Tag Archives: obedience

He Has Been With Me

Genesis 35

Obedience isn’t a guarantee everything in life will be easy. Jacob was a changed man. Where before he lied and cheated to get what he wanted, now he is a man who wanted to obey God. He got rid of all the idols and moved to Bethel because that’s what God told him to do. Then he moved from Bethel to Ephrath because that’s what God told him to do.

But on the way his beloved Rachel died. His eldest son Reuben slept with one of Jacob’s wives. Jacob was obedient – and life was still hard.

So if life isn’t easier, if good things don’t always happen for obedient people, why bother? I think Jacob tells us why in Genesis 35:3. Listen to what he says:

We are now going to Bethel, where I will build an altar to the God who answered my prayers when I was in distress. He has been with me wherever I have gone.

That’s the blessing of obedience – God’s Presence! If you say that’s not enough, you haven’t experienced God’s Presence!

The Voice of God

Genesis 31

Have you ever thought, “Well, if God spoke to me like He spoke to Laban, I’d know exactly what He wanted me to do and I’d obey like Laban obeyed. How could I say ‘no’ to the voice of God?”

It’s true that God doesn’t speak audibly to people today, but that doesn’t mean we can’t hear His voice. In fact, we can hear it any time of the day and night. He wrote down His Words for that very reason.

You just need to read it, memorize it, spend time hearing His voice in the pages of the Bible.

You want Him to tell you what to do? It’s in there. You want Him to tell you how to think, what to believe, what your attitude should be? It’s in there.

If you think God is silent, that just means you aren’t listening, or perhaps sin is preventing you from hearing His voice. But don’t think for a minute God is not trying to get your attention.

Read the Bible. God is speaking loud and clear.

(Luke 12) Given Much

I’ve heard it said that people who haven’t heard the Gospel will be judged less severely than those who hear and reject it. I’ve even heard it said people who never hear about Jesus will get a free pass. And often, the people who believe that will use 12:48 as the basis for their belief. But is that what Jesus was saying here?

We need to ask ourselves about whom Jesus is speaking – and to whom he is saying it. Is He referring to saved and unsaved people? If you go back to verse 41 and read this whole section, you’ll see He is referring to believers. He’s talking about servants, managers, which begs the question – whose servants are they and whose property do they manage?

This message is for His disciples, those who have been given much!

We who are believers, students, servants of God, will be accountable for more when He returns. The longer I walk with Him, the sweeter the walk, and the more responsibility I have as His child.

You don’t hold a first grader accountable for passing a twelfth grade exit exam, and you don’t reward a twelfth grader for knowing only what a first grader knows. And, yes, God punishes both for not knowing what they are given at their level of understanding.

So don’t use this verse as an excuse for not supporting missions or evangelistic efforts, thinking people would be better off if they never hear about Jesus. The truth is, Jesus is still the only way to the Father.

And you will be held accountable for what you do about that with the knowledge you have received. If you are a believer and have dealt with your own sin at the foot of the cross, you’ve already been given much!

(Matthew 13-15) What Our World Needs

Jesus speaks so often about the difference between head-knowledge and heart-knowledge, of obedience for the sake of the Law, and willing obedience for the sake of Jesus.

Christianity is not a list of rules to follow in order to earn God’s favor. It’s a changed heart that is the result of repenting of sin and accepting the forgiveness God provides through Jesus. It’s a changed heart that wants to obey God out of love and appreciation for having received God’s favor at the cross. It’s willing obedience in light of God’s grace.

Oh, for changed hearts, not just people who do good things, or go to church, or simply wear His Name.

It’s what God demands. And it’s exactly what our world needs.

(Haggai) What You Believe and What You Choose

In reference to the words of the prophet Haggai, my study Bible says this:

“To acknowledge the Lord as God has implications for ordinary decisions of life. It is to live before One who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and who has an agenda. He has a plan that impinges on the details of our lives.” (CSB Apologetics Study Bible; 2017; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, TN; p1143)

Do you believe in God? Then how does knowing He knows all, sees all, and has a plan for you that requires your obedience, effect the choices you’ll make today? I’m talking about your choice of clothing, the places you choose to go, the thoughts you allow yourself to think. How does your belief in God impact your day-to-day?

Haggai brings up an important point. It has to do with how close we choose to live with sin before we ourselves become stained with sin. He paints a picture of someone in dirty clothes rubbing shoulders with someone clean. Does the cleanness ever rub off on the filth so that the filth becomes clean?

Have you ever hugged a dirty, smelly person, and watched the dirt fall from their clothes, and their stench replaced by the scent of your shower gel? The answer, of course, is NO.

But, if you hug that dirty, smelly person, you walk away with smudges on your clothes, and the lingering scent of body odor on your skin. You walk away needing a bath yourself.

You catch diseases by being close to the diseased. But they never catch your health by being close to you.

Choices. You and I will make them today according to what we believe about God. And your choices will impact whether or not God’s will will be done in your life today.

(Hosea 1-3) A Real Life Object Lesson

Hosea lived a dramatic object lesson. It’s so dramatic there are people who believe he never actually married a prostitute. They would tell you God simply gave Hosea a parable to tell to the people, the lesson being what their unfaithfulness looked like to a faithful God. Their reasoning is that God would not tell a priest to marry a prostitute because that was strictly forbidden by God’s law.

Myself? I believe Hosea married a prostitute named Gomer in obedience to God, just like other prophets obeyed God by running around naked, or lying on their side for months at a time, or digging through walls with their bare hands, or burying leather belts. I believe the Jews’ rejection of God was as unthinkable as a priest marrying a prostitute, and that was the point of the object lesson. It was a lesson the Jews wouldn’t miss because Hosea married a real life prostitute.

I see myself in this object lesson – faithless, unclean, disgustingly drawn to sin, yet loved by a faithful God who longs to forgive and restore me to Himself. I see a God who blesses me even though I don’t deserve it, blesses me even though I might be faithful today, yet knowing I’ll fail Him tomorrow.

I want to recognize myself in Gomer, as filthy as she is, and learn a lesson here. Rather than pointing a finger at her, I want to recognize God pointing His finger at me:

“You are a sinner, Connie. But I love you. You are unfaithful, Connie, but I want to forgive you. Come to me, Connie. I long to bring you home.”

So today, as I read this first part of Hosea I am encouraged to return God’s love from a purity that isn’t mine. I want to be the woman he sees in me. I want to please Him rather than myself, love Him like He deserves, and run from any sin that would separate us.

I don’t want to miss what God wants me to learn through Hosea’s real life object lesson.

(Lamentations) Lord, Bring Us Back

If the Old Testament nation of Israel is a picture of the New Testament Church, all of us should share in Jeremiah’s grief. The frightening truth is that if God could turn His back on His chosen people, if the city of Jerusalem and the temple there could be destroyed, the Church had better pay attention.

Read Lamentations with our modern Church in mind. There are so many spiritual red flags here, from a look at starvation in a spiritual sense, to cannibalism which speaks to me of parents – and church members – who try to get what they want out of God while sacrificing the spiritual needs of their children, to the Church once revered now an object of scorn by the world, and seen as an enemy to be destroyed by some.

We have reason to lament.

God’s protection has always been linked to obedience. But there are people who believe the Church is somehow different, that because Jesus told Peter that the gates of hell would not prevail against His church, that the Church’s position on earth is untouchable.

Israel wasn’t untouchable. Jerusalem wasn’t. The temple wasn’t. And it’s my opinion that the Church in 2021 isn’t untouchable, either. God’s demand to be obeyed is as binding as it was in Jeremiah’s day. And disobedience means separation from God, and destruction.

An obedient Church is untouchable.

I am thankful that every time God warns His children about the coming consequences for our disobedience, He leaves us with a bit of hope. The writer of Lamentations prays:

Lord, bring us back to yourself, so we may return; renew our days as in former times, unless you have completely rejected us and are intensely angry with us. (5:21-22)

Yes, Lord. Bring us back to yourself.

(Jeremiah 46-49) Doing The Lord’s Business

God’s not a fool. And we are foolish if we think He is. We might go to church, teach a Sunday School class, visit the sick, give generously. But if we have not confessed sin, if we do those things with any other motive than to be obedient to our King, God says this to us:

The one who does the Lord’s business deceitfully is cursed. The one who withholds his sword from bloodshed is cursed. (48:10)

Bloodshed? Surely not!

Actually, Jeremiah was speaking of war, of destroying God’s flesh and blood enemies. But thankfully, after the cross, we are not told to kill anyone! We’re told to love our enemies.

Yet what Jeremiah said can and does apply to us. We need to destroy sin in our lives, cut it out, without mercy. Satan is the enemy that applies here. And we cannot withhold bloodshed against him by ignoring sin in our lives.

We can do all the right things and be first in line to volunteer for a ministry. But if we haven’t dealt with our sin at the foot of the cross, we do God’s business deceitfully. And we are cursed.

Jesus Himself addressed this in Matthew 7:21-23:

Not every who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?” Then I will announce to them, “I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!

The lesson for us here in Jeremiah and in Jesus’ own word in Matthew is: Deal with the enemy of your soul first by confessing your sin and accepting God’s grace through Jesus’ blood…

THEN get busy doing the Lord’s business! For His sake and His glory!

(Jeremiah 23-25) Do We Fear God?

The Jews considered themselves God’s chosen, most loved people on earth. Yet they acted like the rest of the world. They claimed to know God – but they did not fear Him.

Their preachers were preaching lies, and the people were soaking it up. God was about to show them what their lack of fear got them.

I wonder if Christians today really fear God. Our divorce rate rivals that of non-Christians. (yes, many non-Christians choose to live together without marriage, but so do many Christians these days). Some Christians carelessly use the Holy Name of God in their speech. There are Christians who lie, are judgmental, laugh at dirty jokes. Christians blend in with the world more and more every day. And many people who consider themselves Christians don’t even bother going to church on Sunday morning.

I’m not sure we fear God. And I think we are seeing the tip of the iceberg what that lack of fear will get us.

(Jeremiah 17-19) God Doesn’t Do Useless

We who have met Jesus at the foot of the cross, and accepted His death as a substitute for our own, want to serve Him. We want to obey. We want to live lives that bring Him joy and show how much we appreciate what He’s done on our behalf. We want to be the clay jar; clean, emptied, ready and eager to be filled and poured out for His purposes.

We want to.

But we convince ourselves a little smudge here and there can’t do harm. A tiny crack is no big deal. The pot can be used for a lot of things, even if it doesn’t hold water, right?

Wrong.

God says He will take that corrupted clay jar and shatter it. 19:11 tells us He shatters the potter’s jar that can never again be mended. Shatters it.

Just this week a dear friend posted a picture on FaceBook of two coffee mugs, filled with dirt and a few plants, she’d set on her window sill. Those mugs had been her husband’s favorite mugs, mugs he used every day for years until his death 18 months ago. It’s a sweet picture, a tender memory of this man she misses so much. She re-purposed those mugs in a creative and even useful way.

God doesn’t do that.

God doesn’t place a useless pot on the shelf to admire, or to remember how useful it used to be. He shatters it, destroy it, gets rid of it.

Now that’s not to say that God can’t perform a miracle and restore that useless pot to it’s original state. That’s a lesson on repentance, and that’s not the lesson God is speaking to me about today.

I hear God telling me not to entertain sin in any form – not in thought, not in a careless word, not in action. Because each smudge, every crack has the potential of rendering the pot useless.

And God doesn’t do useless.