At one time the holy pair, Adam and Eve, were under God and His authority. There was harmony, peace, and bliss. Love for God was supreme, and love for one another was impartial. They were the perfect couple, perfectly matched for each other in a perfect environment, until they departed. Yes, they came out from underneath God, and as a result, consequences fell on them and every generation since then.
All God is calling any of us to is to simply come back under Him. It is no more complicated than that. God's first denominated church complicated it with over 600 additional rules, regulations, and policies. But that's not God! All we need to know are God's simple principles for living, taught in His Word, echoed to our conscience through His Spirit whispering to us. Learn to recognize that still small voice, and then by His grace, act upon it. That's a living faith.
Joshua said it very simply: "Choose you this day whom you will serve." Joshua 24:15 The word 'serve' here means to give allegiance exclusively to God. Whenever we depart from this principle and want to be 'In Charge,' just as Lucifer wanted to be 'In Charge,' then all hell begins to break out in our lives, and we bring consequences upon ourselves.
When we begin to wake up from these consequences, as the apostle Paul did, there is only one question any of us ever needs to ask: "And he [Paul] trembling and astonished said, Lord, what will thou have me to do?" Acts 9:6 KJV
So, let's try on these two simple verses and see how they apply to our everyday lives.
Bill and Mary
My phone rang, and it was Mary on the other end. Mary was a deaconess in her local church, had attended Christian church schools through high school, and was now a surgical nurse at her local hospital.
"Jim Hohnberger, you need to call my husband and tell him, if he comes home tonight, I'm going to perform surgery on him."
"Wait a minute Mary, back up and give me the rest of the story."
Mary's husband, Bill, was away from home on business and ended up going to bed with another woman. In the middle of the night his conscience bothered him, so he texted her and asked her to forgive him. When Mary woke up, you can only imagine the heartache, the betrayal, and the emptiness she felt.
"Jim, if you say one word in his favor, I'm hanging up. He better not come home tonight because I will meet him at the front door with a scalpel, and when I'm through with him, he will be a eunuch."
Is Mary under God right now? What's ruling in Mary's heart at this moment? Her emotions of betrayal, hurt, revenge, and disgust are in charge.
If Mary meets Bill at the front door without coming '
' one of them is going to end up in the ICU and the other one in jail. What is my responsibility to Mary right now?
"Mary, the central issue in the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation is 'Who's in charge?' While my heart aches for you and your marriage, my responsibility is to connect you with your God. When you go to the front door there are only two decisions you need to make."
"The first one is found in Joshua 24:15: 'Choose you this day whom you will serve.' Will you serve your emotions, or will you choose to give allegiance exclusively to God and His principles of living? I understand what your emotions are shouting at you right now, but I also understand that the still small voice of God is speaking to your conscience as well. What God is asking you to do right now is probably one of the hardest things you will ever do in your life. If you follow your emotions, there will be a cost. However, if you choose to ask the only question that's ever necessary to ask when you are in the trials of life-'
, what would thou have me to do?' Acts 9:6-then you can turn this tragedy into a triumph."
So, we talked. We talked about the surrender of our choices to a loving God and a dependence upon that God for the power to live under Him. We talked about letting go of our emotions, hurt, and revenge. We talked about letting the higher powers, which are reason, intellect, and conscience based on the Word of God, to rule over the lower powers, which are feelings, emotions, passions, and appetites. Then we had a long talk about God-led forgiveness. Wow, what a decision she had to make at a very pivotal point in her life!
If I were to sum it up, her decision basically was whether she was going to be God-governed or man-managed. This is what we all face every day, except Mary was doing it under very arduous circumstances. She had religion, doctrine, and a relatively good lifestyle, but now she needed the power that none of those offer, and that power is found only in the indwelling Jesus Christ.
Mary found rest in the Lord! She asked me to call Bill and ask him not to come home for a few days. She just wanted some more time.
"Bill, Mary would like you to find some other place to stay for a few days while she wrestles through all of this."
"Jim, my name is on that mortgage too, and I'm coming home. I confessed my failure and want to make things right. That's my home as well as hers. Besides, we are not doing very well financially right now. Please let her know I will be there tonight."
"Bill, do you realize that she might meet you at the front door with a scalpel?"
"Well, we'll see about that!"
If I can't convince Bill to come '
,' can you imagine the scene at the front door? Please keep in mind that Bill was raised in the church, was a deacon in his church, and attends on a regular basis. Both Bill and Mary assented to all their church's fundamental beliefs, but like so many people, they really did not understand how to come '
' in the moment of trial. How sad! Neither of them understood how to recognize '
' knocking at the door of their hearts, nor did they understand how to respond with a living faith. So, I went over everything with Bill that I had shared with Mary.
"Now Bill, when I hang up, God is going to whisper into your conscience what He would have you do when you get to the front door. Isaiah 30:21 says it so well: 'And your ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, this is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.' In other words, Bill, God is in this with you and all you must do is live to serve Him. Ask Him what He would have you to do? It's just a simple matter of saying 'yes to God and no to self.' That's the practical gospel that saves you in every trial of life. Just do it! Just put away your rights, your self-justification, and your in-chargeness, and listen to and follow God and God alone."
Not complicated, is it? God never made the gospel complicated. Man has muddied the waters so that most Christians don't even recognize the saving gospel and have mixed it up with denominationalism, church attendance, doctrinal beliefs, intellectual assent to truth, a clean lifestyle, as well as Boy Scout and Girl Scout deeds. While all that is good, none of it can restore Bill and Mary's marriage or empower them when they meet at the front door.
Bill drove into the driveway and walked up to the front door. As he stood there, he sensed that God was just asking him to ring the doorbell and wait. That seemed strange to him, but he felt sure that his conscience was leading him.
When Mary heard the front door bell ring, she looked at the scalpel that was laying on the kitchen counter, ready for its nasty work. Yet she knew that God had asked her to not touch it and simply open the front door. That is the Holy Spirit's enlightened reason, which is above human emotion.
When she opened the front door, it was beautiful. She saw before her a broken man. She looked into his eyes and read the sorrow that was in his heart. She stretched out her arms and they embraced. Bill cried and held her tightly. They kissed and had one of the finest weekends of their entire life. Why? Because they both decided to be God-governed instead of man-managed. They both decided to surrender their choices and come under God, rather than their human flesh and emotions.
The single largest factor missing in the church today is that our people are man-managed instead of God-governed. We have given them the peripheral of Christianity-a form of godliness, but they lack the power. They are not daily 'Under God.' Is that you?
God knows we can't, by ourselves, live all that He has laid out for us in the book of books, the Bible. He tells us that the "true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth," John 4:23. What he is saying is that it is not enough to simply know the truth. Bill and Mary knew the truth, but they didn't know how to let the Holy Spirit direct them in the application of the truth in their immediate trial and everyday life. There is a big difference. That difference is that true worshipers have learned to let God lead in their lives and be their helper in every trial and decision. Hebrews 13:5, 6 emphatically states, "I will never leave you nor forsake you. So, we may boldly say: the Lord is my helper." That's what Bill and Mary found that evening when they came to the front door-a Divine Helper who knew the way they should both take.
That is what Adam and Eve had in a perfect environment, before they chose their own course. This is what we all need to go back to-allowing God to be our daily Helper. "Then, when ALL things are under His authority, the Son will put Himself under God's authority, so that God, who gave His Son authority over ALL things will be utterly supreme over everything, everywhere." I Cor. 15:28
s Hornet Sting
We all believe we need God in our dire straits. But the truth of the matter is we need God in everything, everywhere. That's the law of abiding faith.
I became aware of a hornets' nest under the branches of one of our beautiful blue spruce trees. Because our grandchildren play in our yard, I thought it would be best to remove this nest and its occupants.
When I came home from my early morning bike ride, I decided this would be the best time to eradicate that nest. I was fully dressed from head to foot-including my cycle helmet and goggles-and the only things exposed were my hands. I grabbed a can of Raid wasp and hornet spray and headed for the nest. Immediately I was impressed to put on a pair of gloves, but dismissed the thought and headed for my mission. Again, I was impressed to put on a pair of gloves, but by this time I would have had to go back to the garage. I just wanted to get on with my duty. Besides, I reasoned, it's only a small amount of exposure. As I approached the Colorado blue spruce and lifted the limb where the nest was attached underneath, immediately a hornet, in protection of his homeland, stung me right on my wrist.
My problem, and may I say yours as well, is that we nominally and conditionally accept the Savior, but not as the sole Ruler of our everyday choices. God sent, by His Holy Spirit, a message of warning and instruction to me that day. How, when, and why do you try to 'out reason' God?
A friend of ours, Jenny, was asked to speak at her little country church. She called me on the phone and asked, "How many of our problems do we bring upon ourselves?" She wanted to give a sermon on this topic. My response was, "
The vast majority, probably in the 90 percentile.
" I asked her why this question, and she responded that when she was leaving for a long weekend away from home, she was impressed to turn off the outside water spigot. She brushed it off several times, and upon returning home found that it had frozen, and now her basement was flooded. She, like me, reasoned away and dismissed the help God promises to send us. Many of us choose to follow our own way, instead of God's helping way. You see, God has advance knowledge and wants to warn us, but that requires us to come under Him in everything, everywhere, and every time.
Every individual, by their own actions, either pushes Christ away from them by refusing to cherish His Spirit and follow His example, or they enter a personal union with Christ by self-renunciation, faith, and obedience. It is a relation of utter dependence to be entered into by a surrendered heart. This is close work, and many who profess to be followers of Christ know little or nothing of it. They nominally accept the Savior, but not as the sole ruler of their hearts.
Jesus came to live as you and I must live 'Under God.' Many professed Christians choose to follow their own way instead of God's way. They live 'In their Religion,' but not under God. It is not enough to believe about Him, we must rely wholly upon Him in everything, everywhere. It is a relationship of utter dependence! When Bill and Mary meet at the front door, they must be in utter dependence upon God-emotions, feelings, revenge, and personal rights all must be surrendered and held in check under God. When Jim is on a simple mission of eradicating a hornets' nest, he needs to be in utter dependence upon God. When you go about your daily life, are you under a complete dependence upon God?
What percentage of the church do you believe is truly under God? Would you think 25%, 50%, 75% (don't I wish)? In studies done by the Barna Research Institute, they've conclusively shown that it is about 5% at best. Shocking!
All our troubles grow out of our separation from God. That was true for the first holy couple, Adam and Eve, and it's true for me, as well as you, in all our failures. God is trying to teach us "that in all things He may have the preeminence."
God is showing us what's preventing our progress, our joy, our peace, and our happiness. But we fear the sacrifice we must make. Thus, we experience a hiccup in our Christian life. Why? Because we choose to live a self-righteous, religious life outside of a true, daily vital connection with God.
Questions for Discussion
- Are you waiting on God, or is God waiting on you?
- When in a trial, do you ask, "Lord what would Thou have me to do," and then follow through?
- Do you hold a religious office without a daily spiritual experience?
- Do you regularly experience being saved and overcoming your feelings and emotions in the moment?
- When you are under stress, do you consistently give way to irritation, frustration, and passion?
- Do you realize that in choosing to serve God, the word 'serve' means to give allegiance exclusively to God?
- What percentage of the time would you say that you conduct your life 'Under God'?
- Would you say that your religion consists of God and God alone?