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Archive for the ‘obedience’ Category

Psalm 105 is a description of how God delivered the Hebrews out of Egypt with divine protection and provision.

It’s a quick read that illustrates the power and purposes of God.

You can check out that passage and others in today’s One-Year Bible reading by clicking here.

The psalm provides a marvelous picture of God’s mercy and might.

So why did God do these things for the Hebrews?

Verse 45 has the answer:

“All this happened so they would follow His decrees and obey His instructions.”

Sometimes the Hebrews did what verse 45 described.

Life was good in the Promised Land at such times.

Many times, though, they ignored God’s Word and God’s will.

And despite repeated pleas made to the people through prophets inspired by God, the people recurringly ignored God’s Word and His will.

You know what happened as a result.

The fountain of blessings dried up and the tsunamis of torment took its place.

We’ve experienced the same to a lesser extent, I’m sure.

Life is always better when we learn and obey.

It’s no accident that God has blessed you with health, with relationships and with income.

Please be careful that your life of faithful obedience will be clear to all, including Him.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Living the Christian life isn’t complicated.

It’s just not easy.

Being faithful is never about brainpower.

But it is about willpower.

As in deciding we WILL obey God’s will.

“And this is His commandment: We must believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with Him, and He with them. And we know He lives in us because the Spirit He gave us lives in us.” (I John 3:23-24)

Is God living in you?

If so, He is loving through you.

Love somebody today in a way that unmistakably overflows from the love you have for God.

It’s why He saved us.

As always, I love you
Martin

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King Saul of the Old Testament was a real mess.

In a way, one almost feels sorry for how tormented he felt, though it was of his own doing.

We don’t know all the “back story” of why this handsome, tall, sometimes-courageous man from a good family had borderline-schizophrenia issues.

We just know that he was the poster child for being emotionally and spiritually chaotic.

One of his worst periods — if not THE worst — is recorded in I Samuel 15.

It’s such a sad account of what could have been a tremendous time of celebration had Saul been the man God wanted and directed him to be.

I encourage you to read the chapter at this link so that you’ll see why God ended up rejecting Saul as Israel’s foundational king.

The takeaway point from the story is this: obeying God without editing His commands is far more important to displaying faith than is concocting a plan that appears faithful to people but really is rooted in selfishness.

Tithing — giving 10 percent of gross income — on Sundays when the offering plate is a wonderful display of obedience to Jesus’ command in Matthew 23:23 that Christians are to tithe.

But if we don’t link that tithing with obedience in terms of “go and sin no more,” there is little that separates us from the example of Saul.

Tithing does not wash out the soul stains from porn sessions on the computer.

Tithing does not undo the scars on a family member from coarse words said during an argument.

Tithing does not rebuild the relationship bridge with someone whose trust in us was destroyed because of failed integrity on our part.

And other generous gifts to God cannot appease our Father whose heart was broken by repeated ignoring of the Holy Spirit’s warnings against our Satan-pleasing choice to serve self.

To obey is better than sacrifice, God said.

Learn God’s Word.

Live God’s Word.

Share God’s Word.

Obedience will become more common in our lives as we do this.

Linked with sacrificial gifts, we can please God in ever-increasing measure this way.

After all, He clearly deserves the best we can do with giving AND obeying.

As always, I love you
Martin

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I love the vivid, sometimes veiled nature of scripture.

“What’s wrong, Red Sea, that made you hurry out of their way?”

These words from Psalm 114:5 remind me that God is almighty and that immense power of nature is but a pawn in His hands.

God wanted to deliver His children to safety away from the pagan army of Pharoah and the Red Sea was in the way.

And so, God spoke.

The will of God — literally His breath — pushed a pathway through the Red Sea and the Hebrews fled to safety on the Sinai Peninsula.

The above rhetorical question emphasized that when God speaks, nature listens.

The wind and the waves obeyed His voice at the Red Sea, just as they did 1,500 years later when God’s Son calmed the Sea of Galilee to save the lives of His apostles.

So if God’s voice can part or calm a massive body of water, can it not prompt us to hurry toward the completion of His will?

Are we motivated to get going in order to help others come to spiritual safety “on the other side?”

Are we prepared with a credible testimony and memorized scripture to help hurting, distressed people to experience “Peace! Be still” moments?

Let’s hurry toward becoming one who listens for the voice of God and acts faithfully in response.

It’s not good if the Red Sea was more obedient to God’s voice than are we.

As always, I love you
Martin

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The body has an amazing ability to retain strength and wellness when we don’t corrupt it with unhealthy food, vices or thoughts.

But there is this human tendency to do things like eating too much salt and grease and sugar or like falling into the pits of lust or bitterness or greed or vain independance from God’s ways.

The result is never good.

I recognize this weakness of human pride and strive to limit my waywardness. I’m not perfect, but every year the random divergence from the center line of God’s path seems to become less and less.

That’s a good thing.

I was reminded in today’s One-Year Bible reading as to why sticking to the center line of Christ’s example is such a good idea.

In a nutshell, Joshua 6-7 describe how the Israelites had just experienced the great, miraculous victory over the city of Jericho and all were excited — except God.

Why? Because an Israelite family had secretly defied God’s command that all the silver and gold from Jericho belong to God and should be placed in the national treasury.

Why Achan and his family thought they could get away with defying God’s command and keeping silver for themselves is beyond me. After all, Achan was trying to fool the Jehovah who sent the plagues, parted the Red Sea and the Jordan River and who knocked down the walls of Jerocho.

Remember, though, sin is never logical in a spiritual sense.

Right after defeating Jericho, the Israelites decided to attack a city called Ai. Surprisingly to them, they suffered an embarrassing defeat because they clearly weren’t getting any battle wisdom or strength from God.

God knew the reason and He wanted the people of Israel to learn it in a regimented, retained way.

He commanded a lengthy process of elimination that — in a way not described in scripture — ultimately revealed the culprit family and retrieved that which belonged to the Lord.

Until God was honored as He commanded, the power for victory would not flow from God. Here is God’s message to Joshua to be told to the grieving, confused and fear-filled people:

‘“Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There are devoted things among you, Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove them.” (Joshua 7:13)

I encourage you to read Joshua 7-8 to learn from this sequence in Israel’s history. For it just might reduce the likelihood of your experiencing the heartache of spiritual failure, whether your own or that of another.

Listen, anything in our lives that God has told us to give up — whether it be tithing back to Him a portion of the wealth He pours into our lives or it be a sinful habit that is to be laid aside — let’s do it.

The consequences of defiantly refusing to do what God wants — and then thinking we can hide it from Him — should be avoided at all costs.

God created us to thrive in His love as we trust in His Truth.

Let’s thrive together, OK?

As always, I love you
Martin

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We all heard the phrase during our childhood, “Do it because I said so.”

Perhaps it was parent or grandparent.

For years, we did things because they told us to do them.

But adolescence breeds independence and that sometimes devolves into a non-compliant path that isn’t good.

Hopefully, logic and love and faith guide your decisions today as they should guide mine.

And that includes trusting the wisdom and judgment of people who sometimes have a clearer view of the right path than do we.

The reality is that consistent, stubborn refusal to accept wise direction “because we know better” is a foolish, sometimes costly choice.

Another reality is that we’ve all played the fool in this way at one time or another.

We were walking a dead-end road at work or in a relationship or with our health and we refused the advice of caring people who knew what they were talking about.

What really bristled us was when were at the end of the road and we knew we had no viable option except to listen to the one or ones we had ignored.

We couldn’t understand how their advice would help, but when they said, “Do it because I said so,” we finally trusted them and — Voila! — the advice worked.

Our job performance or office relationships improved. Our marriage our parent-child relationship improved. Our cholesterol or BMI levels improved.

And our propensity for prideful stubbornness was hopefully diminished a bit.

Why this message today? Because there are times that we should do things because the Bible tells us to, regardless of what we think.

We don’t understand how it will all work out to do it God’s way, but it does if we’ll trust and obey.

That’s what happened in Luke 5 when Peter and his boat crew fished all night and caught nothing.

You know how the story goes with Peter initially disputing Jesus’ direction.

The nets went down, though. Why?

But because you say so,” Peter said to Jesus (Luke 5:5).

Of course, the catch was huge.

Good thing that Peter put out the nets because Jesus said so.

Let’s surrender our will and forgive the really hurtful offenses — because Jesus said so.

Let’s surrender our will and forsake the really tasty sins — because Jesus said so.

Let’s surrender our will and overcome our shyness and invite co-workers to church and the gospel — because Jesus said so.

Let’s surrender our will and do whatever the Word calls us to do, even if it conflicts with out pride-limited perceptions and precepts.

And let’s surrender our will and do what caring, prayerful, spiritually mature mentors counsel us to do when we’re not biblically certain of our path.

The catch of peace and blessing will be huge.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Part of being faithful to a merciful God involves being merciful to others.

Like Jesus said, if we want God to forgive our sins, then we need to forgive the sins of others against us.

It’s not easy to do this sometimes.

Such as when somebody is doing all they can to undercut us at work or to undercut our marriage or other special relationship.

Sometimes a person is obsessed with getting our job or spouse or place as best friend to another and that person will stop at nothing in trying to get it.

If you’ve never been the victim of this obsession, you are especially blessed.

Many of us have been in the crosshairs of others.

It’s at such times that the sincerity of our faith is tested.

If we forgive the attacker, whether the person’s announced repentance for the offense is genuine or not, we are doing what God wants.

Being obedient to God is far more important than being in control of the personality dynamics operating within the heart and mind of another person.

Why this topic today?

In I Kings 1, the story is told of Solomon’s half-brother Adonijah who tried to steal the kingship of Israel for himself, even though David had not yet died and was still ruler. It was a foolish scheme that failed and you can read about it by clicking here.

When events that followed made it clear to Adonijah that he had really messed up, he ran to the tabernacle courtyard and grabbed the horns of the bronze, sacrificial altar in a public declaration of repentance.

He knew he deserved to die for his rebellious scheme against David who had already declared that Solomon would become king.

Yet, Solomon showed grace, perhaps remembering the great grace shown his father for the adulterous, murderous plot involving Solomon’s own mother, Bathsheba.

“Then Solomon was told, ‘Adonijah is afraid of King Solomon and is clinging to the horns of the altar. He says, ‘Let King Solomon swear to me today that he will not put his servant to death with the sword.’”

“Solomon replied, ‘If he shows himself to be worthy, not a hair of his head will fall to the ground; but if evil is found in him, he will die.’ Then King Solomon sent men, and they brought him down from the altar. And Adonijah came and bowed down to King Solomon, and Solomon said, ‘Go to your home.'” (vv. 51-54).

Sadly, Adonijah wouldn’t learn his lesson and later schemed again in a way that would have led to a direct revolt. The second scheme would not be forgiven, however, and he would be killed as would be his kingmaker advisor named Joab.

The lesson from this story is that we’re called to forgive people even if they’ve been trying to rob us of the most important things in our lives such as our jobs, our families and perhaps even our physical well-being.

Solomon showed that we don’t have to be weak in our response. In fact, we are to deal firmly with such threats and issue warnings of consequences if repentance doesn’t occur. But if an apology is offered with sincerity, we are to accept it.

After all, we’re sure counting on God doing the same for us, right?

As always, I love you
Martin

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