Tag Archives: obedience

Faith Like Mary’s

Luke 1

Unmarried pregnant girls are so commonplace today I don’t think we can relate to what Mary’s submission to God’s will really meant, what having a baby without being married cost women back then.

Prostitution at best. Most likely death. Loss of everything and every one. And life for that child should he or she be born? Brutal.

Mary’s faith speaks to me. Her total, unquestioning trust in God is something I want for myself. If God asks me to do the impossible, may I remember:

Nothing is impossible with God. (1:37)

May I, like Mary when God asks me to do something hard, say confidently, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let His will be done in me.”

And mean it.

Ya Do What Ya Gotta Do

Esther 1

I guess I don’t blame Vashti for not wanting to parade around in front of a room full of men who’d been drinking excessively for a whole week. Regardless of her reasoning, she had to pay the consequences for disobeying an edict from the king.

Should she have gone? It would have saved her a lot of trouble, and she would have been able to keep her crown. Aren’t there times when “ya do what ya gotta do,” whether you like it or not?

That’s a question I’m afraid we all need to be making these days. And it’s getting harder to answer that question by the minute.

I know of a school district that has told teachers they are not allowed to teach pronouns, that they must use the non/gender pronouns when they speak, that they have to honor a parents decision to let their children “identify” as a gender not given to them by God. And, they must teach all children that doing that should be accepted and considered normal.

There is a movement to normalize “furries.” Are you aware? People (including children) who pretend to identify as an animal. They want people, including teachers, to treat them as the animal they are pretending to be.

Teachers have received an edict from the powers that be, like Vashti received hers from the king. Now what? Do you do what you have to do, and teach what you’re told? Or do you do what you have to do, and resign?

Like I said, it’s getting harder every day.

What if the edict comes from your child? “I’m gay. Accept it.”

Or from your church? The Methodist denomination is facing some hard decisions, as is the SBC. Do you go progressive? Do you stand firm?

We don’t often think about what it took for Vashti to refuse the king’s order. But I think there might be a lesson there for us today.

May we all know when it’s time to say, “No.” And may God give us the courage to say it, then do what we gotta do about it.

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Lamentations 3

“Great is thy faithfulness,” O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with Thee.
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not.
As Thou hast been Thou forever will be.

“Great is Thy faithfulness.” “Great is Thy faithfulness.”
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided –
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me.

That beautiful hymn is probably familiar to those of us over 40. I always hear the words and music in my head whenever I read Lamentations 3:22-24. “Morning by morning new mercies I see.”

But did you know these words of assurance are found smack dab in the middle of suffering and pain in the book of Lamentations? God has told the prophet that Israel will receive their just punishment for sins against God. And God will exact judgment without mercy. There is no escape.

Yet the writer has hope in the truth of God’s faithful love and mercy. Here’s the reason, though:

The Lord is good to those who depend on Him, to those who search for Him. (vs 25)

Over and over Scripture equates God’s blessings with our obedience. His presence, protection, and provision are not just a blanket promise thrown over the earth. If we aren’t obedient – God will not bless. If we reject Him – He will not hear or help us, at all.

I love that old hymn. But there have been times I have been falsely comforted when singing it while harboring unrepentant sin in my life. Those words don’t apply to disobedient people, even if singing them makes us feel good.

God is faithful to keep His promises. And He promises to reject people who reject Him, to punish those who disobey. Great is His faithfulness.

But also great is His faithfulness to those who confess sin, repent, and believe in the Lord Jesus for salvation. Great is His faithfulness to bless and keep those who belong to Him through the blood of His son. Great is His faithfulness to those who seek Him. He WILL be found!

So it is good to wait patiently for salvation from the Lord. (verse 26)

A Wall of Righteousness

Ezekiel 22:30-31

I don’t know many people who would say they believe the US is on a healthy trajectory, whether monetarily, morally, or spiritually. Evil is called good. The economy is in the tank. The number of people who profess to be Bible believing Christians is dwindling, and what is scary is that some people think that’s a good thing.

A nation established under God has rejected Him. So we should not be surprised at what is happening here. Are we looking at the end?

God, through the prophet Ezekiel, told Israel why they were facing their own destruction. It was clearly God’s judgment for their unrepentant sin.

But God said something that made me think about our situation in 2022. He said:

I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one. So now I will pour out my fury on them, consuming them with the fire of my anger. I will heap on their heads the full penalty for all their sins. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken. (Ezekiel 22:30-31)

A wall of righteousness that guards the land.

For 200 years the USA was blessed beyond any other nation in the world. Oh, it wasn’t perfect. But there was something different about this country that made it stand out. I believe it was a wall of righteousness; a core group of God-fearing believers who worshiped God and, because of their relationship with God, they prayed, read the Bible, and weren’t ashamed to call on God in private and in public.

I believe it was a wall of believers wearing Jesus’ righteousness that guarded the USA.

Oh, you can try to erase our spiritual history, deny the intent of our Founding Fathers. You can be foolish (or woke, which is the same thing in my book), and deny God’s grace and mercy on this land. But the truth is – America enjoyed years of prosperity and peace as a direct result of our dependance on God.

Somewhere along the way a crack appeared in the wall. But instead of repairing it, we ignored it, accepted it. It didn’t stay a crack, did it? It became a gaping hole which grew until the wall began to crumble. Is there any portion of the wall still standing today?

Dear Christian, if we want to see this amazing country of ours survive, we have got to rebuild the wall! You and I need to not just wear the righteousness of Jesus in the privacy of our own homes. We need to flaunt it. We need to wear it loud and proud.

I AM A BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIAN!

I STAND FOR THE TRUTH OF SCRIPTURE!

I PRAY. I WORSHIP GOD ALONE.

I CHOOSE HOLINESS!

I FOLLOW JESUS AND WANT YOU TO FOLLOW HIM, TOO!

Can we join hands and hearts and pray for each other, our political leaders, our schools, our churches, our neighbors? Can we humble ourselves and pray God’s will be done in our own hearts, as well as in our country?

God was looking for SOMEONE to stand in the gap. Could that someone be you? I’m afraid if we don’t repair the wall of righteousness to guard this land, our future might look like that of Israel in the Old Testament.

Build the wall! It’s not too late.

Living As I Should

Psalm 119

May this psalm be my prayer. And may these verses describe my life:

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey His laws and search for Him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in His paths.

You have charged us to keep your commandments faithfully. Oh that my actions would consistently reflect your decree! Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands.

As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should! I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me. (Verses 1-8, emphasis mine)

Stepping Between God and the People

Psalms 105-106

These psalms recount the Exodus of the Jewish nation out of Egypt in the days of Moses, and reminds us how God moved in dramatic fashion on behalf of His obedient children. I think one amazing thing about Scripture, however, is how often we are also reminded how God moves when His children aren’t so obedient, like in these two psalms. God doesn’t sugar-coat anything. I’m thankful for that.

What stood out to me today was in 106:23,30. The Jews were living in blatant disobedience, even after God had blessed them. So God declared He would destroy them. Their disobedience made Him that angry.

But Moses, his chosen one, stepped between the Lord and the people. He begged God to turn from his anger and not destroy them.

So God did not destroy them.

Later, as punishment for yet more disobedience, a plague broke out among the Jews.

But Phinehas had the courage to intervene, and the plague was stopped. So he has been regarded as a righteous man ever since that time.

This morning I am reminded that Jesus has done the same for me. My disobedience angers God as much as the disobedience of the Old Testament Jews angered Him. What makes me think He hasn’t considered taking me out, too?

But I have a Savior. When I sin and make God angry, Jesus steps between the Lord and me and pleads my case. One day when I stand before the Throne of Heaven, Jesus will intervene for the last time, and I will not be destroyed. He will usher me into Paradise unlike anything I have ever known in this lifetime.

Here is something else that occurs to me. While I am still on this earth, I have the privilege of being a Moses or a Phinehas, one who intervenes for my loved ones, our nation and the whole world, and for you. I can beg God like Moses did, that He would turn from His righteous anger, and give each of us another chance to obey Him.

So today I want you to know that I am praying for you. I am going to step between the Lord and you and beg Him to have mercy. Will you do the same for me?

All or Nothing

Reading 2 Kings 10 today, I wondered why Jehu went through with sacrificing the burnt offering to Baal. I mean, I get why he called the prophets and worshipers of Baal to the temple with the promise of a big corporate worship service. Get them all in one place, then kill them all while you have them cornered.

But why go through the worship before destroying everything Baal?

Then I read on and it made sense. Jehu never intended to actually give up Baal. Oh, he obeyed God. He destroyed the idolators and their idols. But Jehu kept Baal in his heart.

He mostly obeyed. But mostly obeying is disobedience.

In fact, Scripture tells us “he refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.” (10:31)

It’s possible to look like an obedient servant of God, to go to church every Sunday, sing in the choir, maybe teach Sunday School. It’s possible to abstain from alcohol, show love to your neighbor, and say, “Praise Jesus” twenty times a day, and still be disobedient.

God’s not fooled by what we do or say. God sees our hearts. You can read your Bible every day, and be as disobedient as an atheist if you are refusing to totally submit your heart to the Lord.

You can’t mostly obey, and think it balances the scale. It doesn’t. True Christianity – the heart that God approves – is all in. It has to be all or nothing.

A Sad Tale

Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, I Kings

I can’t read the Song of Solomon or the book of Ecclesiastes and not be sad at how Solomon turned out. 1 Kings tells us he loved God when he first became king of Israel, and I have no doubt he did. But 1 Kings 3 tells us Solomon loved God, BUT…

We find him offering sacrifices to God on the pagan high places. He may have loved God sincerely, but he wanted to worship God in his own way. He loved God but he wanted things the way he wanted them.

Like marrying an Egyptian woman, expressly forbidden by God. I believe Solomon loved this woman, especially if she is the main character in the book of Song of Solomon. His marriage to her even put the nation of Israel at peace with Egypt. That had to be a good thing, right? I mean, who doesn’t want world peace?

The problem was Solomon’s way wasn’t God’s way. Solomon’s way was disobedience. And God takes a dim view on disobedience, no matter who you are, and no matter what your intentions are. Solomon’s way led him down a path toward despair and destruction. It couldn’t lead anywhere else.

What started out as a hopeful reign for Solomon over Israel ended up with pagan worship and a king’s heart turned away from God. It ended up with the nation of Israel split in two, with both sides at each other’s throats for generations that followed.

It’s such a sad tale. It didn’t have to be that way.

If we want life to mean something, if we want to walk with God and be blessed by Him, we have to live life according to God’s way. Anything else is like chasing after the wind.

Follow My Example?

I Chronicles 29

King David gave generously from his own treasures toward the building of the Temple in Jerusalem. Then he went to the people and challenged them to follow his example.

That spoke to me today. God has give me so much, blessed me way beyond what I deserve. Not financially, necessarily. Although I have enough to be comfortable. But I certainly don’t have the equivalent of tons of gold and silver to throw around.

Yet God is reminding me how truly rich I am.

I have my health, a working brain. I have hands and feet and a voice. I have Jesus! I have the forgiveness of my sin, and the gifts of having the Spirit of God in me: love, joy, peace…

I have God’s own words at my fingertips!

The questions then, are these: Am I using these things generously toward the building of God’s Church? Am I investing in people, introducing unsaved people to their Savior?

And, would I ever in a million years suggest you follow my example?

I’m wondering if I’d want you to put in the same amount of time I put into serving God; if I’d want you to use your talents in the same way I use mine for the glory of God. I wonder if I exercise my faith in a way I’d want you to exercise yours, or am I serving half-heartedly, giving only what I think I can afford, hoping you’ll not notice?

David said, “follow my example.” Can I say that to you?

If not, why not?

David’s prayer in verses 10-19 reminds me that everything I have belongs to God. It all came from God in the first place. I own nothing. I am nothing. But I am a steward of everything He’s given me.

May God, when He examines my heart rejoice when He finds integrity, when He finds me giving away with both hands what He’s given me, so that someone will come to His saving grace.

I pray the same for you.

So Take This Seriously.

David’s charge to Solomon spoke to me today. It serves as a reminder:

And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. So take this seriously. The Lord has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work. (1Chronicles 28:9-10 ESV)

Too many of us try to hold God to his promises without our doing the work. Maybe we should emphasize the knowing God intimately, the worship and serving God with our whole hearts and our willing minds, if not instead of, at least in conjunction with his wonderful promises to his obedient children.

God clearly tells us IF we seek him we will find him. IF we forsake him, he will reject us.

So take this seriously.