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It Takes an Obedient Heart

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It Takes an Obedient Heart

If you have a child that consistently disobeys you, and they shut out whatever instruction you give them, what do you do to help them? You pull back. You let them fall. You let them learn their life lessons the hard way because you know they won’t obey you anyway. Why bother to waste your breath?

And isn’t our Heavenly Father an even better father than we are? God knows when to pull back.

Look at the lives of King David and King Saul. David had a heart for God, even though he made mistakes, but King Saul was habitually disobedient. It was to Saul God said, “It’s not sacrifice I’m looking for. Obedience is better than sacrifice. Disobedience is no different than the sin of witchcraft.”[1]

After God quit speaking to King Saul, that’s exactly what Saul turned to for direction, witchcraft (see 1 Samuel 28).

If we won’t obey, if we won’t heed the direction of God’s voice, He will quit talking and leave us to guide our lives.

God said to the children of Israel through the prophet Zechariah; “Did your ancestors listen? No, they set their jaws in defiance. They shut their ears. They steeled themselves against God’s revelation and the Spirit-filled sermons. And God became angry, really angry, because he told them everything plainly and they wouldn’t listen to a word he said. So this is what God said, if they won’t listen to me, I won’t listen to them. They turned a dreamland into a wasteland” (see Zechariah 7)

How badly do you want to hear God’s voice? Are you willing to wait until He speaks? Are you willing to obey?

[1] 1 Samuel 15:23

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Sadness Can Become Sin

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Sadness Can Become Sin

The Bible says, “Be angry and sin not.”[1] Anger is a good emotion, if we handle it appropriately. The same concept can be applied to sadness. You could say, “Be sad and sin not.”

Can sadness can become a sin? If we allow sadness to engulf us, to swallow up our personhood, personality, and purpose, then yes, it can become sin. I’ve seen sadness grow to the point that those closest to us no longer know who we are.

Sadness can drive us to a point of such despair that we do irrational things. In November, a mother in Darlington, Indiana confessed to police that she killed her two young children so her husband couldn’t have them. She told police her husband was divorcing her and going to take the children.[2]

I’ve seen overwhelming sadness pull people into dark places.

  • I’ve seen sadness lead people to do things they would otherwise never do and bring unbelievable pain to those who love them.
  • I’ve seen people literally quit, shut down, and drop out of life.
  • Suicide is often led by overwhelming sadness. They don’t want to die, they just want the pain to stop.

That’s not to say all sadness is sin.

(What if it’s chemical?)

Luke 22:39-46 took place in the Garden of Gethsemane. Everything was falling apart. Jesus was in great agony over the pain He was about to encounter. Jesus had to come to a place of accepting the pain; he was not running from it.

He told His disciples, “Pray that you won’t be tempted.” Tempted to do what? Tempted to cave in. Tempted to abandon their faith. Tempted to react to the sadness and do something irrational.

It’s important to note that Jesus prayed that the pain He was about to experience would simply go away. Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, if it is your will, take this cup of suffering away from me. However, your will must be done, not mine.”[3]

It’s okay to pray this prayer, but know this. God in His great wisdom does not always take away the things that make us sad. Jesus said pray that you won’t enter into sin because of your sadness.

It’s never right to abandon ourselves to the pain of despair. It’s never God’s plan to lead us into depression and sadness where we just give up, lash out, or simply leave (Riley bought a bus ticket to Minnesota).

Jesus’ own feelings of being overwhelmed were so severe that God actually sent an angel to strengthen Him.[4]

Despair, sadness and depression rob us of mental, spiritual and even physical strength.

The captives in Babylon were told; “Do not be sad because the joy you have in the LORD is your strength.”[5]

Jesus pushed through His own sadness and despair by fervently praying to God for spiritual and mental relief.[6] The disciples however did not overcome the despair. They were overcome by it.[7]

It’s true. Sadness can become sin, if we let it. But it’s also true that sadness is s necessary emotion. (More on that in my next blog post.)

 

[1] Ephesians 4:26

[2] http://www.theindychannel.com/news/crime/court-docs-mom-killed-her-2-young-children-so-that-husband-couldnt-have-custody-in-divorce

[3] Luke 22:41-42 GW

[4] Luke 22:43

[5] Nehemiah 8:10 GW

[6] Luke 22:44 GW

[7] Luke 22:45-46 GW

Ways to Know God’s Will: #7 – Do Not Try To Make God’s Will Come To Pass

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Ways to Know God’s Will: #7 – Do Not Try To Make God’s Will Come To Pass

Abraham and Sarah fell into this trap. God promised them son, and when it didn’t happen, Sarah offered her handmaiden to Abraham. He had a child with her, but it was not God’s plan—not the child God promised.

The plain fact is, God doesn’t need our help. We must let His will come to pass, not try to make His will come to pass. When we try to make it happen it brings disillusionment. We think, “God really messed this up!”

Don’t try to make God’s will come to pass. His promise will come at the appointed time.

God is not a formulaic God. Don’t force it. Don’t help it along. Don’t overreach.  When God is in it, there is peace that surrounds the process.

1 Corinthians 14:33 says, “God is NOT the author of confusion, but of peace!” If there is chronic confusion, you have to ask if you are leading or being led!

We are his servants, sent to His will. We must follow Him.

Listen to this entire message online here. 

#5 – Be Careful About Interpreting and Assuming God’s Meaning

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#5 – Be Careful About Interpreting and Assuming God’s Meaning

Have you ever had someone come up to you and tell you about some bizarre dream they had and then proceed to give you an even more bizarre interpretation of the dream?

Daniel, who himself interpreted some pretty heavy-duty dreams, said that only God can give the interpretation of dreams.

We must be very careful to not put “words in God’s mouth” concerning His will for our lives, or else we can create a hot mess!!!

Don’t try to make the Word of God say something that’s not there. 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

If you think you know the will of God for your situation, it must always conform to the written Word of God. Why? Because the Word and Spirit always agree.

Wait for God’s guidance. If it’s not clear, slow down. Let God speak clearly over time or through circumstances.

 

Ways to Know God’s Will: #4 – Realize Delay Is Not Denial

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Ways to Know God’s Will: #4 – Realize Delay Is Not Denial

When God speaks His will to us, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen soon. In fact, sometimes we have to wait years before the will of God actually comes to pass. That’s not uncommon.

Delay is NOT denial.

We need to wait patiently on God’s will and not give up. Could it be we won’t see the fulfillment until we’ve endured? Hebrews 10:36 says, “For you have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise.”

  • Abraham waited 25 years for the promised child named Isaac.
  • Joseph waited 15 years to become a leader in Egypt.
  • Paul waited 14 years before he became a recognized apostle.
  • David waited 10 years to be crowned King of Israel.

God seems to work at a slower pace than we want or expect, most of the time.

I leave you with this scripture:

The Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says to the people, “Come back and quietly trust in me. Then you will be strong and secure.” But you refuse to do it. Instead, you plan to escape from your enemies by riding fast horses. And you are right—escape is what you will have to do! You think your horses are fast enough, but those who pursue you will be faster! A thousand of you will run away when you see one enemy soldier, and five soldiers will be enough to make you all run away. Nothing will be left of your army except a lonely flagpole on the top of a hill. And yet the Lord is waiting to be merciful to you. He is ready to take pity on you because he always does what is right. Happy are those who put their trust in the Lord.[1]

Listen to this entire message online here.

[1] Isaiah 30:15-18 GWT

Ways to Know God’s Will: #3 – Seek Godly Counsel

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Ways to Know God’s Will: #3 – Seek Godly Counsel

There may be times when we can’t seem to get clear direction. Maybe we’re not hearing the Lord or perhaps God hasn’t revealed the answer. At times like that, it helps to seek out another Spirit-led person. God often chooses to speak to us through others.

I firmly believe in godly counsel, both through professional Christian counsellors and through mature Christians. We cannot self-heal. Proverbs 11:14 says, “When no wise guidance is available the people fall, but in a multitude of counselors there is safety.”[1]

God often will send someone with the very piece of advice we need, and they may be completely unaware that their words, in that moment, are exactly what we need to hear.

But one warning about seeking outside counsel. It’s a good thing to do, unless we do it just to get a second opinion. Maybe we’re trying to get out of what God has already said! That’s kind of like a kid going to Dad for a different answer after they’ve received already from Mom. God doesn’t like that any better than moms do!

Godly counsel will always confirm the Word of God, and often confirms what God has spoken to your heart.

 

[1] AMP

Ways to Know God’s Will: #2 – Seek The Spirit-Led Life

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Ways to Know God’s Will: #2 – Seek The Spirit-Led Life

Knowing God’s will doesn’t happen automatically. We have to seek His guidance through the indwelling Holy Spirit. We must be very intentional about knowing the will of God.

Galatians 5:25 says, “Since we were made alive by the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.”

There are three types of divine guidance Christ-followers can choose:

  1. Crisis Guidance: We only seek Him when there’s a problem. (Help me! Save Me.)
  2. Occasional Guidance: We seek Him off and on, usually more off than on!
  3. Continual Guidance: We seek Him day in and day out, led by the Spirit of God in everything we do!

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

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