Soul-Care Articles: Christ-centered, Spirit-led, Biblically-based, Clinically-sound, Truth-oriented

Posts tagged ‘obedience’

WHATEVER IT TAKES, LORD !

SOURCE:  Rick Warren/The Angel Stadium Declaration

On April 6, 1980, 205 people attended Saddleback Valley Community Church’s first public worship service. On Sunday, April 17, 2005, 30,000 people gathered at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, to celebrate 25 years of ministry at Saddleback Church. At the culmination of a three-hour service of worship and remembrance, thousands rose to their feet to read the following together as a commitment to doing God’s will for the next 25 years. It is and will be referred to as The Angel Stadium Declaration: April 17, 2005. I offer it to our devotional readers for the inspiration that it was to me. I suggest you print it and put it where you can refer to it often. That’s what I’m going to do.

Today I am stepping across the line.  I’m tired of waffling and I’m finished with wavering; I’ve made my choice, the verdict is in and my decision is irrevocable.  I’m going God’s way.  There’s no turning back now!

I will live the rest of my life serving God’s purposes with God’s people on God’s planet for God’s glory.  I will use my life to celebrate His presence, cultivate His character, participate in His family, demonstrate His love, and communicate His word.

Since my past has been forgiven and I have a purpose for living and a home awaiting in heaven, I refuse to waste any more time or energy on shallow living, petty thinking, trivial talking, thoughtless doing, useless regretting, hurtful resenting, or faithless worrying.  Instead, I will magnify God, grow to maturity, serve in ministry, and fulfill my mission in the membership of His family.

Because this life is preparation for the next, I will value worship over wealth, “we” over “me,” character over comfort, service over status, and people over possessions, position, and pleasures. I know what matters most and I’ll give it all I’ve got. I’ll do the best I can with what I have for Jesus Christ today.

I won’t be captivated by culture, manipulated by critics, motivated by praise, frustrated by problems debilitated by temptation or intimidated by the devil.  I’ll keep running my race with my eyes on the goal, not the sidelines or those running by me.  When times get tough, and I get tired, I won‘t back up, back off, back down, back out or backslide.  I’ll just keep moving forward by God’s grace.  I’m Spirit-led, purpose-driven and mission-focused so I cannot be bought, I will not be compromised, and I shall not quit until I finish the race.

I’m a trophy of God’s amazing grace so I will be gracious to everyone, grateful for every day, and generous with everything that God entrusts to me.

To my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I say:  However, Whenever, Wherever, and Whatever you ask me to do, my answer in advance is yes!  Wherever you lead and whatever the cost, I’m ready.  Anytime.  Anywhere.  Anyway.  Whatever it takes Lord; Whatever it takes!  I want to be used by you in such a way, that on that final day I’ll hear you say, “Well done, thou good and faithful one.  Come on in, and let the eternal party begin!”

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God’s Boundaries (for us)

SOURCE:  Living Free/Dr. Jimmy Ray Lee

“The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever. The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair. They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb.

They are a warning to your servant, a great reward for those who obey them.” (Psalm 19:7-11 NLT)

 Walking with God means agreeing with his boundaries . . . and staying within them.

 In the Bible are many commandments and instructions.

They set boundaries for us.

We may respond to those boundaries in several negative ways. Surely that doesn’t apply to this situation. . . . It won’t hurt to step outside that line this once. . . . That just doesn’t seem fair. . . . I know God wants me to do it this way but I just don’t think I can. . . . I really don’t care. I want to do this.

Been there?

But walking with God means agreeing with him and all his commandments.   Agreeing means obeying.

Why so many boundaries? Just to see if we will obey?

The above scripture makes it clear that those boundaries are for our good. God set them out of love for us. Read back through the passage. His commands are perfect, trustworthy, right clear, true, fair, desirable, sweet, and a warning.

When we follow his commands our soul will be revived . . . we will gain wisdom . . . we will receive joy and insight for living. And we will receive a great reward.

He has even promised to help us obey.

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13 NLT)

Father, I thank you for the Bible. I thank you for the blessing and protection of your commands. Help me to obey. Help me to always agree with you . . . obey you . . . and walk with you. In Jesus’ name . . .

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These thoughts were drawn from …


Stepping into Freedom: A Christ-Centered Twelve-Step Program
by Jimmy Ray Lee, D.Min.

“BUT”

SOURCE:  Tim Clinton/AACC

“You face your greatest opposition when you’re closest to your biggest miracle.” Bishop T. D. Jakes

“And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.” G. K. Chesterton

Often, the most powerful, life-changing miracles seem to happen in the “buts” of life.

Consider the story of Naaman. 2 Kings 5:1 describes him with glowing accolades.

Commander of the army of the king of Syria.

A great man with his master.

High favor.

A mighty man of valor.

Then out of nowhere – life-altering words.

But…he was a leper.

Think about that. Leprosy. The most dreaded disease of his day. A visible outward malady that in reality defined who he was. Putrefying infected sores that in time caused loss of fingers, toes, nose. Everyone who came in contact with him saw the miserable condition he carried with him everywhere he went. There was no hiding it.

Many Christ followers understand this reality in their own journey. No doubt, many of you are living there right now.

You love God, and you really do believe that God loves you. You read the Word, pray, give your tithes and offerings, attend worship services, desiring to obey and walk in His Spirit.

But…

The doctor gave you terminal news.

But…

Your spouse left, and the hole in your heart grows deeper and wider by the hour.

But…

Your position at work was eliminated, as was your pay check, and you find yourself in the unemployment line.

But…

A son or a daughter rejected a lifetime of nurture and admonition and the relationship is strained, broken and seemingly destroyed.

“Buts” that now seem to define who you are. “Buts” that perhaps even cause you to question God and His plan, much less His goodness. “Buts” that understandably cause you to ask “Where are you God?”

Let’s look again at the well-known Bible story of Naaman. At the recommendation of a young slave girl, he travels to find the prophet Elisha. Elisha sends a servant out to instruct Naaman to go and wash seven times in the Jordan. Albeit reluctantly, and even with quite a bit of raging about how irrational the command is, he obeys.

I wonder how Naaman felt after he dunked himself the first time. No change. The second time. No change. Third time. No change. After number six, he might have been thinking that this was a horrible joke and a waste of time. The anger he had initially felt was returning. Someone was going to pay for this public act of embarrassment.

Have you been there? Faith…trust…obedience…and seemingly no change. You find yourself confused, distraught, and perhaps even a bit angry at God.

Then Naaman dipped the seventh time and “his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.” 2 Kings 5:14 ESV

He went back to the “man of God,” stood before him and declared, (now) “I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel…” 2 Kings 5:15  ESV

God was in the midst of his pain. Faithfully at work in the “but” of Naaman’s life. Steadfast in His in plan in Naaman’s journey, which ultimately brought Him glory.

And God is in the midst of your pain also. He hasn’t forgotten you. He hasn’t forsaken you. He is faithfully working in the plan of your life, and He will ultimately get glory by taking your storyand making it His story.

Don’t be defined by the “but” in your pilgrimage. Don’t give up. Keep believing that He is God, and that He is good.

Your miracle could be just one more “dip in the Jordan” away.

A miracle that will turn your life around.

Not Just Knowing What Is Right — Doing It!

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by Family Life 

A. W. Tozer said, “The word of God was not given to us to make us intelligent sinners, but obedient and authentic saints.”

 Obey God 

Our lives are made up of choices—difficult forks in the road where we must decide to choose God’s way or to pursue our own. And as Moses said to the children of Israel, the choice is really not between right and wrong but between life and death (see Deuteronomy 30:15-16). The prophet Amos said it very succinctly: “Seek the LORD that you may live” (Amos 5:6). Truly, the only sure path to life is found in obedience to God and His Word.

So when you don’t feel like loving your spouse, obey God.
When you’re tempted to steal or to compromise your integrity, obey God.
When your boss asks you to do something you shouldn’t, obey God.
When your lusts and passions are telling you to give in, obey God.
When you’re suffering and feel like quitting, obey God.
When the easiest thing to do is nothing, obey God.
When you feel like being lazy, obey God.
Whatever choice you may be facing, obey God . . . and live!

Thomas Carlisle wrote, “Conviction, be it ever so excellent, is worthless until it converts itself into conduct.”

It is not enough just to know what’s right.

Ask God to give you the strength and conviction to be not just His children but also His obedient children.

Don’t Look Back

SOURCE:  Living Free Ministry

“Abraham had faith and obeyed God. He was told to go to the land that God had said would be his, and he left for a country he had never seen. Because Abraham had faith, he lived as a stranger in the promised land. He lived there in a tent, and so did Isaac and Jacob, who were later given the same promise. Abraham did this, because he was waiting for the eternal city that God had planned and built.” Hebrews 11:8-10 CEV

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:13-14 NLT

God called Abraham to leave everything that was familiar to him and enter a world of the unknown.

Abraham obeyed without hesitation.  He set out, leaving relatives and friends, leaving the security of his home, leaving his culture and religion . . .… and followed God.

And he didn’t look back.

Abraham could have spent his days complaining or grieving over all he had left behind. He could have rebelled against being taken out of his comfort zone. But he didn’t. Why? He believed God. He believed God’s promises. And he set his eyes on “the eternal city that God had planned and built.”

The apostle Paul knew God wasn’t finished with him yet. He had made many mistakes in the past, but he forgot the past and looked forward to what lay ahead, pressing on to the eternal prize. 

He didn’t look back.

Is God calling you out of your comfort zone? Or maybe you have already stepped out of your comfort zone but really want to do an “about face.”

In every situation we need to fix our eyes on Jesus. If we look back and dwell on what was, we can’t be effective in the here and now. We need to focus on what God is calling us to do today and press on to what he has promised us for tomorrow.

Father, help me to put the past behind and focus on what you want me to do today. Help me to be willing to step out of my comfort zone and not look back. In Jesus’ name . . . …

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These thoughts were drawn from …


Godly Heroes: A Small Group Study of Hebrews 11
 by Jimmy Ray Lee, D.Min.

“How can I know what Jesus wants me to do? If I knew – I would do it!”

SOURCE:  Taken from an article by Tim Clinton/American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC)

Doing What He Says

Too often, the thought that echoes through the corridors of our minds is, “How can I know what Jesus wants me to do? If I knew – I would do it!”

You can know.

God has given us three wonderful gifts in this “following Christ” journey:

His Word.

The Psalmist declares that “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105 ESV) The Bible will clearly guide you as you “resolve” to do all that Jesus asks. Even Jesus, when faced with temptation, responded with “It is written…”

Spend some time in the gospels – in the “red letters” – the very words of Jesus. Soak in everything He spoke about grace…about forgiveness…about facing challenges…about a relationship with God the Father.

As those words take root in your heart and soul, resolve to follow His guidance, and whatever He says to you, do it.

Holy Spirit.

Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit – our Helper – and promised that “He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26 ESV) In chapter 16 Jesus added “He (Holy Spirit) will guide you into all the truth” (vs. 13).

Listen and hear what Jesus says to do through the whispers of His Spirit.

Other Believers.

The great Apostle Paul reminded the Philippians “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things…” (Philippians 4:9 ESV) Again in 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul admonishes, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (ESV)

You are who you spend time with.

Each one of us need spiritual leaders and “coaches” in our lives from whom we hear and see and learn and receive guidance in doing what Jesus says.

10 Poor Excuses (about doing/not doing what God says)

SOURCE:  Susan Nikaido/Discipleship Journal

We’ve all done it—thought of reasons why doing the opposite of what we know God says is OK … this time.

Here are some common excuses for disobedience, and why they won’t fool the Father.

Excuses For Not Doing What God Tells You To Do

Excuse 1 “I’ll Do It Later.”

When God prompts you to do it now—tell a friend about Him, deal with a persistent sin, send an encouraging note, spend time with Him—telling Him “later” is the same as saying no. “Later” may be too late for the good that God intended when He urged you to act.

Excuse 2 “It’s Too Difficult—I Would Fail.”

Jeremiah tried this one. When God told him He was calling him as a prophet, Jeremiah replied, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child” (Jer. 1:6). God’s response to Jeremiah is His response to us: “Don’t make excuses; just obey. Don’t be afraid, because I will be with you in everything I ask you to do.”

Excuse 3 “I’m Too Busy Doing Important Things.”

What can be more important than what God is instructing you to do? Claiming, “I’m too busy” is putting your agenda ahead of God’s.

Excuses For Doing What God Says Not To Do

Excuse 4 “It Won’t Hurt Anything.”

God told the Israelites that His commands were “for your own good” (Dt. 10:13). Only He knows the chain of results our disobedience will set in motion. We need to trust His judgment, not our own.

Excuse 5 “No One Will Find Out.”

God will know. Every sin damages both our relationship with Him and our own conscience.

Excuse 6 “I’ll Do It Just This Once.”

God never said sin was OK if you only do it once. Besides, submitting to the flesh rather than to the Spirit strengthens the wrong forces in your life, making it more likely that you will do it again.

Excuse 7 “God Let Me Down.”

When we’re disappointed with our lives, we can begin to think, God didn’t come through for me, so why should I come through for Him? We may stop doing the things we know He wants us to do, and not worry too much about breaking His commandments.

God says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Heb. 13:5); He will always remain faithful to us (2 Tim. 2:13); and His plan for us is for our good (Jer. 29: 11). We need to acknowledge that our perspective is limited and that our painful circumstances and unanswered prayers are part of a larger, grander plan. Learning to trust His Word when it contradicts our perceptions, feelings, and experiences can keep us from excusing our disobedience by blaming Him.

Excuse 8 “I Deserve A Break/Reward.”

When we’ve been working hard on the job or in ministry, it can be tempting to justify taking something that’s not rightfully ours—whether it’s money, goods, or time that belongs to our employer but is spent on personal projects. Or, we blow off something God prompts us to do because we’ve “paid our dues.”

In 2 Kings 5, the prophet Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, figured he was entitled to a little reward for ministry. His master had turned down a gift from a wealthy warrior, but Gehazi returned, behind Elisha’s back, and requested a few “perks” from the man. God struck Gehazi with leprosy.

God never “rewards” obedience by allowing disobedience.

Excuse 9 “At Least I’m Not As Bad As _____.”

Sometimes we try to make ourselves feel better about our sin by comparing it to someone else’s. “I may flirt with my secretary, but at least I’m not sleeping with her.” “I may ‘fudge’ a little on my taxes, but I would never embezzle money.”

Jesus tells the story of a Pharisee who compared himself to others. The religious man prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers.” Yet Jesus commended instead the tax collector who prayed, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Lk. 18:9, 14). Repentance is the only attitude toward sin that God accepts.

Excuse 10 “Everyone Else Is Doing It.”

It’s tempting to violate our consciences, to give in a little on our convictions, when we see others doing things we feel uneasy about. It’s especially tempting when “others” are believers we respect. Yet what is right and wrong is never determined by popular vote—”It is the Lord who judges” (1 Cor. 4:4). We must listen to the inner voices that tell us what is right and wrong, not the outer ones.

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