Tag Archives: obedience

Jeremiah 50-52; Hebrews 5

There’s so much rich truth for encouragement in Hebrews, and in this chapter.

But there is one short verse that stands out me today.

Hebrews 5:8 (NIV)

“Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered”

Jesus was undeniably the Son of God.

And yet, He still had to learn obedience.

He still had to learn submission,

He still had to choose to yield His will to His Father’s.

And how did He learn this submission?

Through suffering.

In the midst of His suffering, He choose submission, and that’s when He was made obedient, and therefore, according to verse 9, perfect.

It’s easy to submit to God when His will matches my own.

It’s easy to submit to God when it does not cost me. When it’s easy, pleasurable, and comfortable.

But that’s not where my faith is proven.

My faith, like Jesus’s, is only proved genuine when I choose submission when it costs me – ultimately, it’s proven through my obedience in the midst of suffering,

In the midst of affliction, my flesh cries out and demands obedience. It’s easy to submit to myself in those moments. It’s easy to turn to food, to entertainment, to distraction. It’s easy to turn to self-defense, to anger, and to resentment.

How I respond to suffering reveals what’s truly in my heart, for better or for worse.

When life is easy, I speak easily and freely of the joy of obedience. But when God brings friction into my life, I must make a choice. I can either obey my flesh, or I can learn obedience through submission to God by doing the right thing at the right time, regardless of how I feel.

Thankfully, I’m not alone in this struggle.

Jesus Himself struggled.

And He overcame.

And now He is my high priest, ready to help me, to strengthen me, to comfort me, and to equip me to overcome as He, Himself, did.

What I have discovered is that when I chose obedience to myself in my suffering, things get worse. But when I choose obedience to God, things get better. And not necessarily circumstantially, but internally, as my attitude improves, peace floods my soul, and my actions honor God.

And the greatest thing of all is that when I choose obedience in suffering, I experience a greater, deeper, and richer relationship with God, as I learn how to depend on His strength and not my own.

 

Father, thank You for your patience with me. Thank You for caring enough about me to let me suffer for the sake of my spiritual growth. Thank You for not leaving me alone in the midst of my suffering. Thank You for the comfort of knowing that Jesus, also, suffered, and He is ready and waiting to help me in my trials. Help me to see my afflictions through Your eyes. Help me to prove my faith genuine by submitting to Your will over and above my own. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Jeremiah 23, 25, 26; Titus 3

I have lived in this home for eight years. While I couldn’t tell you the exact reason or date that I forgot to get the trash cans to the curb, I can say that a neighbor noticed the break in my routine one week and called to check on me.

My kids and I have delivered goodies and cards on Christmas and Valentine’s Day to our nearest neighbors for many years. The year my dad died, his funeral was in early February, and I couldn’t get my head around baking cookies for our neighbors for Valentine’s Day–so much in my world was changing. I went to the mailbox one day to find a (gluten-free!) baking mix from a neighbor and a card that spoke love to me. She acknowledged how I cared for others and wanted to care for me. (She didn’t even know my dad had died. I guess she had just noticed my absence that season.)

These are just two gestures from my community that have gently comforted me and reminded me that the things (we) say and do really matter. People notice. They notice our habits. They notice our hearts. Every one of us has influence–in a neighborhood, in a family, in a friendship, in a work place, on a sports team, in a classroom, online, or even randomly out and about in the world.

As I read in Jeremiah, I reflect on stewardship.

“What sorrow awaits the leaders of my people—the shepherds of my sheep—for they have destroyed and scattered the very ones they were expected to care for,” says the Lord (Jeremiah 23:1, NLT).

And:

“Do not listen to these prophets when they prophesy to you,
    filling you with futile hopes.
They are making up everything they say.
    They do not speak for the Lord!
17 They keep saying to those who despise my word,
    ‘Don’t worry! The Lord says you will have peace!’
And to those who stubbornly follow their own desires,
    they say, ‘No harm will come your way!’ (Jeremiah 23:16b-17, NLT)

Jeremiah’s stance on obedience and truth made him a target in his community. An angry mob demanded his life.

12 Then Jeremiah spoke to the officials and the people in his own defense. “The Lord sent me to prophesy against this Temple and this city,” he said. “The Lord gave me every word that I have spoken. 13 But if you stop your sinning and begin to obey the Lord your God, he will change his mind about this disaster that he has announced against you. 14 As for me, I am in your hands—do with me as you think best. 15 But if you kill me, rest assured that you will be killing an innocent man! The responsibility for such a deed will lie on you, on this city, and on every person living in it. For it is absolutely true that the Lord sent me to speak every word you have heard (Jeremiah 26:12-15, NLT).”

(Uriah also prophesied the same things as Jeremiah, and he was hunted down, captured and killed.)

Jeremiah (and Uriah) served the Lord. Jeremiah’s task intimidates me–the non-confrontational me. What will I do and who will I be when it comes to speaking truth and upholding values? I think long on the things that I value–when I am under pressure, do I trust God with the outcome? Even if I stand alone? (Below, Ahikam stands up for Jeremiah, and I am encouraged. And I remember the most unexpected times that the Lord has sent someone to stand with me in difficulties.)

24 Nevertheless, Ahikam son of Shaphan stood up for Jeremiah and persuaded the court not to turn him over to the mob to be killed (Jeremiah 26:24, NLT).

Lord, you have given me areas of influence and I want to honor you with my life, my words and my actions. Dear Lord, strengthen me in my weakness. Help me to speak truth over my fears.

Courtney (66books365)

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Jeremiah 19-20; Titus 1; Psalm 93

Lord, your laws will stand forever.
Your Temple will be holy forevermore. (Psalm 93:5)

God had established his covenant with the Jews. As long as they worshiped him as the one true God and followed his decrees, his protection was upon them. However, they chose to do otherwise.

Say, ‘Kings of Judah and people of Jerusalem, listen to this message from the Lord. This is what the Lord All-Powerful, the God of Israel, says: I will soon bring a disaster on this place that will amaze and frighten everyone who hears about it. 4 The people of Judah have quit following me. They have made this a place for foreign gods. They have burned sacrifices to other gods that neither they, nor their ancestors, nor the kings of Judah had ever known before. They filled this place with the blood of innocent people. They have built places on hilltops to worship Baal, where they burn their children in the fire to Baal. That is something I did not command or speak about; it never even entered my mind. Now people call this place the Valley of Ben Hinnom or Topheth, but the days are coming, says the Lord, when people will call it the Valley of Killing. (Jer 19:3-6) NIV

I don’t imagine these words were received with great applause by the crowds that heard Jeremiah declare the words of the LORD. As it is today, many hear the words of God and dismiss them, scoff at them, and refuse to believe them. They are “stiff-necked and refuse to listen.” But as Psalm 93 states: God’s laws will stand forever. His promises can be trusted—both the ones of blessings and the ones of curses (see Deut. 28).

As I read Chapter 20 and Jeremiah’s treatment, I couldn’t help but think of Paul and his many trials. He, too, was beaten and imprisoned for spreading the truth of God’s words.  He, too, was obeying God and fully in His will.

Pashhur son of Immer was a priest and the highest officer in the Temple of the Lord. When he heard Jeremiah prophesying in the Temple courtyard, he had Jeremiah the prophet beaten. And he locked Jeremiah’s hands and feet between large blocks of wood at the Upper Gate of Benjamin of the Lord’s Temple. (Jer 20:1b-3).

Verses 7-18 are entitled “Jeremiah’s Complaint” in my bible. As I read through them, I thought of Jeremiah and what he had just endured. These verses come after he’s been spreading God’s words, warning people of the coming destruction, mistreated, and ridiculed. He spent the night in stocks at the public gate in order to shame him and try to silence him. He was doing God’s work and never expected it would play out the way it did. Having been through trials God has allowed into my life, I totally get his battle within for I’ve battled with these same feelings. Here I was, doing what I thought God called me to do, and something I never expected came out of it. I went from being angry with God, to praising Him, to hurting so badly I wish I’d never been born. Like Jeremiah, I took it straight to God and I felt his love for me as I wrestled with the turmoil inside my own head and heart. He let me wrestle until I got to that place of surrender where, knowing God was sovereign, I could once again do what he was asking me to do. Chapter 21 begins with Jeremiah once again setting off to prophesy for the Lord. Being silent was not an option for Jeremiah—he was called by God to be His voice to the people of Judah and Jerusalem.

But if I say, “I will not mention his word
or speak anymore in his name,”
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot. (Jer 20:9)

Lord, I pray to be so consumed by the Holy Spirit that I cannot keep inside what you’ve called me to do. I thank you for the times you’ve allowed me to share my feelings of fear, frustration, doubts, and anger as well as the times of pure praise, worship, and thanksgiving. You’ve patiently waited for me to get beyond myself to that place of surrender where you are once again in your proper place in my life. Your will above my own. In Jesus name I pray, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

 

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Jeremiah 9-12; 2 Timothy 2

New routines, new seasons, new challenges. A dear friend’s words to her child reach out from the years to encourage me now–to keep focused on the goal.

“If racing against mere men makes you tired,
    how will you race against horses?
If you stumble and fall on open ground,
    what will you do in the thickets near the Jordan? (Jeremiah 12:5, NLT)

Remember the why.

Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things (2 Timothy 2:3-7, NLT).

Focus. Obedience. (Diligence, reward.)

15 Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. 16 Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior. 17 This kind of talk spreads like cancer, as in the case of Hymenaeus and Philetus … 19 But God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,”[b] and “All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil.”[c] (2 Timothy 2:15-17, 19, NLT)

I think long on purpose and Kingdom focus. Sideline skirmishes try to take my focus off the goal, words maim and discourage, and some obstacles seem like impenetrable blocks.

He reinforces, “Don’t give up.” Oh, if I stumble on the open ground, how will I ever traverse the thicket? He has spoken purpose in my heart and over my life.

21 If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work (2 Timothy 2:21, NLT).

He points the way, in the distraction and in the storm.

Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts. 23 Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. 24 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. 26 Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants (2 Timothy 2: 22b-26, NLT).

Lord, I lean on you for understanding. You are loving and wise and generous. You gently turn my focus and remind me: don’t forget the why.

Courtney (66books365)

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Isaiah 49-52; Philippians 4, Psalms 92

“And now the Lord speaks-the one who formed me in my mother’s womb to be his servant, who commissioned me to bring Israel back to him.  The Lord has honored me, and my God has given me strength.  He says, “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me.  I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 49:5&6 NLT

God has been teaching me about restoration. He is showing me that I want things done quickly, but it takes time (usually more than I think). It’s a process. It’s messy. It doesn’t always go as planned.  God says, he “will do more than restore.” Restoration is not just about me. It is for others to see God’s glory. It takes the pressure off to feel like I have to do it on my own. I have to trust that he will use it for good.  But, do I?

“The Sovereign Lord has given me words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary.  Morning by morning he awakens me and opens my understanding to his will.”  Isaiah 50:4 NLT

It’s a daily pressing into him.  Knowing that he is the only one who can remove strongholds.

“Rise from the dust, O Jerusalem.  Sit in a place of honor. Remove the chains of slavery from your neck, O captive daughter of Zion.” Isaiah 52:2 NLT

It’s when a new rug in my daughter’s room starts to look more like a prayer rug. It becomes holy ground.  A place to fight the battle.  To feel the presence of God. To feel his peace.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6&7 NLT

I rest in this promise…

“This is what the Lord says: “At just the right time I will respond to you.  On the day of salvation I will help you.  I will protect you and give you to the people as my covenant with them.” Isaiah 49:8

Dear Father, Help me to remember that you hear and answer my prayers, even when it is hardest to pray. Thank you for showing me your love. Thank you that your mercies are new every morning. And that you are making all things new. I am praising you before the breakthrough. You already have the victory. Amen.

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High.  It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening…You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me!” Psalms 92 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

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Isaiah 26-29; Romans 16

“In that day, everyone in the land of Judah will sing this song: Our city is strong! We are surrounded by the walls of God’s salvation.  Open the gates to all who are righteous; allow the faithful to enter.  You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.  Lord, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws; our heart’s desire is to glorify your name.” Isaiah  26:1-8 NLT

Am I building walls around my mind to keep the enemy out? Or am I willingly letting him in? These questions come to my mind as I read these verses.  I let my guard down and fear can creep in when I least expect it. Isaiah 26:3 has been a refuge to me when I am going through a dark time. It reminds me that trust is greater than fear. And I ask Jesus to fill me again.

“The humble will be filled with fresh joy from the Lord.  The poor will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.  That is why the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, says to the people of Israel, “My people will no longer be ashamed or turn pale with fear.  For when they see their many children and all the blessings I have given them, they will recognize the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob.  They will stand in awe of the God of Israel.” Isaiah 29:19, 22-23 NLT 

I am in a season where I am in need of fresh joy.  There has been hard battles fought in my family and I am weary.  But, these verses give me hope. I see God working in our midst and I am in awe.  He still does miracles today.  He still restores and makes broken things whole. May I never grow tired of that.

“But everyone knows that you are obedient to the Lord.  That makes me very happy.  I want you to be wise in doing right and to stay innocent of any wrong.  The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.  May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.” Romans 16:19 NLT

Dear Father, thank you for your faithfulness.  I am humbled by how you would use someone like me.  Thank you for always directing my path.  Help me to fill my mind with your word. This is the true battle.  Thank you for your promises to always be with me. Amen.

“ In the night I search for you; in the morning I earnestly seek you.” Isaiah 26:1-9 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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Jonah 1-4; 1 Thessalonians 4

“But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord.  He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish.  But the Lord hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart.” Jonah 1:3&4 NLT

Even though I find it a little funny that Jonah tried to get away from the Lord.  I think about times in my own life when I have done the same.  I am thankful for a Father who presses in and doesn’t leave me in my wondering.  He gently brings me back to him.  He hears my cries for help. And answers me.

“Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish.  He said, “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and he answered me.  I called to you from the land of the dead, and Lord, you heard me!  You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea.  The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath your wild stormy waves.  Then I said, ‘O Lord, you have driven me from your presence.  Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.’ “I sank beneath the waves, and the waters closed over me.  Seaweed wrapped itself around my head.  I sank down to the very roots of the mountains.  I was imprisoned by the earth, whose gates lock shot forever.  But you, O Lord my God, snatched me from the jaws of death! As my life was slipping away, I remembered the Lord.  And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple…For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.” Jonah 2:1-9 NLT

I can relate to Jonah more than I’d like to admit.  He not only let fear get the best of him and he fled.  But, he was letting his feelings of anger and bitterness cause him to disobey.  He had to give up his control of the situation. And let God handle it.  What situations am I trying to control?

“The Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?” Then Jonah went to the east of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen in the city.”  Jonah 4:4 NLT

God let Jonah wrestle through his feelings.  He was patient and merciful. He asked him a question, instead of trying to tell him how to feel.

Thank you Father for your patience towards me.  For working through the process even when it is hard.  For understanding my pain, but not wanting me to stay there.  Give me a love for others that only comes from you. Amen.

“Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before.  Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11&12 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

 

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