When obedience takes courage.

fear eliz. elliotThis past week I have read the book of Esther, and parts of Ezra and Nehemiah as I have journeyed through my Chronological Bible reading plan.

And one thing has struck me, each of these have had to be obedient to what God called them to do even though they were afaid.

Sometimes what God ask of us means we have to do it in the midst of our fear.

Someone one said, “courage is not the absence of fear, but acting in spite of the fear.”

This is the type of situation seen again and again in the Scriptures.

Many times we put the saints of old on a pedestal, thinking we could never do what they have done. Believing that they somehow had more faith, and that they were not afraid. Yet, this is not true.

Esther was fearful about approaching the King. So fearful that she called upon the Jews to fast and pray for her for 3 days before going before the king. And her final words to Mordecai was, “and if I perish, I perish.” I am convinced she did it afraid.

Ezra had told the king that the gracious hand of the Lord was upon them, so he did not ask the king for soldiers or horsemen to protect them on their journey. Rather, he called on the people to fast and pray for a safe journey, and then they set out. They did it afraid.

In Nehemiah chapter 1:2, he says, “I was very much afraid, but I said to the king…”

These people were real people with real fears. They were not super saints who did not fear anything. Yet, despite their fears, they did what God asked.

In the New Testament we see this same truth applied in the life of Paul, who pressed on, even though he knew the hardships that awaited him.

Far too often we let fear keep us from being obedient to what God ask. When in fact, fear is no excuse for disobedience.

Yes, in the midst of fear, we like the above mentioned should fast and pray. We should call upon the Lord and His grace, His strength, and His help. Yet, when all is said and done, even when the fear is still there, we are to be obedient.

I can remember the fear I felt boarding the plane that would carry me, myself, and I to spend Christmas in China teaching English. It was horrific, but I went and am thankful.

That same fear rared its ugly head as we took our young kids to Korea and then to Nepal, but how grateful I am that we did these things.

More often than not, what God ask of us, doesn’t really make sense. Especially in the eyes of the world, and the naysayers. Yet, that is when the Lord shines the most, displaying His glory for all who are watching to see us fail.

Fear in the midst of God’s instruction should not paralyze us, it should propel us.

So, whatever God is asking of you, don’t let fear lead you to disobedience.

Do it regardless, even if it means doing it afraid.

 

The Things of God

a mind fixed on christWhen Jesus told Peter that He was going to be suffer many things, be rejected, crucified, and then rise again. The Bible says that Peter took Jesus to the side to rebuke Him.

Can you imagine?! Here we find Peter and his big mouth at his finest. We see Peter thinking He knows better than Jesus, and ready to rebuke the King of Kings.

Then Jesus turns to the rest of the disciples and publicly tells Peter to get behind him, Satan. Telling them all that Peter does not have in mind the things of God, rather he has in mind the things of men.

How easy it is for us to judge Peter and think what were you thinking? But, how often are we just like Peter.

We open up our big mouths and we seek to instruct the Lord as to how things should really go. We try to tell Him what He should or shouldn’t do.

Why? Because we like Peter have minds set upon the things of this world or upon ourselves, rather than God.

As the pastor preached a message of the cross on Sunday, this sentence struck me. “For you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

Because I think far too often this is me. My mind fixed not on Christ, but on the things of man.

How easy it is to get sucked into the lies this world has to offer.

Lies that say you won’t be happy until you have ……

The lies that say you deserve ….

Lies that scream God is holding out on you, or that He doesn’t care.

All these and more come from the Father of Lies, Satan himself. Whose greatest desire is to get us to question the Lord, to doubt Him, and to walk away.

We have been back from Nepal for 3 weeks now. Although it seems like 3 months, and I have found just how quick and easy it has been to fall back into normal American life. How easy it has been to start comparing our family to other families. How fast the pull of stuff has risen up, the desire to fit in, the complacency, and the comfortable Christianity.

And I hate it.

Before we left Nepal, I told my husband I don’t want to go back and just be normal, because I told him I was not normal. Yet, I’m realizing I’m more normal than I thought.

It is easy to be a comfortable Christian here. Easy to become lazy in my walk with the Lord, and to allow the pull of the things of this world to lull me away.

I’m realizing that I have to fight this, I have to resist this.

And that this is only possible if my mind is fixed not on my own thoughts, or the the thoughts of this world, but instead upon the Lord and the things of Christ.

Yet, it takes diligence on my part, not to allow myself to get pulled in by all that this world shouts out.

It takes effort on my part to feast and meditate on God’s Word.

And it takes persistent work on my part to resist the enemies lies.

My guess is the same is true for some of you.

May we learn from Peter’s mistake that he knew better than the Lord, because what Jesus said didn’t fit what he had in mind or make sense.

May our minds be so fixed upon the things of the Lord, that we are ready and willing to trust Him no matter what, and so the things of this world have no hold on us.