Delayed Obedience {VOTD}

Occasionally, I get the tremendous opportunity to sit and write with a “Verse-of-the-Day”. Today’s “VOTD” is brought to us by BibleGateway. The blessing is – we are actually walking through Psalm 119 right now, through our Facebook page.

When I read today’s “VOTD,” it just really stood out to me. The Voice uses the word “procrastinate” versus “hesitating (CSB)”. Both involve some kind of delayed obedience, so keep that in mind as you read through this post.

I hurried, not hesitating to keep your commands (Ps. 119:60, CSB).

For one of my phone apps, I have a Bible reading alarm. While I have it set to remind me everyday to read my Bible, I wasn’t expecting its persistence. This alarm will not cease until I have successfully stopped and taken the time to read my Bible. It is deliberate and continues to notify me, unless I get right to the task and responsibility of drawing near to God and Bible reading.

If I was as faithful in living out God’s truths as the alarms on my phone, I would be in a far better place spiritually. I would have the heart’s desire to hurry toward our risen Lord Jesus and living out His truths – rather than dancing around my obedience to God.

We all would be in better spiritual shape, if we practiced immediate obedience.

When we delay in living out God’s Word, we need to look and see what is going on. Why aren’t we obeying God? Is it unwillingness, or the influence of something else – possibly sin?

As I consider my own delayed response, friend, I invite you to consider how you have fallen prey to a “delayed response” heart. Delaying to obey our great God in what He has taught us – which is a big deal, to be absolutely honest with you.

What is God calling you to do, but you have delayed in doing?

Maybe, it is obeying God’s calling you to write a book, write a friend a note, in tithing when you are barely making ends meet, how you view a specific circumstance you are in, or something else entirely.

“As soon as he was sensible of his duty, he immediately complied with it; he consulted not with flesh and blood, but at once yielded a cheerful obedience to the commands of God (John Gill).”

“So what has God told you to do that you haven’t started doing yet? What are you waiting for? God has your best interests at heart. Go ahead and do what he’s told you to do (Rick Warren Devotional).”

I have a writing project on my heart, to which I need to give myself. I need to find moments of wellness, but more importantly the room in my heart to be willing to do this “God thing”. It is a project God obviously has me working on – for a reason. I just need to honor God in this, even when it might be a difficult task. What about you, my friend?

Week 7: 2 Thessalonians 1:11

With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith (2 Thess. 1:11, NIV).

It always stops me in my tracks, when I read “By His power, He may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.” Many of us have unmet desires we are waiting on. God can give us these desires, but it is up to God if they are fulfilled and when that fulfillment happens.

Let’s focus on the Lord, and give Him our heart’s desires!

Truth be told, it is about surrendering our desires to God and keeping our focus on Him. Our focus needs to be on drawing nearer to our King Jesus, not the dreams.

In the waiting and wondering period, we are learning to trust that God is working on our behalf. As we draw nearer, God is changing us from the inside – out. Look at what Philippians 2:13 teaches us – For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him (NLT).

The right kind of desires are given to us by God, and fulfilled by God in His timing!

Keep coming back to Jesus – our Redeemer. When we keep coming back to Jesus as our Redeemer, we will not be disappointed. We will be reminded of the abundant hope we have been given. Jesus Christ came for you and me.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst (1 Tim. 1:15).

Called by God

While the God of the Universe gives us other desires, He gave us the ultimate desire for Him. God is the One who calls; what we are called to is God’s own kingdom and glory (Reformation Study Bible). We have been moved from a place of condemnation because of our sins (see John 3:16-17) and ushered into the presence of God (see Hebrews 4:14-16). It is a complete change in our destination.

Not only has He chosen to save us, we can enjoy His sweet presence – today!

Cleansed by Jesus

Through Jesus Christ, we have been saved and made new. His love for us is what made the difference in our lives. Jesus Christ is what matters in our lives, which is why we celebrate our Redeemer. He came for us, and is away. He is worthy of our praise and the One who makes us worthy.

Because of Jesus Christ, we can stand in His presence and enjoy our heavenly Father. We have been reconciled to God and He will make us worthy and cause us to grow in all areas of our lives. Now, that’s worthy celebrating!

Both past election and present growth are crucial. They are already children of God; they are to live lives governed by this reality. Thereby, Jesus’ name will be glorified and they in turn will be glorified in him. All of this is accomplished through grace (Asbury Commentary).

Living, Breathing Offering

“Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable
to God, which is your spiritual service. Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God (Rom. 12:1-2).”

Our bodies are collectively what makes up the Church. We are called to give our bodies as a living, breathing offering. A living sacrifice. A sacrifice is how people in the OT met with God. They gave God sacrificial offerings, that would cover their sins. Because of the mercies of God. Because of Jesus Christ. We can give a different kind of offering. We can give ourselves. This is our spiritual service. This is how we operate in the Church. We are to give our hands and feet. To give all we are, knowing how much God has given up on our behalf.

“Before we trusted Christ, we used our bodies for sinful pleasures and purposes, but now that we belong to Him, we want to use our bodies for His glory. The Christian’s body is God’s temple (1 Cor. 6:19-20) because the Spirit of God dwells within him (Rom. 8:9). It is our privilege to glorify Christ in our bodies and magnify Christ in our bodies (Phil. 1:20-21) (Warren Wiersbe).”

In addition to our bodies, we need to give our minds and wills to God. This is the point in our relationship with God, where we seriously just get before His face and seek after the things of God.

Get to Know Him!

“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires (Ps. 37:4).”

When we are in a relationship, we will want to get to know that person.

Have you ever spent so much time around someone, that you become more like them?

Your character begins to reflect theirs. Their habits become your own. We feed off our time with our Savior, just like we feed off our best friend. We become like Him, the more time we spend with Him!

Time Well-Spent

“[T]he LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend… [others] saw that his (Moses) face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the LORD (Ex. 33:11, 34:35).”

We need to get to know our great Savior and allow ourselves to be transformed as we fill up our minds with the “things of God” and trade in our old desires for the will of God. This is the key to unlock Proverbs 37:4 where we are taught that if we take delight in the Lord, then He will give us “the desires of our heart.”

Why would God allow us to go back to where we once were? He knows that place is no good for us. This is a whole new dimension to living.

When we seek after God, we will change as we spend time with Him. As we get to know Him, our hearts change. Our emotions change. The things we once clung to, we cling to no more. When we take the time to give ourselves before the Lord as a living offering, others will notice how we are changing. The same sin we got caught up on before, is no longer a hindrance. We can run past that scene of temptation, where we once lingered and couldn’t find a way to get away.

As we come away to be with Jesus, we begin to change. Step-by-step. Day-by-day. We begin to undergo a big transformation, and it begins the moment we say “yes” to Christ. It begins the moment we resolve to break out our Bibles and turn off our phones or the tv.

Application: How can I take the next step to make my Jesus time count? It may be limiting distractions, getting up early, etc. How can I make my time spent with Jesus a higher priority?

Dressing Modestly on Halloween

modesty-halloween
Image retrieved from http://www.4freephotos.com.

How do you dress modestly for Halloween? This is a question I am posing at this moment. I don’t want to illicit a response where we post our passionate “yes” and “no” responses when it comes to what we (or you) do on the 31st of October. Nearly every Christian is either passionately “for” or “against” things like holding a Harvest Festival or showing generosity by handing out candy to the children within your God-given community. Halloween is an opportunity to be considerate of one another (see Eph. 4:32), even as we hold different views.

“Those of us who belong to the Anointed One have crucified our old lives and put to death the flesh and all the lusts and desires that plague us. Now since we have chosen to walk with the Spirit, let’s keep each step in perfect sync with God’s Spirit.  This will happen when we set aside our self-interests and work together to create true community instead of a culture consumed by provocation, pride, and envy (Gal. 5:24-26, VOICE).”

Modesty

… is something to consider. If you serve at your home church on the 31st of October (or do something else), you might dress differently than you would otherwise. It might even add to our Christian witness as we serve during a harvest festival.

While we might opt to dress up, how do we do it?

One important factor is remembering the need for modesty.

You are still you, and a child of God – if you have placed your trust and hope in His beloved Son Jesus Christ (see Galatians 3:26).

If you are one who is considering “dressing up” for Halloween, what are you planning to wear? We need to contemplate our motives in how we choose to honor God through what we wear. There is no question, we will stand out. But, what can we do to maximize the opportunities we are given, on Halloween?

The question is not “if” we will stand out, but how we can shine for Jesus Christ and share His joy in these moments? (see Psalm 100:2; Matthew 5:16)

I am one who doesn’t like to stand out (in terms of attention). But, I do want to maximize my time of serving to impact the Kingdom of God. For a lot of folks, this is why we do what we do on Halloween. A costume might, even become an opportunity to shine brighter – as I interact with those who come to the booth where I am serving.

Halloween, for some, is an opportunity to dress more provocatively than they generally do. If you go to a costume shop, for an overpriced costume, you will likely meet things that might not be considered modest.

A Few Questions…

Before we reach the questions, let’s think about the importance of modesty. What is our goal? Refer back to our opening Scripture – to keep in step with God and focus on our community of believers. We want to honor God, and utilize the opportunities He gives us.

For both sexes, we can relate to the struggle in keeping pure thoughts (see Philippians 4:8). We don’t need anyone’s help in this area. So this Halloween, let’s make wise choices to help each other in our struggles against the flesh. My suggestion questions applies to both sexes – you will find them listed below.

  1. Is it God honoring?
  2. Are the important areas of my body covered up?
  3. Are my clothes tight?
  4. How revealing would my shirt be, if I raised my arms?

When in doubt, ask a Christian brother or sister who can help you stand for modesty – in what you choose to wear.

Psalms 119:33-37

33-37In this part of David’s prayer, he is asking God for a lot of things.

Okay, it just appears that way.

Really, David asks one thing: to be taught and led by God, rather than the things of this world.

As we walk this earth as foreigners, there are a lot of things that can catch our eyes. It may something we see on tv, online, or in person, but the truth is this – there are a great deal of things competing for our attention. There are a lot of things that compete for my attention. When our guard is down, this is what happens.

David is praying against such competition.

How am I praying against the things that compete for my heart’s affection and attention?

Reread through Psalm 119:33-37.

Each day, we make a choice.

We need to choose where we set our hearts.

Our hearts are included toward what looks good, even if it’s not good for us. As Jeremiah says, “Our hearts are desperately sick, who could understand it (see 17:9 below)?” In the New Living Translation, it says:

The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hears and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve (vv. 9-11).”

In our culture we seemed to spout Psalms 37:4 often, which says “God will give you the desires of your heart.”, without realizing that before that – our hearts need a serious make-over.

We need to make Lord Jesus our first priority. We need to make our time with Him first. I understand (and God understands far better than I do) that things arise that keep us from seeking things of God. But, a lot of times I think we make excuses.

Well, I can’t get up that early…

What if I wake up early, a hour before I have to, and I am feeling horrible physically.

That was a concern, last night. I don’t know how, but He did it. I slept very lightly. I knew what time my phone was set to begin ringing (a beautiful sound – thank you First 5 app!) at 5:00 am.

God will make a way, when we devote ourselves to Him. How can we take that first step today?

Back to our hearts…

Jeremiah 17 is an important point made in Scripture that we can’t follow our heart’s desires, but we need to push and seek God at whatever cost necessary (remind me of this tomorrow morning, perhaps even tonight). My heart’s just as, if not more, deceitful than yours.

And I need to lead my heart.

I need to lead my heart to Jesus no matter what the cost. I need to lay down my life, and put my faith in Jesus – and in action… Beginning (and keeping) my new morning routine is part of the process.

If I want God to teach me like David expressed in his prayer, I need to S C R A P E each morning. S.C.R.A.P.E is an acronym I came up with this morning. I wanted an acronym that would express what happens by waking up early and getting-into-the-Word-of-God. I am a forgetful person, so I needed something that would bring to my mind what happens – in these wee hours (honestly, my alarm needs to be set for 4:30 since I had to eat breakfast first. A hour to eat breakfast and try to have a quiet time wasn’t long enough).

Click here for more on this new method – S.C.R.A.P.E