Category Archives: Obedience

Taking Sides

LineInSandSooner or later, you will be forced to take a side.  You can try to stay neutral all you want, but the time will come when you will have to decide between two opposing forces.  No one can stay neutral forever.  Besides, not taking a side, is weak.  It the cheap way out.  Deep down, I don’t believe that someone can be truly neutral.  They may say they are in an attempt to not offend someone or hurt some feelings, but I really think at any given juncture, everyone has a preference.

Say you get in the middle of a disagreement with two friends.  They look to you and ask you what you think.  Most people would probably throw up their hands and tell them both that you’re not taking sides, when you know good and well what you think.  You just don’t want to make one of them mad.  Scaredy cat.  Maybe you do speak your opinion, and it’s a third point of view.  Maybe you really do think that, or maybe you say that just so you don’t take a side.

Sometimes it’s a simple one.  Do you want chocolate or vanilla ice cream?  ”  Oh, it doesn’t matter,” you say.  Don’t lie, it does.  You really do want one or the other, but for whatever reason, you’d rather be a pacifist.  When you’re sitting there eating the one you didn’t want, in your head, you’re thinking, “I’d rather be eating the other flavor.”

Maybe you’re not choosing because you want to prefer the other person and not influence their decision.  Say you’re married and your spouse asks you where you want to go eat, Chinese or Mexican.  You really prefer Chinese, but you tell them what ever they choose is fine.  That’s not a bad thing, but in reality, your answer could have went like this, “I prefer Chinese, but if you’d rather have Mexican, I’m good with that too.”  I would bet that most people wouldn’t answer like that.  Typically, we all like something over the other, but we refrain from choosing for a myriad of reasons.

And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.  And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.” – Luke 9:49-50 KJV

Just to digress for a moment, here is a guy that was doing mighty works in Jesus name and the disciples got bent out of shape about it because he “wasn’t part of their group“.  They even tried to make him stop.  Jesus didn’t care for that and he told them why.  Unfortunately, in today’s church, many look down upon their fellow Christians because they aren’t part of their group.  So much more could be said about that, but back to the point.

If you’re not for Jesus, you’re against Him.  That’s powerful stuff right there.  That principle came out of Jesus’ mouth more than once.  He said it again in Matthew 12:30 – “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”  Whatever you’re not for, you are against.  Even if you’re not taking sides between two friends, you are now against them both.  There is no neutral.

Honesty, I’m a black and white kind of guy.  I really don’t like operating in the gray area, so I can get on board with that principle.  I think Jesus was the same way.  He didn’t operate in the gray areas.  He plainly took a side every time.  Even when He spoke in parables, they were meant to be taken a certain way.  He was unwavering no matter the situation.  Even when his disciples got a little concerned that Jesus was rocking the boat too much (read John 6:51-67), He didn’t get wishy washy.  I read Jesus reply in verse 67 as an ultimatum.  It’s as if he told them if they didn’t like what He had to say,  His reply was, “You know where the door is.”

It’s sad to say that many Christians have sided against Jesus and they don’t even realize it.  I don’t mean to say that they’ll end up in hell or anything like that, but they certainly haven’t sided with God where they need to.  Case in point: Acts 5.  Go ahead and read it.  The answer Peter and the other Apostles gave the council was, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”  Oh, if only we were so bold.

We should be teaching in Jesus name everywhere we go, no matter where we are.  Even our children should be doing the same in schools and we should be encouraging it.  You might be thinking, aren’t we supposed to be submitting the earthly ordinances?  Aren’t we supposed to obey the laws of man?  We are to an extent.  If an earthy law directly violates a Biblical principle or command, then we should be disobeying.  We should be obeying God rather than men!

If a man made law tells us we can’t pray in school, then we should pray anyway.  Man cannot and should not dictate when and were we speak to our Heavenly Father.  Will there be repercussions?  Absolutely, and that’s exactly what we’re afraid of.  Christians bend over backward to comply to all sorts of ungodly laws.  In doing so, we have taken a stand against Jesus.  Think again about what He said.

HE THAT IS NOT FOR ME IS AGAINST ME

Think real long and hard about your life and judge for yourself where you have inadvertently taken a stand against Jesus.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m as guilty as anyone else.  Yet that has no bearing on what the Word of God says.

Here’s another great example.  I won’t post the entire block of scriptures, but the one below is taken from 1 Kings 18:

And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. – v.21 KVJ

Or how about this from Joshua 24:

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. – v.15 KJV

Despite those being Old Testament scriptures, I believe the principle remains the same today, since Jesus himself reiterated it.  We are to be serving one God and one God alone.  Yet we have bowed down to many other gods when it comes to our morals and convictions.  We refuse to stand and take a side because we are afraid of the repercussions.

We, as Christians in America, have no idea how good we have it.  I’m sorry, but getting made fun of or kicked out of something because we stand for God should not be counted as persecution.  Read up on Paul’s “light afflictions” or take a real look on what ISIS is doing to Christians.  THAT’S persecution, which Jesus said we will experience.  All that really happens to Christians in America is we get our feeling hurt over the color of a coffee chain’s cup.  Suck it up.

There are more examples in the OT of men that stood up against the mainstream and stuck their neck out despite knowing what would happen to them if they did.  God protected them in miraculous ways.  I believe that can happen to us today if we truly, deeply, believed and stood firm.  That’s not to say that there still won’t be those who will die for their beliefs as there were in the Bible.  There are real threats to those who stand firm in the name of Jesus, but there are far too many more that will never face that situation simply because of their geographical location and social standing.

Despite the lack of real persecution in America today, it does not change the truth of God’s word.  Even though the only type of person it seems acceptable to deride and flat out make fun of are Christians, more times than not – it still doesn’t come close to touching real, authentic persecution.  The day and age in which we live, Jesus needs us to take His side now more than ever.

Even if it’s with shakey knees, sweaty palms, and a weak voice, we must take His side.

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After God’s Own Heart

ritmo-sinusal-imgI was reading through a few Psalms one day and after going over one of my favorites, Psalm 37,  I got to thinking about David (no surprise). The only time in the Bible that we have recorded as mentioning that someone was after God’s own heart, was referencing David. In 1 Samuel 13, Saul had disobeyed God’s instructions and as a result, the position of King was going to be taken from him. In verse 13-14, the prophet Samuel said to Saul, “Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.” (Emphasis mine.)

Think about that for a minute.  The LORD considered David to be a man after his own heart.  What did he mean by that?  How are you one after someone else’s heart?  To me, I consider that to mean David would seek the things that are important to God; that David would find importance in the things that carried eternal value, not just what brought immediate gratification.  Even in terms speaking of one man to another, you would simply place value on the same things that another person does.  Paul said something similar to Timothy in Philippians 2:19-20 – “But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.  For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.”  You could say that Timothy was a man after Paul’s heart.  There was no one else that Paul would consider sending on something important.  He knew that Timothy would care for the church at Philippi just as he would as if Paul were there himself.  I think that the LORD saw David in the same light: that David would represent the Kingdom of Heaven well….but did he?

Granted David did many things that pleased God, however, there were a few things that did not go over so well with the LORD (in no particular order).

The most well known incident in David’s life is his affair with Bathsheba.  You can read about it in detail in 2 Samuel chapters 11-12.  To sum it up, a man named Uriah was a soldier in David’s army and while Uriah was out fighting a battle to which David should have been at, David had an affair with Uriah’s wife Bathsheba and she got pregnant.  When David found out, he commanded that Uriah be brought to him.  When Uriah came to David, he basically told Uriah to take a break and go home to his wife.  David did so hoping that Uriah would go have relations with Bathsheba and it would hopefully cover up his incident.  Well that didn’t work out because Uriah spent the night on the steps of the palace because he couldn’t dream of relaxing while his fellow soldiers were out fighting.  What a stand up guy!  When that didn’t work, David got him drunk and tried again.  No go on that angle either.  So David got a “bright idea” and told the captain to place Uriah at the most dangerous place in the battle and have the rest of the men fall back so that Uriah would be killed.  He told the captain by means of a letter that he handed to Uriah to give to the captain!  Uriah was carrying his own death warrant and never even knew it!  David believed Uriah to be such a stand up guy that he knew Uriah wouldn’t open the letter!  Well, needless to say Uriah was killed and David ended up marrying Bathsheba, but the baby died as a result of what David had done.  This from a guy who was after God’s own heart.

Another incident in David’s life was recorded in 1 Chronicles 21.  David ordered Joab to perform a census in Isreal.  Even Joab knew that was not right, but David insisted and God was not pleased.  As a result, 70,000 people were killed.

So here we have adultery, murder, lying, to top it off, genocide.  Yet David was a man after God’s own heart?  Didn’t God know that David would screw up like he did?  I believe so, but I still think God saw David as a man after His own heart.  Certainly adultery, murder, lying, and genocide are not things that God places value on.  Those are not things that pleases God.  However, reading past those mistakes David made, reveal why I believe David was a man after God’s heart.

In both instances, when David came to his senses, he owned up to what he had done and relied on the mercy of God.  So what’s the big deal about that?  David understood the value of judgement, mercy, and forgiveness.

David knew what he had done was wrong and knew that his actions would bring judgement upon him and upon Israel.  When the judgement came, David never accused God of being unjust in the punishment.  In other words, he took it like a man.  He didn’t whine about it or even attempt to negotiate with God.  In fact, when David saw Israelites being killed as a result of his census, David offered himself up to be slain in their stead.  He fully admitted that he was the one that deserved the punishment for what was done.

On the flip side of things, consider Saul.  It either eludes minds or for whatever reason, we skip over the fact that Saul was God’s first choice to rule as King forever.  I quoted it in the first paragraph, but here it is again: “And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.” – 1 Samuel 13:13

Reading through the remainder of Saul’s life and his relationship with David, reminds me of Hebrews 12:15 (NLT) – “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.

Saul was most definitely poisoned by bitterness.  He relentlessly and passionately pursued David at all costs.  How many lives were lost, how many resources were wasted, etc., all because Saul refused to own up to his mistake when confronted?

And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. – 2 Samuel 12:13 KJV

I love this.  David’s response was so simple.  Obviously, he didn’t just own up to his grave error to get out of trouble.  I believe in that moment, his eyes were finally opened to the life he had been living.  He didn’t like what he had become.  He truly felt remorse for what he had done.  Was he forgiven?  Yes.  Did God show him mercy?  Yes.  Was there still punishment to be dealt?  Yes.  Unfortunately, that was how it worked under the first covenant.  Thanks be to God that we won’t suffer judgement due to our actions.  Will there still be consequences?  Possibly, but it won’t be God that’s punishing us.

In the end of it all, no matter what you do wrong or why you did it, it’s highly unlikely you’re too far gone to be forgiven.  In fact, the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf is so powerful, He has already forgiven you for it.  At the same time, the LORD always gives us a choice.  Just as Saul and David chose the end of their story, albeit two separate ways, you get to choose the end of yours.  Will bitterness and pride direct your path?  Or will you allow the Godly type sorrow to lead you to repentance?

There is much truth to the saying, “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.”  David played a stupid game.  One that cost him a child.  The games we play, may very well end up costing us dearly.  Will every consequence be negated if we simply admit our wrong doing?  Probably not, but nevertheless, it’s the right thing to do before the sight of our merciful, gracious Heavenly Father.  Whether or not you do it, all depends on the condition of your heart, which God is well aware of…even better than you are.

I think one of the most important lesson of both incidents that were mentioned above, is the David was more than willing to accept punishment for his actions, no matter the cost.      Reminds me of someone else in scripture, except that He was more than willing to accept the punishment of not just someone else’s actions, everyone else’s.


Don’t Ask Jesus Into Your Heart

No, I’m not the anti-Christ, but I can already hear the backlash simply from the post title alone.  However, I’m serious.  Don’t do it.  Don’t ask Jesus into your heart.  Maybe I should explain…wrong-way-go-back

I’ve heard it said many times, by many different preachers, “If you’ve never asked Jesus into your heart…”  That’s what Christians refer to as an “alter call”.  It’s the time at the end of the service that is usually reserved to see if someone needs to be saved – to “ask Jesus into your heart and be the Lord of your life.”  You might be thinking, “What’s wrong with that?  Aren’t we supposed to see people saved?”  Absolutely.  Salvation is number one, yet the way that the vast majority of preachers go about it is all wrong un-Biblical.  That’s right: asking Jesus into your heart is un-Biblical.

Case in point: Romans 10:9-10

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

That is how someone is saved.  I cannot find anywhere in the Bible that says to ask Jesus into your heart or any other concoction of words to give us warm fuzzies.  Paul out of his own mouth to the Corinthians in 1:2 that he was determined to deal with one subject only: Jesus Christ and him crucified.  In fact, Acts 3:5; 4:10; 13:30; 13:34; 17:31, Romans 4:24; 6:4;6:9; 7:4; 8:11; 10:9, Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 2:12; 1 Thes 1:10; 2 Timothy 2:8; 1 Peter 1:21 – just to name a few, all deal with Jesus being raised from the dead!  I’d say that the resurrection was a pretty big deal.  It has to be.

That’s the true Gospel.  The true good news is that Jesus was crucified – in that he took on all of our sins while on the cross, was buried and three days later rose again and is sitting at the right hand of the Father.  He is NOT residing in your heart.  If, as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:17, Jesus was never raised from the dead, then we are all still in our sins.  If we are still in our sins then we are in an “un-saved” state, still separated from God.

If, in fact, the way to salvation is through believing that Jesus rose from the dead and confessing with your mouth that he is Lord, then what about the millions who have only “asked him into their heart?”  I don’t know.

That’s right.  I don’t know.  And I’m not afraid to say that.  I don’t know their hearts and I don’t know what was revealed to them at that moment.  Maybe they did get the revelation of what Jesus did at that moment regardless of how the preacher called it.  I don’t know, nevertheless, that doesn’t make the scriptures any less true.  We were told the way of salvation and we shouldn’t make up our own way.  An inconvenient truth doesn’t make it any less the truth.

So why do people do it the other way?  Why is it presented as asking Jesus into your heart?  Because it’s more warm and fuzzy that way.  It sounds so cuddly, who wouldn’t want to respond to that?  Slap some butter or frosting on it and who could resist?  <–Sarcasm.

Well, I know my answer is going to cause a ruckus, but we can thank the devil for that.

Think about it.  The devil has crept into the “church” and convinced people to do things a certain way because well, “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”  Ahhh…tradition.  It’s a killer.  Jesus told the most religious people of his day that tradition nullifies the word of God.  The devil doesn’t want us to change what we are doing, and if he can’t get us to be stagnate, then he’ll convince us of small changes in the way we do things so they no longer line with the Word of God.  If you think the devil doesn’t know scripture, you’re wrong.  He was around when it was being written.  If he could convince us to do something that would render the power of God of none effect, don’t you think he’d try it?

Am I splitting hairs?  Being too picky?  Or whatever else?  Yes.   Yes, I am.  This involves THE most important thing a person will ever choose.

Look, even if it’s not the devil that’s caused this different way of salvation, it’s still a different way no matter what. It’s not the way it’s presented in the Bible.  Shouldn’t that be enough …shouldn’t that be enough for us as Christians to re-examine how we do things?


Decreasing Ourselves

He must increase, but I must decrease.” – John 3:30

At the time that John the Baptist said that, people had begun following Jesus instead of him.  They had started going to someone else to be baptised and to learn from.  John didn’t get angry.  John didn’t get jealous.  John didn’t start a revolt against Jesus and begin a smear campaign.  His response (to those who came to tell him that people had begun following someone else) was clearly not the response we’d hear from someone in a similar situation in this day and age.

John had no problem with someone else taking the lead role from him, even it that meant he was no longer going to be the popular kid on the block. It meant that he was no longer going to be surrounded by crowds of people.  No longer was John going to get all the accolades.  And he was OK with that.

We sure aren’t…as a society that is.  It’s our way or the highway.  It’s a dog eat dog world.  You have to fight and claw your way to the top.  Be loud and proud.  Meekness is weakness.  On and on it goes with behavior and attitudes just like those and much of it from Christians.  Yet nothing could be farther removed from what the Bible teaches us.

The Bible says that before honor is humility; the meek will inherit the earth;  if we humble ourselves, then we’ll be exalted; if we want to be in charge, we should be the servant.  All that boils down to is putting others before ourselves.  It causes us to place selfishness aside.

I admit that it’s hard to do those things.  It would seem to go against human nature…and it does.  It goes against our fallen nature.  The one we received when Adam transgressed in the garden.  This old dead, disconnected spirit we inherited doesn’t like those things.  It doesn’t like putting others first.  It likes to live for self’; to do whatever makes you feel good.  Never, ever allow others to get ahead of you.  If you do, there might not be enough left for you.

That behavior may be the norm for the rest of the world, but it should have no place in the life of a Christian.  Once you believe on Jesus, you receive a new spirit.  One that contains the ability to enable you to put others before yourself.  For us, Christians, allowing Him to increase in our lives is putting the needs of others before our own.  Specifically the needs of other believers.

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. – John 13:34-35

Jesus said that all the world will know we are His disciples if we love each other.  Love always puts the other person before themselves.  Here’s a portion of 1 Corinthians 13:5 in the Amplified Bible:

Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking…

The one man who had a right to exalt himself never did.  The one man who deserved all the honor and praise of men, never sought it out.  The one man who had the knowledge, wisdom and right to lead others, dedicated his life to serving.  In fact, he sacrificed his life for others.  He gave everything he had to give in every way.  All for love.

Giving less than you have within power and means to give, isn’t love.  Unless it costs us something, it’s not a sacrifice.  Let’s finally let the world see Jesus in us.  Let’s put others first.


Is there a place for disobedience?

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and for that I apologize.  I’ll get back to my “God is Good” at some point, but I wanted to share something a little different.

As the title of my post queries, it’s easy to answer with a resounding “NO!” to that.  However, I like to push the envelope when it comes to Christianity and our approach to it, so without further ado….

Going back a few years, a few thousand years, God said to Saul through the prophet Samuel in 1 Samuel 15:22 (GWT):

Then Samuel said, “Is the Lord as delighted with burnt offerings and sacrifices as he would be with your obedience?  To follow instructions is better than to sacrifice.  To obey is better than sacrificing the fat of rams.

As Christians we use that scripture quite often to drive home the point that God wants us to be obedient to Him.  Along with that, there are countless examples throughout the Old Testament of the punishment that came upon those who disobeyed.  The previous scripture was in direct reference to Saul’s disobedience and because of his acts, the kingdom was taken from him.

I should note here that I believe that all the punishment that would have normally come from the LORD, that we would deserve for our disobedience, God placed upon Jesus at the cross.  I believe God no longer punishes us for disobedience, but rather we suffer natural or man-made consequences when we disobey.  (Further explanation will be dealt with in another post).  Now, getting on with my original point…

Peter tells us in his first epistle, that we should “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors…”  Obviously meaning that we need to follow the laws set forth by our government.  Even when Jesus was questioned about taxes he said to “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s…”  He said something similar to Peter in Matthew 17:24-27.

We could go on and on about the important of obedience.  Even the increase of disobedient people are a sign of the end times.  Even the blessings and curses spelled out in Deuteronomy 28 are earmarked for either obedience or disobedience to God.  That should be the nail in the coffin to put to rest my question.  It’s not because it can’t be done.  I dare say there is a place for disobedience.

I humbly submit to you Acts chapter 5.  Go ahead.  Take the time and read it.  Please.  Here is my favorite part:

Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.  Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

BAM!  Peter, who tells us to obey our man-made laws says the opposite!  They directly, in no uncertain terms, disobeyed what the leaders told them!  An angel even broke them out of jail so they could!  Is that not enough?  Try the book of Daniel.  It boasts the accounts of four bold, courageous men of God that defied their “king”.  They even received supernatural protection for it!  Why?  Man made laws directly conflicted with commands from God and those men knew which was more important to obey.  Where have we, as Christians, gone wrong?

We are told we can’t pray in school.  We are told we can’t have the 10 Commandments posted publicly.  We are told many other things that we can’t do or say as Christians because it’s not “P.C.”…it might offend someone…we need to be respectful of other religions…on and on and on.  What do we do?  We obey.  We stop doing and saying things that need to be said and done.  We act like we “ought to obey men rather than God.”  Wrong!

We have become complacent.  We have become passive.  We allowed ungodly people to dictate how we should act as children of God, and sometimes children of God need to disobey.

I am not advocating riotous behavior in any way.  Daniel didn’t go running amuck through the streets praying at the top of his lungs.  He simply just did not change what he normally did.  He prayed just as he did time and time before that.  Neither did Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (better known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) change how they would normally respond to false gods.  These men simply didn’t bow down to the pressure and compromise their integrity towards the LORD.

That’s really what I’m talking about.  It’s more about an unwavering obedience to God.  Really, it’s disobedience by default.  It’s not about looking for a way to act rebellious or anything like that.  It’s simply standing our ground.

Think about Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  They knew the consequences of their disobedience to the law.  They knew what it would cost them.  However, their obedience to God overrode any fear of backlash.  They chose to burn for God rather than bow to the world.  As a result, they witnessed first hand the supernatural protection of God and so did the king.  What those men did changed a nation.  How?  By obeying God rather than men.


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