It’s not so much that I need to know what to do; it’s that I need to do what I know.

The title is from https://i-m-4-u.com/2013/07/14/forgiving-can-be-tough/ and captures part of my struggle.  The other part is that I definitely need to know more.  And yet the two are intertwined.

God will not give me more instruction if I am not doing what he has already given me.  If I want to know more I have to actually do more of what he has already said .  That’s the hard part.

Or is it?  I have the most fun when I am obeying God.

I think for me it is the process of deciding to obey God that is the toughest part.  I have to risk, and trust Him that what I don’t want to do now is exactly what I will be glad I did later.  Many times I feel alone when deciding.  (This may be why I need to be part of a small group).  No matter what help I have, it is in the end my decision.  And if I want to know more, if I want to experience Jesus closer to me, I must obey Him.

Confict? Old and New Testament concerning "Did God pass the "test"? (posted Sunday 9/29/13)

Three years ago our family double tithed (gave 20% of our income) for the month of September.  I got the job of my dreams and many other things happened that were wonderful.  Then I listen to Andrew Farley’s interpretation of tithing more recently: The New Testament Church is not given a command to obey the Law or to tithe.  We are commanded to love, by walking with and keeping in step with the Spirit.  Specifically relating to giving we are told to give generously what we want to give, not under compulsion; that is, with joy.  So is the New Testament in conflict with the Old Testament?

Not at all.

Jesus said, “It is for freedom I have set you free.”  And, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  The Law was a fixed command.  But now Jesus and God live in us by the Holy Spirit.  Jesus can tell us exactly what He wants, He can customize His will to our unique situation.  And we can freely choose to do what He wants us to do.  And reap the positive consequences of obeying the One Who Loves Us Most.

Until Jesus tells me otherwise, we will tithe (out of our own free will).  Not because we feel obligated by law.  But because we love Jesus.

What’s in a name?

Does the same word mean different things to different people?  I grew up learning the definitions of words from the context of the experiences I was in.  Did you?  No, I don’t mean the context of the experiences you were in, but the experiences I was in.  Of course not, you say.  And herein lies the problem… or opportunity.  When I say, “father” what do I mean?  I think of my father.  If I am trying to describe to you my relationship with my Heavenly Father do you instantly think of my father?  Or, your own father?

I believe some people hate God the Father because they are really thinking He is like their own father.  And their earthly fathers did not fulfill their expectations at best, and were evil to them at worst.  Satan can encourage real or imagined hurts to grow into bitterness.  So when I talk of my Heavenly Father what do I mean?

Jesus is the exact representation of the invisible God (Isaiah 1:16).

When Jesus was born He was called: wonderful counselor, mighty God, EVERLASTING FATHER, prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6).  Because Jesus was and is God’s Only Begotten Son, He can perfectly represent God the Father to us.

So what is the character of this Father?  Jesus was patient, even when His disciples got it wrong again and again (as I would have gotten it wrong as well),  Jesus was kind, even when it cost Him.  And forgiving too.  He didn’t repay evil for evil.  When He was dying on the cross He prayed for His murderers (the religious leaders) and tried to help them discover His Forever Love by reminding them of Messianic Scripture.  Though God the Father created all things by Him and for Him, He was not proud.  He humbly seeks a relationship with us.  He never forces Himself on us.  He doesn’t hold our past mistakes and sins against us.  He loves us with all that He is no matter what we do or what anyone or anything else does.  He believes the best about us and encourages us to become all He created us to be.  He does not fail.  (See I Corinthians 13 and substitute “Jesus” for “Love”).

Does this sound like a Father you would like to have?  You can.  Just ask Him to forgive your wrongs and come into your life and heart.  He is waiting.  And you two have so much to talk about!

Obeying God and Putting His Promises to the Test

Sometimes, after you have been a Christian for a while, you have so much of your life, relationships and self invested in “God” that the thought of Him not coming through for you and therefore having proof He is not real is terrifying.  To find out that what you have based your life on is a lie is too embarrassing a thought to deal with.  So, we hedge our bets.  We pray, “God, you said that if I put you first, as Lord and Savior, you would provide for me and my family.  But if you don’t, I will still love you and trust you and feel the same way about you”.  This may sound good, but I suggest that this kind of faith is not honored in the Bible.  What is most important to God is our intimacy with Him, our trust in Him, our faith in Him.  And God says in the Bible that this faith is more precious than gold.  It is so important to God that He will rock our world until we come to the point of saying, “God, I have put You first.  You said that if I did, you would supply food, clothing and shelter for me and my family.  You have to come through for me.  I have no plan “B”.  You promised you would and I am holding You to it.  If you don’t, then I have no reason to trust You anymore.”

God doesn’t say not to put Him to the test.  God says not to put Him to a foolish test.  Satan suggested to Jesus that He jump off the top of the temple because God promised to send His angels to hold Him up.  Jesus answered that it is written, do not put God to a foolish test.  If God says He will do something for you when you obey Him, He wants you to test that.  Obey Him and then hold Him accountable for what He promised.  That’s not a foolish test.  That’s faith.

And here’s my disclaimer:  Though I have had success in trusting God, I have also experienced complete hypocritical failure at trusting God.  I am not an expert.  For every time I have trusted God and seen Him keep His promises, I have not trusted Him multiple times (with disastrous results).  A turning point in my life came when I trusted God and obeyed His teaching by refusing to participant in the production of certain advertising promoting what I felt was pornography, abortion, or the occult.  I risked my family’s main means of support because of this apparent insubordination.  Many true friends prayed for us.  God gave me the chance to talk about His heart of love and concern for people to top levels of management.  God softened the heart of the main decision maker who eventually said I could go back to work without having to touch these ads. (True to God’s style, five years later He had this same company ask me to write large religion section advertising telling people about the love and acceptance of Jesus.  This series of ads ran for fourteen years).

You’d think I would have “lived happily ever after”.  However, less than two weeks after being cleared to not do these ads, I caved in to the gripping fear of losing my livelihood. I moved an objectionable ad from its wrong position on the page to the right position, an ad I previously said I would not touch even to the point of losing my job.  I did it because I was afraid people would think of me as a self-righteous hypocritical trouble maker and reject me if I caused them problems (this was satan lying to me, because I worked with some great people).  There after whenever I was presented with an objectionable ad I always struggled with whether Jesus would protect my job or not if I refused to do the ad.  It was never told to anyone I worked with that I didn’t have to do these ads and I feared others’ resentment for having to do them for me.  There are too many other examples of my failure in trusting God and too embarrassing as well.

It can be hard, very hard, to decide to obey God.  But when I obey Him, He always makes it worth it.  And when I don’t, I always eventually regret it, wishing I had obeyed Him.

Satan’s work exposed

2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV84

 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

I suffer from lack of confidence sometimes, especially in new situations.  Satan knows this and regularly attacks me there.  Satan’s fiery darts, those destructive thoughts and feelings, are hitting me most recently in my new job.  I am praying that Jesus will take care of my thought life and me personally and my company and their customers.  I am praying that Jesus will expose the lies of satan (that I believe) to the light of God’s truth.  The truth will disarm the lies and make them powerless against me.  How does this work?

When satan tells me a lie it is usually aimed at a shame and insecurity I feel.  He threatens to expose my weakness and I fear telling anyone because I feel ashamed.  And the lie grows hidden in the dark.  But if I have the courage and insight to realize what the lie is and expose it, or I talk to someone who helps me to do this, I can compare satan’s lie to the truth found in the Bible.  Then I realize that Jesus loves me just as I am, that He has already paid for whatever I’m ashamed of, that I am complete in Him, and that satan cannot harm me.

Writing about this is easier than dealing with it and so though I know what’s going on I still have to fight the battle.  Praying and reading the Bible, talking with Christian friends who understand, and even writing a blog post about it, helps expose and destroy satan’s work in my life.

Thanks for reading this and feel free to comment about anything you would like.