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Rewards for Foolishness

Rewards for Foolishness

God will not reward foolishness.

No good father does.

We’ve all seen the scenario of a child acting up in the store and to assuage him the parent lets him have some M&Ms from the check out stand. What does that teach the child? Act up and get rewarded! Thus, the cycle begins. Can you imagine if God did that with us?

A more knowledgeable parent or perhaps a more patient one doesn’t encourage bad behavior and neither does God. God won’t reward us for our foolishness, but for our obedience. Our foolishness hurts us and others so God won’t reinforce it. Instead, we experience the discomforts of our actions instead of reward. Yet, because of His mercy, God keeps us from the full onslaught of the consequences we’ve manifested. He allows as much discomfort as we need to get our attention for the areas He wants to address in our lives. Psalm 107:17, Psalm 119:71

The discomforts (like physical aliments, trying situations or relationships, physical hardships) are to get us to seek. When all is good, we don’t ask. It’s when things go wrong that we start looking for answers. Our discomforts are often a sign we are somehow out of line with God and His will for us.

We chose to be either rebellious children living in a world of affliction because we are not heeding His Word and instruction in our lives. Or to be children who seek to walk in accordance with God’s will because it’s a path of truth, freedom, and love. Obedience is our wills coming in line with God’s so that we start living in the fullness of abundant life He desires for us. As our wills align, we gain unity with God. We live as one with Him in truth, love and purpose. Proverbs 13

Obedience isn’t about forgiveness. We are already forgiven now and always in Christ.

Obedience isn’t about being “good”. No one is good but God. Obeying God’s commands is about walking in God’s will. The moment we focus on trying to be a good person, we act according to our expectations and assumptions about what good means. Because we think we know what good is, we cease to seek God’s will in all things. Instead, we are following our definition of good thus our will, which is limited and often different than God’s. The essence of religion is people trying to be good, according their definitions. It’s easier to follow a set of rules verses seeking and listening to know God’s will day to day, but following rules doesn’t bring abundant life – drawing near to God does. True Christianity is about being in unity with God’s will. Big difference. Obedience is about the heart. If you are in line with God’s will in your heart, the right actions will follow.

Obedience isn’t about US taking control and making things right. It’s about God working in us. For Him to work, we have to submit. For a doctor to do surgery we have to submit to his work. We can’t be running around the hospital. Once we know God’s will for us in a situation, then our focus changes from moving forward our way to His. Part of our submission comes through prayer. Our prayers start to align to His will, and that is when our prayers become powerful. John 15:7

When I have a discomfort like an affliction in my spirit or a physical aliment, I seek. I seek God’s instruction and He opens my eyes to see my error. God doesn’t want us in affliction. He rewards a seeking heart with enlightenment and truth. Usually, it’s something I’ve justified to such an extent that I don’t see it as going against God’s will. But as I seek because of the rising discomfort, the Spirit points it out so clearly that I can’t deny my error. As a child of God, I desire to walk in God’s way. So upon knowing my error, my heart is moved to walk in His truth.

Though I desire to walk in God’s will, it can be hard to obey. We do what we do for a reason; approval, fear, self-protection, or lack of trust. So God also has to deal with this aspect of our rebellion as well. He has to go the source of why we do what we do, not just the outward actions. If you don’t fix the source nothing is fixed. Thus, obedience is a process. It’s a deep work of the heart and that takes time.

Because it’s about the heart, and it’s God who changes our heart, our part is to seek God’s work in us. Our role is to be willing to submit our will to God. To lay down on the surgeons table; to take the small steps of obedience as He leads us; and to pray in line with His will. Because a changed heart isn’t easy, we will never be more dependent upon Him, His strength and mercy. We have to depend on God to carry us through. We have to depend because it’s His work, not ours.

One area for many of us is a change in heart toward another. Can we just change our heart? Have you tried? I find I can’t in my own strength, but I’m not meant to either. My duty is to come to God and desire to submit and pray. I pray before each encounter with that person. I pray for a new perspective about them. I pray for God’s love to abound in me. And above all I trust in His work in me and His grace to carry me through.

Obedience is a process – an affliction or discomfort happens, we seek to understand, the Spirit reveals our error, we submit to God’s will, we pray according to that will, God works through our issues that cause such actions, and we start walking in His will. It’s a journey, but it’s the path to life. I’ve walked through this process in enough areas in my life to know it truly does lead to a more fulfilling, freeing, and loving existence.

Don’t ignore the discomforts or explain them away or think that is just life – seek. Deeply seek and listen as you spend time in God’s Word and prayer. Let God peel back the layers of your soul to expose the truth of your heart and actions because only then can your will start to align with His. As your will aligns with God it begins a sequence of events to bring on a change that will move you out of the discomfort and into the reward. Hebrews 11:6


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The Great I AM . . .

The Great I AM . . .

 

God is the Great I AM . . . everything. Exodus 3:14

The power of His name, I AM, hit me a couple of years ago and it still astounds me when I meditate on it each morning. As the source of everything that is good, God is everything we need. When we are in a relationship with Him and seeking His face and His truth then we lack nothing.

Psalm 34:10 “The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.”

As God’s children, it is no longer about our strengths, abilities or resources, but about His. His truth, love, mercy, protection, provision, peace, rest, freedom, purity, beauty, comfort, wisdom, strength, and power become a part of our lives. We have access to incredible riches that the rest of the world doesn’t because we have Him and He is everything.

In Luke 5, the guys were out fishing without a bite. Jesus told them to go out and cast their nets one more time. They had been toiling day and night and caught nothing but at His word they let down the nets. They caught such a great number of fish that their nets started to break and their boat started to sink so they got another boat to help carry the multitude of fish. God’s Word has power in our lives. It accomplishes what man cannot. It does the impossible. But we have to listen, trust and act on it.

In this economy, many are pulling up empty nets. But when the Word of God penetrates our lives and we trust in His words and not the words of this world then what is impossible by the world’s means is possible for those who trust in God. His wisdom and ways defy the world’s.

God provides for every need. There isn’t an area of our lives that God doesn’t attend to. He is in the details because He loves us. The more you love someone the more you care about each little concern. He loves us beyond our comprehension thus He cares about everything. If we don’t believe He is in everything then we will limit out trust in Him and our lives will suffer for it.

God may use the world around us to test and refine us, but we lack nothing. If we trust in His Word He will provide and fill our nets in due time. But this promise is to those who seek Him. Many Christians have cultivated a relationship with the church and not God. They seek what the church offers and not God’s truth. They spend time at church, but not one-on-one in the Word cultivating an intimate relationship with God. As a result, their lives are full of hardship, suffering and lack like the world’s.

Everyone has hardship. But for God’s children it is completely different. We are always in the midst of God’s provision as He disciplines, tests and refines with the elements of this world. Tough circumstances teach us that we don’t lack and that we aren’t limited to the world. When you are in a tight situation then you see God’s deliverance that is beyond this world it is astounding. Without the trying circumstance, we can’t witness and learn about the power of His deliverance. But if we trust in worldly means then we will miss the lesson and often the blessing. We have what the world doesn’t because we have Him.

Trials come for a season. The ultimate purpose of any trial is to move us closer to God and His truth. Therefore, we aren’t meant to remain in those tough places, but move through them by growing and maturing in our relationship with God. However, if we lack a love of the truth and don’t seek its revelation in our lives then we will miss out on the abundance of His promises. We will live limited lives like the rest of the world.

God wants to show His power and glory to the world through His people. Tough times are the perfect opportunity.


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What God is Offering Us

What God is Offering Us

 

Now that I am here in the midst of God’s presence enjoying His kingdom, it astounds me how deceived I was about this life and resisted it for many years. Fear kept me at an arm’s length. I thought my life would be boring, miserable and no fun. I thought I would be chained to should to’s and have to’s, and live a life of suffering, lack, discipline, regulations, because it was good for me. Therefore I wore a Christian shell. I didn’t want God that close.

Where did I get this impression? Mostly from churches and other Christians who wore a forced smile while their lives were miserable – it wasn’t very compelling. Despite what they said, I wasn’t convinced they had much to rejoice about, therefore I believed what God was offering outside of eternal salvation wasn’t that desirous. I made judgments about God based on man. Stupid and nonsensical I know, but most people, Christian and not, do the same thing.

After coming to several low points in my life, when I felt I didn’t have much to lose anyway, I decided to give God a try.  I found a life totally unexpected, nothing what I imagined and it had been waiting for me in the Word the whole time.

I had to look in the Word to find the truth, not others. Many churches and Christians portray a wanting life because they are living by manmade doctrines. Man’s ways bring death, God’s life. Just because someone says they are speaking God’s truth, doesn’t mean they are. Fear blinds us, misconceptions deceive us, and a lack of seeking keeps us in bondage.

The life He is offering to those who are willing to give up living their way and seek His is nothing but tremendous and desirous; a life of provision, protection, mercy, truth, peace, rest, joy and love. You don’t need hell to scare people into His arms. He is offering what everyone wants unconditional love. What God desires above all is love; to love us and for us to love Him. Mark 12:30 How incredible of a God is He.

Instead of hell fire that doesn’t foster love, but fear, what we need is truth about God and what He is offering us. Look at what God desires; freedom, love, rejoicing souls, overflowing joy, and sincere praise for all His goodness toward us. He doesn’t even want us to try to earn His affections with good works, but asks us to rest and trust His work in us. No other god is like Him.

Many believe this wonderful life is only on a spiritual level and in the physical realm we continue to suffer like everyone else. Believing this lie kills our witness and dishonors God’s love for us. My experiences don’t support that thinking and neither does His Word. It is replete with examples, physical examples, of how He desires to bless and does bless His people; healing sicknesses, restoring lives, delivering from fears and afflictions, providing for needs, and helping in troubles. He is all consuming. His care is very real and active in our lives, if we trust Him.

Believing God’s blessings are mainly spiritual not only kills our witness, dishonors God but also blinds us to what God wants to do in our lives. If our lives are lacking and yet we believe that is how life is then we never probe deeper. Our problems are to wake us up that something needs attending to. Manifestation of pain is the beginning to the path of freedom. Fears, troubles, and afflictions are to drive us to seek and draw near.

For example, learning His ways verses ours takes time. Often we think we are doing things His way when we are serving our manmade religion. When we serve the wrong thing we experience lack or discomfort because God is trying to get our attention that something is off.

Also, God tests us. We are going to be in situations that test what we really believe. Our finances will run low, we will struggle with an illness, and a relationship will be strained. God is asking; do you believe I am your provider, healer, and deliver? How we respond, who we go to, what we trust in will give Him our answer. Believing those things are just life, also gives Him an answer.

And then there is that a constant battle in our souls between our beautiful new spirit and our decaying flesh that gives heartache and frustration.

All these things cause discomfort, pain, and frustration but that is not were we are to stay, they are all opportunities to witness the power of God, to increase our trust in Him, and to draw near to Him in a way we couldn’t if we didn’t have them. If we accept them as life, we miss out on their purpose, to push us into the presence of God and to experience His mercy and love.

We have a constant hope which fills us with a deep lasting joy. God is on our side. When He is our trust we are victors. What gives God glory? Not defeated miserable lives, but triumphant ones and He has given us everything we need to be victorious, if we will surrender and do things His way. We are our own worst enemy, if we can learn to humble ourselves under His hand – we will find true peace and rest, then our lives will glorify Him.

For most of us, our lives aren’t reflective of the life God wants to give. The road is narrow and few find it, therefore, we can’t depend on others to show us what a life in God’s kingdom is about; we have to go to His Word, the pure Truth. When we read it with a heart to know and not prove our own philosophies or some else’s, we will discover the path of life.