The Blessedness of the Obedient

Leviticus 26:5   (NLT)   5 Your threshing season will overlap with the grape harvest, and your grape harvest will overlap with the season of planting grain. You will eat your fill and live securely in your own land.

A promise of blessing, of provision, is a very good thing to have, especially if the promise comes from God.  It’s interesting to note: this promise is preceded by a condition to follow God’s decrees and to carefully obey His commands. Clearly, God has blessings not Leviticus 26.5 - Blessedness of the Obedientavailable to all people at all times. It’s good to point out that everyone enjoys innumerable blessings from Him. Some are aware of the fact and acknowledges Him, some aren’t aware and don’t bother to know.

We all have needs and we all want our needs provided for. We may not fully know what kind of blessings and provisions He gives to all, and what kind He gives just to His obedient children, but obviously, His obedience matters and opens to way more blessings. There’s much peace in being sure our businesses bring good profit. It’s great to have blessings overlap, when we haven’t yet used up the past blessings, and a new batch of blessings come.

More important than the material examples are blessings not seen. God is the source of love, joy, peace, salvation, sustenance, strength, security, significance, protection, purpose, guidance, worth, victory… Obedience isn’t legalism, it isn’t a bad deal. The way I see it is: when God gives commands and instructions, it’s because He knows exactly which direction the best way is to go, and which path the best way is to take. He knows where the “straight and narrow” is. He knows if we walk that way or this way, that path is lined with blessings and favor. And when we choose to leave the path; we may think we’re pursuing a shortcut to more blessedness—faster, but reality is: we’re blinded by the immediate and temporal, which eventually leads to dissatisfaction and destruction.

There’s no question about it; God can orchestrate everything for us to be abundantly blessed. He’s the Source of all good and perfect gifts. He’s the One Who opens the floodgates of heaven and uncovers the springs of the earth. He directs our steps like a watercourse and positions people instrumental for His blessings to come to us surely—unhindered. So, His commands aren’t in any way to constrict us but to direct us so that we don’t miss out on the best He’s got for us.

We’re willing Lord. Thank You for Your love. Praise You Lord from Whom all blessings flow. Let them pour Lord; let them pour—in Jesus’ Name, amen.

More Blessed than Mary?

Luke 11:28   (NLT)   28 Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.”

Luke 11.28 - More Blessed than Mary.jpgWe cannot overestimate the value of God’s Word—of listening to and obeying it. It brings an exceedingly great blessedness—greater blessedness than being a channel of our precious Lord’s incarnation.

Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus in His humanity without a doubt is extremely blessed. This is a truth recognized the world over. Others emphasize the wonders and value of this experience while at the same time neglecting the glories and importance of God’s word.

A lot of people have a tendency to do this or something similar to this. We have a tendency to elevate things and people above God and His Word. Our affection, our attention, our energy, our time, and our efforts are spent towards them; our focus on God, His Kingdom, our ministry, our callings, things eternal, things spiritual, our mission—all these infinitely more important things are lessened or diminished in our estimation. We get busy doing a lot of things we find very important and big; God’s word becomes a distraction.

So much is written about the wonders and the glories of the Word of God—so many admonitions for us to listen to it, read it, study, meditate on it, commit it to our minds and hearts, and live it out. That’s one of the obvious proofs that God really wants as blessed.

We thank You Lord for Your desire to bless us, and how You have made that possible, not just for a few but for all who would act and respond to Your clear directions appropriately and in humble, grateful, loving obedience. It’s so amazing living blessed. All this is from You, and we’re enjoying it immensely.

Righteousness—the Person, the Action

1 John 3:7 (KJV) Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

It is to be deceived to believe that those who commit unrighteousness are righteous.

I was almost avoiding this passage. Somehow, I’m affected by books and messages discouraging a call to holiness and righteousness. Those who do are seen as legalistic, or 1 John 3.17 - Righteousness - The Person, the Actionpeople who don’t understand God’s love and grace. They are seen as judgmental, condemnatory, and they preach salvation by works.

I know those labels aren’t true with me. I understand that we’re saved by grace through faithliving faith that is. I understand God’s unconditional love and abundant grace. I caught myself doing something I ought not to: avoiding certain passages. That was wrong.

So, I settled. How can I escape this divine billboard projected so emphatically right before me—repeatedly, in different ways, just from one book alone? Here’s a sampling of what I mean:

1 John 2:1,5-6,29 (KJV) 1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

1 John 3:3,10,24 (KJV) 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

1 John 5:3 (KJV) 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

There’s a lot more where they came from.

If God’s Word doesn’t withdraw from urging us to life of love, obedience, holiness, purity, righteousness; it’s only right we also don’t.

‘nough said.

 

 

 

Divine Guidance

Matthew 2:22   (KJV)   22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:

There are fearful things going on around us—things, events, situations affecting us. It’s natural to feel afraid; emotions are God-given—that’s a part of our make-up—His design. Matthew 2.22 - Divine GuidanceTo think evil of our emotions is to fault God for His creation. One of the great things about being His child is receiving His clear guidance—especially in life-threatening situations. Another good thing about being His child is we’re serious about His leading. He leads; we follow; it all works well.

The presence of problems is undeniable. They’re a part of life—even to the saintliest of saints. Some aren’t that bad; some are life-altering; some are life-threatening. Some of them are consequences of our own actions; some of them come from indirect or direct actions of others. Some of us have powerful enemies. We don’t wrong them; they just don’t like who we are and what we stand for.

God in His wisdom knows we can’t survive without Him. And we’re grateful for the non-stop availability of our Great Shepherd, great God, and Heavenly Father. He graciously and longingly invites us into His presence where we find grace, mercy, help in times of our need. He speaks to people, works in and through people to bring us our much needed protection. We have a purpose; we have a destiny; the enemy knows that too. He will use others to destroy us, but our God protects and preserves us. It’s His delight seeing us through all hindrances, trials and challenges. He grows us, deepens us, and strengthens us through them. It’s His delight seeing us live in victory and miracle. We’re blessed.

Listen Well

Mark 4:24   (KJV)   24 And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given.

The measure of our understanding has very much to do with the measure of our hearing. The more intentional and sincere our listening is, the more understanding we Mark 4.24 - Listen Wellreceive. Understanding, discernment, illumination—all these are from our gracious God, but it’s not an encouragement to passivity or laziness; it’s an invitation to enjoyment of our undeserved participation in His wonderful works.

The principle is God-established; it does us well when we zealously take it to heart. To whom much is given, much is required. It’s a circular blessing and response design: the more we heed what we hear, the more understanding we’re given; the more understanding we have; the more we ought to hear. If we don’t use our gifts, we lose them; if we use them, God multiplies them; if we use them for God’s Kingdom, God multiplies them greatly.

Our God is omniscient; there’s no secret He’s not privy to. He’s never at lost as to any kind of information or knowledge. He knows exactly how to approach every situation. No problem’s too big that He can’t solve; no question’s too hard that He can’t answer; no situation is too messed up that He can’t find a solution for. He has the authority, the power, and the willingness to share with us a necessary slice of His infinite knowledge and wisdom. And it’s an awesome privilege to be honored recipients of such assuring and extremely important blessing.

 

Listen Intently

Luke 8:18   (KJV)   18 Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.

Our precious Lord wants us to be as productive as we can be. He doesn’t want our time Luke 8.18 - Listen Intentlyand our lives wasted. He cares even for the way we listen. He wants us to gain more knowledge, more understanding, and more wisdom.

We’re sincere in the way we listen to our Lord. He has graciously given us His Word so we would know our way, so we would know truth, so we can see, so we can really live. We pay sincere and careful attention to His Word. The more we do, the more He gives us wisdom.

It can be tempting to read the Scriptures and pray out of obligation—just to go through the motions. I pray you don’t get me wrong. I believe and understand the need to spend time with the Lord. But we don’t take them lightly and superficially. Not heeding how we hear is to lessen the understanding we already have. We don’t understand the divine mechanics regarding this, but we know what He says happens.

He speaks, we listen. As His sheep, we know His voice. He always guides and leads us to the right path. He wants to commune with us more than we commune with Him. He’s never too busy for us; we don’t have to wait to make an appointment with Him. And He wants to pour out more of His Word and His wisdom to us. So we sincerely seek; we intently listen, and we keep growing.

To be Spared from Judgment

Jeremiah 26:13   (KJV)   13 Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God; and the Lord will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you.

There is hope even in the middle of an impending judgment from the Lord. Repentance and obedience are the keys. God loves the world so much; He would rather save the rebellious than judge or destroy them. Even if He has already pronounced destruction Jeremiah 26.13 - To be Spared from Judgmentupon the people, He doesn’t have any problem forgiving repentant sinners and withholding judgment from the nations.

Our loving, gracious, and merciful God sends us—many of us—to the lost and dying humanity. Many of them are unbelievably stiff-necked. They would rather ignore or attack God’s faithful messengers than humbly and wisely listening, acknowledging their impudent rebellions, sincerely repenting, and start living obediently before the Lord.

Repentance and obedience are non-negotiable pre-requisites. Praise God! He doesn’t require us to perform amazing feats before He grants us forgiveness and restoration. We don’t have to climb the tallest mountains, sail across the widest oceans, dive the deepest sees and explore the vastness of the universe before He withholds His judgments.

Turn to God—that’s what we did, that’s what we pray and strive for that others would do as well. There’s no human experience as amazing and as important as salvation from sure destruction—especially the eternal kind. The same principle holds true when it comes to judgment of nations. We have hope despite the chaos going on. We’re praying; we’re expectantly waiting. God can deliver us.

There will come a time when it’s too late. But as for us, we didn’t want to wait for that. We’re already living under the shelter of the Most High. We’re already living under His protection, and safe refuge. We do our best calling others to enjoy this peace-filled assurance. Not all, perhaps not many will heed our call. But to everyone who does, safety is sure.

God’s Word: Fire and Hammer

Jeremiah 23:29   (KJV)   29 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?

God’s Word is indestructible. Anyone who fights against it finds themselves in a losing battle. Anyone who tries to destroy it will themselves be destroyed. It is an inextinguishable fire. Try putting it out and you’ll find yourself devoured by it.

Jeremiah 23.29 - God's Word - Fire and HammerIt’s utterly useless and absolutely foolish to kick against a consuming fire and a pounding hammer. True believers highly value God’s Word. We understand its power and eternality. The grass withers; the flowers wilt, heavens and earth will pass away, but God’s Word—to the smallest dot—will remain.

Our lives are changed by it. It’s a consuming fire that burns the filth and dirt from our lives. It’s a burning passion that we can’t keep silent about. Through us, the fire spreads, touching and purifying lives and changing situations.

Numerous thoughts and opinions beat on God’s Word. Anti-Scriptural practices are hastily increasing. Godless, lawless, and evil ways are promoted and promulgated. But we’re here. We may be few, but we’re the faithful few. We pray for others; we do our best for them to enjoy wonders of living in the truth instead of against it. The open-minded and honest seekers recognize the fire and its power. Wisely, they choose to enjoy it, its benefits and blessings. Then there are those who stubbornly live in denial of or rebellion to the power of God’s Word; they choose to believe ideas and opinions that tickle their ears and support their chosen ways and lifestyles.

When the sounds of the consuming fire and the pounding hammer has stopped, the chaffs and rocks of the world’s philosophies and wisdom will be found completely burned and shattered, and the hammer of God’s Word will be left complete and whole, unscathed—so are those who live under its power.

Teach Us, Oh LORD

Psalm 86:11   (KJV)   11 Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.

Having a humble and teachable heart is essential to living in and for God. Having a pure heart is essential to fearing God’s Name.

Psalms 86.11 - Teach Us, Oh LORDWe desire to follow after our precious LORD. The way we do that is by knowing His Word, His ways, and His will. This comes through spending time with Him and His Word. We can’t honestly say we’re living in obedience to Him if we don’t know what to obey. Else, we’ll be hypocritical, and that’s not the kind of heart we want to have. We want to keep our hearts pure before God; that’s one of the ways we honor God, and honoring Him is what we want to do.

We’re grateful to God because He teaches us and is willing to teach us. He’s always waiting, willing, ready to pour our His wisdom to us. So we come before Him, with sincere hearts, with loving fear of Him, with open hearts and minds, we fill ourselves with His precious truths.

Free and Obedient Hearts

1 Chronicles 29:18   (KJV)   18 O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee:

Can our sovereign and loving God work in our hearts—people’s hearts—without violating our free will?  I guess He can.  We may not fully understand how He does it, but He can.  Otherwise, there’s no point praying for Him to make His people want to obey 1 Chronicles 29.18 - Free and Obedient HeartsHim.  We’ve seen clear examples and explicit passages in the Scriptures showing this.  God changed the heart of Saul (1 Sam. 10:9); He prophesied about giving His people a new heart (Jer. 24:7); He directs the king’s heart like rivers of water (Prov. 21:1); David prayed for God to give him a clean heart (Ps. 51:10).

Yes He can, and Yes He does work in people’s hearts.  This is not however a removal of free will, or cancelling of our responsibility.  In fact, we see clearly in the Scriptures how Saul turned away from God, how Solomon turned his heart towards the gods of his wives, how one king after another chose to rebel against God, and how His Old Covenant people repeatedly disobeyed God.  We as His people weren’t made robots when we placed our full dependence on Him to save us and surrendered our lives to Him.

We were made new creations (2 Cor. 5:17), but we still obviously have a choice whether we obey or disobey Him, whether we abide in Him or not, whether we live faithfully or not, whether we deny Him or not.  God won’t fail; if He says He’ll give us new hearts, He will. In fact, for believers, He already has.  What we do with our God-given new hearts is up to us.  As for me, and I pray my entire household, we will worship and serve Him faithfully—wholeheartedly.