Tag Archives: Obedience

Wednesday with John – Obedience

John 12:44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandmentwhat to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
It isn’t the still small voice this time, “Jesus cried out!”  Listen up…I am the Light God has given for you to believe and see Him.  I’m not your judge, the Word God has given me to speak will be your judge. My commandment is to say and speak His Words in order “to save the world.”  “His commandment is eternal life”…yours!

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus assurance to Himself is His obedience to His father’s commandment…“For I have not spoken on my own authority.” Of course that‘s His assurance to us too.

What does it say about people?
Is there anyone alive who can’t hear Jesus’s frustration in the words of that first phrase “And Jesus cried out”?  Is there any believer alive who doesn’t know first-hand the frustration of longing for someone we care about to believe, hear and accept the truth from Jesus about life from God’s viewpoint of forever?

Is there truth here for me?
This exercise of answering these questions each post is where I often learn the most.  I want to assure God of my commitment to Jesus so I write.  I want to assure you of the reality of Jesus so I write.  There is another truth I saw this morning about why I spend so many hours each week writing. I saw Jesus assuring Himself because of His obedience.  I write every day to assure myself I am obediently learning to be like more like Jesus and writing to you challenges me to find the truth.a  I have one prayer before I press “publish” each time.  Lord do not let your Word be voided by my thoughts.  If there is error, correct me and let it be so obvious to the one who reads that it compels them to find the truth in your Word.

a So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 2 Peter 1:12 NIV

In-The-Flesh

John 2:23 Now when he [Jesus] was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. 

When Jesus was a man, “many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing.  But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people.” It’s so easy to assume Jesus’s perfect response to His in-the-flesh life was a foregone conclusion.  He was fully God and still retained His shared knowledge with God but make no mistake about it, Jesus’s life in-the-flesh wasn’t a pretend life, set up to create a pretend identity with man.  It had real risk and a real purpose.  The reality of Jesus in-the-flesh life was risking the suspension of all His Sovereign rights to complete His identity with all people.  “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation [to ease the anger or disturbance of a superior being] for our sins.”a

God felt the painful reality of what Jesus would endure in-the-flesh as if it were His very own…because it was.  He was watching a part of Himself struggle to cope with living in a broken world trying to overcome the very flesh that had given Him life without those Sovereign rights.  God did not miss the effect of fear, hunger, fatigue and temptation on His Son.  The real purpose to Jesus’s life in-the-flesh that bears witness to His complete identity with all people is “Although he [Jesus] was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.”b

Obedience to God in the circumstances of life completes our identity with Jesus and still has the power to move God’s heart from Law to Grace on our behalf.

a 1 John 4:10
b Hebrews 5:8 

Silence

Ecclesiastes 5:1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. 2 Do not be quick with your mouth do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God.  God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.

“Silence is one of the deepest disciplines of the Spirit simply because it puts the stopper on all self-justification.  One of the fruits of silence is the freedom to let God be our justifier. We don’t need to straighten others out.”   Richard Foster Seeking the Kingdom

The effort I spend daily to sort and write my thoughts for these blog posts is my door into the “house of God.” It’s as simple as this: when I’m writing, I’m not talking…I’m listening.  It’s a different kind of listening that let’s you “hear” what God is silently speaking into your heart.

God’s Words have power even when they’re unspoken.  I was so certain what had been silently spoken into my heart was meant for someone else that day but God chose silence for me.  The unspoken Word I’d prepared to support “my” right position and straighten “them” out, changed me instead.  The obedience of silence became a repentance of tears that saved me from using the power of the Word as “the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.”

How, why and when we speak matters.  “Do not be quick with your mouth do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God.”  “God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.” 

Intimacy of Inadequacy

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

There’s a reassurance in being part of a church body and all the services that body offers.  We share a focus, we share some like beliefs, we meet together and sometimes we even share our innermost thoughts.  Church is a spot dedicated to “family” intimacy but learning obedience to our faith with that kind of intimacy is hard.  It’s not purposely hidden but in my experience it doesn’t happen frequently either. 

There are moments in life with God that may be so meaningful and intimate they are closely guarded because they’re soul-bearing revelations.  That kind of intimacy strips away all our pretensions of adequacy and sophistication. It’s that intimacy of inadequacy that reveals the real and absolute naked truth of our need for God. God bless and multiply those moments when that kind of intimacy makes it plan for us to see it’s how the “righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.”

Obedience of the Heart

Romans 2:13 Hearing the law does not make people right with God. It is those who obey the law who will be right with him. 14 (Those who are not Jews do not have the law, but when they freely do what the law commands, they are the law for themselves. This is true even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that in their hearts they know what is right and wrong, just as the law commands. And they show this by their consciences. Sometimes their thoughts tell them they did wrong, and sometimes their thoughts tell them they did right.)

It was only when I pasted these three verses into my digital journal that I noticed the close parenthesis at the end and realized the enclosed explanation was twice as long as the sentence it was clarifying. That simple fact seemed like a Biblical object lesson for me to think about.

Being right with God is more complicated than just knowing what the law is. Obeying the law isn’t a matter of separating the have’s from the have not’s at all.  Instead, God makes a connection to what he’s written in the heart. “They [those who do not have the law] show that in their hearts they know what is right and wrong, just as the law commands.”

The object lesson: “Right with God” is the complicated relationship between being obedient to what the brain knows about the law and the obedience of the heart desiring to freely respond to it.

Small Doses

Hebrews TLB
5:8 And even though Jesus was God’s Son, he had to learn from experience what it was like to obey when obeying meant suffering. 9 It was after he had proved himself perfect in this experience that Jesus became the Giver of eternal salvation to all those who obey him.

Dictionary Connection:
The Bible gives us a magnificently big picture of God in our world.  Here’s the good news for today; Jesus is God’s application for our daily experience.  When it comes to obedience we need both

ex·pe·ri·ence
1. Noun – practical contact with and observation of facts or events.
2. Verb – encounter or undergo (an event or occurrence).

1. It’s a big thought that Jesus had to learn what obedience was like from his practical  experience. He was fully divine and he proved it, but he was also fully human and that is what he has to share with us.  What if obedience is the remedy that cures us from the dis-EASE of being human?  I know it’s sometimes hard to swallow. That’s the “noun” part.

2. Life is the “verb” part of experience. It requires undergoing Continue reading