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.

 

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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.

 

 

Faithful in the small things

faithful in little thingsIt has been an interesting week. A week of struggle and a week of success.

You see I really want to make a difference in this world. I want my life to count. But sometimes when I’m stuck in the mundane ( you know laundry, cooking, cleaning, homework) I wonder….

I mean I want to see faith move mountains. I want to see the amazing hand of God do the impossible. I long to see His glory displayed for all to see.

But when your busy going about the everyday, if you aren’t careful you miss it.

And this is where I was this past week. So focused on some huge event, that I failed to see the little things God is doing everyday.

For you see, God is in the big things, but He is also in the little, minute details. He displays His glory at every sunrise and sunset. His hand is there each and every day as our family goes about out daily duties. And He is working even when I can’t see what He is doing.

As I struggled longing for something more, the Lord spoke in His still small voice. “Be faithful to what I’ve told you. Feed my sheep, one sheep at a time.”

Sometimes God shows Himself in grand ways. Ways for all to see. But most of the times He is visible in the small things. In the daily grinds. Yet, we miss it, we miss Him. While we search for the bigger, greater.

I’ve realized this past week that I don’t want to miss Him in my search for more. I want to recognize His hand daily in the everyday.

I don’t want to be so busy searching for more, that I miss now.

He is here, He is now.

How about you? Are you living for tomorrow or content with today? Do you see the hand of God in your day-to-day or have you missed Him?

Oh may we faithfully recognize His daily presence in our lives. Acknowledging Him and giving Him glory for the daily insignificant.

For nothing is insignificant in God’s eyes, every detail matters. And if it matters to Him, shouldn’t it matter to us?

What has God shown you to do now? Are you doing it? Let us be faithful to these things, because then and only then will He give us more.

Three Days Later

three daysThree days can change a lot.

Over 2000 years ago, the day was filled with sorrow, question, and doubt. For others the day was filled with joy and a sense of victory.

For those who loved Him, they did not understand. They wept as they watched Jesus be beaten and crucified. Their hearts were full of sorrow as they heard Him speak, “It is finished.”

For those who hated Him, there was rejoicing as they believed they had won, yet they could not have been farther from the truth.

For a lot can change in three days.

On that day, Jesus suffered and died. He also bore our guilt and our shame. He paid the ransom we could not pay, and He redeemed us. Changing our names from guilty to forgiven.

His death came at a high cost.

And yet, death could not defeat Him, nor could the grave hold Him.

For three days later, not only had He paid the price for our sins, He defeated death once and for all. Making it possible for us to be forgiven, and to have eternal life.

Three days later those in sorrow rejoiced at their risen Savior.

After three days, the darkness broke forth into everlasting light.

What had been watched in heartbroken silence was now redeemed with resounding shouts of joy.

Not the scouring, nor the insults.

Not the cross, nor the nails.

Could defeat the Lord.

This day of sorrow took not the Father by surprise, it was all part of His plan.

For He knew that three days later, the true victory would be beheld.

The victory that each of us in Christ has even now, years later.

Victory over sin, victory over death.

 “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:55-57).

A lot can happen in just three days!

 

Loving God

loving godThe two greatest commandments deal with love.

Love for God, and love for others.

One would think that both should come naturally to the Christian, and yet far too often they do not.

I’m learning that when my “love” for the Lord is not what it should be, it affects the way I treat my husband, my kids, and my neighbors.

I’m also learning that when I do not love the Lord my God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. That I am not faithful to obey His Word, to rest in Him, or to serve Him.

I just finished reading the book of Joshua, and in chapter 22:5 it says, “But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

As I read this, I thought this should be our natural response, but it obviously is not or both Moses and Joshua would not have had to remind the Israelites again and again to be careful to love the Lord.

When I thought deeper, I realized that when we fail to love the Lord as He ask us to love Him, we will also fail to walk in obedience to Him, we will to keep His commandments, we will fail to hold fast to Him, and we will fail to serve Him. For all of this stems from our love for Him.

But on the flip side, when we truly love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, we will walk in obedience, we will keep His commands, we will hold fast to Him, and we will want to serve Him. And naturally, we will love others as we love ourselves.

In Revelation 2, God holds against the church of Ephesus, was that they had left their first love. Oh they were going through the motions, doing what was right, but it was motivated out of duty rather than love for the Lord. He tells them to repent, and to return to their first love.

It seems many Christians fall into one of two camps. They fail to love God with all of their hearts, and do what is right based on duty and obligation like the church of Ephesus, or they simply turn from the Lord and the things of the Lord.

When I think of what Christ has done on my behalf, I am overwhelmed. I stand in awe of Him, and my desire is to love Him, to please Him, and to serve Him. Yet, when I forget or take for granted what He has done, I lose sight, and love other things more than Him.

Over and over we are told to “remember” because we are so forgetful.

The greatest commandments seems so simple, and yet how do we truly love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength?

I’m finding for myself it means taking time daily to remember what He has done for me, giving Him thanks for these things, and asking Him to give me a deep, deep love for Him, and all that He loves.

In fact, this is what I am praying for my whole family. That God would give us a great love for Him, a love that will then motivate everything that we do.

Loving God is more than some emotional feeling, which seem to come and go. Loving God as He instructs means remembering what He has done, thinking upon the Scriptures, and choosing His way over our own.

May we truly seek to “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Luke 10:27).”

 

When what God ask doesn’t make sense..

trsting GodI don’t know about you, but it seems oftentimes that what God ask of us doesn’t make sense in my mind or in the eyes of the world.

It’s kind of His theme, a way to see if we will really trust Him.

For example when He told Abram to leave his country, his family, etc and move to the land He would show Him. This didn’t make sense, but in obedience to God, Abram obeyed, and watch God provide.

Or when God chose Moses to deliver His people from Egypt. Though what God asked of Moses seemed impossible, after many excuses, Moses obeyed, and watched God do the impossible.

Today I read about another such instance in Joshua, when God led the people into the promised land by way of the Jordan River.

As I was reading I noticed that the Jordan was at flood stage. Now if they were anything like me, I’m sure as they neared this high, flood stage river, a dozen thoughts were going through their minds. Like how in the world, they would ever get to the other side.

When suddenly the Lord instructs Joshua to tell the priest to go and stand in the river. The Israelites must have watched in amazement as the waters stopped flowing and instead piled in a heap.

Once they got to the other side Joshua was instructed to circumcise the men, putting them at their weakest, while they had enemies on every side. This must have seemed insane, and yet Joshua obeyed. And GOD struck  fear in the hearts of the people so that they did not attack.

Then there is the familiar passage where the Lord instructs Joshua and the Israelites to march around the city of Jericho, they were to march around once each day, not making a sound. Then on the final day, they are told to march around the city seven times, and that on the last time, they are to shout.

I’m telling you this was a crazy battle plan.

But God.

The people began to shout as they marched their final time around the city, and then they stood amazed as the walls began to fall.

In my own life there have been many times I have felt what God was asking of me did not make sense. And far too often I have been consumed with fear as I imagine the worst.

But God.

He is always faithful despite my fears or my doubt.

And just as He did the amazing things listed above for those who trusted Him despite their fears, He can and will do the same for you and me.

Yet, if I’m not careful my fear can far outweigh my faith.

But, I know from the past, that when I let go of the fear, and trust Him with what He is asking of me. That these are the times I clearly see the Lord do the most amazing things in my life.

What is God asking of you today, asking of your family?

Will you allow your fears to overtake your faith? Or will you trust God with all the unknowns, with all the giants you have to face, and with all your fears?

Oh may we be like the saints of old, ready and willing to trust God, even when what He ask doesn’t make sense!

Ready to watch God do that which is beyond human explanation!