Tag Archives: obedience

Going Rogue

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Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.  For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.  1 Samuel 15:22-23

Samuel spoke these rebuking words to King Saul.  Saul had not done as God had commanded him to do.  He was supposed to completely wipe out the Amalekites.  Instead Saul saved back the king and the best of the sheep, oxen and lambs–all that was good.  He said he was going to sacrifice them to God.  This wasn’t the first time that Saul had gone rogue.  Samuel delivered heavy words from God: God regretted that He made Saul king and He was going to replace him.

Samuel asked Saul in 1 Samuel 15:19, “Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord?”  This is rebellion and it obviously did not play well with God.  God didn’t want Saul’s sacrifice, He wanted obedience.  Saul rationalized what he did in 15:24, saying he did “because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.”

Partial obedience and delayed obedience is rebellion to God no matter how we justify it to ourselves and others.  When God tells us to do something, He expects us to obey completely.  To God, when we disobey it is worse than us turning to witchcraft (the sin of divination) and stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols.  This is because rebellion opens doors to Satan just like divination or witchcraft does.  Both sins cut us off from God.  It is better to fear God than to fear people and do things to mollify them.

A spirit of rebellion must be renounced in any way, shape or form.  If you short cut what you know God is telling you to do and stubbornly continue in patterns of sin, watch out. You will be disciplined by God because He loves you and has a claim on your life.  He will not let you continue down this path.

Samuel also told Saul, “presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.”  The word for presumption in Hebrew means “seething pride.”  That means we think we know better than God.  We just act without checking in with God to find out what He thinks about a situation.  And then when we find out it was wrong, presumption would be shrugging it off as a little deal, like King Saul did.

David prayed in Psalm 19:13, “Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me.”  God, show me where I am being partially obedient, slow to obey, and how I am shrugging off sin as no big deal.  May I always check with You first and not think “I’ve got this.”  Forgive my rebellious heart and change it to be soft, open and ready to listen and to act.

*Image from Symple Arts

 


Mind Verbs

Moses

By faith, Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.  He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt for he was looking to the reward.  By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.  Hebrews 11:24-27

Do you have life verses?  Is it hard to just center in one or two?  Well, these verses are in my top three of verses that have been my anchors throughout my journey of faith, one which began over 50 years ago.  There have been up’s and there have been down’s.  There have been many victories and there have been some defeats.  I look back at the tough times when I just had to hang on to promises from the Word, pray and wait.  The mind verbs in these verses just ring in my head.

My experience is that the emotion of following Jesus can wear thin, even get ugly.  Good old Dr. Seuss has some wisdom in his book, “Oh the Place You Will Go.”

You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.  Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.  Except when you don’t. Because, sometimes, you won’t.  I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.  You can get all hung up  in a prickle-ly perch.  And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch.  You’ll come down from  the Lurch with an unpleasant bump.  And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.

When you get in the slump, or when you are at forks in the road, facing value decisions, temptations, opposition, or  the wait of faith, get these mind verbs front and center.  Verbs are action words, like run, skip or hop.  These are mental actions words.  What we are anchored on determines how we choose at the many junctures we face.

Refuse.  Moses refused to be known as royalty, even though life would have been a lot easier.  Choose.  Moses chose to be mistreated rather than to to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.  Consider.  Other words  for ‘consider’ are to think carefully about, to contemplate, to deem or to judge.  There’s the value judgment part–you have to weigh which thing pleases God, which doesn’t, or what has more eternal implications.  Moses deemed that the scorn of being a God follower was better in the end.  

Look.  Moses was looking ahead to the reward.  Looking ahead demands short term self denial and not immediate gratification.  It’s called delayed gratification.  One day there will be a reward for that.  See.  Moses somehow saw Him who was invisible.  That God revelation had to have started even before the burning bush, and it continued throughout the difficult days of getting to the Promised Land.

 


True Faith

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By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance.  And he went out, not knowing where he was going.  Hebrews 11:8

In this chapter of Hebrews, titled by many as “The Faith Hall of Fame,” the words “by faith” appears at least twenty times.  Hebrews 11:6 announces, “Without faith it is impossible to please God,”  and goes on to tell about this faith, using Biblical characters as examples to define what this faith looks like for us.  These real life people died without receiving what was promised, they only welcomed them from afar…they were aliens and strangers with their eyes on a Heavenly city…they were men made strong out of weakness who conquered kingdoms and shut the mouth of lions…they regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as greater treasures than all of Egypt.

As a result of this  faith that was planted in their hearts by God, they didn’t receive rewards and notoriety here.  No pats on the back.  Instead, they were sawn in two, faced jeers and flogging and were imprisoned.  They were men and women of whom the world was not worthy of.  

True faith rises up within us as a work done in our hearts by God.  According to Colossians 1:5-6 it springs up like a seed.   You will  know it is there when you find yourself doing things you wouldn’t normally do, like loving unlovable people or being sacrificial with your time and money when that’s not normally you.  We nurture this faith by being connected to Jesus through prayer and Bible study, as well as being spurred on by fellow believers.

Sometimes what we do seems pretty unnoteworthy, only to later find out that our act started off a chain of events much bigger than our little step of faith. I don’t think we have to do things to prove that we have faith, we just have to obey each day, doing the things you think that God is telling you to do.  

This is an excerpt of a story that I’ve thought about a few times since I read it 25 or more years ago.  It is about Boris Kornfeld, and Charles Colson told about him in his great book, “Loving God.”  He is one of my heros of the faith, maybe somewhere in the 100th edition of God’s ‘Faith Hall of Fame.’

Kornfeld was a prisoner in the Gulag of Russia back in the 1950’s.  He was a self righteous Jew, but his life was changed by God as he was around a fellow prisoner who was a believer. He would recite the Lord’s prayer many times a day.  This man shared with Boris about being a Christian and how to forgive others because we’ve been forgiven by God.

Kornfeld was a surgeon and they put his skills to work, serving as the prison doctor.  He was doing a surgery on a guard who was particularly mean.  He could have simply sutured his vein in such a way that the man would bleed to death.  Startled by his own evil heart, he found himself reciting the Lord’s prayer as if out of the blue.  He became a Christian.  The man who told him about Jesus was transferred and Kornfeld was left to figure his faith out alone in this dank prison.  One day the doctor was performing a surgery on a cancer filled prisoner. As he worked on him through the night, he felt the words of faith tumble from his mouth as he told this man about how he had strangely, but surely, found the forgiveness and the love of God.  

The next morning, the young patient awoke to the sound of running feet.  Though it looked like Dr. Kornfeld and the patient were alone, someone overheard.  This person dealt eight blows to Kornfeld’s head, killing him.  But his faith lived on.  The patient was a writer, Alexander Solzhenitsyn.  He became a Christian through that encounter, and he began writing essays that were somehow circulated throughout the world to expose others about the inhumanity of the Soviet System.

Read more on his story from https://kazakhnomad.wordpress.com/tag/dr-boris-kornfeld/

That’s what true faith does.  Against all odds we take risks, head into situations that we don’t know what the outcome will be, quit jobs when it doesn’t look prudent to do so, and dream dreams about what God will do in and through us when we simply obey.

Won’t it be fun to hear the rest of the stories and see our own story unfold when we get to glory?

*Image from pastorjohnmerrit.com

 

 

 

 


God’s abundant grace that enables our obedience

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And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.  2 Corinthians 9:8

This last summer I read a book by a Chinese man, Bob Fu called “God’s Double Agent.”  It’s a great story about his path to finding Jesus in the midst of communist China where this was not allowed politically.  He and his wife named their first daughter “Fengsheng de endian” which is abundant grace in Chinese.  Abundant means rich, plentiful, luxuriant and full of substance.  That name has stuck with me since.  To name a child ‘Abundant Grace’ is so awesome.

Paul wrote in Romans 1:5,We have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of His name among all the nations.”  It was only by God’s grace that Paul became an apostle and was able to do the things he did.  One of the meanings of grace (besides it being an undeserved gift) is God’s enabling power that He gives to us to do what we are called to do.

It is also God’s enabling power to obey by faith, to have the kind of faith that leads to obedience.  If we do what we do in our own strength, we get the glory.  If we do what we’re called to do by God’s enabling power and grace, He gets the glory and we get the help.  And as Romans 1:5 states, we get God’s abundant grace to bring glory to God’s great name among all the nations.

Let’s break that down a little.  One of my all time favorite movies is “Chariots of Fire.”  In the movie Eric Liddle tells his sister in his lilting Scottish brogue,  “I know God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast.  And when I run I feel His pleasure.”  When Eric acted on the longings God gave to him, Eric glorified God.  God gives different people different longings.  When we obey those longings and walk in them, He gives us the grace to make what we do look easy.

For some, it is motherhood.  That is the longing of their heart and they do it incredibly well with the enabling grace that God provides.   But using motherhood as an example, it isn’t an end in itself.  According to Romans 1:5, God gives mothers the grace to be good mothers not to put their children on a throne and to be absorbed by endless soccer games and scrapbooking to chronicle their every day.  He does it to bring glory to His name through families, with the end of making His great name known among the nations.

Just how a family, a mother or an individual will bring God glory will be revealed by God as they  faithfully, obediently and Jesus-centeredly live out their lives.  And as we call on Him, He will pour out His abundant grace that enables us to be obedient and His abundant grace to overflow into others’ lives for the sake of God’s great name.

“Once more, never think that you can live to God by your own power or strength; but always look to and rely on Him for assistance, yea, for all strength and grace.” ~ David Brainerd, Missionary