Tag Archives: Obedience

The Technicality Game by Ron Coale

Before Dee and I were married, we took her nephew to the drive in movie with us one night. Willie was quite the young boy. He liked everything that young boys like. I said I was going to go get some popcorn at the concession stand and Willie wanted to go with me. We got to the concession stand where he was eyeballing this very large Hershey’s chocolate bar. It was the kind that my dad would buy when I was a kid and it would last him for a month. Willie asked me if he could have one of those chocolate bars.  I said that he could, but he would have to let his Aunt Dee portion it out to him. I thought it best for her to give it to him in pieces and regulate how much chocolate he would eat.  I didn’t know that when we got back to the car, he showed her the chocolate bar and said, “Look what Ron got for me.  Can I have it?”  She looked at him and said, “Okay. I guess its okay.”

We continued to enjoy the movie. It wasn’t until about 15 minutes later when Willie was acting like a buzz saw. He was one big giant ball of energy. He was jittering and shaking and playing the air drums and talking a mile a minute. We looked at each other and wondered why is he acting this way. Then I asked her, “Did you give him that chocolate bar?” She said, “Well he told me that you said it was okay.” I told her I said it was okay if you gave him a piece of it. Willie had eaten a whole giant chocolate bar in about 10 minutes, and we were suffering the consequences.  For the rest of the evening he was wild with energy.

Willie and played the technicality game. The technicality game is  where you’re technically telling the truth but you say it in a misleading manner. Christians are the same way with God. They ask God to give them something when they know that He doesn’t want them to have it. They just play the technicality game to make Him think they are doing something good for Him.

Friends, God cannot be fooled. He knows what we think before we even think it. That is a thought that needs to be meditated upon. I’ll say it again, “God knows what we think even before we think it.” How do you deal with a God who knows what you think even before you think it? It’s no wonder that God tells us that we need to speak the truth. When Jesus speaks of himself saying that he is the way the truth and the life (John 14:6), He could in fact be giving us a warning; A warning that we should always tell the truth because God knows the truth even before we think it! He knows what we’re going to do even before we formulate the idea in our heads. So we better come clean!

There is no way you can deceive God.  There is no way that you can play the technicality game with him. He knows exactly what you’re going to do even before you consider doing it. That is a sobering thought! We’re dealing with the God who knows us even better than we know ourselves. There’s no way to manipulate the truth or play the technicality game with God (Matt. 6:8). There’s nothing we can do to deceive or trick God.

We are such feeble creatures. We are so finite because we live within the constraints of time. We don’t know what the next minute will bring in our lives. But God knows. I don’t mean to say this as a consoling statement. I mean to say it as a warning.  It is a statement that should make you think about always speaking truth with God. It’s a statement that should make you well aware that there’s someone who knows what you’re going to do in the next 5 minutes, and you can not deceive Him (Luke 12:27-31). You cannot play a technicality game with Him. You cannot manipulate events to make them work toward your favor. You cannot give an excuse for anything.  God knows!

How is it that He knows everything about your life? He does because He is already there. God does not live within the constraints of time. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (Rev 22:13).  He lives outside the constraints of time. This is how He can live in our past and our future all at once. You and I however are linear creatures.  We exist from second to second, minute to minute, hour to an hour.

Not only can this be a sobering thought, but it can be a comforting thought as well. Because God knows what we’re going to do 5 minutes from now, He can arrange events in our lives that will shield, protect, guide and love us. In this way he has the power to make things happen and give us His mercy, grace and goodness.

 

Falling from your own Steadfastness

2 Peter 3:16 “…as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”

With the attack of the world (fueled by inspiration of the Devil) upon the church, Christians are showing wobbly backbone when the battle gets rough.  With just a little goading by the devil, the yellow streak shows clear and bright.  How can those who were once “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10) so easily lose their “steadfastness”?  How can they change so suddenly?

In fact, the change in them (and perhaps in YOU) is not a sudden one at all.  It has been happening over a long period of time.  Instead of growing in GRACE, they wrest with the Scriptures and are led away by those who are unstable and unlearned in the ways of truth.  Over time, they join the ranks of those who are of another Christ (1 John 2:18, 22; 2 Thess. 2:7-8; 2 John 1:7) because they were introduced to them by one of the “…many false prophets… gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).  Instead of growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, they grew in knowledge of the world and self.  Then one day–“snap!”  They were gone.

When you belong to one fellowship or church, it is either because the Lord put you there or you put yourself there.  If you are following the Lord and are true servant of the Lord, no matter what, you will obey the Lord’s decision for the rest of your life.  If you are listening to self, or are lusting after the worlds temporary enlightenment, then you will bounce around from place to place looking for fulfillment of self.

In the Lord, there is no variableness (James 1:13).  In fact there is not even a shadow of changing in Him; He does not change His mind.  Any change of mind indicates that He was wrong and is now changing to be right, or He was right and is now changing to be wrong; or He is wrong and is now changing to another wrong.  But you can never be right and change to be right.  Right is right.  Since God never makes any mistakes, everything He calls for is right.  The problem is when people attempt to interpret God’s calling for their life and bring with the interpretation their selfish desires and nuances.  When they do, they try to work it out that God’s calling for their life lines up with what THEY WANT instead of accepting what they know GOD WANTS for them.  This way, self can get what it wants and justify it because they reason (and claim) that God is calling them this way.  They join the ranks of the many “anti-Christ’s” on the scene today.  “Preacher!  Isn’t calling them anti-Christ’s a little harsh?”  Well, when we go against God’s will for our life, we are “anti” to His plan.  Since His plan is Christ: To love Him and obey Him; then to listen to self is to be against Him.

Since God put you in a fellowship of believers, it is not up to you to “feel” like you are a “hand” when everyone else in the fellowship is a “foot.”  This is reasoning your selfish desire to gain acceptance with God and it will not work.  You may rejoice initially, but that is just self being happy that you are listening to and feeding it.  It won’t take long for the Holy Spirit of God to begin working on you or those around you; doing whatever it takes to get your attention so He can, “Reason together” (Isa. 1:8) with you.  God is not unreasonable.  He doesn’t satisfy self–He reasons with truth.

“But this doesn’t adequately explain the sudden change in a person.  I know you said it happens slowly, but how?”

When you are a member of one church, but go outside of your church to other churches or para-churches for fulfillment in so-called “Christian activities” of interest, you are opening yourself up to follow self instead of obey God.  This is a difficult thing for people to do: OBEY!  Especially for the generation of young Christians today; they don’t like being told to obey.  The world has successfully indoctrinated them with the “free willed philosophy” of self.

Little by little, as they learn a little about this church here; a little there; a jot here; a tittle there; the doctrine from the church which God placed them becomes diluted until it becomes totally unimportant.  Oh, they say it is important, but the fact that they leave because they “FEEL” that GOD is moving them, betrays this line of thinking.  Leaving, especially by clandestine means, speaks loudly against supporting what they say God is doing in them, because even the smallest babe in Christ knows God would not do something so foolish. They are led away with the error of the wicked until they fall from their own steadfastness.  They are not steady nor are they fastened.  They become shaky and loose; so much so that they one day are gone.

“How do I keep this from happening to me?”

First, you don’t get involved in activities from other churches or the world.  If your church does not have an activity that you are interested in, then start one.  If you cannot get enough people involved to successfully start one, then perhaps God is saying I have something else for you to do right now; something else that I wish to teach you; something else I want to develop in you at this moment.  In other words, accept what God has for you and pray and ask Him for the other.

Second, Find comfort in growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord (vs. 18).  In everything, God wants you to grow in two things: grace and knowledge.  If these two things don’t “turn you on” then perhaps you don’t understand what they are.  If grace and knowledge sound boring to you, then perhaps you have never delved into the wonderful overwhelming power that is contained in them.  If you try, but get nothing out of it, then perhaps you are not patient enough to let God work on you in His own time, perhaps you are neglecting Christ and growing in self instead.

Third, Start thinking right.  Are you one of those people who live by the saying: “live life to it’s fullest?”  Or do you misunderstand when someone says, “you only have one life to live” or “That’s the life” or “You only go around once in life.”  For the Christian it is true that you only have one life to live, but what we go through on this earth is so miniscule that God is going to burn the whole thing up after He takes us off of it.  You can NEVER, NEVER “live life to its fullest” on this earth.  It is a lie from the Devil to get you to focus on self instead of God.

Finally my friends, I leave you with this thought.  If God has put you someplace, He has done it for a reason.  If you are unhappy there, it is not because God is not working on you.  It is not because the people have changed.  Its because YOU MADE A DECISION FOR YOURSELF INSTEAD OF WAITING ON GOD.  ONLY YOU CAN FALL FROM YOUR OWN STEADFASTNESS!

Pansy Christians

One of the reason that we have so many pansy Christians is because people neglect the terror of the Lord.  Pansy Christians are those who are too afraid to witness for Him.  They are the cowards who give up at the first sign of difficulty and run for cover.  In a practical sense, they can always be identified as “church shoppers.”  They look for what they want instead of what God wants.  God wants us to remember sin.  He wants us to always have it on our mind because it is the thought of sin that brings us to God in humility; ready to accept His way, and give up the reigns of our life to Him.

 2 Corinthians 5:11 says, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.”  It is interesting that Paul said, “knowing.”  What is it that Paul knew.  Well, many things I am sure, but here he is focusing on the TERROR OF THE LORD!  The knowledge of that is what drove Paul to witness for God.  It is that unabated terrifying side of God that caused Paul to get out of his “comfort shell” and be made “manifest” to the world as a real Christian (one who would die for the Lord Jesus Christ).  He was afraid of what God could do, (and would do), when He was addressing man’s sin.  Where are the Christians like that today?  Are they waving their hands back and forth in a “gathering” of tee-totaling” academics?  Are they standing firm?  NO!  They are too busy “feeling” God instead of “knowing” God.  They have conveniently forgot that they will one day have to give account of their Christian life to God (Rom. 14:12).  They are too busy having a “great life” while all the time they are surrounded by people who are dying and going to hell.  That is no laughing matter my friend.  Not at all!

 Acts of compassion should be motivated by the terror of the Lord.  Knowing what He can and will do if we are not obedient to Him.

Motives of a Witnessing Church

“And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:42).

There are many places where Jesus warned against the danger of false motives. In giving, He reminded us that we must not give our tithes in order to receive glory of people (Matt. 6:1–4). He also warned us against praying to receive applause of people; prayer is for conversing with God rather than a speech to be heard and admired by people (Matt. 6:5 – 6). He warned us against displaying our personal godliness by revealing our private spiritual disciplines so as to win the approval of people (Matt. 6:16–18). Regarding these two things, Jesus was talking to his disciples about proper motivation. He declared that all worship and service should be motivated by the single desire to please God.

A motive is something which “moves.” What the mainspring is to the clock, motives are to the Christian, what the motor is to the automobile.  Motives certainly do affect our lives in many ways.  Some examples of these are:

  • Selfishness — everyone likes to feel important;
  • Self-gratification — we like that which pleases us personally, and we like to have our own way;
  • Self-interest — it is human nature for each of us to look out for the best interest of self. We find it easy, even if unconsciously, to ask, “What’s in it for me?”

One does not have to be an expert in motivational research to know that the above motives are inadequate for those who would invest their lives in the Service of God and others most effectively.

When examining the early church in the book of Acts, we discover what it was that made the church so effective.  Just as well, we see that they did not serve purely out of love. They were human beings like us, and they served out of mingled motives rather than the pure motive of love for God and love for others.

The early church achieved one success after another in what appeared to be an impossible assignment with tremendous handicaps. The book of Acts is a thrilling success story. What were the motives of the early Christians? Can we have the same motives today? Why did the early Christians witness so faithfully?

They discovered the joy of being a bearer of good news (Acts 2:41 – 47; 5:42; 8:8).  In obedience to the command of the Lord, by word of mouth, they spread the good news of his resurrection. They proclaimed God’s love for sinners and his desire to forgive sin. They could not conceal the good news that death had been defeated and that the grave had been robbed of its victory. This was such wonderful news that it brought joy to their hearts just to bear it. For them, witnessing about the saving acts of Jesus Christ was natural. Not to have done so would have been unnatural, inhuman, and unchristian for them. They received great inward joy through witnessing.

The early church recognized and responded to the authority of the crucified but risen and living Lord (Matt. 28:18b; Acts 2:36; 5:29).  They believed that God had resurrected Jesus Christ from the dead and had bestowed upon him the authority of lordship. They believed that this gave Jesus the right to issue orders and to command their time, talents, testimony, and treasure.

These early Christians believed that it was right for them to obey Christ even if this obedience brought them into disfavor with both religious and civil authorities. At the risk of being imprisoned and beaten, they chose to obey the Lord.

Many of today’s Christians consider obedience as being optional. There seems to be little recognition of the present lordship of Jesus Christ. Consequently, disobedience characterizes the modern Christian more so than does obedience.  Perhaps this is why the church is not effective today.  Perhaps this is even why the world seems to be changing so drastically towards evil.  It certainly has some effect, not only on the Christian, but on the world surrounding him as well.  The motives of the Christians of the early church were a strong sense of duty, the desire to be obedient.  This is the critical element that helped motivate the early church to be a faithful witness to their generation.  They paid dearly for their motives, and their sacrifice made it easier on the church which was to follow.  But today, there has been a moving away from what they gained in the world, and it is none more evident as it is in the USA, where everything seems to be “fundamentally changing.”

Yes, the early church suffered the shock of persecution (Acts 8:3–4).  It was this persecution that scattered the early Christians, even though they were very nationalistic and felt that Christianity was a Jewish movement. They were prejudiced against Gentiles to the extent that God put forth special efforts to reveal that the Gentiles were also included in his love and purpose of redemption (Acts 10). Had it not been for the persecution that stirred up the church in Jerusalem, it is highly possible that Christianity never would have gained worldwide significance. The early Christians went everywhere preaching the Word, not because of the compulsion of compassion, but because they were scattered by persecution.

They could have given up on Christianity.  They could have just quit.  But, they were surrendered to the leadership of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:29; 10:19; 11:12; 13:2; 16:6).  The Holy Spirit came into the church on the day of Pentecost to equip each believer to be a spokesperson for God (Acts 2:17–18). He came to lead, guide, and teach the disciples as the Lord had taught his apostles (John 14:26). The book of Acts is the dramatic account of divine initiative on the part of the Holy Spirit and human cooperation on the part of our Lord’s disciples. They lived and labored in fellowship with and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is still in the heart of each believer and in the church to carry on the work of the Lord today. We need faith to believe and accept that He is present; we need to surrender and cooperate with Him. We need to pray for His power as one of God’s best gifts (Luke 11:13).

The early church believed that all people separated from Christ were lost from God and did not know the way home (Acts 4:12).  Have you ever been lost in a wilderness or desert? Were you ever lost as a child in the park or in a large department store? Can you remember the fright that filled your heart when you realized you were separated from loved ones and that you were in a position of danger?  The unbelieving world knows that something is wrong, but many do not know what it is. People have a deep, unsatisfied longing in their hearts that the world, with its treasures and pleasures cannot satisfy. The Bible teaches, and experience verifies, that Jesus Christ provides the answers to the mystery and meaning of life.

The early church believed that people were lost from God and living under the condemnation of sin. They believed that humankind’s only hope of forgiveness was through faith in Jesus Christ. They believed that they had been entrusted with the good news that would make it possible for people to be saved from hell and to heaven where the deepest longings of the heart would find full satisfaction in continuing fellowship with God. Because they wanted all people to be saved, they continued to bear their witness.

It was the natural, normal, and proper thing for a Christian to talk about the joy and satisfaction of knowing Jesus Christ as Savior both in time and for eternity. Consequently, day by day and week by week in the temple, in the synagogues, on the highways and streets — anywhere and everywhere — these early disciples bore their witness. With mingled motives, they loved, they labored, and they lifted men and women toward God. May the same motives command our intellect, our emotions, and our energies in the Service of God and of a needy world.

Do Whatever You Want!

How we admire the obedience a dog shows to its master! Archibald Rutledge wrote that one day he met a man whose dog had just been killed in a forest fire. Heartbroken, the man explained to Rutledge how it happened. Because he worked out-of-doors, he often took his dog with him. That morning, he left the animal in a clearing and gave him a command to stay and watch his lunch bucket while he went into the forest. His faithful friend understood, for that’s exactly what he did. Then a fire started in the woods, and soon the blaze spread to the spot where the dog had been left. But he didn’t move. He stayed right where he was, in perfect obedience to his master’s word. With tearful eyes, the dog’s owner said, “I always had to be careful what I told him to do, because I knew he would do it.”

Every conscientious parent recognizes how difficult it is to exercise his God-given authority over his children. The delicate balance of being tough yet tender is not easy to maintain. Many parents intensify a rebellious spirit by being dictatorial and harsh. Others yield when their authority is tested. When a strong-willed child resists, the pressure to give in for the sake of peace and harmony can become overpowering.

I am reminded of the mother who wanted to have the last word but couldn’t handle the hassle that resulted whenever she said no to her young son. After an especially trying day, she finally flung up her hands and shouted, “All right, Billy, do whatever you want! Now let me see you disobey THAT!”

 Where our Captain bids us go,

‘Tis not ours to murmur no;

He that gives the sword and shield

Chooses too the battlefield

Where we are to fight the foe.

 One step forward in obedience is worth years of study about it.