Tag Archives: obedience

Job 22-24; Eliphaz, Final Thoughts

Something Eliphaz said right off the bat here in his last effort to “fix” Job has me thinking. Here’s what he said in 22:2-3:

Can a man be of benefit to God? Can even a wise man benefit Him? What pleasure would it give the Almighty if you were righteous? What would He gain if your ways were blameless?

Can I be of benefit to God? Can I cause Him to feel pleasure? Some people think because God is Sovereign that means He is self-sufficient and does not need anything whatsoever. I am one of those people because I know that at any time God has the ability to do anything and everything He wants. He is able.

But I also see in Scripture His self-imposed need of us. He created us with the ability to choose because He knows choosing to love someone is sweeter than being forced to love. (which, as I think about it, isn’t really love at all) God needs us to choose Him in order for Him to feel the joy that comes with that decision.

We tend to shy away from saying God “needs” anything because that implies imperfection. But if the “need” is self-imposed and can be overridden at any time, there is no weakness or imperfection. God chose to limit Himself when He chose to create people with the ability to choose Him or reject Him.

There’s a flip side to this coin. My choices can and do grieve Him when I choose to disobey, or when I participate in ungodly behavior. I cause God to feel pain when I turn my back on Him.

Our character, our choices, our love of God is important to Him. I think He cares about what we are wearing today. Every word that comes out of our mouths, every action, every step we take is important to God. Why? Because we are important to God. Because He cares about each of us, personally, intimately, lovingly.

God delights in fellowshipping with you when you choose Him. It’s a benefit to Him, and the reason you were created in the first place.

God delights in our obedience. When we choose to walk with the Lord, the benefit to God isn’t only personal. When we obey Him He can use us to reach out to lost people who come our way. We can be beneficial to God in the work of sharing the Gospel, and seeing souls won for eternity. That would give Him pleasure upon pleasure! What would He gain if we are blameless, Eliphaz asks? So much!

So much of what I have been taught centers around the benefits for me when I follow the Lord. And there are many! He gives me forgiveness, He directs my path, He loves me, He provides for all I need, and on and on and on…

Today I am considering what I bring Him, when I love Him like He deserves.

I am humbled to think that God might have need of me. Because it goes without say, I need Him more. I want to bring God pleasure today by the choices I make, by my thoughts and actions. I want to benefit Him in His work, and not be a hinderance. I want to bring Him joy, because He has filled my life with so much joy.

Dearest Heavenly Father, I am blown away at the thought that there is something you need me to do today. You need me to choose You, to represent You, to talk about You, to show unsaved people what being forgiven by You looks like. God, more than anything today I want to bring you pleasure, I want to benefit Your work in the lives of people around me. Thank you for the privilege. May my life be a pleasure to You.

 

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Nehemiah 10-13; Worship and Obedience

Well, that’s a downer. The wall had been built agains all odds. There was a revival among the Jews, hearts once again turned toward God. People were determined to obey the Word of the Lord. And a joyful ceremony was held to dedicate the completed wall that so many had worked so hard on.

The enemy defeated! The wall restored! Sins forgiven! Choirs singing! People worshiping God together. Now that’s a happy ending.

Then there is chapter 13. Things aren’t always as they appear to be. The emotional worship experience didn’t translate into real life obedience.

The Bible demonstrates that our emotions are engaged in worship. We see accounts of people dancing in the streets, shouting praise, singing songs. We also see people grieved over sin, tearing their clothes, falling on their faces, and wailing as they worship.

We don’t turn off our emotions when we worship. But if experiencing worship is your goal, if going to church to get your weekly shot in the arm is your motivation, stay home.

First of all, worship is about God. It’s not about you. But secondly, we need to be reminded that those worship services end, and the daily grind begins. That worship service is meant for us to stop, focus on God, set aside self and care and heartache, and give what is due our Holy God. Then we continue our worship as we obey Him in the day to day.

It’s Christmas morning. I pray you and your family will be blessed as you celebrate Jesus’ birth. And I hope you’ll take time to set aside the busy-ness of the day, the laughter, and presents, and worship that baby who grew to be the man who died for you.

And may your worship translate into obedience for Jesus’ sake and for His glory.

Nehemiah 4-6; Fighting the Good Fight

The Jews worked fervently to get the wall built. But they never took their eyes off the enemy, and were always armed for battle. They recognized the enemy’s cunning attempts to thwart God’s work. But the wall was built in 52 days, in spite of the enemy’s best effort to stop it.

I think Christians working in churches are doing a pretty good job of getting things done. Outreach programs, inviting atmospheres, Bible studies, and child-care. I’m not so sure we’re doing a great job at arming ourselves against the enemy.

Read these chapters in Nehemiah and you will see Satan’s tactics; the offer of friendship, deception, fear, lies, etc. The enemy even “got in” to the inner circle by marrying the daughter of a prominent Jew. The Jew’s enemy was relentless.

And so is ours. God seems to be asking me to check my own battle stance. Am I busy doing things for the Lord, with one eye on my enemy? Or am I assuming that the enemy can’t touch me as long as I’m working for God? Have I put on the armor of God, do I wield the Sword of the Spirit? Am I studying God’s Word so that I understand Satan’s battle plan, can recognize his tactics, and fight when his arrows are pointed at me?

I must remember that Satan’s goal is to destroy the Church one soul at a time. May I fight the good fight as I do the things God asks of me. May you do the same.

Nehemiah 1-3; It Starts At Home

The conditions of Jerusalem grieved Nehemiah. His reactions to the news of that great city, reduced to rubble, was to fast and pray. His sorrow was a “sadness of the heart,” as observed by King Artaxerxes.

Nehemiah left the comforts of living in the palace of the Persian king, and went to Jerusalem to see what could be done to rectify the situation there. There are so many spiritual truths tucked into this precious book: How to go about beginning a project, how to handle opposition, what a healthy church looks like. This book is rich.

Here’s what came to mind this morning as I thought about these three chapters: So often I hear people lament the condition of the world, the corruption in our government, the immorality, the blatant sin, the disrespect for God in our society. I hear people grieved at the condition of the Church, bemoaning the fact the Church is losing its influence. I believe some are as grieved about the state of things today, as Nehemiah was at the state of Jerusalem.

Nehemiah went to Jerusalem, rallied the people to action, and the job got done. And here’s how:

People took care of the conditions in their own back yards.

Yes, the wall was rubble all around Jerusalem, an overwhelming task for any individual. But each person picked up a shovel and cleaned up the part of the wall closest to them.

Yes, the world is in sad repair. Yes, the task of cleaning it up seems too monumental. But I believe God would have us understand if we want our world repaired, it has to start at home.

You aren’t responsible for the world’s condition. But you are responsible for the condition of your home, which occupies a portion in the world.

Parents, do you hold your children to a Biblical standard of behavior? Kids, do you read the Bible and long to be right before God? Are you obedient? Adults, do you participate in drunkenness, pornography, vulgar language? Are you a watered-down version of what God demands?

Let’s not just shake our heads at the depraved condition of our world. We can change this world, one back yard at a time.

2 Chronicles 29-32; You Are Invited

King Hezekiah did some house cleaning. He not only rid the temple of any pagan worship, he re-established worship of the One True God. Many Jews tirelessly worked to restore what had been lost due to the disobedience of former kings, and the Jewish ancestors who followed them.

A couple of things stood out to me as I read these chapters this morning. One is the Passover feast was delayed because the priests had not done what they needed to do to consecrate themselves for the work of the Lord. The church leaders seem to have been dragging their feet. Why, when so many Jews were tearing down idols, and getting the temple ready for worship? Why didn’t the priests get ready, too?

We can only guess. Maybe they were working with the people, restoring the temple and just lost track of time. Maybe they were holding off to see how far this transformation would go before it got stopped in its tracks. Maybe they were reluctant to let go of their own idolatry. What we do know is, King Hezekiah was not fooling around. And he did not let the priests off the hook. They eventually went through the consecration requirements so the Passover could be held.

It makes me wonder if, on occasion, our church leaders might not be dragging their feet, too. Even pastors and elders get comfortable. Even pastors and elders can have sin in their lives they aren’t confessing. Could this be one of the reason so many churches in our country are closing their doors?

Now before we start pointing fingers and laying blame, the other thing I noticed is that when the invitation to come to celebrate the first Passover observed in years, some people blew it off and even made fun of the ones who brought the good news. Maybe they thought observing Passover was “old school”, or maybe someone used the word “tradition”, so they turned up their noses.

Once again it would seem the people had become comfortable in their sin, and weren’t about to change. Well, some of them felt that way.

But a large crowd did gather in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Sacrifices for sin were offered, and God was worshiped like He demands. Thousands of animals were slain, and the feast was extended an additional week. The peoples’ hearts were turned to God, and God blessed them for it.

I can’t help but think of the ones who refused the invitation. Did they care that they were missing God’s blessings? Did it occur to them that they were disobeying God? They received the same invitation everyone else received. They just didn’t accept.

I come away from reading these chapters today with a realization that I have the responsibility and the privilege to extend God’s invitation to the people in my world to come and worship Him. I must first ready myself for the work of the Lord. I need to address sin in my own life, I must allow God to clothe me with Jesus’ righteousness. And I must yield myself to His will, trusting that He will be my strength in the mission.

Then I need to get out there and deliver the invitation, regardless what people might think of me. Yes, I believe Jesus is God in human form, that God has established only one way in which we may come to Him, that Jesus died to pay what my sins demand, and that I am saved completely and eternally through the precious blood of Jesus. It is a gift of God, it’s grace, and it’s mine from a repentant heart.

You might think that’s old school, that you are enlightened so therefore have a more inclusive approach to God. You might snicker and roll your eyes when I tell you you are a sinner in need of a Savior, that your eternal soul will experience the worst possible pain beyond imagine if you refuse the invitation God is extending to you. You might even write me off as a lunatic when I tell you your decision concerning Christ is the single most important thing in your life now and forever.

But I’ll extend the invitation anyway. I pray you’ll join us in worshiping God as His child, saved by grace.

2 Chronicles 25-28; It’s None Of Your Business

Have you ever been obviously blessed by God, and thought, “Wow. I don’t deserve that”? First of all, that should be our response every day. Every breath we breathe, every beat of our hearts, are blessings we don’t deserve.

But I trust you have enjoyed the direct blessings of obedience, too. Maybe God lays on your heart to give sacrificially to your church, then your boss gives you a raise. Or you visit that cranky neighbor when God nudges you, and you have the privilege of leading that person to the Lord. The Bible is full of examples when obedience results in great blessing.

But before you get too satisfied with yourself because of the amazing ways God has blessed you, read 2 Chronicles 28. Israel had just had victory over their brothers in Judah. 120,000 soldiers in Judah were killed, hostages and plunder taken. But the Israeli army, on their way home after God had blessed them so dramatically, were met by the prophet Obed. Listen to what he said to them:

Because the Lord, the God of your fathers, was angry with Judah, he gave them into your hand… But aren’t you also guilty of sins against the Lord your God? (verses 9-10)

In other words, listen up boys. You aren’t “all that.” You were blessed because God was disciplining Judah. Don’t get too comfortable. You are just as guilty as they. And God always punishes disobedience.

Sometimes we might be tempted to be jealous when some jerk seems to get all the breaks, while you struggle. And you’re so much better than he.

What God reminded me today is that I don’t know the whole story like He does. How God is dealing with someone is none of my business. God draws people to Himself through good times, and bad times. And He never lets me in on His methods of the heart.

If I am focused on someone else’s fortune, or if I become too prideful with God’s blessings in my own life, I need to brace myself. Sin is knocking at the door. I’d better confess it, ask God to forgive it, and be the person He wants ME to be. Anything else is none of my business.

 

 

2 Chronicles 14-16; Not A Happy Ending

I hate it when a movie or book ends badly. The star-crossed lovers remain star-crossed, or the hero dies, or Rhett walks away from Scarlett. Have you ever wanted to throw your shoe at the TV or chuck your book into the fireplace? I have. In fact, if I wasn’t holding the Holy Word in my hand, I might want to toss it out the window after reading Asa’s story.

Asa, son of Abijah, king of Judah, was a good king. Asa did what was good and right in the eye of the Lord his God. (14:2) And because of his obedience, no one wanted to go to war with him during three years of his reign. God gave Asa and the Jewish nation rest. The blessings of obedience!

But something happened in the thirty-sixth year of his reign. For whatever reason, King Asa struck out alone, forsaking God. Did he get too comfortable in his relationship with God? Did he become prideful? Was Asa more interested in what people thought than what God demanded?

Scripture doesn’t tell us why. It only tells us this man of God chose badly, and paid consequences for it.

Dear one, guard your heart. Listen to what God told Asa, “The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.” (15:2)

Hear him say the same thing to you today.