Partial Obedience

Real obedience is “right away, all the way, and with a happy heart.” Anything else is disobedience.

My oldest daughter Anna hates washing dishes. While she was growing up, whenever my wife or I asked her to rinse the dishes and load the dishwasher, she suddenly remembered homework or some other desperately important thing to do. My wife Nancy would ask again and again until Anna started shouting and Nancy started crying. Eventually I would intervene and Anna would do the dishes. She did a fine job, but the process was exhausting.

“Mack”, an employee of mine from several years ago, never refused to do a task, but did a poor job at it. If I asked him to update a spreadsheet, he might update a column and leave the rest unchanged. This had the unfortunate effect of changing the results in most of the other columns and ruining everything. In the time it took to correct his work, I could have done it, and four other things. “Mack” soon found other opportunities.

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Understanding Authority

Since the Fall, man has hated authority. America has built a culture on the hatred of authority, and yet God is still Lord, and He still appoints people over us. What do we do?

The US Founding Father Benjamin Franklin is alleged to have said “It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.” Whether he said this or not, the idea of questioning authority has woven itself into the DNA of American culture. But the idea of questioning authority is not new; indeed, it is as old as man. Since the serpent convinced Eve to question God’s authority in the Garden of Eden, sinful man has questioned authority. Even more, we have an inherent dislike of it. The idea that anyone or anything should be “over” us in some way is anathema to man, especially individualistic Americans.

Before we continue, we must define our terms. For our purposes, “to question” will be “to ask” or even “to challenge” authority but not to automatically reject it. We will define “authority” as “the power to give orders or make decisions: the power or right to direct or control someone or something.”[1] Note that authority is not the same as power. Power is simple ability, while authority is ability plus legitimacy. A man holding a gun may have the power to take your money, but he doesn’t have the authority to do so. A tax collector in a democratic government has both the power and the legitimacy, hence the authority, to take your money.

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How to Know the Will of God

We think that knowing the will of God is the hard part. We are wrong. God freely tells us His will in His time. The hard part is our unwillingness to do what He commands. 

In Bible Fellowship we were discussing John 9, the healing of the man born blind. During the conversation we noted how the man heard Jesus tell him to wash in the pool of Siloam, and he trusted and obeyed the word of the Lord. Later when confronted by the Pharisees he boldly told his story; that he was blind and now he could see. The formerly blind man didn’t exaggerate the truth and he didn’t “soft pedal” it to soothe his inquisitors. By obeying Jesus’ command and by telling his story with courage, this man was following the will of God for his life. This comment occasioned the question “how can we know the will of God in our lives?” Though we did not have time to delve into it then, I promised my class that I would write on the topic this week.

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Being a Doer

We must do the commands of God. Do we dare?

How can we be doers of the word and not just hearers?

James 1:22-25

1. Be familiar with the Bible – it is not enough to know a few stories and a smattering of principles, we must know the overall story of the Bible and how its pieces fit into the whole.

When a man learns to fly he needs to know about the engine and elevators, lift, drag and thrust, and the other principles, but he must also know how it all fits together.

This is just as true for God’s revelation. In His general revelation, He created the world. The general revelation is immediately available to everyone on earth and proclaims Him to them (Psalm 19:1). The Bible is His special revelation. It in He chose a man (Abraham), then a people (Israel), then a man (Jesus), then a people (Christians), who must then proclaim Him to the world. God’s pattern for His total revelation is therefore: World – man – people – man – people – world. That is the story of the Bible.

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Be Thou My Vision – Fixing Our Sight on God

God is not the giver of blessings; He is the blessing. God is not the enabler of accomplishments; knowing Him is the accomplishment. God is the center of our provision and the center of our ambition. And yet why is that so easy to say and so hard to do?

One of my favorite hymns is the Irish “Be thou my vision”, its words are attributed to Dallan Forgaill in the 6th century and its tune an Irish folk song, “Slane”.   The theme is that God alone should be the vision and goal of every Christian, just as He was for Paul in Philippians 3:7-14.

What does it mean to have God for our vision in our purpose for life?

The modern mantra of finding ones’ purpose for life seems to be “follow your inner star”, “find your dream” or “do your own thing.”  The idea is that within each person is something that will guide him or her to meaning and fulfillment in life if only he or she follows it.  Books, music, and movies parrot this idea relentlessly, and many people simply accept it as truth.  Under certain assumptions this could be logical:

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