Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Updated Piece 4: Radical Obedience

         Of all the pieces, I think this is one of the most important.  I’m not saying this like God necessarily needs our obedience or else He’ll be at a helpless loss (He’ll find other ways to get His Will done), but because it says the most about our relationship with God, and it totally affects the path our lives take.  Whether we obey or not is an indication of if we listen to Him, if we know His Word, if we love Him and trust Him and have really made Him God of our lives, and if we’ll get His blessings … or not.  

            “But I gave them this command:  Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people.  Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you.”  (Jeremiah 7:23)

            “…‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’” (Luke 11:28)

            “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”  (John 15:10)

            “We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”  (Acts 5:32, emphasis added)

            “This is love for God: to obey his commands....”  (1 John 5:3) 

             In the last section, we read Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  We tend to think that no matter what we do, God will work it out for good, that our lives will be just as blessed either way.  We can make our own choices, live our own lives, go our own way … and He’ll work it out for good, for the best.  Because the Bible says so, right? 

            Not exactly.  Let’s take a slightly closer look.  It is written that in all things God works for the good “of those who love him.”  Those who love Him!  And what does it mean to love Him?  Is it warm, fuzzy feelings?  Gratitude?  Serving in church?  No!  According to 1 John 5:3, to love Him is to obey Him.  They are inseparable.  Love and obedience.  If we truly love Him, we will obey Him.  And if we don’t obey Him, we don’t truly love Him. 

            So meshing these two verses together:  In all things God works for the good of those who love Him enough to obey Him.  If we want all things to work together for good, for the best, we need to obey Him.  He does not treat obedience and disobedience the same way.  How we live and respond to Him will greatly affect how He responds to us, how He blesses us, how our lives turn out.  (Yes, He can and does turn our messy lives around and work something good out of everything, even our sins and mistakes, but to stay on the best path requires our obedience.) 

            John 14:23: “Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.’”  Jesus isn’t saying that He will love you only if you obey Him or that all He wants out of you is your obedience.  God didn’t make man because He needed servants to do a job He couldn’t do for Himself.  He made man because He wanted a family - an eternal family of those who want to be with Him, who choose Him.  He didn’t create us simply to do His bidding.  

            And yet, obedience is THE indicator of the quality of our relationship with Him, if we really love Him or not.  To love Him is to obey Him.  To obey Him means putting His desires and instructions over our own desires and our own ideas of what we want His instructions to be.  It means we trust Him enough to do what He asks.  And to trust Him involves knowing Him as He is, His goodness, wisdom, power, love, faithfulness, etc.  And to know Him well involves spending quality time with Him, in His Word and in prayer.  They’re all connected: love, trust, the Word, prayer, obedience, faith.  The more time we spend getting to know Him and drawing near to Him, the more we’ll love Him and trust Him and want to obey Him, and the more His Will will get done, the more people we’ll reach for Him, and the more our faith will grow.

            And here’s a huge secret:  We can obey without “feeling like it.”  Sadly, our society has elevated the value of “feelings” and “following your heart” too much.  We make our feelings, our “hearts,” the ultimate guides.  As long as you follow your heart, you can’t go wrong!  Right?  Wrong!  We’re creating a society of selfish, entitled, “because I deserve to get my way” people who follow their every heart’s desire, their every whim, no matter the damage it does to others.

            We have become convinced that we are #1, that our feelings matter above all else, that we have to “feel like it” before we do it, and that we have to do whatever we feel like doing.  After all, if we don’t follow our hearts, we’re not being true to ourselves, right?  And “be true to yourself” is the highest truth there is, right?  (Wrong!) 

            And we hold this up as a valid excuse or reason for everything we do or don’t do.  “It’s just not who I am!”  “I didn’t feel like it!”  “It’s not how I’m wired.”  “I had to follow my heart.”  “I had to look out for my own happiness first.”  It’s all about us and what we want and what we think will make us happy.  And nothing should get in our way.  And left in the wake of this teaching are broken marriages, broken homes, absent mothers and fathers, children having babies, sexually transmitted diseases, drug and alcohol problems, erratic spending, etc.  Where is the self-control, the responsible behavior, the integrity and modesty and decency, the concern for what’s wise and godly and eternal, for what’s really gonna last when everything else burns up? 

            While “our feelings” and “our happiness” may seem like justifiable excuses in our society (an immature, selfish society that’s determined to erase mankind’s personal responsibility and accountability), God doesn’t see it the same way.  The Bible is full of times when God says, “If you obey Me, it will go well with you … If you follow My commands ...” 

            It’s not “If you feel like it” or “If you want to” or “If it makes you happy.” 

            It’s “If you obey Me …” 

            And we don’t have to “feel like it” to obey.  Our obedience is not dependent on our feelings, but on our wills, our decisions.  We choose to obey or disobey.  And whether or not we feel like doing it, God will bless our obedience, and our feelings will eventually get in line.   

            I think more of us would experience a vibrant, fulfilling life in Him if we were more diligent about listening to Him (through His Word, through prayer, through the Holy Spirit) and obeying Him.  And if we’re willing to obey, I think God would ask many of us to do big things, brave things, great things for His glory.  But even if not, I know all of us would be asked to do the best we can in the daily “smaller” things, for His glory.  Big or small, God wants us to obey. 

            I think the world is affected more by how common Christians do the “smaller” things (raising our families, treating others, living by our convictions, how we speak, if we’re honest, etc.) than by how a few famous Christians preach and behave.  And when most of us don’t look any different from the world, why would they have any reason to desire the faith we have? 

            Our God searches for people who are fully committed to Him, to doing His Will and following Him wholeheartedly.  2 Chronicles 16:9: “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”

            But how many people will He find? 

            It may be difficult or scary to obey.  But God will give us the strength to do it.  We just have to be willing to obey and active about doing it.  Of course, doing the right thing, as God calls us to, is not always the popular or comfortable thing to do.  Many times, it will cost us something.  Our pride.  Our time.  Our money.  Our image.  Our friends.  But God has much greater things in mind when He calls us to do something.  Even if it temporarily stings. 

            And as much as we like having control and knowing what the future holds, we don’t need to know what the results of our obedience will be, where God will take us, or how things will work out.  We just have to choose to obey the next thing God tells us to do, the thing that glorifies Him, and then let Him handle the results and decide how to bless our obedience. 

            But His kingdom will not grow, His Will (the daily things He wants us to do) does not get done, and we will not get His blessings without our obedience.  (I believe God works in conjunction with mankind’s obedience and prayer, that it’s how He’s chosen to get His Will and His plans done, in a general sense.  And He responds to our choices accordingly.)     

            Yes, it’s hard to be obedient in the big, brave, great tasks He might give us, but if He calls you to do something, He’ll equip you to do it.  “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).  But it’s almost harder to be faithfully obedient in the small, everyday roles.  (I’m thinking of parents and employees at a boring job.)  

            These things are often overlooked and unappreciated by others, they don’t make us feel as accomplished or important as the big things, and they have to be done every day.  And this can discourage us from caring, from being faithful over the long run, because they’re exhausting, monotonous, and make us feel “less than” those who are doing the big, exciting things.  But I think someone like the parent of special-needs child is just as much of a saint as the person who does the big, glamorous, public jobs that other Christians praise.  And yet, how overlooked those “secret saints” are, at least on earth!  But I think they’ll shine most brightly and be rewarded most richly in heaven!

            The Bible is full of many “little things” God calls us to do daily, that relate to what kind of people we are and how we live our lives: work hard, do the right thing, confess sin, be kind, tell the truth, honor God, honor your parents, honor your marriage vows, raise your kids, reach out to the “lowest of the low,” be a person of your word, watch your tongue, tithe faithfully, be responsible with your resources, love your neighbor, etc.  But we tend ignore these “little things” if they’re not what we want to do or not flashy enough.  And we won’t often notice the effects of our tiny disobediences each day, a little here, a little there … not until we wake up one day and realize what a mess we’ve made of our lives and how far away from God we’ve drifted, from the path He wants us on.  God will let us make a mess of our lives if it will make us cry out for Him! 

            Don’t fall into the trap of thinking your obedience in the little, daily, unglamorous things is somehow less important, less noticeable, or less consequential than the big things.  Remember that God doesn’t judge things the same way we do.  He sees the heart, the motives, the small things, the tiny sacrifices we make for Him, the small glories we bring Him.  And He’ll bless our faithfulness, even in the tiniest things we do, if not on earth than in eternity.  We won’t often see the spiritual results and blessings of our daily, monotonous faithfulness, but it will impact our lives, the lives of others, His Kingdom, and our eternities in heaven, where the rewards of our faithfulness – the one that really matter and that will last - are stored.  

            1 Corinthians 10:31: “... whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 

            Matthew 6:19-21: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

            All things, great and small, are to be done with the same amount of faithfulness and diligence - for His glory!  Whatever He calls you to do - the big things or the “small” things – remember that you are working for Him.  Not for your boss, your spouse, your kids, your own satisfaction or fulfillment or happiness.  You are working for Him and His glory and His kingdom.  And He has reasons for why He tells you to do whatever He tells you to do.  That is why there are no instructions from God that are too small to obey. 

            Many of us want to do big things for Him, but I think He sometimes asks us “How are you doing with the small jobs I’ve already given you?”  How can He trust us with the big jobs if we aren’t even faithful in the small ones?  No command that God gives us is a “small thing.”  Anything He asks us to do (or not do) is BIG … because it comes from Him and because He knows how He wants to use it. The question is: Do we trust Him and love Him enough to obey?  

            [And don’t overly worry when you fail.  We all will.  And He know that’s gonna happen.  Just be thankful that He’s an unconditionally-loving, forgiving God.  We don’t deserve His grace and mercy, but we accept it, embracing it humbly and gratefully.  When you get off track with Him, confess it, thank Him for His forgiveness, pick yourself up again, and get back on the path of obedience as quickly as you can, by obeying the next thing He tells you to do.  This really is a journey of brokenness, never an ending.  Not until eternity comes.]

            We need to place a premium on obedience, whether or not we “feel like it.”  Whether or not it “fulfills” us or makes us happy.  Whether or not it works for us or makes sense.  It’s not about us.  It’s about His plans, His Kingdom, His Will, His glory.  And it’s about His love.  He wants the best for us, to bless us abundantly.  But that relates to our obedience.  We might not agree with Him or understand Him, but if we want His best (which is far better than our ideas of what’s best), we need to be “radically obedient” (a phrase my pastor used to describe Elijah: radically obedient, even when it meant following God’s call into a desert, having no idea what would come next). 

            [And for the record, God will never tell us to do anything that violates His Word.  So know what Scripture says, use it as your guide, so that you won’t be led astray by others, by evil, or by your own desires.  Always always go back to the Word for the Truth!] 


Questions for Reflection (work through these questions with God):

1.  Did anything in this section stand out to me?  Why?


2.  How was I raised regarding expectations of obedience?  Was it a negligent home (parents weren’t there or didn’t care, kids raised themselves), a permissive home (little discipline, the kids did whatever they wanted), an authoritarian home (“I’m the parent, I’m in control, so don’t question me”), or somewhere in the middle?  How did it shape me?


3.  How do I normally react to authority figures?  Do I respect/obey them, do I overly try to please them, or do I resent/resist them because I don’t like being told what to do?  How well do I take directions from others?  How do I respond to constructive criticism?  Do I apply myself to the jobs given to me, or do I try to cut corners and get away with things?  What’s my attitude like while I do (or don’t do) my job?    


4.  How did I get that way?  What does it reveal about me?  How has it affected my life, faith, and relationships?


5.  How do I feel (or think) about church, the Bible, being submissive to God?  Do I respect spiritual authorities or resent/resist them?  Do I listen for what God wants to tell me through the Bible, prayer, and sermons?  Or is it all just part of my To-Do list? 


6.  How would I describe my current level of obedience to God?  Do I try to find out – through prayer and His Word - how He wants me to live?  Do I obey? 

7.  What do I think might happen if I listened to Him and obeyed Him more?  What might He ask me to do?  How might my life change?  Do I want this or not?  Why or why not?


8.  What is my view of God?  (Let your thoughts/feelings about Him flow honestly.)  Do I love Him?  Do I trust Him?  Why or why not?    


9.  Where did my views of Him come from?  What caused them?  How have they affected my life, my faith, my relationship with Him?  (Talk to Him about it honestly.  He knows it already.) 


10.  Do I ever feel God’s leading, His presence, or the Holy Spirit’s conviction?  What does it feel like to me?  [If not, why?  Could it be a hard heart or that you aren’t listening, don’t care, or that you want to be your own god and do your own thing, etc.?  Confess this to Him.]


11.  How do I know when God is speaking to me, when He’s telling me something He wants me to know or do?  How do I know it’s Him talking, instead of myself, Satan, or someone else?


12.  Is there any significant instance when I disobeyed God or ignored the Holy Spirit?  What happened as a result?  Is there anything I can do to get back on track?  [Pray about it.  Start by confessing it to God.  If we won’t confess our wrongs, He won’t help us because we’ve chosen to be our own gods, to push Him away.  And He lets us do it, letting us face the consequences of it - until we are ready to swallow our pride and turn back to Him again in humility and honesty, acknowledging that He is God and we are not.  Yes, it will hurt, but confession cleans up our consciences, the guilt that plagues us.  It’s the only way to get into His presence again, to open the door to His help and healing, to sleep in peace again.  Isn’t that worth the pain of swallowing your pride and confessing your sin?  He wants to help.  Will you let Him?]     


13.  What are the areas in my life/heart where I am most vulnerable to temptation, to “failing”?  [Know your weak areas, where Satan attacks you, how he tries to trip you up.  Ask God to reveal these to you, then confess them and pray for His help in overcoming them.  Read Ephesians 6:10-18, about the armor of God, and ask God to show you how to put on all the pieces.]


14.  What situations do I disobey most in, with little to no guilt?  How do I typically rationalize my disobedience?  Have I ever tried to twist Scripture to excuse my sins?  [We all have ways of rationalizing sin, excuses to brush aside guilt.  Maybe it’s “I deserve it” or “They deserve it” or “No one will notice/care” or “It’s not that big of a deal … it feels good … I (don’t) want to do it … it’s their fault … what will others think … I’m too scared … I have to look out for me … God just wants me to be happy, etc.” What’s yours? Confess it, and any specific instances, to God.]


15.  Do I focus on the big, glamorous jobs, ignoring the “little” ones God gave me?  Why?  (Pride, desire for recognition, to please others, to find my worth, etc.?)  What is God telling me about it?  What “little jobs” does He want me to be faithful about?  What big jobs? 

        Luke 16:10: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much…”  

        Matthew 25:21: “Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master’s happiness.’”  

        It’s not about how big or little the job is; it’s about how faithfully we do it. 


16.  Am I more concerned with my service to God than I am with my relationship with Him?  If so, how can I correct the imbalance?  (He desires our hearts more than He does our service.  Because if He has our hearts then our service will follow, but if He doesn’t have our hearts then our service is hollow.)     


17.  Why do I do what I do, choose what I choose?  What are the main priorities and values I live by?  Where does “bring God glory, obey Him, build His Kingdom” come in on my list, if at all?  [Many of us have been taught that our happiness matters most.  We even think the Bible teaches that, above all, God just wants us to be happy.  And so all decisions we make and things we pursue are based on how happy it makes us.  I challenge you to find one verse that says our earthly happiness is God’s main priority for us, that it’s what He wants most for us.  But if happiness on earth isn’t God’s greatest goal for us, what is?  How can you live it out?]         


18.  What does “radical obedience” mean to me and for my life? 


19.  Is there any command from God that I am not obeying right now?  Am I doing any wrong “little things” I am trying to get away with?  Any wrong big things?  How is it affecting me?  What does God want me to do instead?  Will I obey?  (Talk it over with Him, confess sins, ask for His help.)


20.  How is God challenging me right now?  What’s He telling me to do?  Will I listen and obey?  (If you’re afraid, talk it out with Him, but commit to obeying anyway, even if you’re afraid.)  Is there anything I need to seek His help about?  (Do it.  And then listen for, wait for, His answer.)



Bible Work: 

1.  Do your own study on obedience and disobedience.  Read the Old Testament, as least (according to me) Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Judges to learn from other people’s lives about the results of obedience and disobedience.  Take notes.


2.  Meditate on verses that talk about how obedience relates to the fear of God, our love for Him, our security, His blessings, our eternities, His kingdom, our relationship with Him, etc., such as:


Proverbs 9:10: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” [What is the “fear of God”?  How can you live it out?  What’s the difference between wisdom/understanding and just knowledge?  “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom.  Though it cost you all you have, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7.  And how does the “fear of God” differ from the “fear of man”?  “The fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25] 


2 John 1:6: “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands.  As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.”


Luke 11:28: “[Jesus] said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’”


1 Timothy 6:6: “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Exodus 20:20: “Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid.  God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.’”  [How might God test us, and why?  How has He tested you personally, and what did you learn from it?  How did it change you?]


Hebrews 13:17: “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority...  And Romans 13:1-2: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”  (This is not referring to if a person in authority commands you to do something God opposes.  God’s laws come first.  But as long as the authorities are not asking you to break God’s commands, you must obey them.)


Psalm 25:12: “Who, then, is the man who fears the Lord?  He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.”  97:10-11: “Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.  Light is shed upon the righteous and joy on the upright in heart.”  145:18-20: “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.  He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cries and saves them.  The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.”


Proverbs 8:13: “To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.”  15:16: “Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil.”  14:26-27: “He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.  The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.”  19:23: “The fear of the Lord leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.”  28:14: “Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.”


James 3:13-18: “Who is wise and understanding among you?  Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.  But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.  Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.  For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.  But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”


God places a very high value on obedience, on doing right, on following Him.  Do we? 

And be warned, the price for disobedience, for walking away from God, is high.  Very high.


Matthew 15:8: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”


Romans 2:5-8: “But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.  God ‘will give to each person according to what he has done.’  To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.  But for those who are self-seeking and who reject truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.”


Jeremiah 6:16-19: “ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.  But you said, ‘We will not walk in it. … We will not listen.’  Therefore hear, O nations … what will happen to them.  Hear, O earth: I am bringing disaster on this people, the fruit of their schemes, because they have not listened to my words and have rejected my law.”  9:13-16“The Lord said, ‘It is because they have forsaken my law, which I set before them; they have not obeyed me or followed my law.  Instead, they have followed the stubbornness of their hearts…’  Therefore, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘See, I will make this people eat bitter food and drink poisoned water.  I will scatter them among the nations … and I will pursue them with the sword until I have destroyed them.’”


Psalm 36:1-4,12: “An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes.  For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin.  The words of his mouth are wicked and deceitful; he has ceased to be wise and to do good.  Even on his bed, he plots evil; he commits himself to a sinful course and does not reject what is wrong…  See how the evildoers lie fallen – thrown down, not able to rise!”


Amos 4:6-12: “‘I gave you empty stomachs in every city and lack of bread in every town, yet you have not returned to me,’ declares the Lord.  ‘I also withheld rain from you when the harvest was still three months away... People staggered from town to town for water but did not get enough to drink, yet you have not returned to me … Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards, I struck them with blight and mildew… yet you have not returned to me … I sent plagues among you ... killed your young men with the sword ... overthrew some of you as I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah ... yet you have not returned to me … Therefore this is what I will do to you, Israel, and because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel.’” 


Proverbs 1:28-33: “Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me.  Since they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.  For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”


Proverbs 2:1-15: “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.  For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.  He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.  Then you will understand what is right and just and fair – every good path.  For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.  Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.  Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways...”

Prayer time/Challenge:

            Ask God what He wants you to do, today and in general.  If you have any fears, doubts, or sins that block your willingness to obey, confess them to Him (or ask Him to reveal them to you if you’re not sure what’s blocking you).  Being honest draws Him near and opens your heart to Him.  Tell Him you’re struggling, that you need His help to obey.  And then ask what He wants you to do next, just the very next thing.  And then obey Him, even if you’re afraid.  Follow Him one step at a time.  That’s all He asks.  

            He will be with you every step of the way when you obey.  And the more you obey (even if you don’t want to), the more you’ll learn to hear Him and to trust Him, the more your faith will grow, the more He’ll bless you, and the more your feelings will get in line.  Don’t let your feelings lead.  Let God lead.  And then watch Him work in you, through you, and bless you!  

            [But be aware that as you start obeying more, it may feel worse before it feels better, as God prunes you of the things that got in the way before.  And Satan will renew his attacks against you because you’ll now be a threat to him and his plans.  Once again, read Ephesians 6:10-18.  Put on the armor of God.  Pray that He surrounds you with heavenly angels to keep you safe.  And if you’ve ever opened the door to Satan in the past, through sin or occultic practices, you need to confess it to God in order to close the door to Satan.  Confess your sins, thank God for His forgiveness, and if you’ve come clean with God and closed the doors to Satan, tell the demons “In the name of Jesus Christ, get away from me.  I belong to God.  He is my refuge and my strength, and you have no right to harass me anymore.”] 


Example Prayer:

            Heavenly Father,  

            Thank You for being a good God who cares for me, loves me, blesses me, and wants to use me for Your Kingdom and glory.  Your plans for me are not to harm me, but to give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).  I know You want the best for me.  Forgive me, Lord, for not trusting You, for not obeying You, for putting my plans above Yours, and for letting my desires and fears direct my choices instead of letting You direct them.  Forgive me for living in fear of man (of the future, of my past, of evil) instead of living in a healthy, proper fear of You.  

            Teach me to fear You alone, Lord, so that I may live in safety and wisdom, in Your love and protection, and bring You glory.  Help me, Lord, to discern what You ask of me.  Give me strength to obey.  Help me remember that You hold the future in Your hands, that You can be trusted with working all things out for good.  I don’t have to control all things or rely on myself or know what the future holds.  All I have to do is draw near to You and faithfully obey what You tell me to do today, no matter how big or small the jobs are.  Help me do this.  

            Thank You, Lord, for Your amazing love and goodness and faithfulness to me.  Keep me in Your hands, guide my path, and protect me from evil as I humbly submit myself to You.  

            In Jesus’ name, Amen 


     Jeremiah 29:11-13: “‘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.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’”

     2 Chronicles 7:14-15:  “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.”

     Psalm 25:4-5: “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”