Tag: obedience

The Ram in the Thicket

Those who are obedient to God’s direction, in spite of suffering and uncertainty, experience God’s victory and provision..

God gave Abraham a very odd directive; actually, it was a command. He told Abraham to take his son, his only son, to a place He would reveal to him, and sacrifice him on an altar.

Abraham was to take his teenage son Isaac on a three day journey to Mount Moriah, climb to a particular point, build an altar with wood they carried with them, and then sacrifice his son, Isaac.

You can find all this in Genesis chapter 22.

I realize this sounds very morbid and completely out of character for God, but it actually was a move that saved the human race.

Abraham, God’s covenant partner, was asked to give his only son, his promised son, to God.

This then allowed God to make it possible for mankind to have access to His only Son, Jesus.

It’s the way of covenants.

As Abraham raised the knife in obedience to God, God intervened.

“And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.“ Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.” (Genesis 22:12 – 22:13 NKJV)

God provided the sacrifice then, as well as a few thousand years later.

Jesus became the needed sacrifice for mankind’s sin. He became our “ram in the thicket.”

Abraham learned obedience through the things he suffered. How did he suffer? As he believed and obeyed God, he suffered in his flesh because he was going against what his natural reasoning was telling him.

Jesus, not only in the wilderness but also in the Garden of Gethsemane, suffered in the flesh while obeying His Father’s will for His life (the cross and subsequent resurrection).

Faith, which many times requires obedience, will often have a degree of suffering with it. And without the obedience, the miraculous power and faithfulness of God is never witnessed.

You see, God always has an answer for those who believe and obey. But it’s the obedient that eat “the best of the land.”

And it’s during the suffering period, the period when it looks as though our faith isn’t going to be rewarded, that we sometimes feel like God’s requirements are too great, and we give up and go with our plan B.

Remember, God doesn’t tell us His whole plan. He leads us a step at a time.

Which is how we’re to obey.

A step at a time.

Do you keep looking for the “ram caught in the thicket”? You could be missing out on God’s answer. Don’t look at the thicket. That’s not where your help comes from. Stay with what He has said, and what He is saying, and leave the rest to Him.

“If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land;” (Isaiah 1:19 NKJV)

“Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8 NKJV)




Let’s talk about opportunities.

Opportunities God may give; and opportunities we may miss.

You’ve heard the phrase, “A window of opportunity”? How many times? Probably a lot of times. And have you heard the scripture, “Windows of Heaven”? Yes?

But have you ever considered the window of opportunity, and the window of heaven, could be one and the same?

And if they’re the same, is it possible to miss the opportunity God has for us because of disobedience on our part?

Simply, yes. It is possible.

A passage from Malachi:

“Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me!” (God’s words to his people)

“But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’

“You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” (Malachi 3:8-12 NLT)

No, dear one, I am not going to give the same old, worn out interpretation of the “Tithe Chapter”. To me, there is so much more God wants to get across to his people than just tithing.

And no, I don’t believe God tells us to prove him with our tithe. I don’t believe it for a minute; though I believe in tithing.

The people of God had turned away from the Lord. It was evidenced by the way they pulled back from bringing their tithe to the priests. Instead of helping support the work of God FIRST, they were taking care of their needs FIRST, and then giving their leftovers to God.

So he said, “You folks need to return to me.”

“How?”, they replied.

“The way you left.”

Did you know that people can tithe and STILL be far from God?

If a person tithes, yet turned to the worship of idols, would God’s blessing of open windows be theirs? No. God would say, “You need to return to me by turning away from your idols.”

The very thing that opens up Heaven’s windows; the very thing that brings the windows of opportunity, is OBEDIENCE.

Obedience to the revealed will of God.

Obedience. Obedience proves God.

He says, “Do thus and so, and I’ll do this and so.” We obey, he honors his word. He’s not a liar, nor is he a manipulator.

Obedience opens the window of opportunity, and the windows of Heaven.

So does this answer the questions, “Why don’t we see Heaven’s windows opened more?” “Why do we miss so many windows of opportunity?”

Jesus said, “I always do what my Father tells me to do.”

“So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” (John 8:28-29 ESV)

And notice:

“Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?” But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires. ” So John agreed to baptize him. After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened…” (Matthew 3:13-16 NLT)

Heavens were opened as Jesus obeyed his father. Opened Heavens translates to opportunities to touch someone with Heaven’s touch. Isn’t that what we really want? I know it’s what God wants.

Much more than our piddly pocket change.

Or our thousand dollar checks.

He wants our heart.

Don’t miss the opportunity of a lifetime, as the rich young ruler did when he walked away from Jesus’ instruction on how the young man could “return”. He walked away from the greatest opportunity of his life because obeying was too high a price to pay.

God has set before each of us windows.
Opportunities abound, when one walks with God.

Are you going to settle for miserly living? Or will you align your heart and mind with the lover of your soul and say, “Yes, Lord! I have come to do your will! Your wish is my command.”

Do the right thing, and watch the windows open wide.

Truth Will Not Make You Free


Would you be mad at me if I told you truth will not make you free?

Okay, so I’ll wait until you’re almost done reading to tell you.

So instead I’ll ask you, “Are YOU free?”

Do YOU want to be free? How “free” do you want to be?

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NLT)

“He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.” (Titus 2:14 NLT)

I’ll ask again, how “free” do you want to be?

Free, compared to others? Like, instead of both legs in manacles, only one is chained? Is that really freedom?

What does freedom mean to you?

Some want freedom to do what they want, when they want, without any adverse consequences.

That would be like a person who wants to drive their car as fast as they want, wherever they choose, and live to tell about it.

Freedom doesn’t work that way.

I can’t just say I want to be free of pornography and still feed my lustful desires.

Neither can you.

I will never gain freedom over gluttony without saying no to my belly.

And I will not walk in the freedom of God’s word if I never read it, think about it, or choose to do what it says.

Again, neither will you.

Just as there are speed limit signs posted to help you and I navigate the highways safely, so God’s word is given to help us navigate safely the road of life.

Truth alone won’t bring freedom. Obeying the truth will bring freedom.

The speed limit sign alone will not keep you on the road. Obeying the sign just might.

Remember this: disregarding, or ignoring truth may seem like freedom for a while. But being laid up in a hospital for months on end is not freedom. And some don’t end up that well.

Freedom. Knowing AND doing the truth.

“…don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” (James 1:22 NLT)

This Same Jesus


It was the Lord’s Day, and I was worshiping in the Spirit. Suddenly, I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet blast. It said, “Write in a book everything you see, and send it to the seven churches in the cities of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.”

When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands. And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. (Revelation 1:10-17 NLT)

John saw Jesus, and he immediately dropped to the ground, as though he had died. This is the same Jesus the world celebrated a few weeks ago.

Isn’t it kind of odd? Most people don’t have any problem thinking about a cute little baby lying in a horse trough, surrounded by lowing cattle, bleating sheep, a drummer boy, an assortment of angels, shepherds, and wise men; and of course Mary and Joseph.

Problems begin as the cute little kid starts to grow up! Know what I mean?

Judah and Simeon

20131124-214104.jpg“Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass that the children of Israel asked the Lord, saying, “Who shall be first to go up for us against the Canaanites to fight against them?” And the Lord said, “Judah shall go up. Indeed I have delivered the land into his hand.” So Judah said to Simeon his brother, “Come up with me to my allotted territory, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I will likewise go with you to your allotted territory.” And Simeon went with him. Then Judah went up, and the Lord delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand; and they killed ten thousand men at Bezek. “Judges 1:1-4 NKJV

In the above passage of scripture, Judah was told to lead the battle against the Canaanites and the Perizzites. Most people understand the name, “Judah”, means “praise”. That’s one reason the idea of “praise” marching against the enemy is taught. But some people read this passage and believe God always sends His worship team into battle first. God has done such things a few times, but few doesn’t equal always.

The words Canaanite and Perizzite have meaning as well. Canaanite is “to humiliate” or “vanquish”. Perizzite means “open” or “unwalled”. In other words, “praise” was to go up against a formidable foe that had the reputation of humiliating and vanquishing all of their enemies. And if that wasn’t enough, the other half of the enemy combatants were so powerful they needed no walls of protection for their cities. They could defend their territory without anything but their ability to fight.

Judah had an idea. I believe it was an idea we as worshippers should adopt. Judah (praise) said to brother Simeon, “will you please help me?” Simeon means “hearing”. The picture behind the word isn’t just the physical act of hearing. It means “to hear with the intent of obeying”.

So “praise” said to “hearing, with the intent of obeying”, “please help me defeat these enemies who have the ability and the reputation of defeating all who rise against them.” “Hearing” agreed, and TOGETHER they cleared their land of the enemy.

When we as worship team members and leaders stand in front of a congregation, singing songs should be one of the last things we’re concerned with. Singing praises alone doesn’t automatically open windows for victory. We must keep our heart and mind sensitive to God’s voice, and to the leader’s heart (and the pastor’s).

When we unite praise and obedience to God’s voice we will see God’s Kingdom come and His will done in our world.

Where’s the Joy?

20130429-074341.jpgThere sure are a lot of sad people in the world! It’s only 4 months after Christmas! What happened to “Joy To The World”; what happened to the joy?

Even among believers, Christians, there isn’t a lot of joy. There are times when laughter is prevalent, but typically that’s when everything is going their way.

Where’s the joy of the Lord?

People sing, shout, and clap their hands at church. But when they’re alone; what a wreck! Dejected, depressed, cast down, blue, down trodden, heavy hearted…get the picture? Know what I mean?

No joy! Alive, but no joy! Maybe “saved”, but joyless!

And weak (Nehemiah 8:10).

I’ve noticed, what I believe to be, a direct correlation between having His joy and Loving God with all our heart. If we love the Lord with our whole heart, we will do what He commands. When we do what He commands, there’s an unmistakeable joy. In other words, joy comes from doing the will of God,

“Well done, good and faithful servant” isn’t just something reserved in Heaven for the faithful soul. No, the Lord has a way of letting each obedient son and daughter know He’s proud and pleased.

It’s called joy. The joy of the Lord.

It’s living under the shadow of His smile!

It’s a sure cure for blues. It demolishes depression! It gives supernatural strength to the faint hearted and worrisome.

The joy of the Lord will turn darkness to light, and sorrow to delight.

The joy of the Lord will affect the world, our world in a positive way!

Are you without joy? When’s the last time you simply got alone and talked to God? Maybe you’re not used to praying, that’s okay. The Lord can handle the imperfect prayers of someone who really wants His joy.

Allow Him an opportunity to speak to your heart. Maybe you need to repent of something you have done, or something you didn’t do. Maybe you could ask Him to come into your heart as your only Lord and Savior.

Weeping only endures at nighttime, when life is dark. Joy comes with the morning, when God faithfully brings His light to your new day!

Be joyful in the Lord. Again, I say, be joyful.

As you do what He says.

“Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths.” (Psalm 119:1-3 NLT)

“Praise the Lord ! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands.” (Psalm 112:1 NLT)

“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” (Psalm 1:1-3 NLT)

“When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow.” (John 15:10-11 NLT)

“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty.” (Psalm 32:1-2 NLT)

“Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be joyful.” (Proverbs 16:20 NLT)

“I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.” (3 John 1:4 NLT)

“See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful.” (1 Thessalonians 5:15-16 NLT)

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