Submission and Obedience


"The thief (the devil) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." John 10:10.

The devil robs of prosperity; he never bestows it. Prosperity always and only comes from God. Jesus speaks of our having life abundantly---prosperity in our spiritual life and overflow in our earthly life, as well. God promises His goodness and blessing will be outpoured on those who love Him and keep His commandments (Deuteronomy 28).

Prosperity is a thief!

Yet, prosperity itself can rob us if we let it. Listen to what God said to Israel while they were still in the Wilderness in their wanderings, though headed for the Promised Land:

"...when the LORD your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers...to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied, then watch yourself, that you do not forget the LORD who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall fear (reverence) only the LORD your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name. You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you...it will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the LORD our God, just as He commanded us." Deuteronomy 6:10-14, 25.

Notice that Moses warned the people called Israel, God's chosen, " Watch yourself, that you do not forget the LORD."

Blessing and prosperity from God indicate that He is pouring out His goodness on us as His special children. He does it so we can be thankful and praise Him, our Source of all that is good. God ordained that as we enjoy all the good things He gives to us, we express our thankfulness to Him and delight in keeping His directives and instructions for walking with Him by keeping His commandments.

Look back at the Creation. God declared of each day, "It is good." From that we know the Garden of Eden was the ultimate in luxury of everything desirable. Adam and Eve wanted for nothing. Their life was filled beyond description with all they could have wished for...need didn't exist. Yet, unthought of until the serpent suggested it, Eve was tempted to want more, even if it meant she would disobey the commandment of God to get it: "You shall not eat..." She wanted power not intended for her to know by experience.

We do not gain the sense that Eve was thankful for what she had. It appears she took God's munificence for granted. Her heart was not worshipful because of God's abounding gifts. Rather, she desired what she did not have and doubted God's complete generosity. To that point sin had not contaminated the man and woman. There was no evil that polluted their thinking. But James says it this way:

"...(God) Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death." James 1:13-15.

In this life we must hold to things lightly and not possess them, lest they possess us. Speaking in today's milieu, we dare not become too enamored with our houses, clothing, education, bank account, families, achievements, appearance...the list can go on and on. Such detachment is possible only through the empowering Holy Spirit as we die to ourself, our will, our possessions, and let Him possess us and them. It is then that those adjuncts to our life become useable in His hands and workable in ours as He directs us.

But what of the road leading in the opposite direction? What if we do not heed Paul's admonition in I Corinthians 10:31:

"Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God."

Paul warned us to give heed to ourselves:

"But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the read and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly." I Corinthians 11:28-29.

Frequent self-examination under the search light of God's word administered by the Holy Spirit is the way God designed for each of us to walk in harmony and fellowship with Him and to be worthy of the death of Jesus on our behalf. It is the way we can know if and where there are places in our heart that have strayed from our center point: Jesus Himself. Are there idols that must be cast down and destroyed?

A lack of self-examination and a slow drift down-stream from God's being our centrality leads us to make idols of what God has given to us as a blessing. Though it's a bit lengthy, look at what God said to Israel through the prophet Ezekiel:

" 'Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your dress was of fine linen, silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour, honey and oil; so you were exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you, declares the Lord GOD. But you trusted in your beauty and played the harlot because of your fame, and you poured out your harlotries on every passer-by who might be willing. You took some of your clothes, made for yourself high places of various colors and played the harlot on them, which should never come about nor happen. You also took your beautiful jewels made of My gold and of My silver, which I had given you and made for yourself male images that you might play the harlot with them. Then you took your embroidered cloth and covered them, and offered My oil and My incense before them. Also My bread which I gave you, fine flour, oil and honey with which I fed you, you would offer before them for a soothing aroma, so it happened,' declares the Lord GOD. 'Moreover, you took your sons and daughters whom you had borne to Me and sacrificed them to idols to be devoured. Were your harlotries so small a matter? You slaughtered My children and offered them up to idols by causing them to pass through the fire.' " Ezekiel 16:13-21.

Prosperity blinds a society!

During the 120 years it took for Noah to build the Ark, the Bible says the people who watched him laughed their heads off at his folly. They ate and drank, gave in marriage and conducted all the 'normal' acts of life...business as usual. That sounds like they were prosperous, doesn't it? They weren't scraping to get by when you consider that description. When God finally told Noah to climb on board so He could shut the door, probably no one noticed, or, if they did, it was to laugh the man and his family to scorn!

Jesus said the Last Days will be just like they were in the days of Noah. Prosperity reigns. Things appear to be going as usual. There are changes in society, all right! But they don't seem to affect daily life much...or do they? Christians seem to have little impact on what's going on. If anything, we are laughed at or scorned, called 'haters' and demeaned and legislated against. The world at large thinks our 'Ark of Safety' is archaic and illiterate!

Years ago I worked at a community hospital in the Midwest. One day I went to the nursing office about a matter. As the supervisor and I sat at her desk talking, a winged insect landed in front of me. In a hospital of all places, one does not expect to see insects of any kind for hygiene's sake. Soon, another bug landed near the first one.

For a moment, my colleague and I looked at each other. Then we touched the trim around one of the windows in her office and it crumbled. The entire administrative suite had to be rebuilt! What had looked beautiful and intact was, in fact, just a veneer and a thin one, at that! Beneath it, all was hollow and eaten away! These were swarming termites!

The hospital campus and building were quite new and up-to-snuff, equipment-wise. It was built on land that once was a wooded plot. Instead of hauling away dead trees when the land was cleared, the contractor bulldozed much of the felled wood and leveled the area before pouring footings and the slab on which the superstructure was raised. In order to end the termite problem, holes were drilled in the concrete slab and a potent chemical was forced underground to deal with the pests, once and for all!

Our society is just like that hospital. True, our nation was founded on God and His word---a strong foundation. But beneath it lay imperfect human beings infested with the seed of sin. We have a thin veneer that makes life appear to be normal. Underneath, the termites of moral decay and Godlessness are eating the fabric of our culture, leaving us with nothing but a facade.

America has rejected God as her Creator, Sustainer, and Judge. She has idolized social status, possessions, sex and immorality, money and ease, good old 'taking it easy' and avoiding responsibility for repentance and turning back to God. Instead, she rests on abortion to relieve her of unwanted babies and family life. She has made idols of her prosperity!

The termites are already swarming, friend! We are seeing with alarming speed that what has appeared to be normal and unchanged in our society has been eaten away until little that is substantial remains!

While you can, while there is a little time, you need to turn to God and away from your idols, whatever they are! You need to repent, turn from your sins and sinful ways, and ask God for His forgiveness! Don't wait like the people in Noah's day did. When the water was rising all around them and the rain still persisted, they beat on the doors of the big boat wanting refuge. But God had slammed the door shut and fastened it. All drowned except the eight in the floating zoo, for certainly that sort of derisive name describes what the community thought of Noah's architecture!

How wrong they were! What appears foolish to people of the world today is the safety and preservation of life for those who put their trust in Jesus for salvation! He is our Ark!

Don't wait like the people in Noah's day did. Don't let their plight be yours, too. Repent now while you can! Ask Jesus to be your Savior from sin and the Lord of your life. Seek God with all your heart, and you WILL find Him! Get on board before God slams the door shut and you are left behind!

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Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®
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