Empowered To Obey

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God said to Ezekiel, “Son of man, stand up on your feet” (Ezekiel 2:1). 

Ezekiel had fallen face down at the sight of God—how awesome God’s presence must have been! Now God tells Ezekiel to stand up so that He may speak with him. It seems as if God is asking Ezekiel to do the impossible. 

But we must remember this principle:

All of God’s commands are also His empowerment.

Ezekiel responded: “As He spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet” (v. 2). 

As God spoke His commandment to Ezekiel, His empowerment to help him obey infused Ezekiel. God’s power allowed Ezekiel to obey. His word of command was also His word of enablement. 

There is no word of God that can ever be too hard for us to obey. God would never command us to do what is impossible for us to do, but with His command also comes His empowerment to obey that command.

And as Ezekiel obeyed, he was then able to hear even more of God’s word to him. 

This principle is still true for us today. When God speaks a word to our heart, never say to Him, “What? That’s too hard! I could never do that!” Instead, we need to say, “God, that seems like a hard word, but because Your word is also the empowerment I need, I will obey You.” And as you obey, God is then able to speak even more words to your heart. 

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How To Get Back Up When You Slip Up

“Although your foot may slip often, yet your heart cleaves to God’s commands and will not let you lie where you fell, but you get up again, resolved to watch your step better. Know this, then, that your sincere respect for the commandment is ample evidence of your title to the promise.

“When David confessed to his love for God’s law he did not question his title to the promise: ‘I hate vain thoughts; but Thy law do I love’ (Psalm 119:113). He did not say that he was free from vain thought but that he hated them. And he did not say that he fully kept the law but he loved it, even though he sometimes failed in total obedience. Because of the testimony which conscience gave concerning David’s love for the law, his faith settled the question once for all: ‘Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in Thy Word’ (Psalm 119:114).”

—William Gurnall, in The Christian In Complete Armor

Thursdays With Oswald—Backsliding

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.


     The tendency to rest in any of the blessings which are the natural outcome of union with God is the beginning of backsliding. … 

     If God were to remove from us as saints the possibility of disobedience there would be no value in our obedience, it would be a mechanical business. … The possibility of disobedience in a child of God makes his obedience of amazing value. … 

     If we have received the life of Jesus, it is unconscious blasphemy in God’s sight to stop short of attaining anything He reveals as possible for us. … If once we deliberately stop short and refuse to let God’s life has its way with us, we shall revile the truth because it has not been reached.

From The Philosophy Of Sin

Oswald Chambers is reminding us that there is no standing still for the saint. We cannot say, “That’s good enough, I don’t want any more,” or “It’s so wonderful here, I don’t want to move on.” Either of those attitudes sets us up to begin to slide backward from our relationship with God.

“But,” someone might say, “the next level God is calling me to seems so difficult. Staying where I am seems safer than attempting something where I might fall flat on my face spiritually!” Chambers reminds us that obedience to what God calls us to do is “of amazing value” to Him. Also, a littler later on, Oswald Chambers encourages us with these words: “All God’s commands are enablings.” In other words, what God calls us to do, His Spirit enables us to do.

Don’t stay where you are and risk backsliding away from Him. Press on! Press forward! Keep obeying what God is revealing to you!

4 Quotes On Persecution From “The Blessing Of Humility”

The Blessing Of HumilityAs I stated in my review of Jerry Bridges’ book The Blessing Of Humility, reading through these thoughts slowly—Beatitude by Beatitude—would bring about the most life-changing impact. In that spirit, I will be sharing some noteworthy quotes one Beatitude at a time. Here are some quotes on blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness (Matthew 5:10-12)

“There is no doubt that the culture is becoming more and more antagonistic toward biblical values. For some years I have thought our American culture to be ungodly; that is, to believe and act as if God is irrelevant. Now I believe we have become not just ungodly but actually anti-God. An increasing number of those who most influence our culture—such as academia, the media, and the entertainment industry—are openly hostile to the whole idea of God or of biblical values.”

“I suspect that our own court system will eventually fail us, as more and more judges are appointed who have been trained in law schools that at best are indifferent to biblical righteousness and at worst are openly hostile to it. Even our Supreme Court seems to be rendering decisions based on the mores of popular culture rather than on a principled application of the Constitution.”

“There is a sense in which this eighth Beatitude is the climax of several preceding ones dealing with our response to the way others treat us. … In this eighth Beatitude Jesus has in mind persecution rooted in the hostility of the anti-God culture we live in.”

“Keep in mind these words from Jesus [Luke 6:27-28] are precepts—authoritative commands of God. Furthermore, they address more than our attitude toward those who persecute us. They are action steps: we are to love our enemies, do good to them, bless them, and pray for them.”

 I have previously shared quotes on:

Links & Quotes

link quote

“Although circumstances may bring us into the place of death, that need not spell disaster—for if we trust in the Lord and wait patiently, that simply provides the occasion for the display of His almighty power.” —L.B. Cowman

“Notice the singular ‘commandment’—‘This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us’ [1 John 3:23]. These two things are so closely connected for John he calls them one commandment: believe Jesus and love others. That is your purpose. That is the sum of the Christian life. Trusting Jesus, loving people.” —John Piper

“We make progress in overcoming our sin when we have hope that our failures will be forgiven. If you don’t have hope that God will forgive your failures, when you start fighting sin, you give up.” —John Piper

“Impatient believers are offended when they see God working miracles all around them but not in their lives. They’re offended at what they believe is God’s slowness to answer them, and over time they feel neglected and imprisoned. Hebrews tells us such impatience is a form of spiritual laziness: ‘Be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises’ (Hebrews 6:12). We are instructed to follow Abraham’s example: ‘After he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise’ (6:15).” —David Wilkerson

Tim Dilena has some amazing insights for every married couple in this video.

5 Quotes On Law & Grace From “Transforming Grace”

Transforming GraceJerry Bridges wrote a book that was an eye-opener for me called Transforming Grace. I’ve shared a couple of other posts with quotes from this book (you can read them by clicking here and here), but these quotes zero-in on the battle some people have in their minds between law and grace.

“Under a sense of legalism, obedience is done with a view to meriting salvation or God’s blessing on our lives. Under grace, obedience is a loving response to salvation already provided in Christ, and the assurance that, having provided salvation, God will also through Christ provide all else that we need.”

(click for a larger view)

(click for a larger view)

You can download a PDF version of this chart here → Law and Grace  ←

“Do you view God’s moral precepts as a source of bondage and condemnation for failure to obey them, or do you sense the Spirit producing within you an inclination and desire to obey out of gratitude and love? Do you try to obey by your own sheer will and determination, or do you rely on the Spirit daily for His power to enable you to obey? Do you view God as an ogre who has set before you an impossible code of conduct you cannot keep, or do you view Him as your divine Heavenly Father who has accepted you and loves you on the basis of the merit of Christ? In other words, in terms of your acceptance with God, are you willing to rely solely on the finished perfect work of Jesus, instead of your own pitifully imperfect performance?”

“We are much more concerned about someone abusing his freedom than we are about his guarding it. We are more afraid of indulging the sinful nature than we are of falling into legalism. Yet legalism does indulge the sinful nature because it fosters self-righteousness and religious pride. It also diverts us from the real issues of Christian life by focusing on external and sometimes trivial rules.” 

“That is the way a lot of manmade ‘dos and don’ts’ originate. They begin as a sincere effort to deal with real sin issues. But very often we begin to focus on the fence we’ve built instead of the sin it was designed to guard against. We fight our battles in the wrong places; we deal with externals instead of the heart. … For all of us, it may be good to have some fences, but we have to work at keeping them as just that—fences, helpful to us but not necessarily applicable to others. … I’m not suggesting you jump over fences just to thumb your nose at the people who hold on to them so dearly. We are to ‘make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification’ (Romans 14:19). Use discretion in embracing or rejecting a particular fence. But don’t let others coerce you with manmade rules. And ask God to help you see if you are subtly coercing or judging others with your own fences.”

“Spiritual disciplines are provided for our good, not for our bondage. They are privileges to be used, not duties to be performed. … I do think we should actively promote spiritual disciplines. They are absolutely necessary for growth in our Christian lives. And since ours is a largely undisciplined age, many believers are losing out on the benefits of those disciplines that could help them grow to maturity in Christ. But we should promote them as benefits, not as duties.” 

You can read my full book review of Transforming Grace by clicking here.


GuardrailWe need a different way of thinking about God’s laws. We can’t think of them as a bunch of Thou-shalt-nots, because—as I blogged last week—that would mean we would have to look at The Lawgiver in an unbiblical way.

So let’s try this…

Suppose you are out for a drive on a crisp fall afternoon in a brand new sports car. You are really excited to see what this car can do! I’ll bet as you drive along the straight stretches of road, you will see very few guardrails along the sides. The guardrails you do see on the straight stretches usually protect us from things like rivers, roads passing underneath us, or perhaps a steep drop-off.

When you come into a tight turn, in addition to seeing a curved-arrow sign and perhaps a sign cautioning you to reduce speed, you are very likely to see guardrails along the turns.

Do those guardrails make you feel ripped off? Do they rob you of driving enjoyment? Have you ever felt like, “I really wish those guardrails were gone, because I’d love to get a couple of my tires off the side of the road”? Of course not!

We all know that those guardrails are there to protect us. In fact, the guardrails actually increase our driving enjoyment, because the dangerous places have been identified, and the metal guardrails will keep us from going somewhere that could be fatal.

This is a good way to think of God’s laws.

Abundant lifeJesus told us that He had come not to remove the guardrails, but to fulfill them through His life, death and resurrection (see Matthew 5:17-20 and Luke 22:20). Jesus didn’t come to rob us of life!

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)

I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10).

Far from ripping us off and saying “No!” to us, Jesus came to show us that God’s laws were rooted in God’s love. He came for us to see that God’s laws are His guardrails to keep us away from the places that are dangerous, and perhaps even fatal.

If God didn’t love us, He would let us do whatever we wanted to do. But He does love us, and so He gives us His guardrails to keep us safe. Instead of looking at His laws as something which is robbing you of life, see them as protections that are giving you more abundant life!

I am continuing our series called The Love In The Law next Sunday, and I’d love to have you join us.


I see this pattern of instruction repeated throughout the Bible, but especially as the Israelites are getting ready to enter the Promised Land:

  • Obey God’s commands
  • Remember what He has done for you
  • Teach His commands to your children

When Jesus was asked which commandment was the greatest, He quoted a passage from Deuteronomy, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” And He added, “And love your neighbor as yourself.” These, Jesus said, were the fulfillment of all the law.

  • Love God
  • Love yourself
  • Love your neighbor

This Great Commandment corresponds with this pattern of obey-remember-teach.

  • I obey God because I love Him.
  • When I remember what He has done for me, I can fully appreciate my own value in His eyes.
  • I teach others because I love them and want them to experience the same blessings from God that I have experienced.

This is what I need to be constantly evaluating:

  • Am I obeying God out of fear of what may happen, or out of love for Him?
  • Am I finding ways to continually be reminded of His blessings? Do I realize how valuable I am to Him?
  • Am I expressing true love to others by passing on what I am learning?

Obey [love God] … Remember [love myself] … Teach [love others].

What a great way to live!


Since February is known as the “love month,” we’re starting a new series this week at Calvary Assembly of God called “Love(4)” = love to the fourth power.

I’m keying off this exchange between an expert lawyer and Jesus:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” The lawyer asked.

Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. This is the first and greatest commandment.”

Four dimensions of love: heart, soul, mind, strength.

Love to the fourth power.

I also want to give credit to Mark Batterson and his excellent book Primal for reawakening me to the power of this foundational concept.

I’d love for you to join us at 10:30am on any Sunday in February for a new look at this higher love.

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