Thursday, September 25, 2014

Why do we obey? (Part II)

Please be sure to check out our focus passage today and then join us for the study.
Sure, go ahead.
We'll wait till you get back. The verses are John 14:15,21-24.

Ah, there you are. Great, let's get back to our study.
The first reason that we noted yesterday for believing and obeying Jesus' commands is the reward of heaven.
There are people who obey our Savior for the simple reason that they are hoping to get something out of it. (I know, right?)
What is this like?

Well, since their obedience is linked to a reward, these people will always have their hand out. What do I mean? Either short term, or long term, these folks are always expecting God to "bless them real good" because they have been so good!
It's as if they are channeling the little kid in them, and they expect God to be their parent and dole out an allowance to them for good behavior. Or that He is their personal Santa Claus, and they have been very, very good.
Whoa, pardner.
Yes, we do believe that whatever we ask for in Jesus' name, we can receive. After all, Jesus just told us that back in verse 14 of this same chapter. But that is not a magic formula for getting our prayers answered!
Instead, it is a confirmation that God will answer our prayers because we have Jesus within us, in His Spirit. So, we are not going to use prayers as a frivolous thing, but rather we will pray the same kind of prayer that Jesus would pray.
Ummmm, what are our prayers usually like? OK, no fudging here. Are we in a crisis, asking for help? What kind of help? Do we ask to be removed from the crisis, or do we ask for strength and wisdom to get through it and be a witness to His power?
I guess that Jesus wouldn't pray many of the prayers that we do. We are so quick to ask for God's blessings. So quick to seek relief from any kind of difficulty or hardship. We know in our hearts that He will be with us, is with us in the hard times. But we want to scoot away from those times that will teach us so much. And those situations are nothing compared to what Jesus faced; they are small potatoes compared to the suffering of the cross -- He didn't try to shy away, in fact He embraced the suffering that He knew was ahead of Him.
He lived with the reality of God's grace and the Father's presence in His life -- He lived this moment by moment. We need to understand this in the same way -- God's blessing and His presence is upon us right here . . . right now.

                I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it
                is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the
                secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or
                hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through
                him who gives me strength.  (Phil. 4:11-13)

Paul had learned (and it didn't come easily) the secret of contentment. Each of us needs to learn that, too! Christ is with us even in the midst of difficulties, suffering and pain. He will give us all the strength we need for each moment. He will be true to His word, and be faithful to us.  We don't need to ask God to make us comfortable, or to remove our difficulties, or to give us an allowance, or a reward because we've been good. He has told us that heaven is ours, and more blessings beside.

1 comment:

Cathy said...

James says that we should "consider it all joy" when we face trials and troubles. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm pretty sure that me first response to troubles is not joy. I never really noticed before, but this is the subject that James begins with, telling us that troubles are the testing of our faith that produces perseverance.I have experience with troubles and my faith being built through them, but I'm pretty sure that, at the time, my response during the time of those troubles was not joy. Afterwards, looking back and seeing the great works of God during those troubles, still not joy, but more like relief. To be able to live that way.... being content in ALL things, and to live with joy in trials, what a witness that would be.......