Tag Archives: obeying

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]

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Fat of Rams

Saul disobeyed the command of the Lord to utterly destroy the Amalekites. He saved the best sheep, oxen, calves and lambs. Anything that was good he kept. Anything that he saw as worthless he destroyed. But God commanded everything was to be utterly destroyed.

Saul said the best was spared to sacrifice to the Lord, but that was not what God requested. His disobedience he tried to justify with sacrifice. Samuel said what pleases God is obedience and submission more so than sacrifices. As Hosea 6:6 states: “I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know Me more than I want burnt offerings” (NLT). Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15 ESV).

What God wants from each of us is for us to know Him, to love Him and to obey Him. If we love Him, we will want to know Him more and to obey Him. If we know Him, we will love Him more and want to obey His Word. Sacrifice is important. Sacrifice is part of obedience. But the fat of rams is nothing compared to a loving, obedient heart for God and an intimate relationship and growing personal knowledge of Christ Jesus.

“But Samuel replied, ‘What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams’” – 1 Samuel 15:22 [NLT]

Living the Life Set Out for You

God has a great plan for your life. Do you believe it? It is true. He has a great plan for each and every life. He is the great Creator and He has something exciting and special for each one of us. Don’t look to someone else’s life to define you, to copy, to guide your path. Only you can live your life and God has designed a plan just perfectly for you. He alone can guide your steps in this journey.
God responded to Solomon’s prayers with a guarantee and a warning. He promised a solid foundation for Solomon’s rule and a descendant always on the throne for Israel. What was required was to live in God’s presence, to be pure in heart, “living the life (God) set out.” This means the life that God planned for him to live, being in God’s will.
God knows your full potential. He created you and knows what will be beneficial and what will deprive you. He understands you more than you understand yourself. There are moments when we believe we know better, when we only see so much of the plan and do not think it will work out as well as something else we could come up with ourselves. God has a beautiful life set out for you. Walk in faith and trust in His will for your life. If you don’t, you might be missing out on something you could never even have imagined. Yes, His plans are that good!

“And GOD said to him, ‘I’ve listened to and received all your prayers, your ever-so-passionate prayers. I’ve sanctified this Temple that you have built: My Name is stamped on it forever; my eyes are on it and my heart in it always. As for you, if you live in my presence as your father David lived, pure in heart and action, living the life I’ve set out for you, attentively obedient to my guidance and judgments, then I’ll back your kingly rule over Israel, make it a sure thing on a solid foundation. The same guarantee I gave David your father I’m giving you: ‘You can count on always having a descendant on Israel’s throne.’’”
-1 Kings 9:3-5 [MSG]

 

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Not Beyond Your Reach

In Deuteronomy 30, there is a discussion on the choice—the choice between life and death. The command given is said to be “not too difficult” and “not beyond your reach.” Further, it says that the message is on our lips and in our hearts. Too often we do not consider how everything is easily there for us.

Rather than feeling so many things are far from our reach, we should come to understand that things are not out of reach for us. God does not make it impossible for us to come to Him; rather He gives us an easy path to Him. Jesus took care of it all—we simply take a step.

There are many steps that follow; however, we need to focus on the here and now. God has called us to return to Him and it is not beyond our reach. He has called us to obey Him and it is not beyond our reach. He has provided us a way to salvation –Jesus – and it is not beyond our reach. God does not aim to make everything difficult. God does not aim to cause you struggles. Live today understanding that “it is not beyond your reach.”

“This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you to understand, and it is not beyond your reach.” – Deuteronomy 30:11 [NLT]

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God Actions

There are times in life when we should stand still and times we should get going. It is best to have God actions—actions taken in obedience to God. There are moments when we rush into something when we are to wait. There are other moments when we wait and wait, when God wants us to move and take action.

In Exodus 14, we are told of the escape through the Red Sea—one of the most well-known and retold events. In verse 13, Moses tells the people to “just stand still and watch the LORD rescue.” Moses was trying to calm down the Israelites so they could be focused on God alone. They stood still. Then in verse 15, God responds. He says to “tell the people to get moving.” First they stood still and waited, soon after they were commanded to move.

The key to this all is that they were focused on obeying God. We can have God actions as well. Continue to focus on Him and walk in obedience. There will be times we are told to stand still and times we are told to move forward. Distinguishing between the options only comes through focus on Him.

But Moses told the people, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.’” – Exodus 14:13-14 [NLT]

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Away with the Noise

“Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.” – Amos 5:23 [NIV]

This verse probably is not one that could be found on an inspirational Christian verse card to be given away as a gift to share Jesus. It might be hard to read God saying “away” in regard to the songs you sing. The word “noise” stands out to me, because noise is typically a word we say when we don’t like the sound something makes—when something is troubling us. The car is making a noise so we take it to the shop. The kids are making noise so I cannot hear the person on the telephone. The floorboard is making some noise because it’s out of place. The computer is making a loud noise because it’s been used hard over the years.

So why would God not want the songs we sing to Him? Why would He call our songs noise, as if they are painful to His ears? Like today, the people in Amos’ time thought it was not so bad to sing to God in sinful disobedience. The belief was and still today is that even if we walk in disobedience, that our songs and sacrifices will be sufficient and acceptable.

Yet again and again we read that God desires love and obedience over sacrifices.  We read in 1 Samuel 15:22: “But Samuel replied: ‘Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams’” (NIV).  Hosea 6:6 tells us what God wants: “I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings” (NLT). First we must love and obey, and then we would want to sing praises out of that love. If we have a heart for the Lord, the rest will follow. We sing with noise when we come before Him without a heart devoted for Him, in willful disobedience. He wants you to know Him. He wants to have a relationship with you. He doesn’t want to be a small part of your life—He wants to be your life. Today, are you offering Him you or are you offering Him some noise?

 

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Run First, Pray Later

The story of Jonah and the big fish is surely told so very often that it has lost its kick for some people. We like to shake our heads at Jonah, and some people even chuckle at his attempt to run from God. The sad thing is that we are all like Jonah at some point in our lives for we all have moments when we try the “run first and pray later.” Who has not liked what God was asking and held off and did something else? Who thought their way was better than God’s way? Who was directed to do something, but waited to do it or never did it at all? Who does not even listen to God at all to know the plan He has for them?

In Jonah 2, the first verse says, “Then Jonah prayed.” He was already inside the fish. THEN he prayed. See he ran from God, took off in a boat, and the boat was going all over the place in the water. He could have prayed then. I wonder if he foolishly thought perhaps that he could still make it away. He was not praying, and yet the people on board feared they would sink to their doom. The waters had to be rough and showed no sign of letting up, but Jonah went to sleep.

Now when the people tossed Jonah overboard and he is swallowed, perhaps then it was a reality check. I guess I’m not able to hide from God. Perhaps he recognized that there was no hope to get away now. Since there is no hope for him to do something on his own, for him to get away, for his plan to work— THEN he prayed. He got himself into trouble, THEN he prayed. He disobeyed, THEN he prayed.

We run first and then pray later too often. We make our decisions without asking God for His will. We think that by chance we will be able to do something on our own. We hope that our way will work out. When we realize we need God, when things are falling apart, when we do not have everything in place– then we want God to help. It is part of our human nature. We sadly think we know best. For some reason, we think that we have a better plan.

Disobedience is something we all partake in, but there’s hope. As Jonah noted in verse 2:2, God heard him and answered. He goes even further than simply listening, and saves Jonah from the mess he got himself into from not following Him in the first place. He forgives him and helps rescue him so that Jonah can do what he was initially supposed to do.

Life is filled with decisions. We can chose to run first and pray later, or we can decide to pray first so there is no need to run. I do not know your life story, but I know that my own story gives me example after example of the times when I went out for a run, only to come back to pray later. Without God, there is no satisfaction in life. He knows our needs; He has designed our purpose. With praying first and seeking His will, there is no need for our legs to run. Instead, I find that when we do this, instead of our legs getting the work, we are lifting our voices in praise. His plan is so good. He is so good.

“But Samuel replied: ‘Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.’”
– 1 Samuel 15:22 [NIV]