Tag Archives: Obedience to God

4 Ways to Love God with Gusto (Part 2 of 2)

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Last week, author Kristen Hogrefe shared with us how we can love God volitionally. This week, she wraps up this two-part series by explaining how we can love God with all our strength. If these posts have encouraged your walk with the Lord, please let us know by leaving a comment below.


In September, my church hosted a 5K to raise money and awareness for foster care. For those not familiar with running terms, that’s a little over 3 miles.

Running didn’t come naturally to me, but now, it’s a lifestyle I’ve learned to enjoy. My boyfriend, though athletic, hates running. But to his credit, he ran the race with me, adopted my pace, and even smiled for photos. He got out his comfort zone, and it meant so much to me.

Last time, we looked at loving God volitionally, which involves a choice or act of the will. In my case, my boyfriend chose to run even though he didn’t want to. In addition, he invested time and physical energy to show up and finish.

This example, though perhaps cheesy, brings me to another way we can love God: with all our strength.

 

Loving God through Our Actions

As author Gary Chapman explains in his book The Five Love Languages, physical touch is one of the primary ways people express and receive love. Although we can’t physically “touch” God, we can still love him through our actions.

In Scripture, we see examples of believers performing acts of service again and again.

  • The Shunammite woman and her husband built an upper room for the Prophet Elisha so that he had a place to stay when he visited them (2 Kings 4).
  • Martha opened her home to Jesus and served him dinner (Luke 10). For all the bad rap she gets for being too busy to simply listen like her sister Mary, Martha deserves credit for her hospitality and generosity.
  • A widow gave everything she had to the temple treasury (Mark 12).

Of course, Jesus himself modeled service to others time and time again through miracles, washing his disciples’ feet, and ultimately dying on the cross.

No matter our situation, we all have varying degrees of physical ability. Some people can travel for mission trips or volunteer locally. Others serve behind-the-scenes doing preparation work no one seems to notice. For someone with limited physical ability, this action might look like a hand-written note of encouragement or even a whispered prayer.

The bottom line is that when we act to help others, we please God. When we love “the least” of the people who cross our paths, we’re loving him too (Matthew 25:31-40).

 

Loving God with Our Minds

During one of my friend’s weddings, the bride asked me to read Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116, which begins this way:

“Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments …”

That phrase, “the marriage of true minds,” sticks with me, because it suggests a unified purpose, set of values, and life focus. So too, when we love God with our minds, we’re saying we want to live “on the same page” with him.

Once again, Scripture sheds some light on what this unified mindset looks like:

  • We are to bring “every thought” into “captivity” or obedience to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
  • We are to exercise humility, following Christ’s example (Philippians 2:5-8).
  • We are to focus our thoughts on things that are excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).
  • We are to guard our minds by not looking at something that will tempt us to stumble (Psalm 119:37).
  • We are to study God’s Word, the “word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Sure, there will be days we fall short, way short. That’s why Paul wrote that the goal here on earth is not perfection but to “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

 

Desiring to Love God More

When we seek to love God with our all, we love him with every part of ourselves. Preacher and poet Isaac Watts expressed this idea eloquently in his closing lines to the hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” He develops the idea of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as the ultimate love. How can our response be anything less than everything?

“Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.”

Lord, may I love you with all that I am, all that I have, and all I can be. 

~ By Kristen of KristenHogrefe.com

Three Keys to Spiritual Maturity

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Meme_Obedience

Thanks a bunch to CBN.com for posting this blog on their amazing site! Be sure to check out their website for resources, information, and lots of good reads.


It’s easy to love the Lord. He comes to us with arms open wide, taking all of our sins and burdens upon Himself. He offers us life in place of death and freedom from our bondage. He has plans to prosper us and give us a future. What’s not to love?

Unfortunately, many Christians believe in God and love Him, but they don’t live for Him.

The Bible says that our relationship with God should mature over time and that we should “grow up in all aspects into Him….” (Ephesians 4:15 NAS).

So, how do we take our relationship with God to the next level? By developing a spirit of surrender, faith, and obedience.

 

Living in Surrender

According to Webster’s Dictionary, to “surrender” means “to yield (something) to the possession or power of another.” In our independent, Western society, this is the very definition of weakness, but in the Kingdom of God, it is the source of our strength.

Think back to when you first believed in Jesus. You acknowledged your sins and exchanged them for God’s righteousness. You surrendered to God, turning in the “old you” for a “new you.”

So was that just your spiritual life that you surrendered? What about your daily life?

The world separates the spiritual from the daily routine. However, when we split our lives in two, we also divide our hearts.

You may be serving God “half-heartedly” if:

  1. You relegate God to Sunday morning and “live life” the rest of the week.
  2. You’re earnestly trying to obey God’s call on your spiritual life while struggling to maintain control over the day-to-day decisions.
  3. You’re willing to live for the Lord…as long as He doesn’t interfere with your plans.

To grow closer to the Lord, we must serve Him whole-heartedly. For that, we need faith.

 

Blind Faith

We rarely know what God is planning, or what the big picture looks like. That’s because we’re called to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7 NAS). With each step, we have to trust that God loves us and wants what is best for us.

A great example of this can be found in Proverbs 31:15 NAS: “She rises while it is still night and gives food to her household and portions to her maidens.” What’s so amazing about this verse is the spiritual imagery: she gets up while it’s still dark, when she doesn’t know what God is up to or what the future will hold.

It’s not unusual for Christians to feel “in the dark” as they wait for the Lord. Perhaps you’re waiting now for God to give you guidance or direction, or for Him to open doors to new opportunities. If so, be encouraged! As your faith is strengthened, you will grow closer to the Lord.

 

Obedience in Action

Jesus said it’s not enough for us to call ourselves Christians or to do good deeds in His name. We also have to be obedient to His Word and His direction for our lives. (See Matthew 7:21-27.)

You can show obedience to God even as you wait for His guidance, direction, or a new opportunity.

  1. Use the time to develop patience and perseverance. In fact, this may be the main reason why the Lord is delaying.
  2. Resist the urge to get angry or depressed. The Enemy will take advantage of the situation to cultivate fear, pride, or anxiety. Don’t give him any leverage.
  3. Avoid getting ahead of God. Don’t move forward with any new activities until you have His guidance or blessing.
  4. Don’t neglect your daily activities. Like the woman in Proverbs 31, be sure to care for yourself, your family, and those in need around you.

Once the Lord does give you the answer you’re waiting for or the opportunity you need, then it’s time to take action!

  1. If God gives you an answer to a question, write it down. Sometimes, God gives us the whole picture, and sometimes it’s just a piece of the puzzle. Either way, cherish the fact that God is sharing His heart with you.
  2. If God says “go,” then go where He sends you and do what He asks. Don’t delay or waste the opportunity.
  3. If God’s answer is “no,” then be content. Stay where you are, decline the offer, pray about Plan B, etc. Whatever the situation is, honor God’s decision and trust that He has your best interest at heart.

 

Don’t settle for less than a mature, intimate relationship with the Lord! Begin developing a spirit of surrender, faith, and obedience today.

 


I wrote this blog based on a section of my manuscript for Girls with Gusto. I’ve identified eight major steps in the spiritual journey, and this comes from Step Four, “Developing a Disciple’s Disposition.” Unfortunately, many of us falter here—a mere half-way point—and fail to persevere to the next step.

The good news is that you have a choice! Whatever decisions you’ve made in the past, you can decide today to pursue a meaningful, intimate relationship with God.

“I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart” (Jeremiah 24:7 NAS).

Course Correction – A New Beginning

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A box I packed on the day God set me on a new course. I just love the prophetic message of the sign I packed!

A box I packed on the day God set me on a new course. I just love the prophetic message of the sign I packed (Always Have Faith)!

 

I like to know where I’m going. If it’s a long trip to somewhere new, I still print out the directions so I can see all the different turns I’ll need to take along the way. It gives me a sense of security, as if I have more control over the situation.

As much as we would like Him to, God doesn’t give us a turn-by-turn listing of all the major events and crossroads we’ll encounter in our lives, nor does He tell us in advance which way we’ll need to go when we get there. Instead, He operates more like the map app I have on my phone, telling me what to do right before I need to do it. (“Turn right in 800 yards,” says the calm British voice. “Make a u-turn,” says the now-frustrated British voice when I miss my turn.)

Last month, God surprised me when He set a new course for my life. It seemed like I had been dropped out of an airplane unexpectedly, only to realize that I had been wearing a parachute the whole time. Or perhaps it was more like I had to brake sharply in the middle of the interstate during rush hour, only to drive over the median to head in the opposite direction. It was definitely something like that.

 

Slamming the Brakes

I graduated with a degree in Risk Management and Insurance in 2003. Although I’ve held several positions since then, I thought I had finally settled on my true career path two years ago when I landed a great job as an enterprise risk analyst with an insurance company. My boss was fantastic, the benefits were good, and life was great.

But then things changed at work, and it wasn’t so great anymore. I prayed about it and figured God would either change the situation or change my heart about it; at least, that’s what He had done in the past. Instead, God had something else in mind.

It all culminated one afternoon when I was cleaning out my office so I could move to another location. I had been praying all day for God’s wisdom and guidance, and I felt His Spirit with me. As I finished wiping the white board, I heard Him clearly say, “It’s a clean slate, isn’t it?” Instantly, I knew that He was calling me away from my job, my paycheck, my benefits, and my security, and He was calling me toward…something unknown. All I could say in return to God’s question was, “Yes. Yes, it is a clean slate.” That’s how I acknowledged what God already knew—that I would follow Him to somewhere new.

 

Turning Around

I spoke with my husband, Robby, and he supported a change, even though we didn’t quite know what that would entail. (Thank God for a husband who listens to the Lord and is willing to follow Him!) It wasn’t long before I put out a few feelers: “Do you know anyone hiring? I’m looking for a new job.” I even put my resume online, but nothing felt “right.”

Within a couple days, I heard God clearly tell me to reach out to Burke, someone I had served with on the board of my Christian College. Throughout the day, God strongly urged me to reach out to Burke so, as soon as I could get my resume together, I emailed it to him. I didn’t know if he had any openings in his small business, but I explained that God led me to reach out to him.

Burke replied within only a few minutes. He said he was in the process of expanding his promotions business and that his plan involved the opening of a café and Christian gift store. He had already decided to reach out to me to see if I wanted to be a part of his new venture. We were so amazed that God had put us together for His purpose, we began to move forward unquestioningly!

 

On a New Course!

That day in my office, God (my spiritual GPS) told me to “Stop,” so I quit my risk analyst job at the end of August. God then told me to “Take the next right,” and I started working with Burke in his business.

This has been an amazing experience, and I’ve truly enjoyed my new position. I’ll be sure to share more with you in an upcoming blog. However, the point here is that I didn’t know how these turns would work out; I just had to step out on faith. That’s how God wants us to live our lives—in complete surrender to Him. If we knew what our future holds, we wouldn’t have that same faith; we’d just have knowledge, which could easily become an idol.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith.’” (Romans 1:16-17 NAS)  

I don’t know when God will direct me to take a sharp turn again, or even how far away I am from my ultimate destination. But I trust that God can see the full journey ahead of me, and He’ll get me where I need to be if I just follow His guidance each step of the way.

 

Have You Taken a Turn?

Every day, I hear more stories of God calling people to new adventures. Do you have a story? Please share it with us in a comment to encourage other readers in the faith.