Showing items filed under “Jeremy Shirley”
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As a parent with small children, I frequently find myself having to remind them to obey. 3 words that are uttered regularly in our house are “listen and obey”. We have a bedtime routine like many of you. After we have our family Bible story and prayer time, my son Noah is the first one to go to the bathroom, wash his hands, and brush his teeth. What usually happens after we’re done praying is my wife or I will remind him it’s time to go potty and brush his teeth. I’m sure none of you experience this, but sometimes no movement results. He’s still curled up in a blanket on the couch, snuggling with his momma or has already gotten distracted by a toy or something else. At that moment I typically use the age old parenting trick of letting him know he has until the count of 5 to get in the bathroom. I don’t have to even give him a consequence…I start counting and he starts running. J I wish it were always that easy because other times, as a parent when I tell my kiddos to do something, I’m met with resistance. Sometimes I’m ignored, sometimes they whine, sometimes they decide to do something else. They know exactly what they ought to do and yet they don’t respond the way I want. In a lot of ways I think God experiences the same frustration with his children…us!

As much as God would like to see us exhibit first time obedience…that moment where we learn what God wants from us and then immediately do it…so often God the Father is met with us ignoring Him, whining about what He wants us to do, or us just deciding to do something else. In all of our vast maturity we think we’ve got something better to do, more important, more worth our time, more critical in this busy moment. It’s as silly as when our children think that watching that one more tv show, playing a video game or whatever it is happens to be more important to do right now than whatever you as the parent said to do. Not only that, our lack of obedience makes us sinners. We saw that when we were studying James in Sunday School. James 4:17 says: “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

I’m guessing many of us have a sin problem we’re not even aware of. We’re so concerned with not doing the wrong things we totally forget about the sin that comes from not being obedient to do the right things. Most of us can’t effectively discern God’s will for our lives or receive an answer to a prayer because of sin that exists in our lives from all the things God wants us to do that we’ve continually made excuses or ignored. Some of us have so ignored God’s instructions and commands, we’ve ceased to listen and obey to the extent that we don’t even feel guilty for it.

One of the best examples of this in the American church is our lack of sharing the gospel. You can’t be around a church very long and not know that God’s chosen to use us to reach people for Christ. You can’t be around a church very long to know God’s Word gives us purpose in this life and a major part of that is our efforts to make Christ known throughout the globe. At the same time, how many times have you shared the gospel this year? Some of you haven’t done it once, much less made it one of the priorities of your life. You’re just like the kid that knows exactly what they need to do…clean their room, take out the trash, get ready for bed and chooses to ignore that command. How frustrating it has to be for God to see His children live in disobedience. I know I get frustrated when my children don’t obey me.

Some of us know what we ought to do, but not how to do it. I can always appreciate when I give my children something to do and they try their best…they may not do it exactly the right now, the way I would do it, but they get the job done. I say that because for some of us, we know exactly what God wants us to do, but we have every excuse about not doing it because we don’t know how. That being said, maybe we should start by repenting of what we haven’t been doing that the Lord commanded,

then start trying something. Maybe it won’t be exactly right and you need to seek additional assistance but at least you’re trying. Do something, don’t wait to be the very best at whatever it is, to be the most effective…just do your best to fulfill the Lords commands. Follow the simple words many parents have uttered...listen and obey. We’re just a few short weeks away from 2019, we have such a great opportunity for a fresh start. What are you waiting for? Let’s be like my son when I start to count down for him to go to the bathroom...he’s running towards obedience…you can to!

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Have you ever felt it challenging to grow in your relationship with Christ?  Maybe you have even reached the point where you begin to point fingers at others…your pastor, your Sunday School teacher, your church as a whole…in an effort to make sense of why you seem to be floundering in your walk with Christ.  Now track with me here…don’t make assumptions that this is all just to get you to do your daily quiet time with the Lord.  That’s a great idea…but that’s not the point here.  One of the things that God continually reminds me of is that it’s through my obedience to my God given purpose that God challenges me and grows me.  I’m going to step out on a limb here and say that if you’re someone that is struggling to grow in Christ, you’re probably also someone that rarely shares your faith.  God’s given us purpose in this life through the Great Commission and it’s my experience that when I take steps to fulfill my purpose, God uses that to challenge me to grow. 

I’ll be the first to admit that if I don’t go looking for opportunities to share my faith, I don’t have an abundance of them on a daily basis.  That’s based on the assumption that the next time I need to talk to my boss, our Pastor, that I don’t need to share the gospel with him.  One of the ways I’ve been able to find opportunity is through app based games I play when I have a little spare time.  Recently I’ve connected with a guy that in initial conversation with me it sounded as though we were on a similar page.  We both talked about the Bible, referenced Scripture, talked about Jesus etc.  There came a point where he wanted to attend my College and Career Sunday School Group remotely via a voice chat app.  That was pretty exciting and at the same time a little weird because I’d never had someone want to do that before.  Before he would attend the first time, he wanted to chat with me to see if we were of the same “fellowship”.  My assumption was he was concerned about denominational distinctives, but boy was I wrong.   

When we finally got together to discuss his beliefs, I quickly found out that we were nowhere near the same page.  While I still don’t have a good grasp on what he believes, it’s definitely outside the box and definitely caused me to dig into God’s Word to try to address him.  In short, he believes that god mentioned in Genesis (Eloheim) is different than god mentioned from the Fall and beyond (Yahweh).  Hopefully you and I are already on the same page realizing that’s heresy.  His view of Eloheim is as father and loving.  His view of Yahweh is evil and violent.  He believes in Jesus but his viewpoint is that Jesus came to point people to Eloheim because so many had been deceived by Yahweh.  By extension, the church today is deceived and full of Pharisees.  This is just a little bit of a tangled web of belief he’s weaved over decades.  You can go google it yourself, this guy doesn’t fit in any major religion you’ve ever studied before. 

Once I opened this can of worms, I had to figure out how I could minister to him.  God had opened the door and I needed to at least do my best to speak the truth of God’s Word in his life knowing that short of a miracle of God, he would not be easily swayed.  Knowing that he had quoted Scripture before, I needed to ask what is really a baseline question…do you believe the Bible to be inerrant (without error)?  In doing so my hope was to either establish the foundation of the discussion that was to ensue.  Unfortunately, after a long conversation it was evident he didn’t believe the Bible was without error.  He denied much of the Old Testament and almost anything written by Paul…so not much left right?  One thing he does believe is inerrant…Jesus’ words and actions as seen in Scripture.  I know what you’re thinking…I thought the same thing…Jesus is the Word.  That would have been too easy…he’s a red letter Bible guy…words in red are what are inerrant.  Jesus said a lot of really good stuff that is quoted in Scripture…but if that’s all we have to work with…that’s tough.   

He’s not turned the corner yet, but I hope you see the challenge God has laid in my lap.  With every frustrating conversation I’m forced back into God’s Word.  Forced to make sure I understand why I interpret Scripture the way I do, forced to learn and be able to explain the Bible, and forced to trust the Lord because my Words are not near enough.  I’m not sure if he’ll ever be saved, I sure hope God works a miracle in his life…but the point is by my obedience to share my faith…God is using that to grow me in ways I could never accomplish hanging out with Christians and studying the Bible.  Most of us spend too much time with status quo Christians and not enough time doing exactly what God wants…witnessing to the lost.  Go find someone of a different religious background…atheist, Catholic, Jewish, Islamic etc…start sharing your faith, dig into the challenges that come with that, and I can almost guarantee you’ll begin GROWING THROUGH SHARING!  

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