Obedience

Deuteronomy 8:6 – Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him.

We are, by nature, disobedient. Our bent is towards independence and individuality. Our brokenness as a result of original sin has created a tendency in us to go our own way and to disobey the authority of God. Think for a moment about raising kids:  do we have to teach them to lie or teach them to tell the truth? Do we have to teach them to follow the rules or break them? Our bent is inherently sinful, isn’t it?

In sexual sin, we are allowing ourselves to be controlled by the sin nature. We are outwardly defiant. We are looking our father in the face and saying, ” I know you think you know what is best for my life and my sexuality, but I don’t trust you. I trust ME.” We become very skilled at ignoring God’s commands, rationalizing why we don’t or shouldn’t follow them, then behaving in a way that thumbs our nose at Him. We all know, by experience, that repetitive disobedience makes each subsequent defiance a little easier.
It is important to know that the reverse is true too! The more we choose into obedience and revering God, the easier it becomes to obey His commands. The less you act out sexually the easier it will become to avoid acting out sexually. Obedience, we must remember, is not about avoiding some bad behavior for the sake of good behavior. Obedience is a response to the love of a Father God who deeply cares about his kids. We’ll be more likely to obey when we begin to accept that God’s commands aren’t to kill our fun or simply make us uncomfortable, but are instead to bolster our joy. Obedience isn’t about what we do so much as it’s a response to who God is and how much He loves us.

Specifically, how might God be calling you to obedience with sexual sin? Remember, “just stop it” is not a satisfactory answer. Perhaps He is asking you to filter your internet, delete an app on your phone, tell your wife the truth or call it off with your mistress. I hope you’ll choose into joy and respond to His loving request.

Making Way For Joy

Steve Arterburn

Most men tend to stuff.  Often, we trade our grief or sorrow for anger.  But in order to release the past into God’s hands, you must fully encounter your grief, and you must be willing to forgive yourself and others for the pain that’s occurred.  

This isn’t easy. But we can learn from some people who went before us.  Many of the Jewish exiles who returned to Jerusalem after captivity in Babylon had forgotten the laws of God.  During the exile, they hadn’t been taught his laws, so, naturally, they hadn’t practiced them.  After rebuilding the city wall and the Temple, the priests gathered the people together to read the Book of the Law.  The people were overwhelmed with grief and began sobbing because their lives in no way measured up.  But the priests said to them:

‘Today is a sacred day before the Lord your God’Go and celebrate with a feast of choice foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared.  This is a sacred day before our Lord.  Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength’ (Nehemiah 8:9-10).

The process of releasing the past requires grief and forgiveness.  Then you are given the ‘joy of the Lord’ as your strength.  This joy comes from recognizing, even celebrating, God’s ability to set you free from the past, and in doing so, a new way of life.

Samuel

Steve Arterburn

Samuel was one of the great men of faith and one of the great leaders in Israel’s history.  He served as priest, prophet, and Israel’s last judge.  Look at what the Bible says about him. ‘As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him, and everything Samuel said was wise and helpful.  All the people of Israel from one end of the land to the other knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord’ (1 Samuel 3:19-20).  

But Samuel was human, and he had blind spots.  Samuel appointed his sons as judges in his place.  The problem was that his sons were not the men of character that he was.  Instead, Scripture tells us they ‘were greedy for money.  They accepted bribes and perverted justice.’  The people tried to tell Samuel, but for whatever reason he had a blind spot when it came to his family.  

We often develop blind spots with regard to someone we love and want to protect.  If Samuel had heard the people’s complaints with openness, he may have seen the truth before it was too late.  Then he could have corrected the problem and held his sons accountable for their actions before it was too late.  If others around you are telling you things you don’t want to hear, maybe you should stop and evaluate carefully what’s being said.  

Do you need to be honest about someone in your life’a friend, child, a family member?  Take your blinders off.