“If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:11
Holy Spirit, whatever decisions and choices I make today help them to be in service and glorification of God. Amen
I read an Instagram post the other day that asked this question: “Are you doing what makes you happy or what glorifies God?” I would venture to say on a day-to-day, hour-by-hour basis we probably lean toward what makes us happy. Sure, when it comes to bigger more difficult decisions, we may seek God’s counsel. But how often when we are choosing what to eat, what to do with our free time, when we go about our chores and errands, before we open the door to enter work or school do we think, what’s God say about this? What could I do in this very situation that would make God happy? What could I say to my spouse/friend/adult child that would sound like a word from the Lord?
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9
We can take this piece of scripture and use it as a sort of “out” when it comes to our everyday lives being aligned with God. We can never know all that God is thinking so we just go about our lives as best we can, right? That may be true if we never study scripture or pray for the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom. Because when we do those two things, God will constantly be on our minds and lips. He may even want that mundane day you have planned turned into something that glorifies Him.
We will never be fully satisfied with making our own choices about our lives. It may appear that some people who have fame and fortune without God “have it all.” As Christ followers we know true satisfaction, however, comes from the only constant thing in the world – God. He knows what’s best for us. He knows what will work in our lives to glorify the kingdom.
Friend, when we change our daily thinking to God’s plan, not ours, we will also enjoy the fruits of the spirit – peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness. And that sounds a lot better than anything I might’ve planned for my day.
"…encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory." 1 Thessalonians 2:12
“Jesus what would I be without your red letter words? Without the revealing words about our Father God? Thank you Lord, for each time I open my Bible that your desire is to teach me about your kingdom and glory. Amen”
For many years I sat in a church pew without ever cracking open a Bible. I didn’t even open it when the pastor told us what page to turn to – because the scripture was up on the screen. My own Bible sat gathering inches of dust. It wasn’t until just a couple years ago, when I was unable to attend church, that I realized all the teaching needed was available right at my fingertips.
“..my friends, stand over this volume, and admire its authority. This is no common book. It is not the sayings of the sages of Greece; here are not the utterances of philosophers of past ages. If these words were written by man, we might reject them; but oh, let me think the solemn thought — that this book is God’s handwriting, that these words are God’s.”
Charles Spurgeon on the Bible
How glorious is it that God – that omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being – gave us all we need to know about Him and how to best have a relationship with Him? Not only did He write down what we need to know He sent Jesus to reveal even more! If we needed to summarize the purpose of Jesus’ brief physical walk on this earth it might be to say so that we could be pulled even closer in this relationship. To know the one who created us like we know our own hand. To want to be so close to Him that we become one with Him. To know how simple it is to receive His full mercy and grace by just saying, “yes I do and I will.” Throughout Jesus’ life He pointed us back to the Father and forward to the Holy Spirit. Reminding us who sent Him and why.
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[ may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."2 Timothy 3:16-17
Yes, my friends, there’s still a lot about God and the Trinity that are a mystery. His thoughts and ways are greater than ours. But sometimes we just need to shrug and say, “maybe that’s not for me to know just now.” Until then we can lift up our voices in praise for the gift of His Word. It shouldn’t be taken for granted. For most of our human existence we didn’t have this gift widely available. The Bible is now translated into about 1,500 languages. And for that we should give glory!
As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. Luke 9:51
Hi Friends! It’s been a while since my last post – which ended the 30 More Days of Praise series. I’ve been praying for some time for direction about my next series. And I finally received a push a few weeks ago to write about standing strong in our faith, in the face of adversity. There’s a lot going on out in our world that pushes back against the message of Jesus. From twisting God’s view of agape-type love to seeking comfort from our fears through worldly means, we Christians are in a tough battle. Tough, but not a new one.
When we read the New Testament books, a common thread throughout is adversity. The saints were constantly up against the threat of death, torture, and imprisonment. Much of Jesus’ time here on earth was pushing up against, not the political world, but the religious one. It was the supposed followers of God who called for Jesus’ crucifixion. And it was his supposed loyal followers that abandoned Him at the time of His greatest need.
And once the twelve received the Holy Spirit and realized their holy callings it only got worse. As word spread and followers grew so did false teachers and strife amongst congregations. And each apostle either found themselves facing a murderous mob or a lonely prison. Yet the Word endured.
On the face of it all it seems improbable. How could a tiny group of men (and a few women) from thousands of years ago be the ones who today help us to know and understand our glorious God, His son Jesus and the Holy Spirit? How could the Word of God have been passed down through the ages with only slight changes in translations? Because God is God. And, because God is resolute in His love for us, He has made sure His message continued and will continue to educate, inspire, and comfort us for all time.
And that brings me to where I am today. In a recent visit to my mother in law, I mentioned how I haven’t been writing lately. And she said, “Oh how I miss my Emboldened each day. I just am amazed at how much and what you write.” It made me realize there are real people out there behind my computer screen reading my messages of God. And I owe you an apology and explanation.
You see, as always, God put on my heart just the right message at the right time. To be Resolute in Christ. To stand firm in His promises. To be assured that He loves us. To know without a doubt that He is with us, through thick and thin. I need that message right now. For the last two months I’ve been suffering through a medical condition that perplexes my doctors. My ears are under extreme pressure and I’ve lost much of my hearing in my left ear. I am in constant pain and so often can barely focus on the basic work I need to accomplish – much less sit and write.
I have pleaded with God to relieve me. I have cried to God. I have argued with God. I have questioned God – even just today after yet another fruitless doctor appointment. I’ve been so weak at times I’ve wanted to turn my back on Him. But He pulls me back each day. He is resolute and I need to be the same.
So, this is my first step to working through my pain, my brain fog and to be honest my self-pity. I am a Jesus follower, just like the early disciples, who needs to trust God and obey His Word. He has given me my marching orders and I choose to engage in the battle for the saints. I am resolute.
Join me September 20-October 22 as we explore the many passages in the Bible that show us how to be Resolute in Christand to live an uncompromising Christian life.
We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. Hebrews 6:12
If today’s verse sounds familiar, it should! The King James’ version was our stepping off point for this new series – “That ye be not slothful…” Remembering that the Greek word for slothful, nothros, means slow or sluggish, Paul urges us to grab hold of our inheritance and be diligent to the very end (Heb. 11-12).
What does this look like in our everyday lives?
I had an acquaintance tell me the other day that she would like her church group to start back in studying the Bible. You see, with the chaos from the pandemic their family lives have been turned upside down. Kids are constantly home and constantly needing help with getting the education our schools have neglected to provide. And so studying the Word has fallen by the wayside. They are waiting for a “better time” to reboot their studies.
Hours for the world! Moments for Christ!
But if we are to be honest if it weren’t the pandemic, for many Christian believers there would be something else keeping them from regularly attending church, going (prepared) to Bible Study, sitting quietly studying His Word. For my family it once was youth sports. We abandoned church for softball tournaments. We saw it as a season that would eventually change and God probably didn’t really mind.
Had I truly valued what God wants for me I would have realized that during that season I especially needed His Word. It’s when our lives seem most chaotic that we need to grasp hold of God. He is our center, our Rock, our plumb line. He puts the swirling world and all its stresses into perspective.
The world has the best of our time and our prayer closets the leftover fragments.
So, when Paul reminds us to not be lazy or slothful or sluggish with our obedience to Jesus he especially means during difficult times. To not turn to the flesh for solutions and comfort. He chastises us to finish strong by keeping close to God.
I’ve invited many friends and acquaintances to participate in Bible study. And every time I hear multiple people say they are too busy with “life.” Work, family, hobbies, other obligations take precedence. I get it. I’ve been there many, many times. But when I look back to those times I do so with a measure of regret. Because those times are gone forever. Times when I could’ve really used the Word of God to comfort me and to reignite my faith. There are so many instances where I needed God’s wisdom to make better choices – both for myself and my family.
We do not forget to eat. We do not forget to be diligent in business. We do not forget to go to our beds to rest. But we often forget to wrestle with God in prayer and to spend long periods in consecrated fellowship with our Father and our God.
Our days are numbered here on earth. Christ sacrificed Himself to a horrible death so that we may have a close relationship with God and the gift of salvation. When our ledger is opened at the end will it show that we have made God the primary focus of our time or will He be a footnote?
Anyone who runs ahead and does
not continue in the teaching of
Christ does not have God; whoever
continues in the teaching has
both the Father and the Son.2 John 9
We hear a lot of “my truth,” “your truth” these days. What that really means is telling someone that their experience of a situation makes the facts of that situation flexible. The use of this term makes it clear you aren’t to question someone’s opinion. For example, we all know how human life is created. When a human sperm fertilizes a human egg, the new life begins its process toward a fully created human baby. Those are facts. The circumstances surrounding that creation of new life may be slightly different for one person or another. But those circumstances don’t create a “new truth” about the creation of life.
We have now entered into the teachings found in the small letter by John (2 John) to a woman, whom scholars believe to be a home church host. In it, he reminds her that there are self-professed “teachers of the word” who have either added to or distorted Jesus’ words. He cautions her to not even allow people like that into her home for fear that people will be led astray.
There is a frightening movement in our time that says we can’t agree on even basic truths. In the world of “church,” entire denominations have turned away from scripture by voting on accepting “new truths.” I’m not sure what the end goal is behind this movement except chaos. And as Christians we know who the king of chaos is – Satan.
“If ‘moving forward’ leads us away from the doctrines of the person and work of Jesus Christ then that is dangerous.”
Warren Wiersbe on 2 John
I had a great discussion with a friend about the Gnostic texts found at Nag Hammadi. Once the apostles trained more and more missionaries, the Word spread far and wide. But that also meant the Word of God got more and more distorted. In fact, all the letters written by the apostles and included in the Bible have some focus on sticking with the truth of the Gospel and Jesus’ words. Sure there were folks that simply misunderstood the message but there were also those that craved power and the possibility of making money off new believers (something that still happens today!)
I’m always surprised when I’m in faith-type discussions with fellow Christians and a statement about God or Jesus is said that just doesn’t find its truth in the Bible. For some, studying and reading the Bible just isn’t a priority. Yet those same Christians go out into the world professing to know and understand its truths. Here’s a few you might recognize:
“Jesus is a socialist.”
“Jesus says to love and accept everyone no matter what.”
“The Bible doesn’t have a problem with homosexuality (or any kind of sex outside marriage).”
“The Bible hates women.”
“I love Jesus but there are lots of different ways to salvation and God.”
“The Bible teaches us to hate rich people and the accumulation of wealth.”
“If you pray hard enough God will answer you.”
“If God doesn’t answer you then you obviously have done something wrong.”
“The Bible teaches that women are less respected than men.”
“Jesus was just a man.”
“Christians aren’t supposed to express their beliefs if in a government job.”
“Christians are supposed to obey the government no matter what.”
“Faith should be private.”
“Sharing the gospel is like being a used car salesman and isn’t something we should do.”
“Jesus wants you to give up everything you own and follow him.”
A few years ago, the denomination that I’ve been a member of for about 20 years authorized same-sex marriages and voted to divest from Israel. I wrote to the leadership and made a simple request. “Show me where your decision is based on Biblical truth.” And what I got in response was crickets. Because, “who do I think I am questioning those in the know?” But the great thing about Jesus is He brought the Word to all of us.
“I am the vine; you are the branches.
If you remain in me and I in you, you
will bear much fruit; apart from me
you can do nothing.”John 15:5
In other words, our job is to stay tightly attached to Jesus. Stay anchored in His Holy Word. If we could even stick with the basic message of Jesus day in and day out, we would be victorious in living out the one, most important truth – that God sent His son to give us redemption for our sins. And our acceptance of this truth leads us to behave like saved people, attached to the great vine.
Keep this Book of the Law always
on your lips; meditate on it day
and night, so that you may be careful
to do everything written in it.
Then you will be prosperous and
Throughout the Bible we are told to have His Holy Word on our lips, on our hearts and on our minds. How do we do that? For many it stops at going to church occasionally. But what my BSGs (Bible study girls) have discovered is that to truly know and understand the great truths of the Bible is to be immersed in His Word. To truly study on it, meditate on it, sing it, speak it and even defend it. And then it becomes imprinted on our hearts and minds. Too many of us go to the once a week lecture in the lecture hall and then fail to do the assigned homework.
If our homes and churches are to be true to Christ and oppose false teachers, we must know the truth.
Warren Wiersbe on 2 John
There is no true love apart from the truth of God. He sets us on the right, good and loving path. Love, because we know the truth, becomes action.
Stand firm then with the belt
of truth buckled around your waist,
with the breastplate of righteousness
in place.Ephesians 6:14
We hear a lot about the need to be “progressive” in our faith so that it has relevance – or new “truths.” Yet, when we read the Bible we see the same sinful behavior played out year after year, century after century. The Greek word prokopé (progress) means something different to Christians.
For the believer, this means going forward in sanctification, cutting through obstacles by the Lord’s power.
“By the Lord’s power” – His Spirit and His Word. Progress to a Christian is not about creating a “new truth.” It’s about applying God’s truth to our lives and cutting out our worldly ways. It’s about resting in the knowledge that God is the God of yesterday, today and tomorrow. It’s about having peace that Jesus taught us what is right and good. It’s about knowing that the Holy Spirit guides us through the chaos of this world. It is our responsibility as God’s people to know the truth of His Word.
Now if you obey me fully
and keep my covenant, then
out of all nations you will
be my treasured possession.Exodus 19:5
A prayer to act when directed by God
Dear God, I used to think that my faith was solely a personal, spiritual pursuit. But I keep hearing the word “obey.” I admit that obeying isn’t a comfortable word for me. It implies me giving up something for someone else. In your covenant world however, “obey” just means holding up my end of the bargain. You are always faithful, LORD, and I need to be faithful as well. James said it best when he admonished us to be “doers of the Word, not just hearers.” Sometimes I allow the world to drown out your Holy Spirit who speaks your will to me. Or I worry that I’m not worthy or ready to do your work. But I’m tuning in to you and listening, watching, and anticipating for your direction. Give me opportunities to be your hands, your feet and your heart. I will obey. In your Son’s name I pray this. Amen
One of my BSGs shared with us the other day how she was one of those Christians who claimed to never hear God direct her. That isn’t the case any longer. He’s been nudging her so hard she may almost have a bruise on her back! She shared how she bought 10- $5 coffee gift cards from a locally owned coffee shop. At random she is handing them out telling people, “God has blessed me so much this year and I want to share in the blessing.” She told us of approaching a policeman and giving him a card. He looked surprised. When she walked away, she heard him on his radio exclaiming, “You won’t believe what just happened.”
Isn’t that awesome! I want some of that God-goodness! He speaks to us through His Word, Jesus’ teachings, and the Holy Spirit. He tells us how to treat the poor, the downtrodden, the sick, our neighbor, our loved ones, and the stranger. When we feel that nudge and the nudge feels like God, it can never be wrong.
I love the story of Isaiah and his vision amongst the angels. He first sees himself unworthy of being in the presence of heavenly beings. So, what does he do? He cries out, “For I am a man of unclean lips.” In other words, he prays for help with his unworthiness. And an angel touches his lips with burning coal (ouch) to take away his guilt and sin. And then the real action takes place.
Then I heard the voice of
the Lord saying, “Whom shall
I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”Isaiah 6:8
He “hears to voice of the Lord” make an urgent request. God needs volunteers to spread His message of love and hope. And when we Christians accepted the covenant promise of Jesus, that left us a spot to sign on the dotted line to volunteer for that service.
When others step to the back of the line we need to learn to step forward. Not hang out waiting for thunder and lightning to give us a loud message. We need to be ready to jump at a moment’s notice – not only that, but be so excited to say, “Here am I. Send me!”
I want to wake up every day in anticipation of the work He wants done through me. And I want to go to bed looking forward to another chance tomorrow. I’m listening LORD. Send me.
If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!
To the weak I became weak,
to win the weak. I have become
all things to all people so that
by all possible means I might
save some. I do all this for the
sake of the gospel, that I may
share in its blessings.1 Corinthians 9:22-23
A prayer that I would share the Gospel with others
Merciful God, your Word has healing power for the sick and your Word gives hope to the downtrodden. Your promise of eternity is a promise for all who believe. But I allow my worries and my fears about worldly judgement guide my discipleship. I keep your holy and powerful gifts to myself, not sharing them with those who need them. LORD, our one true purpose here on earth is to serve you and by doing so we are asked, even required, to speak of you to all who will hear. Help me to succumb to your strength and guidance rather than that of the world. I know you will put the right words in my mouth at the right time. I just need to be willing to speak them. Each day place someone who needs to hear from you in front of me. With the strength of the Holy Spirit urging me on I will be faithful in spreading your gospel of Good News. In Jesus name, Amen
A few years ago, my husband and I led a Bible study of about ten Christians. Inevitably the topic of sharing the gospel arose. All but two people felt uncomfortable with this subject. Those two people had their own techniques or gifts when discussing their faith with others. One was able to employ a lot of clean humor while the other was comforting and sincere. The other members of the group, just like other Christians I’ve encountered, didn’t see sharing the gospel as a requirement of being a Jesus follower. And yet, isn’t that what the entirety of the New Testament is really about?
Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signsthat accompanied it.Mark 16:20
One of the group, whose husband loved sharing the gospel, went so far as saying that sharing the gospel was too pushy. Like being a used car salesman. It wasn’t her “right” or “place” to share the message of God’s love and salvation. And while you may scoff at her, she’s not alone.
I had us do an unusual activity that night to try and get people more comfortable about what sharing the gospel really looks like. Hint: it’s not standing on a street corner screaming “the end is near!” I paired everyone up and gave them a scenario to act out with each other – a role play. For example, one pair were to be a couple of longtime friends. Friend A, the non-Christian, was to share a problem that she kept having over and over and over. Nothing she did seemed to work to fix it. And the other, Christian friend B was to share the way her faith had helped in a similar situation. Sounds simple enough. But boy did that make people uncomfortable.
If we cannot figure out how to infuse our everyday conversations with our faith, why do you think God will give us the responsibility of helping Him save a soul?
As we found out in 2020 being a Christian cannot be limited to a Sunday church service. Because that church might be taken away from you at any time. Our friends need to know we turn to prayer when we are in distress. They need to hear us talk about God’s promises. They should see us acting in Christ-like ways. And when we fail to obey God, they must hear us ask for forgiveness. That, my friends, is sharing the gospel. At home, with our neighbors, at work, while we volunteer, at school and wherever we live our lives.
Our personal testimony of God’s grace, love, and forgiveness of sins is the gospel. It’s not a bunch of fancy words. And if the fear of being asked a tough question about God holds you back, just remember we can say the magic words: “I don’t know. I just have faith.”
I for one, am asking God to place people in my life that He can trust that I will speak the words He wants me to speak. We should wake up every day asking Him to give us the opportunity to speak in His name.
If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!
When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees.
A prayer to be deeply knowledgeable about God’s Word
“Holy God, I confess that I have spent much of my Christian life hearing your Word and yet not absorbing and living out our Word. I’ve sat in your Holy presence at church and listened, then walked out of the doors and turned my thoughts solely on selfish and worldly pursuits. So I often, when I hear a conviction through your Word, I think of someone else who needs to hear the message – all the while it is me that needs to accept the correction. I allow my endless “to do lists” to take time away from learning more about you, from soaking my soul with your loving spirit. I allow my “study” of your Word to just be catchy verses that scroll by on social media. LORD, with your teaching and guidance I will proclaim that I am deeply knowledgeable about your character through your Word. I will be your faithful student. I lift this up in Jesus’ name, Amen.”
A year ago, my Bible Study Girls, as I call them, started meeting to study His Word. We couldn’t have ever predicted the tribulations our world went through just two months later. As the Covid pandemic swept through the world, we moved from study to study, different books of the Bible and different topics. We were committed to gleaning something about God’s character, something we could hold on to, from each study. And we discovered a lot about ourselves.
Know also that wisdom islike honey for you: If you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hopewill not be cut off.Proverb 24:14
I finally became committed to setting aside Bible study time in the morning. I found just by starting my day with the Word of God rather than the news or Instagram, set my day on the right footing. But I want more. I want to know everything I can about the Holy Being who created not just me, but every single living thing on this planet – including the planet. I want to know what He expects of me and what I can expect of Him.
We spend a lot of our lives getting to know our family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Some of us even know a lot about people we will never meet like movie stars or famous authors. How about we make that same commitment to knowing God? We may think we know Him but I’d bet you’d be surprised by a thing or two by truly delving into His character.
I want to be a “God Expert.” I want to have His promises, His Word, His love for me imprinted on my heart and mind. I know that in knowing Him I will experience true joy and lasting peace.
If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!
My BSGs (Bible Study girls) are currently doing an advent study. In it we are reminded of the many promises of God through Jesus Christ. These are the promises that so many Christians are most familiar – hope, peace, love and joy through trusting in the Lord. And even though I’ve been a Christian for some time now, being reminded of the Peace of God through righteousness is so necessary in this broken world.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give
thanks in all circumstances; for this is
God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not quench the Spirit.1 Thessalonians 5:16-19
We humans need constant communication with God, constant reminders of His promises, constant reminders of the reason why He sent us His son, Christ Jesus. Why? Because we are constantly bombarded with opposite messages. The chaos of this world desires to bring us to our knees in fear and worry. It never stops. But God’s peace, love and joy are solid promises.
I’ve been led to call this process of constant communication, “holding the line.” We have a narrow path which God wants us to walk with Him. For some of us it means constantly looking down at that line and grasping tightly to His promises. For others the line is a gentle garden path in which they easily stay within the boundaries. In discovering the many promises of God, we can grasp them tightly as we work our way through those bombshells thrown at us by this broken world.
Suddenly a great company of the
heavenly host appeared with the angel,
praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom
his favor rests.”Luke 2:13-14
Notice the very last line of this glorious verse? “To whom His favor rests.” When I read this recently, I realized that last part is frequently left off. “Peace on Earth.” Taking this out of context changes the meaning of this promise. Yes, God has promised to never leave us, but so many of His promises are actually a covenant.
“a written agreement or promise usually under seal between two or more parties especially for the performance of some action”
“Between two or more parties.” That means God promises and we promise back. An agreement. Throughout the Book of Isaiah we read of two worlds – the broken agreements and the renewed ones. God’s promises can only come to completion when we do our part – when we grab hold of that line and follow Him.
I’ve heard there are more than 5,400 of those promises in the Old and New Testament. In this new series I want to remind us of just 25 of them and help to bring to the forefront our role in our heavenly handshake.
God is doing 10,000 things in your life and you may only be aware of 3 of them.
Let’s study together, in Isaiah, these next few weeks as we learn how to “Hold The Line” and prepare to celebrate the gift of God’s greatest covenant with us – the gift and promise of Jesus Christ.
Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied.“Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men traveling with Saul stood there amazed; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.
These last 11 months my BSGs have completed four different Bible studies. We have to laugh now after every question that asks something along the line of, “What does God expect of us?” The answer is always to obey. If only we humans could figure that part out. Yes, at times Jesus’ teachings seem a bit fuzzy. In fact, during His last few hours His disciples were very confused.
At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?”
And as Jesus continues in John 16: 28 with, “I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father,” the disciples reply with “Ah, now you are speaking plainly!” So often we may think that Jesus is only the figurative speaker. And we need to pray on and discern what He may truly want from us. But by studying the Word and therefore the character of Jesus we find His is more the plain speaker than not.
When Jesus told Saul, “Now get up and go into the city” there were no ifs, ands, or buts. Do it. Obey. Yes, Saul had the choice to do it or not. Thankfully, he listened and obeyed Jesus’ amazing directive. Twice I have had God speak to me in very loud, definitive terms. Once in hearing His actual voice convicting me to true action in my spiritual life. And once in a vision directing me to do His works. And I obeyed. And yet there are many, many other times when I have heard His quieter voice directing me and I questioned or even ignored Him.
How many times has He clearly told you to stop and speak to someone and you refused? How many times has you told you exactly what you need to do to lose weight, stop smoking, stop hating, stop doing something destructive and start living out His Word? In one of my Bible studies this week a friend told me of a vision she once had. Her relationship with Jesus has been tumultuous because of family issues. She leans a lot on Eastern religions. In this vision she was being loved as a baby and coddled by the Dali Lama. And then Jesus approached and the Dali Lama handed her over to Jesus. She screamed “NO!” What I found so fascinating about this and all the times I, myself, have refused to obey, is how we humans so easily place ourselves above the Divine. You realize that is exactly what we do when we ignore the amazing directives of Jesus? We think we know better. But we can never see the whole story of our lives. We can never fully understand how interconnected all our actions or inactions are and the impact they may make.
About three months ago my friend Caroline was asked to obey an amazing Jesus directive. While walking through the patio at church she saw a young woman sitting by herself. Jesus said, “Go talk to her.” Now, my friend is not some uber, outgoing person so this made her feel a little uncomfortable. But because of the Bible study we were doing at the time she said, “ok” and sat down with the young woman. During the conversation she found out that this young woman, who recently moved from out of town to go to college nearby, was in fact a college classmate of her own daughter. She passed along her daughter’s phone number. The tasks being obeyed, the young woman and my friend went about their lives. Fast forward to yesterday. This is the text my friend received from that young woman:
“Hi!! I know this seems so random but I’m actually heading back to Hawaii for Thanksgiving until January and I’ve just been doing a lot of reflecting on all the amazing people I met here in the last 3 months and feeling so grateful! I just wanted to say thanks for reaching out to me that one night, I remember feeling kind of uncomfortable but it was so special and such a gift from God that I was able to chat with you and see that we had so many connections already!! Anyways, just wanted to say thank you again and I’m so appreciative of that time that you took to chat with me!”
My friend obeyed Jesus’ directive of a simple act of hospitality and a life was changed.
Trusting God means looking beyond what we can see to what God sees.
Life Principle 9, Charles F. Stanley
Jesus says to, “Follow me.” It’s an opportunity for us to obey. And as my faith journey this year has evolved, I realized my growth spurts have come each time I have listened to an amazing directive and obeyed. Each time my trust grows is each time His trust in me grows. Yes, His trust in me. Because until we can be trusted to obey His small directives, like helping the person in the grocery store parking lot, He won’t entrust with something bigger. And I don’t know about you but I want Jesus to trust me enough that I will do His amazing works till the end of my days.
Today when you hear that whispered directive from Jesus, obey. You know His voice. You know His character. He and satan are clearly differentiated. So stop questioning Him. Obey.