Tag Archives: obedience

Uninterrupted (Leviticus5-6)

I’m not sure what prompted men to make a Nazarite vow. It was most likely to honor God, or as a testimony about their devotion to God. Whatever the reason, it was a serious thing to do, a commitment God took very seriously.

If you made the Nazarite vow, you had to do it God’s way – no exceptions. Not even if something unexpected happened to that person. If for any reason he was exposed to uncleanliness, the vow was voided, and he had to start over again. Making the Nazarite vow could not be interrupted.

The vow required complete obedience. And that has me thinking about my vow to God as His child. My vow to follow Him and serve Him requires complete obedience. It’s not a vow that I can honor on Sunday, and ignore on Thursday, if I want to please God. It’s not a vow that I can put on when it’s convenient.

Now the man whose vow had been interrupted had to start over. I don’t lose my salvation every time I sin. But – and this is what God is saying to me today – I cannot let sin in my life go unaddressed. Not ever. When I sin, I need to confess that sin and allow God to forgive me. In a sense, I guess it’s like starting over, with a clean heart and a determination not to repeat that sin.

God tells us to be holy as He is holy. I am praying that each of us will vow to be everything He wants us to be, that we will follow His rules, and with His help be a man or woman totally dedicated to Him…

uninterrupted.

 

The Presence (Exodus 39-40)

The book of Exodus ends with a description of the Presence of the Lord. Moses and the people had done everything God told them to do to make a beautiful dwelling place, fit for the King of Kings. And when it was done, God showed Himself to the people in all His power and glory.

May we do everything God has told us to do to build His Church, the place where He dwells on earth today. And may his Church, you and I, be fit for the Presence of the King of Kings in all His power and glory.

If You Build It… (Exodus 25-27)

Sometimes when I read the intricate details of God’s plan for the sanctuary, my eyes glaze over. That happened today, and I was finding it hard to hear what God would say to me about these chapters. As I was praying, I felt God nudge me to take a look at what Warren Wiersbe had to say (With The Word; Oliver Nelson Books; 1991). Here’s what struck me this morning page 61:

“God could have made the whole tabernacle in an instant of creative power, but instead He asked the people to bring Him their offerings. They were privileged to make a sanctuary for God.”

I hadn’t thought about that. If God was so insistent on having the tabernacle done in such specific details, why didn’t He just do it Himself? He certainly had the power. Well, maybe He wanted His children to obey Him, to be a part of the process, to take ownership of God’s House.

The same is true today. God could build His Church today by miraculously changing the hearts of men, by using His power to force people into believing. But instead, He has asked us to go and make disciples. We have the privilege to make a Church for God, to obey Him, to be a part of the process, to take ownership of God’s Church.

Now, I’m not saying we have any power on our own. But God is asking us to be a conduit for His power to change lives, to save souls. That’s His plan. Yes, it takes time, effort, inconvenience at times. But God’s plan for building His Church includes you!

And sometimes the building of God’s church (small “c”) includes you, too. For instance, our church is in the middle of a building project. We have the land, we have readied the land, but we are a few hundred thousand dollars short of being able to break ground. Now, some of us are praying that God would move in the heart of a rich benefactor, that by some miracle the money will come so He can build His church on this island. We would absolutely give God all the glory! That’s not a bad prayer. And God is certainly able to answer that prayer today.

But God is asking us to build that church. It might require sacrificial giving, effort, inconvenience in the lives of we who are part of this fellowship of believers. But we have the privilege of building a church for God.

I think God’s plan is a good one, not that He’s looking for my approval. And I love the example the Jewish people lived, as they gave, and worked, and obeyed God in the making of what must have been a beautiful sanctuary there in the desert. Their obedience must have spoken to the pagan people around them, it certainly speaks to me today.

May I buy into God’s plan, and be a faithful worker in the building of His beautiful Church in 2020. As I think about it, I want to be faithful in contributing to the building of His spiritual Church, AND the church building that will house Frederica Baptist Church on the north end of Saint Simons Island.

Because I believe if we are faithful, obedient workers in God’s Kingdom, if we build what He has asked us to build, people will notice. If we build it… they will come.

 

Just Move On (Genesis 20)

Sometimes I read about Isaac and the feud with the Philistines over the wells, and think, “Why didn’t he fight for his rights? Why didn’t he stand up to the bullies and tell them he’d dug those wells, so they should just go and dig their own? Why should Isaac lose what he’d worked for?”

Instead, Isaac gave in, packed up and moved on to another location, dug another well. Then, when the Philistines came and claimed that well, too, Isaac reacted the way he’d reacted before. He packed up and moved on to yet another location, and dug yet another well. The Philistines took the second well right from under Isaac, and Isaac appears to not even have objected. He simply moved on.

That just isn’t done in 21st Century America. I mean, people have gotten into fist fights, even pulled guns on one another over parking spaces at the grocery. You don’t step on the  perceived rights of an American these days.

Was Isaac so weak, did he have so little faith that God would fight for him over the wells? What gives?

This is what I hear God say to me this morning: It wasn’t that Isaac didn’t trust God. It’s that Isaac trusted God a great deal. After digging the third well, and without any objection from the Philistines this time, Isaac said:

Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land. (26:22)

The truth is, sometimes battles present themselves that God does not want us fighting. Sometime we don’t need to respond if someone baits us with a political position, or a moral dilemma. Sometimes God wants us to back away, move on instead of taking up our battle position.

Yes, there are times God wants us to go to war. But sometimes war is not His will, even though Satan would love for us to jump into the fray. God may want us to move on instead.

Isaac was sensitive to God’s leading, and God led him to greener pastures where Isaac could flourish. I know you’ve heard it said, “Pick your battles,” and I think that is sound advice. Here might be the better advice, though:

Pick God’s battles.

Notice in the verse I quoted above Isaac said, “… the Lord has given…”

It wasn’t about winning a fight, it was about waiting for God’s best. And God always gives His best when we are in a position to receive it. Sometimes we just have to keep moving on until we are in that position where God can and will bless us.

Let’s determine to be in God’s Word every day, to pray without ceasing, and to be sensitive to God’s leading in every situation. Then let’s let God move in our hearts as to whether we fight or just move on. May He find us obedient however He leads.

 

Unequally Yoked (Genesis 4-6)

I was talking to my sister the other day about these very verses. Who were the “sons of God,” and the “daughters of men,” anyway? So today I did some digging.

There seems to be two schools of thought on this. One is that the sons of God were angels (some think demons, although not sure why anyone would think a demon would be called a son of God) who had sex with humans. The other is that the sons of God referred to the line of Adam’s son Seth, those who followed God. The daughters of men were from the line of Cain, who did not follow God.

Matthew Henry (Commentary on the Whole Bible in One Volume; 1961; Zondervan Publishing House; page 16) takes the second viewpoint without giving a thought to the angel idea. R.C. Sproul, Jr. (ligonier.org; Who Are the Sons of God and Daughters of Men in Genesis 6:1-5?) addresses both views but ends up agreeing with Henry’s interpretation. With good reason, I think.

First, Sproul points out angels are spirits without flesh and blood bodies. They can’t morph themselves into human form.

Now, there are times in the Bible where we see God sending angels looking like humans to perform some task, but never to have sex with a human. And looking like a human doesn’t make an angel human nor does it suggest their bodily functions would be human-like. The idea of an angel having sex with a woman has no foundation.

Second, Sproul reminds us these verses in chapter 6 come after the account of two groups of people alive at the time; those who followed God, and those who did not.

In chapter 4 we read about the line of Cain, who killed his brother Abel, and whose claim to fame was building a big city he named after one of his sons. His line also is recorded to have yet another murderer in its midst. This group of people seem to be more concerned with “number one” than with obeying God. In fact, there is no indication that following God was on any of their minds at the time.

Then in chapter 5 we read about the line of Seth, the son born to Adam and Eve after their son Abel was murdered. In this account we read about Enoch who walked with God, and Lamech who said that son Noah would save the people from the Lord’s curse. Seth’s line contains people who followed God.

Even though we see chapter 6 as a division point, remember the Bible wasn’t written in chapters and verses. The account of the sons of God and daughters of men immediately follow the genealogies of Cain and Seth. We see believers, sons of God through Seth, marrying daughters of men, daughters through Cain, simply because they were pretty. 

Unequally yoked with unbelievers.

That is a recipe for disaster. In fact, by chapter 6 in Genesis, sin is so rampant God is going to destroy the world.

I believe this account in God’s Word isn’t here to suggest some super-human race existed because of the sin of angels and women. I believe this account is here to remind us the consequences of sin, the seriousness of being linked to non-believers.

I think that is what God would have me hear today. We are to go into all the world, be all things to all men in order to win some. But we must never, NEVER, compromise on sin. We must never deviate from the holiness God demands of us. And we must never marry, or go into business with, or attach ourselves to non-believers in any way.

Matthew Henry says this: “The bad will sooner debauch the good than the good reform the bad.” I believe that’s the lesson here today.

 

 

November 27; It’s Not Right

I Corinthians 8:1-11:1

Our society is obsessed with “rights,” aren’t we? The right to an abortion. The right to marry who I want to marry. The right not to look at a Confederate flag or a caricature of a smiling Indian on a baseball cap. We are so determined to exercise our “rights” we don’t care who we have to step on to get them.

Paul says if anyone has “rights” it’s a Christian. In 10:23 he tells us that for those of us redeemed by the blood of Jesus, “everything is permissible – but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible – but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.”

The apostle tells us he willingly gives up his “rights” for the good of others. He gives example after example of this in the chapters we read today. He goes as far as to say, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” (22b)

Not long ago I heard a preacher use that verse to promote contemporary worship. That is a twisting of this Scripture that makes me so angry. Paul is NOT talking about worship at all. What Paul is talking about is much harder than rocking to a few repetitive phrases in order to “experience worship,” or even to entice people into attending the service on Sunday.

Paul is talking about what you are going to do today to reach someone for Jesus’ sake. Paul is talking about investing yourself in the life of a non-believer, spending time talking about and doing the things that person enjoys. Paul is talking about giving up some of your rights in order to put that eternal soul ahead of your own comfort or desires

I don’t know where we got the idea that Jesus wants us to invite unsaved people to church. He never said that. In fact if you read the Bible you’ll see that the church needs to be restricted to believers for a very good reason.

What Jesus told us, and what Paul is demonstrating, is to get off the couch, let go of what you think you deserve, and BE the person that will make that non-believer want what you have in Jesus. Go, Jesus said. Make disciples. Think of others more important than yourself.

I know that takes effort and energy. It takes time and it’s not always convenient. But it’s not right for a Christian NOT to.

November 23; Be Sanctified

I Thessalonians 2:17-5:28; II Thessalonians 1

What does it mean to live a holy life? Paul tells us it is God’s will that we be sanctified in order to please God. Then Paul tells us what that looks like:

that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. (I Thessalonians 4:3b-6a)

So is holy living, or sanctification, restricted to sexual behavior? Remember, Jesus told us that we commit adultery when we lust. It doesn’t have to involve bodily contact. Sin comes in all shapes and sizes.

Trying in our own strength to do what Paul is telling us to do only leads to failure. We can’t muster up courage, or find strength inside us to defeat the power of sin. It’s impossible. A sinner can’t sanctify a sinner, so I can’t sanctify me.

But the Holy Spirit can! When we humble ourselves and accept the gift of God’s grace, the forgiveness of sin through the blood of Jesus, when we place our faith in God, the Holy Spirit is given to us. Then we can avoid sexual immorality because the Holy Spirit gives us His strength and His desires. We can control ourselves in holy and honorable ways because the Spirit in us is holy and honorable.

Paul tells us it is the work of the Holy Spirit to grow believers, or to sanctify believers. But he also says it is possible to “put out the Spirit’s fire.” Then he tells us to “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” (5:19-20)

Then Paul prays: May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. (5:23-24)

Does that thrill your heart? Yes we have responsibility in our walk with the Lord. But the good news is that the Spirit within us gives us wisdom, and the ability to hold on to the good and avoid every kind of evil. The Spirit within us gives us exactly what we need to be sanctified.

He is faithful. And He will do it!