God doesn’t suggest, He commands.
I recall a time when Mom said, ever so nicely, “When you get done with the dishes, would you like to clean your room?”
Well, I wouldn’t like. I went outside to play. Later, I got a call back. Mom wasn’t happy.
“Didn’t I tell you to clean your room?!”
“No, you didn’t. . . (ever the literalist) . . . you asked me if I would like to. I didn’t like to.”
I cleaned my room. I didn’t become a lawyer.
God commands, He doesn’t suggest. He knows what’s good for us.
Commands are boundaries to keep us safe, loved, holy, fruitful, in line with His will — the best place to be.
Here’s a sample:
“Remain in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” – Jesus (commanded) – John 15
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” – Jesus (same conversation) – John 15
How will you respond? Might you ignore? Pretend He didn’t mean you? (Run out to play?)
I can read Scripture and remove myself from God’s audience.
You didn’t mean that for me, right? Sounds like it’s for those ever-lagging Children of Israel. Or for those ever-doubting Twelve Disciples. Or for Peter. Peter needs that, right, Lord? (Peter always needed something.)
Nope. The whole counsel of God for the whole counsel of man, including this wo-man.
One way Scripture gives it to me straight is reading it in the first person. That’s why I love Kenneth Boa’s Face To Face.
My Volume II is dog-eared and marked-up and coming apart in the seams. Makes me a little sad. I’ll need to get a new one some day and transfer years of God-conversations. Conversations where I knew God was talking to me and that I responded with (often): “Lord this isn’t me, but I want it to be. I want to obey!”
Face To Face was written to be read in five-minute daily intervals. That suits a busy lifestyle, and helps me “FaceTime” my Father on a regular basis.
Try rewriting a favorite passage as if you’re speaking to God or He’s speaking to you. Personalizing all of Scripture may take it out of context, but most works fine, and makes me face God even if I’d rather hide (like Peter.)
Check out these two passages–I read them in Boa’s book on Monday:
Philippians 4:6 — “Be anxious for nothing…” – a command I may skip over, I might obey, but I’ve heard it too often.
First person: “I will be anxious for nothing…” Really? I won’t? Sounds like something I need to obey. Can I even pray this in any integrity?
Another good one:
Colossians 3:15 –“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts and be thankful in all things.”I may let it–on the other hand, I may not.
First person: “I will let Your peace, O Christ…rule in my heart, and I will be thankful.” I will? Okay, Lord, with Your strength and because of Who You are, I will let Your peace rule, and be thankful.
I might obey God’s word when I read the command, I hope I may. But, face-to-face praying keeps me from faking it.
I will not be anxious today. It’s Your will, and that’s what I want. I want to obey. Lord, help me obey. Amen.
Now that’s a prayer that God loves to hear.