If, Then; July 3, 2019

Deuteronomy 11:13-14 So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul—then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil.

We often lose sight of the fact that the vast majority of the promises in the Bible are conditional. It’s not that we could ever earn all of God’s goodness to us, much less eternal life itself, but we can certainly cut ourselves off from all of that by our rebellion and disobedience. We want God to be like Santa Claus, who supposedly “knows if we’ve been bad or good” but gives us stuff regardless. God (not Santa) is genuinely omniscient, knowing everything, and He is also totally righteous and holy; we can’t pull anything over on Him. He loves to do good things for us His children, but He also knows what is genuinely best for us, and spoiling us rotten certainly doesn’t fill that bill. Perhaps the most precious thing He’s given us is our free will, but we have to be trained in using that correctly. (Hebrews 5:14) That’s where all His conditional promises come in. It is precisely because God wants us to be happy, mature, satisfied, fulfilled, and all of that, that He tells us to choose for ourselves those things, those actions, that lead to those desirable outcomes. Every one of His commands has that purpose, but we have to choose to obey. As John said, “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:3-4) If we believe God enough to obey Him, regardless of what the devil, the world, and even our own senses and intellect tell us, then we will experience victory beyond our wildest imaginations.

Well! I’m certainly preaching to myself this morning! Looking back over my life I can see countless times I’ve made major choices, both good and bad, but I realize that I’ve made far more unconscious choices, and often those have the bigger impact. That said, the unconscious choices generally start from deliberate choices, like my choice to start every day with the Bible and prayer. That’s now automatic, and I feel considerable frustration when things get in the way. As a pastor, I desire to instill the habit of right choices in each of the believers. However, they have to choose to receive instruction! That’s where coaching can be very helpful, because it focuses on helping the one coached to recognize things themselves, and not be spoon-fed instruction. With my Teacher gifting, that takes some deliberate choices on my part! However, James gives us a very encouraging promise: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5) By God’s grace I continue to discover how much I lack wisdom, and I have certainly found James’ words to be true.

Father, thank You for this reminder. I constantly need Your wisdom for my own life and for the sake of those to whom I minister. I pray that by Your Spirit I would make the right choices, in full obedience to You, for Your will to be done for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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