Tag Archives: obedience

(Song of Solomon 5-8) Love Is Not All There Is

Yesterday my prayer was that I would love God like He deserves, with a passionate, all-consuming, pure kind of love. Today, I am reminded that’s not enough.

I need to act on that love. A former pastor always said, “Love is something you DO.” So reading these chapters today I realize how important it is that I GO when He calls, I need to INVITE Him to come to me. I need to GIVE to Him, SHOW my love in private and in public, LISTEN to Him, choose to STAY with Him.

I am reminded that simply feeling love for and even feeling loved by Him, isn’t love at all. I mean I love my piano. But if I don’t play it, it’s just furniture gathering dust.

My prayer today is that my love for my Beloved Savior will be something you could notice in the words I say, the things I do, even the look on my face. Let it be known that I love the Lord. Let me show you what that looks like.

(Proverbs 23) A Question of Alcohol

People have interesting reactions when I tell them I don’t drink alcohol. Most common reaction is surprise. Doesn’t everyone have a glass of wine now and then? Sometimes I see a wall go up. One person actually responded with, “So you think I’m going to hell?” That was extreme. Most of the time my abstinence makes drinkers uncomfortable, and sometimes there is no reaction at all.

It’s not my intention to make anyone uncomfortable. However, if God convicts someone by my choice about their own drinking, I’m happy to be used by God that way.

Let me say as I often do: the Bible doesn’t list drinking alcohol as a sin. So no, you aren’t going to hell just because you have a glass of wine, unless your drinking is an act of rebellion toward God, unless your glass of wine becomes two – then three – and you get drunk, which is addressed in Scripture. (Eph 5:18)

It’s also addressed here in Proverbs, and it’s one of the reasons I choose to refrain from drinking alcohol. The wisdom of God says:

Don’t gaze at wine because it is red, because it gleams in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a snake and stings like a viper. (23:31-32)

I don’t have to be bitten by a poisonous snake to know it will make me sick or kill me. I don’t have to be bitten by a viper to know I should stay clear of it at all costs. And I don’t have to drink alcohol to know it can harm me, either.

Did you know that your body, so intricately created by God, recognizes any amount of alcohol in your system as a poison? Your organs immediately begin fighting that poison in the same way it does arsenic. Read the science. It’s true.

And, although people say they can drink alcohol without it effecting them, those same people will say, “I need a drink” after a hard day. If it doesn’t effect you, why do you need it? For what reason? Doesn’t make sense.

If I am going to be an effective witness for Jesus, I want my brain working at 100%, not dulled by alcohol even a little. I want to be ready to give an answer for the hope I have in Jesus without slurred speech.

Lastly, my choice not to drink alcohol has sparked conversations about my Savior that would not have happened if I’d poured a glass like everyone else. The fact that I declined has given me the opportunity to share why I did.

If we “come out from among them and be separate,” like the Bible says, people will notice. (2 Corinthians 6:17) And if people notice, they may just give us an opportunity to share the Gospel.

There’s another benefit. I can have a great time sober AND remember it the next day with no regrets! 🙂

So go ahead and have a drink. I will not condemn you. I am not better or more holy than you. I believe God has prompted me to honor Him in this way. And I will not tell you you have to do the same. How you choose to honor God is between you and Him. May we all be obedient.

(Proverbs 1-2) Proverbs to Ponder

In the past, I have found the book of Proverbs to be a mishmash of catchy phrases. Some have challenged me in my walk with the Lord. Some make me laugh out loud. Some are hard to make sense out of, and some on the surface, are just plain wrong.

I read these two chapters today, then commentaries written by Henry, Wiersbe, MacArthur, and Wesley, and realized I’ve neglected something very important as I’ve read this collection of proverbs in the past. The crux of the matter is, if I want this book to teach me, to grow me, to change me, then I need to approach each verse keeping 1:7 in the forefront:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…”

As I read these proverbs I want to focus on God and hear how they apply to my relationship with Him. Rather than trying to make sense of the words, I want to see the spiritual truth behind the words. If I look at these verses as a metaphor for my walk with the Lord, I believe I’ll find the wisdom God would give me.

I started reading about “them” today. Wise people and fools, young people, sons and parents, prostitutes, etc. It was easy to look out toward others who were foolish and think this book is about them.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…”

I read these chapters again, this time understanding that, although the author is using certain people as examples, the lesson here applies to me. The “you” of it became the “me” of it; my tendency to reject my own mother’s teaching, to be enticed by the world’s attraction, to be lured by its pleasures, and to go along with Christian sounding teaching which in reality is apostasy.

I hear God warn me that if I persist in this foolishness, there will be at time when I will call out to Him, and He won’t answer. Yes, Connie. God is warning you!

I hear God challenge ME to read His Word, memorize it, trust it, listen closely and obey it. Then He will give me wisdom and knowledge, He’ll shield me, and guard my path toward Him and away from the enemy.

Wisdom will enter my heart and knowledge will delight (me).” (2:10)

So I’m ready to take on these proverbs, fearing God and asking Him to teach me. This time around I’m not just going to read them, I’m going to ponder the proverbs and apply them to my daily walk and my spiritual health and well-being. God has some wisdom to give me.

Let’s do this!

(Psalm 119:1-40) Digging for Treasure

Our Sunday School lesson yesterday was from Job 28 where Job talks about mining for treasure, and how God’s wisdom is so much more valuable than any gem or mineral men work so hard to get. Our challenge was to “mine” the treasures in God’s Word with the same intentional effort as a miner of gold.

Then today, as I continue with reading through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation in 2021, I found myself in Psalm 119. Yes, the psalm that talks about God’s Word in every verse, the psalm that celebrates the treasures in Scripture.

I love God!

I had intended to read through the entire chapter, all 176 verses. But there is so much treasure here to gather, I couldn’t just skip over the surface. I had to dig. I had to pull out everything I could, one gem at a time.

But here’s the thing: If I read God’s Word, and if I do it slowly, thinking about what I read, if I stop and look at what others have said about these verses, and go back and read the verses again, if I gain all the knowledge about what Scripture says, but don’t write in on my heart and allow it to change me, I miss out on the chance to glorify God and be blessed by Him. If I don’t actually use what treasures I’ve mined, why bother?

It would be like digging for diamonds, and just putting the lump of rock on a shelf and forgetting it. What makes the diamond valuable is the cutting and polishing and use of it.

Same thing with God’s Word. The psalmist knows the value of actually loving God’s law AND obeying it; things like happiness, a life lived without fear of being “found out” with some hidden sin, a life lived unashamed. Things like knowing God hears – really hears – when I pray. The fact that He gives me understanding of His Word when I ask Him. And the amazing blessing of life lived through God’s own righteousness.

James 1:22-25 tells us there is blessing not just from hearing God’s Word, but in obeying it.

As Christians we are God’s servants. Not the forced and oppressed kind of slaves that might come to mind. But people who are privileged to serve, people who love to please our loving Father kind-of-servants. And our loving Father has written down exactly how we can please Him, gave us our “honey-do” lists, our instruction book and lesson plan, step by step instructions that spell it all out. He makes His will known through the pages of Scripture so we CAN serve Him.

The beauty of Scripture is the fact that the more time we spend reading and taking it in, the better we get to know God. The more we know God, the more we want to know Him. The more we know Him, the more we love Him. The more we love Him the more we want to please Him, to spend time with Him reading what He wrote, which helps us to know Him better, love Him more, serve Him in a way that pleases Him, and so on and so on and so on.

It’s a glorious cycle! And in this cycle of knowing God, loving His Word, and obeying Him there is such joy!

Matthew Henry said that the joy that comes from knowing God like that should be the “wheels” to our obedience. It comes back to the Bible. Because if we want to obey God, we find out how to obey Him in His Word.

And if we read His Word, we want to obey Him.

Is your head spinning? It’s cool to think of this cycle like a spiral, or the ripples in the water when you toss a pebble into it. The rings get bigger and bigger as it reaches further and further out. God blesses us who love His word, and as we love His Word more, the blessing grow, reach out, multiply.

Now let me say I’m glad you are reading this post. I am thankful for people like Henry, Wiersbe, MacArthur and others who have studied God’s Word and shared their insight through hundreds of books and commentaries.

But A.W Tozer warns us about the difference between being “man taught” and “God taught.” I think that’s something we need to take seriously. The psalmist is celebrating the beauty of God’s Word, and the blessing of reading it, meditating on it, loving it, desiring it, longing for it, writing it on our hearts. Nothing – NOTHING – compares to spending time in the pages of the Bible for yourself and allowing God to open your minds and hearts to what He wants to say to you.

I pray that you will dig for treasure today as you open your Bible and begin to read. The treasure you will find is priceless.

(Psalm 109) Too Harsh?

I wouldn’t want to be the one who made David mad. If you read this psalm, the prayer concerning his enemy is harsh! David not only asked God to punish this particular enemy with severity, he asked God to wipe out any influence that wicked man may have had, which in this case included the man’s entire family. David asked God to make the man’s children suffer for what their father had done.

Like I said – harsh!

Oh that we would be as harsh concerning our enemy. No, I’m not talking about that guy down the street who plays his music too loud or that lady in the next cubicle at work who talks about you behind your back. Our enemy, unlike David’s, is NOT flesh and blood.

Our enemy is Satan. And sometimes I think we’re more concerned about hurting his feelings than we are about defeating him in this war he’s declared on our souls.

Do we pray as fervently as David prayed that God would crush Satan in our lives and eliminate any influence that snake has over us? Do we want him eradicated, pulverized, annihilated, or just slapped around a little because we really don’t want to let go of some sin? We just know we need to confess it once in a while to make us feel like a Christian.

“Satan, wait over there while I talk to God for a minute. ‘God, I’m so sorry, please forgive me of that sin. I’ll never do it again. Thanks.’ Now, let’s get out of here, Satan.”

Not exactly the kind of prayer David prayed concerning his enemy, and it’s not the kind of prayer we should be praying, either. If we want to be “Christian” we have got to learn to be as serious about our enemy as David was about his. And we have to pray that God will do His worst to our enemy and any influence that enemy has over us.

Too harsh? I don’t think we can be where Satan and sin is concerned.

(Psalm 32) There Is Joy

Have you experienced the joy of sins forgiven? There is nothing like it, is there? Guilt gone, replaced by peace. Shame replaced with joy. Lies replaced with Truth.

Yet sometimes sin creeps in and begins to steal our peace and joy. We put smiles on our faces and lie to ourselves and others that we’re fine. But the truth is not in us.

Day and night God’s heavy hand of conviction is upon us, our strength, our resolve to follow God is drained. It isn’t until we confess our sins and receive the grace of God’s forgiveness that we can once again know the joy that comes from being absolutely clean.

Therefore, let everyone who is faithful pray immediately. (vs 6)

We must not let sin gain a foothold. The moment God brings a sin to our awareness, we must pray immediately. The longer we wait, the easier it is to wait, and the harder our hearts become the harder it is to repent.

Look to God who says, “I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with my eye on you, I will give counsel.” (vs 8)

Then, with David we can “be glad in the Lord and rejoice.”

There is joy for us who have been made clean by the precious blood of Jesus. I pray that you will know that joy today.

(Job 29-31) Prejudice

Do we get a glimpse at the less-than-righteous side of Job here? I have no doubt the man was a good, generous, upright guy who truly loved and feared God. God Himself called Job a righteous man, and God doesn’t lie.

But this man, who gave to the poor and fed the traveler, encouraged those who mourned, and received respect and honor from others, might have been a bit prejudice. In speaking of the young men who were harassing him, Job said this of their fathers:

I wouldn’t have put them with my dogs. They were emaciated, ate tree roots and shrubs like animals. These fathers weren’t fit for human society, and everyone treated them like thieves. They howled like wolves, and were forced out of the land.

Then Job says:

Now I am mocked by THEIR songs. I have become an object of scorn to THEM. THEY despise ME and keep their distance from ME. (30:9-10, emphasis mine)

Job is indignant at the very thought that the dregs of society would dare look down on him. But my question is, Job, why consider anyone throw-away?

I ask the same thing of us. ALL people are equally precious in God’s sight, and should be in the sight of all of His children: the unborn, the physically and mentally handicapped, the poor and the rich, the homeless and those living in luxury, homosexuals and those who reject that lifestyle, people with different skin color and nationalities, people with differing opinions, tattoos and piercings, grey hair and wrinkles.

We can be doing all the “right” things, we can be generous and loving and devoted to God. But is there a bit of prejudice in us, too? Because the truth is, ALL people need Jesus. Everyone needs Jesus, no matter what kind of life they are living!

God is asking me to do a prejudice check in my own heart. Might He be asking you to do the same?

(Nehemiah 4-8) The Joy Of The Lord

As I read about the worship service in the square in front of one of the gates in the newly repaired wall around Jerusalem, a couple of things occurred to me.

One is that worship was expressed in two ways – with the raising of hands, as well as the kneeling of people with their faces to the ground. I believe there is a place for both in our worship of God still today.

The other thing that spoke to me is how the people reacted when Ezra read Scripture, and when God’s Word was explained. When they understood what was read, they grieved. Their reaction to the Truth was an honest look at their failure to obey it. And it broke them.

Ezra and Nehemiah encouraged the people with, “Do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (8:10b)

It wasn’t that their grief was wrong. But there is a time to recognize sin and repent of it, and there is a time to get up off our knees and allow God to strengthen us to worship and serve Him with joy.

Just being sorry for our sins isn’t enough What you do with that grief is just as important.

When you are faced with your own sin, I pray it breaks your heart; that you realize what your sin does to our precious Father; that you fall on your knees and ask Him to forgive you. Just don’t stay there in your sorrow.

Accept what Jesus offers – complete forgiveness – then get up and allow His joy to fill and strengthen you. Worship Him with gladness. Serve Him, obey Him, submit to Him with joy.

Because the joy of the Lord is YOUR strength.

(Nehemiah 1-3) One Man

Nehemiah wasn’t a builder or an architect. He drank wine for a living. But Nehemiah heard of the crumbling wall around Jerusalem, realized the need, and got busy leading the rebuilding project.

He didn’t do all the work himself. A lot of the Jews picked up hammers and lugged heavy bricks, too. But it took one man to have the vision and the drive to rally people to get it done.

Sometimes I think the walls are crumbling around today’s Church, too. The enemy has an open door into our lives and into our fellowships. Some well-meaning Christians believe that’s a good thing. I don’t happen to be one of them.

The walls around our families, our society are crumbling as well. Some well-meaning Christians think it’s time they do. I believe that’s a mistake, according to Scripture.

Read the book of Nehemiah and see what God was able to do when one man was obedient and led the way. Think about what one man (or woman) could do if he or she was obedient and led the way in your home, in your church fellowship, in our society, or in the Church.

Are you that person? I’m praying for you.

(Ezra 1-6) Not Just My Soapbox

A quote from the CSB Apologetics Study Bible, (Holman Bible Publishers of Nashville, TN, 2017, page 552) regarding 6:21:

“Spiritual holiness was expected of those who worshiped God. Today’s church could learn from this early community. Church discipline has fallen by the wayside as contemporary congregations attempt to shed their image of exclusivity. However, God expects to be served by a holy people. The church today must demand that church members conduct themselves according to certain spiritual standards that honor the faith community and God. (Romans 12:1-2, I Pt 1:13-16)” ( emphasis mine)

I boldly and unapologetically say, “Amen.”