleading with God to stop this downfall toward destruction. But here’s something that stood out to me this morning in Jeremiah 3:3b-5:

Yet you have the brazen look of a prostitute; you refuse to blush with shame. Have you not just called to me; “My Father, my friend from my youth, will you always be angry? Will your wrath continue forever?” This is how you talk, but you do all the evil you can.

Yes, we are calling out to God to heal our land. But are we dressed up like prostitutes at the same time? Are we asking God to save us, while we live our lives in disobedience? Do we say all the right words, yet continue in sin?

Throughout the Bible God tells us He insists on obedience. He demands that we come to Him by His rules. He promises to bless His children IF…

…If we humble ourselves, confess our sin, and repent, turn, change, unless we are transformed by the Holy Spirit and walk the talk. Then God will hear our prayers, and not before.

I hope you are praying for our nation and our world. We are on the brink of something big. I know Satan thinks He’s got this. But we who know God know that Satan doesn’t have any power over God. And if God moves, the “something big” we are heading for just might be the greatest revival history has ever seen.

I believe Scripture tells us over and over that God will unleash His power when His people are, first of all, obedient. Dear one, let’s stop dressing up like prostitutes, looking like the world, compromising the Truth that God revealed in His Word. Let’s throw off sin, and put on Jesus’ righteousness.

Then let’s pray that God will heal our land. Repent, pray, and stand back and watch God work! You ain’t seen nothing yet!

July 1; Reaping and Sowing

Hosea 5:8-9:17; 2 Kings 16:10-18, 15:30-31, 7:1-2; 2 Chronicles 28:22-25

God doesn’t mess around with disobedience. And He doesn’t stay where He is not honored. Hosea 5:15 says:

Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me.

That pretty much sums up the history of man. And the history of me.

The Jews entertained worship of pretend gods. Idolatry was often tolerated, and sometimes became the nation’s religion. They knew better. They knew God (or should have). Their ancestors had walked with God. They knew God blesses obedience, and punishes disobedience. Certainly they had heard the stories.

Sometimes the Jews chose disobedience anyway. That disobedience was always met with disaster of one kind or another. But I think the most devastating consequence for disobedience was when God removed Himself from their presence, when He left them to their own devices.

Famines were bad. Plagues were awful. War was brutal. But life without God has to be the worse.

What we see in almost every book of the Bible is people sinning, people going their own way, and God disciplining their disobedience. Sometimes that discipline involved God turning His back on them; but He always did that with one purpose: for them to seek Him in their misery, in order to bring them back to Himself.

The Bible also reveals a loving, faithful God who forgives His children every time they (we) repent.

Galatians 5:7-8 comes to mind:

Do not be deceived; God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

I’ve found all of that true in my own life. I know what it’s like to be totally void of His Presence when I’ve held on to sin, when I reap the fruit of sin. I could put on a Christian front, but my fellowship with God was severed. That, my friend, is the definition of lonely.

I also know what it’s like to fall on my knees and beg God for forgiveness, to feel His Presence one again when I am washed by the blood of Jesus. I know what it’s like to reap the fruit of the Spirit.

So, how does your garden grow? What are you reaping? You will reap what you sow.

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.