When Jesus came to John the Baptist to be baptized, John’s initial reaction was to protest. He did not feel worthy to even unties Jesus’ sandals. (Mark 1:7) How did it look to have the sinless Lamb of God slosh in the same river where sinners had been immersed? What would people think?
It did not matter to Jesus; obeying His Father is all that mattered. What was God’s response? He smiled! Mark 1.1 That approval set the tone for Jesus’ ministry that was centered on pleasing the Father. John 8:29 “The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.”
Being a committed follower of Jesus will not make you popular. How will your obedience look to others? It’s okay to turn heads – as long as we make God smile.
Since the creation of man, people have wanted to be in charge of their lives. Some have a real problem with having other people tell them what to do. Teens do not like their parents telling them what to do, so they leave home and join the Marines! [Go figure.]
It is no different in the Christian world. People come to Jesus Christ confess their sins and receive forgiveness, but then the real struggle begins. Some think now their sins are forgiven; their “ticket” to heaven has been punched and it does not matter how they live or who is in control of their lives. But Jesus came to earth not only to be our Savior but also our Lord. As Lord, He expects us to follow His leadership in all areas of our life.
The Apostle Peter was an exemplary Jew. He kept ALL the Jewish laws, but he had a problem of accepting Gentiles as fellow believers. God gave Peter a vision of a sheet being lowered down from heaven. In that sheet were animals that Jewish law forbid them to eaten. Acts 10:12-13 God commanded Peter to kill and eat them. Peter responded, “No, Lord,” Peter declared. “I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean.” verse 14. God repeated the vision three times but Peter reply was always the same, “No, Lord.” God’s response? “ “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.”
For the true Christ-follower, saying no to Christ is an act of disobedience; a rejection of His Lordship. Saying NO is not an option. We sing a chorus that says, “Yes Lord, yes, to your will and to your way…”
God’s will is something that every true Christ-follower is extremely interested in. Many find it as mysterious as the Holy Grail (and just as allusive). Others think that only through agonizing will God reluctantly reveal His will to them. But God’s will is not something mysterious, nor is God reluctant to reveal His will. John 7:17 “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.”
But I have found that the difficulty in knowing God’s will is often within ourselves, not with God. Often, we want God to reveal His will for us before we decide if we will obey. Unfortunately, the Kingdom of God does not operate this way. Obedience must come before revelation. When God wanted to reveal His will to the Apostle Peter in regard to the Gentiles receiving the Gospel, He did so through a dream (vision?). Acts 10:9-15 God commanded Peter to kill and eat animals that every orthodox Jew considered “unclean.” Peter replied to God, ““No, Lord,” Peter declared. “I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean.”
You cannot use NO and Lord in the same sentence. Saying NO to the will of God is not an option. God is responsible to reveal His will and our responsibility is to obey. So, if you are trying to find His will for your life, you must decide that you are willing to obey even before you know what that will is.
Just recently it was brought to my attention that the fourth commandment, to keep the Sabbath, has been getting some “bad press.” While the other commandments are the subject of many sermons, Sabbath keeping is pretty much ignored. And yet, this commandment takes up an entire paragraph, while the “biggie” commands only use five words. God does not waste words. Apparently, He puts a lot of importance on the subject.
Volumes have been written on keeping the Sabbath but due to my limited space, I want to share some of the truths that I have recently discovered.
- All living (and some non-living) need rest. In our culture, overwork is celebrated by some and demanded by others. People in agriculture tell us that even dirt needs to rest. (See Exodus 23:11) Pastors violate this principle of rest more than any other profession. Doctors tell us that pastors have one of the highest rates of heart attacks due to stress.
- God gave us this commandment so that we would take the time to develop intimacy with Him. I need to be reminded of what He wants me to do and of His kindness and goodness toward me. ““Be still, and know that I am God;…” Ps 46:10
- While we do benefit from keeping the Sabbath, the Sabbath is to center in God and not ourselves. God intended that we spend quiet time with Him and ask questions such as: “Lord, am I putting You first in my life?’ “Am I hearing Your voice?” ” Am I leaning on Your wisdom?”
If you don’t take a Sabbath, something is wrong. You’re doing too much, you’re too much in charge. You’ve got to quit, one day a week and just watch what God is doing when you’re not doing anything. — Eugene H. Peterson
We sometimes hear that the cause of a plane crash was pilot error. Pilots are human and humans do make mistakes but sometimes pilots experiences a phenomenon called vertigo. Vertigo is actually a state of temporary spatial confusion resulting from misleading information sent to the brain by various sensory organs. The pilot’s brain and emotions tell him one thing but his instruments are telling him something different. Your senses may tell you are flying level, when in actuality, you are in a dive!
You can overcome the effects of vertigo by relying upon your aircraft’s instruments. They are the best insurance you will ever have. Your emotions scream out that the instruments are wrong and don’t rely on them. But in that situation; you dare not trust your emotions!
In life, sometimes our thoughts and emotions can be misleading. The lyrics to a song once said, “how can something that feels so right. Be so wrong” Often our “natural man” is totally opposite of what God wants from us:
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. Isaiah 55:8
Some people think they are doing what’s right. But what they are doing will really kill them. Proverbs 14:12
The only way to keep from having spiritual vertigo is to trust the instruments (The Bible.) Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my pathway.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16
One of the modern translations of the above translated it “keep in step with the Spirit.” The Apostle Paul used a military term when groups were marching they should keep in step with other soldiers. As the drill instructor would shout out commands , the troops immediately obeyed the commands. They did not question the command nor suggest an alternative command, they just obeyed. And when everyone followed the command, there was unity and oneness of direction.
Many Christ-followers struggle all their lives wondering why they do not have joy in their walk with Christ. They are puzzled why their lives are not fruitful. Churches try new programs year after year but their church is not thriving. They blame each other for lack of growth and spiritual health.
The solution is simple: Keep in step with the Spirit. God wants us to be fruitful and possess joy but they by-products to obedience. When we disobey the Holy Spirit, we often try to do things our way [the flesh] and trouble results.
I challenge you this week, listen for His voice and immediately obey Him. You will see a big difference in your life.
Several years ago, I had to finally admit that I was becoming “audio challenged.” aka hard of hearing. Today, I wear two hearing aids, most of the time. When I am not wearing them around the house and my wife says something to me, it is sometimes hilarious and at other times embarrassing. The old adage is true. Some once said, “I know what I said but I don’t know what you heard.” Those are the times my wife accuses me of “selective hearing”, that is only hearing what I want to hear. [I am not admitting anything].
In the New Testament, Jesus once said, “If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.” Mark 4:23. When you first read that, our natural response is “Ah, yeah! How else am I to hear?” But the original word “to hear” in that culture meant to obey. Like the parent who told his teenage son to take out the trash and his son had not done so. The father may say, “Did you hear me?” since there was to response from his son.
I am afraid that people today are just as guilty as the people of Jesus’ day. We too sometimes have “selective hearing” when we do not want to obey Him. Sometimes we may not truly understand what He is trying to convey to us. John 16:18 but I think that is the exception to the rule.
Is Jesus speaking to you but you do not have “ears to hear?” Ask Him to give you an obedient spirit.