Tag Archives: obedience

Not Too Late

Genesis 25-27

I see me in Esau. He wanted his father’s blessing. He just wanted to live life on his own terms, too. He hadn’t really taken his father all that seriously, until it was too late.

So often I want God to bless me. But I also want to live life on my own terms, like Esau did. I read God’s demands in Scripture, but I don’t always take them seriously. I think both Esau and I are counting on our Father’s love to overlook our selfish choices.

The thing is, no matter how much He loves us, God CAN’T overlook our choices that go against His rules. He is holy. He demands holiness of us. He won’t let the guilty go unpunished. He wouldn’t be holy if He did.

Esau missed out on the best his father could offer. He was given a blessing of sorts in the end, but oh, what he’d given up because of disobedience.

I am blessed much more than I deserve. I thank God that when I confess and repent of my sin, He gives me the greatest blessing of all – HIMSELF! It doesn’t get better than that.

Esau reminds me that in order to receive all the benefits from that precious blessing, I need to obey. I need to humble myself, let go of the reins, and let God have His way in my life. My Father wants to bless me beyond what I can ask or think. He only asks me to follow His rules.

It was too late for Esau to receive the blessing he was hoping for. It’s not too late for me. My gracious Heavenly Father is eager to shower me with the blessings of His presence and care, His joy and salvation. May I be ready to receive all He has to offer, as I submit to His will, and let go of mine.

Entering God’s Rest

Hebrews 1-4

This morning, a dear lady from my church entered the rest the writer of Hebrews describes. She may have struggled to take her last breath in this life, but she is now breathing freely in the arms of her Savior. The cares of this life are over for her, because she followed Jesus in the midst of heartache and physical pain, with the joy of the Lord.

But her’s is not the same end for those who choose to live this life apart from God. These chapters in Hebrews not only explain who Jesus is and what He did, it explains who it is that can receive the eternal blessing He offers, and who will never receive that blessing.

Today when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts. (4:7b)

You might want to believe there is nothing after this life. But there is.

You might want to believe everyone goes to a better place when they die. Not everyone does.

You might want to think that identifying as a Christian is your ticket into God’s rest. It isn’t.

Ii might be a good idea for all of us to take time to read the book of Hebrews because the lines between right and wrong, truth and lies, good and evil are becoming so blurred we are all in danger of falling away. “Don’t harden your heart” applies to you.

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. (4:12-13)

How Much Is It Worth?

2 Corinthians 8-9

The TRUTH of God’s Word must be shared. It’s urgent. We see so many Christians, so many churches, stepping away from God’s Word, and the result is evident today in our ever increasingly perverted society. It is frightening.

Christians are leaving churches where the Gospel is preached, and are attending the churches that make them feel good, make them feel spiritual and religious. They don’t have to repent of sin. Sin is never addressed because someone thinks it’s offensive to tell someone they are wrong, it’s not loving if you don’t accept and include everyone.

Good churches are closing their doors for lack of members and financial support. Worthless churches are seemingly bulging at the seams, their pastors driving Mercedes and living in luxury.

I know that’s a broad generalization. I know that’s not true in every mega-church. But you and I both know that is the case way too often.

Paul is thanking the Corinthians for their financial support of the church in Jerusalem. Their support to the ministry is invaluable for a couple of reasons.

So two things will result from this ministry of giving – the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. (verses 12-13)

The needs of the people are met AND God is glorified in the process. Win. Win.

Every year our church takes up a Lottie Moon offering for foreign missions in the SBC. Our pastor encourages us to pray that God will give each of us a number, an amount He is asking each of us to give as individuals, and then to be obedient to give what God has laid on our hearts. That’s different than me looking at my bank statement and coming up with an amount I think fits.

It’s easy for me to throw in a few dollars, and feel like I’ve contributed to this important ministry. Then I hear God say:

Give in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly, And give according to what you have, not according to what you don’t have. (verses 11b-12)

Ouch. That number just went up.

I am not saying that giving money should replace my responsibility to go and make disciples of the people in my life. But I hear God remind me of the responsibility and privilege I have of supporting those who are making disciples around the world, too.

I am also reminded of the responsibility and privilege of financially supporting my local church, to write that monthly check joyfully and eagerly, sacrificially without strings attached, out of what I have, not out of what I don’t have.

(Are we to give that 10 percent out of the gross or net? Is 10 percent my limit so that I am operating just barely in the black on my church-giving ledger? Or should we throw out the 10 percent and, like the widow, give all we have? Or something in between? The debate goes on.)

If the Church is going to survive, and I would assume most of you reading this believe it is important that it does, then along with our prayers, our service, our witness, our worship, it will increasingly need our money.

“But,” you say, “inflation has taken a chunk out of my income and expenses.”

It’s taken a chunk out of the church’s finances, too.

Can you trust God with your finances? Read what Paul has to say about that here in his letter to the Corinthians.

I think the question we all need to ask ourselves is, “What is my salvation worth in dollars and cents?”

Can you put a price on what Jesus did for you there on the cross? He died so that all people can have the opportunity to have their sins forgiven, and enjoy a relationship with Him forever.

How much is that worth?

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.