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Am I Hurting Jesus?

 “A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places…” Mark 1:40-45

The man did not obey—-he had a better idea. He thought he knew more than Jesus.

As a result, Jesus suffered because now He could not walk and commune openly and freely with people. Also, countless others were denied intimacy with Jesus because of this man’s disobedience. Who knows how many others were not healed because of Jesus’ inability to walk freely among the crowds? Jesus knows what He is doing and knows how our obedience can further the cause—-as well as how our insubordination can destroy years of good efforts.

How has my disobedience to Him hurt Jesus? I am not talking about some horrible sin that I have committed, but my obstinate decision to do it my way when He’s told me to it another way. Have I caused His work to be diminished or compromised because of my selfish and indomitable habit of doing things my way? How many people have not been able to hear Him, see Him or touch Him because I have ignored and disobeyed Him?

This young man with leprosy did not willfully hurt Jesus; most people never would! No, he did not intend for Jesus to be forced to spend the next three years on the outskirts of towns in lonely and desolate places; it was never his plan to keep others away from being healed of leprosy or blindness or being crippled—but these bad things continued because he was not willing to humble himself and obey Jesus

It’s not my intention to keep people out of the Kingdom of God or to deprive them of basking in the glory of God’s presence; but if I only obey God after He explains Himself, or if I push back at any suggestion of obeying something that crimps or stifles my life or lifestyle, I am doing the same thing this young leper did—-I am banishing Jesus to the outskirts of the town. Too much we focus on what we prefer to do, what makes us feel good or doing what we think is our right to do. Some folks may never see Jesus because I am so resolved to “have my way” in doing something at my camp, or my home or this church, when He’s told me to do it differently.

Part of our tasks as parents and summer staff for children is to teach a child to obey first, and wait for the explanation later. If my kids believe that they always entitled to an explanation first, I am setting them up for a difficult life as a believer and as citizens in a violent world; the on-coming car or falling tree might not be willing to wait till I have adequately convinced my child that if they don’t obey they will die!

Similarly, God asks for my obedience…not my opinion. Frankly, I can’t think of one time where He was in need of my judgment on His wisdom or the timeliness of His commands or directives! He prizes our obedience over our sacrifices, work and gifts to Him. We would experience a lot less pain in our lives if we simply trusted Him and obeyed.

Oh for sons that would just obey and trust me. Why don’t they listen to me and trust me? Truly, I would never ask them to do things to make their lives worse or to cause them unneeded pain or suffering! I would not ask them to do things to make the lives of others unpleasant either. I want the best for them and for those we know. And so did Jesus when He asked this man to trust Him and obey; so does God when He asks me to obey. He tells us in Jeremiah 19:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” He’s not trying to hold us back from good things-He plans on good things to come our way—if we just obey! But woe to us if we see Him and say “no”. I have signed the death warrant of Jesus reigning in my life!

America? Are you listening!!??

What would a nation that abided by the laws of the land and God’s law look like? A nation that honored God by honoring the laws of the land—-just as Jesus Christ did and all the apostles as the lived in a total pagan nation, would be a marvel—heaven on earth.We complain about our laws and taxes—-but compared to the governments, kingdoms and empires of the past, what a just, fair and righteous nation we have! Perfect? Far from it! But I’ve traveled enough to know that there are few other places that compare to our nation in terms of freedom and the ability to pursue a happy and prosperous life. But I do believe that we once honored God more than we do today. There’s been a slow rot in the soul of our nation and within the heart of our families as we have walked farther and farther from the idea that rules and obedience are good things.

Oh for a people, dedicated to Jesus Christ, that just did as they were told without questioning God, whining or looking for a reason to get out of doing their part. It is humbling to trust Him and not our own brilliance, and it’s arrogant to assume we know more than the Almighty or attempt to suggest we have a right to understand His ways and His actions.

I am grateful to my teachers and the teachers of my children. But in my estimation one of the biggest blunder in our education system is teaching kids that it’s okay to ask “why” or that they have the right to understand the demands before they comply. In fact, the notion that they should ask “why” breeds discomfort and uneasiness into their minds. Our kids are suffering because they do not have a compass on right or wrong! It’s so simple to trust that God and to choose believe that He knows what He is doing!

Many therapists, psychologists and child experts believe that it’s not good for a parent to say, ‘Because I said so.” But Ephesians 6:1 say, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right”, and again in Colossians 3:20: “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” Those passages instruct children to obey, and the only reason given is because a child’s obedience is pleasing to God. A parent’s authority is assigned by God. A parent is called to reflect God’s sublime love, but also His ultimate and absolute authority.It is a sufficient reason for us to obey God because He is the One holy and almighty God—“because he says so”. That is why a child should obey his or her parents (assuming that they honor God in their parenting).Note that Paul does not say that children should obey their parents because their parents provide good reasons. Rather, children should obey “in everything” simply because that’s the way God wants it.Children who experience the joy of obedience to their parents are taking a huge first step toward experiencing the joy of obedience to God. We’re preparing our children to act like His children when we expect obedience and trust.

We have no idea how our disobedience hinders or perverts the work of God, but we can easily see how the disobedience of our children complicates our lives and ultimate harms the lives of our kids. How much more so does our waywardness hurt others that we cannot even see. Who knows how many have stopped seeking God because of my disobedience to Him! God have mercy on me and all the rest of us who flagrantly disobey Him because we think that His commands or the things He directs us to do do not matter or we have a better plan.

The leper disobeyed because he lacked self-control. But in his exuberance he may have actually diminished Jesus’ ability to touch other lepers.

But here at three other reasons we disobey:

The humiliation. We actually think that if we trust Him and obey we are going to be made to look like a fool.  We are going to be left standing alone with everybody else laughing at us.  In Psalm 25:3 David reminds us that no one who trusts in god will ever be disgraced. God is not secretly planning on humiliating His beloved any more than any good mother or father would disgrace their own child!

The sacrifice. We have a fear that if we trust and obey God our needs won’t be met.  It’s challenging to make that first step of trust! Jesus said Luke 9:24 that in dying to ourselves we will actually be found. He wants to give us more than we have ever imagined and to fulfill the deepest longings and appetites of our being!

The hurt. We have been tricked into thinking that He will hurt us just as people in our life have hurt us. Because of that pain we believe that the only person we can rely on is ourselves. Phil 4:7 … His peace will guard you heart and mind.  God knows us better than we know ourselves that’s why He is the best one to protect our heart. Nobody loves you, knows you, cares about you and wants what’s best for you more than God. Give up the fight, today, right now—and let Him in.

Let’s not hinder His work! This week, He will speak to you and me. If you have a relationship with God through the redemptive work of Jesus you do have a relationship. It’s intensity and how easily you recognize His voice depends upon the depth and sincerity of your love for Him.

But when He speaks it will be just like it was to the leper—-“tell no one about this”, or “don’t say that”, or “say you’re sorry”, or “don’t think this way”, etc. He speaks to us, in a still, gentle voice—-God never yells at us. But when He does speak will you and I listen and will we obey?

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