Tag Archives: obedience

Overwhelming Results

Have you ever walked into a restaurant just before they close? You know they’ve been working their whole shift and are looking forward to going home, but you’re hungry and they’re open. I’ve had them tell me the kitchen was closed and turn me away. I’ve also had those who reluctantly let me in. I feel bad, but I’m only there because I’ve had a long day too and I’m hungry. On nights like this I make sure I tip exceptionally well, especially if I’m the on,y one in the restaurant. Sometimes I tip more than the meal and even 3 figures depending on the situation. I want the server to know that I appreciate their effort even when they were tired and ready to go home.

In Luke 5, Jesus was teaching by the Sea of Galilee. So many people were showing up to hear Him that they had Him backed up to the water. Jesus saw Peter and some other fishermen cleaning their nets after a long night of working. He asked Peter if he could use his boat to preach from. When He was finished teaching, He asked Peter to take Him out to deeper water. There He asked Peter to put his nets in the water to fish. Peter explained it was the end of his shift, the nets were nearly cleaned and he was ready to go home, but then he said he would do it at Jesus’ word. The net was filled with so many fish that he needed help to pull it in and store them. The Bible says that both boats were so full of fish that they began to sink.

Jesus didn’t ask Peter to do anything different than he had already been doing, yet the results were different this time. The difference was that this time it was out of obedience and not routine. One yielded overwhelming results and the other resulted in nothing. Jesus has called us to a life of obedience, not routine. At times, we can get caught up in the motions of Christianity, but our heart isn’t in it. When God asks us to do something that seems like routine Christianity, we can either push back telling Him we’ve done that with no results, or we can obey. God is calling you to deeper water. What will you answer? Don’t let your past results keep you from the blessings of obedience.

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God’s Definition Of Success

One of the lessons I’ve had to learn is to accept God’s definition of success for my endeavors over my own. Our world has given us its own definition of success. We measure it in money, numbers, clicks, likes, comments, etc. The more we get of any of these, the better we feel about ourselves and the more successful we feel. However, when we don’t get a lot of money, numbers, clicks, likes, comments, etc., it leaves us feeling insecure and unsuccessful. I’ve had to learn the hard way that my worth, and my success, are not contingent on those things. In anything God has called me to, obedience is what gives success, not numbers. Most of the time, what God calls us to do reaches or touches just a few, sometimes one. If you’re being obedient, that is success. Yes, the numbers would be nice, but those often fuel pride.

In Acts 8, the apostle Philip was preaching in Samaria. It says that large crowds came to hear him preach. People were being healed, demons were being cast out, the lame were healed and the city was filled with joy because of his ministry. It was going so well that news reached Peter and John in Jerusalem and they decided to come take over this “successful” ministry. That’s when an angel appeared to Philip and told him to leave this great work and head south. As he was traveling, he came upon the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch who was probably denied access to the Temple, and the Holy Spirit told Philip to walk by the carriage. Philip heard him reading Isaiah, explained it to him and led him to the Lord. God took him away from man’s definition of success to show him that crowds are nice, but God is also after the one.

In 1 Kings 2:3, David told Solomon, “Observe the requirements of the Lord your God, and follow all his ways. Keep the decrees, commands, regulations, and laws written in the Law of Moses so that you will be successful in all you do and wherever you go” (NLT). If you want to be successful in God’s eyes, simply obey. He may give you success by the world’s definition or it may be on a very small scale. Whatever it looks like, be obedient and content. Your value, worth and validation can’t come from the world’s definition of success. You will struggle in all of those areas and more if it does. God’s plan usually involves one touching one. Learn to be content with the success, or “failure” by the world’s standards, that God gives. Your success comes from God, not man.

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Compliant Disobedience

I once worked at a place where you had to wear a dress shirt and a tie every day. There was a guy who didn’t like the rule. He would try to show up without a tie. He was told that each time he showed up without one, he’d be sent home to get one and would be docked that time on his check. Instead of simply complying, he decided to dig his feet in. He showed up the next time in a clown tie. It was extra wide and short. When confronted, he said that the rules simply said he had to wear a tie, and this was a tie. I refer to this behavior as compliant disobedience. He’s following the rules while being disobedient in the process. It was an outward expression of his internal attitude.

The book of Jonah tells a similar story. God asked Jonah to go to Nineveh to pronounce judgment on it. Instead of complying, he went the opposite direction in a ship. The Lord caused a great storm to rock the boat, Jonah was found to be the problem and they tossed him overboard. The Bible says the Lord prepared a great fish to come swallow him and return him to shore. The Lord told him the same instructions. He obeyed, but still had disobedience in his heart. When Nineveh repented, God forgave them. Once again his disobedient attitude showed through. God tried to get through to him, but we don’t really know how the story ends. The book stops with God having the last word.

How is your attitude toward what God has asked you to do? 2 John 1;6 says, “And this is love: that we walk in accordance with His commandments and are guided continually by His precepts. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should [always] walk in love” (AMP). God isn’t looking for compliant disobedience. He’s looking for you to obey out of love for Him. Our attitudes show up in our behaviors, but even still God always looks at the intent of our heart. Don’t be like Jonah or the tie guy. Trust God’s plan, be thankful He’s wanting to use you and obey while walking in love. He’s not done writing your story yet. How it’s written depends on your obedience.

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God’s Word Protects Us

Having both spent time in early childhood development, my wife and I decided early on in our child’s life that we wouldn’t be counting to three before we disciplined him. Every kid that knew that had three strikes before timeout, took all three strikes. We decided that we preferred immediate obedience. Some people questioned us on it. Our response was always the same. If my child is running toward the road, and we see a car coming but he doesn’t, we need him to stop immediately instead of at three. It appeared we were being harsh, but in reality, we had his life in mind when we decided on how we wanted him to obey.

In the Garden of Eden, God put Adam and Eve. He gave them all kinds of freedoms and responsibilities. He gave them what they needed and took care of them much like a parent. He even gave them rules to follow. Like us, He expected immediate obedience without a three strike limit. That’s when Satan came to twist God’s Word and cause disobedience. He made them doubt God’s punishment for their disobedience, and they fell for it. God’s instructions were to protect them, but they decided to go against it. They paid the immediate and long term consequences because of it.

Psalm 119:114 says, “You’re my place of quiet retreat, and your wraparound presence becomes my shield as I wrap myself in your Word!” (TPT) David understood that God’s Word was meant to shield us from harm and the consequences of sin. He knew if he wrapped himself in it and hid it in his heart, it would protect him. The same is true for us. We may not understand why God won’t let us do whatever and live however we want, but we must obey trusting that he sees the car in the road that we can’t. Immediate and constant obedience is how we protect ourselves and receive the full blessings God has for us.

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The Two Balconies

Several years ago my wife and I felt like God asked us to make a change. The problem was we liked where we were. It was comfortable and we didn’t want to make this change. God let us know again that we needed to make the change. We explained to God that we didn’t want to, hoping He would understand. He didn’t. Life began to be uncomfortable. We became more miserable the longer we held out. Finally we agreed, but we wanted it to be on our terms. We made the change even though we were unhappy about it. It took months for us to figure out God was trying to bless us, but our comfort and stubbornness were standing in the way.

2 Samuel 11:1 says, “In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites…However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem” (NLT). The next verse says David was so comfortable there that he took a nap. He was supposed to leave Jerusalem and go to war, but he put his comfort ahead of his calling. After he took his nap, he stepped out onto his balcony and saw Bathsheba taking a bath. Because he wasn’t where he was supposed to be, he committed adultery with her. Then when she got pregnant, and her husband wouldn’t sleep with her when he was called home from the war, David had him killed. He faced severe consequences for his disobedience that started on the balcony of comfort.

In Luke 24:49, Jesus told about 500 people to go to Jerusalem to wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit. Acts tells us about 120 of them went to the Upper Room and waited. Then after they were baptized in the Holy Spirit, Acts 2 says that Peter and the disciples went outside on the balcony to address the crowd. About 3,000 we’re saved that day because they had obeyed what Jesus had spoken to them. This balcony reminds me of the blessings of obedience. Jeremiah 7:23 says, “Obey me, and I will be your God, and you will be my people. Do everything as I say, and all will be well!” Your obedience is more important than your comfort. The balcony of obedience leads to God’s promises.

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Tenth Anniversary: Redefining Success

Ten years ago today, I wrote and posted to this site for the first time. In those years I have written around 2,600 devotions and over 1,000,000 words. I didn’t start out thinking I’d be writing 10 years later. In fact, I had (incorrectly) assumed that my site would be overwhelmed with clicks and that a publishing agent would be contacting me to write a book simply because I felt God tell me to start writing. In my mind, obedience to God equaled success by the world’s definition. I thought it meant that I would be known for writing and changing lives. Instead, the success in my life has been a closer walk with God and greater understanding of His Word as I’ve spent more time in prayer and contemplation through this process.

Years ago I heard Andy Stanley speak to a room full of ministers at a Catalyst conference. He told us, “Do for one what you wish you could do for many.” We all want to help lots of people, but when they don’t come flocking to us, we get discouraged and give up. That’s where I found myself in the early days of writing. I was obsessing over the number of clicks, subscribers and comments. I wasn’t getting very many. My wife would ask, “But did one person say it spoke to them? If it did, then today’s post was a success.” I had to quit looking at the statistics for my site and focus on that in order to change my mentality. It wasn’t easy because we are a numbers driven society with numbers being the primary indicator of success.

In Matthew 18:12, Jesus asked, “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost?” (NLT) Jesus placed the value and success on the one. Most of the time being obedient to God isn’t going to bring success by the world’s standards. It’s about saving the one. Finding the one. Redirecting the one. Don’t fret if your obedience to God isn’t noticed by the masses. It’s noticed by the One who matters. We need to redefine our idea of success to match God’s. If we don’t do that, we may get discouraged and give up losing the opportunity to rescue the one we were sent after.

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Weird Requests

A couple of years ago, my wife and I left visiting with my family a couple of nights before Christmas to go pray for a friend. On our way back to my family’s house, we were approaching the light to turn onto their road when I felt the Holy Spirit say, “Stop right here.” I was about 15 yards back from the light in the middle turn lane. My wife looked at me with a puzzled look and asked, “What are you doing?” I said, “I don’t know. I was told to stop right here.” So we sat there for almost a minute. I rolled my window down to listen. We saw police lights about a mile ahead coming towards us. Just then, a car appeared out of no where traveling at a high speed with no lights on coming up the wrong way to avoid people in their lane at the light. It swerved right in front of us and missed us by inches. It was so fast and close that our SUV shook from the wind of it passing. As we realized if I had been where I was supposed to be, they would have hit us head on.

The Gospel of Luke tells us a story of some fishermen who had been cleaning their nets after unsuccessfully fishing all night. Up walks Jesus preaching to a large crowd. He notices their empty boats and asks if they can take Him out into the water just a bit so He can teach the crowd from there. After He taught the crowd, Luke 5:4 says He told them, “Now row out to deep water to cast your nets and you will have a great catch” (TPT). Peter, the seasoned fisherman, explained that it didn’t make sense and that you fish at night. But then he added, “But if you insist, we’ll go out again and let down our nets because of your word.” When they did, their nets became so full of fish that their nets began to tear. He had to yell for help to the other boat on shore. They had so many fish in their boats that they were on the verge of sinking.

Both of these stories are related. God doesn’t always ask us to do things that make sense. They often go against the way things are normally done. We can argue with God about how it makes us look or we can trust what He’s telling us to do and obey Him at His Word. God asks for obedience from us even when we don’t understand. Sometimes it’s to save our life and other times it’s to bless us or others. As you go about your day, listen to what God is speaking to you. Ask Him for the courage to obey His requests no matter what they are. You and I can only see what’s right in front of us. God sees how everything is connected and into the future. He knows what’s best so we need to obey Him no matter what. You never know what’s riding on your obedience.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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The Keys To Life

When it comes to keys on a key ring, I’m a minimalist. I’ve got my car key and a key to an office. I don’t even have a house key on there. I’ve got friends though who have lots of keys on their key chain. They’ve got a key for every door in their life on their key ring. I’m not quite sure how they remember what key goes to what, but they know. Every key on their ring has a purpose. What’s great about keys is that they open locked doors. So when I read that there is a key to life, I immediately paid attention.

Deuteronomy 30:20 says, “You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life” (NLT). The first key to opening the locked doors in your life is loving God. Jesus said that this is the greatest commandment of them all. It’s the master key if you will. When we love God with all our heart, our soul, our mind and our strength, our purpose in life becomes clear and doors open.

The second key is often the toughest for us. It’s to obey God in whatever He tells you to do. I believe in simple obedience. I expect it from my son and God expects it from us. It’s the faith to simply act on what God says without always understanding why. We have to trust that God sees the bigger picture of not just our life, but all lives and how they’re connected. Our obedience never just affects us. It has a ripple effect across His Kingdom.

Finally, is to commit ourselves firmly to Him. We’ve got to get past our commitment issues and cling to God through thick and thin. Just like we make a vow at our wedding, we need to make a similar vow to God. For better or worse, in sickness and in health, until death unites us. We can’t allow ourselves to be seduced by the things of this world causing us to break that vow. We must fully commit to Him. When we do these three things, I promise you that locked doors will open because these are the keys to life and blessings.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Busy Work

I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand busy work. I hate being given a task just for the sake of having something to do. I see it as a waste of time rather than a time filler. Nothing truly productive comes from it. I’d rather save my energy, brain power and time doing nothing rather than doing meaningless tasks. Whether it’s at work, home or wherever, we’ve all been given busy work since we were kids.

Sometimes doing things for God feels like busy work. I can’t see the purpose behind doing what He’s asked, so it feels like busy work. Whether it’s busy work or not, I obey because it’s God who is asking. Many times it’s simply to go somewhere, pick someone up, say something to someone, serve at an event or something like it. When I don’t get to see the impact or reason, it can feel like busy work to me.

I was discussing this with one of my pastor friends recently. Then I recalled a couple of events that I could barely remember doing, but the people I helped acted as if I had saved their life. The “busy work” on my part had a significant meaning to the person God was directing it toward. It was a great reminder that often what we do for God may feel like busy work at times to us, but to others, it’s life changing stuff.

Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 15:58, “Keep busy always in your work for the Lord, since you know that nothing you do in the Lord’s service is ever useless” (GNT). If you’re feeling like God has given you a lot of busy work lately, take heart. Nothing you do for Him is useless. It’s not a waste of your time, talents or resources. Often you’re changing lives without even knowing it. God doesn’t give out busy work to keep us occupied. He gives us work that we’re to stay busy at because eternity is at stake.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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