Tag Archives: Obedience

BIBLICAL CONNECTIONS (REINFORCEMENTS).080916

Young Boy With DogHave you heard that line, “If you want to teach a dog or a kid, you’ve got to say it over and over.”  I just made that up.  But it’s true.  Whatever it is you want ’em to learn; if you say it enough, if you demonstrate it enough, it will finally soak in. You create those neural links in their heads and their bodies. You can bet on it.  I think God had that same policy in mind when He dictated the Bible to the writers.  One subject I’ve noticed lately (over and over) is about HEARING AND DOING.  I don’t know how many times my momma said it, but I finally got it, “YOU’VE GOT TO DO WHAT I SAY!”  (whether you like it or not; if you want to live long and do good.)

Jesus said it almost that loud and that strong in Matthew 7:24-26, when He said, “If you hear My words and do what I say, I’ll think you’re a wise man . . . but if you hear My words and you don’t do them, you’re a fool. . .” (my paraphrase).  And in James 1:22, God says, through James, “Be a DOER of the Word, and not just a hearer; deceiving yourselves.”  If we don’t do what Jesus says, we’re fools, and we’re lying to ourselves.  In Luke 11:27-28, a woman said, “Blessed is the woman who gave birth to you . . .” and Jesus said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep (guard, defend) it.”

And it’s not just about “don’t do this and don’t do that”.  It’s about what you DO as a positive act, an act of your will.  It’s like in John 5:24, He says, “If you pay attention (heed, do) what I say, and trust Him who sent Me, you have eternal life.”  Trusting in God is not easy; but it’s the only thing that works in this life.  You have to DO IT as an act of your will.  Over and over, until it starts to feel easy (or at least easier.)  That’s the only way you’re ever going to have the peace that passes understanding is when you trust Jesus as an act of your will.

That’s what He’s talking about when He says, “If you follow God’s commands, you will live!”  See Luke 10:28.

“The Gospel is not about making bad people good, it’s about making dead people alive!” David Crowder

TRUSTING GOD FOR OTHERS.080416

JESUS HEALS PARALYTIC.080416The question for today is: Can a believer in Jesus trust God for the healing (inside or outside) of another person?  The answer (or at least one answer) is found in Mark 2:1-12, where it tells the story of four men who brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus to be healed.  When they got to His house, they couldn’t even get in the door, so they went up on the roof, cut a hole, and lowered the guy down into the room, right beside Jesus.  Then verse 5 says, “Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ ”  When the Pharisees condemned Him for forgiving sins, denying His authority, He said, “I’ll prove that I have the authority to forgive sins.” He turned to the man and said, “Stand up, get your mat and go home.”  Miraculous healing.

Where did it come from?  Verse 5 begins with, “Seeing their faith . . .”  Whose faith? Must’ve been the four men.  They had enough faith to go to the trouble to bring the guy to Jesus.  Just regular guys talking about how this Jesus was going around healing people, and their friend had been paralyzed for a long time, and who knows?  What would it hurt?  So they packed him up and took him down there.  And when they got there the place was packed.  They couldn’t possibly get in.  But they didn’t give up.  They kept on pushing the envelope until they reached their goal, to get the guy in front of Jesus.  They didn’t know what would happen.  But it might be worth a try. It’s almost funny.  The passage never said a word about what the paralyzed guy thought about the whole thing.  He apparently never said a word.  All he did was follow instructions.  “He jumped up, grabbed his mat and took off.”

So what does this have to do with us?  Continue reading

COMMENT ON THE NEWS: RESISTING EVIL: 071316

riot policeIn Matthew 5: 38-39a: Jesus said, “You’ve heard it said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’, but I say unto you, don’t resist evil people.”  In Leviticus 19:18, God said, “Don’t seek revenge, don’t hold a grudge, but love your neighbor as yourself.  I am the LORD.”

Dallas. Orlando. Minnesota. San Bernardino. New Orleans. Paris. Belgium. Evil is breaking out all over.  As Christians, down in our hearts we know we’re supposed to be doing something to help things, but we don’t know how.  On both sides of every dispute, we’re saying it’s about BAD PEOPLE ON THE OTHER SIDE; when it’s really about deep festering wounds to our hearts. We, as Christians, (many of us on opposing sides) are uniquely equipped to do something about this, but we’ve lost sight of what (or who) we’re really fighting.

Ephesians 6:12 says: “For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against [BEINGS] without bodies—the evil rulers of the unseen world, …” TLB  We are fighting the devil, Satan, and we can only beat him by using God’s power that He gives us through the Holy Spirit.  In order to stand against the devil, we must use all of the tools God gives us. “13 the strong belt of truth and 14 the [bullet-proof vest] of God’s righteousness 15 the Good News of peace; faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan. 17 … the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit—which is the Word of God.  18 Pray all the time…

We’re not gonna win this war with guns and tear gas; armored cars and snipers on buildings; we’re gonna win by trusting God and doing what He says, which is “don’t resist, turn the other cheek; understand and forgive.”  The confusing part is we keep feeling the grudge and the urge to seek revenge; to pay them back.  It just won’t work.  This is a test to see if we’re willing to be obedient to do what God says;  to surrender ourselves to God in this very situation.

THE PRAYER OF ST. FRANCIS.070516

Saint Francis

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon;  Where there is doubt, faith;  Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; and  Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; To be understood, as to understand;  To be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive,  It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and  it is dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen”

I don’t know much about St. Francis.  I’ve heard a few stories.  I’ve read a few passages from him and about him, about how he was so in harmony with nature and with people; how he was totally surrendered to his place and time; how he, more than most, fulfilled the Golden Rule (see Matt 7:12)   He probably did a better job of following Jesus (of being like Jesus) than anyone I know of.  You know why?  Because he had the attitude of Jesus, the attitude of a humble, obedient servant. (Philippians 2:5-8)  His prayer, cited above, is a clear indication that he got it.

Like Jesus said, “43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven . . “ Matt 5:43-45.

NOT THAT KIND OF SIN.061516

cycle of fears, pain, anger, grief, revenge

Since we’re talking about sin, you probably heard of lying (bearing false witness) and stealing; murder and adultery; not honoring your father and your mother and covetousness; see Exodus 20:3-17, the Ten Commandments; also including don’t make or worship idols, don’t take the Lord’s Name in vain, remember the Sabbath to keep it holy, and the most important one, ‘you shall have no other gods besides Me [the One True God].’

But we’re not talking about those kinds of sin, what we show to the world as sin.  We’re talking about what is going on in your heart; all the things that give rise to the sins that we exhibit to the world.  Things like fear and shame, and guilt and worry, depression, hate and unforgiveness, arrogance and control.  James says in his letter to the churches, in chapter 1:14-15 14“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”  What was it Jesus said about what defiles a person? In Matthew 15:17-19, 17He said, “It’s not what goes in your mouth, but what comes out of your mouth that defiles you, 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. Those things defile a man.”

How do we get away, and stay away, from sin like that?  The short answer is, “Turn to God”.  Like John the Apostle says, in 1 John 1:9, “If you’ll confess your sins, God is faithful and just to forgive you, and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.”  But ultimately, it’s like Jesus says in Luke 9:23, “If you want to be my disciple, deny yourself, take up your cross [that means die to your self] daily, and follow Me.”  It’s a lifetime commitment.  If you keep on drawing near to God, He will definitely keep on drawing near to you.  (James 4:8) It’s His life that will make you whole.  It’s His righteousness (not yours) that will keep you from sinning, more and more every day.

LOOK IN THE MIRROR; WHAT DO YOU SEE? 053016

Homme en pleine reflexion devant le miroirRomans 8:1-4: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not follow their sinful nature, but follow the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made us free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the sinful nature, God, by sending His own Son . . . condemned the sin of the sinful nature, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not follow our sinful nature but follow the Spirit.”

That’s the ‘Perfect Law of Liberty’ that James talks about in Chapter 1:22-25, speaking of the man who hears God’s Word but doesn’t do it, he says, “He’s lying to himself.  He’s like a man who looks at himself in a mirror, and as soon as he turns away, he forgets what he looked like.”

The ‘Perfect Law of Liberty’ is the same as the ‘Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus’ that makes us free from the law of sin and death.  The Perfect Law of Liberty is the law that is followed by people who hear God’s Word and do it.

True obedience lies in doing what the verse says, “Don’t follow the sinful nature. Follow the Spirit of Jesus.” That’s obedience. from Out o’th’ Bushes, © 2016, by Tex Tonroy.

PRESENT YOUR BODIES (as a living sacrifice).051016

Salt and LightRomans 12:1 says, “I beg you, brothers and sisters, to present you bodies as a living sacrifice ….”

Romans 12 is a great message about “If you’re going to claim to be a Christian, act like it.”  For me, ‘present your body’ means to show up, be available, be willing to be obedient to serve and to do what God tells you to, one moment at a time.

So here’s my revelation for today: If you are a ‘true’ believer in Jesus, one who is steadily focusing on God, trusting Him and obeying Him, seeking His Face, surrendering to Him on a daily basis; you have the Spirit of the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY living in your own personal heart.  That is what it means to ‘be a Christian’.  Now, if you have God’s Holy Spirit in you, and you show up anywhere, work, school, a kid’s soccer game, a band concert, a walk in the park, a flood rescue effort, you are presenting your body as a living sacrifice, for God to use to touch other peoples lives.  You are making yourself available to do and to say exactly what God wants you to do and say.

Are y’all ready for this?  You know where it says, “You are the salt of the earth.”  “You are the light of the world.”  If you have God’s Spirit in your own heart, then you ARE doing what salt does.  You are flavoring and keeping the world from corruption and decay, just like salt flavors food and keeps it from decay.  You ARE God’s shining Light in the world, to show people the way, to comfort them, to keep them safe and sound.  You don’t even have to try; or plan; or prepare; or get a special education; or have a special degree, or ordination, or anointing.  You already ARE anointed.  You have the Spirit of the Living God in your own little heart.  You just can’t get any more anointed than that.  All you have to do is SHOW UP!

So I’ve been reading the whole 12th chapter of Romans, and bringing those things back to the first sentence of the chapter.  In verses 3-8 it talks about how God has given each of us a special gift (or gifts) to help the Body of Christ.  There’s a lot of talk about learning what your gift is, so you can do a better job of using it for God’s honor and glory.  I think it’s great to focus some attention on understanding what God’s plan is for your life, so you can do a better job of serving Him and others; but you know what I really think?  I think if you really trust God, and you surrender your whole self to Him on a regular basis, it doesn’t matter whether you know what your specific gift is or not.  If you SHOW UP when God tells you to, He will use you and your gift(s) in miraculous ways, even if you don’t know exactly what they are. Continue reading

CONSISTENCY.040516

Open Your Heart Concept

“Consistency is the crutch of small minds.”  Tex (from a letter to my kids)

Some people said Jesus was inconsistent because He said people should abide by the law one time, and the next time He said people should be led by the Spirit, and be merciful to lawbreakers. Even in the Old Testament, God said He’d rather have someone with an obedient heart than sacrifice, even though sacrifice was according to the law.

Over and over in the Bible, it says that God looks at the heart.  Somehow or other it should be the way we look at it too.  I’m sure people ought to do what they say they will, but you don’t have to do the same way ever time. Different situations require different responses.

And this isn’t situation ethics either.  It is just realizing that we ascribe to a higher law, which is layman’s terms is being true to God and the people that God puts you with, above being true to man’s law or any dogmatic principle.  (How do you know which is is right?  If you’re seeking God, you’ll know.)  Like it says in the Bible, “This is the first and great commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, . . . And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”  This is the fulfillment of all of the law and all of the prophets.  If you love God, you will keep His commandments; if you love your neighbor, you’ll treat him right.

My experience has been that if you abide by these two commandments, you won’t always appear consistent to the world, but you will usually do the right thing, and you will be consistent to God and in your heart.

OBEDIENCE 101.022116

White lighthouse tower on St. Anastasia Island“I have no right to say I believe in God unless I order my life as under His all-seeing Eye.”  Disciples Indeed, Oswald Chambers.

Matthew 7:21, 24-27: 21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter . . .” 24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. . . . 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. . . .” NLT

What is the “will of the Father”?  For us to do what Jesus says.  In John 5:24, Jesus said, “If you  [pay attention to] (heed, obey) what I say, and trust Him who sent Me, you have eternal life; you will never be condemned; you have passed from death unto life.”

But don’t just say the words.  God is looking at your heart.  He knows if your heart has been changed.

HOUSE ON SAND.033015.jpg

JUST SAY YES.012516

Yes Pink Squares Burst             I was inspired by a devotional I read last week (01.21.16) by Charles Stanley.  He said, in part, “When we encounter opportunities to serve God, we don’t always respond in the way He desires.” Maybe “our schedule is too busy or we don’t feel qualified.” . . . “You probably never thought of a refusal to serve God as a type of idolatry, but that’s what it is—bowing down to self instead of submitting to Him.” . . . “when we’ve already decided what we can’t do, won’t do, or are ill-equipped to do, then we’re acting by our own will.  That doesn’t work.” . . .”Laying down our excuses is the wisest thing to do when serving the Lord.”  . . . “All He asks is that you say ‘Yes’.”

I say “Glory Hallelujah!!!” to that.  The reason I was so inspired by this message from Rev. Stanley is that it made me think about my experience with a couple of ‘extra-church’ ministries I’m involved with.  In both of these ministries, one called “Walk to Emmaus” and the other called “Kairos Prison Ministry”, the characteristic that is most remarkable, I mean really REMARKABLE, is the willingness of the participants (that is the workers/servants/team-members) to say “Yes!” in serving in whatever way they are called upon to serve.  I’ve worked at several different levels in each of those ministries, and I’ve been truly astounded at how humble, how self-deprecating, the members are.

Whether it’s to lead a meeting, or give a talk, or counsel, or teach, or prepare or serve food, or wash dishes, or carry out the trash, or clean toilets and make beds; or pray; they’re ready to go. And they’re ready to do it voluntarily and with a good attitude.  Makes me think of that line in Phlippians 2:5, “Let this attitude be in you that was also in Christ Jesus!”  They’re “humble and obedient, kind and gentle, never jealous or boastful or proud or rude, never demanding their own way.” (Right out of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7) When you ask them if they’d be willing to do _____; their answer is always “Yes!” with no qualifications.  It really “rang my bell” when I heard Rev. Stanley say that same thing about our attitude about service to, with and for Jesus.  I can truly say that for me, people saying “Yes” to Jesus is the best evidence of the presence of His Holy Spirit in our brothers and sisters in Christ.