Category Archives: obedience

Are You Running the Race in Vain?

raceChristianity has often been referred to as a marathon.  Compared to sprints, marathons are longer and require that you pace yourself so that you have enough endurance and stamina to last throughout the whole race.  If you plan on being a Christian until you die, you most certainly have to pace yourself for the next 30, 40, or 50 years! In the book of Galatians, the Apostle Paul said that he wanted to make sure that he was not running his race in vain (Galatians 2:2).  How do you know you’re running in vain?  We can learn a few lessons from our ancestors:

“For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as [the Israelites] did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not combine it with faith.” Hebrews 4:2

The only way to not run in vain is to turn away from your evil ways despite everything you’ve already done.  As Samuel said to Saul, “Do not be afraid…You have done all this evil yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart” (1 Samuel 12:20).

Saul Didn’t Want to Wait (1 Samuel 13:1-15)

Samuel instructed Saul to wait for him.  Saul waited seven days but when Samuel didn’t come “on time,” Saul jumped the gun and did what he wanted.  Even after God took the kingdom away from Saul (1 Samuel 13:14), Saul was given a second chance to repent when he was instructed to destroy all the Amalekites, but instead of following every instruction to the tee, Saul did what he felt best.  He even justified his actions and was thoroughly convinced that he was obeying God (1 Samuel 15:19-23).

It is totally possible to believe you are obeying God with all your heart yet still not be right with God.  Scary, right??  We are living in the New Testament times and Jesus’s blood has cleansed us of our sins if we put faith in His sacrifice.  The scriptures also say that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  There is nothing we can do to earn salvation but Jesus’s expectation of our obedience is just the same as it was for the Israelites, our forefathers of the faith, in the Old Testament.

The Israelites who never made it to the Promised Land did not combine the message with faith.  Today, you can look at the Bible and think that it’s a bunch of fairy tales written by man, or you can put faith in the scriptures and believe it to be the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16), thereby backing up your faith with action (obedience).

 What Lack of Faith Can Do

  • You can amaze Jesus with your lack of faith (Mark 6:6)
  • You can be your own miracle-stopper (Matthew 13:58)
  • You can make it impossible for yourself to please God (Hebrews 11:6)
  • Lack of faith gives way to fear (Mark 4:40; Matthew 8:26)

Warning against Drifting Away

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.  For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” Hebrews 2:1-3

No one is perfect.  Nobody’s going to run this race without injuries, pain or obstacles.  However, we have plenty of examples in the Bible that teach us so we don’t have to repeat their mistakes.  As long as we cling to Christ and allow the Word to cut our hearts, put our sins behind us and press forward to drawing closer to God, everything will be all right.  The biggest clue that will tip you off is when you want to manipulate the scriptures to justify personal gain instead of wholeheartedly obeying God with no ulterior motive.  If you obey God from a sincere heart, you then are not running this race in vain.

#integrity #sincerity #obedience #race #marathon #Christrianrace #musingz4life

Advertisements

Are You Extinguishing the Flaming Arrows or Holy Spirit?

holy-spiritIf some men in the Bible were referred to as “full of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:3), this implies that not everyone has the same measure of the Spirit.  In fact, you can actually extinguish the Holy Spirit after you become a Christian.

Do not quench/stifle/extinguish the Holy Spirit. – 1 Thessalonians 5:19 (I extracted 3 different verbs from various translations)

This command suggests that the presence of the Holy Spirit can fade away to the point that you no longer recognize His voice.

 “Why do you not understand what I am saying?  It is because you are unable to accept my message.” – John 8:43

Definitions:

Quench – to subdue, destroy or overcome

Stifle – to suppress, curb, withhold, crush, or end by force

Extinguish – to put out, bring to an end, annihilate, obscure, eclipse, wipe out of existence

 

Before extinguishing the Holy Spirit, ask yourself if you are currently grieving the Spirit:

 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. – Ephesians 4:30

What does it mean to grieve the Holy Spirit?

The mind of the flesh is death but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace. – Romans 8:6 (Berean Study Bible Version)

Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on things of the Spirit.  The mind of the flesh is death but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind of the flesh is hostile to God: it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so… Romans 8:5-7

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation – but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.  For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. – Romans 8:12-13

Let me just say first of all that living to please God is not easy.  Obedience to the scriptures requires supernatural help, but that’s why God gave us the Holy Spirit to help us when we are weak.  Obeying God begins with the mind; if you set your mind on pleasing God, the Holy Spirit will help you obey Him (which is why you put to death the misdeeds by the Spirit).  Have you ever felt that battle between your flesh and spirit, when you know you want to do what’s right but you do wrong anyway?  That is the classic struggle as described in Romans 7:7-12.  God understands our human nature.  But He always provides a way out of temptation and His Spirit enables you to obey the scriptures which go against the human grain.

Day by day, you have a choice – to live according to the flesh or to crucify your sinful nature.  Every day, you can choose to build upon the foundation of the Spirit or you can slowly extinguish the Spirit with your actions.  Every choice comes with a consequence:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.  Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”  – Galatians 6:7-8

We are caught in the midst of a spiritual battlefield, and Satan wants your soul.  Until the day you die, he will continually fire flaming arrows at you, especially in the areas where he knows you’re weak.  You can shield yourself from the devil’s arrows with your faith:

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. – Ephesians 6:16

It is with your faith that you can extinguish the devil’s flaming arrows — not just some of the arrows but ALL of the arrows!

How can you get more faith?

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word about Christ.” – Romans 10:17

Keep feeding your faith instead of your doubts.  Keep digging into the Word, study out topics, ask lots and lots of questions, and surround yourself with people who will help you grow spiritually.

#faith #HolySpirit #FanIntoTheFlame #obey #truth #musingz4life

Are You in an SWB Relationship?

relationshipYou’ve heard of the term “FWB,” right? As it relates to spirituality, “SWB” is “Saved with Benefits,” meaning you’re saved but there is no commitment to obedience whatsoever. On a personal note, I thought I had a great relationship with God but there were still some areas in my life that were not quite right.

I’ve had an SWB relationship with God — loving the benefits of being a Christian without much sacrifice or suffering. When I say “suffering,” I don’t mean external circumstances or the past over which you had no control. I’m talking about it as in suffering for righteousness because nine times out of ten, obedience does not feel comfortable and it sure feels like suffering when you are denying yourself from what your flesh really wants.

“For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.” Acts 9:16

Think not only of Jesus’s sufferings but also of Paul, Abraham, David, Job and other heroes of the faith!  These men are great examples who took their faith to the next level.  Each one is known for his unique love for God but when you closely examine their lives, you will also see how greatly they suffered in order to stay close to God.

“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Luke 9:24

Intimacy with God requires giving up worldly pleasures for the sake of a healthy relationship with Him based on love and obedience.  No one can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).  If you are not serving God, you are serving something else.

We may not always be aware that we have an SWB relationship, but one way I realized this was through a conversation with a friend.  After listening to my complaints and rationalizations, she pointed out that many times we Christians like the benefits of Christ without suffering for righteousness.  To be honest, this conversation opened my eyes to see the countless times when I rationalized my sins in my own head and with other people!

“Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.”  Proverbs 26:12

“Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.”  Proverbs 3:7

If we are well-meaning Christians, I don’t think we are intentionally in SWB relationships with God, but sometimes we need a little help from friends (especially strong Christians) who will open our eyes to the true condition of our hearts.

#relationships #God #compromise #SWB #musingz4life #righteousness #holiness #obedience #love