Tag Archives: obedience

1 Samuel 14-15; 1 Chronicles 4-5; 1 Corinthians 2

I really love to read books–this week’s book samplings from the library include how not to kill houseplants, a Nordic mystery, women warriors in history, how to help those dealing with cancer, and a couple of motivational books on pushing past obstacles.

I like a good motivational book. Sometimes my mind tries to get me to give up on pursuits. Just this past weekend, before my feet even touched the floor, my mind was automatically trying to set me up for failure. I was thankful to get my hands on a book that covered the internal fight against resistance. There were some great phrases that helped shape perspective, however, overall, it lacked the guidance I needed.

Paul writes on wisdom, and it reminds me of how much God loves me and wants to be in relationship with me. I can know the wonderful things God has freely given. God’s foundation is the only one I want to build upon.

10 But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. 11 No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. 12 And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.

13 When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.14 But people who aren’t spiritual[g can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. 15 Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others. 16 For,

“Who can know the Lord’s thoughts?
    Who knows enough to teach him?”[h

But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:10-16, NLT).

I’ve read King Saul’s story enough to feel sad as soon as it begins. He was impulsive, undisciplined, proud. His is a story of putting God second to his own agenda.

36 Then Saul said, “Let’s chase the Philistines all night and plunder them until sunrise. Let’s destroy every last one of them.”

His men replied, “We’ll do whatever you think is best.”

But the priest said, “Let’s ask God first.”

37 So Saul asked God, “Should we go after the Philistines? Will you help us defeat them?” But God made no reply that day. (1 Samuel 14:36-37, NLT).

Lord, I don’t want to go anywhere without you. Your Word reminds me often to keep my eyes on you, to wait on you, to trust you. Thank you that you make wisdom available, including the very real truth about the battle against resistance. I’m so very thankful that you won’t abandon me, and that you will help me when I call. You are a loving father, and I am a grateful daughter.

Courtney (66books365)


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1 Samuel 1-3; Galatians 3; Psalms 66

 “Why are you crying, Hannah?” Elkanah would ask.  “Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me-isn’t that better than having ten sons?”  “Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord.  And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you.  He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.  When Elekanah slept with Hannah, the Lord remembered her plea, and in due time she gave birth to a son.  She named him Samuel, for she said, “I asked the Lord for him.  I am the very woman who stood here several years ago praying to the Lord.  I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request.  Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life.” And they worshiped the Lord there.” 1 Samuel 1-2 NLT

It is refreshing to see Hannah’s vulnerability.  In her faithfulness, she was still human.  She struggled and shed tears.  She cried out to the Lord and he answered her prayer.  He rewarded her faithfulness.  He gave back to her in abundance.

“Before they returned home, Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, “May the Lord give you other children to take the place of this one she gave to the Lord.” And the Lord blessed Hannah, and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters.  Meanwhile, Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.” 1 Samuel 2:20&21 NLT

What am I holding onto that God is asking me to give to him? What is my Samuel?  Sometimes it is a daily surrendering to him.  He knows I can’t do it alone, so he gave me his Spirit.

“You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ.  How foolish can you be? After starting new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?” In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God.” Galatians 3:6&7 NLT

Dear Father, Thank you for Father for your presence.  That you promise to always be with me.  Forgive me when I doubt.  Thank you for your faithfulness in my life.  Thank you for your patience and unfailing love towards me.  Help me to live in a posture of surrender to you.

“If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.  But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer.  Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.” Psalms 66:18-20 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

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Judges 5-6; Mark 11; Psalms 39, 41

I sit with Gideon this morning.

12 The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!

13 “Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.”

14 Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!

15 “But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!”

16 The Lord said to him, “I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.”

17 Gideon replied, “If you are truly going to help me, show me a sign to prove that it is really the Lord speaking to me. 18 Don’t go away until I come back and bring my offering to you.”

He answered, “I will stay here until you return” (Judges 6:12-18, NLT, emphasis added).

I notice how Gideon sees himself. I notice he has a lot of questions. I notice his doubts. I notice his need for assurance.

Gideon takes steps that slowly build up trust and confidence–going to get the offering and seeing the angel of the Lord still there; the offering ignited; the task of sacrificing of his father’s bull and tearing down of the Asherah pole; the wet fleece test; the dry fleece test.

That first moment of Gideon at the threshing floor–he was going about life as usual, and the Lord arrives with a hero’s task for him. Gideon didn’t feel ready to take on such a big responsibility. He doubted himself. He doubted the calling he heard. And maybe he doubted God. Did he wonder, “Are you really with me? Will you really be there? In this circumstance, I feel abandoned. Can I really trust you? Can I have a sign? And another one too, just to be sure?” (I placed the Lord’s assurances in bold, so my heart would see.)

In Mark 11, I read of Jesus telling some disciples to get a young donkey–where to find it, what to say if questioned. I notice his authority. And later:

As Jesus was walking through the Temple area, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders came up to him. 28 They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right to do them?” (Mark 11:27b-28, NLT)

Gideon: who felt small and weak, given a hero’s task. The disciples: told where to go, what to get, what to say, and they do it. The religious leaders: threatened and angered, demanding proof of permission. The fig tree: in full leaf, a posture of maturity, but fruitless and immature.

13 He noticed a fig tree in full leaf a little way off, so he went over to see if he could find any figs. But there were only leaves because it was too early in the season for fruit. 14 Then Jesus said to the tree, “May no one ever eat your fruit again!” And the disciples heard him say it (Mark 11:13-14, NLT).

Lord, be with me. Your word tells me you are trustworthy. You are the authority. I’m grateful for your patience with me. I am grateful that you will not abandon me. Help me to keep my eyes on you and to be obedient to your call.

Courtney (66books365)

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Numbers 35-36; Deuteronomy 1-2; Acts 23

Acts 23:14-16 (ESV)

They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath to taste no food till we have killed Paul. Now therefore you, along with the council, give notice to the tribune to bring him down to you, as though you were going to determine his case more exactly. And we are ready to kill him before he comes near.” Now the son of Paul’s sister heard of their ambush, so he went and entered the barracks and told Paul.

Confession time: I’m a perfectionist. I have long struggled with unrealistic expectations of myself – expectations regarding personal habits, my relationship with the Lord, and my ministry to others. As a result, I also struggle with comparison. I see the people around me who seem be excelling, and I feel defeated. I see the numbers of people others are ministering to, and feel like my feeble few isn’t going to make a difference. I see people gravitating to the “super-star” Christians and feel like I’ll never be recognized or appreciated for my effort.

This prideful line of thought crashes into insecurity: I’m not good enough. No one notices me. Why would God ever chose to use me?

The last few weeks God has been bringing this struggle to the forefront yet again. And I think today’s reading is exactly what I needed to confront my insecurities.

Right smack in the middle of Acts 23 we read of the plot to kill Paul. It wasn’t time for Paul to die – and God made sure of it by putting someone in the right place at the right time to hear the plot and intervene to save Paul’s life. Who is this person? He’s an unknown. In fact, we don’t even know his name. He’s simply labeled as Paul’s nephew.

Paul was an “A-list” character in this story, yes; but this background, unnamed “extra” had the most important role. This young man saved Paul’s life. This young man was the reason Paul made it to Rome. This young man was vital to God’s plan for Paul’s life.

Anytime that I struggle with feeling ineffective, I pray that God will bring this young man to mind. He was simply in the right place at the right time – and God used him in such an incredible way! I need to trust that God has put me where He has me for a reason. And eventually, it will prove effective. I don’t need be front and center, to have a platform, to reach hundreds or thousands. I need to be faithful behind the scenes.

So what if no one is noticing me, encouraging me, or recognizing my potential? So what if I don’t have huge following, and no one remembers my name? Is God’s approval enough for me?

Some people are called to impact thousands. What if God just wants me to impact one?

Lord, forgive me for making my ministry and my service to You about me. Forgive me for comparing myself to others and their successes. I want to be faithful to you regardless of where you put me or how much I’m noticed. Help me not to put unrealistic and unhealthy expectations on my own performance, but let me trust in your perfect plan for my life. Help me to remember it’s about the 1 sheep, not the 99. Let me make a difference in the small things and let me make Your name known over my own. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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Leviticus 26-27; Numbers 1; Acts 13

In the beginning of Leviticus 26, God encouraged the people of Israel to obey Him by expressing the great rewards they would receive from their obedience. And then He said this:

Leviticus 26:13 (ESV)

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves. And I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.

He then shifted gears, and spent far more words warning of the consequences – the pain – they would experience if they disobeyed. The pain of acting in pride. The pain of acting in their own strength, in their own understanding, and in their own power.

The pain of forgetting God.

I think that’s why the transition between the promises of blessing to the promises of pain was a reminder of what God had done for the people to deliver them from bondage.

The single biggest factor in our obedience is remembering what God has done for us. If I could just remember how God has delivered me before, I’d have no trouble believing Him for this time. If I could remember how God answered my prayers before, I’d have no trouble asking Him for what I need now. If I remembered God’s faithfulness in the last trial, I’d find it easier to be faithful to Him in the current one.

But I forget. My fear takes over. Insecurity, pride, frustration, and the temptation to take matters into my own hands causes me to act like more like the Israelites than I’d like to admit. And it lasts longer than I’d like to admit, too. Because, while God offers so many promises and incentives for obedience, I find that I tend to respond far more to painful consequences than positive incentives.

I don’t think I’m alone in that. In fact, I think that’s why God spent more time talking about the painful consequences than the pleasurable ones. Because we tend to change only when the pain of staying the way we are becomes greater than the pain of change. That’s why pain is God’s biggest tool in our lives. He gets us out of the mess by pain.  And then, when we repent, as He promises in last section of the chapter, He can restore us and lavish on us the blessings of obedience that He’d promised in the first place.

If only I didn’t have to learn the hard way.

If only I could be faithful in seeking Him
before I find myself stressed out and overwhelmed.

If only I could decide to be kind
before my mouth gets me into trouble.

If only I could give forgiveness
before bitterness affects my other relationships.

If only I could learn to eat right
before I outgrow all my clothes.

Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don’t. What’s the key? Remembering God.

Father, forgive me for trusting in myself and what makes sense to me instead of obeying your directions for my life. Help me to remember what You’ve done for me, how You’ve proven Yourself to me, and how You’ve proven your ways are better than mine. I want to be faithful to you just as you’ve been faithful to me. I want to be motivated by Your promises, not the by the pain of ignoring you. Help me to live in Your presence and in the light of Your love. In Jesus’ name, amen.  

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Leviticus 8-11; Acts 7

“So Aaron and his sons did everything the Lord had commanded through Moses.” Leviticus 8:36 NLT

Moses and Aaron were obedient to God’s call on their life. They might not have always understood it, but they kept showing up.

“After that, Aaron raised his hands to the people and blessed them. Then, after presenting the sin offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offering, he stepped down from the altar. Then Moses and Aaron went into the Tabernacle, and when they came back out, they blessed the people again, and the glory of the Lord appeared to the whole community. Fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When the people saw this, they shouted with joy and fell face down on the ground.” Leviticus 9:22-24 NLT

They saw the fruits of their labor. Glory was revealed to them.

Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord meant when he said, ‘I will display my holiness through those who come near me. I will display my glory before all the people.” Leviticus 10:3 NLT

How many times have I been tempted to give up before God’s plan is revealed? Or I spend too much time questioning his calling on my life, instead of walking faithfully where I am?

God found Moses where he was. He sent him back to people who once rejected him. His willingness to walk into hurt and pain, lead him and others to victory that they wouldn’t have otherwise known.

Forty years later, in the desert near Mount Sinai, an angel appeared to Moses in the flame of a burning bush. When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight. As he went to take a closer look, the voice of the Lord called out to him, ‘I am God of your ancestors- the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’ Moses shook with terror and did not dare to look. Now go, for I am sending you back to Egypt.’ So God sent back the same man his people had previously rejected when they demanded, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge over us?’ Through the angel who appeared to him in the burning bush, God sent Moses to be their ruler and savior. And by means of many wonders and miraculous signs, he led them out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and through the wilderness for forty years.” Acts 7:30-36 NLT

Dear Father, I pray that I would take time to listen to your voice and guidance. Give me faith to move forward when I don’t understand your plan. Thank you for your faithfulness. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)


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Exodus 38-40; Acts 4; Psalms 15, 19

Integrity. Obedience. Trustworthiness. Excellence. Perseverance. At first, I was dazzled by the detail and skill of the craftsmen. Then I was humbled by the very ordinary (not-so-ordinary) routine setting up and taking down of a traveling tabernacle. God has me wrestle with obedience this week. (I just finished a read aloud with my youngest, a book by Geraldine McCaughrean called The Kite Rider. A theme throughout is obedience, and the cost of obedience.)

Today, I read of Bezalel, being who God created him to be, and cheering him on for his excellence.

Bezalel made the chestpiece with great skill and care. He made it to match the ephod, using finely woven linen embroidered with gold and with blue, purple, and scarlet thread (Exodus 39:8, NLT, emphasis added).

Do I cheer the ordinary (not-so-ordinary) as well?

16 Moses proceeded to do everything just as the Lord had commanded him. 17 So the Tabernacle was set up on the first day of the first month of the second year. 18 Moses erected the Tabernacle by setting down its bases, inserting the frames, attaching the crossbars, and setting up the posts. 19 Then he spread the coverings over the Tabernacle framework and put on the protective layers, just as the Lord had commanded him (Exodus 40:16-19, NLT, emphasis added) .

(For some reason, these preparations made me think of congregations gathering on Sundays in rented school spaces, setting up and tearing down. The routine of ordinary-not-so-ordinary.)

And something I notice too in obedience–anointing.

12 “Present Aaron and his sons at the entrance of the Tabernacle, and wash them with water. 13 Dress Aaron with the sacred garments and anoint him, consecrating him to serve me as a priest. 14 Then present his sons and dress them in their tunics. 15 Anoint them as you did their father, so they may also serve me as priests. With their anointing, Aaron’s descendants are set apart for the priesthood forever, from generation to generation” (Exodus 40:12-15, NLT, emphasis added).

And in the New Testament, Spirit-filled teaching and preaching. Who can stop it?

19 But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? 20 We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20, NLT, emphasis added).

Lord, you challenge my thoughts and you challenge my heart–to examine my response in the ordinary-not-so-ordinary. Forgive my dragging feet and reluctance. I remember the times I served and served wholeheartedly.

Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord?
    Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?
Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right,
    speaking the truth from sincere hearts.
Those who refuse to gossip
    or harm their neighbors
    or speak evil of their friends.
Those who despise flagrant sinners,
    and honor the faithful followers of the Lord,
    and keep their promises even when it hurts.
Those who lend money without charging interest,
    and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent.
Such people will stand firm forever. (Psalm 15, NLT, emphasis added)

Thank you, Lord, for loving me so much to redirect my thoughts to you, and to what matters beyond what I can see.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, Exodus