Tag Archives: obedience

September 13; Raising Obedience

Esther 1-4

Queen Vashti was busy doing her own thing and couldn’t be bothered to obey her husband’s, the king’s, command. Her disobedience cost her her crown.

Enter Esther, a Jewish orphan being raised by a cousin. This seemingly insignificant girl would be queen in place of the disobedient Vashti. Scripture tells us Esther was pretty. We see that she wasn’t flashy or demanding. It appears she was beautiful inside and out.

But something else about Esther stood out to me today. Esther did as her cousin Mordecai told her, “for she continued to follow Mordecai’s instructions as she had done when bringing her up.” (1:20)

Esther learned obedience at home, and it opened doors for her and saved the Jews. Mordecai said, “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (4:14)

It reminds me of the heavy responsibility parents have to teach their own children to obey. It saddens me that so many have adopted the lie that children should be empowered to decide for themselves, that disobedience should be met with understanding and patience. That, my friend, is not what the Bible teaches.

The Bible teaches that God demands obedience. Obedience is not just one of several options He’ll accept. The Bible teaches consequences for disobedience are severe and painful. And disobedience toward God is never ignored.

Are your children learning those lessons in your home? Esther seems to have learned them in Mordecai’s. The way Mordecai raised her put her in a position to save the Jews, “for such a time as this.” Had she been willful, disobedient, prideful, I doubt Xerxes would have given her a second look.

I wonder what great things God is going to ask of your child. Will that precious one be ready to obey because they learned to follow your instructions while you were bring him or her up? I’m praying for you.

 

September 4: To Obey, or Disobey

Ezekiel 1:1-2:20; Daniel 6:1-28; Nehemiah 7:4-25

The island where I live is under a mandatory evacuation order from the governor in preparation for Hurricane Dorian. Most of us left immediately, others have stayed. Our pastor sent an email to the church members and gently reminded us God told us in His Word that we are to obey our God-ordained leaders in authority. He encouraged us to leave the island we love, in obedience to those leaders.

But is there a time when we are to disobey our leaders?

Daniel got the word that no one was to worship any one or anything other than King Darius for thirty days. Might not be such a big deal, a month isn’t that long. What would be the hurt? After all, the government made the order.

Daniel did not obey. And he wasn’t very secretive about his disobedience. He continued to pray in front of his open window three times a day. And he wasn’t praying to any Darius.

I hope all of us reading these chapters in God’s Word today are good citizens of the countries in which we live. I hope we all pay our taxes, and follow speed limits. I hope we are law-abiding citizens.

But I also hope we are prepared to defy laws that would force us to compromise what God has ordained. I hope we know what the Truth is according to Scripture, and are ready to stand firm.

There may come a day when we, too, will have to decide if we are going to bow to ungodliness, or continue to stand in front of open windows and worship God.

August 31; Every Day

Ezekiel 44-46

I can’t read about the rules God gave Israel for worship and sacrifices for sin without thinking about all that blood. Especially when I understand none of that blood could do what Jesus did when He shed His own blood on the cross. I hope I never read passages like these in Ezekiel without stopping to thank God for His Son.

But God laid something else on my heart this morning. The sacrifices I read about here in Ezekiel occurred every day. Every day bulls and goats and lambs were laid on the altar of sacrifice. Every day.

There are things I do every day. Shower, eat, brush teeth, get dressed, read my Bible. But then I pretty much spend the rest of the day doing what I want to do – or not doing what I don’t want to do. I’m retired. What can I say?

This morning God is asking me what kinds of sacrifices I make in my worship of and service to Him. Not sacrifices to gain His forgiveness or approval, but sacrifices in response to the sacrifice Jesus paid for me.

Maybe I should get in the habit of laying my day on the altar, and let God have it. Maybe I should give my day to God, then be sensitive and obedient when He nudges me toward serving Him. Maybe I shouldn’t spend my day doing what I want to do, but doing what He wants me to do.

Every day.

August 27; Kinda Christian

Ezekiel 34-36

What happens when a person becomes a Christian? God, through the prophet Ezekiel gives us a description.

  1. God cleanses us from all our sins (36:25)
  2. He gives us a new, soft, and pliable heart (vs 26)
  3. He takes up residence in us, giving us His own Spirit (vs 27)
  4. God gives us a desire to obey Him, to turn from sin (vs 27)
  5. He brings us into His family (vs 28)
  6. He blesses us with everything we need (vs 29)
  7. He gives people reason to change what they think about us (vs 30)

This got me thinking today how (or if) my life looks any different right now than it did before I was a Christian. Or have I chosen to continue to live in the wilderness of anger, jealousy, biting tongues and gossip. Do I go where I’ve always gone, sound like I’ve always sounded, do what I’ve always done?

I’m reminded Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; The old has gone, the new is here!

But is there a Christianity that changes a person into almost new? Is there such a thing as being kinda Christian? I don’t see Scripture teaching that is the case.

I think there might be some who believe they are Christians by virtue of having had repeated a prayer at some time in their life, and by going to church every Sunday. But their choices, their actions, thoughts, and words are unchanged the other six days of the week. They might say, “Lord, Lord,” but God doesn’t really know them at all.

Friend, that is serious. They are as lost as the unrepentant soul.

My question for myself is this: Does my claim to know Jesus translate into a changed life, a life that doesn’t look like a person who doesn’t know Him? I wonder if I stand out as a person who belongs to God. If I am a new creation through Jesus’ saving grace, if I am 100% His, if His Spirit lives in me, I can’t help but look and act differently than people who are not His..

Ezekiel tells us that if we’ve allowed God to do His work in us, people can’t help but notice. And what people notice is the reason God saves us, and keeps us here in this life. He saves us for the sake of His holy Name which is dragged through the mud in this world. He saves us so:

…the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes. (vs 23)

And that will result in this:

I will make their people numerous as sheep, as numerous as the flocks for offering at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts. So will the ruined cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am the Lord. (vv 37-38)

God is convicting me today. If my life example isn’t drawing people to the Savior, if my words and actions aren’t a result of God’s Spirit in me, if my choices are no different than a non-believer, I need to check my relationship with my Holy God.

Because there is no such thing as a kinda Christian.

August 23; Stay Or Go

Lamentations 5; 2 Kings 25:22-26; Jeremiah 40-42

The Jews were in a sad state. Many of them had been taken captive and forced into Babylon. Many had died from the famine, or had been slaughtered by the enemy. Even when it looked like a remnant would be safe, the enemy stepped in to destroy even them.

So finally, the last remaining Jews looked to God. “Where should we go, God? Tell us what to do.” The enemy was closing in, so God’s answer was surprising.

“Stay put.”

He told them if they stayed He would bless them and protect them. Leaving, He said, would be a fatal mistake.

Sometimes staying put is hard. Standing firm is scary. Trusting God seems good on paper, but when that enemy is bearing down on us, our reaction might be to run. Hear God tell us that if we stay, He will build us up and not tear us down. He’ll plant us and not uproot us. He’ll be with us, save us, and show us compassion if we stand where He stands.

I think this applies to so many things in our lives. Certainly standing for the truth of Scripture. Certainly standing up for God’s definition of sin, worshiping God in truth. It might be applied to a marriage commitment, parenting, a job. I have no idea what God is speaking to you about today.

But if God says, “Stay,” He’ll be exactly what you need to stay and thrive. If He says stay, stepping away comes with serious consequences.

So do we stay or go?

August 15; A Broken Heart

Ezekiel 20:30-22:31

Do you know how, when you are close to someone who is grieving, you can feel their heart break? You ache because they are hurting so badly, and you know you just can’t fix it for them. Watching a loved one go through the darkest time of her life was probably the hardest thing I have ever done.

The thing about reading the Bible as God’s love letter to me, expecting Him to speak to me, and getting to know His heart through His own words, there are times I feel like I’m watching Him grieve, and my heart breaks for Him.

Today I read His words, His pronouncement of judgment on His disobedient children. I heard His anger, realized the fierce punishment that was coming their way. God is really mad.

But through the years of reading the Bible, I’ve come to understand – in part – God’s heart. Of course I don’t claim to totally get Him, but I know Him enough to know that when He is angry, when He is bringing judgment on His people, He’s doing it from a broken heart.

He says things here in Ezekiel like, “I will pour out my wrath on you…,” “I will make you an object of scorn…,” “I will surely strike my hands together at the unjust gain you have made…,” “I will gather you in my anger and my wrath…”

I read His words, but I also see His tears. The God I know takes no pleasure in punishing His children. The God I know longs to walk with us, fellowship with us, bless us. That’s His will for each of us. It’s we who prevent that by our choices to sin. It’s we who break His heart.

When you were a kid and your dad stood in front of you with that belt in his hands, both of you knowing you deserved what was coming, did you ever hear him say, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you”? I hear my Heavenly Father saying that today, and I believe it’s true.

My Heavenly Father, I don’t want to cause You pain. I don’t want to break Your heart. I don’t want to be a rebellious child you need to discipline, because today I see how much that hurts You. God, I want to bring you joy. Forgive my sins. Create in me a clean heart. And may all I do and say today put a smile on Your face. I love You. 

 

August 13; Using or Abusing

Ezekiel 14-16

God likened the Jews to a prostitute. He’d saved her, protected her, nurtured her, and lavished her with amazing gifts. People should have been able to see God’s beauty in her, and been drawn to Him because of what they saw. But that’s not what happened.

God reminded me today that I can be like the ancient Jews God described as vile and disgusting. He saved me like he’d saved her. He’s protected and blessed me, too. And He has lavished me with things no amount of money can buy. What am I doing with what He’s given me?

I would venture to say you are blessed, too. If you are a child of God through the blood of Jesus, He has gifted you with things, with abilities that should be drawing people to Him. What are you doing with what He’s given you?

I would ask us all today if we are using the blessings and abilities that God thoughtfully and intentionally gave each of us, for His glory? Or are we using those blessings for personal gain and personal glory? Are we using those gifts or abusing them? The prostitute God described in Ezekiel was abusing what God had given her.

One of the gifts God gave us is His Word, the Bible. For the past ten days I have been reading and re-reading the daily passages and letting God speak to me without going through a commentary or study lesson. Just me and God, and I have loved it so much!

I don’t know if you took the challenge ten days ago, but let me encourage us all to consider God’s Word as a personal gift to each of us. Let’s let God reveal what He wants to say to us, rather than always reading what God said to someone else – including me. It’s great to read about what God is teaching others. But I don’t believe it can take the place of listening to what God would say to you when you read His Word for yourself.

God may have gifted you musically, socially, intellectually, with gifts of teaching, hospitality, knowledge, faith, wisdom, etc. If you are His child He has gifted you with His precious Son, His Spirit within you, and His Word in Scripture. He has gifted you with the Gospel of Jesus.

Are we using God’s gifts, or abusing them? I think you know how I’m praying.