Stand Firm – Part II

“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming” I Peter 1:13 (NIV).

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Last time we talked, I wasn’t saying God doesn’t sometimes call us to take action.  Sometimes that action is in the form of fasting and praying for a specific amount of time (think about Esther who fasted and prayed along with her community for three days), sometimes it takes the form of fighting a specific battle (remember Joshua), and sometimes it take the form of stepping out in faith with an action (Peter stepping out the boat and walking on the water).

However, I like to remember the Israelites and how God used their story as a perfect example of how He wants us to live our lives.  He led them through the desert for forty years, giving them just enough instructions and provisions on a daily basis.  They were commanded to collect manna and/or quail every day (except for the Sabbath).  God led them with a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day.  They never knew when they would be instructed to pull up camp and walk, stop and set up camp, or how long they would be staying in a particular spot.  God was teaching them obedience and total dependence on Him.  He wanted to provide for His children.  He wanted them to learn that He loved them so fiercely He would do what it took to protect, defend, and provide for them.

So, when God gives us specific instructions from His word to take action, we’re being disobedient if we wait to be rescued.  And, if God instructs us to stand firm (as He did me), then I’m being disobedient by trying to use works to convince God to hear me louder.  I think God specifically told me to stand firm because He wanted me, like the Israelites, to learn He would supply for my needs.  It wasn’t what I did or didn’t do that made my prayers heard.  It’s what He did for me that allowed miracles to happen and provisions to be met.

The great thing about what I figured out?  He hears me just fine.  He heard me just fine last spring, He heard me all summer and all fall, and He still hears me loud and clear.  He didn’t punish me because I mistakenly took my obedience of godly things and turned them into a work instead of an act of love.  No, even while He was gently teaching me the life lesson about works versus grace, He continued to provide lovingly for our needs.  You see, God is pleased and it blesses Him when we fast, pray without ceasing, tithe regularly, and grow our faith.  But, our motivation for doing those things makes all the difference.  It’s all about our heart.

© 2013 Cheri Swalwell

 

2 thoughts on “Stand Firm – Part II

  1. You know I have also been struggling with performance and faith – resting in the knowledge that its not what I do that makes God bless me or hear my prayers. I also struggle with creating the balance of doing what I should do with the right heart and not wanting to do it for the sake of performance. Its really a tough place I find myself now and I just hope Id get out of it somehow someday.

    1. For me, reading in God’s Word that He wants me to obey but then understanding it’s not anything I do (obedience, reading my Bible, going to church, helping others) was a hard concept for me to understand. Yes, it says in the Bible that when we obey, it breaks down the walls and God is able to hear our prayers because there is nothing blocking that line of communication (no unforgiven sin) but once I learned that God wants my LOVE more than He wants my OBEDIENCE, it really started to make sense. When we give God our love, the one thing that is truly ours to withhold or give freely, then the obedience naturally follows out of a heart full of love. Does that make sense? It took me a while to really understand that. When I focus on loving God – spending time with Him, getting to know Him, understanding what He likes/doesn’t like, etc. then the obedience naturally comes easier. Not easy all the time, but easier.

      I pray, Yomi, that you will begin to understand in your heart as well as your head (it had to get into my heart before I completely understood the concept) how God wants our love more than He wants us to follow a set of rules. You’re already way ahead of so many by even thinking about and working through these issues with your Father. I hope you feel proud of yourself for taking the time to work through such an important (and freeing) concept. We’ll keep working on it together. 🙂 I know, for me, when I get really stressed or things are crazy or I’m facing something really tough, my default button is still “works”…but I’m getting faster and faster at recognizing that and remembering He wants my love.

      Blessings to you today – thanks for joining in the conversation.

      Cheri 🙂

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