Obedience without the “WHY”?

This week I am studying Mark 6:45-52.  I am also referencing Matthew 14:22-33.  Each week as I pick a passage, I meet with a group of Christian men and present what I am studying.  They listen to what God is saying to me about the text as well as what I have gleaned in my studies.   Then, my favorite part happens, they give me their insights and responses to what God is saying to them.  This week was fun because it really seemed to hit us all right where we are living.  We were absolutely captured by Mark’s account.

In context, Jesus had just finished teaching and performing the miracle of feeding the 5,000 men along with women and children (5 loaves and two fish).  HE, then tells the disciples to head out in a boat across the lake to the other side.   He gives them no explanation or instructions as to what would happen next or even how HE planned to join them.  They just obey and do it.  Have you ever felt like GOD was really pressing upon you to do something and you didn’t understand why, but you just knew you had to do it?  The disciples had to be thinking things like:  It’s getting really cloudy bro, or how are you joining us, or even what are we doing once we get over there?   I think it is worthy to note they did what they obeyed him and did what they were told regardless if they received an explanation.  Jesus said to, that was enough.

Now, as you read further, you find that a storm in fact does come in and they guys begin to struggle.  Jesus is praying and hanging with His Father and doesn’t head their way until the “fourth watch of the night”.   In the English Standard Version (the best translation from the original languages in my opinion), verse 48 reads: “they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them”.  One of the definitions from the Greek for the word “painfully” is translated as a type of physical and emotional torture.   So, you can see that the disciples obeyed and received a struggle in return.  As I continued, I thought, these dudes had to be wondering “why Jesus would do this”?   Then GOD said “Matt, many times I will not reveal to you the “WHY” on this side of eternity,  just the “WHAT”.   It is your job to trust ME and worship ME no matter the ease or difficulty of the task.  How does that hit you?  It is wrecking me.  The cool thing  is the scripture says the disciples were still making headway.  Even though it was painful, they were doing it!  They were advancing!  Often obedience is difficult and painful, but if we feel GOD clearly asked us to do something, if we do it, we will be making headway!

Now look at verse 48-50:  Jesus comes walking out on the water, not bothered at all by the elements that cause the disciples their painful struggle.  In fact, he  almost cruises right past them.  He comforts the guys, get’s in the boat and everything becomes calm.  It’s the finishing touch to this section of the text.  I felt like GOD was saying this “Matt, you see, things that throw you around and bother you don’t even budge me ME.   I AM GOD.  So, obey ME when I speak to you, trust ME, hold onto what you know of ME even if you don’t know the ‘WHY’.  If you do, you will make headway in your growth in ME and toward ME.  When it is time, I will calm things down because I control it all”.

I submit this from my heart to you not knowing where you are today in your walk.   I hope this will encourage you.  I pray that GOD, through HIS HOLY SPIRIT will woo you to trust and obey HIM even if you can’t see the “WHY”.

PERSONAL STUDY: Ask / Seek

This week’s personal study has me in Matthew 7:1-11.

 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

I am deeply sorry for the lateness of this post.  Nevertheless, here are a few words I decided to pull out of the original Greek from this passage.  I have been working them around in my head (The word for knock translated to “knock”, so I let that one be).

ASK: to beg, require or desire.

SEEK:

a. to seek in order to find; to seek [in order to find out] by thinking, meditating, reasoning, to enquire into

b.  to seek after, seek for, aim at, strive after 

c. to seek i.e. require, demand

d. to crave, demand something from someone

I love how Christ gives these commands and then a promise for each of the three commands.  “Ask = Receive ; Seek=Find;  Knock’ Open”.   As I looked at this passage, I asked the questions do I “ASK” like this texts defines asking?  Do I “SEEK” God for HIS answers and HIS will in every situation like this verse seems to be suggesting?  Do I take the form of a beggar when I want to know something or need to know something?  I know if I am to be honest, more times than not, I ask God for something one time and then worry about it.  Then, I ask a bunch of other people to join me in praying for the very thing I should be praying more than five minutes about.  It’s like I never think to go back and keep pressing HIM.  I know for a fact I don’t crave it like I might be craving  chocolate ice-cream right now.   Also, I love that word SEEK also has this idea of taking a specific aim and striving for it.  Like this ice-cream I’m wanting.   If I truly want it, I am going to need to get in my car, go to the store, snag it, pay for it and then “throw down” on some ice-cream!  That would be me taking aim and going for it until I get it.

So, this week I am asking GOD to help me in the way I approach HIM with my requests.   In fact, this text has been incredibly timely for my family.  I am seeking to know more about HIS will in a situation that Brittney and I are praying through right now.    I am believing that as HE shapes me in this process, I will soon see what HE promises.

Are you wanting to know an answer from God for something going on in your life?  How do you approach the throne of God?  How do you ask?   Are you willing to take the form of a beggar and desire and crave what HIS perfect plan is?  PRESS IN and KEEP PRESSING.    

Encouragement I pass on to you today.

To My family and Friends

Later today or tomorrow I will be sharing with you what God is revealing to me this week in my study of Matthew 7.  Having said that, I thought I would pass on an encouraging passage that I read on the Bible App this morning on my phone.   I bet you think I am so trendy right now.  Either that or you think I am a HUGE NERD.  Regardless, the writer of Hebrews still says this:  

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15 / ESV).  

Whether you are reading a digital Bible or the classic paper Bible, I pray that you know that Christ Jesus doesn’t pretend to know what you are facing today or every day for that matter.  He understands what it means to struggle and He mastered it!   So, He gets temptation and struggle, HE knows how to help you overcome it and bring God glory in the process.  So if it’s fear, doubt, lust, greed, selfishness, laziness or whatever it is,  give yourself to HIM and know that God will show you HIS strength in your weakness.  HE will reveal HIMSELF to you if you seek HIM.  Since HE, truly knows what it is to overcome temptation, are you curious to see what would happen if you gave HIM your’s today?

“the Lord rewards those who seek HIM”(Hebrews 11:6).

(In my next post this week, I will submit what I discovering about daily “seeking” GOD’s WILL)

My personal study this week

TO ENCOURAGE:

As I have done regularly in my life, I tapped one of my favs, Oswald Chambers, for a jumping off point in scripture.   This week, I read his devotional, My Utmost for His Highest.  I came across the prayer Jesus Prayed for His followers in John 17:21.  Now, I almost never do more than one personal study a week.  It is a preference of mine not to heighten and cause Spiritual ADD by doing a different text each day.  Too much.  I find that I only come out of the week confused and learning very little.  I like to sit in one scripture a week.  That way I can READ IT, STUDY IT, MEMORIZE IT, MEDITATE ON IT and APPLY IT.  This process is something my father taught me several years ago and it has truly helped me grow and go deeper with God.    So, if you get overwhelmed by daily devotional books, slow it down and do one a week.  Really dig in.  Now, back to John 17.  I read the whole chapter just to get a refresher of its full power.   I have read this text and taught it several times in the past.  Every time it always makes me feel incredibly encouraged to see how Jesus prayed for His disciples.  What a precious thing we have right here in this text.  However, this week’s study had me see verse 21 differently.  Jesus says, “. . . that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us”.   I feel what we have here is another place where Jesus is pressing into His Father and pleading that his guys get it.  That they would not be afraid of being in the center of God’s Will for their lives, no matter how hard it may be or what it may cost them.    It echoes earlier teachings of Jesus like, “when you pray, pray like this…THY WILL BE DONE on earth as it is in heaven” or earlier examples set by Jesus like, “I do nothing without consulting my Father”.     For me, what Jesus is saying is, “Matt, be “ONE” in Me and in the Father. Trust Me and lean solely on Me.  I know some things you face will not be your favorite and possibly even tragic, but stay in Me.  I will get you through it and I will show you my Will”.  It is my prayer that you will join me in pursuing a deeper walk with Christ Jesus and that you will give Him your will and allow HIM to replace it with HIS.

Listen to what Oswald Chambers said regarding this: 

“God is not concerned about our plans; He doesn’t ask, “Do you want to go through this loss of a loved one, this difficulty, or this defeat?” No, He allows these things for His own purpose. The things we are going through are either making us sweeter, better, and nobler men and women, or they are making us more critical and fault-finding, and more insistent on our own way.”

“Some of us are far from this oneness; yet God will not leave us alone until we are one with Him— because Jesus prayed, “. . . that they all may be one . . . .”’

Last Day of Pre-school & Q’s precious prayer

Today was the last time this school year I will have the privilege of driving my oldest son, Quinn, to pre-school.  I tried to capture every glance from him in my mind and record every word he was saying (which is a challenge because the boy can talk).   We arrived at the church and he wanted to go to the prayer chapel to pray, but there was some construction going on in the hall leading to it.  Usually we pray in the car for our day, but lately we have been going to the prayer chapel.  Today, we just sat in the hall on a step and prayed.   I always love hearing him pray for the following:  1.  “Mommy and Nash to have a great day”,  2. “Metatulkumar”, our child we sponsor in India, “to have a good day and know who Jesus is and that he will make good choices”,  3. “for Daddy to have a good day at work” and  4. “thank you Jesus for Mrs. Kristina”.  There was something different in this morning’s prayer.  Today, he added “thank you for sending Jesus to save me and to redeem my sin”.  I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP!   Now, Britt and I have been talking with him quite a bit about this very subject because he has asked about it.  I truly believe that it is a combination of the Holy Spirit working on his heart, the Spirit using his sunday school teacher and the Spirit using Mommy and Daddy.   Never-the-less, I was taking back a little bit, but then I remembered something that lead me to believe that he might have understood what he just said.  At home, we have started showing our boys a new video series called “WHAT’s in the BIBLE“.  It is a new series from the creator of Veggie Tales.  The basic idea behind this is to journey through the entire Bible and teach children foundational Biblical doctrine and apologetics.   The humor and content is also made for parents to enjoy as well and it is very applicable to both demographics.   We absolutely love it!  Check it out!   I highly recommend it!  We watched volume 2 earlier this week.   Volume 2 deals with the very issue of salvation and redemption.  It is clear in the presentation of these two subjects and the illustrations are greatness!  I asked Quinn questions about what he just prayed.   His answers were awesome!  He began to teach me that we need to be saved from our sinful thoughts and wants and that Jesus died on the cross to rescue us from those sins.  He used one of the video’s illustration and said that to be redeemed is like being in jail and someone pays for you to get out.  He said we were trapped by sin and Jesus’ death on the cross paid for our sins and so Jesus redeemed us and freed us.   Again, I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP!   I told him he was absolutely right on and that I was so happy he understood that.  Now, I am not sure as to what degree he is getting this in his precious heart, that is God’s call, but I am over joyed as a Daddy to see this going on in front of my own eyes.  He definitely has a basic foundational understand of TRUTH.  I walked him down to his class, dropped him off, and immediately began to replay this in my head .   I want to cherish everything about it.   I praise God for HIS work in my lil Q’s life and for the fact HE is wooing my son to HIM.  As a Daddy and a Pastor, I am SO thankful for our children’s ministry and Phil Vischer (The creator of What’s in the BIBLE) for their investment in my boys’ lives.

RECONDITIONme is LIVE

The Personal Vision for RECONDITIONme:

Due to a suggestion of my beautiful wife, Brittney Poe and the encouragement of many others, today, I am starting a blog.  I have never really felt that the world needed another Pastor’s Blog nor do I profess to be the greatest writer (just ask my wife), but the Lord spoke to me this morning and said “Do it“.    The plan is to put it out there on Facebook and Twitter (@mattpoe77) so that others will know that I am doing this, but ultimately I just wanted to create something for my two sons, Quinn and Nash, to some how show them their father’s journey with God.   With that being said, I submit this statement to you,  if you want to read the real thoughts that God is stirring in an imperfect man appointed by God to preach the Gospel, then you may actually enjoy this thing.   In the end, I hope this endeavor will, above all, draw anyone who reads it to a deeper faith and fellowship with Christ Jesus the King.  Q-dogg & Nasher Basher, I love you very much and this is for you.

The Broader Vision for RECONDITIONme:

RECONDITIONme is a blog created for the sole purpose of sharing my thoughts, questions, and discoveries about God’s plan for my life, my family’s lives and the lives of those I’ve been given the God appointed privilege to pastor.    It is painfully clear to me in scripture that man has a SIN condition.   Also clear in the scriptures, is the TRUTH that Christ Jesus is my SALVATION and REDEMPTION from that wretched condition (Romans 3:21-26).   HIS continuing SAVING WORK can “RECONDITION” me if I am willing to constantly lay down my SINFUL condition.  The plan is to begin posting personal journal entries, thoughts, sermon manuscripts, devotionals, books, articles, quotes, tweets and other resources to have CHRIST move us to a more RECONDITIONED life.   It is the desire and prayer of my heart that this blog will serve as a weekly testimony and reminder to me and to others of the Saving and Freeing Power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.