Rethinking my Obedience to God

For the past few weeks I have been reading a book written by Pastor John Bevere, called Killing Kryptonite. The book focuses on a common sin many Christians in Australia deal with; idolatry – which is generally putting anything above God or before God. The deadliest part about this sin is how it goes unnoticed by anyone committing it. The result of this sin is a church and body of Christ without power and authority.

I could talk about many different lessons learned, but one that stood out to me was my attitude when reading the bible. For a couple of years I have been fairly consistent in reading devotions, attending church, and thinking I’m a good Christian, but after reading this book, I realised I had lost humility and always assumed I was doing the right thing.

Let me give an example. Matthew 7 verses 1-3“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?’

When reading this passage, I have always assumed I follow this commandment by Jesus. However, after driving for about 2.7 seconds in Adelaide traffic, I get cut off and immediately feel anger and judgement toward the person. ARGHHH I HATE TRAFFIC! Never mind that I just cut someone off myself! I have been judging people A LOT without realising how much I do it.

I’m especially good at judging people and being a hypocrite on a day I do a double-devotion.

Yup. That’s bad. And very true.

Here’s the thing… I never realised my sin until I started reading the Bible honestly. Instead of assuming I’m already doing it right, I have adopted the attitude of assuming I’m doing it wrong, then examining my actions over the past couple of days/weeks to honestly assess how I am doing.

Okay, that’s a nice lesson Caleb, but what does it have to do with idolatry? Well, after reading this book I realised the biggest idol in my life was…. drum roll..

me.

Now I don’t know who you are or where you’re at or what you’ve done, yada yada yada… But I do know that I thought I was a healthy Christian while frequently sinning. And I ONLY realised I was in trouble when I stopped idolising myself and thinking so highly of myself. If you think you’re pretty well on track with your relationship with God, I suggest you stop right now and have a good, long think about that. No judgement here from me! You may be perfectly in God’s will, …buuuuuuut chances are that if you believe you’re not sinning, you are.

All the best.

The Bible as an Anchor

I often find myself caught up in being busy, doing things that aren’t important and forgetting what is necessary. After working for 8.5 hours, I want to recharge for a couple of hours before completing chores at home. Time slips away, and soon I have to go to bed to prepare for the next day. There isn’t anything particularly wrong with this. However, it tends to go wrong when I don’t set aside time with God.

Living my life away from God is dangerous. I am likely to stay positive and continue to be a “good person”, but lose the power of Christ living within me. As I lose focus on God, I find myself drifting away, like a boat in a river that hasn’t anchored to stay still. When distractions come in, it’s hard to draw the line and say no when they encroach upon the time that should be spent with God. The next thing I know, I’ve missed my morning devotion 4 days in a row…

It’s times like this that I pull the bible back out again and start reading. 2 Timothy 3:16 says ‘All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.’ After reading, peace returns to me and I find myself wondering why I got distracted in the first place. Being close to God is so powerful and amazing, I don’t want to live any other way. Yet, there I go again, isolating myself from God by filling my days with entertainment and social media.

Can you relate to this; filling your day with things that are fun for the moment, but distract you from God in the end? This happens to me far too often, so I have asked two people to keep me accountable to daily devotions. What do you do to keep your focus on God and remain consistent?

Increase Your Love for Other People

Lately, I have been thinking about the presence of God and His love. When I set aside time alone with God and start praying, I almost always feel peace and a feeling of being at rest. The longer I pray, the greater the feelings get. After an hour or so, I start to feel peace and contentment so strongly that I usually can’t hold back tears. I am not one to cry, but I often do when I pray. I believe that prayer brings me closer to God. The closer I am to God, the more love I have for other people.

I have often heard it said that ‘To love others, you need to learn to love yourself first!’ This statement sounds right, but in my experience, it does the exact opposite. The more I think about myself, the more I feel insecure, afraid and impatient with other people. I believe that God teaches a way of life that goes against the culture you and I live in today. I strongly believe that to love others, you must love God first. How do you love God? Submit to Him in prayer, and He will give you so much love for others that you CANNOT HELP but share it!

Matthew 22:34-40 says ‘But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

So, based on this verse, by loving God first and loving your neighbour second, you should love yourself… last? I believe so. Okay, then where did this idea of self-love come from? I believe it comes from selfishness, not God.

God showed us how to love. Jesus stripped Himself of all power to come to earth in the form of a man, then proceeded to serve others for the duration of His time on earth. In his early Thirties, He died on a cross for sins He did not commit. Are you keen on being sentenced to death for a crime you did not commit… at the age of 32?! I know I’m not. At no point did Jesus teach His disciples to ‘love themselves so they could love others’. He taught them to pray. He even gave them a whole prayer to pray, word for word.

If you want to love others the way Jesus taught, learn to pray. If you already pray, add some more time to your praying each day. God LOVES to hear you and me pray and will come closer to us to listen. I love that about Him.

Have you experienced powerful prayer? Let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear your story! 🙂

One Simple Way to Hear God Speak

Ask Him! Okay, but what happens if God doesn’t answer? How do I know God is speaking?

If you find that God isn’t speaking to you, ask the following questions: Am I praying daily? Am I listening? A conversation is two-way. Ask God your questions each day. Keep in mind that He loves persistence. (Luke 18:1-8) When it comes to listening, I find it natural to use my ears. (Duh!) The thing is, God doesn’t usually speak to us this way. He likes to use dreams, visions and the Bible. Dreams and visions are awesome, but the Bible is possibly the simplest way to hear God speak. It can be very black and white. “Love your neighbour” and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” are simple, yet profound truths. Too often I have found myself looking past these powerful words for something ‘more spiritual’, forgetting that these words are inspired by God, filled with life and power! When I read the Bible, I stop regularly and pray short prayers, asking God to help me understand it and live it out — praying while reading God’s Word opens up my heart to listen.

Whenever I am unsure if a thought is from God or my own, I judge it against the Bible. If it follows God’s heart, shown in the Bible, I can be reasonably sure it is from Him. However, if the idea is contrary, I will dismiss it.

Hebrews 4:12 says “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

I encourage you to read one chapter or more each day to improve your hearing and discernment.