Sunday, April 7, 2013

What Difference Does It Make, If Any At All?

Obey the prompting, in faith, and it'll all work out.  God promises to replace, in this world, in our present lives, what we feel we may miss.  I know because it has happened to me several times.

Once when I threw away a paperback book because some of the content would turn my mind away from the good things of God, an amazing thing happened.  I think the book was a Christian romance.  The main character had a flashback about erotic details of a previous relationship.  Because of that, there was the potential of similar flashbacks occurring in the story.  I had read about 1/3 of it, and wanted to learn the end.

I felt in my spirit that I didn't need to know the end.  I tried to convince myself that I could finish the book, glossing over any more flashbacks, but decided to toss it anyway.  It was not easy since my curiosity was so strong, and it almost stuck to my hand as I tossed it in the round file.

Satisfied, I still lamented that I'd have to find and start a new book right away.  The very next day, as I walked into the foyer of the community outreach where I helped out, there was a pile of hardback books on the donation table, where clothing usually was.  Loving the written word, I advanced to the table and saw that the dust jackets were similar paintings of town scenes. I'd never heard of Jan Karon and read on the back of one that it was a Christian novel, and that this author was a Christian.

The seven volumes were a series, with the first one titled At Home In Mitford.  I felt excitement rise, and feeling that it was too good to be true, I asked anyway.  As I held my breath, because I wanted them so badly, I was told that they were free, that I could take what I wanted.  I almost tip-toed to the table, nervous that someone would rush out and prevent me from claiming such a wonderful gift.  As I piled them into my arms, I knew that they were a reward from my God, for my obedience, not sacrifice, to his Spirit.

Ms. Karon had written 2-3 more in her wonderful series about Pastor Tim.  They are about a clean Christian romance, with comedy and drama, and spiritually encouraging.  I would say that I got a seven times return on my investment, wouldn't you?  I eventually checked the others out at the library.

The thing is that God didn't need me to give up that book, but it strengthened me.  It also helped me to understand a little more about who God is.  He does not take things from us, and jerk us around.  If his Spirit nudges us to do or not do, it will help us, not cheat us. 

Obeying the prompting of the Spirit is vital in every area,  regarding associations with others, things, thoughts, circumstances, plans, pursuits, everything.  Spiritually, and therefore technically, we cannot accurately choose of what to deny ourselves.  The Holy Spirit pinpoints the things which daily should be denied.

Samuel, a prophet, priest and judge, knew that obedience is always better than sacrifice.  Sacrifice is generally something we have chosen to give up, so we don't feel very much tension about it.  We feel pious.  When we obey God's prompting, it may feel uncomfortable, or even painful at first.  It is certain however, that we'll be strengthened and righteous, rather than pious.  Our sacrificial choices bring fleshly joy and no lasting significance.  What God asks us to do/not will result in spiritual joy and eternal significance.
Allow God to daily chose the sacrifices, obey the prompting of the Spirit and choose strength.  You'll be storing up valuables in heaven, where they will not become obsolete or stolen.  Your heart will be for things of God, helping you to lose your attachment to non-beneficial things in this world.

Don't focus on denying, because often failure comes through denying.  It's founded upon our fleshly strength, which is weak.  The spirit of man is willing.  The flesh is weak.  Just listen, and obey.  That's founded upon the power of God through his Spirit, which is strong.  If we can remember that God always has our best interest at heart, we'll listen and obey much more often, and not waste time on picking what to sacrifice.  Jesus Christ was the ultimate sacrifice for everything.  We don't have to do that anymore.

Luke 9:23
I Sam. 15:22
Matt 6:19-21
Col. 3:2 
Luke 9:24

Books by Jan Karon at Amazon

Image Credit: midnightlounge


Angela said...

Sandi, what a lovely blog! I agree 100 percent with the content of this post. Obedience is always better than sacrifice. So many times we miss out on God's blessings because we're not willing to obey. Great post!

Artsy Craftery Design Studio said...

Thanks for visiting Angela. And we miss out also because often we're too busy deciding what to lay on the altar next.

Thanks for your kind compliments too, and God bless you as you draw nigh to him every day.

Pam Williams said...

Jan Karon is one of my very favorite authors. As a pastor's wife, I especially enjoyed the trials and tribulations Father Tim faced. (And I would love to have a piece of Esther Bolick's Orange Marmalade cake!)
Great message you are sending out today about the difference between denying and obeying. Thank you!
Pam at 2 Encourage

Artsy Craftery Design Studio said...

Hi Pam: So nice to see you here. Yes I so sorry to finish that series. I even read the Christmas trilogy and another one. Yeah that orange cake almost sent Father Tim into a diabetic coma, didn't it? He looked at a piece and bit it. To keep looking is often the beginning of our downfall, right, lol!

Thanks for compliment. Obedience is really easier than sacrifice. It just FEELS harder sometimes, don't you think?