Do It | Moved
Monday— Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:36
“Oh, I believe in Jesus,” Sheryl announced. “I always have. I’ve just never lived like it. But I got baptized when I was a kid and it meant a lot to me then. I guess I should get back in church, stop partying, kick my boyfriend out, you know, clean up my act.” Sheryl represents a significant percentage of Americans who claim to be Christians. They have bought into the idea that mental agreement with the facts of scripture, plus a couple of religious experiences, is enough to save them. They call that faith, but is it? John the Baptist says no, and John the apostle wrote it down. Let’s look a little more closely at his warning.
John uses the words believe and obey synonymously. The Greek word translated “believe” means to be persuaded that something is true. But John goes farther than that. He then uses the Greek word apeitheó, which means to disobey, rebel, or refuse to conform. Apeitheó implies a continuing posture of the heart. It’s a rebel’s heart, intent on pleasing itself. So John is warning that a saving belief is one that obeys. If we refuse to bow to the lordship of Jesus, we remain under condemnation whether we believe the facts about Him or not. A belief that stays in our heads won’t save us. Satan believes in Jesus. The belief that saves prompts us to obey Him. It’s a posture of the heart. Unless belief results in obedience, it is not a saving faith.
Challenge: Is your belief in Jesus validated by the posture of your heart?
Prayer: Examine my heart, Lord. Has my belief in you resulted in a desire to obey you? You don’t expect perfection, but a heart posture that desires it. May “believe” and “obey” mean the same thing in my life from now on. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tuesday— Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Psalm 119:34
“So I was wondering,” Chel began, “if Jesus says anything about my boyfriend living with me. Since I got saved last week, I’m starting to think about a lot of things differently. Is there anything in the Bible about sex?” Pastor Ted smiled. “I love that you’re already eager to start obeying the Lord, and you’ve only known Him a week!” Chel shrugged. “Yeah, my mother was a prostitute and I don’t know my dad. I kinda raised myself. I don’t know how to live right, but I want to learn.”
Only a week old in her faith, Chel was already demonstrating a heart transformation. No one had said anything to her about having sex with her boyfriend; she instinctively knew it was wrong. How did she know? The Holy Sprit inside her was teaching her, convicting her so that she could repent of the sin that would keep her from following Jesus. That’s the heart of this Psalmist in asking God to give him understanding. He longed to know God’s will so that he could do it. When we love God, His laws are not cumbersome. They delight us because they are ways we can please the One who died for us. And when we have understanding, we also have no excuse for not obeying. God knows what we know and holds us responsible for obeying it.
Challenge: Do you long for more understanding of God’s word so that you can do it?
Prayer: Father, I’ve grumbled against your laws. I’ve listened to people who say your word is cruel or outdated. But they’re wrong. Change my heart so that I am eager to learn more of your commands in order to obey them. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Wednesday— “If you love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15
“I totally love my new job!” Bri cried. “Look, I made the boss a macramé planter. And over there is an Ikea bookshelf I brought back from my trip. You think he’ll love it?” Ethan frowned. “Nice, but didn’t he give you a pile of reports you were supposed to go through? I still see them on your desk and you’re about to clock out.” Bri rolled her eyes. “Ethan, you’re such a rule keeper. I have my own ways to show him how much I like him and appreciate working here. See, over there I made—” Ethan held up a hand. “Don’t show me anymore. I’ve worked here twenty years. He’s not gonna care about any of that if you didn’t follow his instruction. In fact, I’ve known him to fire people for ignoring directions. Ikea won’t save you. Sorry.” He left shaking his head.
Was the boss too harsh in not appreciating the extras Bri did for him? He would have loved them IF she had obeyed his instructions first. Instead, she substituted her ideas for his. We treat Jesus the same way. We read a particularly difficult instruction in His word and we cringe. “Yeah, I’m not doing that,” we think. “So I’ll show Him I love Him by doing this instead. Surely He’ll understand.” But Jesus is way ahead of us. He knows we’re only renaming our disobedience, so He warned that loving Him means obeying Him. The two cannot be separated. He asks for gold and we offer Ikea. He requires obedience and we offer compromise. Jesus made salvation possible for everyone, but obedience is the only response He accepts.
Challenge: Are you offering Jesus an Ikea shelf instead of obeying His word?
Prayer: Jesus, I’ve done that. Some of your commands seem hard, so I’ve substituted my idea of good deeds in hopes you won’t notice my disobedience. But I’m only fooling myself, not you. Please forgive me. I’m ready to obey. Amen.
Thursday— “We’ve worked hard all night long and caught nothing. But if you say so, I’ll let down the nets.” Luke 5:5
— “I don’t see why two consenting adults can’t have an open marriage, but, Lord, if you say so…” (1 Corinthians 6:18)
— “I don’t want to give my hard-earned money to God, but if He says so…” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
— “We don’t think we need to be in church every week, but if the Bible says so…” (Hebrews 10:25)
“If you say so, Lord, I’ll do it.” What if that phrase was the motto of your life? It should be because it captures the essence of what it means to be a Christian. Questions and insecurities don’t go away and the challenges can seem impossible—just as they did for Simon. But his simple statement of obedience brought a miracle. The boat shouldn’t have filled with fish. God shouldn’t forgive our mountain of sins either. But our simple act of obedience—“If you say so, Jesus, I receive you as my Lord”—brings a miracle. Following Jesus is a lifelong series of statements like that. The life He wants for us is diametrically opposed to our culture’s views. But God doesn’t change to meet our standards, nor offer a co-god arrangement. He wants us to see our lives in light of eternity so we can invest in it and it starts with this heart attitude: “If you say so, Lord, I’ll obey.”
Challenge: Is that phrase your first response when you read a scriptural command?
Prayer: Lord, please forgive my tendency to argue with your clear commandments. If I read something in your word I don’t like, I turn to human opinion instead of responding, ‘If you say so…” Help that become my first response. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Friday— Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Matt. 7:24
“It’s not fair,” Mini groaned. “You and I were in the same Bible studies, we memorized the same verses, listened to the same pastor for 20 years. And there you are with a great husband, nice kids, and a beautiful house, and my life’s a wreck. I wish I had your life.” Tess laid a hand on her friend’s shoulder. “Mini, I’ve had my share of struggles too, but I’ve always tried to do what God says. We didn’t divorce when we wanted to, I disciplined my kids instead of trying to be their friend, and we sacrificed a lot to build our house debt free. God has blessed our obedience. He’d bless yours too, but you keep saying no.”
Being “raised in church” is no guarantee that children will become Jesus followers. And following Jesus is no guarantee we won’t endure hardships, loss, and betrayal. Just look at the life of our Leader. But when we set our hearts to obey Him, no matter the cost, we build a strong foundation that holds fast when storms come. Mini knew what God said, she just didn’t want to obey it. Knowing truth is no better than NOT knowing if we refuse to obey it. In fact, it’s worse. God will judge us according to what we were given and He knows exactly how much truth we had and what we did with it. Mini’s kids watched her profess to believe the Bible while disobeying it. So, of course, they wanted nothing to do with God. She had four ex-husbands because she did not follow godly wisdom in her marriages. Foolish spending had her nearly homeless and when life’s storms came, she had nothing to hold on to. Jesus said, “Anyone who listens to my teaching AND FOLLOWS IT…” will stay strong to the end.
Challenge: It’s not enough to know truth; we must follow it. What are you doing with the truth you’ve been given?
Prayer: Lord, I’ve heard a lot of Bible, but how am I doing in following it? Help me be honest with myself. I want to become more obedient and responsible with the truth you’ve given me. When I hear your words, I’ll obey them. In Jesus’ name, amen.