Archive for the ‘Obedience’ Category

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Does it ever seem that the circumstances you face are so complicated that there is no way out? No matter which way you turn, you only see trouble.  In those moments, we have a tendency to focus on the problem rather than God and His power to conquer any obstacle.  When problems arise, we begin to question.  What are we going to do?  How are we going to overcome this?  In Exodus 14 while escaping the oppression of the Egyptians, the Israelites began to question why they were brought to the desert, what Moses had done by leading them out of Egypt, and why they even agreed to follow him.

Exodus 14:13-14 says, Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid.  Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.  The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.  The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.   They were focused on the obstacles, and their thoughts and actions were controlled by fear.  How often do we find ourselves in that same situation?  Instead of focusing on the problem, who to blame, and how we can fix it, we must turn our focus to God.

As stated above in Exodus 14, sometimes we must calm our fears, be still, pray, and trust God to make a way in His perfect time.  Other times though He may tell us to “get moving”.  Exodus 14:15 says, then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.  In other words, “I’m opening the door, now you need to follow my instructions and just move on through it”.

Psalm 77:16 says, When the Red Sea saw you, O God, its waters looked and trembled!  The sea trembled at the power of God; there is no obstacle which is greater than His power!  Psalm 77:19 goes on to say, “Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters – a pathway no one knew was there!”  God was able to part the Red Sea leaving a dry path for the Israelites to cross escaping from the Egyptians, and He still has the power today to open doors for us that we may not even know are an option.

I’m sure it was terrifying for the Israelites to step out onto that ocean floor with an enormous wall of water on either side!  The door that God opens for us may be scary, but if we’ll just trust Him and move on through it, we will see the power of His deliverance.

When it seems as though the enemy is winning, God is still in control and knows exactly what to do. So instead of focusing on the problem and how we can fix it, we must not let fear control our actions.  We must choose to trust God and wait patiently for Him to make a way.  We must obey and move on through when He says it’s time.  Even when our problem seems as big as the Red Sea with no apparent solution, God has the power to make a way!

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OUR LIFE MIRROR

life mirror

 

Imagine for a moment trying to prepare for your day with no mirror.  You’ve applied make-up for years.  You know where everything goes, so you can can easily find where to put the mascara, blush, and lipstick.  It may even feel as if it’s right, but obviously it would not look quite like it should.  Mirrors are a vital tool to make ourselves presentable to the world.

God’s word is the mirror for our lives.  He uses it to show us what needs to be changed about the way we live.   James 1:23-24 says, “For if you just listen and don’t obey, it is like looking at your face in a mirror but doing nothing to improve your appearance.  You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like”.  We would never look in the mirror and walk away knowing that something should be changed.

 

 Before going out the door to face the world, we take the time and effort to fix whatever we see in the mirror that needs attention.  Throughout our day, we often stop by a mirror to check our appearance.  We check our teeth to be sure no food has been left behind from meals.  We check our hair to see that each one is in place.  We check our clothing for buttons undone or zippers unzipped.  We look for anything that needs to be corrected.  Even if we are in a rush, we take time to correct whatever is needed.  In the same manner, we should be careful not to turn away from God’s word without fixing what He has shown us needs attention.  Often however, we turn our back unwilling to hear what God’s word says.  We don’t want to change, so we ignore the ugliness in our  heart that stares back at us from the pages of our Bible.  If we don’t check our appearance in the mirror, we are assuming that everything is all right.  The bible offers a reflection of how our lives should look,  just as our mirror guides us in correcting our physical appearance.

We are willing to take the extra time to make those outward changes, but the true blessing is found in changing our hearts.  James 1:25 says, But if you keep looking steadily into God’s perfect law — the law that sets you free — and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.  When God reveals an area of our lives that needs attention, we need to take the time and effort to make those changes.  If we don’t spend time studying God’s word, our lives will eventually be as messed up as our appearance without a mirror.

How much more important is the need to make ourselves presentable to our Heavenly Father than to worry about being presentable to the world!  Let God’s word be the mirror for your life.  Check it regularly and change those things which God reveals need attention.

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Faith in the Dark

Light in the night (Castelldefels)

As I sat reading, the lights flickered a time or two then went out completely.  The skies were clear that night. There wasn’t a storm or strong wind, yet for some strange reason I was suddenly sitting in complete darkness.  As I was feeling around for my cell phone, I heard a car door.  I quickly jumped from my chair and dashed for the window as images of movies flashed through my head.  The lights always go out on clear nights because someone has cut the line before intruding on the home!

I reach the window in time to see the interior light still shining inside the car which sat in the driveway.  There was just enough light in that short moment for me to recognize the car.  As the door knob was turning, I breathed a sigh of relief at the realization that my husband was home early from work.  Although he had formed a plan to surprise me, he had no intention of scaring me.  Yet my own fear of the dark caused my imagination to run wild.

Yes, I admit it.  I’m afraid of the dark.  I don’t like to drive at night because I can’t see what lies ahead.  I am only able to see that which is allowed by the glow of my headlights.  I want to see more.  Although it’s not how I prefer to drive, I have learned to trust that my headlights will provide just the amount of light that I need.

Unexpected events in our lives often leave us fumbling in the dark trying to find our way.  Fear causes our imaginations to run wild as we are unsure of what lies ahead.  We thought we knew the direction our life was going, but suddenly everything has changed.  We may not understand it, but God has a plan.  The path may not be lit brightly, but we can trust that He will provide just the amount of light that we need.  Just as I’ve learned to trust the headlights on my car, I’ve learned to trust God during the dark times of life.

Hebrews 11 provides many examples of people who have trusted God in the dark times of their lives.  Noah knew nothing of floods when God warned him that a flood would cover the earth, but  he built the ark as instructed and had faith that God would protect his family even though he had never seen rain (v.7).   The Israelites were running for their lives from the Egyptians when they reached the Red Sea, and there appeared to be no escape.  When God opened a passage of escape, they stepped out in faith onto dry land with walls of water on either side, and those trying to capture them drowned (v.29).

Hebrews goes on to tell of the faith of many others including Abraham who led the people to the promised land(v.8), Enoch who was taken straight to glory without experiencing death (v.5),  Sarah who conceived a child in old age (v.11),  and Moses parents who hid their baby  to avoid the king’s decree that
required baby Moses’ death (v.23).  The Book of Hebrews goes on and on with other stories of faith in dark times, times that surely caused great fear, times that triggered many questions and uncertainties.  Yet each of those listed, trusted that in those dark times, God had a plan and would provide just what they needed.

For faith to be present, action is required.  Each person listed in Hebrews stepped out in faith and obeyed God’s instruction.  We abandon all trust in what we can accomplish on our own and follow His lead instead.  Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  Darkness unexpectedly arises in our lives and we can’t see what lies ahead.  Faith means that we can trust that God is in control even in the darkness. He is the light in our darkness. 2 Corinthians 4:18 says, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  Faith is focusing on an eternal God rather than the temporary darkness.  In John 8:12, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  We can trust that He will provide just the amount of light that we need, but without faith we can only see the darkness.

Whatever darkness is challenging your faith today, step out in faith, and He will guide you through the dark.

 

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Lessons in Obedience

Today is the Second Anniversary of the beginning of Strength Renewed!  The time has gone really quickly, and I have been blessed in so many ways.  It has been an exciting journey that I would have never imagined myself taking. Blogging has generated friendships that otherwise would not have been possible.  Words of encouragement from friends near and far (some I may never have the pleasure of meeting) have given me the courage to continue striving to submit to God’s will for my life.

This blog came into being after a long battle of running from God’s plan. After taking a spiritual gifts test and realizing that God wanted me to begin writing, I hesitantly wrote a few devotions with no intentions of ever sharing them.  I used the excuse of not knowing how to go about sharing them.  Honestly, I didn’t want to know how because I just wasn’t ready.  I was afraid of being judged, and Satan used that fear to hold me back convincing me to keep private what God had led me to write.

At a SWEET women’s leadership meeting that a friend convinced me to attend, God sent Teresa Brady to visit with me over a cupcake and punch.  In that brief conversation, He revealed that it was time to share what I had written, and Teresa had the solution for how I could do that.  God gave me a renewed strength that compelled me to move from partial obedience to complete obedience and trust in Him.

When I write, I never know how many people may actually read it, but one thing I’m sure is that, if for no other person, God is using it to speak to me.  My relationship with Him is much stronger because I have learned to trust Him even when I’m not sure I want to share.  Sometimes I am stretched outside of my comfort zone, but God always gives me the strength and courage needed.

Like Jonah, I spent a good bit of time in the belly of the whale.  I understand what made Jonah run from God’s plan for his life, but I have also learned the joy of obedience.  Few experiences compare to the wearisome time I spent sidestepping the call to write, but many blessings have followed since I yielded to His will. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 God says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, just willing!

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Headaches, back pain or spasms, neck pain or stiffness, and shoulder pain….all signs of carrying a heavy load.  During the last few years the trend of women’s purse size is growing, and as we all know the larger the bag, the more things we pack in it.  Water bottle, cell phone, makeup bag, wallet, photo book, medicines, kindle, maybe even a laptop.  Sound familiar?  It’s recommended that we carry simple necessities such as ID, credit/debit card, cell phone, and lipstick, but we don’t want to give up our stuff.  Afterall, who knows when we might need those things.  Heavy bags may be cute and convenient, but they also take a toll on our bodies.

Unconfessed sin also takes a toll on us physically .   David knew the pain of unconfessed sin very well.  He committed adultery with Bathsheba and eventually murdered her husband in an effort to cover his sin.  In Psalms 32:3-4, David says, “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night Your hand was heavy on me; my strength was  sapped as in the heat of summer.”  (NIV)  David kept silent about his sin and tried to act like nothing had happened, but his sin began to take its toll physically. Unconfessed sin and God’s heavy hand of conviction weighed him down causing physical pain and lack of strength.  Disturbed sleep, not eating, eating too much, memory loss, mood swings, anxiety attacks….all physicall effects of trying to hide our sin.  Each unconfessed sin adds more unnecessary weight to our lives, and they grow heavy like an overstuffed bag.  Sometimes we choose to live with the burden of sin until it causes chronic pain that weighs us down, holds us back, and makes us miserable.

I can remember hiding with my brother from my Granny when we were young.  We giggled as we peeked around a tree and watched as she called our name and searched.  She knew we were playing games, and we never revealed ourselves until she finally grew frustrated with our games and brought out the fly swatter.  My own children have hidden in the clothing racks and stacks of dogfood at Wal-Mart, and they loved to go in the pasture playing Hide and Seek in the dark as they got older.  Hiding is an exciting adventure for children, but as we get older we no longer hide for enjoyment but rather we try to hide our sins from God.

He that covers his sins shall not prosper: but whoever confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy.” (AKJ)  This game of Hide and Seek that we all play began with Adam and Eve.  When they ate of the forbidden fruit, they knew they had disobeyed God’s command.  Genesis 3:8 says, “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”  Sin causes fear and our first response is to hide, but God provides a hiding place that offers peace, relief, and love.

Psalms 32:5 shows us how David handled his burdensome load.  “Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.” (NLT)  David was once again able to experience joy in his life.  In Psalms 32:1 he said, “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!” (NLT)  Whatever sin is weighing you down, God will forgive and deliver you from the guilt.  All you have to do is ask.

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You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalms 32:7 (NIV)

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BUILD AN ARK

The Ark used for filming was located in Crozet...

Image via Wikipedia

Noah did everything just as God commanded him.  Genesis 6:22

My family and I just watched the movie “Evan Almighty”.  Evan was depicted as a modern-day Noah whom God had instructed to build an ark during a drought.  He provided the land, the materials, and the tools necessary including an “Ark Building for Dummies” book.  Evan was ridiculed by the townspeople, his coworkers, and even his family questioned his sanity.  Despite opposition, Evan was committed and continued building.

It was an inspiring story, which made me realize that God actually has an ark for each of us to build.  The ark that God calls us to build may not affect the entire world as was the case with Noah, but it is an opportunity to serve and obey Him which will have an impact on the lives of others.

This blog is my ark, which began construction two years ago when God used a spiritual gift test to reveal that He wanted me to begin writing.  During that time, I have experienced many feelings of fear and inadequacy as I began writing devotionals that I felt reluctant to share.  At a recent meeting, God used a casual conversation to guide me to creating this blog.  It has been difficult at times, but I feel a strong need to commit and follow through with the task.

Maybe God has revealed an opportunity for you to serve, but you have been reluctant to start building your ark because it seems impossible to achieve.  When we are serving God, it won’t always be easy.  We can expect opposition anytime we are doing something significant for God, but Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  No job for God is without risk, but we can move forward with the strength and courage He offers.

In the movie, ARK stood for an Act of Random Kindness that changes the world.  You can be assured that if God asks you to build and ark, it will unquestionably be used to further the kingdom of God.  The most important part of building an ark is found is Psalms 37:5, “Commit everything you do to the Lord.  Trust him, and he will help you.”  What is the ark God is calling you to build, and are you ready to commit to Him?

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OUR LIFE MIRROR

For if you just listen and don’t obey, it is like looking at your face in a mirror but doing nothing to improve your appearance.  James 1:23

Imagine for a moment trying to prepare for your day with no mirror.  You’ve applied make-up for years.  You know where everything goes, so you can can easily find where to put the mascara, blush, and lipstick.  It may even feel as if it’s right, but obviously it would not look quite like it should.  Mirrors are a vital tool to make ourselves presentable to the world.

God’s word is the mirror for our lives.  He uses it to show us what needs to be changed about the way we live.  When God’s word reveals an area of our lives that needs attention, we need to take the time and effort to do what it says.  Before going out the door to face the world, we take the time and effort to fix whatever we see in the mirror that needs attention.  Throughout our day, we often stop by a mirror to check our appearance.  We check our teeth to be sure no food has been left behind from meals.  We check our hair to see that each one is in place.  We check our clothing for buttons undone or zippers unzipped.  We look for anything that needs to be corrected.  Even if we are in a rush, we take time to correct whatever is needed.  We would never walk away knowing that something should be done.  In the same manner, we should be careful not to turn away from God’s word without fixing what He has shown us need attention.

God’s word should be the mirror for our lives.  “And if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it”  (James 1:25).  If we don’t check our appearance in the mirror, we are assuming that everything is all right.  The bible offers a reflection of how our lives should look  just as our mirror guides us in applying our make-up.  If we don’t spend time reading the bible, our lives will eventually be as messed up as our appearance without a mirror.  Let God’s word be the mirror for your life.  Check it regularly and correct those things that God reveals which need attention.

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