Tag Archives: obedience

Seeking God’s Approval

Too many times I’ve been a victim of paralysis through analysis. I feel God prompt me to do something, then immediately the voices come in. What if this isn’t God? What are they go to think of you? One of our greatest needs as humans is the need for acceptance. We want to fit in and we want to belong. Doing what God asks sometimes will cause us to do something that will seemingly put that acceptance at risk. It’s in those moments we have to ask ourselves, “Whose approval are you after? Whose approval means more?” Asking myself those questions is the only way I can combat the paralysis that comes from the other questions about what people will think of me.

Noah was a person who had to deal with this. God told him to build a boat because it was going to flood. It’s believed that rain was a foreign concept at that time and a boat was too. God gave him the instructions on how to build it and let him get to it. He didn’t worry about what other people thought. Instead, the Bible says that he did all god commanded him to do. Because of an obedience that regarded God’s request as more important than any of his friend’s opinion, God saved his family and established a new covenant with him.

Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in GOD protects you from that” (MSG). Each of us must make the decision to trust God whenever He speaks to us. It’s rarely easy to do, and the fear of losing acceptance will always be there to create a tension in the situation. Finding a way to push through that tension is critical to obeying God. Even when it seems counterintuitive, awkward or crazy, you can’t let it disable you. Lives and eternity are often at stake. You can break through the paralysis through analysis trap by deciding to trust God and seeking His approval above all else.

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Be A Listener

As we walked through Nazareth Village, the had a shepherd there feeding his small flock. The sheep were just about ready to be trimmed so the village could make yarn. I walked around the side and took this photo of the sheep eating. While I was doing that, our guide said something I had never thought of. He said, “Did you know that goats have ears?” I thought, “Of course they do!” Then he said, “Both sheep and goats can hear, but only sheep listen for their master’s voice and obey it. The goats hear his voice and do their own thing.” That’s why sheep have shepherds and goats have herders.

I believe we all can hear God’s voice, but are we listening for it? Hearing is a passive thing that happens just by having ears. Listening is something that is done intentionally. We’ve all be in conversations where we are barely listening to the other person, then we realize we missed the important part. We have to either pretend that we listened to what they said or we have to ask them to repeat it. When the King of King speaks to us, we should be giving Him our undivided attention. If we are merely passively hearing His voice, it calls to question whether He is shepherding us or is herding us.

In John 10:27 Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (NLT). The only way to know Jesus and to follow Him is to listen to His voice. He is constantly speaking to us, so we need to be constantly listening to Him. Ive found that the best way to listen is to be quiet. It sounds so simple, yet many of us are afraid of the silence of sitting in His presence. Today practice being still in His presence and listening for His voice. Be obedient to whatever He tells you to do. Don’t just be someone who hears His voice, be a listener of it.

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Just Get Started

My son loves the LEGO Architecture series. We’ve built several of them as a family. Normally they take a night or two for us to complete because we’ve purchased small ones. However, recently he wanted one that was about 1,700 pieces. When I opened the box and saw all those pieces, I wondered, “What were we thinking?” Then I saw the book. It was seriously a book of how to put it together. Do you know what the first step was? Putting two pieces together. When we put them together, I jokingly said, “Hey! Only 1,698 pieces to go.”

In Zechariah, God used the prophet to speak to Zerubbabel to begin rebuilding the Temple. It was about 90 feet long and 20 stories high. As he set the first stone in place, people walking by started making fun of him. He began to get discouraged because other people couldn’t see what God has called him to, and they didn’t believe it could be done. Then the Lord spoke to him in Zechariah 4:10, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand” (NLT).

It’s easy to look at large projects like that and get overwhelmed. It’s even easier to look at what God has called us to and want to never start. But just like the LEGO’s, it starts with a small step, and that is followed by another one. God enjoys seeing us begin to do the work He called us to because He loves obedience. He knows that if He can trust us to be faithful in the small steps of obedience, He can stretch us to take the larger ones. It just takes us to be willing to get past the size of the thing God has asked us to do, and to simply begin.

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Trusting His Plan

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told my son to get ready, and then, before he gets ready, he asks, “Where are we going?” I usually tell him, “It doesn’t matter. I said to get ready, so get ready.” Instead of quickly obeying, he constantly wants to know all the info before doing anything. As a parent, it can be frustrating. There are things he needs to know, and there are things he doesn’t need to know. I simply want him to obey when asked to do something instead of questioning everything I tell him to do.

Even though I know these frustrations as a parent, when the shoe is on the other foot, I act the same way. How many times had God told me to get ready or to go somewhere, and I want to know all the details before I do anything? There’s also those times where I know where He’s leading me, but I want to know all the steps first. It’s like I’m my own child when God is the father telling me to do things. I wonder how frustrated He gets at our questioning and inactivity while He’s waiting for our obedience.

Proverbs 20:24 says, “The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?” (NLT) As children of God, we need to understand there are things we need to know, and things we don’t. God knows everything we are about to do, and how He wants it done. Since the beginning of time, all He has asked is that we would simply trust Him. He’s looking for our obedience without having to understand everything. We need to have enough faith to trust His will, His plan and His directions without questioning them. Simple obedience yields eternal benefits. Just like the old song says, “Trust and obey for there’s no other way.”

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An Understanding Heart

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

Ever since I was a child, I’ve been taught that Solomon asked God for wisdom. I tried looking up the scripture where he asked God for “wisdom”, but the Bible doesn’t put it that way. In I Kings 3:9, Solomon asked God for an understanding heart so he could judge the people well. In essence he was asking for wisdom, but as I dug deeper, he wanted more than just wisdom. He wanted to do well in God’s sight and to care for His people.

When I looked up the word “understanding” as it was used in this context, it had three meanings. The first was to hear. Solomon wanted a heart that could hear not only God, but what others were saying too. He didn’t want to just rely on what his ears heard, he wanted to really hear what people meant. Wisdom comes in not just hearing what is spoken. It comes when we can discern the true intent of the words spoken.

The next meaning of “understanding” was to listen. Almost everyone is born with the ability to hear, but only a few ever learn to listen. I believe that God is always speaking to us. We hear Him, but we don’t really listen to what it is that He’s telling us or showing us. Solomon was concerned about the ability of his heart to listen to God. He wanted God to know that he understood the only way to truly govern the people well would be if He could listen to His voice.

The third meaning of “understanding” in this context is to obey. It’s not enough to hear or listen to God. We have to obey what He tells us. I’m sure that Solomon had been told of Saul’s disobedience and of God’s response in I Samuel 15:22. Obedience is better than sacrifice. God is more concerned with our obedience to His word than in our obedience to religious rituals. Anyone can walk through the motions of a ritual, but only the wisest among us obey a God at all costs.

Wisdom was a by product of what he truly wanted. Hearing the voice of God, listening to what He really said and acting on it from his heart is what made Solomon truly wise. You and I can experience that wisdom. Solomon’s request for an understanding heart is one that you and I can ask for today. James 1:5 says, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you.” God would love to give each of us the wisdom that comes from an understanding heart.

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Handling Transitions

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

Times of transition in life can be difficult. There’s the fear of the unknown and the excitement of a new beginning mixed up with the stress of change. Each one of us goes through these times in our lives. They usually aren’t easy to walk through because you don’t know how long the transitional period will be, you don’t know how much life will really change and You doubt that your making the right decision. I’ve learned there are things we can do to help these times go by more smoothly.

The first thing you can do is to be patient. David’s transition from shepherd to King took years. He had to learn to be patient during that transition time. He didn’t quite have all the skills necessary to be a successful King. There were still lessons to be learned in the pasture and on the battlefield before he was ready. God knows what you need in order be successful in the next step He has for you. Don’t rush into the next phase. Let Him continue to work in you and through you as He moves you into your next phase.

The next thing I’ve learned is to be obedient. When Queen Esther was faced with having to make a transition in her relationship with the king, she was scared. She decided she would rather procrastinate than to face him and save her people. In Esther 4:14, her uncle Mordecai said, “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” God has you in this time of transition for a purpose. Your obedience still matters. Perhaps your transition is not for your benefit, but for that of others. Listen intently to what God is saying and do what He asks.

The last thing you can do is to trust God in the process. He sees the overall plan for your life. He knows what changes need to be made and when, so that you will be where He needs you when He needs you. Don’t panic because things aren’t happening according to your timeline. Allow them to happen in His. We only see a part, but He sees the whole. He will not leave you alone in this process. He will not abandon you to the no man’s land of transition forever. It will come to a close and your next chapter will begin. In the meantime, trust His plan for your life and trust in the process He uses to move you.

These three things are easily said, but much more difficult to live out. I’ve found that in times of transition, it’s easy to get out of your routine of spending time with God. You’re going to have to make time for Him. Whatever it takes, you need to make sure you are staying in His Word and spending time in prayer. Don’t lose sight of Him in the process. He’s there to guide you and has placed people in your path to help you. When you stay close to Him in times of change, those times go by a lot more smoothly.

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Illogical Obedience

To me, one of the greatest acts of obedience in the Bible was done by Peter. He and his coworkers had fished all night and caught nothing. They were cleaning their nets when Jesus walked up and asked to use his boat for a pulpit to preach from. After the sermon, Jesus asked Peter to go further out to a deep spot and put his freshly cleaned nets back into the water. None of it made sense, but Luke 5:5 says, “‘Master,’ Simon answered, ‘we worked hard all night long and caught nothing. But if you say so, I will let down the nets’” (GNT).

Peter was tired from fishing all night. He had then cleaned and prepared his nets for the next night, and he was ready to go home to sleep. Putting the nets back into the water meant he would have to clean them again. Also, it was proven that you catch more fish at night in shallow areas. Everything Jesus was asking was different than his lifetime had taught him. His way had not worked, but because of what He had seen Jesus do, He was willing to try it. The result was the catch of a lifetime.

If you’ve tried things your way and it’s gotten you nowhere, listen to what God is asking you to do. It probably won’t make sense in the natural, but obedience activates the supernatural. When you’ve tried everything on your own and come up empty handed, try it God’s way. It may not make sense, but if you do it, your miracle will be waiting on the other side of your obedience. You may be exhausted and emotionally spent from doing things your way. You may feel like you’re at the end of your rope. Despite all that, do what God asks anyway and you’ll see Him answer like never before.

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