Tag Archives: obeying God

December 27; Don’t Forget

Revelation 2-5

God has some amazing things to tell us through John’s letter to the seven churches. In them He addresses each of us, and challenges us in our walk with Him.

To Ephesus God addresses those of us who are busy serving God, doing good work, keeping on keeping on. But something is missing. The busyness has overshadowed our first love, that love we knew when we were first cleansed from sin. God warns that without that fervent love for Him, our service to Him will lose its effectiveness.

DON’T FORGET WHY WE SERVE.

To Smyrna God speaks to those of us going through difficult circumstances. There are some people in our world today who suffer imprisonment and even death because they serve God. Others of us face unfair treatment, slander, rejection. Don’t be afraid, God tells us. He is the One who died and came back to life. That second death can’t hurt us.

DON’T FORGET WHO WE SERVE.

To Pergamum God has a word for us who live in a fallen world where sin runs rampant and evil surrounds us. Stay true to His Name. Don’t let the teachings of Satan creep into our hearts, no matter how popular the lies become. Know the Truth according to Scripture. Repent if you’ve deviated from that Truth. It’s serious business to accept the lies.

DON’T FORGET WHAT IS TRUE.

To Thyatira, God addresses those of us trying to live in two worlds, that of Christianity, and that of immorality. As Christians we help our neighbors, express love, and are people of faith. But we also tolerate immorality, even to the point of believing immorality is not sin. Some of us actually participate in immoral conduct, even if it is only in the privacy of our homes in front of a screen. God tells us there are serious consequences for that. Hold on, God tells us. Don’t give in!

DON’T FORGET HOW WE ARE TO LIVE.

To Sardis we hear a warning to those of us simply going through the motions. Oh, we do Christian sounding things, say Christian sounding words, but our hearts are dead. God tells us our deeds are only half done if that’s the case. “Walk with me,” God pleads. “Obey. Repent.” There is life in Christ.

DON’T FORGET WHAT YOU HAVE RECEIVED.

To Philadelphia God speaks to those of us who are feeling weak. Maybe it seems our efforts are in vain, that we have no place in ministry But God also commends us for being true to His Name, for serving patiently, perhaps quietly. If God opens a door of opportunity, He will bless our obedience. Again He encourages us to hold on!

DON’T FORGET WHO LOVES US.

To Laodicea God addresses we who are lukewarm Christians. We are pretty self-assured, happy to be saved from hell, but not wanting God meddling in our lives. God says we make Him sick. He tells us to earnestly repent. “Knock,” He says. “I’ll come in and fellowship with you and you with Me!”

DON’T FORGET WHO IS AT THE DOOR.

There is so much in the book of Revelation for us in 2019 concerning our relationship with God. I’m looking forward to ending the year listening to what He will say to me, getting to know Him better, and to growing my walk with Him into something useful for His kingdom. I hope you’ll join me.

September 17; Hold Your Horses

Ezra 8:15-10:44

Ezra had the go-ahead from the king, and from God to gather the Jews and head home. Ezra immediately organized the people, but when he discovered there were no priests or Levites among them, he waited. He sent for the spiritual leaders, and didn’t move until they were present.

But Ezra didn’t move out the minute the priest got there, either. He led the Israelites in a time of fasting and prayer. They humbled themselves and asked God for a safe journey for all of them, men, women, and children.

Have you ever found yourself moving ahead of God, of jumping into service without really praying about it, of beginning a ministry before you humbly give it to God?

Hold your horses!

I think Ezra’s example is a good one for all of us excited about doing God’s will.

He knew upfront that God was in it. But Ezra still prayed. He surrounded himself with Godly people and they prayed. He humbled himself. He gave the journey to God, asked God to protect him, and to bless their efforts.

And God brought them all safely home. Sounds like a recipe for a successful ministry to me.

 

September 13; Raising Obedience

Esther 1-4

Queen Vashti was busy doing her own thing and couldn’t be bothered to obey her husband’s, the king’s, command. Her disobedience cost her her crown.

Enter Esther, a Jewish orphan being raised by a cousin. This seemingly insignificant girl would be queen in place of the disobedient Vashti. Scripture tells us Esther was pretty. We see that she wasn’t flashy or demanding. It appears she was beautiful inside and out.

But something else about Esther stood out to me today. Esther did as her cousin Mordecai told her, “for she continued to follow Mordecai’s instructions as she had done when bringing her up.” (1:20)

Esther learned obedience at home, and it opened doors for her and saved the Jews. Mordecai said, “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (4:14)

It reminds me of the heavy responsibility parents have to teach their own children to obey. It saddens me that so many have adopted the lie that children should be empowered to decide for themselves, that disobedience should be met with understanding and patience. That, my friend, is not what the Bible teaches.

The Bible teaches that God demands obedience. Obedience is not just one of several options He’ll accept. The Bible teaches consequences for disobedience are severe and painful. And disobedience toward God is never ignored.

Are your children learning those lessons in your home? Esther seems to have learned them in Mordecai’s. The way Mordecai raised her put her in a position to save the Jews, “for such a time as this.” Had she been willful, disobedient, prideful, I doubt Xerxes would have given her a second look.

I wonder what great things God is going to ask of your child. Will that precious one be ready to obey because they learned to follow your instructions while you were bring him or her up? I’m praying for you.

 

July 29; Disobedience Kills

Psalm 81; Jeremiah 47-48; 2 Kings 23:29-30; 2 Chronicles 35:20-36:1

Josiah was a good man, a great king. He loved God and served Him with enthusiasm. His example bore fruit in the lives and hearts of the Jews who, because of King Josiah’s example, turned from idolatry and worshiped God.

So, don’t you think God could have cut him some slack, maybe ignored a tiny little disobedience in this good man? It wasn’t like he bowed down to an idol. Or did he?

Josiah’s death always makes me sad. The guy died way too soon. There was so much good he should have been able to do in his lifetime. So why did God “take” him at such a young age?

Well, first of all, God didn’t “take” Josiah. In fact, God told him to stay away from the battle. God threw a roadblock in the king’s way, and Josiah just barged right through. It was Josiah’s disobedience that killed him. Had he put the idol of “self” back up on the pedestal? Why else would he have gone against what God said, and done his own thing? It was Josiah’s will, not God’s, that caused his death that day.

If good works, a public stance for the Truth, being an upstanding person was what God requires, Josiah would have been golden. He might still be alive in 2019 for all we know. He was that good.

But here’s what I believe God would have us understand: Disobedience kills. Period.

Disobedience doesn’t only kill rapists, thieves, and terrorists. Disobedience kills moms and dads, preachers and missionaries, and really, really nice people, too. And not just physical death. That’s not even the worst of it.

Your disobedience may be slowly killing any relationship you have with God. It may be causing a gradual hardening of your heart toward the Truth. It’s disobedience that leads to an eternal death.

Has God laid a finger on an act or attitude of disobedience in your life? Friend, you had better deal with it. Ignoring it, or holding on to it will have devastating results. If God speaks to you about an area of disobedience, and you don’t ask Him to forgive you, you’ve placed yourself above Him, put yourself as your own god. That’s idolatry.

And God has a pretty dim view of idolatry.

Throughout the Bible God is very clear: He blesses obedience. He will not tolerate disobedience. Not in me. And not in you.

Disobedience kills. But thank God, that through the blood of Jesus we can be forgiven, when we repent of that disobedience. Then in receiving God’s grace, we can have abundant life in this world, and in eternity!

June 19; Avoiding God

Psalms 49, 83, 91; I Kings 1:2-18, 3:1-3, 22:47-49; 2 Chronicles 20: 35-37

God, through the prophet Elijah, asked King Ahaziah, “Is it because there is no God in Israel for you to consult that you have sent messengers to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?”

I think God is probably asking the same of us. Is it because there is no God in the USA for us to consult that we have to consult psychologists, scientists, historians, intellectuals, government officials, the media, and send out surveys to determine our direction and define our truth?

Ahaziah died because of his attempt to avoid God.

Just saying.

Proverbs 5-9; The Dead Are There

Oh, that all of us would read these chapters and really hear what God would have us know. Solomon, in chapter 4 verse 23 tells us to guard our hearts. In the chapters I read today he tells us how and why. It’s really important information.

Solomon calls sin an adulteress, a prostitute. He warns us to stay as far away from her as possible. As far from sin as possible.

Sin, and the champion of sin, Satan, doesn’t care about you. Sin has one goal. To destroy you. Why dabble in sin? Why take a chance with sin, Solomon seems to be asking. It will only lead to ruin.

And don’t think saying, “I’ll just try this once,” doesn’t come with serious consequences:

Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? (6:27-28)

You get burned the FIRST time. EVERY sin comes with a consequence.

Solomon tells a story of a young man who lacked judgment. (What young man, or woman, doesn’t?) In Solomon’s story the young man heard a prostitute (sin) calling and went with her “like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose…” (7:22)

Dear one, it DOES matter what kind of music you listen to, the TV shows you watch, the books you read, the internet sites you visit when you think no one is looking. It DOES matter if you begin to tolerate sin in yourselves and others. You’re a fool to think none of it effects you.

Solomon talks about wisdom in chapters 8&9. If you read them, and I hope you do, I think you’ll see that is a much better way to live. “…wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.” Nothing you desire can compare. Nothing.

9:13-18 ends this section of Scripture with a solemn truth. Please listen to what God would say to us. Folly (foolishness) is loud, undisciplined, and looking for company. In other words, sin is looking for you.

I can’t help but think of our entertainment business. Blatant sin is lauded, and applauded, isn’t it? Here’s what Solomon says to us who watch and laugh at Modern Family and shows like it, who spend hours playing video games with graphic violence and sex, who listen to music that raps about rape and murder as though it was normal, or sings about the pleasures of adultery and drunkenness. This is what Solomon would say to anyone who thinks that sin looks fun:

(Folly) sits at the door of her house, calling out to those who pass by. She says to those who lack judgment: “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!” But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of the grave.”

Please guard your heart. Please take this seriously. Satan is seriously calling out to you because he hates you, and wants to destroy you. And he’s not stupid enough to be honest. He can make sin look and sound really good. But it’s still sin.

God is calling out to you, too. Listen to His voice. Because He loves you, He died to forgive your sins, He wants to give you life.

He’s asking you not to play around with sin. Pay attention to Him. That is wisdom.

Proverbs 1-4; A Wisdom Litmus Test

How aware are you of God’s Presence in your day-to-day? How often during your day does a verse of Scripture come to mind? Are the truths in God’s Word evident in your life, His commandments known and obeyed, His thoughts as recorded in Scripture your thoughts?

The answer to those questions reveal your level of wisdom, according to Solomon. A wise person knows and cherishes God by spending time studying His Word (2:1-11). A wise person walks with God in an intentional way (2:20-22). And a wise person places all his faith, his finances, family, and future in God’s hands and trusts Him to do all things well (3:5-10)

The litmus test of a wise person can be seen in his sleep (3:19-26). When worries and burdens are thrown off and given to God, when a conscience is clear from a right relationship with God, sleep comes sweetly.

As we read the book of Proverbs together, let’s seek wisdom that begins with a healthy fear, a reverence of God. Let’s approach this book with open hearts and minds. Let’s soak up the wisdom of Solomon and make it our own.

It would be foolish not to.

Genesis 33:16-34:31 A Measure Of Obedience

Often when I’m reading this portion of Scripture, I notice that at the end of chapter 33, Jacob does something different than what he’d said he would do. He told his brother he was coming home. Instead, he got as far as Succoth, about a day’s journey short of going home, and settled there. Not quite the Promised Land. But close. I find myself wondering about this change of plans.

But then chapter 34 starts and I get caught up in Dinah’s tragic story. Jacob forgotten.

It occurred to me that just because a chapter ends and another begins doesn’t mean they’re not connected. So I pulled out some commentaries to see what others think about it. Here is a synopsis of my study:

To begin with, the Lord, in 31:3 told Jacob to go “back to the land of your father and to your relatives, and I will be with you.” Jacob kind of did that. He got just inside Canaan, like a kid who puts his toe on the line he’s told not to cross. Then, and this is what hit me, he had the audacity to buy land, makes shelters, and build an altar to God, naming it “The God of Israel.” Did he think if he named the altar after God, God would be appeased and overlook the disobedience Jacob was committing?

I’m wondering if a person can sort of obey God.  Can  someone ask Jesus into their heart, yet hold on to a sin or two? Can a Christian go to church, give generously, yet harbor hatred toward a brother, and still be considered obedient? Is God ok with our outward display of partial obedience?

Let’s look at the result of Jacob’s actions. His daughter was violated, his sons committed mass murder and theft. And in the end, God told him to keep moving and do what He’d told him to do in the first place. All of that heartache could have been avoided if Jacob had obeyed from the start.

As I read this portion of Scripture I am challenged to check my level of obedience. I believe God is telling me that having a measure of obedience is disobedience. And there are serious consequences for holding back on God.

And I am reminded that God doesn’t demand total obedience because He is a buzz-kill, or some control freak. God knows that there are blessings that come with total obedience, and He is anxious to pour those blessings over His children. God knows that when we obey Him we are spared from the heartaches that come from disobedience. And He wants us to live lives free from those heartaches.

Just obey Me, He tells us. Then see what life can really be.

Genesis 17 – Let Me Help You With That

Abraham heard God. And even though he was almost 100 years old, he believed God when God told him he would be the father of many nations. In fact, Abraham had believed that promise for about 25 years, waited 25 years for Sarah to have his child. But there was still no child.

13 years before the event in the 17th chapter, Abraham had become a father. You remember Hagar and Ishmael. Was it a moment of weakness, a bit of disbelief, impatience, or something else that caused Abraham to take matters into his own hands? Whatever the reason, Abraham did have a son.

So when God again spoke to the 100 year old Abraham about the Promise, Abraham voiced his opinion. “Look, Lord,” he seems to say. “I believe you. You tell me I’m going to be the father of many nations, so I’m going to be the father of many nations. But let’s get real. I’m old. I don’t think I have it in me to produce a son with Sarah. Why don’t we just consider Ishmael the answer to the Promise. He’s my son, he’s here and healthy. If you bless him, we could get on with it.”

God didn’t like that idea. It was never His intention to use Ishmael to fulfill His promise to Abraham. He didn’t need Abraham’s help. And He was going to prove it.

I think it’s a fine line between being obedient to God, and going ahead of Him. Sometimes we might get impatient, or doubt. We rationalize and over-think things, then move ahead without waiting on God to move. I think that usually turns out badly.

I don’t have the magic formula to knowing how to distinguish between obeying God, and going ahead of Him. But I believe if God is calling you to do something, and if you are faithfully in His Word, praying, and being intentional about recognizing His nudge, you’ll do that thing at just the right time, in just the right way.

Is God calling you to action? Wait on Him. Trust Him. It might not happen when or like you imagine. But if you follow Him, rather than lead Him, it’s going to be incredible.

 

Genesis 11 – God’s Choice

Abram might not have been my first choice to start an entire nation of people who would be known as “the children of God.” He came from a long line of idol worshippers, he was an older gentleman married to a wife who couldn’t even have kids. But he obeyed God, and I am blessed today because he did.

God doesn’t always nudge the obvious choices into service. We look at the outward appearance. God looks at the heart. His ways are not our ways. His choices are not always what we would choose.

Don’t ever think you are too insignificant, or too uneducated, or too shy or untalented for God to do something amazing in and through you. Obey Him. Follow His lead. Get out of His way and watch what He can do with the abilities He’s given you.