Tag Archives: obedience

All Sin

The Message translation of 1 John 3:4, says that “sin is a major disruption of God’s order.” Sin is anything that is against God. We know that “everyone who sins is breaking God’s law.” God is holy and He cannot look at our sin. He has a beautifully orchestrated plan and He knows the best way. When we go against His will, we sin.

Note that the New Living Translation says that “ALL sin is contrary to the law of God.” All sin. It’s important to never get caught in the habit of labeling sin and deciding what sin is worse. Sin is sin. All sin is contrary to the law of God.

Today, remember that sin is anything that goes against God. We are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We all need a savior (Ephesians 2:1). Remember that, “Christ showed up in order to get rid of sin.” He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. Our debt has been paid in full, but this does not mean we should keep on sinning (Romans 6:15-16). Allow the conviction of the Holy Spirit guide you. Reach for the freedom that Jesus Christ offers and follow Him (Romans 6:17-18).

“Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God.” – 1 John 3:4 [NLT]

“All who indulge in a sinful life are dangerously lawless, for sin is a major disruption of God’s order. Surely you know that Christ showed up in order to get rid of sin. There is no sin in him, and sin is not part of his program. No one who lives deeply in Christ makes a practice of sin. None of those who do practice sin have taken a good look at Christ. They’ve got him all backward.” – 1 John 3:4-6 [MSG]

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Be Anxious

The Bible tells us not to be anxious (Matthew 6:25, Luke 12:25, Philippians 4:6), but there is a moment when the Bible tells us to be anxious. In 1 Peter 4, we are told to be anxious—to “be anxious to do the will of God.”

Peter warns us not to be spending our lives chasing our own desires. Remember that the desires of the flesh are contrary to the Spirit. We read, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh for the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want” (Galatians 5:16-17 NIV). Instead of “chasing your own desires,” you are to “clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14 NIV).

Do you anxiously pursue the will of God? Do you chase after the will of God? Or do you usually find yourself chasing after your own desires? Today, seek the will of God. Clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ.

“You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God.” – 1 Peter 4:2 [NLT]

A Strange Thing

In Hosea 8, we read that Ephraim had “multiplied altars for sin” (v. 11). They built altars, but they certainly were not worshiping God as He desired. The altars were “altars of sinning.” Oh how the things that could be useful for good can be used for evil just the same. What a great reminder to tread with caution. Thankfully, God has given us His Word so we know what is desired of us.

This verse translates in the NLT as, “Even though I gave them all My laws, they act as if those laws don’t apply to them.” The ESV translates this as a “strange thing.” Like it’s strange to apply the laws to them, like it’s foreign to them. Sadly, the people of this time period were far from God. They were led away. They were sinful, idolatrous people. It did not matter how many laws there are—they would be seen as foreign nonetheless.

For many people today, God’s Law is a strange thing. People are so far from understanding the Truth, they look at what God commands and see it as strange, difficult, demanding, and even unnecessary. People do not understand the reason for the Law. God blesses us with the Law. The Law is actually all about GRACE. It is through the Law that we realize we are sinners (Romans 3:20, 7:7). As a result, the Law leads us to Jesus Christ so that we may be justified by faith (Galatians 3:24). Without the Law, we would not recognize our need for Jesus. We would not accept the grace of God. We would not be able to have the relationship for which we were created. To outsiders, the Law is a strange thing. To believers, the Law is a constant reminder that we fall short (Romans 3:23) and that we need a Savior. Knowing that He fulfilled the Law and that through Him we have life and life in abundance is a blessing! Today, remember the not-so-strange thing. More importantly, thank the Lord for His unending grace.

“Were I to write for him my laws by the ten thousands, they would be regarded as a strange thing.” – Hosea 8:12 [ESV]

Faithful Feeding

Every morning, there is the usual routine. After our daily walk (weather permitting), the dogs sit inside the kitchen awaiting their food. Typically, I’ll grab their bowls and get them water, followed by their food. There are moments when I need to do something quickly before feeding them. They still stand in their places, patiently waiting for their food. They know that their master will feed them. They trust it is coming. In time, the food comes.

The Bible references many promises of God. In Matthew 6, we read about how God cares for the birds—He makes sure they are fed. This illustration is shared to show us the importance of leaning into God and not succumbing to anxiety. Too often, we allow fear, anxiety, worry, and doubt to keep us from stepping into what God has ready for us. Rather than following His will and patiently trusting Him, we try to do things on our own and life becomes frazzled. We were never meant to do life alone on our strength.

Worry will get you nowhere. It cannot add a single hour to your life span. It cannot make the problem go away. It cannot change your circumstances. It cannot help in any way. Like my dogs stand patiently waiting to be fed, trusting in their master, we are to stand before our Master, trusting in Him. Even when nothing seems to go well—even when the circumstances look bad—cling to Him and His promises. Even when things are falling apart around you, stand firm in your faith. Wait obediently. He is faithful!

““Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” – Matthew 6:25-27 [ESV]

Like the Rain

Whenever it rains, I don’t feel so great. My body aches from the dampness. The dogs cannot go for their walks if it is raining too hard, which means I don’t get my normal exercise, and more importantly, my special alone time with God where there are no interruptions. The weather report notes that the rain is going to continue for the next few days. Part of me dreads possibly not getting out there for our usual walks, but yet I know that the rain is a blessing to us and it is certainly needed so I’m trying to be grateful.

In Hosea, we read that God “will come to us like the rain.” I always love when I can read something that paints a visual picture for me. But what is this verse saying? Rain isn’t always falling. Does it mean God will come and then go and eventually come again? No. This passage is talking about the faithfulness of God. In Deuteronomy 11, read about the blessings and the curses. It was plainly laid out for people to understand. If you obey – if you love the Lord and serve Him with all your heart and soul—then He will bless you with rain. There were two big rains acknowledge—the spring rain and the autumn rain. This was needed for the people to have a good return.

When we read in Hosea that the Lord comes to us like the rain, it is saying that we can trust that the Lord is faithful. Just as the rain comes in spring and autumn as promised, so will the Lord come and restore. The promises of the Lord are true. Next time it rains, be reminded that God is faithful. He will come like the rain to us. Ask Him to come and rain down on you.

“So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth.” – Hosea 6:3 [NASB]

“And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil.” – Deuteronomy 11:13-14 [ESV]

I Am Stiff Necked

We recently did a Bible study where the term “stiff necked” came up. Many people asked what does it mean to be “stiff necked”? Jokingly, I told them I am stiff necked, hence the reason I see a chiropractor. The truth is, yes, I have a stiff neck that needed extensive therapy. My lower back and my neck were the worst. But I am also stiff necked in the biblical sense of the term.

So what does this actually mean? If we would know about oxen and plowing, we would have a better understanding. When a fellow was working the plow, he would have his oxen in order, and he would use one hand on the plow and the other holding a large pole. Usually there would be two oxen together. The man who was working the field, would use the pole to touch the back of the feet of the oxen, or to touch the necks of the oxen. They did these things so that the oxen would know when to change speed, when to go straight, and when to turn. There were some stubborn oxen who didn’t like to listen. When they would have their necks poked, they would not move as ordered. They were known as hard of neck or “stiff necked.”

I admit I am stiff necked. There are times when I don’t want to move when God gives me a poke. There are moments when I chose to try to control a situation instead of giving it to God. There are times when I am supposed to turn, but I go on a different way. Today, ask God to reveal to you any areas in your life that may cause you to earn the name “stiff necked.” Chances are, like me, you are stiff necked. Don’t worry—we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Thankfully Jesus Christ has made a way so that we can find forgiveness despite our stiff necked issues.

“So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer.” – Deuteronomy 10:16 [NASB]

“Do not now be stiff-necked as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the LORD and come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever, and serve the LORD your God, that his fierce anger may turn away from you. – 2 Chronicles 30:8 [ESV]

A Rock Solid House

When I look around my house, though we have only been here a few years, I can see the changes. It is interesting how a house can change with time—gradual changes we make as we continue forward. As we build our home, we have two choices of a foundation. The one foundation is the Rock; the other foundation is the sand.

Matthew 7 speaks about these foundations. In verse 24, we read about “everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice.” This is talking about obedience to God. Building your house on Jesus—obeying the Word—in doing so you will be like the wise one who builds on the Rock. You will have a house that is on a firm foundation that can withstand any storm that comes its way. This is referring to a building process that is continuous.

Look around your home. Consider the changes that have been made over the months or years. In the same way, as we continue to walk in obedience, we will build up our “house” on the Rock – Jesus Christ. As we walk in obedience, we glean understanding. We get to know Jesus more intimately. Read Proverbs 2 and pray for a more obedient heart.

“By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established” – Proverbs 24:3 [ESV]

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” – Matthew 7:24-27 [NIV]

Helping Yourself

You may have heard the phrase, “God helps those who help themselves.” It is something that is said often to encourage people to not stand around, but instead to do something. Action is certainly important, but this phrase is often misunderstood by believers and nonbelievers.

Regarding salvation, we cannot help ourselves. The Bible says that, “At just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6 NIV). We were and are helpless. Through Christ alone is our salvation. We cannot be “good people” to earn salvation. It is a free gift. This is grace.

Even so, we understand that we are not to sit around doing nothing. In 2 Thessalonians 3:10, we read of the command that “those unwilling to work will not get to eat.” God blesses those who obey. While in Galilee, Jesus told His disciples, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did this, they had a large number of fish in the net (see John 21:6).  Action is important. But we are never “helping ourselves.” We are living a life in Christ, following His will. He is our Helper. We are blessed as we walk in obedience. You want to help yourself? Reach out and jump into the arms of your Heavenly Father. Cling to His Word. Walk in His ways. It is never a life lived alone—it is never a life lived on our own strength. You are not helping yourself, but rather, allowing Jesus to guide your steps, to be Lord of your life. He is your help. He is you refuge. He is your everything!

“This is what the LORD says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD.’” – Jeremiah 17:5 [NIV]

“The one who trusts in himself is a fool, but one who walks in wisdom will be safe.” – Proverbs 28:26 [HCSB]

The Commands of God

In the past four days as I have taken my dogs for their daily walks, I have encountered unleashed, uncontrolled dogs. Today’s dog was a bit comical. As her master called for her to get back to her side of the street, she slowly inched her way in our direction. It was as if she thought she could slowly sneak near us and her master would maybe have a change of mind over the boundary. As I consider the barriers that we should be in place for our fur family (fences, leashes), I cannot help but think about the boundaries God has put in place for His children to keep us safe. Just like the dogs often try to sneak away from their master when not contained, we too slowly sneak away. At times, we paw at the boundary line for a long time until we finally succumb to the temptation and take the final leap toward the sin. Sometimes we slowly walk toward the line and start to think no one is watching, and we run across like a dog who has a malfunctioning underground fence.

At the end of the day, as we stroll across the boundaries that God has put in place, we find ourselves facing the consequences. For a dog escaping, the usual punishment is back to the house. Our consequences are a life apart from God. When we are actively and knowingly sinning, we are living like we are separated from God even though He lives inside of us and is ever-present. When you don’t follow the commands, you turn away from God and toward the temporary. You drown out the Spirit. You put something above God. Your life you then begin to navigate without a map or GPS, and end up off course and out of gas.

In God’s Word, we see lots of commands. These commands are not because we have a God Who wants to be making life so difficult for us like some lengthy tax code or rules that keep us from fun. The commands of God are to protect us and to promote godly living which leads to joy, to peace, and blessings. Imagine not having to wonder if something is good or bad for you. God already has broken it all down in His Word. It makes life easier. Imagine how much easier and how much more joy and peace will be in your life if you stay on the narrow path and don’t find yourself knee deep in sin. Today let us examine where we are at in life. If you are often questioning the commands of God, consider why you question them. Do you have your priorities straight? Do you think you know better? Do you question them because you truly want to find a way around them? The Bible says if you love God, you will keep His commands. It should be our aim to do just that – to honor Him in all that we do in life. It is never burdensome.

 

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” – 1 John 5:3 [ESV]

Colossians Study: The Will of God

[Colossians 1:9-14]

Prayed for:

  • “Wise minds and spirits attuned to His will” [MSG]
  • “All the wisdom & understanding that His Spirit gives” [CEV]
  • “God to give you complete knowledge of His will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding” [NLT]

Prayed for:

  • Practical Obedience (1:10) – Knowledge & obedience go together

True spiritual wisdom must affect daily life

Wisdom / Walk / Work – Cannot work for God unless we walk with Him, cannot walk with Him if ignorant to His will

General will = clearly in Bible                Specific will = always agrees with Bible

Knowing general will makes it easier to know specific will for daily life

God wants us to:

  • Know His Will (Acts 22:14)
  • Understand His Will (Ephesians 5:17)

Paul prayed for ALL wisdom & understanding, COMPLETE knowledge…

Complete = Filled full                    Filled = Controlled by

  • Filled with _______ (ex: anger, jealously)
  • Filled with Spirit (Ephesians 5:18)

Controlled by full knowledge of God’s will

How? By all wisdom & spiritual insights. Understand will of God through Word of God. Holy Spirit teaches us to submit to Him (John 14:26, John 16:31)

THEN…

  • You will live a life that honors the Lord
  • You will always please Him by doing good deeds
  • You will come to know God even better
  • You will be patient & strong to endure everything because of His power
  • You will be truly happy

Bible Study Questions:

1) Paul prayed for the Colossians to have ALL wisdom and understanding. He grasped that God wants us to know and understand His will – and to do this would bring us closer to Him. With our reading, the words patient and strong and happy appear. What does this mean for us?

2) What is the hardest thing about following God’s will?

 

3) When we have this completeness (fullness), we will be controlled by it. We will then be able to determine what God wants. How do we determine God’s Will—how do we determine what He wants?

 

4) Let us dig deeper into God’s Word.

Read each of these verses and decide what each verse says about God’s will for us.

  • Read 2 Peter 3:9
  • Read Ephesians 5:18
  • Read 1 Thessalonians 4:3
  • Read 1 Peter 2:15
  • Read 1 Peter 5:10
  • Read Psalm 37:4

This is one part of a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on Colossians. The 12 weeks include:

Gospel Truth
Will of God
Lord of All
Ministry to Maturity
Foolish Philosophies
Men of Rules
Realities of Heaven
Taking Responsibility
Godly Living
Worship Work
Good Words
True Forgiveness