Tag Archives: obedience

(Genesis 32-40) Submission

Here’s where I think we have failed God.

As I was reading every detail of Bezalel’s work in the making of the tabernacle, once again I was frustrated. Didn’t we just get done reading those same details in the previous chapters? Why put us through that torture again? Why not simply report, “Bezalel obeyed?”

As I was forming that question in my mind somewhere around chapter 37, God seemed to challenge me to pay attention. There is a lesson to be learned from Bezalel’s obedience. I slowed down my reading and looked carefully at the level of Bezalel’s obedience and it dawned on me. The lesson here is…

submission.

We don’t see Bezalel going rogue. We don’t see him adding to or skipping over even the tiniest detail. He was an artist. I’m sure he was creative and imaginative in his own right. But he submitted to God. He laid aside his own desires and fulfilled the plan God designed exactly as it was told him.

Scripture tells us repeatedly that the tabernacle was made “just as the Lord had commanded Moses.”

Oh, that we would be as diligent, as careful to build the Church in 2021, just as the Lord commanded in His Word. I’m not sure we have submitted our wills as completely as Bezalel submitted his.

If we’re honest we have overlooked some important details. We’ve tweaked some details to be less offensive, more politically correct. Haven’t we turned our worship into entertaining productions? We are more concerned with what our worship looks like than in the condition of our hearts. We rationalize sin in our church and in our individual lives, and it’s getting harder and harder to recognize a follower of Jesus because we look very much like unbelievers.

The result of Bezalel’s level of obedience was blessing. Read chapter 40. It must have been an amazing spectacle as God revealed His Presence. There could be no question. God was in this. There is reward for carefully following what God says: HIS PRESENCE!

So today God is asking me to submit, to lay aside what I think, and look into His Word to find out what He commands. He is asking me to stop listening to christian-sounding ideas and plans, and to obey what He has made so clear in the pages of my Bible.

I realize my level of submission isn’t where it needs to be. Submitting to God isn’t merely a prayer, or an intention. If I truly submit to God it is going to be evident in my talk, my walk, my thoughts, and ultimately in my choices today. It’s going to be driven by God’s plan, not mine.

Have we as the Church failed to submit to God? If so, maybe it’s time we do.

(Exodus 26-31) Plans and Blueprints and Details

Why did God think it was important to have every tiny detail of the tabernacle spelled out? My brain doesn’t work like this. I honestly don’t care how many rings held a pole or if the covering hung over six inches or six feet or not at all.

I’ve shared my church is in the middle of a building project. There are plans and blueprints and details I don’t understand – or care to understand. But before I walk through those doors and sit in a chair under that roof, I’m going to be very glad someone thought about the feet and inches and materials and placement, and cared enough to not only understand those details, but made sure they were carried out to the letter so the building doesn’t come crashing down on my head.

Now, I know every detail God recorded here in these chapters in Exodus have symbolic meaning and draw a beautiful picture of God’s Sovereign plan of salvation. But when I read this I can’t help but think, not so much of the plan, but the Planner, not so much of the building but the Architect, the Master Designer who not only drew up those plans, but oversaw the process of turning His plans into an amazing place of worship there in the desert. That tabernacle would not come crashing down on the Israelites because it was designed by God Himself and built by people who followed His blueprints to the letter.

That gives me peace and joy today as God’s tabernacle in 2021. Because as interested as God was in every detail of that Old Testament tabernacle, He is infinitely more interested the details of my life. And if I follow the blueprint, if I build according to the plans He has laid out in His Word, I won’t come crashing down even in the middle of a virus scare, or a job loss, or a medical setback, or a change in government.

So I am thankful God included these details I read today here in the book of Exodus. It reminds me how invested He is in the details of my life. The Master Designer is my peace and joy and hope.

(Exodus 20) The 10 Suggestions

I have seen in my lifetime the gradual, and not so gradual, rejection of God’s Laws. The inevitable result can be seen on the news every day. We can remove the Ten Commandments from our walls, re-write them to be politically correct, but the end will be lawlessness, immortality, violence, disrespect, and a Me First society that is more about the perceived rights of individuals than what is right.

Are we to take these Ten Commandments literally, and obey them to the letter? Absolutely. Why would anyone think life wouldn’t be better if we did?

I am reminded God gave these instructions to Israel AFTER He saved them from slavery in Egypt. They are not conditions for salvation, but rather behaviors that honor our Savior.

I believe if Christians were the only ones taking these commandments seriously, our nation and our world would not look like it does today. Sadly, many Christians make choices to disobey every day. No wonder we are witnessing such a decline.

Common sense tells me if these commandments were followed by all, believers and non-believers, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in. I challenge you to point out one of the ten that would make matters worse if it was obeyed.

You are not responsible for how your neighbor obey’s God. You are responsible for how you obey, however. Read them. Memorize them. Live by them to the letter and in the spirit of them.

They are not The Ten Suggestions.

(Exodus 1-4) Even Moses

Did God really want to kill Moses? 4:24 tells us He really did. Why? Wasn’t Moses going back to Egypt because God told him to? Hadn’t God said Moses would deliver the Israelites out of bondage? It seems odd that God would decide to kill this man.

If you read 4:21-26 you read the Gospel. Yes, Moses was going through the motions of obedience, but the fact remained he hadn’t been circumcised. That was disobedience. That was sin. And sin comes with a death penalty, no matter who you are, no matter how much you might appear to others to be following God.

It wasn’t until Moses was circumcised, until blood had been spilt, that God let him go. The same requirement is in effect today. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. (Hebrews 9:22)

After Jesus, His is the blood that brings salvation. No one needs to be circumcised or cut or killed in order for sins to be forgiven. But make no mistake, blood needs to be applied in order for God to pardon a death sentence.

And that’s the Gospel.

Our bodies don’t need to be circumcised, but our hearts do. That involves a true repentance, an acceptance of God’s will. Forgiveness doesn’t happen until the blood of Jesus is applied to a surrendered heart. Then, and only then, will God “let (us) go” as He did Moses here in Exodus 4.

You can do all the religious stuff, and go through the motions of obedience like Moses did. But even Moses had to address his sin.

And so do you and I.

Last Days (2 Timothy)

Paul’s words to Timothy are still words to live by in 2020. There is no doubt we are in the “last days.” Paul told Timothy he was living in the last days, and we are 2000 years closer to the end than Timothy was.

The following verses describe life in Paul’s day. I believe he is describing 2020, too:

People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. (3:2-5)

Sound familiar? I bet you saw most of those behaviors on the news last night. Maybe in your own family. Maybe when you look in the mirror.

Oh, there’s more:

(They are) always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. (Verse 7)

It reminds me of the present day “Woke” movement. It reminds me of modern academia, our “cancel culture,” Bethel worship.

Here’s the thing. We can shake our heads, point fingers, even pray for Jesus’ quick return because things are so bad. Or we can do what Paul told Timothy to do:

I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. (4:1b-2)

Paul goes on to tell Timothy and us that eventually people will not put up with sound doctrine. And the movement will be huge.

But, dear one, it’s not enough to recognize our circumstances in God’s Word, in verses such as these that Paul wrote Timothy. Recognizing that our world is in serious trouble is important in so far as it motivates us to share Jesus with lost souls. If it is true that Jesus’ return is around the corner, then the window of opportunity for people to be saved is closing. Does that bother you?

Paul encourages us to be in the Word, but then to use what we’ve learned to evangelize:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (3:16)

Do you believe we are in the last days? Then God is asking us to patiently correct, rebuke, encourage each other. We need to be training people in righteousness, not just right living. People need to know Jesus and accept His righteousness.

We are celebrating the birth of Jesus this week. What better time to start a conversation with our unsaved loved ones about what that birth means. Jesus was born to die for them!

These are no doubt the “last days.” What are you and I doing about that?

My Response (Hebrews 10)

Mom would have been 96 today. I would have enjoyed celebrating with her. But since she’s in heaven, she has no age, no birthday, no need for candles or cake. She’s in glory!

Reading her Bible today gave me a special connection with her. I love that woman! I was touched my some verses that touched her. Chapter 10 talks about the amazing work Jesus did on the cross, His sacrifice and what it means for my life and my eternity. Here is what she underlined:

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (22-25)

I want my response to Jesus to be exactly that! A sincere heart, full of the assurance of my faith in Him, a guiltless conscience because of the decisions I make as His representative. I want to hold unswervingly to the hope I have, even when my hope is not politically correct or “woke.” I want to encourage you even more as we see the very real possibility that the end of life as we know it may be coming to an end. Let’s stand together in the Truth that is Jesus!

I hope you’ll read Hebrews today. It always makes me love Jesus more every time I read it. He did it all. The old is gone, the new is come. I want my response to His sacrifice, to bring Him joy.

Our Conduct (Philippians)

I imagine we all can agree our world is changing. People live in constant fear. Tempers flair. Families are forced apart by government and even by political opinion. The US is imploding. It looks like we are on the brink of defeat, not from some outside military force, but from within ourselves.

Then I hear God say through Paul:

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. (1:27)

What does that mean? How are we who know the Savior supposed to conduct ourselves during these uncertain times? I want to share with you some verses Mom underlined in her Bible here in Paul’s letter to the Philippians. It pretty much answers those questions.

2:4 Each of you should look not only to your own interest, but also to the interests of others.

So, does this mean we wear masks? Maybe. Do we speak truth instead of promoting hysteria? Probably. But I think more importantly this tells us that we should not merely be satisfied with our own ticket to heaven. I honestly think God is more interested in whether or not we share the Gospel, than whether or not we wear a mask. I think it’s more likely that God is telling us to reach out to lost people, even if it means we’ll be rejected, made fun of, mistreated, or worse. Telling people about Jesus isn’t always convenient. We should do it anyway.

2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.

Read verses 6-11 if you want to know more about that. Having a humble, servant’s attitude is so contrary to today’s Me First society. Yet that is what God requires of His children.

2:14 Do everything without complaining or arguing.

Pretty much speaks for itself, doesn’t it? Just don’t miss the word, “everything.”

3:1 …rejoice in the Lord!

We can get so caught up in the climate of fear and anxiety we miss the real joy that comes from a relationship with God Himself. Our circumstances might not give us reason for joy. But the Lord does! Rejoice in the Lord!

3:13-14 …Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Forget the past. Don’t hold grudges or try to even the score. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Focus. Focus. Focus. Press on by being that humble, obedient servant God intends for you to be. Jesus is ahead! Keep moving toward Him.

4:5 Let your gentleness be evident to all.

Sadly, some people equate gentleness with weakness. There is a difference. Be strong in the Lord while you show love to one another. Forgive as you’ve been forgiven. Share Jesus with kindness and firmness. I’m pretty sure few people are saved by someone thumping them on the head with a Bible.

4:6 Do not be anxious about anything.

Yes, not even COVID. Not even socialism or communism or China or the stock market. Anything means anything. Do not allow anxiety to possess you.

Paul goes on to tell us:

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (4:7)

Does the world witness the peace of God in you? Or are you wringing your hands like those who have no hope? God is telling us we can have His peace. Do you trust Him? Prove it.

Most of us Christians would say that our desire is to be the people God wants us to be. Most of us want to by used by God to win people to His saving grace. Most of us, I would think, want to live lives worthy of the precious Gospel we received through faith in Jesus.

Living that life isn’t easy nor convenient. Sometimes we get it right, other times we fail miserably. But Paul reminds us:

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (4:13)

You can live a life worthy of the gospel of Christ. You can do it all through your relationship with Him!

Then…

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Conduct worthy of the Gospel might not be easy or politically correct. But it comes with benefits, my friend. It comes with all the glorious riches in Jesus!

Doesn’t get better than that.

Ministry Roadblock (2 Corinthians 9)

What do you do when ministry hits a roadblock? Does God ever cause division among His workers? If so, how do you know which side is right and which is wrong?

On matters of doctrine, the Truth of Scripture, Jesus the Savior, the side of right and wrong should be pretty obvious. In fact, divisions over these non-negotiables might be God’s way of weeding Satan out of our midst. But what about matters of opinion, preferences, administration styles, and the like? Can a division in ministry based on those be of God?

I would say absolutely not! I would say those kinds of divisions are Satan’s effective tools to weaken ministry. We need to know the difference and stand with God to protect the ministry, the furthering of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Please pray for me. I am part of a national ministry that has hit a roadblock because some people don’t like the leadership. Both sides, that of the established leadership and that of those who have rebelled, have valid complaints. And sadly, both sides are guilty of putting their opinions and, dare I say, pride and need for power ahead of the ministry. Neither side is willing to back down, and it has caused a division that is far-reaching, and threatens to effect ministry on the local level where I am involved.

Satan’s gotta be loving this. My heart is broken.

And I want to walk away.

But as I was reading Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians this morning, He seemed to put a “Dear Connie,” in front of 9:12-13.

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

I will be honest to tell you that I considered resigning in the midst of this. I resent being forced to take sides when both sides are obviously doing things that cannot please God. Yet God is reminding me that my service is to Him, that this ministry is still reaching lost souls for Jesus, that what is happening in leadership has not changed the message, and I have the privilege of carrying on regardless of what is happening on the local, state and national levels.

I want obedience to accompany my confession of the Gospel. I am determined that my work in this particular ministry will overflow with thanks to God. But I need your prayers, as does the entire CEF family. I believe God can change this roadblock into a bump in the road. That’s my prayer. Will you join me?

No “I” (Galatians)

This past year I have been reading through God’s Word using my mother’s Bible. Mom went to live with Jesus in 1996, and I have had her Bible on my bookshelf for all these years. I always love reading God’s Word, but this year has been kind of special as I see what verses my mother underlined. Sometimes I see a verse she underlined and think, “Yeah. That sounds like Mom.” Other times I read something she underlined and wonder what was going on in her life at the time that prompted that particular verse to speak to her.

Mom underlined three passages in the book of Galatians, and I’d like to share them with you today. The first is 2:20.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

I no longer live.

A dead person has no goals, no plans or desires, no ego. Can I honestly say that describes me? Have I been crucified with Christ so that Connie no longer lives? That goes so contrary to the popular theme of the day, that “I” deserve, “I” need, “I” can, “I” am…

A dead man has no “I.” Do “I?”

Paul, understanding that there was still life in his body, explained how he could be a dead man walking: but Christ lives in me.

Jesus filled Paul’s body with HIS goals, plans, and desires, and Paul gladly offered his body to accomplish those things on Jesus’ heart. Paul had no ego. His life was no longer his, but Christ’s.

Paul also understood that life in this body comes with challenges. It is a constant battle with Satan. Paul explained in another verse my mother underlined, 5:16, how he could resist the temptations Satan threw his way:

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Paul didn’t say there wouldn’t be desires of the sinful nature. We are all tempted in some way or another. (think of the “I” mentality I spoke about earlier. The pull to gratify sinful desires is real.) But Paul knew that if the Spirit was directing him, the ability to resist those desires would be his as well.

The third passage Mom underlined was 5:24-26.

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with the passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Crucifying that sinful nature can be a battle for me. Sometimes I feel like Paul in I Corinthians 15:31 because I, too, have to die daily. But I notice in this passage in Galatians, Paul gives me the key: keep in step with the Spirit. How? By spending time in God’s Word every day, praying for understanding and discernment, growing in grace and knowledge of Jesus, then I am able to keep in step with the Spirit who fills me.

These passages in Galatians highlight five things to me this morning:

  1. Crucified with Christ (is that true of me?)
  2. Christ in me (not just emptying myself, but replacing the “I” with Jesus)
  3. Live by the Spirit (being aware of His presence, making choices that He prompts me to make, spending time in God’s Word and in prayer every day)
  4. Belong to Christ (wow! I am His, and He is mine! Never alone. His precious child)
  5. Keep in step with the Spirit (I’m not emptied, then filled just to sit here and enjoy the ride. This part of these passages that spoke to my mother tells me the Spirit is on the move, and I better keep up!)

I’ve learned some things about my mother this year as I’ve read her Bible. But more importantly, I’ve learned some things about myself and my relationship with the Savior she loved.

My prayer is that today, I will not live. I pray that I will be a dead woman walking around with Jesus inside, my fingers touching the things He wants to touch, my feet going where He wants to go, my voice saying the things He wants to say. I pray that for you, too.

180 (Acts 9-10)

Saul obeyed. Ananias obeyed. Cornelius obeyed. Peter obeyed. And what they did in obedience was a 180 from where they’d started.

Saul was headed to Damascus to arrest all believers he could find because he wanted to stop people from proclaiming Jesus. He was an educated Jew, and educated Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah. But when Saul had an encounter with Jesus, he turned from someone who wanted to silence people, into someone who would not be silenced.

Ananias was comfortable there in Damascus. He may have felt safe in his home from the coming trouble. But when God told him to go to Saul, the very man who threatened Ananias’ life, Ananias moved out of his comfort zone and walked right up to the one person he considered an enemy, ready to pray for Saul to regain his sight.

Cornelius was a Gentile who believed in Israel’s God. But he was still a Gentile, and Gentiles and Jews had no use for each other. Cornelius had a good ministry there in Caesarea, but when God told him there was something more, Cornelius went for it even if it meant going to a Jew to get it.

Peter knew Jesus personally, was a disciple and one of Jesus’ closest friends. But he was Jewish, and Jews felt Jesus was THEIR Messiah. They were pretty protective of that relationship. A sign with “No Gentiles allowed!” was placed over the door of their clubhouse. But when God showed Peter, not once but three times (we are talking Peter here), that God makes no distinction between Jews and Gentiles, Peter turned his back on what he thought he knew, and went to the home of a Gentile to share his Messiah, Jesus, with Cornelius and his family.

Sometimes God pushes us forward, sometimes He turns us around. We, like the men in these chapters of Acts, need only to obey.

What is God asking of you today? Is it time you did a 180?