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Obedience of Faith

If_You_Love_Me_Keep_My_Commands_John_14:15

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I just started classes this week specifically devoted to studying the book of Romans in context as well as a class about the book of Acts.  They both already have individual categories under Bible Study. That’s your “head’s up.”

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bing about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to be saints” (Romans 1:1-6 ESV)

As I was reading this, one phrase in particular jumped out at me: “obedience of faith” (v. 5).  Faith means trusting that God knows what is best for you better than you do.  Then, in that trust, you must submit to God’s plan for your life.  We have to be able to simply obey Him and His Word.  No, it’s not always easy, in fact most of the time obedience to God will be the harder path to take.  However, obedience to God is always the right choice. 

 

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The most simple way this is stated in the Bible is found in John:

“If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15 NIV)

These are the words of our Savior Himself.  Please don’t skim over them.  A relationship with Jesus starts with falling in love with Him, but Jesus came to give us new life here and now.  That new life is abundant because it doesn’t involve worldly things.  Look at the example of the early church and see how drastic the life change was.  We are not to continue living however we please and expect that whenever we die we will be in heaven with Him.

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What obedience looks like for each one of us may honestly look different.  Some actions, mentioned in various places throughout the Bible, are clearly disobedience.  Others may not be so clear.  Let me give you an example: I’ve written before about feeling God calling me to be a pastor.  I initially felt that call during my sophomore year of high school and honestly I completely ignored what God was calling me to do and focused on my plans and my goals for my life.  It took me three years to finally accept God’s calling for my life and be okay with it.  It still makes me really nervous just thinking about it.  But the entire time that I was chasing my own dreams instead of following His will for my life, I was disobeying Him.  I was still saying no to His plans and yes to mine.  But at that time I had zero contentment in my spirit about what I was going to do and would constantly say “I wish I knew what I was going to do with my life” even though I thought I had it all figured out.  The second I made the decision to accept that God’s plans for my life are so much better than mine and to trust Him with my career path, that contentment that I lacked was there.

So for me, obedience in that area of my life didn’t require a change of schools or even a change of major but instead a change of heart and a willingness to go wherever God takes me.

I don’t know what obedience needs to look like in your life right now, but you probably do.  If you truly don’t, just pray about it and ask God to show you what area of your life you need to trust Him with.

 

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Watch Out for Ticks

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I was supposed to do a mud run yesterday but because my truck broke down and I have been sick for a week and a half I decided it would be best to better prepare myself for a future mud run.  However, as the name implies, you get pretty muddy during a mud run.  So I had gotten myself pretty excited about getting really muddy and was rather disappointed that I was missing out on that.

As somewhat of a consolation, I talked my mom into walking a muddy horse trail at a local park with my dog yesterday instead. Great idea, not! 😉 My shoes are covered in mud, I had mud halfway up my calves and so did Toby. Even worse: when we were almost out of the wooded area of the trail I looked down and had a tick crawling on my finger.  Yuck!  The worst part: Toby had not one, but two on him.

Ticks are parasitic; they bite and then live off their “host.”  The host can then develop Lyme Disease if the tick was infected with it. Lyme can affect any organ in the body and have a detrimental affect on the tick’s host.

What does this have to do with our relationship with God?

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Just as ticks may “seem” harmless; we know they’re not because they can carry a disease that could seriously harm our bodies.  Some of these sins are more obviously harmful than others, but some may not seem so blatantly harmful; but they are detrimental.  They, just like a tick, will “bite” and continue to swell as long as you allow them to have that power.  Things like envy, anger, jealousy, strife, and idolatry may not seem like sin at first because they do not immediately take over your life.  However, once you allow these sins into your life, the devil will continually take more and more of your attention from God by using these things.  Sin is parasitic! 

If you watch out for spiritual “ticks” constantly, you will be able to, through the Holy Spirit, get rid of that sin before it overtakes your life.  Don’t even let the “tick” bite.

“If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth” (1 John 1:6 NIV).

Live Out Truth, Not Lies

The devil wants you to live a sinful life because he is a liar, he wants you to go against God’s will for your life and give in to sin.  Don’t; trust that God knows best and is Truth.

“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!” (Romans 6:15 NIV).

Right after Paul explained what not to do, he tells the church in Galatia what kind of behaviors the Holy Spirit produces; not by our power, but His. When we are saved by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, it’s not only about Him saving us, it’s also about Him changing us. Jesus came not only to save us but to change us.  He left so that the Holy Spirit could come and change us. A Spirit-filled life is the only way to live a full and abundant life; the life Jesus came to give.

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“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things” (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT)

The fruit of the spirit indicates a Spirit-filled individual.  Not one of us can constantly maintain those qualities without the help of the Holy Spirit. We will all still fail, but as we grow in our relationship with the Lord, the fruit of the Spirit should be evident.

Liked this post? Go check of my other favorites:

Silent Saturday

Jesus Time

Don’t Follow Your Heart

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What Is Separation of Church and State?

SeparationChurchStateQuote_Owens

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I had to write a discussion board post for school regarding legal issues in a public school setting and I really just had to share because I believe that we need to be reminded what the real intentions of Separation of Church and State were.  Here’s my post:

“A coach participates as a club advisor in Fellowship of Christian Athletes-led activities held on school properties.”

In a case in which a church organization is ministering in a public setting, the original intent of the phrase “separation of church and state” needs to be examined. According to Owens in “Separation of Church and State,” “The doctrine of the separation of church and state was conceived primarily to keep the state out of the church, not the church out of the state” (Owens, 2001). By this, Owens describes the original intent of the concept of separation of church and state, which was to protect the church from persecution and from being limited by the government to practice the religion of the state or hide the practicing of religion. This came from a people who had just been persecuted for their Christian faith in England. It was fresh in their minds and therefore, they would not allow the same thing to occur in the new country that they were working to develop: the United States. Thomas Jefferson, in his letter to the Banbury Baptist Association of Connecticut, wrote “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State” (El-Mallakh, 2007). Jefferson was addressing a church body on the fact that their right to exercise their religious beliefs would remain intact.” Biblically, people of faith were in political positions often, so the idea that the church should not have influence over the state is new and definitely not a Biblical idea. Throughout the Bible, prophets, judges, and kings all exerted strong influence over their nation even when the nation had strayed from following the Lord. When the judges of the nation of Israel were chosen, they were reminded, “‘Always think carefully before pronouncing judgment. Remember that you do not judge to please people but to please the LORD. He will be with you when you render the verdict in each case. Fear the LORD and judge with integrity, for the LORD our God does not tolerate perverted justice, partiality, or the taking of bribes” (2 Chronicles 19:6-7 NLT). Although the Biblical example is strong for church political influence, Owens continues: “Yet that has been, and will continue to be, the primary effect of this policy–the “church” will remove itself more and more from developing a strong, prophetic public witness in relation to the ‘state’ The shortage of religious leaders who will take the risk of speaking truth to power is critical enough, but it is truly tragic when the development of such a voice is rendered impossible by cozy financial relationships with the powers themselves” (Owens, 2001).
Although in the case of a coach participating as an advisor in Fellowship of Christian Athletes activities on school campus, they should be permitted to do so through the original intent of the wording of “separation of Church and State,” they would most likely not be allowed or they would be afraid of getting in some sort of trouble for doing so.

References
El-Mallakh, O. (2007). Separation of Church and State: the myth. Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table. Retrieved from http://p2048-ezproxy.liberty.edu.ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=vic_liberty&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA192639837&sid=summon&asid=b4be56524cfaab4a87503bb2a940c8c5
Owens, R. F. (2001). Separation of Church and State. (Issues). Social Policy, 32(1), 45+. Retrieved from http://p2048-ezproxy.liberty.edu.ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/ps/i.do?p=GRGM&sw=w&u=vic_liberty&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA81005828&sid=summon&asid=d0dff31fe69a509886c8faeecc8efded

But is that the way it feels? That this concept was meant to help the church not to hurt it?Absolutely not! The church needs to be aware that Separation of Church and State not meant to harm us. It’s supposed to protect us from government interference in the church; the exact opposite of what it’s currently doing. This does not mean that Christians should not serve in public offices: they should! There are plenty of biblical examples of this, and our nation and world needs Godly  people in office.