Something I never mentioned in this past week’s message but meant to was the role of obedience in the spiritual battle. The word obedience is a word that most of us relegate to dog training, but it is absolutely essential to every person who is serious about fighting the spiritual battle. Understand something obvious here – in order to experience the promises from God, obedience to his plan is essential!
There ARE conditions to God moving on our behalf. Because we are grace people we don’t like to think of it that way, but it’s true. If we go on living lives that are flirting with sin and selfishness and immorality, yet b/c we raised a hand or prayed a prayer we think God is going to come through, we are missing it!
It’s the whole idea of John 15:5-7 (NIV):
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.
I can’t blame the Devil for battles that I walked into due to my unwillingness to submit to the clear teaching of Scripture! I can win the battle as long as I stay and remain in Him! Think on that…
So put yourself in the shoes of Mary the mother of Jesus when one day an angel appears and declares you to be “highly favored!” Fast forward 9 months later and you find yourself much with child, traveling for many miles on the back of a donkey in the Palestinian heat. Arriving at your destination, you realize every place to stay is booked up and end up giving birth to the Holy Child in a dirty stable? How do you go from an angelic visitation to riding on a donkey? Aren’t things supposed to go a little smoother for someone who is walking in the will of God?
Every follower of Christ will at some point hit the wall in their faith and begin to wonder things like this. You’ll find yourself asking honest questions like – If God wants me to live holy, why is it so hard? If God wants my marriage to be blessed, and my kids to follow Him, why does it seem so difficult sometimes?
Scripture gives us answers to this why, and we talked about it this past Sunday.
I love Christmas. I love the celebration atmosphere. I love the extra time I get to spend with my family. I actually enjoy walking through the University Park mall, taking in all of the eager shoppers searching for that perfect gift and joining me in lamenting the replacement of Cinnabon with Ben’s Pretzels a few years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a strong Ben’s Pretzel fan, but even a Ben’s covered in cinnamon sugar is no Cinnabon, you know?
Let me get to my main thought, minus the calories. Make sure in your heart you take time to embrace the real reason for Christmas – Jesus. Isaiah (Isaiah 9:6) said it so clearly hundreds of years before Jesus was born – he is a Wonderful Counselor, trust him to be. He is a Mighty God, invite Him in. He is an Everlasting Father, call on Him. He is a Prince of Peace, receive Him. Be prepared to share this truth from Isaiah as you are out and about this week!
Mad at God? The Bible and modern day Christianity are full of people who’ve been there, done that. The question is how are you going to respond?
What would it look like if you were to respond like the two women in the Gospel of John whose brother Lazarus had just died? In their pain, their hurt, their outright anger, they approached Jesus and let him have it (read it…it’s in there…they blame Jesus for their brother’s death).
Perhaps the most powerful thing about this story in John 11 is not even the raising of Lazarus from the dead, but the response of a caring savior to the women’s anger and hurt (note how Jesus responds…I’ll let you read that on your own).
What would it look like this Christmas season if instead of running AWAY from God in your anger, you ran TO God with your anger? I think He’s waiting for you…
Find a great church that teaches the Bible and start the journey…
The Gatlinburg homeowner whose home was saved from the fire declares, “God is good.” Does that mean God is not good to the neighbor who is standing in the ashes?
The family who celebrates the addition of a new born baby to their family declares, “God is good.” Does that mean God is not so good to the other family who has tried in vain…for years…to conceive?
Scripture simply declares this – God is good. Regardless of the circumstance, He is good.
I don’t think we need to stop using the phrase God is good as it lines directly up with Scripture. But a genuine faith in Jesus Christ is one in which you can look every circumstance in the eye, good and bad, and declare this truth – God is good.
That right there is easier said than done.
“Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.” – Psalm 25:8 (NIV)
Re-Post: I first blogged on this back in 2009, but thought I’d bring it back as I’m going to use this audio again in this week’s message…
One of my dad’s favorite things to do when we were kids was to get the tape recorder out and interview us/record our voices. The first tape (which was reel to reel by the way) is dated back in 1968. Last summer, as a bit of a labor of love, I got all of these tapes out and transferred them to mp3 format.
When I heard the clip below…well…I cried. I pray I’ve been as affirming to my kids (starting when they were only a few months old like I was). I’m using this in my message tomorrow (May 17th).
(fyi…the little kid giggling in the background is my sister Shayne Cripe)