Obedience that comes from Faith Part 2

In my last blog I reflected on Paul’s description of what God had sent him to do, to call people from among all Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. Romans 1v5.

I want to continue those reflections. We can only be obedient if we know what to do! How do we know what to do? We know what to do because God speaks to us.

God speaks to us through scripture. We have clear guidelines about how to live our lives generally and specifically. We have instructions about personal ethics; about public ethics but we also have instructions to do what Jesus did! E.g. To pray for the sick, to cast out demons, to preach good news to the poor.

God also speaks to us personally. We, Jesus sheep, recognise the shepherd’s voice. We hear that voice in different ways; an impression, through verses of scripture that jump out of the page, through other people, through a strong desire to do something, through dreams and many more ways.

I have found over the years that God speaks to me so much more when I am in the place of obedience that comes from faith. When I am, for any reason, not fully in a place of willing obedience it seems I don’t hear much from God. Whether that is because He isn’t speaking or I’m not listening I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter.

What is important is that when I am in the place of obedience that comes from faith I don’t seem to have any problem hearing from God!

 

WRITTEN BY TONY THOMPSON

tonyt

Tony is the leader of Hope Church Luton.  He works full time for the church and is married to Anne and they have 2 sons.

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Obedience that comes from Faith

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had the rare privilege of sitting as part of the congregation and listening to the sermon rather than delivering it. It has been a very positive experience with a real sense of God speaking to me. The sermons have brought to mind Paul’s description of what God had sent him to do, to call people from among all Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. Romans 1v5.

We want to change the world, but have to admit we can’t do it! It has to be God, who can do the impossible. By my efforts I cannot increase the number of people the church influences, I cannot impact the church finances. Apart from Christ I can do nothing. What I am called to do is exercise faith; to trust in a God who can do anything.

The starting point has to therefore be faith; faith in a God who can do the impossible.

However it doesn’t end with faith. I am meant to exercise obedience that comes from faith. Faith cannot be passive; it has to be active, leading to obedience.

Faith and obedience are two sides of the same coin, but we start with faith which leads to obedience. It has to be that way round. We can then be naturally supernatural, which is what Ali challenged us to be.

If you want to listen to the sermons preached by Linda Geevanathan and Ali Green they can be found at http://www.hopechurch.co.uk/library.php

 

WRITTEN BY TONY THOMPSON

tonyt

Tony is the leader of Hope Church Luton.  He works full time for the church and is married to Anne and they have 2 sons.

Other Ways To Handle Disappointment With God

Having admitted and expressed our disappointment it is important we do not just stay there, we also need to change our focus. To focus on what God has done not just on what he hasn’t!

Parents know that gratitude attracts more gifts. The birthday boy in tears for the present he didn’t get is an ugly and unattractive sight, more likely to receive discipline than further goodies.

Does God owe you anything? Romans 6v23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This verse had a major impact on me soon after I became a Christian; I quoted it in my testimony at my baptism. I realise how easy it is to lose this perspective over time.

I can recall so many prophecies and promises that God has given to me that have come to pass; wonderful things that God has done. However it so easy to just look at what God has still to do rather than what he has done.

This is what Jesus did when John was disappointed and questioned whether Jesus was really who he thought he was. Jesus reminded John of all that was happening, blind seeing, lame walking, leprosy cured, deaf hearing, and good news being preached to the poor. (Matthew 11v4-6)

We need to do the same, focus on what God has done. Change our focus.

Finally we need to lay down the right to understand.

Paul to the church in Philippi, chapter 4–

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

There is a prison theme associated with the letter to the Philippians, the letter was written in prison; the church was formed out of rejoicing in prison. It is helpful things to say to us to help us escape the prison of disappointment.

Peace does not come from understanding but is much deeper. We have to keep a sense of mystery. We cannot expect to understand everything and understanding doesn’t always give us peace anyway. Mystery keeps us humble, reliant on God.

In my experience trying to understand God’s timing causes me most difficulties. Again the example of scripture helps.

e.g. Habakkuk 2.

Then the Lord replied:

‘Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it will certainly come
and will not delay.

Apparently the fulfilment took about 66 years.  But Hab 3:16 God told Habakkuk to wait patiently. The prophecy may linger but we are to expect it.

We don’t always understand timing in particular. We have to trust.

In summary.

It is so important for us all to deal with disappointment in a healthy way.

Acknowledge you are in prison – be real. Change your focus. Give up your right to understand.

WRITTEN BY TONY THOMPSON

tonyt

Tony is the leader of Hope Church Luton.  He works full time for the church and is married to Anne and they have 2 sons.

Further Thoughts On Disappointment

In my previous blog I explained how I had recognised the importance of admitting and dealing healthily with disappointment, especially if deep in our heart we are disappointed with God.

Disappointment is an every present threat, it colours everything if not dealt with in right way. So how can we handle disappointments healthily?

1.      Realise we are in a prison.

Building on what I said in the last blog, most Christians find it hard to admit disappointment with God. They cover disappointment with spiritual sounding stuff yet in the Bible we find many people admitting disappointments including John the Baptists and many psalmists.

e.g. Psalm 10v1-2; 22v1-2

My personal favourite is Psalm 13v1-3;

How long, Lord? Will you forget me for ever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him,’
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

We need to come to God when we are in pain, especially pain that he could have prevented. As these Psalmists have modelled it is healthy to express the doubt of our hearts.

Yet it is not something I have seen happen very often. Something changes when we do.

Each of the Psalms quoted above ends in total clarity as to who God is. See Psalm 10v 16-18; 22v3-5 as well as in Psalm 13

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.

So my first suggestion on healthily dealing with disappointment is to be honest – tell a friend; pray; even write your own psalm.

 

WRITTEN BY TONY THOMPSON

tonyt

Tony is the leader of Hope Church Luton.  He works full time for the church and is married to Anne and they have 2 sons.