Tag Archives: obeying God

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.

August 19 – So Who Do You Obey?

Jeremiah 35-37

I am a law abiding citizen. I set my cruise control when I travel so I don’t speed. I pay my taxes. I don’t steal from or cheat people.

I learned obedience from my father who, we’d often say, had the fastest belt in the west. Consequences for disobedience were swift and painful. I learned that obeying the rules was better for all of us. Especially for the seat of my pants.

The Rechabites were obedient children, too. Their dad had given them a standard, and not even the prophet Jeremiah could get them to disobey. So I’m reading this today and had a Gibb’s slap on the back of my head moment when I read 35:14-17. God said:

The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, which he commanded his sons not to drink wine are observed. So they do not drink wine to this day, for they have obeyed their father’s command. But I have spoken to you again and again, yet you have not listened to Me… you have not inclined your ear or listened to Me… but this people has not listened to Me… and I have called them but they did not answer.

I have to ask myself why it is I follow the laws of this land, yet find it so easy to disobey the God of the Universe.

There’s something wrong with that picture.

 

July 6 – Scared Courage

2 Kings 9-11

Has God ever asked you to do anything really scary? Maybe change careers, confront a loved one about sin in their life, talk to your  neighbor about Jesus? It’s ok to be afraid – as long as you obey.

Someone has said courage is fear in action. It is not absence of fear.

Elisha asked a young man to go to Jehu, anoint him king over Israel, then flee. That sounds like a dangerous mission to me. King Joram and King Ahaziah were both firmly established as kings of Judah and Israel at the time. What Elisha asked his servant to do was treason. It could cost him his life.

The young man demonstrated courage by obeying. But I have to confess I had a laugh-outloud moment when I read about it in chapter 9.

The servant approached Jehu who was sitting with his buddies. “Can I talk to you privately?” the servant asked. Jehu might have rolled his eyes, and gave his pals a quick smirk. But he went with the servant into the house. The servant poured oil on Jehu’s head, then told him what God had said to Elisha about Jehu becoming King of Israel. Then, and this is what made me laugh, the servant turned tail and ran out of the house, leaving an oily and surprised Jehu in his wake.

I pictured someone opening a door a crack to throw a bone to a snarling, barking doberman, then slamming the door shut as fast as they can, and running away.

Actually, the servant had reason to get out of there as fast as he could. What he had just done was really, really scary.

That’s what God asks of us. We don’t have to conquer our fear before we do what God has laid on our hearts. We just need to give that fear to God – and obey. God will give us the courage exactly when we need it, if we but trust Him. He will go with us, give us words to say, and get the job done, even if our knees are weak and our hands are shaking.

You might want to put on your running shoes. God has something for you to do today.

 

July 1 – The Deceiver Isn’t God

I Kings 22, 2 Chronicles 18

Micaiah’s vision has me thinking. It sounds like God allowed one of His angels to cause the prophets to lie. Does God make people sin in order to get His will done? That just doesn’t fit with God’s nature, the One who demands we be holy, the One who loved the world that He gave His Son that whoever believes in Jesus will be saved.

I don’t remember any Scripture that describes God as being the deceiver. Yet here it is: “The Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of these your prophets…”

I went to Matthew Henry to see his take on these verses. He says the spirit who volunteered to deceive Ahab was Satan himself.

So I re-read the passage and noticed that Micaiah saw the Lord on His throne, and all the hosts of heaven standing on either side of Him. Then a spirit came forward. I had assumed it was one of the heavenly hosts. But I see now it was the deceiver.

This vision reminds me of what we read about Job. Satan doesn’t make a move without God allowing it. And, if God allows Satan to make a move, God has every means to use it to show Himself, to draw people to Himself.

I need to be aware that Satan is standing out there ready to trip me up, to throw those daggers, to put a little doubt in my head. I can be assured that God will never be surprised by Satan’s attacks. And that no matter what God allows Satan to throw my way, God is able to handle it far and above what I can imagine.

I don’t want to be like those prophets I read about today, who ran with Satan’s lies. I want to be like Micaiah and stay true to the Lord. Even if the backlash is prison, or sickness, or hardship, or death.

Feb 2 – Tweaking the Truth

Exodus 10-12

Have you ever tried to bargain with God? How did that work out for you? Did you ever keep your end of the bargain? Or was God the only one held to that standard?

As I read about the last of the plagues today, it occurred to me that Pharaoh is an example of what happens when we try to negotiate with God. Moses told Pharaoh God wanted all Jews and their livestock to leave Egypt. Pharaoh, after being warned about the locusts that would destroy his crops, said ‘Sure. Go. But only the men.’ Moses didn’t take him up on that. It wasn’t what God required.

Then, after the locusts came like Moses said they would, and after complete darkness fell on Egypt for three days, Pharaoh relented. ‘Ok. Everybody can go. But leave the animals.’  Again, that wasn’t what Moses needed to hear.

The thing is, God gave a directive: ALL Israelites and ALL livestock are to leave.

Pharaoh was ready to obey – kind of. He just wanted to obey on his own terms.

It struck me when Pharaoh said to Moses, “I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you. Now therefore, please forgive my sin only this once…that He would remove this death from me” (10:16-17)

Each time Pharaoh heard God’s command, then tried to tweak it, his heart grew harder and harder. Somehow he thought if he gave in a little, God would be ok with that. Then he must have thought if he let God forgive him a little bit, he’d escape the bad things that were happening.

Friend, I don’t see anywhere in the Bible where it says God wants us to kind of obey Him. I don’t see anywhere where it says if we give Him a portion of our hearts, He will bless us. Let’s face it. God is Who He says He is. And if He says something, we can’t tweak it to fit our own desires.

Be holy as I am holy.

I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one goes to the Father except through Me.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.

You can try to tweak it, but that doesn’t change the Truth. So don’t even try. God demands complete obedience, complete surrender. Anything else is disobedience. Period.

Father, I pray for those reading this blog today. May we be students of Your Word so we know exactly what it is You are demanding of us. Convict us when we are tempted to obey You with anything less than everything. May we confess, repent, and be the people You demand. And may you find us willing to serve You with our whole hearts.