Day 18: Telling Ourselves the Truth – Exposing Our Unbelief

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

In the tunnels of life, we see one way out, but there are actually two. One path seeks God and the other seeks our own way.

Scripture of the Day:

Numbers 13:2, 17-20

13:2a “Send out men to investigate the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites17 When Moses sent them to investigate the land of Canaan, he told them, “Go up through the Negevand then go up into the hill country 18 and see what the land is like, and whether the people who live in it are strong or weak, few or many, 19 and whether the land they live in is good or bad, and whether the cities they inhabit are like camps or fortified cities20 and whether the land is rich or poor, and whether or not there are forests in it. And be brave, and bring back some of the fruit of the land.” Now it was the time of year for the first ripe grapes. 

It is not until we are willing to examine ourselves and give our sin its worst name that we can begin to declare victory. Sin is deceitful, though, and we often do not recognize the subtleties of deception inherent in the walls of our mind.

Sometimes we can be convinced fully in our mind that we are “ok”, but we are covering over this unsettled feeling that will not let go.

The irony in the discomforts of this life is that God is using them to deliver us from self-preoccupation and into a land of promise.

Reminds me of those Israelites again.

There they were, on the edge of entering the promise land and God told them to go check it out. I wonder if he was delighting to see their joy at the blessings He had in store for them. Kind of like I get more excited than my kids to see their expressions as they see the good I have planned for them for various moments of celebration.

He sent them there when the land was full of hope – the grapes were ripe and plentiful, what a good Father. The scouts had a job to do and a choice to make. Would they focus on all the hope surrounding them, or the potential struggles? They told themselves lies. And they convinced others to believe them. God got pretty angry about it, too. Who wouldn’t? Ever prepared an amazing surprise for someone only to have them say they don’t like it?

Maybe in examining the lies they believed we might recognize our own self-deception, too.

Lie #1 – We are not able

Numbers 13:31 “We are not able to go up against these people, because they are stronger than we are”.

Huge flaw in this calculation – kind of left out the God factor here. They gave a discouraging report that focused on their strength rather than God’s and dissuaded the people from believing God.

Lie #2: Doubted God’s goodness and intentions

Numbers 14:3 “Why has the LORD brought us into this land only to be killed by the sword, that our wives and our children should become plunder?”

Ouch. The first lie focused on our inability, but the second one accused God. To say that God just wanted to bring them out to kill them. After all He had done for them. But our memories fade and we tend to forget all of the blessings when a massive thorn in our flesh comes knocking at our door.

Lie #3: Rebel against God and form our own plan.

Numbers 14:4 “So they said to one another, “Let’s appoint a leader and return to Egypt.”

The Israelites are in pretty bad shape to just say it is time to turn around and go home. Um, where was home? Living in slavery, eating onions and beaten all day? Sure sounds cozy.

They even dared to go ahead and try to claim the promised land their way – not God’s. It did not turn out so well for them.

Lies will flood our mind unless we have the truth ready to dispute it. When we are tested like the Israelites were, we have to counter those attacks with the Word of God.

Truth #1: God is with us – do not fear

Numbers 14:9 “Only do not rebel against theLord, and do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection has turned aside from them, but the Lord is with us. Do not fear them!

God demonstrated His presence over and over again, through His Word and through actions. We need to believe that He is with us and He is for us. It will be hard because reality sometimes hurts desperately. Maybe our hearts melt within us and it seems there is no way out – kind of like that tunnel image above. Closed in by our circumstances, we see one way out, but there are actually two. One path seeks God and the other seeks our own way.

Truth #2: Disbelief in God is hatred toward Him.

Numbers 14:11 “The Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me, and how long will they not believe in me, in spite of the signs that I have done among them?

Sometimes the fear of the LORD is a good reminder. When we see that our disbelief is wicked in God’s sight, we need to repent and ask God for mercy, to give us faith. None of us would want to say we hate God. But disobedience is not love. As Jesus said, if we love the Father, we will do what He says.

Truth #3: He is good and His plans are good.

Numbers 14:20 “Then the Lord said, ‘I have forgiven them as you asked. 21 But truly, as I liveall the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord.'”

Despite the constant disobedience of God’s children, He still forgives and redeems. His plans will not be thwarted. He is loving, long suffering, kind.

Truth #4: He sees you.

Psalm 33:13-15 “The LORD watches from heaven; he sees all people. 14 From the place where he lives he looks carefully at all the earth’s inhabitants. 15 He is the one who forms every human heart, and takes note of all their actions.” 

He rules over everything and still considers us. Wow. He saw the Israelites and He sees us. He knows our every thought and He chooses to love us, anyway.

He saw me when I felt inadequate as a wife and sat motionless in the courtroom. He knew the plans that were ahead of me that I could not see when my life was a blur. When my body felt so weak from infirmity for years on end, He spoke strength, even if I could not feel it at the time. Reality sometimes lies to us with its harsh expectations that are void of faith.

The lies come in innocently enough, sometimes cloaked in righteous garb. But we do not have to fall victim to them. We are never trapped. God has a way out that will blow our mind and restore our hope in a way we never thought possible! At the place of our devastation, there is always hope if we will just hold on and trust God.

 

 

Worshipful Wednesday: Integrity is all in the Mind

jesus-is-our-integrity

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Jesus is our integrity.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 101:1-3

1 “Of David. A psalm. I will sing of your love and justice; to you, LORD, I will sing praise. 2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life– when will you come to me? I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart. 3 I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it. 4 The perverse of heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with what is evil. 5 Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret, I will put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, I will not tolerate.”

Sometimes we can look over the landscape of life and wonder why so much evil is happening. When it happens in the church, we are often surprised. How do godly people acquiesce to wickedness? Very easily. Demonic influence and our flesh point us that direction naturally. But there is hope.

When we truly recognize the spiritual battle all around us, we see that the biggest battle will be that of truly living an authentic life of integrity. But integrity is not just our outward behavior.

Thoughts. The gate of our minds is the first place where we have decision after decision of what we will set our mind upon. Our thoughts matter – for they become our actions or, equally as pervasive – torment and distract us from a godly life – if they are not kept in line. But if our thoughts are brought under the authority of the Jesus filter, we can think clearly and recognize thought patterns that do not glorify Him.

Vain imaginations, prideful thoughts, thinking ill of others, dwelling on unrighteous deeds – all have to be brought underneath the LORDship of Jesus Christ. We are deceived if we believe that we can think a hateful thought about another person and be right in the eyes of God.

Action. But it is not enough just to refrain from evil. We are to be proactive and “Fix our thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8).

Content. What we feast our minds on is the largest impetus or detraction from integrity. God’s Word is living and active. Consistently meditating on His Word and applying it to our lives provides strength, conviction and enablement to walk in integrity.

Maintenance. Our thought life takes constant maintenance, we can never rest. But the beauty in feasting on God’s Word makes the maintenance of our minds a treasure trove and a delight. It does not have to become a daunting task of to dos where we think we could attain righteousness on our own. We just need to position ourselves to be soaking in God’s truth and ask Him to help us apply it to our lives.

Prayer. When we ask the God of this universe to help us live in accordance with His word, He honors a prayer like that. Even better – we can pray for those who appear to be against us. This is spiritual warfare that makes the enemy flee!

Humility. When we see the fruit of integrity in our lives, we cannot think it is us doing it. That sounds strange, huh? After all, we are seeking to do our part. But apart from God, there is nothing good in us. We are just yielding and letting Him live through us. Jesus is our integrity.

Fellowship. We truly were not created to be islands, isolated from others while we struggle and battle against resident and outward evil. We need to point one another to truth every single day, for the days are evil. This accountability is not to be judgmental, but caring enough to get up close and personal win sin is waging war and seeking to destroy people’s lives.

The life of integrity is a pleasant one, despite all the battles to get there. No need to hide anything, no fear in discovery, for all is exposed. Thank God that as we seek to walk uprightly with Him and make our mistakes along the way, that His forgiveness is eternal and His grace overwhelming. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Even now we can choose to be people of integrity for God’s glory.

Lord, thank You for your mercy – new every single morning. Thank You that You walked a life of perfect integrity. Give us the mind of Christ and may the people of God be Kingdom-minded. Help us to not get involved in civilian affairs that distract us from our God-given purpose – knowing and enjoying You and making You known, oh my God.

Thoughtful Thursday: Opportunity Knocks

Opportunity is Knocking

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

 

Luke 8:10

“He said, ‘You have been given the opportunity to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that although they see they may not see, and although they hear they may not understand.'”

“Knock, knock.” “Who’s there?”

Don’t worry, I won’t tell a cheesy knock knock joke. Had you wondering, though, huh?

Opportunity is a funny thing. We long for opportunities but often do not even recognize them. We hope to be used by God to do something amazing but miss astounding promise all around us, dubbed as “ordinary”.

We can feel it in the thump of our heartbeat. Hear it in the soul’s cry. Sense it with our Spirit. Somewhere within us is a sense of a calling. Opportunity is knocking on the door of our soul – wondering if we hear our Master’s call for us to see the longing around us.

The moment we are awakened to hear and to understand God’s word, we are on mission. Entrusted with secrets that God has revealed, do we pretend not to see the needs, the hurts, the deadness in their eyes? Maybe in our own?

Growing up, I always felt special when someone trusted me with a precious secret or a position of leadership. Those who Christ has revealed His Gospel are the most blessed people on the face of the earth. We hold the keys to salvation and the opportunity to share it with lost people who we once were identified with.

The resounding knock stirs our souls to act on the knowledge and insight we have been given. The world’s din can try to silence the relentless needs and opportunities, but if we listen carefully, we will hear the knocks and answer. The souls God has called us to reach around us are counting on it.

Lord, help us to hear the needs around us and to listen attentively to Your word so that we might share what is on Your heart.

Freedom Friday: Fleshly Persuasion

Photo Credits Jordan Dewitt

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Don’t settle for the excuse of “I’m only human” – in Christ you are a child of the King. Walk in the spirit and resist the flesh!

Scriptures of the Day:

Galatians 5:1

“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery. 7 You were running well; who prevented you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 16 But I say live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are in opposition to each other, so that you do not do what you want.”

Galatians 4:31

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman but of the free woman.”


I was only a small child when I first saw the movie “The Body Snatchers”. It still makes me shudder. The thought of being ignorant to an entity that takes over our identity and takes over all of mankind was enough to make for many sleepless nights. The horror of friends and loved ones no longer residing in their bodies is freakish and terrifying.

I had written another blog entry previously about this movie – it obviously had a profound effect. But while this idea of our souls being snatched makes for an intense sci-fi thriller, it is also ironically a reality for many. No, I am not an advocate for the belief in martians coming and taking over our bodies, but I have seen within myself and others the propensity to let the flesh rule what is otherwise the property of God.

The flesh is persuasive. It wants what it wants and often goes unchecked. After all, we reside in these casings of flesh and it is difficult to recognize the worldly influence steadily creeping into our lives.

Sometimes we do not stop to reflect in our fast-paced world when our impulses seem so natural. After all, the flesh makes things look attractive, pleasing to the eye. Kind of reminds me of Adam and Eve and that fruit on the forbidden tree.

But a pig with lipstick is still a pig. If we drink the Kool-Aid without checking our thoughts and actions with the word of God, recognizing the flesh will become increasingly harder.

Like Paul, we ask the burning question, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” Although Paul acknowledge that we are easily controlled, he did not leave us there. His vivid description of the battle against the flesh ends with gratitude: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

We do have a choice. We are not slaves any longer to our flesh. It will be hard to resist the flesh, but perhaps clearing up the lies our flesh is telling us might motivate us to not swallow its prescription. If Jesus has given us everything we need, why would pursuing the flesh when its fruit is exposed and it is stripped of its deceit be desirable at all?

The days are evil and we live in a flesh-saturated society. Marriages and families are wrecked because of fleshly deeds being unchecked. The Christian must be in the Word of God to be able to see clearly. The cost of Jesus’ sacrifice was too high for His followers to live for their flesh. We were crucified with Him and must be a testimony of the life of Christ within our members. Others around us are depending on it and it just might be what makes the difference for all of their eternity.

Know who you are, friends. You and I are children of the righteous King, Jesus Christ. Our identity is sealed in Heaven. No more playing church – let us live wholly Holy lives for God, provoking one another toward righteousness. May we stop playing in the mud and walk in the light. We are not slaves anymore – we are free from the influence of our flesh in Jesus Christ! Hallelujah!

Jesus, thank You for revealing our sin and showing us where our flesh is taking over. Open our eyes to see and help us to live victorious lives as a witness in this fallen world, all for Your glory. 

Thoughtful Thursday: Purposeful Parenting

Parenting Purposefully

Photo credits: John Florbant

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When our children come to know God as their Savior, they understand that walking in obedience is not a punishment, but a blessing.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 78: 5-8

“He established a rule in Jacob; he set up a law in Israel. He commanded our ancestors to make his deeds known to their descendants, 6 so that the next generation, children yet to be born, might know about them. They will grow up and tell their descendants about them. 7 Then they will place their confidence in God. They will not forget the works of God, and they will obey his commands. 8 Then they will not be like their ancestors, who were a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that was not committed and faithful to God.”

Parenting advice from the Father of all creation is worth listening to. In fact, it was not just advice – but a command. God knew the importance of remembering His activity. We are desperately wicked and constantly need a compass to point us toward Him. Our children are no different. When we remind them of the wonders God has done, we point them to the One Who is greater than us – the only One worthy of worship – Who is able to guide them and be their constant companion through this life .

Worshiping One Who is greater than ourselves keeps us from worshiping lesser things that cannot save. When my children were little, I would read Scriptures to them before they could understand a word. When they were old enough to understand, we began devotions and bible studies together. I was always amazed at how the Holy Spirit would guide me as I taught my children. I did not have to be super organized – I just needed to open His Word and study it with them.

The Lord placed home education on my heart as the means to achieving what He had asked me to do – to raise my children to know Him. Not to be religious. Not to be outwardly obedient and inwardly disobedient, but to know what it meant to walk with God.

I got so much flack raising my children in the LORD; that they were damaged because they were home educated, that they were “missing out”. They did indeed miss out. On a lot of extra junk that would have burdened them. We have enough troubles in this world, let alone ascribing to the belief that parents need to let their kids “figure it out” on their own.

God is telling parents to be purposeful in their parenting, to make sure their children know what He has done for them and this world that He loves – with the purpose of them having confidence in Him. This confidence becomes a living faith that knows God is their ever-present help in times of trouble.

When our children come to know God as their Savior, they understand that walking in obedience is not a punishment, but a blessing. Choosing a life of walking after the flesh only leads to deep sorrows and God wants to spare us that.

Parenting is not for wimps, and God knew we would need His wisdom to be able to raise His children for Him in a way that pleased Him. He also knew we would need to examine ourselves regularly to be able to see clearly enough to recognize sin in our own lives as well as theirs. Parenting a path full of battles when we choose to go against the flesh and raise our children God’s way, but it is a battle worth fighting and He already won the war for us.

Lord, help us to be godly parents who never give up mentoring our children with Your love and truth. Cause the hearts of our children to crave righteousness and may they be faithful to raise their children to love you, too.

Denise Pass Promo PicDenise Pass | Author | Speaker | Worship Leader | Singer

http://www.seeingdeep.com | http://www.denisepass.com

Truthful Tuesday: To Know Him is to Serve Him

Serving and Knowing God

Photo credits from 924jeremiah.wordpress

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Knowing God means we begin to have His heart for His people, particularly the poor and needy.

Scripture of the Day:

Jeremiah 22:16 (NET)

“He upheld the cause of the poor and needy. So things went well for Judah.’ The LORD says, ‘That is a good example of what it means to know me.'”

Righteousness cannot be attained by good works, yet valid faith cannot exist apart from them. The life hidden in Christ is one that seeks to follow after the Spirit, walking in obedience to God, which will undoubtedly involve service to others.

Christ, Who reigns over all, chose a path of humility and service. His followers will do the same. Seeking to understand the real need around Him, Jesus met people where they were at and ministered to the physical and spiritual need of all people.

When we examine ourselves in light of Scripture and the example of Christ, we will always come up short, but that does not mean we replace the standard of Christ. The plumb line of Jesus reveals our desperate need of a Savior and His costly salvation exposes our inability to ever be able to adequately thank Him for His free salvation.

Christ simply asks that we believe and do what we see Him doing – serving others. Knowing God means we begin to have His heart for His people, particularly the poor and needy.

The same things that burden Him become our mission. In His infinite wisdom, God knows we need to serve others. Our flesh is preoccupied with self, while so many unmeet needs surround us. Knowing God makes all the difference in our service to and for our King and is a witness to the world that our God is living and we belong to Him.

The Holy Spirit within provokes us to do righteous deeds – not to earn our way to Heaven, but because we know God and love Him.

Religion can attempt to do the work of God and make great strides in helping people, but it can never achieve inward heart change. Serving others from a relationship with God is not self-motivated by achieving glory for ourselves or securing a spot in heaven, but fueled by a zeal to please God and initiated by the living Holy Spirit within us.

Ultimately, when we are serving God’s people, we are serving Jesus. Our service to our King might be radically different from person to person. One might be poor materially while another might be poor in spirit. Being sensitive to our Master Who instructs us how to serve, we become the beautiful hands and feet of Jesus, affecting His people for eternity. How blessed are the feet who bring good news!

Lord, help us to see where You are working around us and to join You. May our hearts burn with compassion and may we be poured out for Your glory alone.

Mundane Monday: Freedom in Yielding

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When we yield to our Creator’s will and plans, we become what we were meant to be.

Scripture of the Day:

Jeremiah 18:4-6

“Now and then there would be something wrong with the pot he was molding from the clay with his hands. So he would rework the clay into another kind of pot as he saw fit. 5 Then the LORD said to me, 6 I the LORD, say: “O nation of Israel, can I not deal with you as this potter deals with the clay? In my hands, you, O nation of Israel, are just like the clay in this potter’s hand.”

My youngest child still loves to play with clay. The delight shown on his face by a new creation made according to his specifications is felt by those around him. The clay responds to his touch and yields to the form the creator is making. If it were made of another material that was less pliable, it could not do so.

So, too, when we yield to our Creator’s will and plans, we become what we were meant to be. But when we fight His working in our lives, we do not rise to our God-given potential.

There are many ways a lump of clay can resist the work of God. We might look the part on the outside, but on the inside we resent the work being done. Instead of yielding, we can inwardly seethe and doubt God’s goodness when we would rather be left alone.

Or perhaps we can compare ourselves to other vessels and wonder why their process of being shaped seems easier. We wonder what the purpose is in it, anyway. It might seem mundane or perhaps cruel, this shaping of our wills in which our flesh has to die so our spirit is made alive.

But when we resist the shaping of our lives because it hurts, we do not recognize that we are in fact harming ourselves. Protecting ourselves from God’s work on our hearts is only impeding the progress He is making. The tools might seem crude or unnecessary, but our loving God sees the complete design. His character is revealed in the fruit of the work He is doing, and His grace is sufficient to enable us during the process.

There is hope in the knowledge that God’s work is always redemptive and for our good. It is in fact in yielding that we taste of the freedom of being a child of God. Free from the shackles of sin, at peace and free to be what He intended in the first place.

The joy my son has in displaying his creation reminds me of the joy of the Father, delighting in His children. He is glorified when we surrender our lives to Him and let Him work in us. Patient perseverance develops us, changing us from the inside out. The end of His labor is a beauty to behold – forever changed into His image, made to be more like Him!

Lord, help us to trust Your working in our lives and to yield to Your purposes, even when they do not make sense to us.

Denise Pass Promo Pic

Denise Pass  •  www.seeingdeep.com  •  www.denisepass.com

Author | Worship Leader | Singer/Songwriter | Speaker

Thoughtful Thursday: Idle Idolatry

idle idolatry.jpg

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When it seems God is absent or far off, His answer and presence might be closer than we realize.

Scripture of the Day:

Exodus 32:4-6

“He accepted the gold from them, fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molten calf. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt. 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it, and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow will be a feast to the LORD. 6 So they got up early on the next day and offered up burnt offerings and brought peace offerings, and the people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.”

Moses was missing in action. Gone too long on a mission by God, or so the Israelites felt. Forty days in the presence of God, thunder on the mountain, the God who parted the Red Sea – and the people asked for another god.

When the cat’s away the mice will play. Idle lives focused on their entertainment rather than on pleasing God was the stumbling block that began their campaign of idolatry. Coupled with impatience, the people of God ached to fill their emptiness with something greater. They did not want to have to wait. Their solution seemed religious enough – they were going to worship, after all. Sure, it was a “god” that was handmade by Aaron their leader from the jewelry they had worn just a few minutes earlier, but it gave them purpose and filled the empty spot in their souls that cried out to worship the living God.

What a sad account. Not just because God’s people accepted a counterfeit for their God who had just rescued them, but also because a man of God who was their leader – enabled them. Aaron was the one who would hold Moses’ hands up to lead Israel to victory. He was the very voice of Moses when Moses felt too fearful to speak. But when Moses was absent, Aaron quickly turned away from God and gave the people what they wanted – even though it would ultimately lead to many of their deaths.

In the times when it seems God is absent or far off, His answer and presence might be closer than we realize. The Israelites did not want to be disciplined and wait. They wanted to play. God saw what they were doing, anyway.

We are not unlike the Israelites. Busy, distracted, absorbed in modern technology, we have many options for idle time spend with modern idols. At the moment of our compromise, in His mercy, God shows us our sin so we will be freed from our idolatry and come back to Him. Even though idols can have a strong appeal, God’s grace is greater than our weakness and He longs to set us free.

Our response in the moment of our sin being exposed makes all the difference. Aaron said a calf “popped” out of the fire when his sin was revealed. Wow. Add a big fat lie on top of the grievous sin is not the way to forgiveness. When the scales fall off our eyes and we become aware of our sin, concealing our sins will not hide them from the eyes of God or heal our waywardness. God welcomes us to lay down our idols at His feet and to worship the only One of worth – Himself.

No substitute could ever replace you, God. Keep us from useless idols and keep our hearts near to You.

Denise Pass, Worship Leader/Songwriter/Artist/Author

 

Mundane Monday: Our “Identifying” God

Our Identifying God.png

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Our God is a Compassionate God. The God Who saves us is also the One Who hurts when we hurt, too.

Scripture of the Day:

Isaiah 63:9

“Through all that they suffered, he suffered too. The messenger sent from his very presence delivered them. In his love and mercy he protected them; he lifted them up and carried them through ancient times.”

Suffering is a bummer. Our flesh does not want an ounce of it and when it comes our way, complaining can often rise within our spirit as well as disillusionment or discouragement. Our tendency can be to judge the character of God when uncomfortable or painful circumstances are allowed into our lives. That is until we consider that He chose His suffering. Blaming God – the Creator of the universe – Who willingly offered His life in place of mine kind of brings my trials into perspective.

Our sorrows are not minimized – they are understood. In the context of a fallen world, we can have hope because even though for a little while we may suffer, our God gives us grace when we cry out and He has overcome the world.

This has been one of the biggest revelations for me in my walk with God – that the very suffering I despise He joyfully endured – for me. When I was broken and wondered why God would allow me and my children to hurt so much, it was in that moment that I wept because I was thinking of my comfort and not thinking of God and His glory.

Our culture daily churns out the message of the need for people to be able to “identify” with whatever it is they think will make them happy. Sad thing is, being fake and pretending you are something you are not will never help someone feel complete on the inside.

Jesus chose to “identify” with sinful mankind. He chose to die, be rejected, spat upon, and judged by His beloved Father even though He was completely innocent. Wow. I have to pause and worship Him here.

What a gracious and loving God. Loving and merciful, noticing our pain and giving us strength in the midst of trials. Setting an example of how to walk through our troubles. He is not a God far off, but a God nearby Who is able to have compassion by what He suffered.

Thank You, Lord, for choosing to be counted among us, even though You were God. You are worthy, oh God. Thank You for opening our eyes to see how wonderful Your salvation is.

Thoughtful Thursday: True Obedience

True Obedience is true freedom.png

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

God deserves our very best – not because He’s picky, but because He is worthy.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Samuel 13:12

I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down on me at Gilgal and I have not sought the LORD’s favor.’ So I felt obligated to offer the burnt offering.”

1 Samuel 15:8,9,19-21

“He captured King Agag of the Amalekites alive, but he executed all Agag’s people with the sword. 9 However, Saul and the army spared Agag, along with the best of the flock, the cattle, the fatlings, and the lambs, as well as everything else that was of value. They were not willing to slaughter them. But they did slaughter everything that was despised and worthless.” 19 “Why haven’t you obeyed the LORD? Instead you have greedily rushed upon the plunder! You have done what is wrong in the LORD’s estimation. 20 Then Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the LORD! I went on the campaign the LORD sent me on. I brought back King Agag of the Amalekites after exterminating the Amalekites. But the army took from the plunder some of the sheep and cattle – the best of what was to be slaughtered – to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal.”

Obedience – that ugly word our flesh recoils at. It seems old fashioned. Uptight. Legalistic. Or at least our rebellious culture tells us. But God’s design of authority is intended to be loving and kind, because He sees the dangers of stepping outside the pleasant boundaries He has placed for us.

Saul was doing all the right things. At least from the outside it appeared so. He sought the LORD’s favor and offered a burnt offering. Except his motivation had some problems – first, he felt obligated. Not feeling the love on that attitude. It also smacks of a manipulative kind of obedience – he had to do it and did it to get what he wanted – the favor of God. The only problem is, God sees what is going on in the inside.

God gave a command. Very clear and simple. Exterminate the Amalekites – I know, it sounds cruel, but they were a wicked people and God knew they would turn the hearts of His people. Here we see another problem with Saul’s response. Whether or not Saul understood the “why” to God’s command, he should have fully obeyed, but instead the word tells us that he was “not willing” to slaughter the animals. His will overrode God’s command. Sounds pretty awful, yet we can be guilty of the same thing.

Rationalizing the grey areas away when the Holy Spirit convicts us is no less of an obedience issue than Saul’s. In the name of freedom we can redefine what God has said, yet we are shackling ourselves to the chains of compromise instead. Turns out partial obedience is not obedience at all.

Samuel later said it was the motivation of greed that was a stumbling block, as well. Saul made it appear pious by saying he spared the sheep so he could sacrifice them to God, but half truths don’t stand to well before a Holy God. You just can’t fool Him. He will not be mocked.

Fear also cropped up as a valid reason why it was ok to twist God’s word. Didn’t God see the vast army? Surely He would not expect obedience to such a command, would He? Excuses, excuses. Mercy – I understand it, because my flesh likes to excuse itself, as well. Fear points to a lack of trust in the God Who called us in the first place.

Pride was Saul’s downfall, as well, and yet another aspect of Saul’s response that hindered Him from simple obedience. Samuel even finds Saul building a monument to himself. Every time we obey on our terms it leads to big trouble. It is prideful to think that we know better than the Omniscient One, and God knows fully the consequences of trying to accomplish something in the flesh instead of according to His perfect way.

Lastly, Saul pulled the famous “blame game” and scapegoated the army. They were the ones who kept the sheep and items of value. Clever. But the one in charge is responsible for those under his command.

Much like the attitude of Cain, whose offering was not what God required nor his best, we need to guard ourselves from thinking it is okay to define what is acceptable to God on our terms. He is an unchanging Holy God Who deserves our very best – not because He’s picky, but because He is worthy. Worthy of us delighting to obey the One Who created us in the first place.

Lord, please forgive us when we forget Your expectations or try to do things our way. Help us to live lives worthy of how awesome You are and to do things Your way. You know best.