Beating A Dead Horse?

Today is Sunday, the tenth of July, 2022, in the fifteenth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,495

Time is short, this morning, as I slept later than usual, so I’m moving on to the devotional. We are going to our house church, so I have to be done in less than an hour.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, strengthen in us all that comes from you and is eternal, all that is good and right and genuine. Let this shape our outward life and help us triumph over need and death. Help us to wait quietly, even when we don't know the answers to our questions, because we are certain that the outcome will be good and life-giving, to the glory of your Spirit and your name. We entrust ourselves to your hands. Stay with us, that we may receive your calling for our lives. Stay with us, so that in all our work and activity we may be aware of your guiding Spirit at work in our hearts. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.
(Psalms 95:6-7 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the presence of God, who stays with us, that we may be aware of His guidance in all our work and activity
2. that I am part of "the people of his pasture"
3. for a pretty good night's sleep
4. for the desire in my heart to be obedient to the "greatest commandments"
5. for the commands of Jesus to love

I’m sharing a piece, one stanza of one of Daryl Madden’s poems, this morning, because of the important message of that one stanza. If all people who call the name of Jesus would simply do this, what a change would come in our world!

If Jesus is our first
Thought before we act
We’d be more kind and loving
And peaceful that’s a fact

You can check out the rest of that poem, as well as others, at the link on his name, above.


And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
(Mark 15:33-39 ESV)


Today’s word, from Pray a Word a Day, is obedience. That’s not a popular word, in recent days, as the idea requires submission. And I’m not talking about the “submission” to which people eagerly refer when giving their misguided advice about husbands and wives. I’m talking about submission to any authority.

But here’s the thing. Oh, wait. First the quote. Again, not a Scripture reference, although I’m sure one could have been found.

“Does it make sense to pray for guidance about the future if we are not obeying in the thing that lies before us today? How many momentous events in Scripture depended on one person’s seemingly small act of obedience?” ~ Elizabeth Elliot

The problem with this is that there are too many differing opinions on what it means to be “obeying in the thing that lies before us today?”

However, there is merit in looking at some of the examples of which Mrs. Elliot is speaking.

Abram (his name had not yet been changed) left his homeland. Saul/Paul turned from his destructive ways and began preaching the Gospel. Mary agreed to be the mother of Jesus. Jesus obediently went to the cross.

“Seemingly small,” Elizabeth??? Hah!

Now, here’s the thing. In order for us, today, to be practicing “obedience,” . . . Oh. Wait, again.

The Greek word that is translated “obedience,” hupakoe, literally means “attentive hearkening.” The word doesn’t appear in the Old Testament, not in that form. I looked up various occurrences of “obey,” and the general meaning of the Hebrew word was the same.

NOW, here’s the thing! In order for us, today, to be practicing “obedience,” we essentially have two things to do. (There he goes again!) You know. You’ve read it here so many times, you’re surely weary of seeing it. But, apparently, not enough people have read it or “attentively hearkened.”

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
(Mark 12:28-31 ESV)

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:34-35 ESV)

Remember Daryl’s poem from up there?

If Jesus is our first
Thought before we act
We’d be more kind and loving
And peaceful that’s a fact

These are the “seemingly small act[s] of obedience” that could change the world.


Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalms 19:14 ESV)


These acts of obedience, besides showing the world who the true disciples of Christ are, also help us to grow, inwardly. We cannot afford to be lethargic (I confess I have been guilty of this, from time to time) about our Christianity. Because of the actions of some, the word has different meanings to different people. Right now, in the US, the word “Christian” is definitely suspect. If you don’t understand why, you are not paying attention. You are not “attentively hearkening.”

It is more important than ever for us to be obedient to those commands of Jesus. Once again, He has told us that those are the only ones that matter, because, if we obey those, we have fulfilled the entirety of the law and prophets. Paul agrees with Jesus, and tells us the same thing.

So, please. “Just do it.”


Father, I just pray that Your people would all “attentively hearken” to the commands of Jesus, so that our world would change. I’m weary, Father. Really weary. But I must continue. I must continue to grow inwardly, and not be lethargic about what it means to be a Christian.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Benefit of Obedience

Good morning. It’s Friday, July 27, 2012. Today is “Bagpipe Appreciation Day.” Ha! So, in honor of this, I give you 9.5 minutes of bagpipe music!

Enjoy!

On this date in 1974, the House Judiciary Committee began impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon. That was really the only one that I saw that was interesting enough to me to write about this morning.


Christi’s working from home today, so I got up a little later. So, I’m a bit behind this morning, and will do my daily prayers on the drive to work. I actually like doing this, as it keeps me more focused and aware, and also prevents me from getting quite as upset at other peoples’ driving. It’s hard to cuss at people when you’re praying.


Father, I pray that you would give me a glimpse of you this morning. Give me just enough grace to get through this day and its challenges.


Today, I”m reading Psalm 57. It is said that David wrote this psalm while hiding in a cave, as Saul was seeking to kill him.
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.
I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah. God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!
My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts— the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!
They set a net for my steps; my soul was bowed down. They dug a pit in my way, but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah.
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!
Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!

I especially like verse 2, “I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” I believe this about God. I believe with all my heart that he will fulfill his purpose for me. I don’t believe you have to be a king for God to have a purpose for your life. In fact, I believe he has a purpose for everyone’s life. I desire to have the kind of steadfast heart that David speaks of in verse 7, and I will sing praises to the Lord, “among the nations,” just as David did.

“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!”


My Utmost For His Highest

If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. John 7:17

The one who wants insight into the teachings of Jesus will only gain it by obedience. “If things are dark to me, then I may be sure there is something I will not do. Intellectual darkness comes through ignorance; spiritual darkness comes because of something I do not intend to obey.”
When we receive a word from God, we are immediately put to the test. If we disobey, then we don’t progress, spiritually. I know this to be true, because I have experienced it. I can’t tell you the number of times I have regretted not doing that one thing, thirty years ago. I like this next passage. “We cannot stand as humbugs before Him for one second. He educates us down to the scruple. The Spirit of God unearths the spirit of self-vindication; He makes us sensitive to things we never thought of before.”
We must obey the things that God tells us, even at the risk of “being thought fanatical.” However, if I’m going to do something that makes me look fanatical, I’d best be sure that it’s really God telling me…


As I continue reading Life Together, by Bonhoeffer, I am struck by these words on page 36 of my edition.

We thank God for what God has done for us. We thank God for giving us other Christians who live by God’s call, forgiveness, and promise. We do not complain about what does not give us; rather we are thankful for what God does give us daily. And is not what has been given us enough: other believers who will go on living with us through sin and need under the blessings of God’s grace? Is the gift of God any less immeasurably great than this on any givem day, even on the most difficult and distressing days of a Christian community? Even when sin and misunderstanding burden the common life, is not the one who sins still a person with whom I too stand under the word of Christ? Will not another Christian’s sin be an occasion for me ever anew to give thanks that both of us may live in the forgiving love of God in Jesus Christ? Therefore, will not the very moment of great disillusionment with my brother or sister be incomparably wholesome for me because it so thoroughly teaches me that both of us can never live by our own words and deeds, but only by that one Word and deed that really binds us together, the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ? The bright day of Christian community dawns wherever the early morning mists of dreamy visions are lifting.

Powerful words. We need each other.


Father, I thank you for placing me in the community of other Christians. We are just barely learning the concepts that Bonhoeffer teaches in his book. This idea of true community is foreign to those of us living in the modern United States. We are getting more and more isolated as time and technology progress. I’ve said before that, in this age of over-connectivity, we are more disconnected than ever! Father, I pray for your grace in the area of Christian community. Teach me how to love the body of Christ! Teach me to love my brothers and sisters as you love them.
I pray for obedience when you tell me to do something. I believe I failed in an opportunity just this last Sunday. Father, make me more sensitive to those promptings of your Spirit. You gave me another one yesterday morning, and I got up and obeyed. I thank you for that. I missed a big one roughly thirty years ago. Regrets are useless…but I never want that to happen again. I pray for extreme sensitivity to the Spirit as I move on in this spiritual endeavor. Make me an intercessor, Father. Teach me to pray effectively. Teach me your heart so that I may pray your heart. Give me YOUR heart’s desires!

I pray for this day. I pray for a smooth work day for both me and Christi. Let us close out this week with a good day, with no stress, no issues. I pray for Stephanie today; she expressed yesterday that she desired to pray more. I ask that your Spirit would prompt her today to do just that. Show yourself in a real way to her today.

I pray for focus and clarity as I go into my private prayers on my drive to work this morning. May you be glorified in all things, Lord.


How important it is for us to obey God’s promptings! The very nature of our spiritual walk with God depends on obedience!

Grace and peace, friends.