OBEDIENCE

During the Christmas season we may think about gifts, Santa, sleigh bells, cookies, music and joy.

To those that are believers Christmas day is also a day to remember what Christ did for us. So powerful was the day he was born that angels rejoiced, filling the heavens with song.

As powerful as that was, his life of obedience overshadowed it. While on this earth he set people free from sickness and death, replacing those strongholds with hope and joy.  Still more incredible was the death he endured taking on all our sins, all our sickness to the pit of hell with him and leaving them there. It was in his death that he became victorious, rising to new life, so that we might live forever with him.

All of these events melted down to his obedience to his heavenly Father. He often stated that he only did the things his heavenly Father told him to do. At any time he could have called legions of angels from heaven to fight the battle for him. It would have been more epic than any war in history or any Hollywood movie attempting to portray the battle of good vs evil.

Instead, the angels prepared for battle, alert and with swords drawn, keeping their eyes focus on Jesus. They waited and watched as the Son of God laid down his life for each of us. His life was not taken, he gave it. He gave it because of his ultimate love of the Father; his ultimate love for us. He didn’t want to endure that cross.

BUT…he said to his Father in desperate prayer, “Not my will, but yours be done!”

“During his life on earth, Jesus prayed to God, who could save him from death. He prayed and pleaded with loud crying and tears and he was heard because of his devotion to God. Although Jesus was the Son of God he learned to be obedient through his sufferings.” Hebrew 5:7-8 (GWT)

We will not be void of suffering in this world. But in the end, obedience will be the only way to bring real joy.

“He saw the JOY set ahead of him, so he endured the death of the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him.” Hebrews 12:2 (GWT)

Obedience is a word that is peppered throughout the Word. It is a key that unlocks the joy that Christ desires for each of us. But sometimes it feels like death to obey.

Joseph obeyed and took Mary as his wife, although he did not really understand. Several times he obeyed and moved Mary and Jesus because Jesus’ life was being sought from the day of his birth. His obedience saved our Savior.

It isn’t easy to obey when you feel left out. Everyone wants to belong. It isn’t easy when you look strange or weird because everyone wants to be accepted.

I am sure it wasn’t “easy” for Noah to build an ark when there was no water. People mocked him and surely thought he was crazy. But he and his household were saved.

It wasn’t easy for Joseph to obey and run from a woman who tried to seduce him, losing all that he had because of a lie. Nor was it easy for him to see his brothers after so many years apart and forgive them for selling him into slavery. But because of his obedience he saved a nation from starvation.

It definitely wasn’t easy for Jonah to tell the people of Nineveh to repent. In fact he didn’t obey at first and found himself in the belly of a huge fish or sea creature. But later, because of his obedience, the nation repented of their ways.

Ananias obeyed the Lord and laid his hands on Saul (who became Paul) to receive his sight again. Just days earlier this man was rounding up followers of the Lord to be killed. Through Ananias’ obedience Paul did receive his sight, was baptized, filled with the Holy Spirit and immediately spread the gospel, writing many books of the Bible.

Obedience is a key.

So today, who do you obey? Do you listen to the voices of a people who pressure you or do you obey the Lord? Each person has to give an account whether they choose to obey their Lord. Even in America, the land of the free, we see people who stand alone trying to obey their Lord. Remember the lady who decided not to give out marriage license to people of the same-sex? She was mocked and ridiculed and called names. But she felt she had to obey her Creator instead of the overwhelming crowds. People also have lost their businesses in similar cases. Obedience to their belief over road what society believes as truth.

But that is nothing.

I just read on social media about a pastor and his wife from China who have been thrown into prison for not abiding by the governing laws regarding their beliefs. It isn’t that they did a horrific act of disobedience. It was that they chose to obey God over manmade rules. This is going on in several countries that disregard freedom of religion. Some are beaten, some are killed and yet the faith of Jesus Christ prospers in the face of persecution because of obedience.

Daniel did the same thing and was thrown into the lion’s den. The king was amazed that his God protected him from the lions and worshipped the God who can close the mouths of lions.

You might ask why a God of love would allow people to walk to their deaths. I don’t have all the answers but I do know that he gives grace and mercy to those who ask for it. I also know that he desire that all people are saved from the fires of hell. Only he understands what our act of obedience will do for each of us and for those who witness our walk. Perhaps it will save a soul.

Not everyone will give their lives for our Lord. But each of us will come to a crossroad where we will need to decide if we are going to obey our Lord. Do we mean it when we state that we are believers? Or is our lives filled with mushy compromise? I am asking myself this question, too. I am not saying something that the Lord isn’t already asking me. When the heat goes up (and it will) will we walk away from our Lord?

We celebrate Christmas with a world that really may not understand the power of its meaning. Some celebrate while enjoying freedom. Others may not have freedom, but celebrate the freedom that Christ can bring.

During this holiday season, I pray that you will come to know the God of creation and understand that he loves you. And if you already are a believer, I pray that this next year will be one that will draw you closer to your Lord.

Remember the old hymn, “Trust and Obey”, written in 1887 by John H Sammis. The refrain goes:

“Trust and obey for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

How true that statement is!

God bless and have a Merry Christmas.

 

 

 

Will you obey?

I want to share a written testimony from a friend of a family member. Though this is a season of thanksgiving, this is not a testimony of thanksgiving, but a testimony of obedience to the Lord which eventually leads to thanksgiving. Obedience is powerful and sometimes difficult, but ALWAYS rewarding. I hope this stirs your heart as it stirred mine.

So my life has been crazy these last few months. My wife and I took a huge step of faith, and answered God’s calling on our hearts to leave Alaska. Everything about what we’ve been doing has been a huge unknown. All we knew for sure was that God was asking us to leave.

We thought selling all our stuff was going to be the hard part. OMG was I wrong! Traveling 14,000 miles across the country, grasping at straws trying to make sense of everything. Asking God is this it, is it that, what is it you want us to do?!?

Seemingly not getting any answers, just going off gut instinct that we should keep going. I personally felt lost, hopeless, and to be quite frank I was starting to doubt his existence.

I remember sitting in Dallas, Texas arguing with my wife telling her “I’m done, I’m freaking done. There’s no hope, he hasn’t said crap, this has been a huge sham, I’m done.” I found a place I really enjoyed, and was ready to just give up and move to Ft. Collins, Co.

Even though I was fed up, and felt like there weren’t going to be any answers. I still had this sick feeling in my stomach that we had to keep going. So I took one last step of faith, and said Screw It! I’m going to Orlando. If I’m going to do this, I’m going to have fun.

About a third of the way there, on a Saturday, this band I’m sharing with you,
(Give Thanks to God—Housefires) popped in my head. I told Lacey “this band I really like, they’re in Atlanta, how far of a drive is that, can we make it there for Sunday service?” My wife told me it was about 500 miles, I said, “screw it let’s go.” We drove through the night, though we were tired we made it! And it was amazing! It was like the word was tailored just for us.

After church we drove to Charleston, SC then on to Charlotte, NC to visit Lacey’s aunt and uncle. Two amazing people of God, gave us incredible words of wisdom. Decided, ok God we are going back to Ft. Collins.

Then the night before we were going leave, I said to Lacey “what about that church in Atlanta?” “How much would it add to our trip to go back to ATL?” To attend that church again. To both of our delights she said, “It’ll only add an hour to our trip!”

On the way to ATL I said to my wife, “what about ATL?” She said, “not a snowballs chance in hell am I moving to ATL!” I guess she really didn’t like it.

When we got there something amazing happened. God spoke to me. The one thing I’ve been begging him to do this whole friggin’ time, he finally friggin’ did it! He told me clear as day, “you can go back to Colorado, and you won’t disappoint me, but I want you here, the choice is yours.”

And apparently God spoke to my wife too, because at the end of the service she was balling looked me square in the face and said, “Well I guess we’re moving to ATL!”

We had decided together that it would be best to leave ATL and see if our hearts would change. So, we went to Florida to swim with the manatees. Didn’t see any manatees, but our resolve hadn’t wavered.

So, we went back to ATL and said, God this is it, we’re all yours! To which the reply was a big fat NOTHING! My initial reaction was to get angry! “Are you effing serious right now, I can’t believe you’d give me a glimmer of hope and just tell me to piss off!”

I was starting to feel hopeless again. Starting to doubt if what I heard was really God. I could have sworn it was him. I do not make this stuff up, I heard him clear as day.

Well about another week had past and my doubt is building. I’m back to feeling hopeless. Mind you I never really told any of my family or my friends what I was doing. Because I was certain that they would think that I was flippin’ nuts! So in all this, I felt alone. With the exception of my brother Pete, and my Wife. I felt lost and alone. ATL is a big city with over 5 million people and I didn’t know a soul.

Well, my Wife was going to a mother’s ministry at the church. I guess she lost it, she spilled the beans that we were for lack of better words homeless in Atlanta. That lead us to meeting Lisa a lovely lady at the church. We told her that we were contemplating skipping out of town to persue job opportunities in Colorado. She prayed over us and told other people about us and asked them to pray for us too.

That leads us to Gregory. Oh, Gregory you were personally my biggest step of faith!

I met Gregory at Amelies a French bakery in midtown. I didn’t find out till later that he practically lives there. Lisa from the women’s ministry put us in touch with him, and told us “Gregory has a word from God and that word is stay in Atlanta God wants to use you in a big way.”

So I had to meet this man who wanted me to stay. I need to see this man for myself. I need to size him up and make for 100% sure he is not full of crap. I met him, and he was 100% legit. He was absolutely on fire for the Lord. Ok Gregory, I’m going to trust you. And I’m going to trust that this is God.

I go to leave the bakery and I hear God again clear as day just like before. “Give that man your laptop” I said what? He said, clear as day! “Give him your camera.” To which I replied you’ve lost your mind, I’ve gone crazy! What God? which one is it the laptop or the camera? Not that I’m giving him either. I can’t believe I’ve lost my mind.

I’m standing by my jeep in the middle of this parking lot befuddled. “Really God I can’t believe you’re going to make me give up my prized possessions. No I ain’t doin’ it!

I go to get in my jeep and God says to me and I quote “DON’T YOU DARE DO THIS! NOT WHEN YOU’VE COME THIS FAR!” WHOA! Mind you I’m still pretty sure I’ve lost my flipping mind. Tell you what God, I’ll just go ask him if it is you he’ll tell me and I’ll know for certain.

So l go back in that bakery, and I ask this strange man I’ve never met before 30 minutes ago. “WHAT IS IT THAT YOU WANT?”

You should have seen the look on his face! “God told me you want something, what is it?”

Still looking utterly confused Gregory stammers, “well I have been praying to God for a new laptop.” Stopped him right there, and told him to follow me. He followed me to my jeep and I gave it to him, I just gave this strange brown man my laptop.

Gregory was ecstatic, I was feeling pretty good about myself. He took his laptop and I went on my merry way. Still totally confused. But screw it I’m all in. Gregory sends us a message inviting us to his house church. Told us he wanted to introduce us to his people.

We decide to get a hotel because we hadn’t showered in a couple days and I can’t even process what’s just happened. Let alone think about anything. And God spoke to me again.

“I TOLD YOU TO GIVE HIM YOUR CAMERA!”

“Umm, Lacey I think I screwed up, I think God wanted me to give him my camera too.” She said, “Are you sure honey, I really don’t feel like God is asking you to do any of this.” I told her “of course I’m sure I’ve never been more sure about anything.” “Tell you what, we’ll fleece it. If God wants me to give this man a camera, then make this evening about a camera.”

We prayed over it, and go to this house church function that Gregory invited us to. SWEET BABY JESUS! The whole evening was about Gregory and his dang photography ministry he’s embarking on. You have to be kidding me! Needless to say I pulled Gregory aside and told him God told me to give him my camera too, but I was holding it back.

It’s amazing! What those two acts of obedience did. I obeyed God and because of that, God is starting to open doors. I now have a church family, more friends than I’ve ever had in Alaska. I have a place to call home. And Atlanta is really starting to grow on me. I have no idea what God is doing, but I’m sure it’s going to be great!

I am so happy to call Grace Midtown my home. God is definitely doing amazing things here!

P.s. I told God my only steadfast requirement for a church is a worship service that is on fire with the holy ghost. And he delivered!

I’ve been embarrassed to talk about this, but I feel that God is asking me to. And I’m going to obey him. Because this is what I am. #iamsecond #gracemidtown #housefires #ermagerdburbbles

God bless each and every one of you.

If you’re so inclined please share my testimony — Gerald Wright

“But I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you.”
Jeremiah 7:23 (NIV)

May you be reminded of several reasons to be thankful this holiday season. And may you also reap the rewards that follow obedience in Christ.

God bless