Humble Honor and Bold Obedience

UntitledIt is in my heart now to make a covenant with Yahweh, the God of Israel so that His burning anger may turn away from us. My sons, don’t be negligent now, for the Lord has chosen you to stand in His presence, to serve Him, and to be His ministers and burners of incense.” (2 Chronicles 29:10-11)

King Hezekiah spoke these words. I didn’t. I’m not in the exact same situation, but there is certainly a lot I can learn from Hezekiah’s words. Perhaps you can, too.

  1. Know what is “in your heart.”
  2. Make a covenant with God.
  3. Don’t be negligent.
  4. Accept you have been chosen to stand in His presence.
  5. Know you have been chosen to serve Him.
  6. Respond to having been chosen as His minister.

Maybe you want to leave out one or more of these directions, but they all fit together. And they apply to each of us, perhaps more than we want.

Instead of hesitation, we can respond with humble honor and bold obedience.

God’s Read Receipt

130718-i-heard-that-01I don’t like those read receipts on emails. Perhaps it’s because when someone requests one, I have email set up so that a pop up comes up to ask me if I want to send the read receipt back. It’s just one more step I need to take, another decision I must make. Yet I like knowing whether or not someone sees my Facebook message. Even if he or she doesn’t respond, I know it has been received. (Although let’s face the fact it’s not foolproof. I’ve kept a message thread open, and before my phone screen slipped into sleep mode, a message came in, but I didn’t see it, yet it looked like I’d read it.)

I’m certainly comforted by God’s read receipt:

 The Lord said to him: I have heard your prayer and petition you have made before Me. (1 Kings 9:3a)

God doesn’t have to confirm He heard, because He has and does and will continue. We don’t have to gauge His listening and response by what we expect. We can let Him determine His response instead of claiming He is only listening and is only good and is only God if He does what we expect.

How often do you send a read receipt to Him when He’s communicated or revealed something to you?

 

Treat Others Like You Want…

Luke6-31Treat others as you want to be treated. It’s as if we ask ourselves, “If I was in their situation, I would want…” but it is so much more.

First, what we want isn’t what someone else necessarily wants. We might prefer to be left alone in a situation when someone else craves interaction and company. We might want someone to teach us how to do something when someone else prefers to have someone else do it for them even if it costs them.

Second, doing for others as you’d want done for you isn’t just about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes; it’s giving needs away. It’s humbly setting ourselves aside. When we lessen ourselves, our needs become less, too. We don’t meet our own needs by filling the gaps we have but by filling someone else’s gaps. We set aside our trust in our own assessments of what everyone needs and our ability to meet those needs, and we simply and generously respond.

What do you need now?

Patience?

Mercy?

Forgiveness?

Compassion?

Assistance?

Understanding?

Company?

Give it away.

You’ll be amazed at how giving away what you most need will fill you, too.

Is God As Vague As We Think He Is?

We often want to know more than we know. We need the why and how of what’s going on around us. But although we may not get exactly what we want when we want it, it’s hard to argue that God is a general God. He is very specific in who He is, His desire for a relationship with us, and in many cases, what He is doing to maintain or foster that relationship.

Then God said to Noah, “I have decided to put an end to every creature, for the earth is filled with wickedness because of them; therefore I am going to destroy them along with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood…Understand that I am bringing a flood—floodwaters on the earth to destroy every creature under heaven with the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will die.  But I will establish My covenant with you, and you will enter the ark with your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives. You are also to bring into the ark two of all the living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you” (Genesis 6:13-14, 17-19, emphases mine).

Specific instructions, reasons, promises, and expectations.

It’s not always what we receive from God, but I wonder if it’s because we expect God to behave and communicate to us in preconceived ways and timing. If we don’t receive something the way we expect it, we likely miss or dismiss it. I doubt Noah expected what God had to say to him. Yet he was willing to listen and respond.

We won’t all be expected to build an ark, trek up a mountain with one of our children, go to a king to save an entire ethnic group, or step out of a boat into a storm. We don’t have to wait for that out-of-the-blue-unbelievable moment. We simply need to be prepared and positioned to listen and respond. God may reveal something big or something we see as small. It’s all important to Him.

Open your eyes and heart today. Listen well. Respond well. What God has to say is important.

A Challenge for Today

Listen well.

Respond well. dandelion

My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save you.

But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror. For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but one who does good works—this person will be blessed in what he does.

If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, then his religion is useless and he deceives himself. Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (James 1:19-27)

What do you need to stop today?

What do you need to start or continue today?

Rejecting Sin with Love

hateloveWe must reject what is against God’s will. He commands us to love one another. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” is a common phrase to describe how we’re to respond to people who are engaging in behavior contrary to God’s will. Most Christians have struggled with how to live this out in specific circumstances. It’s perhaps one of the most commonly asked questions: “How can I love the person without giving her the impression that I approve of what she’s doing?” You can’t do it with your own strength and love. God’s love is unconditional, but it’s also corrective. God loves you even though you don’t live every moment of your life exactly the way He wants you to live. Even when you’re seeking His will and intending to live every moment for Him, you’re going to make some poor judgments. You’re human. But God still loves you.

He also loves the person beside you. You might not know how to share your love, but you can share God’s love, because God says she’s worthy. You don’t have to have every detail of the relationship figured out. You simply must follow God’s lead. That means staying invested in the relationship as long as God leads you to stay invested—and not a moment longer or shorter. People are in our lives for seasons, so you will have limited impact on people. Following God’s lead means you’ll speak up in some situations and be silent in others. It’s how God leads. You have to be content that you don’t have the answers—God does. He knows how to express His love much better than you do. When you respond out of what makes sense to you instead of what God is directing you to do, you run the risk of not only rejecting the person or sending the wrong message but also of rejecting God yourself. When you ignore His lead, you’re putting others and yourself in front of your relationship with Him. And that’s certainly not ever His will.

But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 17-25)

Learning by Doing

learningbydoingTalking can be good, but when talking gets in the way of doing, we can quickly stall. How many meetings have you had to discuss what should or shouldn’t be changed in worship services? What about meetings to plan how to develop a prayer church? How many classes have you had about how to study the Bible?

None of these things are bad in and of themselves. Being taught tools as we strive to grow in spiritual discipline can be equipping, and coming together for planning can promote unity. However, coming together doesn’t always produce equipped, unified people. Sometimes, we can emphasize talking so much more than doing that we lose sight of what we’re trying to do.

In order to improve worship…worship.

In order to improve prayer…pray.

In order to improve fellowship…get together.

In order to improve accountability…share.

In order to improve Bible study…study the Bible.

In order to give sacrificially…give sacrificially.

In order to read the Bible more…read the Bible more.

In order to make faith a priority…make faith a priority.

Anytime our focus is off God and what he intends for us, and our discussions begin to meander into the what-I-prefer, who-pays-the-bills-and-therefore-carries-the-most-weight, what-reaches-the-majority, or what-tradition-demands realm, we’ve lost our focus. We become more us-focused instead of God-focused.

Instead of getting stuck in the “What does God want and how will I/we get there?” quandary, simplify it to “What does God want?”

Does God want what I prefer? No, he wants what he prefers.

Does God care who pays the bills and carries the most weight? He knows who pays the bills and carries the most weight: He does.

Does God care what reaches the majority? Only when it’s consistent with his will. He’s just as focused on one as he is on many.

Does God care what tradition demands? God is all about respect, but when tradition trumps his will…well, check out Jesus’ interactions with the Pharisees.

You don’t have to figure it all out. In fact, even if you try, you won’t be able to figure it all out. If you think you have it all figured out, it’s not beyond your understanding, and therefore, can’t be completely God’s will.

So, the next time you meet about or discuss worship, start with worship.

The next time you meet about or discuss prayer, start with prayer.

The next time you learn about study the Bible, study the Bible.

Focus on God. Just do it.