Obedience vs Agreement

1 Corinthians 2:5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Today I heard one of those sermons. One that was so powerful and challenging. Convicting. Piercing. I came up with several blog ideas and study topics from it. I asked God to narrow down what He wanted me to focus on right now. As usual, I was brought to a place I didn’t expect.

Are you in obedience or just agreement? God calls us to submit, not follow only when it makes sense and we like it.

Good point. I heard this visiting preacher say it (can’t recall his name, sorry) and I nodded. But that didn’t apply to me. I already know this.

Or do I?

How many of us clap, wave a hand (come on Pentecostals) or shout an “amen” thinking a point is great or hoping the person you came with hears it?! But then we discover the preacher is talking about us.

Ouch.

Obedience vs agreement.

Do we obey God only when we feel like it or we agree with it?

If God is nudging us to do something and it’s comfortable for us or it agrees with our position, it isn’t a true test of our obedience.

Obedience means submission. Walking out God’s commands whether we want to or not. Even if it’s inconvenient. No matter the cost.

If we only obey God when we want to, we aren’t living in submission to Him. Our spiritual relationship is based on agreement or human wisdom.

We must rest in God’s wisdom, not our own. Human wisdom applied to spiritual things…just isn’t. We can’t figure out spiritual matters through fleshly logic no more than we can use a thermometer to measure a weight of something. It’s entirely different with unique functions.

How many of us wives submit to our husbands joyfully when we agree but won’t (or do it begrudgingly) if we disagree? I understand, I’m not perfect either. But in order to be one flesh, we must sometimes submit and force a smile out of love. (Of course within legal, biblical boundaries. I’m not advocating abuse.)

God has showed me there’s times when out of mistrust and fear that I won’t fully obey. Or I’ll delay it. Delayed obedience is disobedience. Obedience is submission even when I am afraid or it’s challenging.

Today, and everyday, you have a choice. Obedience or agreement. Godly wisdom or human wisdom.

Choose well and receive all the blessings God has for you.

Joshua 1:8 ESV This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

What I Got Instead

Yesterday my family took a chance. A small local church was holding a Bible trivia night. My oldest son’s PCA couldn’t come to watch the kids. So we packed all 3 boys in our small hatchback and prayed for the best. We decided to go (and our team won.)

My ten year old son is low functioning ASD. So simple outings can be highly stressful. But we decided to chance it.

Maybe it will be OK.

I said that with a twinge of faith in my voice.

And it was.

It ended up going pretty well. But sometimes it doesn’t.

The life my husband and I envisioned for ourselves in Bible college looked nothing like this.

There’s what we wanted. Then there’s what we got.

I think all of us to some extent can relate to the “what I got instead” experience. Few, if any, live out the lives they pictured having without some unexpected hardships and trials.

Life happens.

For years my husband and I would take turns saying, “This is not how I thought life would look.” Deep down we believed we could have done it better. We subconsciously desired God to be dethroned so we could control things.

Either God is who He says He is or He’s not. There’s no fence.

At some point I personally had to decide to believe God. Even when life didn’t make sense. Even when life hurt.

I’ve learned to face the “what I got instead” with the grace of God. Because I may not have seen it coming, but He did. And He’s working it all out for eventual good. Somehow. Some way. Someday.

I know life can be very painful. I also know that God heals us, never leaving us or forsaking us.

If you’re struggling with what you got, hugs. I get it. But please remember that this life is so short. There is a Creator that promises to make all things right again. A God that will someday kill death itself. It will take eternity to fully know YHVH and His goodness. In that the deepest desires of our hearts will be met.

Until then, drink from the living waters as a taste of what’s to come. Live faithfully, running the race as best as you can…with what you got instead.

Be thankful, for what you ended up with may be something someone is dreaming and praying for.

John 4:13-14 ESV Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

To My Children

Each day I see this world get just a little bit darker. A little more cruel. A little more selfish.

A lot more hopeless.

As I read the Word and pray I pause, and wonder what it would be like if I didn’t know my Creator?

What if He never chose me?

John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

Where would I be if I faced my trials alone?

God forbid. I don’t even want to think it. I don’t want my sons to grow up without knowing the Savior.

Right now, I’m thinking about their future and what this world may bring.

This is my declaration to my children…

Under my watch, my care, I pray and speak truth so you know there’s a Creator. A God that knew you before you existed. The Good Shepherd that saves, heals, restores and protects.

He loves us and sets us free.

A Savior that brings hope and makes a way where there is none.

God says, “I will never leave you or forsake you. The hairs on your head are all numbered.”

No matter the heartache. No matter the failure. Even if you lose everything and everyone, although it may hurt like hades, you’ll be ok.

You are more than a conqueror. His strength is made perfect in your weakness.

You can’t stump God. He knew this would happen. And yes, He does have a plan.

I hate cliches but this is true.

Trust God. He will direct you.

Every person we meet has a purpose. Some are meant to be temporary, and some lifelong. Some people teach us little things. Some very big things. At times it’s painful.

I pray you bring love and kindness wherever you go and that you teach others good lessons. Gentle ones. Healing ones.

May your life be filled with the love and goodness of God. And may you always be generous enough to share it with those you meet.

I love you, but no one will ever love you more than God. Never forget that.

May all of us shine God’s light while we can. The darker it gets, the brighter we can be.

Shine in this moment.

1 Peter 3:15 KJV But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Not Just a Bracelet

Philippians 2:15 That you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world

Someone mentioned recently that craze with the WWJD bracelets.

What would Jesus do?

When I was in high school and college I saw that acronym worn by many. Although it’s a nice idea, it seems as superficial as wearing a cross, fish pin, or having a “Jesus” bumper sticker on your car.

It means nothing without a person’s heart behind it.

But God is bringing me back to this. I have a bracelet with John 3:30 printed on it.

John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

I’ve been making a point to wear it. Each time I’m in a challenging situation I look at that verse.

He must increase…

How do I increase Jesus (Yeshua) here?

A couple of days ago a woman thought I didn’t yield to her at a stop sign. She was insistent she had the right of way. Normally I tend to yield to people but this time it seemed clear to me I was to go first.

She got very offended.

The lady sped up to my car at the next intersection and rolled down her window shouting at me. I turned up the Christian radio station as she was hurling obscenities at me. This woman caused a scene, flipping me off with her entire arm out of the window. It was utterly obnoxious.

What would Jesus do?

That thought came to me.

Luke 6:28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.

I have never caused a scene like that in my life.

Why did she do it?

Happy, peaceful, healthy, godly people don’t behave that way. She needs prayer. So, I prayed a blessing over her and asked God to send someone to be a witness of His love to her.

Jesus would bless and love. He wouldn’t return evil for evil.

The next day my family watched a movie. We have a movie night at our house. I make popcorn and we turn the lights off as if we’re in a theater. The kids camp out on the living room floor.

This movie (a children’s one) had a lesson on being a good, loyal friend. It hit a slight emotional trigger for my husband.

Unless it’s a friend of 20 years who dumps you.

As soon as I heard him say that, I knew a pain point was hit.

What would Jesus do?

I told my husband that we need to forgive and say a prayer for them.

You feel hurt because of grief. It’s evidence of love. I know you miss your friend. But only God can repair this.

My husband paused-processing.

Yeah.

In that moment there was a choice. Be bitter. Talk about what and who is wrong. (Unless it’s us. Pride is easy to fall into.)

Our pain can be a tool to show us what matters and what we value.

It was quickly nipped and diffused. We’ve prayed about it.

Each day there will be opportunities to choose…spirit or flesh.

What would Jesus do? Not do? Say? Not say? Think?

Today, I want to encourage you to bring the Kingdom of Light, God’s ways, into every circumstance. Before you speak or act, pause. Pray. Read the Word. Listen for His voice. When a pain point is hit, notice what it’s revealing.

“What would Jesus do” isn’t just a bracelet or a cool little saying. It’s a lifestyle.

And it can change us and those we encounter.

Choose to emulate Messiah today. Walk out His Word and His love in your life.

Ephesians 5:8-10 ESV for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

1 John 1:5-7 ESV This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

His Heartbeat

Last night my husband and I attended a Bible study group that’s partly based on the book Letters to the Church by Francis Chan. At some point the leader, who’s been pastoring for many years, shared something rather personal and shocking to some.

He went through a dry time spiritually for many years. After many health problems and trial after trial, he was quietly planning his suicide.

Do you want to know my heartbeat?

One day this leader heard God ask Him that.

Four times in a row.

It was so tangible that all he could do was cry. He expected, if anything, to hear, “Don’t do it!” Instead, God gave him a powerful revelation of His love.

God’s love for us is beyond explanation or understanding.

He hasn’t doubted God’s love since.

What if others could receive this revelation of love?

What if…

What if that person I can’t seem to love could be easily loved if I could grasp God’s love better?

What if I truly understood how loved I was?

How would that change how I treat myself and others?

What if I saw people as the Creator does? Felt what He feels?

Is there anyone I’d treat differently?

My prayer today is that I’d hear His heartbeat for myself and others around me. I wonder how much our priorities would shift. That earthly treasure that’s here today, gone tomorrow would pale in comparison to my eternal Heavenly Father and forever with Him.

If you’re considering ending it all and giving up, I pray in Jesus/Yeshua’s name that you feel God’s heartbeat. So much so that you never doubt His love again.

God will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5.) He does have a plan and every person you meet is for a purpose. Don’t forget that.

May we walk in a life changing godly love that reaches others for His Kingdom and His plan. We are all a part of this temple built by God for His glory.

God, help us to never take your love and blessings for granted.

Touching heaven, changing earth.

Ephesians 2:19-22 ESV So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Clean

I’m reading through the Torah portions at a faster pace this year. Today I read Leviticus 13. It is a chapter with the header: Laws About Leprosy. To be honest, I was hoping to read this quickly so I could read in Psalms and Matthew. But as I was reading, I stopped when I saw Leviticus 13:45-46. A person who is diseased must wear torn clothes, leave their hair hang loose, cover their upper lip and cry out, “Unclean!”

He shall live alone.

Talk about trauma and shame. Imagine being that leprous person. The unfairness of it. Being shunned and separated from friends and family. Talk about being kicked when you’re down.

I get it.

It was to protect the healthy. Leprosy is a terrible disease. I haven’t studied it much and I don’t plan on Sabbath to. But people who have it become disfigured and emit a pungent odor of dying flesh.

Not exactly something anyone wants to be near.

Here’s what got me.

In my reading plan I jumped from Leviticus 13 to Matthew 26. In Matthew at this point Jesus had Passover, was betrayed and is now standing before Caiaphas and elders who are mocking him and shouting, “He deserves death!”

This is the Messiah who healed and cleansed the diseased. Raised the dead. Delivered people of demons.

“My love cleanses the dirtiest and the untouchable.”

That is what I heard in my spirit as I was reading.

Luke 5:31-32 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

The very people we tend to look down on are those He came for.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Although we may not be experiencing physical leprosy much today, there are many people who are hurting. Many who are emotionally and spiritually diseased. Alone.

Life may have caused you to feel like you’re walking around exclaiming, “Unclean!” Or perhaps passively you build up walls because in your heart you feel unclean and unworthy.

I understand.

I wasn’t planning on writing today. This blog is because God put something specific on my heart for someone.

Jesus (Yeshua) can make you clean.

Actually, per Isaiah 53, He already did. But you have to receive it. All of us are unclean in our sins. We need a Savior.

Today, I pray that you get before God and pour out your heart to Him if you’re hurting and feeling shame.

Give Him your addictions. Repent of hidden sin. Surrender your idols. Let go of bitterness, anger, jealousy, pride etc.

You don’t have to be unclean anymore. The Good Shepherd will take care of you. He died for you. Receive His love. Let Him be your Savior and Healer.

John 10:9-11 ESV I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

The Practice of Golgotha

Calvary. The place of the skull. Where Jesus was crucified.

We’re coming up on the time of year when many reflect on Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

I observe Passover to celebrate Messiah, while most observe Easter Sunday for this. I personally, in line with the Feast of Unleavened Bread, remove leavening for a week from my home. I go through the cupboards and look at the ingredients on each item as needed. Just as I physically do this, I also spiritually do it. I become quieter, spending more time in prayer and reflection.

What still needs to be crucified in my life?

This is what I’m asking myself. What about me isn’t glorifying God? Am I dishonoring Him in my thoughts, words, or actions? Is my heart pure? Am I living in integrity? Am I walking in love?

Every year, more of my flesh and old self is surrendered on Golgotha.

Jesus (Yeshua) died for my sins. And all of us have many. Becoming a believer doesn’t automatically make me or you act like a saint. We’re still…becoming.

1 John 3:9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.

No one born of God makes a practice of sinning. I don’t intentionally sin, but I still need much refinement. The Holy Spirit is faithful to do it as we yield.

Romans 12:1 I urge you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice—holy, acceptable to God—which is your spiritual service.

So, my challenge during this approaching season is to “practice Golgotha.” Be a living sacrifice. Lay aside the carnal for the eternal.

John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

I heard Amy Grant many years ago say her mother-in-law prays everyday that she’ll do something of eternal significance. That’s been my prayer for a few years now.

Father, let me never lose sight of who You are. Help me do something of eternal significance today and may more of my flesh die so I am walking more in the spirit. Help me to love more like You do.

It centers on the cross. The beautiful, old rugged cross. Where my death becomes my new life.

Forward in faith and worship. May this season remind us of the Messiah in a beautiful, new way.

And I pray that in the moments when I feel unloved I remember everything my Savior did for me. Love gives, and He gave it all.

Thank you King Yeshua.

Philippians 2:5-11 TLV Have this attitude in yourselves, which also was in Messiah Yeshua , Who, though existing in the form of God, did not consider being equal to God a thing to be grasped. But He emptied Himself— taking on the form of a slave, becoming the likeness of men and being found in appearance as a man. He humbled Himself— becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Yeshua every knee should bow, in heaven and on the earth and under the earth, and every tongue profess that Yeshua the Messiah is Lord— to the glory of God the Father.