21 Days of Prayer (Day #3)

“Lord, increase our obedience!”

Scripture Reading: Luke 17:1-10

If you read the Bible with a sensitive heart, you will often be overwhelmed with the great difficulty of many of its commands: “You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28). “So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions” (Luke 14:33). “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks” (1 Thess. 5:16-18). The list could go on and on. How can we possibly obey these seemingly impossible commands of Scripture?
The disciples felt overwhelmed by Jesus’ teaching in Luke 17:1-4. He told them to be on guard so that they would not cause any young believers in Him to stumble. And He said that if their brother sinned, they were to rebuke him and if he repented they were to forgive him, no matter how often the cycle was repeated. The disciples instantly realized that these were tough demands. To walk uprightly so as not to cause a new believer to stumble and to forgive someone who has wronged us are not automatic behaviors! Forgiveness especially is tough because our feelings are involved. So the disciples respond by asking the Lord to increase their faith (17:5). It was an honest request stemming from the right motives. They saw that if they wanted to fulfill these demands, they would have to have God’s strength and enabling to do it.
But Jesus’ answer (17:6) indicates that more faith is not really the issue. Faith is not measured by its quantity, but simply by its presence. A mustard seed sized faith will accomplish impossible things. The real need, Jesus says (17:7-10), is for more obedience and humility. We should view ourselves as God’s slaves who owe Him simple and unquestioning obedience. And, when we have done what He requires, we should not get puffed up with pride in our great obedience, but should simply say, “We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.” Thus …
When we encounter the difficult commands of Scripture, we should not focus on more faith, but on more obedience and humility. (Steven Cole)

In prayer today, let us focus on “Lord, increase my obedience as I humbly submit to You, Your authority and Your great love for me.”

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the commands of Scripture you are not obeying?
  • In addition, read again through the commands given in the first paragraph of this devotional.
  • Confess your disobedience (1 John 1:9).
  • Cast all your fears, excuses, doubts, laziness, whatever you are choosing as stumbling blocks of disobedience at the feet of Jesus (1 Peter 5:5-7).
  • Submit to the Word and “step into the water” (Joshua 3:8).
  • Bottom line, If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (John 14:15). Make the connection here with abiding love from our 1 John 4:7-21 study.

“Lord, increase our obedience!”

I’m Glad I Did!

One of the joys of moving to our new neighborhood is getting to know all the folks who live around us!  Yesterday, we met a neighbor in a special way.

We are blessed this week to be hosting a Vacation Bible Club at our home.  The children are meeting in our garage and playing their games in the front yard.  As I was standing nearby, I noticed a vehicle slowly drive by.  I thought they were going to stop but moved on.  Shortly thereafter, I noticed them coming back this way, so I walked out toward our road.  The truck stopped and a well-dressed gentlemen got out and asked about the kids meeting at our home.  I explained what was happening, and he said, “Well, I have a gift for each of them.”  With that, he reached in the back seat of his truck and counted out insulated lunch bags for the kids.  Then he carried a box of insulated cups to the garage for every child.   The kids, of course, were so excited to receive this man’s generosity!

I followed my neighbor back to his truck and he said, “I have wanted to stop here several times and have always made an excuse.  Today, I said, I am going to do what I believe the Lord is prompting me to do, and I’m glad I did!”

To hear God’s voice we must belong to God. Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Those who hear God’s voice are those who belong to Him—those who have been saved by His grace through faith in the Lord Jesus. These are the sheep who hear and recognize His voice, because they know Him as their Shepherd. If we are to recognize God’s voice, we must belong to Him.

We hear His voice when we spend time in Bible study and quiet contemplation of His Word. The more time we spend intimately with God and His Word, the easier it is to recognize His voice and His leading in our lives. Employees at a bank are trained to recognize counterfeits by studying genuine money so closely that it is easy to spot a fake. We should be so familiar with God’s Word that when someone speaks error to us, it is clear that it is not of God.

While God could speak audibly to people today, He speaks primarily through His written Word. Sometimes God’s leading can come through the Holy Spirit, through our consciences, through circumstances, and through the exhortations of other people. By comparing what we hear to the truth of Scripture, we can learn to recognize God’s voice.  (gotquestions.org)

How often have you been prompted by the Holy Spirit to do something, and you have turned away with an excuse which left you knowing you were disobedient and lacked faith in God?  How often have you been prompted by the Holy Spirit and you responded in obedience and your heart was refreshed, renewed, and blessed?  I saw the latter today.

Just a simple encouragement for all of us today.  When the Spirit of God speaks to us through His Word or that still small voice that matches up with God’s Word, obey.  You  will then say just like my neighbor, “I’m glad I did!”

Immediately

As a parent, you find yourself using the adverb “immediately” on many occasions while speaking to your children.  “Please take out the trash, and do it immediately.”  “You need to come inside immediately.  Supper’s ready.”  “I expect you to clean up your room immediately.”  Immediately means “at once; instantly; without any intervening time or space.”  Some synonyms are instantly, now, promptly, this very minute, on the spot, here and now, and without delay.   Those words clearly describe the desire of a parent’s heart and the timely action that is follow in the lives of their children.

This word is used often in the book of Mark in connection with the Lord’s actions and commands.  One instance in particular is found in Mark 1:16-20, And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 17 Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 They immediately left their nets and followed Him.19 When He had gone a little farther from there, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the boat mending their nets. 20 And immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after Him.  When Jesus called, they responded immediately, instantly, promptly, on the spot.

Is my response immediate to Christ’s commands and calls?  Or, do I sanctimoniously say, “I need to pray about that.”  I do not see anywhere in Scripture that I need to pray about obedience to the Lord. Since His way is perfect (Psalm 18:30), and He is God in all His attributes, character, and glory, I must obey immediately; I must act immediately.  As a father, I expected immediate response from my girls.  Perhaps our children would learn to respond in a more immediate fashion to us their parents if they saw us responding immediately to our Heavenly Father.  Can you hear your Father say, “Why do you call me, Lord, Lord, and do not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46)?