Thursday, February 21, 2008

Living In Obedience

Human nature is quite predictable: it is unreliably unpredictable. There is, however, one exception. It is self-centered down to the core. On that you may depend. When left to our own devices we manipulate circumstances to fulfill our own selfish ambitions. You find tools of control (not self-control, "situational" control) in our little tool kits. We have hopes and dreams and we work things and people in order to achieve those ends. And if we're not careful, Christians, we find ourselves trying to manipulate God.

If you live long enough you will find disappointment inescapable. It will hunt you down and rack your soul with pain. Life is not one long party. "Well, I'm not reading anymore of this. I don't need to hear doom and gloom. I'm finding something more encouraging than this to read today."

I am not a deeply bitter woman. These thoughts are not stemming from a crushed soul with no hope. I am speaking from a heart that is learning to trust God more and more, whose deepest hope has not been crushed and never will be.

But I am declaring a warning: trust in Him alone. Do not hope in dreams, do not place expectation in formulas, do not look for fulfillment in end results. Look for Him, for His presence, for His love in your life and you will not be disappointed. He always can be found when we search for Him.

Godly principles are taught in the Word of God. Commandments and promises are given. We are schooled in obedience, trained to walk according to the Word. This is how we show that we love God: "If you love me you will keep my commandments." We often walk out these principles in faith, not yet seeing what this walk will produce. This is how we please God: "For without faith it is impossible to please God."

If the end result does not yield the expected fruit, does that make the teaching erroneous? Should we stop teaching Godly principles because that fruit is not always seen? We add a+b but sometimes the result isn't the anticipated c. What are we to do? Should we stop teaching, stop obeying simply because Christians are doing a+b but not always getting c?

No. Often times our reason for a+b is wrong. It is wrong. We have slipped into manipulation. In the deep recesses of our hearts we are practicing control, placing hope in dreams and outcomes. We are adding a+b to get c. We should be adding a+b simply because it is right to do so and it therefore pleases God and shows Him love. Our obedience always pleases Him; if pleasing Him is our goal, we have been successful! We have attained our desire. It can never be failed.

But we so often add a+b with a lesser goal in mind, with our "rights" in view, OUR personal desires in our hearts. We must remember - He reigns over all: all theories, all laws both physical and spiritual, and over all formulas. He put those things in place and caused them to be effective. And there may be times when He allows those very laws to be "violated" or overruled. Those decisions are, quite obviously, His to make. He established principles and He can do what He wants with them.

We are all familiar with the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. But have we really considered their response in the face of impending disaster?

"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." Daniel 3.17,18

They were choosing to walk in obedience, not presuming to know the outcome here on earth, but concerned only with devotion and love for Him. " able...But even if he does not..." Their only certain boast was this - that He was the one true God and they would serve Him alone. That boast can belong to all of us in any place, at any time, regardless of circumstance.

Our great confidence is in His abiding love, His great mercy, His true judgment. He is for us, always, and ever has our good in mind. He is working to see His name glorified through us, and His great glory is His undying, faithful love that reaches to the heavens and fills eternity. He is love.

He is love. That is why we obey. That is why we walk in faith. Unredeemed people cannot do that. They have not tasted that love.

Our obedience isn't done so that we can enjoy certain guaranteed outcomes. The apostle Paul's life threw that theory out the window long ago. But Paul did walk in fulfillment. How? By placing all of his hopes, expectations, and dreams in Him. Only. He alone is our dream, our hope, and expectation.

With that in mind we can never lose. Never.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post. Part of our maturing is that we recognize that in order to be obedient, we never grow out of the need to be listening and examining what we hear against the Word of God. Otherwise, we fool ourselves into listening to our own agendas.

7:29 AM  
Blogger thisrequiresthought said...

yesterday I read this and it stopped me in my spiritual tracks:

"This is love for God: to obey His commands." (1 John 5:3a)

--and my so-very-human self responded: what about how I feel? Don't my desires come into this equation?
It took me a few minutes recall what serving Him is all about. I have to do that every so often: re-sort, re-think, and set things back into place. His Word is the only thing I know of that can keep me in check, in focus. A timely reminder from a friend helps, too!

Thanks for the exhortation.

9:18 AM  
Blogger The Growing Goodsons said...

Thanks for the reminder. I needed to hear this today!


3:40 PM  
Blogger j. said...

I am glad to read this post. It only affirms some of what I feel the Lord has been speaking to me about lately. Thanks for the note on my page.

3:50 PM  
Blogger Quinne said...

Hi Darlene :) Simply trusting Him. Daily walking with Him. Wanting Him to be blessed by my life - to bring joy to Him.

Trying to offer up everything to His care and His power. I say trying, because it can be so hard to say "no matter what" after having lived that a little...

Do I trust in His wisdom and love? Absolutely! I want to want only what He wants :)

Thank you for a wonderful reminder and challenge. Love you! Q

Today, as I feel so often when I visit you here, I would love to sit down with you for an afternoon (or a week) and talk :)

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really love this Darlene. There is so much to remember here. Thank you for the help in keeping our hearts in check.

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love full-fledged exhortation.
Bring it on. It's much appreciated.
I want to obey.

Your little man has improved drastically in his shooting and passing game. I love to watch the kids from week to week. The amount they develop their skills in just 7days simply amazes me! They all look like they are having fun at "being serious players", too.

12:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent post. The reminder is always welcome and needed...being human and all....
Michele L.

10:05 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Thank you for this wisdom

12:22 PM  
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4:16 AM  

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