Tag Archives: obedience

Words vs. Logic

4 Oct
“Those are just words. Words, words, words.” Ever heard someone say that? Maybe you’ve said it.
When we’re in a situation that’s painful or confusing, sometimes talk or consoling are the last things we want. They can be down right irritating. What we want is to sort out and weigh our options, find a logical solution or choice. But, there are words that trump human logic every time.

“…Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”  (Matthew 4:4 NIV).

Jesus quoted this scripture (originally from Deuteronomy) during his temptation by the devil in the desert. It’s a familiar verse to me and I’m sure to many.
I’d always thought of “the word of God” as the scripture – and absolutely believe this is correct application (see 2 Tim. 3:16).
However, the spoken word of God is itself power. He spoke all creation into existence, the heavens and the earth. Gathering the water, creating vegetation, inventing and giving life to every creature. All of this was done at the command of God’s voice. God’s declaration, God’s words.
The scripture is God’s word. We are to live by it. Likewise, God has control and ability to speak over any situation. Regardless of the circumstance, if God speaks life–there is life!
Christ knew this power intimately even while in an earthly body, and Christ overcame the temptation to doubt it or circumvent it during his forty days in the desert.
Now Christ’s words in Matthew 4:4 also encourage me the same way 2 Cor. 5:7 does, “We walk by faith, not by sight.”
As I find myself wanting things to “make sense” in my way of thinking, I must stop and focus on the power and complete control my God has over absolutely anything. Lord, hold my hand to walk by faith, not by sight. Not by logic, nor by feelings, but by faith in your power and your love.
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Afraid of the Ball?

23 Sep
Our dog is totally nuts over a tennis ball.
She trots throughout the house, ball in mouth. If no one’s willing to toss it, she’ll play alone. She might chew on it, pretend to bury it in her bed, or nose it around on the floor. She naps with it under her chin, barks with it in her mouth, and paces when it’s stuck under the furniture. Even when she’s in full sleep, one bounce of that ball bolts her into action. 
Shaka’s ball is her favorite thing. It’s who she is.
Yet, any ball larger than she is appears to be a source of terror. Volleyball, basketball, beachball. Doesn’t matter. She becomes paralyzed.
Now I know Shaka can’t play with these other balls the same way, and maybe I spend too much time alone with this dog during the day. But, she gives me glimpses of human behavior sometimes. The things we are passionate about can often be the things we’re afraid of doing in a bigger way.
Consider the one who loves to play with children, but is hesitant to commit as a mentor. Someone who’s talented in art, poetry, writing, but doesn’t want anyone else to see their work–it may not be good enough. The one who loves to study, but won’t commit to teach. A person who sings, but never in public.
Passions and abilities are woven into each of us with a plan in mind.

For you created my inmost being;
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well. 
My frame was not hidden from you
   when I was made in the secret place,
   when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
   all the days ordained for me were written in your book
   before one of them came to be  Psalms 139: 13 – 16 (NIV).

What might we be missing out on if we’re afraid to do the things that seem too big for us? 

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do     Ephesians 2:10 (NIV).

Leave a Comment. Can you share an experience when you acted in faith to overcome fear? You might just encourage one of us. Or, tell us what thing you feel compelled to do yet overwhelmed to try? Let us encourage you.
 

Putting Out Fire

19 Sep
Ever end a day feeling like you ran around putting out fires all day long? You never get to the things planned, because something else interrupted you and demanded your attention. It leaves you drained and frustated.
Consider the one type of fire we should never put out. It is the source of energy, guidance and wisdom.

“Do not put out the Spirit’s fire” (1 Thessalonians 5:19   NIV).

This verse is part of a letter from Paul and his co-missionaries, Timothy and Silas. It’s written to a church they’d visited. In preceeding verses, they instruct the people to actively encourage each other and appreciate their leaders (see 5:12 – 18). This is necessary and something widely neglected. Prayer and verbalized encouragement fans the fire of God within the people working for his purpose.
But, in reading this passage, I also started to consider the ways we smother the Holy Spirit within ourselves.
Insecurity, unbelief, self-involvement. Focus on our own needs/plans. Failure to pray, read and meditate on scripture. The choice not to gather with other believers to sharpen one another. Looking at our overwhelm instead of our God.
And a big one for me, over-analyzing plans or decisions. The desire for plans to make perfect sense on paper, be logical and feel secure before we’ll do them transfers confidence from God to self. It sucks out the energy the fire of God creates.
So send that note of encouragement to someone. Stop and pray to God about your priorities and welcome his interruptions and press on his plans. Toss the pros and cons list into the fire.

It’s your turn. What can you do to fan the fire in yourself or someone else?

Happy Formula

13 Sep
What do you think of when you hear the term, “peacemaker?”
I think of  a person who avoids conflict and tries hard to keep harmony within a group. You might even go so far as to think of them as people-pleasers.
Is that a weakness?
Are you now thinking “doormat?” It wouldn’t surprise me. Society doesn’t send many messages about being peacekeepers.
But, in the beatitudes, Christ said:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God  

Matt 5:9 (NIV).

Let’s remind ourselves of two things:
1) Blessed in these verses means “happy.”
2) The scripture preceeding this verse reads, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Might we put these two beatitudes together and get:
Pure heart toward God  + Peaceful attitude toward men  =  Formula for Happy Person
If the point of being peaceful toward men is to glorify God, then I think the doormat image tends to disappear. It shifts motive from self to God. From fear to strength.
Someone who’s not afraid to stand for God and his word, but prefers peace over drama whenever possible — that sounds strong to me.
It takes strength to stand for God’s rights and strength to choose peace over confrontation when it’s only my “rights” at stake.
What do you say? What situations are the hardest to be peacemakers? Or when is it necessary to stand up for God even when it displeases people around you?

The most important thing?

6 Sep
This morning, I read the following sentence in a journal with a quoted scripture. It read, “Nothing is more important than our obedience to God.”  The verse offered was Luke 11:28: He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
I opened my Bible to Luke 11 to get the context. The scripture noted was Christ’s response to a woman’s declaration after witnessing Jesus cast out a demon from a mute man.
 27As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”
 28 He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”    Luke 11:27 – 28 NIV
The first few words of verse 28 reminded me of the beatitude verses we’ve been studying. Today, we come to the following.
Matthew 5:7 – 8  (NIV)
Blessed are the merciful,
   for they will be shown mercy. 
Blessed are the pure in heart,
   for they will see God.
Heart is the connector for me on all of these verses. I believe Jesus’s response in Luke 11:28 urges us to see we are not blessed based on birth, family position, or position in society. Rather, a person is blessed if they will hear the word of God and be changed by it. A true change creates resulting actions.
Mercy is an act of compassion. Compassion comes from the heart.
Mercy, compassion, pureness of heart — they all come from a willingness to hear the word of God and be changed by it. A willing heart. A heart with faith.
The faith-filled heart is a foundation to all things of importance. This too, is a gift from God.

Lord, fill us with renewed faith today. Overcome our doubts, and our unbelief, our grief. Faith releases us to obey  Your promptings. I praise you, Jesus, as the author and perfector of my faith. (see Hebrews 12:2)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c24En0r-lXg  Let Faith Arise, by Chris Tomlin.

Too Much Rain

2 Sep
Please welcome my guest blogger, Katharine Trauger. 

 

TOO MUCH RAIN!  by Katharine Trauger

 

 
 
No.
We have not received too much rain. 
But once, we did. And this is the story of how it went. 
It had rained and rained and rained. People were griping about too much rain. People were whining and wailing about too much rain. 
And then it happened. 
A guy was working under his car with it propped up only on the cheap jack that comes with the car. Dangerous. As was his custom. To top that off, he did not have the chocks by the wheels as he should have. 
You guessed it. The car slipped and came crashing down directly on this man’s forehead. 
And did not kill him. 
No, because we’d had too much rain, the frame of the car merely pushed his head down into the sodden earth and gave him a grisly gash on his brow. His wife was able to visit him in the hospital, where they kept him for observation, instead of at the funeral home for visitation. 
And SHE thought we’d had just the right amount of rain.
Don’t we always?
________________________________
Bio:  Katharine is a Writer, Speaker, and Professional Mom. She and her husband recently retired from managing a home and school for children who would otherwise be homeless. Currently, she spends her time blogging almost daily and counseling younger women to be more than conquerors through Him Who loves us. Watch for her brand new Website, currently in progress and soon to be published, at: TheConqueringMom.com.
Thank you, Katharine for illustrating how we often aren’t aware of our true needs, or how God is already providing for them!

Extra Care Required

26 Aug
Earlier this week, I wore one of the few shirts I own that requires ironing. My mother taught me years ago to pay attention to clothes before I bought them, noting what kind of care they’d require. (She was sweetly and unendingly practical.) Most of the time, if the tag contains the letter combination I.R.O.N., I put the garment back on the rack. But, a few make their way home with me.
I faced the mirror to assess the wrinkles (on the shirt, not on the face).  Are they so bad I can’t get away with wearing this? Then the perfect little solution hit me. My flat iron (yes, this kind I use) sat on the countertop, hot and ready. A few careful strokes later and I decided my shirt was presentable. Viola!
This morning, I read a devotion by John Piper based on James 4:2 – 4. Piper explains that we are adulteress toward God when we use prayer to try to get from God something we desire more than God.
Maybe you’re thinking, “Uh, okay. What’s that got to do with flat-ironing your shirt?”
Short cuts.
Are we so busy that we treat prayer as a short cut? (Help me to do XYZ today God, Amen.)  Are we lazy to the point of finding a short cut way to do prayer? (Only praying when we drive and we have to be “still” anyway?) Or, might we pray  “only as needed” for big stuff like illness or job loss.
Being distracted away from God with everyday life keeps us from experiencing Him as our richest delight. If our prayer life varies a great deal based on the  ‘tag’ (to-do list) of our day, some extra care is required.
 Search me, God, and know my heart;
   test me and know my anxious thoughts. 
See if there is any offensive way in me,
   and lead me in the way everlasting.  Psalm 139:23 – 24 (NIV)
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