Tag Archives: obeying God
To hold tightly means you hold firmly. You cling to something or grip something, usually in attempt to not let go. I think back to when my children were small and I would hold their hands tightly as we crossed the streets. I remember walking up a high staircase and holding the handrail tightly in hopes that I could safely navigate the heights. When the wind is blowing hard, we hold tightly to our personal items as we try to get from the car to the house without losing anything. We use all the strength we have so we can keep a hold of these things.
In Deuteronomy 11, we read about “holding tightly to Him.” Do you hold as tightly to God, with the tight grip, in an attempt to not let go when the winds get high? Do you hold as tightly to God as you climb the high heights? Do you cling as tightly to God’s hand as you cross the streets of life?
The Bible tells us we are to walk in God’s ways and hold tightly to Him. It’s hard, but it’s not impossible. To walk in His ways, you must hold tightly to Him. Abide in Him and He will abide in you (see John 15). His power working through you will give you all you need to walk in faithful obedience. Today, realign yourself to Him.
“Be careful to obey all these commands I am giving you. Show love to the LORD your God by walking in His ways and holding tightly to Him.” – Deuteronomy 11:22 [NLT]
Sometimes it seems like we try to make things difficult, like we cause things to be complicated. The Bible tells us to not add or subtract anything from the Word of God. We are to “just obey.” This seems like a simple command, but again, we like to overcomplicate things.
Some people attempt to add to the Word of God to require people to jump through hoops to try to fulfill the commands. The Pharisees were big on doing this, and kept a whole collection of additional commands to make it hard for everyone. This kept them in control. Other people like to subtract from the law of God. When we remove things that God says, it becomes easier for us to follow; however, we then have drawn a line in the sand and changed something we were never permitted to change. If we have removed some of the law, we are not following the law.
God wants us to obey. We do not need to add anything to make it difficult for some people to fully obey. We also shouldn’t subtract anything to try and make it easier. As we remove items, we distort what God set. Today, just obey. Don’t try to add or subtract. Only obey.
“Do not add to or subtract from these commands I am giving you. Just obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you.” – Deuteronomy 4:2 [NLT]
We are very self-centered. Take a photo with a group of people, and surely you will first seek out yourself in the picture when you first look at it. It’s in our nature. Even when we think of our faith walk, we think it is all about us.
Your faith is not simply your faith. Whether you realize it or accept it, your faith life is on display to anyone who sets their eyes on you. With each step you take, you have the opportunity to point to Jesus. As you live out your life, if you are walking with a firm faith, people will notice. People will question. People will desire to know why things are different for you. But this cannot happen when you are not walking in faithful obedience. This cannot happen if you do not demonstrate your faith. The question at that point is—are you truly a person of faith? Faith is trust in action. I can believe something, but trusting is beyond simple belief.
Paul speaks about a group of people who had faith that was spoken about “all over the world.” What?!? All over the world they were talking of their faith? YES! The people were faithfully obedient and thus, others came to hear of Jesus Christ because of their faith. Today, consider who is talking about your faith. Is anyone talking about your faith? If I spoke with your family and friends today, would they mention your faith? Are there people who have not yet heard about Jesus, because you are not ready to share your faith? Remember, your faith is not all about you. Someone needs to hear your testimony. May today be the day you share what Jesus is doing for you!
“Let me say first that I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith in Him is being talked about all over the world.” – Romans 1:8 [NLT]
Today’s verse is one of the most quoted from the book of Psalms for good reason. The request to create a clean heart is because the heart is defiled with sin. We can easily understand that our hearts are defiled and need cleansing. He alone can cleanse us.
The Hebrew word used for “loyal,” “faithful,” “right,” and “steadfast,” is translated as “to be firm.” It is associated with correcting, and putting right. To renew a loyal spirit is a request to help the Psalmist stand firm and not succumb to temptation again—a spirit that is prepared and ready, a spirit that is established and immovable, one that moves forward in faithful obedience.
What the Psalmist is asking God for is for a heart that is pure, undefiled from sin—for God to cleanse all that was defiled. He then is asking God to help him to have a renewed spirit, a strong and faithful spirit that can stand firm so he no longer succumbs to temptation—so that he no longer goes against God, but instead follows in faithful obedience. Today, let us pray for a clean heart and a right spirit. Let us walk in faithful obedience.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.” – Psalm 51:10 [NLT]
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]
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]
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]
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]
Responsibilities are important. Each of us have a different list of responsibilities. Some lists are more demanding. Some lists contain items that have an eternal impact. In Luke 12, we read that those who are given much will be demanded much—those who have been trusted with much will be asked for much in return. Talk about responsibility. This is something we can see in action when you look at every area of life. The older child typically has more responsibilities in the home. Those in management have more responsibilities than the team they manage. Those in an advanced placement class in school have more responsibilities than other students.
Consider everything you have available – your time, your talents, your treasures. Consider the opportunity you have (job position, connections, etc.). Consider the background you have – the experience. Consider all of these things. Now, read the verse again. You have been given this much. Are you meeting the demand? You have been trusted with this much. What has been your response? I’ve had people ask why I pour myself so much into Kingdom work. Peter said this: “For we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20 HCSB). I cannot stop speaking about Jesus. He has called me to speak. He has put His Word in my mouth. After I finish preaching, if I don’t feel like I poured out my all, I am pretty hard on myself. Why did I hold back? What kept me from pouring out everything? Why didn’t I let Him take the message further? These are the things that go through my head.
This verse from Luke is a great reminder to me. I have been given much. If I don’t pour myself out for Jesus, I am giving Him mere leftovers. I have been entrusted with so much; this is not something I take lightly. Friends, today look at what you have been given, what you have been entrusted—are you pouring yourself out? Are you using all you can for His work, for His kingdom? Are you complaining because of the great work before you? Do you have your responsibilities out of whack because of other things you think should have priority? Have you accepted the mission—your great work through Christ—because you want nothing more than to serve your Lord? Or are you on your own mission using the tools Jesus has given you to build up your own kingdom here on earth?
“But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” – Luke 12:48 [NIV]
I was just the victim of an underground bee attack again. Two years in a row! Thankfully I did not find myself being rushed to the hospital with hives. Like last year, I sustained numerous stings which resulted in intense swelling. A friend asked me why I won’t leave the bees alone, as if I was purposely trying to bother them. Underground bees are just that – underground. You don’t know where they are at until you have already agitated them by disrupting their nest area.
Once you realize that you have discovered an underground nest, it is too late. They all come out in formation and start attacking all extremities. But as I said, you don’t know it until you find yourself in a mix of bees. It is the same way with sin sometimes. It’s not like you walk forward and follow a particular direction where there is this sign marked “Beware Sin Ahead,” and you cross on through. Many times you do not even realize that you are venturing in the “sin zone.” At times you slowly creep in despite the Spirit’s convictions, and you do not truly understand the impact the sin will have on your life until you are in the mix. Sometimes the devil says, “Just this once won’t hurt.” What a lie!
Today may the Holy Spirit reveal and convict you of any ongoing sin in your life. May you have ears to hear and a heart that follows. May the Spirit strengthen you to face any temptations that come your way. May you show grace and truth in love to those who are caught in the mix of sin, and pray that they may repent and turn to Christ.
Read Psalm 51.