December 12, 2013

Obedience changes everything

Yesterday I scheduled a post on my “Parables” site written years ago about a word that I’d spelled incorrectly all my life. As I read it, I’m thinking how timely for me. God has been showing me the root of some sinful attitudes that I’ve struggled with for years. When God opens my eyes like that, one of my first questions is, “Why did I not see this before?” for it now seems so plain, so obvious. Today’s devotional answers my question.
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us... (Acts 17:26–27)

Over history, God gives knowledge of Himself to human beings so we can know and understand Him. He does not want to leave anyone in ignorance about Him, so He hovers over us with an unbroken presence. This is how people in every age, condition, and even in all religions learn that He is just, merciful, and governs according to His own perfect nature. We might not always understand what He is doing, but the human heart knows that God wants obedience and that He both punishes and rewards.

What we understand are not guesses or beliefs reasoned out from our nature. They are the truths that God has pressed into our understanding, even breaking through every barrier we put up between ourselves and God. There is no one too ignorant, careless, or indifferent that God abandons them to total darkness. He continually works to give even the most resistant person all the knowledge that person will grasp. Just as air crowds on everything from solid rock to the softest earth, whatever measure we can receive, God gives. His only limitation is the capacity of every person to take and hold what He reveals.

Therein is my answer. God teaches me as much truth as I can learn. God will continue to do so and all that hinders me from knowing Him perfectly is not His unwillingness, but my imperfections. As I grow purer and more like Jesus, more divine wisdom will be revealed. This is not given as wages or a reward, but simply made available to a nature more capable of receiving it, a nature increasingly determined to surrender to Him in obedience.

Christ makes a promise that is often applied to non-Christians, but it is for us who believe. It is for those who have shut the door on God in some way then wonder why we act like that as we question our behavior and our lack of understanding. The promise is . . . 

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)

The way to open that door of intimate fellowship with Christ is by obedience, by doing what we already know. Obedience changes people. It makes our nature more capable of hearing God and of understanding what He is doing in our lives.

If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. (John 7:17)

For non-Christians, knowing more about God begins by receiving Christ in faith so that sin is forgiven and a new start is possible.

For us who believe, it is a matter of the will, of choosing who I will obey. Will I listen to the demands of the world, the flesh, or the devil that lead to darkness and confusion? Or will I obey what God has already revealed about Himself and receive more teaching from Him that leads me into brighter light, deeper truth, and increased peace and joy?

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