Tag Archives: Obedience to God

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.

Mama Tiger

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The following is an excerpt from Girls with Gusto, a book I am writing for young women. I always think of the image of the mother tiger with the baby piglets around Mother’s Day. I hope you appreciate it, too. Happy Mother’s Day!

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Tiger with her baby piglet. (Photo obtained online, courtesy of the zoo in Thailand.)

Fear

I’ve always struggled with the idea of fear as it’s shown in the Bible. Over and over, Scriptures tell us not to fear, whether it’s the future; an individual; groups of people; or strange, miraculous events. But then the Bible commands us to fear God (see Joshua 24:14 and Proverbs 3:7). In fact, there are warnings throughout the Bible for those who don’t fear God (see Exodus 9:30, Jeremiah 5:22, and Malachi 3:5).

If God is love (see 1 John 4:16), why should we fear Him?

 

Mama Tiger

Strangely enough, I found my answer in a story about a tiger…and a litter of piglets.

I once read of a zoo in Thailand that would coax tigers to suckle piglets. (Don’t ask me why.) I’ve seen the pictures of one of the tigers, all teeth and claws, loving on her adopted babies, oblivious to the fact that they had curly tails and flat snouts and made grunting noises instead of mews. The piglets were also oblivious to the difference, and climbed all over the tiger without a care in the world. To be sure, that tigress was a dangerous creature…but not to the ones she called her own. To them, she was a protector, provider, and source of love and comfort. She was Mama.

 

God

That’s how I envision our relationship with God. When we first come face to face with Him, our sin makes us feel exposed and vulnerable—like a defenseless piglet in the tiger’s den. We’re afraid of God because He is righteous and can execute judgment against us. We have the urge to run the other way, with our curly tails between our legs. Thankfully, the Spirit speaks to us in loving tones, encouraging us to trust in God. If we do, He forgives us and accepts us as His own.

Once we belong to God, we no longer have to be afraid of His judgment. We can rest securely between His teeth and claws and know that He will use them to protect us and provide for us, and nothing can separate us from Him (see Romans 8:38-39). There is no greater safety or calmer peace than in God’s presence.

 

Believe and Obey

But, like any good parent, God has given us rules for our own good. When we fail to be obedient, there are consequences. He still loves us, but we have to learn from Him so we can mature in our faith and take the next step in our journey.

Moses said it this way: “You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him.” (Deuteronomy 13:4) When we fear God, we cling to Him with loving obedience. This is the opposite of being afraid of something and running away from it (like I run from spiders).

The statement, “Fear the Lord your God,” means two things:

  • Believe in God—that He exists and His Word is true (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17); and
  • Obey God—that we should accept Him into our hearts and follow His commands daily (see Deuteronomy 13:4).

This is why the Bible says that we are to fear only God (see Deuteronomy 6:13 and 1 Samuel 12:24). He is the only one worthy of such honor.

If we will believe in God and obey Him, we will have the same peace and security as those little piglets snuggled up warm and safe in the arms of the tiger.

 

Encouragement

Doesn’t God care for you, nurture you, and love on you? Isn’t He every bit as attentive and protective as a new mother? As you celebrate Mother’s Day, I encourage you to think about the “mothering” role God has in your spiritual life.