The Transgressions of Israel were Found in Thee

A study of Micah 1.13 O thou inhabitant of Lachish, bind the chariot to the swift beast: she is the beginning of the sin to the daughter of Zion: for the transgressions of Israel were found in thee.

Time frame: God had allowed Assyria to destroy Israel (the Northern Kingdom) for their deep sin against the Lord their God (2 Kings 17). Micah is prophesying particularly against Samaria (Northern Kingdom) and Jerusalem (Southern Kingdom). He prophesied in the days of Jotham (good king), Ahaz (evil king), and Hezekiah (good king), all kings of Judah (Southern Kingdom).

Lachish: “impregnable;” located southeast of Gath; southwest of Bethlehem (and Bethlehem is straight south of Jerusalem); it is in the foothills of the Shephelah on the border of the Philistine plain, in the Southern Kingdom (Judah).

Previous history of Lachish: Amaziah (good king of Judah) fled to Lachish when “they” conspired against him (2 Kings 14.19). But “they” followed him and killed him in Lachish, and brought him on horses back to Jerusalem. When Hezekiah was (good) king of Judah (during the time of Micah), Sennacherib, king of Assyria, swooped down from the Northern Kingdom, onto the west side of Judah, took over Lachish (“impregnable” indeed) and was encroaching upon Jerusalem (2 Kings 18). [This is that time when Hezekiah spread the letter before the Lord, and prayed (2 Kings 19), and the Lord sent Sennacherib away.]

As Sennacherib encroached upon Jerusalem, so did the sin of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) encroach upon Judah (“the beginning of the sin”).

We must beware and be aware of the sin of our neighbors, and of our own brothers and sisters (for the northern and southern kingdoms were the twelve tribes, and were brothers), for they will creep in and eventually conquer us. We think “a little bit” is okay, but we and our children then allow more. There is a quote, the source of which I cannot trace, that goes, “What parents allow in moderation, their children will take to excess.”  We can easily see this truth when we compare our own generation with our parents’, grandparents’, and great-grandparents’ generations.

Sennacherib did not take Jerusalem at the time, but it was the beginning. Why didn’t Sennacherib take Jerusalem? Because its king cried out to the Lord God Almighty! God saved them when they cried. Hezekiah’s whole army was obedient in keeping their silence before the taunting enemy (2 Kings 18.36). The people obeyed their king, and their king obeyed God. This is the mighty work that God performed to save His people:

2 Kings 19.35 And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. 36So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh. 37And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword: and they escaped into the land of Armenia. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.

Even with this miracle that God gave them, this picture of hope and trust in Him, the people of Judah did not listen, but chose their own ways of idolatry and lust. “The transgressions of Israel were found in thee.”

Micah was warning the people of Judah to turn back to God. Through Micah, God is using His Living and Everlasting Word to warn us.

Forsaking Our Own Mercies

Jonah 2.8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.

What a lot of meat to chew on in this verse! This is a reminder of the Israelites in 2 Kings: they knew God, they knew His commandments, they knew He loved them and had saved them; and yet, they chose to follow the heathen practices of their neighbors. God called those ways vanity:

2 Kings 17.14 – 16a Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the LORD their God.  And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them.  And they left all the commandments of the LORD their God.

In Jeremiah 10, God points out the foolishness (vanity) of preparing their own idols from wood or silver, and then worshiping / receiving instruction from them. And then, Jeremiah 16 portrays the wonder of the people that God would pronounce this great evil against them: “What is our iniquity? or what is our sin that we have committed against the LORD our God?” (v10)

We simply cannot expect the blessings and mercies of God when we are disobedient. He told us so in in the whole Old Testament, especially in Deuteronomy (and especially Chapter 28).

We are without excuse:

Romans 1.19 – 21 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

God has made Himself clearly plain:

Psalms 98.2 The LORD hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly shewed in the sight of the heathen.

Christians are called by God’s grace, and given His Holy Spirit – divine wisdom. We can live day – by – day for His blessings. We can pray that we see His blessings.

Beloved, we cannot imagine the blessings God has for us when we obey!

2 Corinthians 2.9 But as it is written [in Isaiah 64.4], Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

His blessings are so magnanimous and beautiful that we cannot even imagine them!

May we pray fervently “unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3.20) that we will read His Word, and obey Him Who loves us so deeply and widely!

In that belly of the fish, Jonah recognized that God’s ways are not his ways, and that he forsook the mercies of God by following the vanity of lies he preferred.

How often do we do this? We feel that tap on the shoulder that this activity or person is not what the Lord intends for us; we feel that caution, and we know it’s from God that we should not enter into what is ahead of us.

We will never know the blessings we forsake when we go our own way. We think we can imagine the blessings of following our ways, and it looks good – enticing. Even in the details, we may think this little thing is not going to make any difference. We cannot imagine the peace God will give us when we obey.  We think that it will be worth it to go ahead with this sin this time.

And we forsake our own mercies.

But God always blesses obedience! When we weigh our options, we cannot imagine any kind of blessing by rejecting this thing we love; we can only feel how good it would be to follow the sin. But we can listen to and obey that still small voice, that one Who tells us to walk to the right or to the left.

Isaiah 30.20, 21 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

When we recognize this, when we run to God in the face of sin, we run blindly. But when we run to Him anyway, this is FAITH. God will increase this faith, and He will BLESS you!

Isaiah 55.6 – 12 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Jonah 2.9 tells of Jonah’s final, encompassing confession: “Salvation is of the Lord.” He humbled himself, and gave himself up to whatever God wanted for him.

God directed the fish to vomit Jonah out upon the dry land (v 10). Note that Jonah still could not save himself – God did not direct Jonah to crawl out of the fish. Jonah’s tribulation and deliverance were completely under God’s control.

So are ours. Submit to God.

James 4.7 – 10 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.  Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

Recipe Friday: Fambly

My dad likes to make up words. His pet word for our family is, “fambly.” We’ve all pretty much adopted it.

We had a family reunion last month. We do this every two years, for a full week, and we siblings take turns arranging the venue. We each pick a night to cook, so it’s only the one day that we need to be responsible for the meal.

My brother-in-law started this for us in 1997, and we’ve continued it. Nowadays, my generation is retired, or close-to retired. But our children are career-age and can’t always make it. My parents aren’t able to attend any more, but it pleases them to no end that we still hold it. This year’s reunion missed several of us, but those of us there really enjoyed each other.

God instituted family, and for good reason. We are to take family seriously, and work hard to make those bonds as close and good as we can. No, it’s not all in our hands to do so, but we are accountable to God, as far as it is possible, to live peaceably with all men (Romans 12.18).

Sometimes we can’t change our family dynamics. For instance, I get to have a sisters weekend every other year. We went to a nice restaurant for dinner one night, and got into conversation with the waitress. She couldn’t believe we wanted to spend time with our sisters. “If I did that with my sisters,” she said, “we’d end up killing each other.” But she thought it was so sweet that we liked spending time together.

I love my fambly. Fiercely. Each and every one. How did that happen? My parents worked at it. They taught us to work at it. We work at it. It’s worth it to work at it.

Family connections go both ways: up generations and down. If you are a parent, make specific plans to strengthen those family ties. Establish traditions (yes, they can be crazy; we have some crazy little traditions in our fambly). Keep important routines. Bake that cake or that favorite meal. Cherish your moments.

So, call your brother. Send a note to you mom. Text your sister. Send a heart emoticon to your son. Keep the connections going with love, as far as it is possible with you. God loves family. He blesses attempts to grow the bonds of love.

God Judges His People

Throughout the Old Testament, God lavishes gifts upon His people. His people accept the gifts, then turn away from Him: Adam and Eve; Jacob; the Israelites: The Israelites, in escaping from Egypt and traveling to the Promised Land, saw God’s provision and miracles, and their belief in Him lasted all of about five minutes before they whined and complained about the next issue. Finally, after numerous prophets, God pronounced His judgement on His people, and they were carried away to Babylon.

Notice that God’s judgement in the Bible is only against His people. We do not read of His judgement against heathen nations, except in the Final Judgement, or as punishment for persecuting His people (i.e., Amos Chs 1 & 2). God uses heathen nations to bring judgement on His people, but God saves His judgement on Earth for His people, to bring them back to Him.

In Joshua 24.15 Joshua directs God’s people to “choose you this day whom ye will serve. We really need to do this every single day (moment).

Again and again, God’s people are enticed by the cultures around them, and adopt those customs which appeal to them. Before they know it, they are living entirely in a heathen culture, following evil practices, and have forgotten their God.

Sound like America?

There is some discussion as to whether our country was a chosen nation of God. We established our nation according to Christian principles, but we did not include God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit in our nation’s documents. Even in our founding days, we were a split nation, embracing other-than-God cultures, striving to please and include all people.

There is much talk these days about God surely bringing judgement upon America. But God has called His people to come out of a heathen culture and give our lives fully unto God, and God alone. In that we have departed from our single focus, He will bring judgement on His people to bring us back to Him, not necessarily upon America as a nation.

God does not bring judgement upon one nation or another; He judges HIS OWN PEOPLE. That takes the onus off the unbelievers in America and places it where God intends: The responsibility for obedience is on the shoulders of His people.

Just as Israel in the days they were brought to Babylon, and there were many Israelites devoted to God who were carried away because this was a judgement against God’s people as a whole; so may God bring judgement against His people in America. When God either punishes the heathen, or brings judgement upon His people, there will be much suffering across the board. Perhaps this has already begun (drought, flooding, plague, sickness).

Where are you, as a Christian? Do you follow God with your whole heart? Or, are you a convenient Christian, keeping those things close to your heart that you cherish, but which are not fully obedient to God? Do you read God’s Word daily? Do you hide His Word in your heart, so that you might not sin against Him?

David was called a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13.14; Acts 13.22). He is an excellent example of a heart wholly given to God. Did David sin? Did he give in to some of the ways of the culture around him? Of course. But David repented. He always returned to the God he loved.

From Henry M. Morris, PH.D. Sunday, June 6, 2021  https://www.icr.org/article/12798/June+6+-+The+Whole+Heart

This phrase, “the whole heart,” occurs a number of times in the Bible, especially in the psalm of the Word, Psalm 119. Note the testimony of the psalmist in this great psalm.

1. “Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart” (v. 2).
2. “With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments” (v. 10).
3. “Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart” (v. 34).
4. “I entreated thy favor with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word” (v. 58).
5. “The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart” (v. 69).
6. “I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O LORD: I will keep thy statutes” (v. 145).

Thus, we should “keep his testimonies” (v. 2), “keep thy law” (v. 34), “keep thy precepts” (v. 69), and “keep thy statutes” (v. 145) with our whole heart, for the good and sufficient reason that He is our Lord and has given us His eternal Word, magnified above all His name. HMM

May we always give our hearts wholly to God. May we read His Word (which is Truth), and walk in obedience. May we ever repent and turn back to His ways.

God is calling us. May we be as Samuel (1 Samuel 3.10) and respond, “Speak; for thy servant heareth.” God has spoken through His Word. Let us heed Him. Do not let your heart be divided between two masters. Let go of your sin, turn to God and repent. Even those “secret sins” – they are not so secret. (Read Secret Sin Not So Secret).   Die to yourself (John 12.23 – 26).

And, an important reminder: Pray for Christians around the world to be faithful and true to Elohim. Read God’s Word and pray it back to Him. God’s Word will not return to him void (Isaiah 55.11).

For more reading, go to “Likeminded” https://www.icr.org/article/12799/June+7+Likeminded

Only a Little Sin

Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden. Some might think it was only a little sin – why cast them out for one sin?

Well, the sin was deciding they wanted to be like God, knowing good and evil, for wanting to decide for themselves where the plumbline should be.

Where does God draw the line on sin? Certainly not where we would decide to draw the line.

And, if God did not cast them out for “one little sin,” how could there ever be a perfect place to live for eternity? Do we really want Heaven to be a place where we can decide for ourselves what is good and evil?

I say NO; we already are living in that place, and it certainly is not Heaven.

With this “wisdom” we have, we make ourselves the judge and jury of all we see. That’s one concern with the media. Every wrong is displayed for everyone to see, and everyone has their own opinion on how the issue should be addressed. Everyone decides for themselves what is good and evil. We can easily see how this causes division.

“One little sin” leads to another – it’s a slippery slope. Look how quickly that sin in the garden turned into murder with Cain and Abel.

We absolutely must recognize that only God has the true plumbline, and that He has the power, the love, and the right to rule over His creation and decide the rules for holiness and righteousness.

May we bow before God’s wisdom, authority, majesty, power, glory, honor, and love.

Revelation 4.11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Obey God Rather Than Men

Acts 5.29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men

This was the apostles’ response to the council and high priest when asked, “Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name?” (v 28) and the apostles were correct.

Sometimes it is easy to remember this verse when faced with a BIG, clear directive in opposition to God’s Word, when obeying that directive sends clanging warning bells.

To how big or how little a thing does this apply?

What about peer pressure? What about advice from a trusted friend? What about when your boss hints that a task should be done ~this~ way? How about a spouse’s suggestion that’s a bit “off?” What about that television show? What about when everyone else in church thinks this is the way to go? What about when the pressure to do something is tremendous, and you think you have no choice?

How faithful and obedient can a person be to God in every. little. thing? Do we even stop to consider? Do we, like the Bereans did (Acts 17.11), stop to examine the Scriptures to see whether these things are so?

When we don’t examine God’s Word, when we don’t have our daily devotionals and time with God, we can quite easily go singing merrily along in our own power and the power of the culture that surrounds us – bombards us, even. The more we stray from God’s Word, the easier it becomes to stray even more.

Be grounded in the Bible. Read it every day. Compare what you hear, what you believe to be true, with what God has to say about it. Pray before, while, and after you read; pray the Holy Spirit will guide and interpret to your poor mind what the truth is in any given situation.

In big things and small, God always blesses obedience. Always. You may conjure up consequences to your actions, but God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3.20). Trust Him.

Then go forth, and obey God rather than men.

Trust and Obey

Trust and Obey

Words: John H. Sam­mis, in Hymns Old and New (Chi­ca­go, Il­li­nois: Flem­ing H. Re­vell, 1887).

Music: Dan­i­el B. Tow­ner

[In 1886] Mr. [Dwight] Moo­dy was con­duct­ing a ser­ies of meet­ings in Brock­ton, Mas­sa­chu­setts, and I had the plea­sure of sing­ing for him there.

One night a young man rose in a tes­ti­mo­ny and said, I am not quite sure…but I am go­ing to trust, and I am going to obey. I just jot­ted that sen­tence down, and sent it with the lit­tle story to the Rev. J. H. Sam­mis, a Pres­by­ter­ian min­is­ter. He wrote the hymn, and the tune was born.

            – Daniel Towner

When we walk with the Lord In the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
 
Refrain
Trust and obey, For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, But to trust and obey.
 
Not a shadow can rise, Not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, Not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.
 
Not a burden we bear, Not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, Not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.
 
But we never can prove The delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, For the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.
 
Then in fellowship sweet We will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, Where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

From http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/t/r/u/s/trustobey.htm

This beloved hymn has been running through my head for weeks now. We sing it often at our Ladies Book Study, and we “happened” to sing it in this past Sunday’s church service.

If you don’t know the tune, you can listen to it at this site: https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/582

Read through the words of this hymn again. They offer much of the peace of God’s Truth. “To be happy in Jesus,” translates, to me, the peace that He offers when we give it all to Him and rest in Him. Truth trumps feelings, in my book. But sometimes God gives us both: when we abide in His Truth, He blesses us with the feelings, the satisfaction, of His peace.

In the last verse a picture is painted of sweet fellowship in Heaven. This is common among hymns of great faith: the last verses capture the certain hope we have of walking with Jesus in Heaven.

But I think that Jesus wants us to have Heaven on Earth with Him.

Luke 17.20, 21 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” See also Matthew 12.28, Colossians 4.11, and Romans 14.17, among many others.

“What He says we will do, Where He sends we will go; Never fear, only trust and obey.”

This is something we can have right here on Earth, and it’s what Jesus always wanted for us. When we set our minds on things above (Colossians 3.2); when we take on the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2.16); when we put on the garment of praise (Isaiah 61.3); when we abide in Him (1 John 4.13, 1 John 2.27); when we lay it all on His altar (verse 4 of our hymn); then we can walk through any facet of our life here with the complete joy and peace of Jesus Himself.

I want the peace of Jesus. I imagine Jesus when He was walking here, day by day, in perfect peace with His Father. He offers us this peace: John 14.27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

So, whether we have sunshine and lemonade and roses, or whether we have cancer and fires and deteriorating relationships: “What He says we will do, Where He sends we will go; Never fear, only trust and obey.”  We can walk in the light of His Word, and He will shed glory on our way.

 

Joseph so Blessed; Brothers Blessed-Anyway

JosephSoBlessed

Joseph, favored son of Jacob, had a hard life. His brothers were jealous of him and almost killed him. Instead, when he was 17, they sold him into slavery in Egypt. They thought they were done with him.

In Egypt, Joseph soon rose to the top of the totem pole in the house into which he was sold. God showed favor to Joseph, and the man of the house (Potiphar) trusted him with everything. Joseph must have been trustworthy, smart, kind, respectful, creative, and gracious. He must also have been good-looking, because the wife of the house lusted after him and did him wrong. Joseph refused the wife’s advances, the wife lied to her husband, and Potiphar had him thrown into prison.

As an aside, the verses dealing with this are Genesis 39.19, 20: And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled. And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. My personal perspective is that Potiphar’s wrath was kindled against his wife. I’m guessing that he knew his wife’s heart, but could not publicly cross her. I think he was intensely upset that his wife had messed up a very good thing.

As in Potiphar’s house, once Joseph was in prison, God showed favor to him, and Joseph rose to the top of that totem pole. Genesis 39.21 – 23: But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.

Keep in mind that there is no record of Joseph being whiney or disobedient, or of his giving up or being subversive. We can assume that Joseph was obedient in all he did, as evidenced in his dealings with the king’s cupbearer and baker (Genesis 40). Again, even though Joseph was obedient, the cupbearer forgot about Joseph, and Joseph remained in prison for another season.

God caused Pharaoh to have dreams. Aha, says the cupbearer, I do remember my faults this day. And he led Pharaoh to call for Joseph to interpret the dreams. Joseph was candid about the interpretation of dreams being God’s hand, and was obedient to correctly divine the dreams. Pharaoh immediately discerned Joseph’s gifts, and promoted him to the top of Egypt’s totem pole, save only for Pharaoh himself. (Gotta wonder what Potiphar thought about that!)

The dreams foretold great abundance in the land for seven years, followed by seven years of great famine. Joseph arranged all so that Pharaoh prospered. And God arranged all so that His people prospered.

Meanwhile, back in Canaan, the brothers were miserable. They got rid of their insipid brother, but their father was suffering. There was no consoling Dad over the loss of his favorite son. Jacob’s only consolation was Joseph’s younger brother Benjamin, whom Jacob smothered with protection. The saving grace for the brothers was that they daily lived with the guilt of their actions, and were evidently repentant.

Came the time of dearth in Canaan, and the brothers had to go to Egypt to buy food, else they die.

Joseph put them through some pretty tough paces before he revealed himself to them. He had to make sure they repented, and that they had not been treating Benjamin poorly. Joseph was satisfied, and revealed himself to his brothers.

The brothers, of course, were aghast. They believed Joseph to be dead or a poor and harshly-treated slave. They could not have conceived that he would be second in power to Pharaoh. All Joseph’s long-ago dreams came true, and the brothers bowed down to him, along with their father.

Granted, there are numerous applications and lessons to be derived from God in Joseph’s life. Mine are this: obedience, and God’s blessings. Joseph saw that at once. Look at what he thought was most important for his brothers to know first, in Genesis 45.4, 5 And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. Joseph’s understanding was that it was GOD who sent him into Egypt, so that Jacob’s family could thrive.

In all that happened to Joseph, he remained obedient to God. He did not fight against his slavery or imprisonment; he didn’t try to escape. He could have become disgruntled, he could have developed a lousy attitude toward God. It might have been easy to think, “Well, if this is how God treats His obedient children, then I want out.” Joseph could not have foreseen, any more than his brothers could have, the future that God had planned.

And Joseph and his brothers would never have seen that future had not Joseph remained obedient.

At any point, if Joseph had rebelled, he would have taken his own life on a different path. And God could not have blessed it. God does not bless disobedience, but He loves to bless obedience. Granted, God will still bless those who are disobedient: look at the brothers. They were disobedient, but they were God’s children, and God blesses His children. Look at the nation of Israel: they were continually disobedient, and God still blessed them, even though they didn’t appreciate it. Look at America: as a people, as a culture, we are in full-blown disobedience to God. But He hasn’t annihilated us, and we aren’t eating worms as we deserve.

But the blessings of obedience are different from the blessed-anyway blessings. Disobedient people receive the fringes of blessings, like the dog eating crumbs under the table. Obedience brings full-on blessings, like a father beaming proudly at His beloved children, feasting at the table; like those children knowing they are fully loved and appreciated and respected; and blessings like living in peace, knowing they are fully taken care of.

Please: be consistent and single-minded about obedience to God. Obedience puts you in the palm of God’s Hand. It brings you into His protection (even though it might not feel like it sometimes). Obedience positions you to receive God’s full-on blessings.

And one of the greatest blessings is simply knowing you are pleasing your Lord.

How many Christians today are walking around, just being blessed-anyway? Missing out on God’s greatest blessings that He wants to shower on us? Thinking we’re doing okay with our own plans, doing it our way? How many Christians believe their way looks like a better plan than whatever God has? Can’t we just wait and see what God has in mind?

Please: be patient. Fall on your faces before God and commit to obedience, no matter what everything around you looks like, no matter what other people are saying or what their faces look like. God’s opinion is the only one that matters. Eternity belongs to Him, after all. You’re not just living for what you can get right here and now. You are living for God, for eternity. And when you live for God, your right-now is protected and blessed. We cannot comprehend what God has in store for us; and we will never see it unless we are obedient.

Ephesians 3.20, 21 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Obedience and Blessings

ObedienceAndBlessings

I am blessed to use several devotionals throughout my day and week. One of my sources of inspirational reading is the blogs I read from YOU! I so appreciate your interpretation of and encouragement in God’s Word.

Another that I read and study daily is Quiet Walk’s Walk Through the Bible daily devotional, found here: http://www.walkthru.org/qw-daily-devotional

Today’s readings inspired me to go off on some tangents about obedience (one of my favorite topics). It starts with a Bible passage I love, where Hezekiah spreads Sennacherib’s letter before his Lord, in the temple. The discussion pointed out that, “God is not reluctant to bless us. But we must be sure we are eligible by being faithful to Him.”

God is a God of faithfulness! He loves to shower His blessings upon us. But we must position ourselves to be eligible to receive His blessings.

How?

By being obedient.

How to be obedient?

READ GOD’S WORD!

Without God’s Word, it is easy to assume and visualize in our minds how we can be obedient to God. We can (and do) make up anything we want to push ourselves into believing we are pleasing Him, while in reality we are conniving to please ourselves.

God is our plumb line, our source of Truth, of reality. Everything we do or say or think or feel must be aligned with the Truth He gives us in His Word.

Mind you, blessing does not always mean a lovely life filled with roses and lemonade. Blessings come in all forms. Sometimes a blessing looks like a face of anger or a scary situation or a blocked road or even death, to turn us to the direction God wants for us. If we are in tune with God, if we know Him, His Word, His Spirit of Truth, then He WILL guide us.

None of us is always obedient. We try, and God forgives. The devotional this morning continued with this passage from Joel 2.12, 13: Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.

Sometimes we are afraid to be obedient to God, fearing we won’t get what we want. God knows our hearts. If we will but surrender to Him, He gives us joys we cannot imagine – even better than what we thought we wanted!

Pray with me:

Lord, I praise You. I worship Who You are, and I bow before Your throne of glory. I acknowledge my weakness and my sin. I come before You, knowing You love me, You welcome me, and You want Your best for me. Increase my faith in Your goodness. Guide me to read more of Your Word, instruct me in the way I should go. Give me a heart that yearns for You, a heart that desires above all else to know You and please You. Give me eyes and a heart to see the beauty and peace and joy of Your Ways. Amen.

Blessings of Obedience and the Resurrection

BlessingsOfObedienceAndTheResurrection

After Jesus was crucified, the women noted where He was laid to rest (Luke 23.55), then went home and prepared spices and ointments; but they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment (Luke 23.56).

These were Jewish women, likely able to trace their lineage back centuries to their original tribe, just like any other orthodox Jew. Their ancestors had received The Law straight from Moses / straight from God, and their adherence to it was the basis of their relationship to God Himself.

And so, in obedience, they waited until after the Sabbath was over. That begins a chapter in each of the gospels: Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20. Unsuspecting, they had a discussion along the way of how they could get that stone rolled away from the tomb. They likely thought the guards would let them in to anoint Him, seeing as how they were women and unable to steal the body.

None of their recorded discussion centered around “What if the body isn’t there?”.

They were astounded and nonplussed to find 1) the stone rolled away, 2) no body in the tomb, and 3) an angel telling them that “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.”

Because of their devotion and obedience, they received the astounding blessing of being the first to discover that Jesus had, indeed, arisen. These women were entrusted with the directive to go and tell the others.

These Jewish women may not have felt the least inclination to break the Sabbath and anoint Jesus’ body the day after He died. They were firmly entrenched in The Law and Tradition, and they simply never broke the Sabbath, out of habit if nothing else.

For those of us outside orthodox religion, we might consider other circumstances: Jesus had just been crucified in an untimely, cruel, and unjust manner. Did they not feel a tug at their hearts that, just this once, it was okay to anoint His body, even though it was the Sabbath? That surely God would give them leniency, given that this man had claimed to be the very Son of God? Did they not love Him so much that they were drawn to be that near to Him? We can, in our minds, rationalize a whole host of really great “reasons” to do what is right in our eyes.

What if they had not been obedient? What would they have found at the tomb? The stone with its seal would still have been there. The guards posted by Pilate and the Pharisees would still have been there. They would not have been able to enter. Even if they had been able, they would have found and anointed a dead body.

But they were obedient. They put aside whatever feelings or logic they may have had otherwise, and they obeyed God’s fourth commandment of the Ten.

Obedience works just the same now-a-days as it did back then. Obey out of habit, stiff-necked obedience, obey out of love, obey because of fear of man: no matter, as long as it is GOD you are obeying.

You just never know what blessings will follow obedience.