Showing posts with label obedience. Show all posts
Showing posts with label obedience. Show all posts

Sunday, July 5, 2020

23. Living a Spirit-Led Life - "Living in Light" Series

The Holy Spirit is our Guide and our Teacher. It was given to us by Jesus Christ to convict us of our sins and teach us how to be a true follower of Jesus, in every sense of the Word (pun intended). It was given to us to lead us on a Spirit-led journey, give us godly direction, and the grace to live a correct moral life full of love, joy, and peace.
But how do we hear from the Holy Spirit? How do we know it's the Holy Spirit speaking to us, and not just ourselves, or something else? How do we know we are being Spirit-led, instead of self-led?

The Holy Spirit can talk to you in many different ways. Some people say they hear It as a still small voice. Others say the voice might sound like themselves or someone familiar. Others say they are spoken to in signs, or dreams and visions. I do know that God speaks to every one of us in a unique way. He has a truly specialized way of speaking to us individually. This is what makes your relationship with God special. No two people hear from Him in exactly the same way. 

The most important thing to remember is that the Holy Spirit must align with the Word of God. If a voice is speaking to you that does not align with God's Word, then it is not the Holy Spirit that's speaking to you. This is why reading the Bible and knowing God's moral law is of utmost importance in recognizing the Holy Spirit. 

The Holy Spirit can only speak Truth because it is Truth.

If a voice is speaking to you that contradicts God's Word, it is coming from the devil. And even possibly coming from yourself, because you've been believing the devil's lies for a very long time. 

I used to believe the devil's lies all of the time. That negative voice that kept telling me I was never good enough. That voice that tempted me to indulge in whatever would make my flesh feel better. Or would seduce me constantly with the external validation of others, relying on people's compliments or comments to make me happy. 

It wasn't until I received the Holy Spirit after being born again, that I began hearing a different voice entirely. A voice that completely contradicted the devil's lies. The Holy Spirit told me I am good enough, and have always been good enough because of my right standing with Jesus Christ. A voice that led me to do what is right, not whatever made me feel good in any given moment. A voice that validated me beyond measure of whatever a human's compliment that may have only temporarily filled me with pleasure, but was always short-lived.  

The devil's lies only leave us wanting more, never feeling fully satisfied, and relying on the acts of others for our happiness. This simply does not work. However, the Holy Spirit fills us with abundancecompletely satiates us, and has us only relying on God's validation, because God's validation is the only thing that matters.
1. Receiving the Holy Spirit's Conviction.

I pray constantly for the conviction of the Holy Spirit to lead me on the right path, the narrow path, so I can become more like Christ as I follow Him. 

Let's be clear, conviction comes from the Holy Spirit, only condemnation comes from the devil. Conviction is the voice that tells us we made a mistake, but also tells us how to fix it, or gives us the grace to correct it. Condemnation also tells us we made a mistake but wants us to feel guilty about it, wallow in self-unforgiveness, so we can stay in bondage to sin. I talk much more about this subject in my previous post: 22. Freedom from Self-Judgment, I highly recommend reading it if you haven't read it yet. 

When we are convicted, it is our job to ask for forgiveness right away, then ask for the Holy Spirit's guidance on how to repent (change) and take the right steps in correcting our offense. We may not get this answer right away, but in my experience, we usually already know what we should have done and it's best to act in the morally correct way in alignment with God's Word.

Example: You know when you're exhausted after coming out of the grocery store, and you go to put your cart away, and there's no cart rack insight? Now your flesh might tell you that's okay to prop it up next to a lamppost, or in a garden median, or simply leave it in the parking lot, but you know deep down you should walk your cart all the way back up to in front of the store or where you originally got it from?

Whether you realize it or not, that's the Holy Spirit talking to you. It's not going to tell you to take the easy route and do whatever feels good at the moment. It's going to tell you to do what's right even if you don't feel like it! Usually, doing the right thing takes more work than doing the wrong thing. 

The devil wants us to be lazy, with a careless "whatever" attitude, but the Holy Spirit wants us to endure and perhaps even suffer for what is right, noble, and honorable because that's what Jesus would do. Pay attention to that voice that always says, "Do the right thing," that's the Holy Spirit! 

2. Do the Right Thing, Not the "Easy" Thing.

I'm telling you, I work sometimes in the grocery store parking lot. Not only putting my own cart away but putting other people's carts away too. Especially if I see a mother with two toddlers and a full pregnant belly! The Holy Spirit will convict me on the spot! But the peace and joy I get after putting her cart away, I'll tell you, it's second to none. I know for a fact that God is very happy with me at that moment. It is so worth it! 

That's why I want the conviction of the Holy Spirit because it makes my life better! It's not just a long list of rules and regulations that I need to be scolded with constantly, in fact, it is a liberation from my sins that releases unimaginable joy and peace that I have never known before. When you simply do what is right, your heart gets filled with God's love and He validates, appreciates, and even rewards you for your good behavior.
To have a truly Spirit-led journey, we must surrender ourselves to doing what's right. This is not always easy, but it is always worth it. And as we further our walk with Jesus, the Holy Spirit becomes louder and clearer in such a way that we can clearly distinguish who is really talking to us in our heads. And the narrower your path becomes, the more the Holy Spirit will speak to you!

The devil wants us to take the easy way so it keeps us dependent on him. The Holy Spirit wants us to completely depend on God. When we lean "not on our own understanding" and trust what the Holy Spirit is telling us, it will never lead us astray. (Proverbs 3:5).

3. Always Let the Spirit Be Your Guide. 

We have a lot of voices in our heads. Whether it's God, the devil, ourselves, and even other people. Constantly talking to us, even going to war in our minds that can steal our peace, and act out of our emotions. And emotions, are a tricky, tricky, thing. They are fickle, and can drastically change from one moment to the next. 

I'm not saying that emotions are always a bad thing, God wouldn't have given them to us if He didn't want us to feel things. But acting out of our emotions can be dangerous. When we only act about how we feel in any given circumstance, it does not mean we are making the right choices. In fact, the devil wants us to stay trapped in how we feel, giving way to our feelings in hopes we won't do what God asks us to do. 

That's why we need to clearly identify and recognize the Holy Spirit's voice and guidance. This is not always an easy thing to do. The devil is clever, and the longer I walk with God, the more clever the devil has become. He likes to use half-truths (John 8:44) sometimes to lead us astray. He'll say, "You're so tired today, you poor thing, don't do what you promised, take a nap instead." Clever, right? 

The truth is you may be tired, exhausted, and beyond worn out, but you know deep in your spirit, you should do as you promised, because that's the right thing to do. The devil likes to sometimes start with "the truth" then close the thought with a lie to reel us in. He wants us to surrender to our emotions and discard the real voice of truth, the Holy Spirit, that always knows better.
This is a constant learning journey, one where we will live and we will learn. When we are Spirit-led instead of self-led, we can take the proper moral steps and exhibit correct behavior, making our best-informed decisions possible. This does not mean we will always get the answers we want, nor does it mean it will make others happy. But that is the true essence of understanding the Holy Spirit! 

Sometimes we're told to do something we don't want to do. It's not always comfortable, easy, or what we feel like doing. And sometimes, our decisions won't make others happy. But doing what we feel like, and living our lives to please others, is not a Spirit-led life. (Acts 5:29). 

A Spirit-led life is one that's pleasing to God. His is the only opinion that should matter because it's the Truth.
Obeying the Holy Spirit from the depths of your heart will give you joy and peace. When you want to obey because of your profound love for God, you will feel what true love is

When you live your life according to the Holy Spirit's guidance, He will comfort you, provide for you, and nourish your true soul in a way no one else, and nothing else, can.

When we do what's right, God will reward us, if not just here on earth, but in heaven. Stockpile your rewards in heaven, for life here, is short-lived, but heaven will be for eternity. (Matthew 6:20). Would you rather do what you feel like doing now? Or would you rather know that what God can give you is better than anything else? 

Being Spirit-led is a gift from our Messiah. We should honor that gift out of our abounding love and gratitude for what He did for us, is doing for us, and will continue to do for us in the future. We should not obey with a "have to" mentality, we should obey with a "want to" spirit! When we do this, we are passionately saying, "We love You!" Being Spirit-led is the right way to live. Pray for the voice of the Holy Spirit in everything that you do and you will be amazed by the results!

And remember Jo may know better, but God knows best. Follow Him and He will never lead you astray. If you enjoyed this please remember to subscribe here: https://www.joannmears.com/jo-knows-better for free notifications on each new post! You can follow on Instagram & Facebook too!

Feel free to share with your friends & family! Thanks for reading & have a wonderful day!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

20. The Brilliance, Beauty, and Blessings of Obedience - "Living in Light" Series

I usually start my blogs off with a more dower, empathetic introduction, and then gradually build it up to the good news, but this time I'm going to start with the good news first! 

The brilliance of obedience has changed every facet of my life for the better. The beauty of obedience is that I now have a close, personal relationship with God who now talks to me regularly and gives me guidance and inspiration that I have never had nor felt before. The blessings from obedience are multiplying dramatically in my life, as I have never felt this happy before! We've truly been taken care of by God's own hand... it's true what the Bible says, that your cup will runneth over! (Psalms 23:5)

Now, with some backstory. I used to define my own perspective on right and wrong based on my experiences. I actually used to use the phrase, "There's no such thing as right or wrong. There's just good or bad." Wow, I could not have been more wrong. It wasn't until I started seeing things through God's eyes that He has very clear definitions of what right and wrong really are.

When the Holy Spirit came upon me last spring, I couldn't understand the voice in my head that was like a broken record telling me all the things that were wrong with the world. Sometimes, it was so intense that I couldn't sleep. A part of me thought I was losing my mind. It wasn't until I heard Billy Graham speak of the conviction of the Holy Spirit that I fully understood what was happening...

I was being called to walk a narrow path. A path of obedience and full bore repentance. To be a faithful servant of God Most High. And now a year later, all the dramatic changes I have made have only increased my happiness, revived my health, and given me blessings beyond measure.

Let me just say we all have our own path. My path might be narrower than most, but it's not more narrow than some. This is not about comparison. This is not about judgment. Comparison and judgment are dangerous things that only open the door to the devil. Just because I am walking a narrow path doesn't mean I'm any better than anyone else. We all have our own walks in life with God and those paths can change, depending on where we are in life. This is your choice and your personal business. It's entirely up to you.

I also want to say that grace is not done by works. (Galatians 2:16.) There is nothing we can do to replace what Jesus did for us on the cross. We can't earn our way into heaven. It is because of our faith in His righteousness that we are even considered for entry into the kingdom of God.

So even though grace is not done by works, I can say, that repentance and obedience can make your life better here on earth. You can experience life in a whole new way as you become a new creature in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17). I can say for sure that my happiness has increased, my life has become more beautiful, and blessings keep pouring into my life like they never have before.
Here are 3 easy tips to help you on your own path...

1. Don't Be Obedient Out of a Sense of Obligation. 

Don't think of it as an "I have to obey all the rules" to be pleasing to God. This can lead to resentment, self-judgment, and self-condemnation. Think of it as, "I love God and Jesus so much that I want to live a life of obedience and repentance. Out of love, I want to show God how much I love Him that I want to follow His rules, guidelines, moral standards, knowledge of His will, and His purposes. To show Jesus how much I love Him, I want to exhibit admirable character, moral courage, and personal integrity. Because Jesus died for me and took the punishment that I deserve because He loves me, I want to follow His divine guidance according to His word and live up to the highest standard.

In summary, do it out of love for God. (Deuteronomy 6:5).
Did you pick up on me constantly using the phrase, "I want to," versus "I have to"?

This makes obedience so much easier. When we do it out of a place of love, it becomes less difficult. Remember, God is like our real father...

For example, when we're little children, we want to be pleasing to our dad. We want him to be proud of us. We want to obey his rules so he will be happy because when Daddy was happy, we were happy. We don't want to make him upset or angry with us. We just want to feel his love, bring a smile to his face and warmth to his heart.

With God, it is no different. He is our Supreme Father above all fathers. Let's make God happy by showing Him our constant love for Him above all else. This is the 1st and greatest commandment. (Matthew 22:37). Yep, Jesus said so!

2. Obedience is for Our Benefit, Not to Imprison Us.

I used to think "religion" was a cage. A list of forever long rules that cages us and restrains us. Stops us from having any fun, or makes us feel guilty if we do. That religion is this high standard of perfection that is virtually unattainable. Saying things like, "I'm never going to be as good as Jesus, so what's the point of trying?"

But I've come to realize, Jesus didn't come to bring us religion. He came to bring us a relationship. One where we don't have to be perfect to be acceptable to God because Jesus already fulfilled our perfection by living a life free of sin. Beating ourselves to death with rules and regulations will not give us the life that Jesus died to give us. It is for that purpose, that He came to free us from all the man-made religious laws, obligations and rules that kept us in bondage so now we can live in faith, striving to do our best, because we know God will do the rest. (Galatians 3:23-26)...
So instead of thinking of it as a cage of rules and restraints, think of it as protection...


Protection of our minds, hearts, souls, and bodies. 

To guard ourselves against the evils of this world. 

To turn away from sin which DOES US HARM

To not subject ourselves to the ways of the world which CAN hurt us. 

Because of His love for us, God's terms are designed to keep us safe.

Remember, We have a brilliant Creator who gave us His commandments and terms for our benefit. We may not see the point of everything He asks/tells us to do right away. We may not understand why He asks/tells us to do something. But our faith has to be bigger than our understanding! If we truly do trust God with our entire being, we can obey God because we know for certain, He will work out everything for our good. Everything! (Romans 8:28.)
 3. Strive to Be Like Jesus.

I love the saying, "Perfect makes the practice." Instead of using the old adage, "Practice makes perfect," think of it as Jesus is already perfect, so as far as how God sees us, in Jesus through faith, we are already seen as perfect and righteous. (Romans 3:22).
Remember the popular phrase, What Would Jesus Do? As believers, it is clear that His perfection creates our practice. We must practice being like Him because His high standard is the epitome of how we should act. His perfection can inspire us to live a life as closely aligned with Him as possible. Because that's what it's all about. As true followers, we should live by His example. When Jesus comes to live inside your heart, you'll want to do everything you can to honor Him because you love and appreciate Him. Again, don't think of it as "have to", think of it as want to.

The scriptures say that the law is now written on our hearts. (Romans 2:15). And that we can use the Holy Spirit to discern right from wrong, good from evil. (I do plan on delving deeper into this issue on a future post.) With that being said, I also encourage you to read the Bible that clearly distinguishes right from wrong and good from evil, and explains all of God's preferences on how we are supposed to live. "Let us not lean on our own understanding," but follow the Word of God. (Proverbs 3:5-6).
*One good tip to remember is that when you think the Holy Spirit is truly talking to you, make sure that nothing it says completely contradicts the Word of God. This is how you know for sure that it is the Holy Spirit that's talking to you, and that it is not coming from the enemy, the devil, the adversary.*

We have a brilliant Creator. One that has designed his Word to be the perfect way for us to live our lives. We have a beautiful Father. One that wants us to live a beautiful life, free of the ugliness, sins, and evils of the world. We have a generous God, one that wants to shower us with blessings and provide us with our every need.

When we obey God, it shows Him how much we love and appreciate Him.

Living in God's light, while doing our best to repent and be obedient, can make our lives better, purely, truly, and entirely. Let's try to do our best each and every day. As Revelation says, "Jesus is coming soon!" (Revelation 22:20). Better now, than never!

And remember Jo may know better, but God knows best. Follow Him and He will never lead you astray. If you enjoyed this please remember to subscribe here: https://www.joannmears.com/jo-knows-better for free notifications on each new post!