Tag Archives: obedience

Leading By Example (I Chronicles 29)

I believe the best leaders are those who lead by example. The “Do as I say, not as I do” mentality cannot result in good leadership; not in a home, in a church, or in a nation.

I was reminded of that when I read verse 9 today.

The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly.

David himself had dug deep into his own pockets and gave generously to the cost of building the temple of the Lord. The other leaders had followed his lead freely and wholeheartedly. It was a cause for great rejoicing among them all.

David said something in his prayer that is a good reminder. In verse 14 the king prayed:

But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. (emphasis mine)

I love that. Anything and everything we have is loaned to us by God, making us able to use those things for His glory. It’s a humbling thought, that God would entrust His riches to me.

So, what kind of example am I of this truth? Do I give my time and my resources (both of which are gifts of God)? Do I give generously, knowing what a privilege I have to use what God has given me for His glory?

And this is what is convicting me today: is my example one that inspires others to give generously of their own time and resources? Do I even want others to give with the same attitude I have, the same level of commitment, the same generosity? Or do I want them to do more than me, be better, more generous givers, more committed than I am?

Now, who is willing to consecrate himself today to the Lord? (verse 5b)

I want my answer to be a resounding: ME!!!

 

Snap To It (2 Samuel 19-21)

David gave Amasa a position of great power. “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if from now on you are not the commander of my army in place of Joab.” (19:13) With that word, Amasa became the most powerful man in Israel, second only to King David.

But we really don’t read much about Amasa’s role as military leader. In fact, his first and only mission was an epic fail. And really, what David told him to do shouldn’t have been that difficult for the commander:

“Rally the troops! Get the men together and get back here in three days.”

Granted, they didn’t have phones back then. There was no texting or social media, no TV or even snail mail to get the message to soldiers sitting at home. I can see that it would take some coordinating effort and time to get the word out, then for the men to gather.

But Scripture tells us Amasa “took longer than David had set for him.” (20:5) So the king put the army under Abishai’s command, and set them out to battle instead. He wasn’t about to lose a war waiting for Amasa to do his job.

I don’t know why Amasa didn’t meet his deadline. Were the men resistant? Was he so inept he couldn’t get organized in time? Or did he simply not take David’s time frame seriously? Does is matter?

Well, I think it matters a great deal in my life. There are things my King would have me do in this war against His enemy. I’m wondering if I see my response to God in Amasa’s response to David.

God lays on my heart a person whose heart is ready to hear the Gospel. How quick am I to respond? Do I find myself thinking I’ll get around to it eventually? Do I tell myself I don’t know what to say? Do I shrink back at a little resistance? Do I not feel the same urgency God feels for that eternal soul?

God nudges me toward a ministry, toward teaching Bible study, toward serving in the nursery, or mowing my neighbor’s lawn. Do I snap to it? Or do I drag my feet, hoping maybe God was just making a suggestion?

In the account we read here in 2 Samuel, David appointed someone else to do Amasa’s job. And, seriously, there have been times when in the back of my mind I think if I don’t go, God is going to send someone else anyway. Whew! Ball’s in their court.

Amasa’s failure at the task that was given put him in a position that cost him his life. That’s a bitter pill to swallow. God may give my assignment to someone else, but there are consequences for blowing off the King.

Besides, I want to look at God’s commands, those nudges into service, as a privilege to serve my King. I love Him so much I want to obey with enthusiasm and do the best job at whatever He is asking me to do because He deserves my 100% effort. Why would I want anyone else to have the blessings that are mine as an obedient soldier in His army?

This is war. When my King gives me a command, I want to snap to it.

No, Thank You (2 Samuel 7; I Chronicles 17)

When you love someone, do you find you can’t do enough for that person? You sacrifice, take a back seat, go out of your way to find tangible ways to express how totally and completely you love them. You’d do anything.

I think that’s how David loved God.

But how do you feel when the person you love politely tells you, “No, thank you,” when they don’t accept the gift, or tell you they don’t want your sacrifice?

David was excited about building a beautiful temple for the Presence of God. The ark had been housed in a tent, and David wanted to build a house fit for the King of Kings. Nothing would be too extravagant for the One David loved.

I imagine old David stayed awake at night, going over floor plans, arranging furniture, placing and re-placing doors and windows in his mind’s eye. It was the least David could do for the God who meant so much to him. I think David was excited about the possibilities.

But God politely refuse the offer. David heard His Beloved say, “No, thank you.”

David’s response? “Ok. Thanks.”

You see, David’s love for God wasn’t about David. David wasn’t looking for recognition or appreciation. He wasn’t looking to make a name for himself as the builder of God’s Temple. The gift David wanted to give God was totally and completely about God. So when God refused to accept it, David didn’t take it personally. It wasn’t personal.

Makes me question my offering to God, my service to Him, my sacrifice for Him. Am I motivated by what blessings are mine when I do great things for Him? Do I put God under obligation to do something great for me in return? If that is the case, then I will be disappointed, hurt, maybe jealous when I don’t get what I think I deserve.

But if my service to God is like David’s, I’ll continue to serve, to give God my very best, to find tangible ways to show Him how much I love Him with no regard for myself, no selfish agenda. I will be just a woman who can’t do enough to show my Beloved how much I love Him, even if He politely refuses my offer or accepts my actions without giving back in-kind.

I want to, like David, give it all to God without expecting some big reward. Because the reality is, God has already given me much more than I deserve.

He gave me Jesus, the tangible expression of His amazing love. And believe me, that is one Gift you’ll never hear me say, “No, thank you,” to!!!

Acceptable Worship (I Samuel 5-6; 1 Chronicles 13-16

When will we learn that our Holy God must be obeyed? How long will it take before we give Him the honor He demands, and quit trying to do things our own way, expecting Him to congratulate us on our sincerity?

David tried twice to bring the ark of God to Jerusalem. The first attempt ended in disaster, in death. It wasn’t until David obeyed God that the Presence of God could go home.

Don’t think this implies true worship is dancing, singing, and blaring instruments. There was a rocking worship service going on both times. During the first incident David had organized a worship experience, dressed it up with a brand new cart, but all that did was to make God angry because that, as impressive as it must have been, was NOT what God had demanded.

The lesson in these chapters today is not about the window dressing. There is one difference between worship God accepts and worship He rejects.

Obedience.

The Apostle Paul says this about worship:

Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – which is your spiritual worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)

Paul tells us worship that pleases God is sacrificial, from a soul transformed by God, set apart from the world. I hear Paul say worship is not about an experience as much as it is about a life totally submitted to God. Not just an hour on Sunday, but a 24/7 commitment of mind and body.

Jesus Himself had something to say about worship:

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24)

My personal opinion is that too many of us worship God half way. We get our spirits soaring, our emotions high as we repeat certain phrases in song, and at the same time turn off our minds. Jesus said we MUST worship Him in our spirit and in the truth which, to me, involves careful consideration of God’s Word, of Who He is and not just by what He gives.

The Truth of God’s Word can break your heart, humiliate you, cause you to be under heavy conviction. And it also can surround you with the sweet Presence of God Himself. But I hear God saying if we just worship Him in our spirits and shut off our minds, or if we just worship Him with our minds and shut off our spirits, we are not truly worshiping Him like He seeks.

The writer of Hebrews says:

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (12:28-29)

Worship is serious business. Worship of a Holy God cannot be taken lightly. And I believe God’s Word tells us true worship of Him is a conscious decision we make every day. We can’t worship God if we aren’t obedient.

Will you worship God today, Monday, May 4? Will your worship be acceptable as you offer yourself, body, mind, and spirit to our Holy God who demands holiness of each of us? Will your worship of God bring Him joy?

I know that is the prayer of my heart for my own worship of God who deserves to be worshiped according to His demands.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

 

 

 

 

Love (Ruth 1-4)

The book of Ruth is about love. I imagine many of you had Ruth’s declaration of love for her mother-in-law Naomi read at your wedding. It’s a beautiful passage. But if we read the book of Ruth merely as a love story, I believe we miss some important lessons God wants us to see. The first is this:

Love is more than words. If you look at Ruth you see a woman whose love made the choice to leave her family and follow Naomi and Naomi’s God. Ruth left everything familiar to her, and willingly went to live in a country that very well could have considered her an enemy. But her love for Naomi was stronger than any ties she had to her former life, and she showed her love – not just with those beautiful words – but by choosing Naomi over anything else.

Love is self-sacrificing. You never see Ruth demand her rights. She never acted like Naomi owed her something for the “sacrifices” Ruth made for her mother-in-law. Instead, when Naomi told her to do something, Ruth obeyed every detail without complaining or without thought for her own comfort. She went and worked a step below a servant because she and Naomi needed food. To me she is an example of someone who emptied herself of herself, which is totally opposite of today’s philosophy of life and love.

Love is courageous. When Ruth went to Boaz at night, she put her reputation, the possibility of rejection, and her very life on the line. She knew she was doing the right thing for herself and Naomi, but doing the right thing came with risks. Ruth had the courage to go to Boaz because of love.

I think you could read Ruth’s beautiful declaration of love all day everyday, but the words themselves are meaningless unless that love is lived.

Let me just say that if you are thinking about getting married, I pray you love and are loved like what we see in the book of Ruth. This kind of love is more than words or feelings. The question is not, does he (she) make me happy. The question is, am I loved in the details of life, in the hard times as well as the good. Is my welfare more important than a video game or a shopping spree? And, even more important I think, do I love that person like that, too.

If you can’t answer “yes” to those questions – run! Marriage is hard enough without the added complication of a love that isn’t genuine, active, self-sacrificing, and courageous.

But let me ask us all this question. Do you (do I) love God with this kind of love? Do I show Him I love Him, or am I satisfied with saying the words to Him when I pray? Do I love others like He told me to? Do I obey Him without question? Do I choose Him above anyone and anything else? Is my love for God self-sacrificing and courageous?

I think that’s what God would have us take from the book of Ruth. Love is not a feeling so much as it is a lifestyle, a choice to live love. I want to love God like that. He deserves that kind of love.

What Do You Do When You Lose? (Judges 19-21)

There is so much in these three chapters, some of which can get my blood boiling. I have to keep reminding myself that this was a time when Israel had no king, and everyone did as they wished.

But today I was encouraged as I read. Israel was going to war in order to purge the evil from among them. Yes, they were going to destroy their brothers the Benjamites because that tribe was evil.

Israel went to the Lord, and God told them to go to war against the tribe of Benjamin. Israel acted in obedience to the Lord. But the first battle saw 22,000 Israeli soldiers cut down. Did you notice 20:22? I love it!  After this devastating loss, the men of Israel encouraged each other!

They went to the Lord and wept, and asked Him what they should do. Again, God said, “Go to battle.” The next day Israel attacked Benjamin and this time 18,000 Israelites died. After this second defeat the Israelites did something that speaks to me.

They went back to the Lord. They wept, fasted and prayed. They offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. A third time God told them to go into battle, but this time He added:

tomorrow I will give them into your hands.

Sometimes we might think that if we are obeying God, if He is in our situation, that ought to guarantee a victory. And often it does. But what happens if we don’t get the results we are looking for? What if we fail miserably?

Do we quit? Do we wash our hands of God? Do we grumble and complain? I think we can learn something important from the example of the Jewish army here in Judges.

The Israelites encouraged each other after their defeat. Sometimes we need our brothers and sisters to be that encouragement for us. Sometimes we need to hear someone tell us to hang in there, to keep going, to not give up. Sometimes we get our strength when God uses the voices of His children on our behalf. And, friend, each of us can be that to a brother or sister who is experiencing defeat. Let’s not be quick to condemn. Let’s be quick to encourage that struggling saint to do what Israel did next:

The Israelites when to God. Not just once. Not twice. Three times. They went to God and kept going to God. They weren’t one and done. And God rewarded their faithfulness by giving them the final victory.

Dear ones, let me encourage you today. You may be fighting what seems to be a losing battle right now. We are all in a weird situation because of this virus, and some of you have lost your income, maybe your health, and maybe you have lost loved ones because of this disease. Others of you may be fighting a spiritual battle with sin. I don’t know.

But hear me say, hang in there. Go to God and keep going to Him. Storm the doors of heaven, barge into the throne room. Ask God to reveal sin in your life, and be quick to repent of it. Ask God for direction, then obey Him. Trust Him. Yield to Him. Don’t tell Him what you want done, be sensitive to what HE wants done. Then do it.

You might not get a victory after the first battle. Let each failure draw you closer to Him. Let each defeat cause you to trust Him more.

I know God will bless you as you obey Him. And, folks, the victory is the Lords! Don’t forget whose side we’re on. The truth is…

WE WIN!

Choose Who and How Today (Joshua 22-24)

Choose today who you will serve.

My mother underlined Joshua 22:5 in her Bible. This is what it says:

But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you; to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul.

We can choose to serve God, but we have to understand that we cannot serve Him on our own terms, by what makes us feel good, or what is easy. If we choose to serve God, we must also choose how we serve him. Because God does not accept unauthorized fire. (Leviticus 10)

According to Joshua, choosing to serve God means choosing to:

  1. Love God. Jesus Himself said this is the greatest commandment.
  2. Walk in His ways. Makes me think about the fruit of the spirit. Do I walk in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? It also reminds me that walking in the footsteps of Jesus means taking sin very seriously, in my life and in the lives of those around me.
  3. Obey His commands. The Ten Commandments are still the measure of holiness God expects of all of us. Yes, we are incapable of obeying not only the letter of the law, but also the spirit of the law. Yet we are commanded to obey. To do otherwise is to sin.
  4. Hold fast to Him. As a Christian, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. But I must realize that my distance from Him is determined by sin in my life. If I want to hold fast to God, I need to recognize sin and repent of it.
  5. Serve Him with all our hearts and all our souls. God isn’t interested in servants that simply go through the motions, servants who are faithful on Sunday yet ignore Him on Monday. You can’t serve God if your loyalties are divided. When He says “all” our hearts and souls, He means it. 100%.

So with Joshua I am asking us to choose today who we will serve. Ourselves? Our families? A religion? A career? Or will we choose to serve God today?

Then, I am asking us all to consider how we will serve? Are you all in? Am I? I pray we can all answer that with a resounding YES!