When Jesus really has your “yes”

Acts 9:10-12 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.”

Saul of Tarsus was known by believers as one that tracked them down and had them thrown into prison. He was a man who hated their faith and their Savior. But he was a man who was chosen by God to be a messenger of the gospel. As Saul was headed to Damascus to imprison Christians, Jesus appeared to him and the glory of that encounter blinded him. For three days he sat in blindness, not eating or drinking, realizing that he had been persecuting the Messiah that he had longed for all his life.

Jesus had followers in Damascus. They knew of Saul and his desire to exterminate them. How many would have been too fearful to go anywhere near Saul? But there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias and the Lord was so convinced of this man’s “yes” to Him that He made that appointment for Ananias before He even approached the man about it. He knew Ananias would do whatever He asked so the Lord could tell Saul the very name of the man who would come pray for him.

How deep is your yes? Does it have limits? To whatever extent you put boundaries on your yes, to that degree you limit your ability to be useful to God.

Ananias got a mention in the word of God because of his yes and he had the honor of baptizing the apostle Paul!

Don’t miss out! Let your yes to Jesus be as big as His love for you!!

Because He said so

Genesis 3:3 “but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ “

For the first time, I read this and realized that Eve may not have known what death was. This was before the fall. There was no death. Animals didn’t kill each other. People didn’t eat them. The warning she was given lost its effectiveness because she didn’t understand its consequences.

This is often the case-we disobey God having very little understanding what the consequences of that disobedience might be. Nobody disobeys God thinking they will be the one to die from that sin, or get pregnant from that sin, or catch a disease from that sin. When our mind is contemplating sin, the flesh’s desire for satisfaction will drown out all thought of consequences.

When our obedience to God depends upon the severity of the consequences of disobedience, we live in a dangerous place. Like Eve, we don’t always have the complete picture of what the consequences might be. When we learn to obey God just because we love Him, the consequences of sin will be irrelevant in our consideration of how to act. “Because I said so” was extremely annoying and insufficient from a parent. It is more than enough when it comes from the mouth of God.

It’s not always practical

Revelation 2:20 “Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.

This was written to the church of Thyatira, a commercial city with many trade guilds (similar to a union). If you wanted to make a living in this city you had to be a member of one of these guilds. The guilds would regularly have a feast which the members were expected to attend. These gatherings would involve worship of pagan deities which included some form of sexual immorality as part of that worship. The woman who is called Jezebel was teaching the believers that it was okay to be a part of these meetings because it was necessary for them to be able to earn a living in the city. It was purely a practical thing. I’m sure that some of the things she said to the people were along the lines of “God knows that you are not there to worship any other gods, and he knows you have to provide for your family. “. And so she made allowances for the people to be involved in extreme ungodliness that would taint their testimony for Jesus and would most certainly taint their conscience.

Reading this passage reminded me of what Jeroboam said when he had the two golden calves built at Bethel and Dan:

1 Kings 12:28 Therefore the king asked advice, made two calves of gold, and said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!”

Sometimes being obedient to God can be very inconvenient and there will usually be voices telling you that it doesn’t take all that to serve God. We must reject those voices that counsel us in ways that are contrary to the word of God. We are called to be obedient, even when it seems impractical.

Just do what He says

Mark 1:40-45 Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed. And He strictly warned him and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” However, he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to Him from every direction.

I can understand the excitement of the leper. Who knows how long it had been since he was even able to approach anyone to talk to them. Now he has been cleansed and all the limitations of leprosy have been removed. I can imagine that it must have felt nearly impossible to keep quiet about it. But Jesus had stated his purpose just a few verses prior to this incident:

Mark 1:38 But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.

This is what Jesus had planned to do but because the leper had done what he was told not to do, Jesus had to change His plans and instead of going into the city He had to stay outside in deserted places. I’m sure this ex-leper had no idea that it would cause such problems. But what it comes down to is this….He is to be obeyed even when it runs contrary to all our feelings and desires and when we don’t even understand why it’s necessary. The problem today is that everybody wants to be blessed, but few want to be obedient. We need to just do what He says.

The destruction of a life

I watched a parable unfolding before my eyes…..

Every day on my way to work I pass by the Baton Rouge main library. Recently a new main library was built, making the old one unnecessary. One day I noticed that a fence had been built around the old building. Soon afterwards there were pieces of heavy equipment on site. Each day that I passed by there was less and less of the building standing. This week all that remains are piles of rubble that will soon be picked up and carried away to be disposed of.

Each day as I passed by the destruction of this building I thought on the destruction of a life. It very rarely happens all at once, but is a slow and subtle process, sometimes undetectable. But one little sin is allowed to remain in the life. The Holy Spirit deals with the heart, but this sin is enjoyed and clung to. So the life retains the sin….and the fence is built. It signifies the hardness that enters our heart as we resist the ministry of the Holy Spirit as He works to pry our hands off of that treasured sin. And this sin that we think we cannot live without, or perhaps view as insignificant, begins its work of destruction in our lives. Little by little, fellowship with God is torn down. Little by little, our desires for His word, His presence, His ministry into our lives becomes weaker. And little by little, sin destroys us until our life lies in ruins.

Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?  Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared? Proverbs 6:27-28

But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. James 1:14-16

The Lord would not have us be deceived…..sin brings forth death. Always. It can never do anything else. But Jesus offers LIFE!!

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10b

While sin appears desirable and pleasurable, we must remember that this is only an illusion. It is a lie! There may be pleasure in sin for a season, but there are pleasures at His right hand forevermore! It is an unbelievably short-sighted trade off when we treasure our sin rather than treasuring Jesus. Our glorious Christ has given us a gloriously complete salvation. He has freed us from the power of sin so that it is no longer our master. However sin will still come and invite us to serve it. Now we must choose. Today is a brand new opportunity for us to choose to treasure Jesus above everything else. This is the only reasonable choice!



Fighting our enemies

“However, Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth Shean and its villages, or Taanach and its villages, or the inhabitants of Dor and its villages, or the inhabitants of Ibleam and its villages, or the inhabitants of Megiddo and its villages; for the Canaanites were determined to dwell in that land.  And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Caanites under tribute, but did not completely drive them out.”  Judges 1:27-28

And the list continues of each tribe that did not drive out all the inhabitants of the land they were inheriting.

They had been warned by Joshua before his death that those peoples who were not driven out of the land would be “snares and traps to you, and scourges on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land which the Lord your God has given you.” Joshua 23:13

You would think that such a warning would have compelled them to fight until victory was complete.  But they didn’t.  They acheived a measure of success.  In fact they were probably mostly successful.  But they remained content with a job unfinished.  Maybe they just got tired of fighting and an enemy determined to stay in the land was a bit more than they felt like dealing with.  After all, if they could put the enemy under tribute, if they could keep that enemy under their control, wouldn’t that be good enough?


These people allowed to remain in the land were a continual cause of stumbling to Israel.  We would do well to learn a lesson from this.  That seemingly insignificant compromise that we tolerate and make a convenant of peace with is the compromise that will one day gain the strength to make all out war against our soul.  The command of God is that all foreigners (and what should be more foreign to the life of a blood-bought believer in Jesus than tolerance of sin and compromise) must be driven out and He has promised His own help.  The Spirit of the Lord Jesus, the ultimate overcomer, dwells in us, faithfully showing us those enemies and then empowering us to be free of them.  But we must rise up determined that none shall remain.  Those enemies you do not fight, you will live with.  So let us fight by taking hold of God in prayer.  Let us fight by clinging to the promises of His word.  Let us fight by a daily surrender of ourselves to the will of God.  Let us fight brothers and sisters, and never be content to merely keep those enemies suppressed.  But let us live in the glorious freedom purchased for us by our Lord Jesus.

A disciple unto death

Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go that we may die with Him.”  John 11:16

Jesus had recently been in Jerusalem and His words had caused such a stir that the Jews sought to stone Him (John 10:31,39)  Now He was speaking to His disciples of going back to Bethany which was very near Jerusalem.  His disciples were concerned because of the danger of going back there.  The fear that filled them even caused them to ignore the need of one dear to their group – Lazarus, who was very sick.  But Jesus had heard from the Father and knew there was a work to be done in Bethany.  As the disciples continued to argue with Him, He told them plainly that Lazarus was dead and then added, “let us go to him.”

Thomas, who is always known primarily as the doubter, has lost credibility with most of us and his words in verse 16, “let us also go that we may die with Him”, have been labeled as pessimism.  But not only has Jesus recently been in danger at the hands of violent men, he has also just said that they are going to Lazarus – a man that is in the grave.  What other conclusion could Thomas, or any of them, have come to.  They must have all felt that their very lives were in danger if they continued on with Jesus.  And it is Thomas that encouraged the group to look the consequences square in the eye and to move forward with Jesus anyway.  This is the level of commitment that a disciple is called to – to follow Jesus wherever He leads.  Even if it is to death.   And it is Thomas who reminded them of this.

Can we remind ourselves of this today?  Here in comfortable American Christianity, can we remind ourselves that Jesus still expects disciples unto death?  The death of martyrdom seems unlikely here, for the moment anyway, but does He not require of us a death to all the allurements and distractions of this world?  Does He not expect from us a detachment from the amusements and entertainments that the lost chase after?  If we were called upon to lay our lives down as martyrs, how could we ever do it if we have not first learned to lay down the remote control in favor of the prayer closet?

A life on fire – responsive

In considering the life of John the Baptist as an example of a life on fire, I would like to move on to the responsiveness of this life. “…the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.  And he went in to all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.”  Luke 3:2b-3

Notice these phrases – “the word of God came” “and he went”.  John didn’t sit around luxuriating in the warmth of a word from God.  He recognized that the word made a requirement of him.  The word came…and he went.  The word makes a requirement of us as well – obedience.

Somewhere after being born again, as we become more acclimated in the Christian environment, we can find ourselves receiving the word of God in a way other than how God meant for us to receive it.  Consider what was happening in the day of Ezekiel the prophet:

“As for you, son of man, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, ‘Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord.’  So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain.  Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them.” Ezekiel 33:30-32

These were the religious folks; happy to get together for church, ready to hear a message.  But they had no intention of allowing that word to impact their lives.  It was just their religious form of entertainment.  And it is just as prevalent in our day.  How many people do you know that run from church to church, conference to conference, book to book, always looking for the latest word in religion.  They aren’t necessarily just interested in the religious cotton candy that’s out there, but find an in-your-face message just as tasty.  However, the word is not allowed to nourish and bring growth to their inner man.  It makes its way to the belly and is eliminated without ever having affected the heart.   It is spiritual bulimia.

But those whose lives are on fire by God will listen with a heart to obey, to hear the very voice of God speaking to them through the message.  “Speak to me God!” is the cry of their heart, and they treasure one word from heaven over 10,000 messages from the most learned theologians.  Then, and only then, can they go with something to share with the world.

Oh let us hear!  Let us respond!  And let our hearts burn for His speaking!

To be continued…..

No Tears

Ezekiel 24 is a very difficult passage for me to understand.  The prophet’s wife died and the Lord did not allow him to grieve for her.  What must it have been like for Ezekiel to obey that command?  How is such a thing even possible?  But Scripture records “and at evening my wife died, and the next morning I did as I was commanded.”  Ezekiel 24:18

Even in his time of sorrow, the prophet was expected to represent the Lord and be faithful to his calling.  There are no vacations for those who have separated themselves to God. All of life becomes focused on presenting Him to and representing Him before lost humanity.

Lord, I am too easily moved by my emotions rather than your commands.  You would have me put your desires above my own, yet so often I do not.  I feel the need, and even the entitlement, to indulge my feelings.  Even when I know they run contrary to Your word.  This is not the life You have called me to.

For you have called me to obey, in love, without reservation.  You have called me to live for the One who gave all to purchase me.  You have called me to forget myself and count all things loss – for You.  This is the life You have called me to.

This isn’t a life for sissies.


“Thus says the Lord:  Do not deceive yourselves, saying, ‘The Chaldeans will surely  depart from us.’ For they will not depart.  For though you had defeated the whole army of the Chaldeans who fight against you, and there remained only wounded men among them, they would rise up, every man in his tent, and burn the city with fire.”  Jeremiah 37:9-10

Although this passages deals with the judgment to come upon Israel, there is a principle here that is repeated throughout Scripture – of a certainty, the plans of the Lord will come to pass.  So often I feel as though my bad decisions have derailed the purposes of God in my life (as though I had such power!).  I have found myself believing that any good plans He had for me have been forfeited by my stumblings.  However, He is not thwarted by my weakness.

I heard a pastor speaking recently about the GPS he had purchased for his car.  When he made a wrong turn, the soothing voice from the GPS announced “recalculating”.  Although the route had changed, the destination remained fixed.

I do desire to be obedient to all the will of God, but it just doesn’t always seem to work out that way.  What a comfort it is to realize that he is able to get me to the desired destination, even in spite of me.