Obedience

Obedience is something every human on Earth has trouble with from time to time. Obedience is the submission of our personal will to follow a certain instruction, or instructor. It is the action of faith. Obedience is the constant element of application in the Bible. Especially in our walk with the Lord, obedience keeps us following the will of God. I want to share three steps of obedience shown in the lives of three different men in the Bible.

Step 1: Listening for Instruction

The first step of obedience is listening for instruction. To obey an instruction you must receive it, and to receive it, you must listen. Listening isn’t my strong suit. Not that I don’t obey, I’m literally just a bad listener. My dad will ask me to do something and my brain is a million miles away. It’s funny most of the time, except when he’s really counting on me to obey. I would gladly do it, but when I’m not listening, I let my dad down. A good example for me is Samuel. He was a very good listener. In fact, if you read 1 & 2 Samuel, you will see that listening was a constant pattern in his life.

Read 1 Samuel 16:1‭-‬4:

“‘And the Lord said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Beth–lehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.  And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the Lord said, Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the Lord .  And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will shew thee what thou shalt do: and thou shalt anoint unto me him whom I name unto thee.’  And Samuel did that which the Lord spake.”

This passage is cut out of the middle of a crazy story in 1 Samuel. Just before this, Samuel boldly delivered the hard message that God rejected Saul as king. Samuel mourned deeply over Saul and Israel. But then this passage comes along, and “Samuel did that which the Lord spake”. Samuel listened to the spoken Word of God, and then obeyed. Through great sadness and even fear for his life, Samuel listened for God’s instruction, and “did that which the Lord spake.”

Step 2: Complete Obedience

After listening, the actual action of obedience must be done. A man who demonstrated this, was Noah. (I think everyone who’s been to sunday school knows the story of Noah and the ark) In Genesis 6:14-16, God gave Noah detailed instruction that would take him 75-100 years to complete. That’s a big job! I’m sure I would be tempted to cut some corners and try to build this massive ark a little quicker, but Genesis 6:22 says,

Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.

Noah obeyed God to the letter. He did ALL that God commanded him. He obeyed completely. Can you imagine what would have happened if Noah didn’t follow every single instruction? It would have been catastrophic! Let’s not forget the catastrophe of incomplete obedience.

Step 3: Trusting in His Word

You can listen, you can obey, but you can’t do God’s job in your life. I’m sure Samuel would have never risked his life by telling Saul he was rejected as king by God if he could make that choice. I’m sure Noah wouldn’t have destroyed the world with a flood if he could have made that choice. All of us would take the easy way, if it was always our choice. Thankfully, It’s not.

Elijah is introduced quickly in the Bible, jumping right into the action immediately. 1 Kings 17:1‭-‬6 says,

And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.  And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying,  Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.  And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.  So he went and did according unto the word of the Lord : for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.  And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.”

Elijah delivered the word of the Lord to the wicked king Ahab, and then God told him to run to the middle of nowhere and drink from a creek and be fed by ravens. I wouldn’t have made that decision if it were up to me. Elijah had to obey God’s instruction, and trust “the word of the Lord” for the rest. We can not obey an instruction without faith in the instructor.

For me, obedience in the home, the workplace, the community, can not be done correctly if we don’t properly obey the Lord. This is a convicting message in terms of application. I pray you and I will always be obedient to the Lord.

– Caleb

Transitions

IMG_5531Right now life is a whirlwind! I’m within two weeks of my eighteenth birthday. On the day of my birthday I start a new full-time job. I’ll be working and saving money for college. I start college in January, I’m going for the spring semester. This is all very exciting, and also makes me a little nervous. I’ll be moving to a different state than my family, I’ll be starting the steps to adulthood and independence.
I think with all this change in my life it would be very easy for me or anyone else going through this season of life to lose sight of what’s really important, and that is our relationship with God. Now, more then ever we need the Lord’s guidance in every step of the way. Anytime I feel anxious about all that’s going on, I can turn to my Savior in prayer and know that He is there to comfort and guide me.
I also know that whether we like it or not, we still need our parents for guidance and to help us make decisions. As much as we want to be adults and make our own decisions, we still need their experience and wisdom. The wisdom they can give us is so very valuable.
These kind of transitions in life can be for the good or for the bad. We make of it what
we want. I’m hoping and praying that I can keep my eyes focused on Christ, and that I will honor him in all that I say and do.
I pray that the Lord will keep my heart humble and open to the wisdom of other adults in my life.
I pray for everyone my age right now, that’s going through this transitioning into adulthood. I hope my generation will be a light in this dark world. I pray that we can spiritually prepare ourselves for the hardships we will face being a Christian in this morally declining nation. I pray that this new generation of adults will be fierce spiritual leaders, and that we will be strong in our faith.
I pray that as an adult I will serve Jesus in any opportunity that arises. And that He will use me, to share His light and truth with this world.

-Briley

Why Doesn’t God Answer Prayers Our Way?

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“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways.” Isaiah 55:9
Sometimes God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we think they should be answered. It’s hard to trust in God when he hasn’t revealed his plan to us. The unknown is scary to us. So often, I’ve gotten frustrated because I don’t know what the future holds. I pray but feel like my words hit the ceiling and stop. Later I realize that God did hear me and he answered me, just not the way I wanted but every time, I realize that God’s plan was greater than anything I could see. I think if we know God’s plan, we wouldn’t want our own. I know God gives me his best. He gave me Jesus.

Romans 8:32 (ESV)- “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

We can pray with faith and expectance knowing that it God doesn’t answer our way, he has something better in mind. Have you ever heard the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? In Daniel 3, King Nebuchadnezzar is meeting with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego because they refused to worship the idols Nebuchadnezzar had commanded everyone to bow down to and worship. He warned them and said that it they did not worship his gods, he would throw them into a burning, fiery furnace.

Their response to the king’s threat is shocking.

They said to him, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you one this matter. If this be so, our God, whom we serve IS ABLE to deliver us from the burning, fiery furnace and he will deliver us out of your hand, O King.” They told Nebuchadnezzar that they would not worship his gods nut their God is able to deliver them from their punishment. I think the word able is really important in this verse. They didn’t say that God WOULD deliver them from the fiery furnace but they went on and said, “But if not, know this, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” They simply trusted God’s will for them and when they were in the furnace, they prayed faithfully that God would deliver them. I want that kind of faith. I want to be so dependent on God that I can walk into anything knowing that my God is able to do more than I can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). even if things don’t go my way, he is still good.

I trust in God knowing that his plans are greater and he only gives us his best.

-Cassidy

Overcoming Security

Insecurity is bad! At least that’s what you’ve always assumed. “You need to be confident in yourself. Independant!” That’s what you would say to someone struggling with insecurity right? So what exactly is insecurity? The dictionary defines it as, “uncertainty or anxiety about oneself; lack of confidence.” By first appearance, there seems to be no doubt that insecurity is a bad thing.

I had to really search myself on this one. I hadn’t really realized it, but I have several insecurities. I could try to list them, but they’re all the same. I compare a skill or area of my life to someone else and feel inadequate just because they may do it better than me. I, too, believed at first that insecurity was a bad part of my life (I was insecure about my insecurity) and I needed to get rid of it! But what would I replace it with? Security? Self-confidence? Those are actually things we’re told to avoid. Colossians 3:3 Says,

For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”


I would like to say, that you are not insecure enough! We should have all the security in ourselves of a dead person. None! Human beings are stupid, rebellious sinners. We would be dumb to place any of our trust in ourselves. Instead, my security is in Jesus.

Philippians 4:13 says,


“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

This is our security. Our personal identity should be overpowered by Christ shining through us! If our opinion of ourselves is great, what room is there left for God? You must consider yourself as good as dead to allow Christ to do anything through you.

Think of a carpenter building a beautiful house. His hammer can’t do anything without him. That’s obvious. A hammer is only useful in the hands of the carpenter. A hammer’s opinion of itself is nothing without the carpenter. Yet, through the power of the carpenter, it can be a huge part of building the house! The hammer’s identity in found solely in the carpenter. In the same way, we can do nothing without Jesus. But in the hands of the carpenter, you can do anything! He’s your identity. Your worth. Your security!

So, the point of this is to say, your security should never be in yourself. Your self image, security, needs to be only in Christ. A total dependence on Jesus will give you independence from the lies Satan puts in your head.

If you don’t have Jesus in your heart, (You’ve never been saved) and you would like to know about the love and security He gives, please comment or send us an email at enduringcity@gmail.com. We would love to tell you more about it!

I hope this has been a helpful reminder. You are nothing. He is everything! Combine the two, and you will get to be a part of something amazing!

-Caleb

The Importance of Accountability

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For years I prayed for someone to come along to be a mentor for me. Someone I could talk to about my feelings and struggles. Even someone who would honestly tell me their opinion when I needed it. Someone to encourage me in my successes and correct me in my failures. I had a few people who were in my life and really helped me to grow in my faith in middle school, but in all honesty, I never found a long term mentor until high school. But now, as an almost junior in high school, I can say how important it is to have a strong mentor as a young teenager who will offer counsel and advice when you’re struggling. There’s so much going on. So much growth happens in such a short amount of time and it definitely can be overwhelming.

On the flip side, there’s a circle that comes with mentoring. Who’s going to be there for these younger teenagers if us older ones aren’t willing to encourage them and share our experiences with them?So today, we wanted to write about HAVING a mentor as a teenager but also, BEING a mentor to these younger than you.

In choosing a mentor, be careful who you choose to spend your time with. Don’t just ask the first person to walk by. It’s important to have people in your life who will speak truth and encouragement, especially when it comes to any kind of accountability partner. Proverbs 1:5 says, “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.” It’s tempting to pick a “yes man”- someone you know will always tell you exactly what you want to hear. Choosing someone you know will always tell you the truth and give you biblical advice is critical in choosing a mentor.

Just as important as having a mentor-and people who are older than you to look up to, it is just as important to pour into the lives of those who are younger than you. In James 1:19 it says, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” This is important in every aspect of the Christian life, but in the context of mentoring, sometimes it’s important to be a kind ear just to listen. Sometimes an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, or someone to rejoice when something great happens is all someone really needs.

It’s important as you’re being a mentor for someone younger than you is sharing your experience- mistakes, successes, and what you’ve learned. I never feel worthy to give advice but God has placed me in situations that I have learned from and that have made me who I am now. Some situations I haven’t responded to the way I should have but good or bad, I’ve learned from them and maybe by sharing them I can help someone else in their walk with God if they’re going through something similar.

Always pray before giving advice on something difficult. Pray that God will help you put your personal feelings and opinions aside and give good, biblically sound advice. Let yourself be an instrument for The Lord and let him shine through you. We may not always say the right things, but if we are trying our best to speak biblical truth, God will bless it. We should always be searching for ways to encourage others. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to hug them, tell them you’re praying for them, and let them know you’re there if they need you.

There are checks and balances to everything in life, so we need someone to put us in our place when need be and offer the same to others.

To our readers, if there si ever anything we can pray or talk to you about, never hesitate to write us!

 

-Cassidy and Briley

Jars of Clay

We’ve just been serving at Joni and Friends Family Retreat in Ohio. (That’s Joni, the founder of Joni and friends, in the picture above) Families with disabilities come from all over to have a week off from the constant labor and stress involved with any disability. People with Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, even Idiopathic Transverse Myelitis, are surrounded by STM’s (Short Term Missionaries) and other families, who produce an atmosphere of personal equality.

Me, Briley, Cassidy, and a few hundred other people served as STM’s. The Children with disabilities were able to play along other children who don’t see the disability. The adults, disability or not, sang in worship to the Lord together. Sometimes walking 15,000-20,000 steps or so a day can make the average STM feel VERY drained at the end of the week. Serving the families is exhausting, but the blessing the family receives makes it all worth it.

It’s easy to think all that blessing was paid for by the hard working STM’s who gave the energy to give the families the fuel to keep going.

Before I try to make my point, I want you to read this short passage.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.”
2 Corinthians 4:7-12 ESV

This treasure we’re able to give is not ours. It was given to us. We are jars of clay. Scratched up, twisted, by all appearances, unwanted, and unable to amount to anything good. If you found a treasure, would you dump out all the good to keep the empty treasure chest? No! That would be incomprehensibly stupid! How stupid would it be to assume the blessing bestowed upon the families was to my credit?

The treasure is Jesus. If you’re saved, then you’re filled with the Holy Ghost. Or, you’re an ugly jar of clay filled with priceless treasure. And the cool part is, you lose nothing by sharing your treasure! You can dump all the love and energy into someone and feel fuller than before you began. At Joni and Friends, energy seems to vanish. But the blessing of giving makes you feel like you would do it a thousand times over!

This miracle astounds me constantly. It truly is more of a blessing to give than to receive.
I encourage you to find the closest J&F Retreat and volunteer! You won’t regret it!

-Caleb

Blameless.

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As I was preparing to write this post, I was flipping through some of my favorite parts of the Bible to see if anything stood out to me to write about this week and I found something really cool in 1 John 11. It says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

I think it is so true that we try to convince ourselves that we’re perfect. That we’re better than everyone else. We’re better Christians because our sin was not nearly as big as someone else.

I’m a total perfectionist. I know that over and over again I have lied to myself saying that, “it isn’t that big a deal,” rationalizing something that I had done wrong. I’m afraid of being judged or others seeing it and thinking less of me—lame, right? But, I know in my heart that God doesn’t do this to us when we fall short.

Because of grace I don’t have to be ashamed of what I’ve done wrong. I can ask forgiveness and learn from that mistake and be better for it.

I love Ephesians 1:4 that says, “Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” I think it’s so cool that God decided way ahead of time that we would be forgiven for everything we were yet to do, before we even did it. Christ came and died so we could stand at the cross in surrender, completely clean of everything we have done and are yet to do. I am not done making mistakes. I can strive for perfection all I want but that won’t change the nature I was born into. I was born into a world of sin and sadness and hate, but I was saved and born again when Jesus forgave me.

One of my favorite songs is “Clean” by Natalie Grant that says, “there’s nothing too dirty that you can’t make worthy. You wash me in mercy. I am clean.” Even when you’re feeling ashamed or even inadequate, God can use the most broken things to shine his light. Live BLAMELESS in the wonder of His grace.

 

-Cassidy

How to Find Your Life’s Calling.

As a teen, the future is exciting as well as terrifying. The direction you decide to take has unlimited possibilities. I’ve got to tell you, if my future was entirely in my hands, I’d be a mess. Sometimes I wish I could open the Bible and miraculously discover every step I need to take in life. Don’t you wish you could find what God’s call for you is?

In early 2012, I felt the Lord calling me to “full-time ministry”. Basically, my future full-time job will be for the service of God. Let’s be honest, a soon-to-be 11 year old probably didn’t grasp what it meant to be called to full-time-ministry. Let’s be honest again. Does a soon-to-be 16 year old grasp what it means to be “called”? Judging by the title of this post, “How to Find Your Life’s Calling“, you probably hope I do.

At first, my definition of being called is different than it is now. The night I told my parents how I felt, my dad was describing what he thought I was feeling. That’s the night I decided I was called to “full-time-ministry”. One thing he used to describe it was, “You could be a Pastor, or Assistant Pastor, or an Evangelist.” To a deep thinking 11, I thought a lot about that sentence. I was “Called to full-time-ministry”. That meant I will be a Pastor, Assistant Pastor, or Evangelist. Those are my only options because “I’m called”.

You’ve caught on by now. I’m about to talk about how I limited my options, and should be open to anything for Jesus. But, let’s get that out of the way for a moment. What about the minority of people who aren’t called to “full-time-ministry”? I’ve always had the sub-conscious mentality that people who don’t feel the call to full-time-ministry automatically don’t need to listen for a call from God. So what is a call? If your phone rings, is it logical to assume that you know who is calling? A ringing phone could have a million possibilities as to why your being called. So why would I assume that God’s calling has just a few possibilities? A call is simply God’s way of getting a hold of you. So, I guess what I’m saying is, when your waiting on a call from God, don’t leave your phone on silence.

So, how do I find my call? Romans 6:10 says,

“The death He (Jesus) died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. “

 

The answer is found in Jesus’ example for us. “but the life He lives, He lives to God” You will never hear God’s call unless you live for Him. God has a door He wants you to walk through, but you will never find it if you stand still in your walk with God. You must follow God’s Word in your daily life.

That’s the secret. You MUST live for Him. I know no other way to find God’s will for my life. And you will never find your lives calling unless you listen for God’s call and live for Him.

-Caleb

Bitterness

Bitterness is something that is so hard to deal with. It’s something that can build up so easily in someone’s life, and really take hold of and control you. I think most of the time we don’t even mean to be bitter about something, but all of the sudden it just completely consumes us. I think the worst part of it is that we try to justify being bitter at someone or something, but that is most definitely not Biblical.
Ephesians 4:31 says “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” I think this lays it out pretty clearly. This is saying that having bitterness in our hearts is not acceptable. This is easier said then done in some scenarios. Sometimes people can hurt you so deeply, and you really just want God to be okay with you hating them, but unfortunately that is not the case.
Being bitter towards someone actually ends up affecting us more than it will ever affect them. In most situations the person you are bitter towards isn’t even aware of your feelings towards them. We spend so much thought and time thinking on all our feelings towards them, it consumes us completely, and it doesn’t rock their world at all. They go on living their lives without knowing anything about how we feel. So all of that anger just ends up tearing you down, and making you feel sad and depressed. Our original intention was to be mad at that person, when in reality we’ve just ruined ourselves. When you think about it from this angle it makes sense why God just wants us to steer clear from this.
God isn’t trying to give us some ridiculous rule. He is actually trying to protect our hearts. Bitterness is a joy eatiing disease, that will destroy your life.
But how do we protect ourselves from getting bitter? If someone hurts your feelings, the first thing you need to do is pray. Pray before you ever confront them as this will also help you control what you say. People are more willing to listen when you confront them peacefully and with a good attitude. Once you’ve prayed for God’s wisdom in what to say, you go to them and tell them how you feel. This still may not produce the desired result, and in most cases this is when the bitterness starts to build. Once again you pray. Pray that God will help you let go of any angry feelings you may have. Pray for that person. They may just be a sad and hateful person, and you may be the only person that would take the time to pray for them. I think prayer and a good relationship with God are the best ways to defend ourselves towards bitterness. This was a good reminder for me, and I hope it will be for you as well.