Tag Archives: obedience

Chocolate-Covered, Grace-Covered

25 Nov

One of the funniest people I know is Rhonda Rhea—author, humor columnist, TV personality and quirky-wise pastor’s wife. I decided as a change of pace to feature her here, in this “Christmas is coming” fun post.

Enjoy . . . 

I never cease to be amazed—and pretty thrilled—at the new things people come up with to cover with chocolate each year.

We’re relatively in the neighborhood of “National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day.” December 16th. Oh my. That seems like such a great idea.

I highly—yea, emphatically—support chocolate coverings for the food beauty treatments they are.

But some of these people have gone and made it weird.

Chocolate-covered bacon. What?

Eat your bacon. It’s good.

Then eat your chocolate. That’s even better.

There’s an order to these things.

Chocolate-covered beef jerky? Chocolate-covered pickles? Chocolate-covered onions? Chocolate-covered squid?

Come on. Why would any of those ever be a thing?

Just because there’s no law against it, that does not make it okay, people.

In my book, all those ideas are terrible wastes of good chocolate and should be punishable by…well, maybe by making the people who came up with them actually eat them.

All of us in general are pretty good at coming up with bad ideas—everything that’s wrong for us. The curse of sin does that.

How amazing it is that Jesus can change our sin condition. He exchanges our sin for His own righteousness. And then He keeps working on us and in us even after that.

Jesus gives us a new “wanter.”

Paul said in Philippians 2:13, “For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose,” (HCSB).

Jesus has us “covered,” in the best way, when it comes to both the ability to do the work we’re called to do, and then the desire to do it. By His grace, He’s the One at work inside us by the indwelling presence and power of His Holy Spirit. And He’s the One who causes our lives to be sweet. Fruitful.

Covered with His delicious purposes.

I think Joseph was a man who wanted to accomplish the purposes of God in His life. What a kick in the gut it must’ve been for him when he found that the girl he was to marry was pregnant with a child that wasn’t his. Under Jewish law, he had every right to make her humiliation public and have her stoned.

But Matthew 1:19 tells us that Joseph was a “righteous man.”

I picture a heartbroken Joseph tossing and turning, then slipping off into a troubled sleep. But what a wake-up call! It was a stunning message from an angel in a dream.

The angel told Joseph that it was okay to take Mary as his wife and that her baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit. He would be the Savior!

So what did Joseph do? He woke up from his dream and he did exactly what he was told.

I wonder if he ever even stopped to think about what he “wanted” to do. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find out that God had already tweaked his “wanter.” Joseph wanted to honor God’s plan.

O Lord, by Your Spirit, help us to ever want what You want. Let us respond to You with unhesitating obedience.

No ifs. No maybes. No sugar-coating.

And, dare I say it? Probably not even any chocolate-coating.

 – Recipe for Chocolate Covered Bacon Skewers (and source for photo) is available here.

Advertisements

Better Than ‘All or Nothing’

14 Jul

I continue to struggle with my “soft food addiction,” especially hoarding chocolate candy, cookies and other sweet things. (It’s not that I can’t ever have something sweet, but it is a dangerous area for me.)

But one Wednesday during an appointment, I told Kim, my nutritionist, “I finally got rid of all the junk food in my house.”

Kim looked surprised and pleased. “I’m so proud of you,” she said. “Was it hard?”

“No, not really,” I said. “I ATE it all!”

I’m sort of an all-or-nothing person.  Some days I’m “all in” and thriving physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Other days, not so much.

I’ve discovered one sinful habit or attitude in one area cascades into other areas, and soon I’m walking far off the righteous path the Lord has designed for me. The path of life.

It was just a little sin, I rationalize. But it still was sin if the Lord told me “no.” And all sin is continuing evidence of how much I need Him.

I love the American Dream, but for a long time I carried over the concept of independence into my walk with God.

I thought, “The more I’m independent—the less I have to call upon the Lord for help—this will be evidence of spiritual maturity.”

That couldn’t have been more foolish.

The true sign of spiritual maturity is

greater understanding of our need

and growing dependence on the Lord.

So I’m learning to step back and evaluate why I ran ahead of God … why I made a decision without consulting Him … why I lagged behind in disobedience … why I mindlessly walked through life.

It’s usually about some form of pride, selfishness, willfulness or outright rebellion. But sometimes it’s just forgetfulness. I forget how needy I truly am. 

In “performance mode,” I bounce back and forth between legalism and giving up.

In those times, I ultimately am most desperate.

But I’m learning to walk under God’s protective grace:

Observing, confessing and correcting. Not beating myself up. Moving forward in grace and trusting Him.

There is no condemnation in Christ, but there are constant opportunities to learn to depend on Him.

For everything.

Just as my silly conversation with Kim indicated, I have often made foolish choices.

But I’m learning to keep in step with the Spirit. 

How? It’s a process:

  1. Acknowledge – I admit your errors and mistakes; confess my sins. (Again, this is not a matter of beating myself up!)
  2. Accept – I receive the forgiveness I have in Christ.
  3. Allow – I let God’s grace flood over me, encouraging me; I remember what Christ has done for me!
  4. Adjust – I correct my thoughts, attitudes and behavior. It’s a matter of becoming obedient to God’s Word and will, and walking in the Spirit afresh. It’s a walk in freedom!

All-or-nothing? No.

The better perspective is ALL-IN-ALL.

This song expresses what’s in my heart as I think about this today:

“You are my strength when I am weak.

You are the treasure that I seek.

You are my all in all.”

(“You Are My All in All,” sung here

by David Phelps/Gaither Vocal Band.)

Jesus wants to be my Everything.

And I sincerely want that too. Even when I stray. Even when I mess up.

I want to be a woman after God’s own heart.

Why? I’m learning He is my strength, my wisdom, my victory, my only hope and so much more.

Is this your heart too? Is Jesus your “all in all?

 

Not What I Thought You Said

9 Jan

Sometimes it’s better to just smile and nod your head… especially when your hearing starts to fade.

One place you’ll always be a captive audience? In the dentist’s chair.  

CaptiveAudience_LOLwithGod_pixabayWith my mouth wide open, I couldn’t reply to anything my dentist said. But then, I don’t know if he was asking me questions or just making small talk.

So I just grunted “uh-uh” and hoped he wasn’t talking about my bill.

(It’s hard enough when a person speaks quietly, but he was wearing a mask too, and it muffled the sound!)

To be honest, I’ve never been known for hearing right.  (Just ask my brother-in-law who repeatedly asks, “Whose feet stink at 10,000 feet?” It’s something I apparently said a long, long time ago.)

But I’m not sure I want to get a hearing aid. Then people might actually expect me to listen.

I’ve been in many, “Oh, that’s not what I thought you said” situations over my lifetime. But seldom when God was talking.

God is clear when He speaks. Oh, I may not completely understand, in my humanness, what the Lord means. But I hear Him!

Although there are many things that might be disputed in scripture when it comes to the “how to” of God’s words, but the “what”? Seldom. God says what He means.

I mean, how many ways can we interpret these?

“…“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).

Love God completely and out of that, love others unselfishly!

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (James 4:10).

Ditch the pride; it’s for God to lift us up.

“…Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13b).

We’re responsible to honor/respect/worship God and obey our Maker.

“…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

Pretty clear, isn’t it? God tells us exactly how to be “saved” … how to become His children. 

And when Jesus is Lord—meaning “master”—He will always have the right to tell us what to do.

The problem, most times, is not that we don’t understand what God is saying. The hitch is, we don’t want to do it. We don’t want to obey.

When we get to heaven, we won’t be able to say, “Oh, that’s not what I thought you said.”

God says, if we seek Him, He will be found (Jeremiah 29:13), and if we ask for wisdom to understand the scriptures, He will supply it (James 1:5).

God told Isaiah,

“I am the Lord, and there is no other. I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I the Lord speak the truth; I declare what is right” (Isaiah 45:18b-19).

Yes, the God who desires to be known can give us a heart to know Him and understand what He expects (Jeremiah 24:7).

Are you willing to ask? And when He speaks, are you willing to obey?

– Dawn

Graphic of dentist from pixabay

%d bloggers like this: