The True Blessing In Obedience

For more than a year now, I’ve been battling with depression, anxiety, and occasional panic attacks. Many nights have I groaned and wept and got frustrated with myself for these weaknesses. I have been longing for my recovery and I am still waiting and praying for it to happen. But I see God using this long season of pain, brokenness, and loneliness to draw me closer to Him. And I desire to bear much fruit despite what I am going through.

I am thankful that as I am spending more time with the Lord, especially after very recent traumatic experiences, I get more comfort from Him. But in other days and nights, I have been groaning and crying to God still. Sometimes my tears were associated with the struggles I mentioned but at other times, they come as I battle with myself. The Lord requires me obedience in a certain area of my life. I decided to follow but as I do, it strips me away of every control that I have in it. And He requires me to give away to Him more as I continue. It is tough but I really want to obey. And so, I have to fight against my flesh day by day. Sometimes though, I would ask Him why even though I know there is a greater purpose behind it.

Having sinful human nature, our flesh delight more to rebel than to obey.

In 1 Samuel 15, we would read about the disobedience of Saul towards God. Saul was instructed to strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they haveincluding men and women, children and infants, and all their livestock. Saul went as commanded and destructed the Amalekites with the edge of the sword. However, he and the people spared Agag (the king of Amalek), the best of their livestock, and all that was good, destroying only those that were despised and worthless.

When Saul was confronted by Samuel, he claimed that he had obeyed the voice of the Lord. But his obedience was partial. He even tried to justify his disobedience by pointing the fault to the people with him, and that the animals were spared to be offered as sacrifices to the Lord. But Samuel, receiving the word from the Lord, could not be fooled. We would read in verse 3, “Saul and the people spared…” Saul even went to Carmel to build up a monument for himself and went down to Gilgal where he stated was the place to sacrifice the animals that they have spared.

“And Samuel said, ‘Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22 ESV)

The Lord delights in obedience than burnt offerings and sacrifices. Hence, God rejected Saul as king of Israel for he turned his back from following Him and had not performed His commandments (v.11, 26). Saul confessed that he had sinned because he feared people more than God. Despite this, he was still more concerned about his standing and reputation with the elders and the people, so, he pleaded Samuel to honor him before them, and to return with him that he may bow before God. “So Samuel turned back after Saul, and Saul bowed before the Lord” (v.31).

Saul was able to bow before the Lord as Samuel had changed his mind. However, at the last verse of the chapter, it was written: “And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.” Here we see that God does not change his mind regarding a decision he has made.

The Lord promises His presence in our lives when we choose to obey Him.

In the first chapter of the book of Haggai, we would read about the command of God to rebuild the temple and the obedience of the people to His voice. When the people obeyed, the Lord declared through His messenger, Haggai, “I am with you.” (v. 13). The same is promised in Matthew 28:20, “And behold I am with you always, to the end of the age.” This promise wasn’t given to just anyone, but to those who obey the great commission.

Oftentimes, we decide based on our own desires, or to please other people that we reject what we know God has already told us. And like Saul, it is easy to justify our disobedience to the Lord by saying, “I intend to offer this to You, Lord, for Your glory.” Some things in our life may feel good and look pleasing, but regardless if those things which God does not give us approval seem right, and regardless of how we sincerely want to do them and offer them for His glory, our disobedience is still a sin. Again, obedience is better than sacrifice. God is not glorified in our rebellion, nor does He bless the fruits of our rebellion. For if it was so, then, God could’ve changed His mind in sending out Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden. But here we are, reaping the terrible consequences of the fall. In His sight, partial obedience is still disobedience. He is not pleased in our turning away from His voice and commandments.

Several times, I’ve heard my pastor say, “We can only be protected by God when we’re under His covering.” We leave God’s covering when we disobey. We see that in Saul’s disobedience. God rejected Him as king of Israel. Adam and Eve were enjoying close fellowship with God until they rebelled. The same will be true for us. Unless we follow the Lord, we will never experience and enjoy a deeper relationship with Him. Our obedience also testifies about our love for the Lord. Jesus said,

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15 ESV)

If we know the Lord tells us to do one thing yet we do otherwise, it exposes our love for something else more than Him. It declares that that something is more important than the Lord Himself. And something that is more important than God is an idol.

“If you say you love Christ and do not walk in obedience to Him… it’s just religious talk in your life.” — Steven Lawson

Our God is not a controlling God. It is not His will for His children to suffer, unless, it is for righteousness’ sake. His desire for our obedience is meant for our good—to mold us in Christlikeness—, not harm. He knows the consequences we will reap if we keep turning our backs from following Him and that is not part of the good plans He has for His children. This is why He wants us to follow Him.

The perfect example of obedience is our Lord Jesus Himself. If He did not do as He ought to, there would have been no hope for mankind and no one will be spared from the wrath of God. And we, being the recipient of God’s grace and mercy through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, are called to walk in the same manner. The message of the Gospel wouldn’t have been spread if the disciples and apostles did not do as He commanded. In the many stories of victory in the Bible, God was with those faithful servants, prophets, and Christ-followers who obeyed Him.

Do we not desire God’s presence in our lives? What more do we want, that we choose to rebel than to trust that if we obey, we have the assurance that we are walking in His will? As we follow Him, we have the security that we will receive the promise He has for those who are faithful and obedient to Him. If we truly love the Lord, and if He truly is Lord in our lives then we know what we should be doing and we should be doing it.

Obedience to God is not an easy thing. It requires turning away from the sins we indulge in, letting go of our deep desires which He does not want for us, and giving Him total control in our lives trusting that He knows what is best. The flesh doesn’t want that. It is a tough battle. But the Lord is with us. He will grant us the grace and the strength we need as we choose to follow Him. All these will give God much glory which is infinitely better than anything we offer Him apart from obedience. He is not pleased with the counterfeit glory we decide to give Him to cover up our disobedience to His voice.

The true blessing in obedience is God himself. There is no greater blessing on earth and in heaven than Him. As followers of Christ, we ought to want that. And we will do everything to have that no matter what it would cost us because we need nothing else but Him.

 


Thank you for reading! If you have questions about faith, please feel free to contact me. God bless you!

Advertisements

Journal Entry: Life is Better with God (Sunday 12/17/2017)

Often, when I struggle to find the words to communicate with God, I write them in my journal. This is one of the many prayers I’ve written which I find comfortable sharing. As I was writing this, the Lord was teaching me about the cost of discipleship (Luke 14:25-35) through a sermon I had been listening to that time. I have shared the link below. I am thankful having our God who is not like any other and also amazed at His faithfulness not just to a broken and messy person like me, but also in the lives of our siblings in Christ. In sharing this, may the Lord who is the only source of our faith, be glorified.

Father God, thank You for this another wonderful day. Thank You for the new learnings and experiences I’ve had, including the past few days. I am thankful for Your faithfulness always. It just amazes me how You work in us and teach us of important lessons in this tough journey as Christians.

Lately, You were teaching me about the cost of discipleship… the cost of being Your disciple. It actually dreads me to think that I have to set aside everything being set apart to serve and to glorify You in my life. It honestly is hard to hate my own life and turn my back on things in this world that seem so good to me. But if I think deeper about it, life is really better with You. Maybe, uncertainties and great unknowns are just really scary. I mean, it would be easier to follow You and do just what You say if we know where it leads us or what will happen, right? But no growth will come out of it. And You know best. What our faith in You puts us into are all beneficial to and good for us… even though we really could not understand everything.

Thank You because we can just rely and depend on you and we will not be failed… all the trust we give You are safe. Thank You because everyday, You are helping me and teaching me. I’m praying for a life of wisdom, that which is worthy to share Your Gospel to people who need to hear it.

LORD, thank You also for using me to encourage my sisters in Christ. I couldn’t have done it if not because of You. Apart from You, I cannot do anything. But I praise You because of the works You are doing not just in my life, but in the lives of other people around me as well. I often think why I had to go through the struggles I’ve gone through before and even just lately. But You were able to use them as a testimony of Your love and grace and forgiveness. Thank You, LORD.

There really is no one like You. How great it is that You are my God! I am blessed beyond measure… even loved. Always fill my heart with thanksgiving. You’re the Lover of my soul, the Giver of good things in my life, my Rescuer, my Hope… thank You for loving me and for using me despite my brokenness. Thank You, LORD! Always make my mind and my heart look to You. All praises and glory to You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.


To watch the sermon from Steven Lawson, “It Will Cost You Everything”, which spoke about the cost of discipleship, click here. I hope you will be blessed in the truth preached in that sermon as I have been. God bless you!

Psalm 13: I Will Trust in Your Steadfast Love

One of the hardest parts of my life has often been waking up in the morning frail. Today is one of those days. My heart is heavy and throbbing but I often go to sleep at night with comfort and in peace. Even though I experience this for years already, it is still hard for me to understand and I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to this.

I continued my daily spiritual discipline: to pray and read the Scriptures before I get up from my bed. More than ever, it is my desire to know my Lord Jesus that I may be able to walk closer with Him, despite these struggles. I read the 14th chapter of the book of Mark today. And receiving the word from verses 34-36, I was reminded that Jesus, being fully man and God, is never unaware of all the afflictions this life brings. He actually walked the worst path bearing the sins of mankind. This particular event happened in Gethsemane before Judas betrayed Jesus:

And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:34-36 ESV)

We can take comfort in this truth: Jesus understands our sorrows and His perfect obedience to the Heavenly Father was to deliver us from sin and the painful reality of this temporal life and to give us hope in the glorious day that was promised to come. But while we are on this fallen world, we are to take up our cross and follow Him.

I am still learning day by day. I must admit that there are times when the hurt is just unbearable or my flesh is really pulling me down, wanting immediate comfort than endure the unknowns the day is going to bring. It is hard even though I am aware of God’s promise of new mercy and compassion each morning.

Earlier, I wanted to remain in my bed to sleep or to stare at the ceiling and self-loathe because of this stubborn desire to drown in the depths of my complex mind. Present my hows and whys to the Lord or beat me up for the regrets and I-should-haves in the distant past. Yet God is too wise that he left me with no other places or people to run to but Him. Take up your cross and live this day, Kath.

I defeated my flesh! Thank You, God, for the grace. I got up to open my laptop, reminding myself of the online course I enrolled myself to. But I saw the Psalm 13 song in my Music folder and in curiosity listened to it, and while reading the actual Psalm 13 in the Bible, the tears I kept holding back welled and fell down from my tired eyes suddenly. Now, I am here typing this post (I’ll go back to check my course, don’t worry).

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

(Psalm 13:1-6 ESV)

Many times, I have asked and pleaded the same things with God. There were days, especially in the past, when I felt like He has hidden from me. How heartbreaking it is to feel that the One who loved me truly and deeply seemed to turn away from me… Leaving questions unanswered… allowing painful things to happen. But as I continue reading the Word, I get the assurance that the Lord speaks. My groanings and cries never fall on deaf ears. All He asks is for me to trust Him.

God asks us to trust Him. Trust Him enough to listen and follow His Word knowing His love is unfailing. The steadfast love of the Lord has brought us salvation through Christ, and in this, our hearts shall rejoice. To Him shall our souls bring songs and praises. In the abundance of His goodness, He redeemed us from His wrath. He never left us in our helpless and vile state but delivered us from sin’s curse. How much more will He not give us the grace to carry our cross, especially, through the days when we are most frail? We may be weak but God is strong and omnipotent. Even if things in our lives seem to fall apart, they fall on His mighty hands that work wonders and miracles. He holds all things together. Because our God is sovereign, wise, and immutable, those who put their trust in Him will not be shaken nor be put to shame. Thank You, Father.

 

Journal Entry: God Remains the Same (10/15/2015)

“Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth
and made the heavens with your hands.
They will perish, but you remain forever;
they will wear out like old clothing.
You will change them like a garment
and discard them.
But you are always the same;
you will live forever.” (Psalm 102:25-27 NLT)

We all have but a little time on earth. But so many things on that span come and change. And we all have but a short life to chase and run after those we built in a matter of years and lost in the blink of an eye.

Are we here to live as though walking on a treadmill?

Walking but not going anywhere?

Getting but never able to keep holding?

Oh, dear, change happens a lot and I understand the fear of losing things and people and sight of familiar places. But that is why we need God. He is constant. He stays. He remains the same. He lives and loves you forever. And yes, He never changes His mind.

 


Thank you for reading! If you have questions about faith, please feel free to contact me. God bless you!

Journal Entry: God is With You Wherever You Go (Saturday 03/08/2013)

Lately, I’ve realized that almost all good things come to an end. I’ve learned that everything in this world is so temporary. Except for God and His wonderful love, nothing on earth will last forever. Even this place will someday be gone. This life is full of uncertainties. One moment you are holding on to something and then you’ll wake up finding out that it has already come down to nothing. People come and go. Even memories fade. What will be left that will never leave? I cannot tell. And so my heart aches. This must be the reason why God doesn’t want us to get attached to everything life on earth offers because nothing here is permanent. The only constant thing in this world is change. And it’s hard to embrace change. Seriously, I always come to a point when I fear that time might leave me behind. Because I have a habit of holding on to people who made me feel that I exist… long after things already refused to stay the same. And I guess it’s something which God teaches me. God must’ve been telling me,

“My child, move on. Go on. Walk further. Walk farther from where you are and from where you’ve been. Leave the past. Live your present life and look forward to your future. Your future is not in what had passed, it is in Me.”

God must’ve been wanting me to continue to step closer to Him. Because He holds it all. And I might not be able to reach the place He has prepared for me if I always look back and choose to stay. He must be asking me to leave all the loads I carry behind. Because He wants me to focus and He wants me to be stronger that I may be able to bear what lies ahead. And I cannot be stronger if I depend on things which already left me. I cannot be stronger if I don’t fight the battle between the old me and the present me. If I don’t take steps forward I will not get anywhere. And I will always get left behind.

“Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” (Joshua 1:9)

Things that come to an end… People who leave… Memories that fade… All these have shown me how this life can be lonelier than it already is. This life is harder when the things you hold onto started to leave you. Through these situations, God tells me that everything which seems to be everything is actually nothing. But God is truly everything. He never leaves and His love endures forever. There is more to life He gives than to what life on this world offers. Someday, this place will be gone. Everything in it will fall down. All the things I valued on earth will crash in front of my eyes. I will be left with nothing. But I will take courage for I will still have God and will have everything. He will always be with me wherever I go. He will be with me forever. And right now, all I wanted to learn is to hold on to His love, because it is what will never change. His love will never ever change. Neither will it ever end.

 


Thank you for reading! If you have questions about faith, please feel free to contact me. God bless you!

My Testimony of God’s Grace

Hello there! My name is Maria Kathrina. You can call me “Kath”, as most of my friends and my church family do. It has been my desire to write about my personal testimony about how I got saved. I’ve always shared this story at church and with other people every time I had the opportunity and finally, after years, here it is.

Even at a very young age, I’ve always believed there is a God. When I was a kid, we would sometimes go to the chapel and pray before going home from school. I pray to Him. But I never really knew Him until God turned my life around.

My story was sort of a long pursuit. God was so patient in pursuing me. It took many years of being lost until God opened my heart to seek Him. He found me. And even if I had to go through that hardship, I am thankful that God took me out of the darkness into the light, and gave these blind eyes sight. I am grateful that He washed my sins through the blood of Jesus Christ and gave me the hope of eternal life with Him. Looking back, I wouldn’t think I would choose Him. BUT He chose me… even before the foundation of the world. And He promises me a life I never deserve.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” (Ephesians 1:3-10 ESV)

If you are going through the same thing I’ve gone through… I want to let you know that there is hope in Him no matter what you have done in the past, how bad your life seems, who and what you are, or how much of a sinner you think you are right now. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

And in Romans 6:23…“For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

There is hope in Jesus. Jesus came to the earth, sacrificed His life on the cross, and rose from the grave, so, that those who trust and have faith in Him may obtain forgiveness of their sins. In Him is great love…
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 ESV)

God is calling us to come to Him… To repent of our sins, turn from our old ways, and follow Him.

Only God can fill the places in our hearts and souls that feel hunger and thirst. He alone satisfies and He alone brings true purpose and meaning to our empty lives. Believe in the truth. Believe in Jesus.


Thank you for reading! If you have questions about faith, please feel free to contact me. God bless you!

4AM Thoughts

Nothing lasts forever. Places change. Things get worn out. Flowers bloom and wither. Memories fade. People come and go. We live and we die. If we hold on too much to these and everything else the world can give, we’ll get our hearts broken. If we depend our happiness on people and things and moments that are temporary, we’ll end up disappointed and hurting. Stop the chase. Embrace the changes. Accept that not everyone is going to stay. Quit making yourself look pathetic and desperate, running after people and things in hopes that they will define your worth and shape your joy. Stop acting like you are entitled to anything or anyone that you’re going to lose one day. If they are yours, you will have them forever. But see? Nothing lasts forever. What is now, and who and what we have are only here for a moment. Value their presence but learn to accept that someday, they will be gone.

Our hearts are designed to cling to God. Our will, desires, and affections must be directed towards Him. He is our eternal worth and joy. And no one is ever going to love us the way He does. Until we realize this, we’ll keep running in this world and get nowhere and keep holding on to something that will surely pass like a handful of sand escaping our hands.