Obedience or Preference – In Touch – October 23

2018Oct 23

October 23

Obedience or Preference

Matthew 26:36-42

Every believer must choose whether he will live by the principle of obedience or follow his preferences. When a person commits to doing the Lord’s will, then every situation and decision is sifted through the standard of “God said it, so I’m going to do it—and that’s the end of it.” He may complain, weep, or try to argue. But in the end he will be obedient, no matter what.

I recall being invited years ago to interview with a church in Atlanta. During the entire road trip, I told the Lord that I didn’t want to move. I fussed and carried on a good while, but I knew Atlanta would be my new home. I didn’t like the idea, but the alternative was unimaginable: there are few things more unpleasant than living with the nagging anxiety that you missed out on something good.

The Lord certainly understands our need to question, cry out, and petition Him for the strength to do what He asks. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that we have a high priest who can sympathize with us. Jesus wasn’t excited or happy about the cross. He grieved over the coming separation from His Father. Nevertheless, He was committed to following God’s will (Matt. 26:39). No one took Christ’s life from Him; He laid it down (John 10:18).

Our lives are about fulfilling God’s purpose. Many people miss His awesome plan for them because they choose to follow their preferences. Obedience is sometimes hard, but the struggle and sacrifice are worth it. There is joy and peace for the believer who pleases the Lord and lives by His principles.

For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit www.intouch.org.

And Listen to Dr. Charles Stanley at OnePlace.com!

3 Ways to Know Your Faith Is Being Tested

Sarah Nichols

 

3 Ways to Know Your Faith Is Being Tested

Trials and tribulations are one of the few certainties we have in life. None of us can escape the peaks and valleys we encounter, and it’s easy to feel inadequate when sharing our trials, even to the point of feeling guilt and shame. We utilize some imaginary spiritual ruler we’ve created to tell ourselves our faith doesn’t measure up in comparison to others.

James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

First, we must know we are not alone in experiencing these sentiments. We will all meet trials. Furthermore, without them it’s impossible to attain a more mature, steady, and unwavering faith. We long for a deeper connection with God, but often it takes those times when God feels furthest away, in our trials, to actually get there. I recently got to experience this truth firsthand.

Spiritual Grime Produces a Sacred Growth

I just came out of a three year stint of trudging around in my own filth and muck, constantly wondering if I was hearing God right. Everything felt like a test.

It started a couple of years ago when I thought God was calling our family to adopt. As someone who, up to that point, had never actually experienced “a call,” I was excited (and nervous) to jump on board. We found an agency, attended a meeting, even shared the news with family and friends. We had barely begun the process when it felt as though God abruptly put it on hold.

Around the same time, I had a doctor throw around the word “cancer” in a phone call following an ultrasound. Thus began a couple of weeks of anxiously waiting for biopsy results. I went from daydreaming of adding a child to our mix to wondering how long I would be around for the kids we already had. I was relieved when the results came back benign, yet this only added to the confusion I experienced in what God was doing in our lives.

Amid all this, I began homeschooling our three children for the first time. They had been in public school for a couple of years, but after prayerful consideration, I felt as if I was supposed to take them out. Shortly into the first semester I realized it wasn’t working for one child in particular. We finished our year at home, but not without many arguments and tears (more from myself than the child). As a result, they were all in public school the following year. It felt like God kept asking me to say “yes,” only to turn around and say “no.”

As if that didn’t leave enough to be questioned, my husband was getting out of the Air Force as our trial year with homeschool came to an end, and we planned on moving to Arizona, where most of our family lived and we called home. However, through his job interviews, our prayers, and my tears, we began to feel as if God was calling us to move to Missouri. Despite feeling as if the last few steps of faith landed us in quicksand, we trailed ahead, moving to the Midwest without a job or a home.

Here are just a few of the things we experienced in our first year here: one awful stay in an Airbnb, four weeks of living in some friend’s basement, six staples to my daughter’s head (not counting a separate freak accident ripping her tooth and its root out), one broken wrist for my son, and no exaggeration when I say about twenty different colds, flus, or illnesses throughout our family.

To say our faith was being tested is putting it mildly. However, the doubts, confusion, and fear we faced helped expose a spiritual game of “Lost and Found” I had been playing for a while. Revealing these hidden places helped me remember who I was created to be, offering an abundance I had forgotten that God offers.

Without trials there is no transformation.

Our Treatment of Others Affects How We Live, Day 3

Today’s reading is drawn from Genesis 50:15-21.

How we treat others will affect our own lives as well. Joseph had every reason to be bitter and angry with his brothers, but instead of anger, he chose forgiveness. To the extent that we surrender our tendencies to condemn others, and are able instead to forgive, we will experience the fullness of forgiveness from God.

God freely forgives us and gives us eternal life (see John 3:16). But he also expects us to extend that same mercy to others (see James 2:12-13), with strict warnings to us if we don’t. A life of judgment, condemnation and unforgiveness is a prison. We find ourselves focusing not on the good we have—our spiritual lives or joyful relationships—but on the failings of another. It brings resentment and emptiness. When we let go of judgment and live in the grace that has also freed us, we move past the demand that everyone pay us back; as a result, our own quality of life increases.

The Proper Perspective

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Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ…  2 Corinthians 2:14

The proper perspective of a servant of God must not simply be as near to the highest as he can get, but it must be the highest. Be careful that you vigorously maintain God’s perspective, and remember that it must be done every day, little by little. Don’t think on a finite level. No outside power can touch the proper perspective.

The proper perspective to maintain is that we are here for only one purpose— to be captives marching in the procession of Christ’s triumphs. We are not on display in God’s showcase— we are here to exhibit only one thing— the “captivity [of our lives] to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). How small all the other perspectives are! For example, the ones that say, “I am standing all alone, battling for Jesus,” or, “I have to maintain the cause of Christ and hold down this fort for Him.” But Paul said, in essence, “I am in the procession of a conqueror, and it doesn’t matter what the difficulties are, for I am always led in triumph.” Is this idea being worked out practically in us? Paul’s secret joy was that God took him as a blatant rebel against Jesus Christ, and made him a captive— and that became his purpose. It was Paul’s joy to be a captive of the Lord, and he had no other interest in heaven or on earth. It is a shameful thing for a Christian to talk about getting the victory. We should belong so completely to the Victor that it is always His victory, and “we are more than conquerors through Him…” (Romans 8:37).

“We are to God the fragrance of Christ…” (2 Corinthians 2:15). We are encompassed with the sweet aroma of Jesus, and wherever we go we are a wonderful refreshment to God. From My Utmost for His Highest Updated Edition

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 3-5; 1 Timothy 4