Tag Archives: obedience

Obeying Because We Trust

All [God] does is just and good,
and all his commandments are trustworthy.
They are forever true,
to be obeyed faithfully and with integrity.
Psalm 111:7-8, NLT*

We may struggle with obeying God, but we never need worry about the quality of His leadership. He’s not like a human leader who may be mistaken or manipulative.

When I think of “all His commandments,” I think of the Ten Commandments and of Jesus’ teachings, not of the hundreds of legalistic man-made rules the old teachers of the law made to teach people how to apply the law.

Some of His principles seem upside-down to our thinking: give to receive, die to live, humble yourself to be exalted. They don’t look sensible to our eyes, but they work. Will we choose to trust what God says, or what we see?

God who is enthroned above the heavens but yet whose Spirit dwells in our hearts, You’ve proven Your character, authority and goodness time and again. Help us choose to trust and obey the commandments and principles You’ve set out, because we trust that You are good.

What if we really lived like we believed everything God says? Be inspired by Matt Redman’s song, “We Could Change the World.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Doing Life God’s Way

He led me to a place of safety;
he rescued me because he delights in me.
The Lord rewarded me for doing right;
he restored me because of my innocence.
Psalm 18:19-20, NLT*

My Bible has a note that this psalm is what David sang to God in celebration, when God rescued him from King Saul. Saul had been hunting David a long time, and would have killed him to keep the throne.

God had anointed David as the new king, to replace Saul. David believed it, but he wouldn’t fight Saul and refused to kill him when the chance presented itself. As verses 21-22 say, David did it God’s way, trusted God to fulfil His promise, and would not harm “the Lord’s anointed one”.  God put Saul on the throne, and David waited for God to take him off.

I think this is the “doing right” and innocence David speaks of here. Everyone sins and misses the mark of what God has for us, and I don’t think David was claiming perfection. But in the long hiding from Saul, he resisted the temptation to do it his way and waited for God.

That’s what God rewards. How we conduct ourselves on the journey is perhaps more important than reaching the end. There’s more at stake than we see with human eyes.

Sovereign God who builds up and takes down, we praise You for the plans You have for each of us, plans for a future and a hope, plans of promise. In our times of stress, help us remember to choose Your way over any short-cuts or schemes that our human nature may suggest. Help us live worthy of the Kingdom.

Here’s a classic Petra song to remind us to walk by faith, “Not By Sight.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

So the Lord May Bless You

I’ve been reading in Deuteronomy (yes, on purpose!) about Moses’ long speech to the Israelites before they’re to finally enter the Promised Land. He reminds them what God has done in the past and what kind of behaviour God expects in the future.

What strikes me is the intent behind the litany of dos and don’ts: it’s not about following the rules, it’s about the Israelites’ lifestyle being a sign to the people around them. They’re to show how God designed humans to function, and how well He looks after those who trust Him.

Although the Old Testament proclaims Israel as God’s chosen people, it gives clear instruction to welcome the stranger and the alien and to allow them to learn about God.

The Pharisees got it wrong with their legalism. From the beginning, God asked for wholehearted love and obedience rather than rigidity. Peter had a handle on this when he wrote that we’re to live prepared to give an answer for the hope within us – we’re to live so that people can see we’re different.

What does it mean for us today?

  • legalism is not the way
  • personal holiness: not “I don’t do that” in a judgmental way, but “I do this because I love God”
  • taking seriously what He says
  • personal times alone with Him, again out of love and perceived need rather than performance or “earning points”
  • care for the person who doesn’t see his/her need, because God does see the need

We need to live mindfully according to His ways, secure in the knowledge that He is powerful, good, and able to care for us. Deuteronomy 23:20b is one of many illustrations of Moses’ theme: live God’s way so that we don’t block the blessings God wants to give – for our sakes and for the sakes of those who see us.

I’m really struck by how much God wants to give, and I wonder how much we miss by our own choices and actions.

Love, Listen, Hold… Live

“Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life…”
Deuteronomy 30:19b-20a, NIV*

Moses is winding up his recitation to the Israelites of God’s faithfulness in their journey. Their choices will shape their future. He’s previewed the blessings and warned of the curses. He leaves them with a motto for life.

Love the LORD Your God

  • it’s a heart and spirit response
  • it has active implications – don’t just feel it, do it

Listen to His voice

Hold fast to Him

  • cling to Him
  • rely on Him as an anchor and fortress


We always need a reason why, even if it’s just that God says so and we choose to trust Him. Moses answers the question: “The LORD is your life.”

Holy and eternal God, You are our life. We’re not whole when we’re not close to You. Help us love You, help us listen to You, help us cling to You, so we can live. Thank You for such grace that gives us this gift!

Here’s John Waller’s “The Blessing.”

*THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

How Irritating Are We to God?

The LORD said to Moses, “Put back Aaron’s staff in front of the ark of the covenant law, to be kept as a sign to the rebellious. This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so that they will not die.” Moses did just as the LORD commanded him.

The Israelites said to Moses, “We will die! We are lost, we are all lost! Anyone who even comes near the tabernacle of the LORD will die. Are we all going to die?”
Numbers 17:10-14, NIV*

Do you ever think about how irritating it is for God to put up with us?

Yes, He loves us. He wants to rescue us from the mess we’ve dug ourselves into—even at the cost of His own Son’s life—but so many times we just don’t get it.

I’ve been reading the account of Moses, how God brought the people of Israel out of Egypt to bring them into the promised land: a place of peace and safety where they won’t be slaves anymore.

All they do is grumble and complain and wish they were back under Pharaoh’s thumb. The context of today’s passage is that some of the people accused Moses and Aaron of taking too much authority, of elevating themselves as better than the rest.

God settled it in dramatic fashion, destroying the usurpers. The people hurled more accusations, and God sent a plague. You can read the whole account in Numbers 16.

So God told Moses to get a staff from each of the tribal leaders, including Aaron. “The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites.” (Numbers 17:5, NIV*)

Next day, when Moses collected the staffs, Aaron’s “had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds.” (Numbers 17:8, NIV*) The others remained inert sticks of wood.

All this to give the people an enduring sign of approved leadership, so they’d quit complaining and would not die. And what do they immediately do?

God’s trying to protect them and they yell, “We’re all gonna die!” And they exaggerate: “We can’t even go near the tabernacle now!”

What if they’d trusted and obeyed?

What if we trusted and obeyed, instead of misunderstanding and overreacting?

Holy and patient God, how simple life would be if we’d just let You shepherd us, instead of trying to be in charge of our own lives. You tell us to trust You and not rely on our own understanding. But like sheep we’ve all gone astray. Teach us to seek You first, to trust You. To stop ascribing frightening motives to You and instead remember You are the only trustworthy one. Help us believe You instead of trusting our own fallible understanding.

Todd Agnew’s song, “Shepherd,” speaks to where we too often find ourselves.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Following the Leader

In your unfailing love you will lead
the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them
to your holy dwelling.
Exodus 15:13, NIV*

This is part of the Israelites’ song after God brought them through the Red Sea on dry land and let the sea flow back to drown the enemies on their trail.

God rescued the people, and the word “redeemed” here reminds me that His work with Israel in the Old Testament was often a prophetic picture of His work to rescue and redeem us all through Jesus.

Today’s verse declares that the God who has shown Himself mighty to save is able to lead His people into the land He has promised. They didn’t make it easy for Him, and He had to keep reminding them to obey Him.

He led them out, but because of disobedience, that generation lost the chance to be led in to the Promised Land.

Believers in Christ face the same danger. He’s rescued us from bondage to sin’s destructive ways. Let’s not drop our guards now and get stuck in the wasteland, or what Mark Buchanan calls the “borderlands” in his book, Your God is Too Safe.

We need to trust and honour Jesus as Lord as well as Saviour. All the way into the deepening relationship He that promises, and that we won’t fully experience in this life. But let’s get further up and further in, as much as we can.

Our God and Shepherd, Strong Deliverer and Redeemer, thank You for saving us and promising us abundant life. Help us rely on Your unfailing love and live in trusting obedience to Your guidance. 

Our song is Carolyn Arends’ “Go With God.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Pray Before Giving

Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling.’”
2 Samuel 7:5-6, NIV*

King David’s desire to build a temple for God came from a good heart. He wanted to honour God, not to live in an elaborate palace while God’s dwelling was a tent.

David loved God, and God had given him so much. I wonder if David saw a chance to do something for Him as a gift. Good heart, good idea, wrong timing.

We get love-born impulses too, to do things for God or for others. These verses remind me we need to pray before acting.

God may want us to bless Him with our hearts’ attitudes but to not act—or to not act yet. In His plan, timing matters.

Sometimes the very things we long to do for others are the things that would undermine what God is doing in their hearts. Oswald Chambers says, “It takes a long time to realize the danger of being an amateur providence, that is, interfering with God’s order for others.” (“What is that to Thee?” Nov. 15)

Father God, we want to give back to You out of the love You’ve given us. Impress on our hearts how best to please You—and how to show love to those around us. Help us to always come first to You for wisdom. Make us sensitive to Your prompting to act or to not act. Keep us in the centre of Your will.

The gift God wants most is our hearts. Here’s my favourite Third Day song: “Offering.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Daily Faith

All these people [Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob] were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.
Hebrews 11:13, NIV 2010*

These and other heroes of the faith listed in Hebrews 11 were commended for being sure of what they hoped for and certain of what they did not see. Their faith was not in themselves or in their hopes and dreams. They put their faith in God, and His nature gave them the assurance to believe.

This chapter highlights some of the ways they showed their faith: understanding that God made the universe (v 3), sacrifices of praise and worship (v 4), obedience (lots of obedience… building the ark (v 7), leaving home for the promised land (v 8), Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac (v 17), believing God’s promise (v 9), blessing their descendants who were one generation closer to receiving the promise (v 20). And the list goes on.

Faith brought a lot of victories, and it strengthened people to endure a lot of pain and persecution. Because they considered the Promise Maker faithful. I love how verse 27 describes Moses: “he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.”

So what about us? Most of us are in that safe, ordinary range between the two extremes: we’re not going to be big names in the history books for either our victories or our defeats. But like I said last week, that doesn’t mean where we are is any less important to God.

We’re still called to please Him by our faith. We can believe He made the universe, we can offer the sorts of sacrifices He really wants (mercy, justice, walking humbly with Him). Instead of getting distracted by the here and now, we can live today mindful of God’s promises. He said He’d always be with us in our todays, and He also said we’d be with Him for eternity.

Creator God, You keep Your promises and nothing can change that. Forgive us for getting distracted by the present. Help us to enjoy the present and serve You well in it. But help us keep our eyes on You—and on eternity with You. That makes our time here more purposeful, because we’ll be acting in faith in Your promise.

This week’s song is FFH’s “God of the Promise.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Job is a Gift

The LORD said to Aaron, “…I myself have selected your fellow Levites from among the Israelites as a gift to you, dedicated to the LORD to do the work at the tent of meeting. But only you and your sons may serve as priests in connection with everything at the altar and inside the curtain. I am giving you the service of the priesthood as a gift. Anyone else who comes near the sanctuary is to be put to death.”
Numbers 18:1a, 6-7, NIV*

God gave specific, high-visibility roles of service to the priesthood (Aaron and his sons) and to the wider group of the Levites as a whole. Like other places in Scripture, God chose the people and assigned the tasks.

From our perspective, the person in a key ministry position or crucial role is someone important—special. Our star-struck culture inclines us to admire him or her because of the position, not because of character or deeds.

Today’s verse reminds us of God’s view: the high-profile role is a gift to the person, for God’s greater plan to bless the people that individual will serve. The support roles are also gifts, and just as significant. There’s no room for “He likes you more than He likes me” or the other way around.

With the “great” roles comes great responsibility, and it’s better to pray “Lord, use me where You will,” than to set the sights of personal ambition on a high-profile position. Are we here to please ourselves, or to give honour to our Creator?

He puts some of us in the lead roles, and more of us in the supporting ones. But in God’s overall view, each part matters. Our responsibility is to be consecrated, ready, and obedient to His call.

Father, thank You for those You empower for leadership roles, and for those You empower for behind-the-scenes roles. Thank You that no job is too big for the person You choose or too small for a person to need Your strength and leading. Help us remember it’s not about us—it’s for Your glory. Give us ears to hear and hearts to obey. Let us neither envy another’s service nor begrudge our own.

Casting Crowns‘ “In Me” is a good reminder of Who we’re serving and where the power comes from.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Spiritual Self-Control

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 (New International Version, ©2010)*

Self-control. Maybe because the King James Version calls it “temperance,” I’ve always thought of this fruit of the Spirit as “refraining from excess and from bad behaviour.”

Last week my Bible study group talked about the Holy Spirit being the fuel… how much or how little of Him to we make room for? We also talked about quieting ourselves to listen and obey, to do things God’s way.

The next day the post at Other Food: Daily Devos continued the challenge: “My Will or His?

These things made me wonder if this passage about the fruit of the Spirit uses self-control not so much for the outer actions (as important as that is) but to describe bringing our spirits into line with the Holy Spirit, placing them under His direction.

Not in a repressive way, but a submission, a surrender, a placing of self under God’s authority and direction. A making room for His Spirit to shape, develop and refine us.

After pondering and praying about this the following morning, what verse did my eye catch?

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” (Hebrews 3:15, NIV*, quoting Psalm 95:7-8)

Lord, help me hear and recognize Your voice. Help me not follow my default pattern of hardening my heart by choosing my way over Yours. Help me to control and quiet my inner self so that Your Spirit within me has room to rise and to develop His fruit in me. To Your glory, and for my own spiritual wellbeing.

Lead Me to the Cross,” by Chris and Conrad, isn’t the old hymn you may expect. Let it minister to your spirit today… especially listen for the line “rid me of myself”.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.