Friday, October 07, 2011

laundry devotion {on obedience & attitudes}

This week's devotion is on obedience to the Lord’s commands- how we are incapable of following a single command without His help and mercy, and how the inward obedience of our heart is more important than any external obedience on it’s own.

I’m so, so thankful the Lord has given us the WAY to life in Him, because I mess up every single day- I break commands over and over again, and my heart does not obey even once without the provision of His mercy! I’m so, so thankful He has granted us grace that covers our sins!  He truly gives us a new heart!

Click the link below to play the podcast in a new window:

laundry devotion {on obedience and attitudes}
 
Or, download this audio devotion by right clicking and saving target as (or download link for Macs) on this link: laundry devotion {on obedience and attitudes}

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Did you ever notice how many Bible verses command believers to obedient to the Lord? There are so many throughout the Scriptures. Let’s start with just a few of them.

  • Matthew 19:17: “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”
  • John 14:15- “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
  • 1 John 2:3–6: And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him. the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”

Jesus says- if you believe in me, if you know me, if you love me, you will keep my commandments- you will obey my commandments, you will walk as I walk.

Obedience is a manifestation of salvation- the Bible says if there is no obedience to the commands of the Father- there is no evidence of that person being saved.

Which means:

1. Obedience is the outward display of faith to salvation.

I love what John Piper said about faith and obedience in his book The Pleasures of God:

“So often you find in many churches and ministries the cultivation of an implicit two-stage Christianity: a faith stage and then (maybe) an obedience stage. But this is not the way the Bible pictures the life of faith. The separation of faith and obedience, as though faith were necessary for salvation and obedience were optional, is a mistake owing to a misunderstanding of what faith really is. True saving faith is not the kind of belief in the facts of the gospel that leaves the heart and life unchanged.  [p.243.]

Salvation is a transforming work- changing us from vile sinners into righteous believers because of the work of the cross. While we live in these fleshly bodies, we are constantly having to die to ourselves- and the Bible gives us clear commands on how to put our faith into obedient action each day; commands like love your neighbor as yourself, do unto others as you would have them do to you, give more than you’ve been asked for, turn the other cheek, and so, so many more.

And saving, transforming faith requires active obedience to the commands of our Father.

Let’s try to put it in another light.

Let’s say you get a new job. Because you believe that your new employer is trustworthy and will pay you in two weeks, you go to work. Though you haven’t seen the money you will be paid, you do your job, having faith that you will receive money at the end of the pay period as the employer promised you.

You believe you will receive the reward of a paycheck, and so you act on that belief, working hard for something you’ve never seen. And in order to receive the reward- you had to work- to follow the commands of your boss- until it was time to be paid.

And the funny thing is, like salvation- you didn’t get to choose who got the job- you were chosen, before ever having worked a single day. Your position was granted to you. And your faith in their promise and your obedience to the task was required to receive your reward at the end.

So maybe now you can see just a little that faith is displayed through obedience, and perhaps you can see that:

2. Obedience requires action.

Back to the new job analogy:

You get the job- and say you are now signed on as employee of the new company- but you don’t ever go to work, so you never get paid, are you really an employee?

Or on the other hand, if you never actually became an employee but simply put on the company uniform and stood around the place looking like you work there, would you really be an employee?

How do we know who really works at the company? The people that are doing stuff- moving around, doing their jobs. Those are the people we can see are truly employees.

Now this is just my imperfect example, but do you kind of see what I mean?

In the same way, obedience, or being a servant of Christ, isn’t displayed unless it’s actually through acting in some way. If you think you believe something, but don’t do anything that actually follows what you believe, you are deceiving yourself. You don’t really believe it is true.

James 2:14-17 says, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

And in James 1:22, it says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

My children can hear my words and know the truth that I will reward them for cleaning their rooms, but if that doesn’t motivate them to clean, will they still receive the reward? No action= no obedience= no reward.

In the Old Testament, the law required outward obedience to display faith in the hope of what was to come. They had sacrifices, laws and restrictions given by God to follow- and their main purpose was not to perfect man, but to show him his sin {Romans 3:20}, until the perfect sacrifice came through the obedience of Jesus Christ.

Then in the New Testament, Jesus, our perfect example, brings the standard even higher and requires outward and inward or heart obedience to His commands to show our faith. Which means:

3. True obedience requires more than just action- it requires a right attitude.

The Bible has much to say about our attitudes. Even our very thoughts are to be in obedience to Christ:

2 Corinthians 10:5 says, "Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ..."

And in Ephesians 4:22, "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off the old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds."

And Philippians 2:5, "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus." 

I can look at my life in the light of Scripture and see huge gaps here. I can look totally obedient on the outside, and even convince myself I am, and be totally in the wrong, because of the attitude of my heart.

I can be patient on the outside and keep myself from yelling, but if on the inside I’m mentally screaming, am I really and truly being patient at the moment? What’s the state of my heart?

Is just doing the right thing externally an act of obedience to God, or simply a self-preservation tactic? I’m not saying controlling your tongue isn’t great- it is, but I think there so much more to the fruit of the Spirit than that.

It’s a transformation of your internal heart- that works outward to the external act of obedience. And external obedience alone doesn’t necessarily mean a pure heart on the inside. And only God can see that.

I know we can all take it to extremes and say, “Well, my heart is never going to get there. I will never be able to obey all of the commands or to be perfect.”

I know. I know. We will never get there- on our own. If we ask the Lord for His help, he is faithful to renew our mind and create clean hearts in us. The cross did that for us- perfection was there- and took the fall for us- because we could NEVER get there on our own. No sacrifice was good enough.

But Jesus was the perfect sacrifice because “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” {Philippians 2:8}

There is so much more to salvation than simply believing- and even more to it than simply obeying and keeping the rules. It’s about giving our heart fully to Jesus, about begging Him to change the sinful heart that is in us. It’s about trusting God alone and no longer trying to satisfy our flesh.

And the best part is, He is good! His plan will not fail. His purposes are good.

There is no need to worry, my friends. He has given us the most perfect gift- something we could never do for ourselves- He has given us the ability to be like Him- to wear His white robe of righteousness. He has covered us! We are so unworthy of it! Oh, the mercy of God!

Let’s obey Him this week- starting in our very own heart. That’s my cry- my plead to Him this week. May we obey him- through Him alone it’s possible. Absolutely and amazingly possible.

 

 

About Laundry Devotions:
I tend to think of my laundry room as my prayer closet. I spend a lot of time in there where I get away from everything else while folding clothes (laundry for six keeps a girl busy ;). It's awesome because my hands are busy doing what I'm called to do and I get to spend time with God at the same time. I realized maybe that concept would work for others who are in a super busy stage of life like me. Maybe you are in the car, or at the kitchen sink, or prepping dinner. Whatever you might be doing, I hope this short audio format helps you give you a chance to focus on God even in an unlikely setting, like the laundry room! :)

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2 comments:

Sallie said...

Love it, LOVE it, Sister! You are so right-on! To Christ be the glory!

Ulrika said...

So true. I think this is confusing to a lot of people though. It was to me too. The whole combination of the "through faith alone" and "faith without action is dead" made me constantly wonder how much is enough - like - if we are not saved by our actions but actions are still required, how do I know if I do enough? Then someone simply put it something like this: we will all fail everyday maybe many times a day, but the important thing is the direction we're moving in. We all know we could do better right? There is always one more act of love we could squeeze in, but it's the direction that's important. Am I moving towards God or away from him - do I want to be more like Jesus, and so when I fall get up and try again, or do I knowingly turn away from God. It's the difference between FALLING into sin and LIVING in sin. Living in sin is not possible if you have true faith - but falling into sin will not threaten salvation. I think that made it more clear for me anyway so maybe it helps someone else too. :)

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