You Obey the One You Fear

Here is an insightful post by Jon Bloom on our need to fear God. If we do not have a Biblical fear of God then there is nothing that will move us to obey Him.

Bloom writes:

At the root of insecurity — the anxiety over how others think of us — is pride. This pride is an excessive desire for others to see us as impressive and admirable. Insecurity is the fear that they won’t, but instead they will see us as deficient. As King Saul1 shows us, it’s a dangerous fear because insecurity can lead to great disobedience.


Samuel’s heart was broken and heavy as he neared Saul’s camp at Gilgal. Israel’s first king had failed so soon and so seriously.

  And Samuel was tired. He’d been up all night prayerfully mourning the Lord’s words, “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.”

And he was angry. The Lord had already severely disciplined Saul for officiating the burnt offering2 when he knew it transgressed the Law. But God had been gracious in giving him another chance by sending him to carry out judgment on the Amalekites. The instructions could not have been clearer. They had not been obeyed.

  The old prophet trembled at the word he must deliver to an armed king who feared public humiliation more than the Holy One.

  Saul was all smiles when he saw Samuel. “Blessed be you to the Lord. I have performed the commandment of the Lord.”

Samuel had to bite his tongue. “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?”

Saul felt immediately exposed. Alone he had figured that fudging some on the instructions really wouldn’t matter. But now he knew he had gravely presumed. He fumbled for words. “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the Lord your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.”

This was a smoke screen. “Stop!” Samuel cried. He could not bear Saul trying to cover disobedience with cosmetic righteousness. Nor his cowardly hiding behind the people. “I will tell you what the Lord said to me this night.”

Saul was defensive in his guilt. “Speak,” he said with a bravado disguise.

“Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. And the Lord sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord?”

Then looking over at the plump livestock, the price of Saul’s kingdom, Samuel said, “Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?”

Saul was defiant in his denial. “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”

Samuel just hung his head in disappointment. And he shook it with a subtleness that stung Saul as much as anything the prophet had said…yet.

  With teary eyes on the ground, 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. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.”

Samuel then paused and caught his breath. Slowly he looked up into Saul’s guilt-shy eyes. “Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”

Saul nervously glanced at the wordless watching men around him. He was sweating. “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.”


Saul is a sober reminder to us that we obey the one we fear. He feared the people — he loved his reputation — and despised God. Being little in our own eyes can be either righteous or ruinous. It’s righteous if we see God as big and us as small. This actually frees us from fear. But it’s ruinous if the approval of man is what’s big to us because it always leads to disobeying God.

When we fail in this area, and all of us do at some point, God calls us not to remorse but to repentance. Saul was remorseful, but not repentant. He pursued the god of his own glory over the God who gave him that glory right to his death on Mount Gilboa. And he became lethally paranoid with insecurity.

So let us repent of our insecurities and say with Peter and the disciples, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). For the wise and humble “fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).


1This meditation is taken from 1 Samuel 15.

I Am the Vine…

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15.1-11 NASB).

God is glorified when we produce fruit consistently like that Jesus exhibited while He walked among us. Abiding in the Father allowed Jesus to produce God-glorifying fruit. If we are to do the same, we must abide in Christ.

What does it mean to “abide in Christ?” Jesus gave us a beautiful word picture in John 15.5, “I am the vine, you are the branches…” Branches that produce fruit abide in, or are connected to the vine or the tree. Have you ever seen a branch on the ground after a big storm? The morning after the storm the leaves are still green, but they won’t stay that way for long. The nutrients needed from the tree have been cut off and the branch is now on its own. In truth, the branch is already dead, and within a few days its decay will become obvious to the naked eye.

When we try to live our lives without abiding in or being connected to Christ, this is what happens to us. We may look okay on the outside, but we have lost the vital connection which allows the Spirit of Christ to work through us to transform us into His image. We may be able to fool people of our condition by following moral expectations; however, before long the spiritual decay within will become obvious to everyone. Eventually we will look spiritually just like a branch torn from the tree—dry, withered, and dead.

Abiding in Christ is dependence on Christ. It is depending on Him for our direction, provision, protection, and transformation. It is a life-giving relationship in which we live and move and have our being in Christ. When we abide in Him we produce the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5.22-23). This fruit is not given to us for our enjoyment. It is given for us to share with those who are in need. It is given that the recipients might see our good works, turn to God, be forgiven, and then they too can abide in Christ.

Sometimes, when we get to focusing on the storms of life, we forget to spend the necessary time abiding in Christ. Eventually become weak, weary, and wonder why we are feeling so overwhelmed. If we take time to reconnect with the Vine we will be rejuvenated and restored to a fruitful God-glorifying life. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15.5).

The Nearest Battle

Want to be a winner? Compete against yourself, not somebody else. Beating your partner at golf doesn’t mean you shot your best game. Outrunning your rival doesn’t mean you ran your best race. You can win over another and still not fulfill your potential. It’s true in all of life. To be your best, you must compete with yourself. It’s life’s biggest contest.

A loser is a winner—however many his losses—if he conquers himself. A winner is a loser—however many his victories—if he loses the battle with himself. Alexander the Great conquered the world, and cursed his own lack of self-control.

Victory over others may in fact be the very thing that contributes to the winner’s failure to conquer self. Winning makes him proud, arrogant, independent, thoughtless—and sometimes cruel. To put it another way, it isn’t what happens to you that makes the difference, but how you handle it.

The one who stops maturing spiritually because he thinks he knows more Scripture than others or has had more success in ministry, is still far from being what Christ has planned for him.

If you compare yourself with another, compare yourself with Christ. Let Him mold and fashion your life into the full potential, the divine original He intends.

Source: Richard C. Halverson, Former Chaplain of the United States Senate

Living the Dream

This morning on my way to the church I heard this song. It put a smile on my face as I considered the song’s message. Life is quite different from what I dreamed it would be thirty years ago in highschool; nevertheless, I am living the dream!

I hope this uplifting song puts a spring in your step, a smile on your face, and moves you to go out today and live the dream.

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

While I was on vacation back in June I read the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18.9-14). The introduction of the parable clarifies the point Jesus was trying to make, “He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt…” Jesus was talking to those who define themselves as superior believers because of their acts of righteousness. They do all the right things—tithe, study the Bible, pray, attend worship, practice the spiritual disciplines, as well as other things expected from those who call themselves Christians. So, what is the problem? It is their attitude. They do everything to show how deserving they are of God’s salvation. They look down on those who do not measure up to their definition of holiness.

I have to admit, there have been times in my life when I have played the part of the Pharisee. I have observed the life of others and looked down my nose at their unworthiness to come into God’s presence. There have been times when I figured I must make God proud to call me one of His children. Of course this all happened in my younger Christian days. I mean I would never have this type of arrogant attitude after being a Christian for over thirty-eight years, right? Unfortunately, if you are like me you fight pride and arrogance every day. It takes great humility and discipline to look at others as equals and not lesser humans because of their sinfulness.

God taught me a great lesson this summer that has helped keep my pride and arrogance in check. As I get alone with God to pray, I try to always begin with the prayer of the tax collector, “God, be merciful to me a sinner” (Lk 18.13). It is important to remember that I am always the sinner, and Jesus is always the Savior! My righteousness is as filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64.6); however, when I abide in Christ, His righteousness works in and through me to produce fruit for His glory and not mine (John 15.4).

When I remember that it is Christ working through me I have a different attitude toward those who are not abiding in Christ. I want to share with them why certain actions, attitudes, and aspirations are wrong. It is when I abide in Christ that I can approach those living in sin as someone who understands being tempted on a daily basis. I can approach them as someone who has walked in the same shoes, and yet, has been set free from the chains of self-righteousness and sin. I am moved by compassion to share with them the good news of Jesus and how He is able to change the life of those who place their faith in Him.

The truth is, if I try to help others live up to my measure of righteousness they are going to miss heaven. Living like Bob Pittenger will never save anyone. However, if I abide in Christ and live an example of a life changed by Jesus, then they too can experience His forgiveness, love, grace, and mercy. They too can learn to live a life of daily dependence on the finished work of Jesus Christ.

I would like to challenge you to try something new. As you have your prayer time today, try starting like the tax collector, “God, have mercy on me a sinner.” Life is so much sweeter when we go along justified in God’s eyes instead of our own.

Helpful Hints for Dealing with Conflict

Throughout our lives we are going to have to deal with conflict. There are those who love conflict so they have someone to straighten out. Others are so uncomfortable with conflict that they seek peace at all cost—which is not really peace. Then there are those who will put off dealing with conflict as long as possible.  None of these approaches to conflict are healthy or Biblical.

Perry Noble gives some helpful advice on how to be deal with conflict in our lives.

Noble writes:

#1 – Email DOES NOT WORK!  (This would also apply to texting as well as any form of social media!)   

When conflict use to arise with me and someone in the office I used to walk to my desk, log on to my computer and fire off an abusive email, several problems with this…

  • It is the act of a coward, I would do this so that I would avoid a eye to eye conversation.
  • It removes the fact that I am actually dealing with another person…if I type an email I don’t have to look them in the eye and removing that obstacle allows me to say things to them through typing that I would NEVER say to them in person.
  • It often drags out the conflict way longer that it should be.
  • It can easily be misinterpreted, thus causing new conflicts.

#2 – Handle Conflict Quickly – The Bible is VERY clear in Ephesians 4:25-26 that we are not to allow the sun to go down while we are angry.  If we allow something to fester inside of us what usually comes out of that is NEVER pretty.

#3 – Always Assume The Best About The People You Work With – If you don’t get anything else in this article then PLEASE get this, LOVE ALWAYS ASSUMES THE BEST ABOUT SOMEONE…ALWAYS!  If you hate/can’t stand the people you work with then THE BEST thing to do is to begin to ask the Lord, “what is wrong with MY OWN heart?”

#4 – Remember that Email Does Not Work! 

#5 – Stop Expecting People To Read Your Mind – Often times people have said something hurtful to me that they did not perceive as hurtful.  I would become angry with them and actually tell myself, “well, they should just know that hurt me!”  NEWS FLASH – THEY DON’T KNOW, and they won’t know unless I am man enough to look them in the eye (because email does not work), assume the best about them (which automatically assumes they didn’t mean to hurt me) and CALMLY walk them through why what they said wounded me.

#6 – Stop Waiting For Them To Approach You – If you know there is conflict and you know there is a problem to be solved but you are “waiting on the right time” or “waiting on them to come to me” then I would encourage you to read what Jesus said in Matthew 5:23-24.  Maturity is when a person is willing to seize responsibility instead of just waiting on something to happen.

#7 – Never, EVER Go Public When You Have Not Even Attempted To Talk In Private – Too often people take their conflicts online when they have never even attempted to handle them in a private matter (sort of goes against what JESUS actually said in Matthew 18:15 as the first step in dealing with conflict!)  People are way too quick these days to read/hear something that someone says and automatically fire off a tweet or blog post without ever attempting to have a conversation with the person that they assume “got it wrong,” causing them to feel like they need to be the savior of the world by jumping to conclusions and making accusations about things that they actually have zero knowledge of.

#8 – And finally, do not forget that Email does not work!