Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Obedience’

Plans

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.  ~~  Jeremiah 29:11   (KJV)

God thinks about you and me. Just as you think about the people in your life, your children, your parents, your friends, your extended family. But God doesn’t wonder what you are up to. He knows. He sees.

God has plans for us, not just humankind in general, but for each and every one of us in particular. He has a vision for our lives – how we will live, what we will do, how it will all turn out.

If we can catch that vision and cooperate with it, our lives will be the best they can possibly be. Seeing God’s vision for our lives can help us to cooperate with his plans and keep us from spending time and energy questing blindly among what seem to be endless options.

It’s easy to say “catch the vision”. But exactly how do we do this?

  • Spend time with Him, quiet time. Listen as much as you talk.
  • Read the Word, letting it sink into your heart and mind.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you what He would have you know.
  • Pray for wisdom and discernment.

The more you hear His voice, the easier it will be to distinguish it from all the other voices in your life and in your head.

Father, God,

Help us to catch your vision for our lives. Grant that we may listen carefully for the promptings of your Holy Spirit and move in obedience to those promptings.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

Obedience, the Road to Glory

Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.  ~~   Exodus 40:34-35   (KJV)

“The Glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.”

Here we’re into details. Seven times we see the Israelites did “as the Lord commanded Moses.” They followed their instructions in every specification.

When it was all completed, then the glory of the Lord filled the temple.

How do we apply this to our lives today? Well, there’s obedience. No, it’s not a dirty word. Obedience to the Lord is more to be desired than sacrifice.

It was  not the sacrifices themselves that brought the Lord into the temple. It was the obedience of the people.

God has promised to dwell with us, within in us, if we let Him. But any scrap of disobedience makes our hearts unfit to tabernacle the Lord. Try as we might, we are inadequate to be completely obedient to the Lord.

That’s where the blood of Christ atones for us. He takes on our sin and covers us with His righteousness. What a glorious exchange – our filth for His purity!

Only with a heart bent toward obedience and a reliance on the blood of Christ can we hope to experience the Glory of the Lord in the tabernacle of our hearts.

Father, God,

Help us to hear and be swift to obey. Grant us the grace to acknowledge our shortcomings and the faith to believe that Christ atoned for them all.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Searching for Peace?

The Lord is my shepherd;

I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:

He leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul:

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil:

For thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:

Thou anointest my head with oil;

My cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
~~  Psalm 23  (KJV)

David’s psalms are beautiful, but this is probably the most familiar. It teaches you a lot of theology by describing God as a shepherd.

“The Lord is my shepherd.” Notice that He is MY shepherd. He is personal to me. This is a one on one relationship.

“I shall not want.” He is able and willing to fulfill my every need.

Green pastures are areas of abundance and peace. Still waters allow the sheep to drink without the possibility of drowning. Restoration of the soul gives one the ability to rejoice anew.

Heeding and obeying His commandments will keep us from doing evil. No matter where we are, His constant presence reassures us that He is sovereign. When all the world seems to be against us, He provides whatever we need. He adopts us as His children, children of the King.

His presence in our lives is our abundance and provision. Now and always. We are His forever. That is the essence of our peace – not who we are, but whose we are.

Father, God,

Thank you for being our peace, our total provision at all times and in all circumstances. Grant that we, like sheep, may hear and follow only the Shepherd’s voice.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Saviour and Lord

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

~~ Luke 2:10-11 (KJV)

This season is filled with activity, hustle, bustle, last minute shopping, cooking, package wrapping and stress. For many people it is not a season of good news, but one of disappointment and feelings of inadequacy.

We seem to have lost sight of the reason for the season.

So why do we celebrate?  Is this just an occasion for a day off work? An excuse to party? A competition to see who can spend the most on  gifts of dubious value?

Someone needs to save us from ourselves.

Someone has come to save us – from ourselves and from every other ill in this world.

A Savior – Christ the Lord.

Savior: one that saves from danger or destruction – one who brings salvation

Christ: anointed

Lord: one having power and authority over others

This Sunday, we are pointed to a babe in a stable. This babe had and still has the power and authority to save us from ourselves and all that would seek to destroy us.

If we recognize His Lordship over our lives – the security net He provides us, we need also to recognize His Lordship over our thoughts and actions. He has done all the heavy lifting.

Our job is simply to hear Him and to obey Him. All that follows our obedience is in His hands, not ours.

Today, give yourself a gift – a gift of time to ponder what this Christmas day means – both universally and personally. Take time to kneel at the stable and see the cross on the horizon.

Father, God,

We thank You for Your provision for our lives and our eternity. Give us the grace to recognize our dependence on Your favor. Help us to find time to cultivate a real relationship with You.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

Power!

And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. ~~ Genesis 17:1

When God says something, we are wise to listen to Him. Here He is talking to Abram in his old age. At ninety-nine years, Abram is no longer a spring chicken. But this sentence is the preface to God’s promise that Abram will be the father of many nations – as yet Abram is still childless.

I find it interesting that God proclaims His power in a setting that has nothing to do with battle. When I think of almighty, I think of conflict, combat and warfare. God doesn’t.

Here He is proclaiming His power over everything – even the conception of children. He is telling Abram to obey Him so that he will be perfect.  The word used for “perfect” comes from a root meaning “entire” or “whole”.

So essentially God is saying “I am the One who is fully powerful in all situations. If you walk in obedience to Me, your life will be complete, full, satisfying.”

How simple!  And how difficult. We seem to be a stubborn and stiff-necked people, always wanting to do things our own way.

I remember Frank Sinatra’s song, I Did It My Way.

Does it ever occur to us that our way may not be the best way? Hardly ever. Do we ever think that God might have a better plan overall? Maybe once in a while.

Reality check here. We don’t know all the ramifications of the things we are about to do. We do not know the plans God has for the people with whom we might interact. We are, in fact, totally limited in knowledge and understanding.

That’s why Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to help us hear Him. If we listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we will avoid foot-in-mouth disease more often. We will be less hindrance to the plans God has for ourselves and others.

We are finite. He is infinite. We will never wrap our finite little minds around the knowledge, understanding and purposes of our Infinite God.

Once we understand this, we will cease striving to do it our own way and discover the freedom and joy of full obedience.

Father, God,

Help us rid ourselves of the arrogance that makes us think we can do it our way. Grant that we may hear Your Holy Spirit prompting us in obedience to You. Give us the grace to walk before you and be perfect.

In Jesus’  most precious name.

Amen.

Abiding

If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. John 15:10 (KJV)

We don’t hear the word “abide” much any more, and we seem to have only a vague sense of it’s meaning. But the dictionary tells us that abide, as it is used here, means:

  1 :  to remain stable or fixed in a state
2:  to continue in a place :  to sojourn

The verse here is a common pattern found in scripture. There is a condition and a promise.  The condition is “if you keep my commandments” and the promise is “you shall remain stable in my love.” Does this mean that God will stop loving you if you fail in keeping the commandments?

Of course not.  We have ample evidence in John 3:16,17.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (KJV)

The world was not keeping God’s commandments, but He loved the world anyway – and not just the world, but every single individual person in the world.

Again in Romans 5:8 we are told

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

So if God’s love for us does not change, what’s this abiding all about?  God’s love is not static. We must receive it for it to be any benefit to us. If we are not striving to keep His commandments, it’s difficult for us to receive His love, much less respond to it and spread it to others.

When we are disobedient, we have a hard time hearing His voice. We are listening to other voices in the world which tempt us to do things that are not in God’s plan. The commandments become our yardstick. We compare what the voices are telling us with what God has revealed in His word. If they match, we can move forward safely. If they don’t match, we need to regroup and re-think and change our actions.

The secret is that when obedience to His commandments becomes our second nature, we know at first hearing which voices are telling the truth and which are trying to lead us astray.

Keeping His commandments is the exercise that keeps us spiritually fit and firmly established in God’s love. Then we can receive His love, respond to His love, and reflect His love to the world around us.

Father, God,

Help us to remain faithful in keeping Your commandments. Grant us a sense of Your boundless unfailing love. Give us the grace to reflect that love to all we meet.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

Self-control Fruit

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.  (Galatians 5: 19-23 – NIV)

We seem to live in a society today where the motto is “let it all hang out.”  People’s reactions are immediate and emotional when events are not to their liking. We hear angry voices, and see riots, violence and all manner of unrestrained reaction.

But does all this emotional upheaval accomplish anything?  Looking at the recent riots in Ferguson and Baltimore, one would have to conclude that such activity is mainly counter-productive.

If our actions are mainly emotional reaction to an event or a circumstance, we have little control over either the action or the result.

Controlling our emotional reactions so that we can assess the situation calmly will yield a better result in most cases. Controlling our emotional reactions gives us time to think, to pray, to seek the Father’s will in whatever is going on. Praying is the key. When I say praying, I mean not only telling God about the situation, but listening for His answer to our questions about it. When we are obedient to the Holy Spirit, God is responsible for the outcome.

That is a responsibility I gladly yield to Him.

Father, God,

Helps us to control our emotions when bad things happen. Teach us to listen when we pray, Grant us the gift of obedience when we hear your voice.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.