Learning Obedience as Sons and Daughters of God

carrying crossIn the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered (Hebrews 5:7-8 RSVA)

I recently wrote an article on our blog titled, “The Death of a Vision.” I described an ordeal in which I dreamed that I was to pray for the healing of a sister in Christ named Sandy. She was a dear friend with terminal cancer, and according to the dream I was to pray in person while laying my hand on her. I did this in front of the congregation at the leading of the pastor. She later died of that cancer. It was a traumatic time for me for I was still young in the Lord and just knew I had heard God.

Since I posted that article I got an email from long time readers of ours, a couple from Australia who commented and shared from their own experiences on how God trains us as His obedient children. Writing for her husband this sister wrote:

 “God gives us the vision as you had, but often the details are not as the vision actually is and we misinterpret them, as God knows we will. Then we are in the problem phase of the whole process as we try to hold onto our belief in God and our ability to hear His voice despite appearing on the surface of things to having got it all so wrong. Then, eventually comes the provision of the promise, as with your other ladies being healed [many years later after Sandy died. ~ mdc]. It’s not straightforward is it?”

This explanation of hearing God and misinterpreting what we hear because of being emotionally involved or just not understanding and then disillusioned by the outcome was right on. I have gone through these three phases in my life more than once; 1) The Vision for your calling in Christ, 2) The Problem – the vision does not work out the way we had planned, and 3) The Promise – God comes through, but not the way we thought He would. All you have to do is look at the lives of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Elijah and David (to name a few), to see that this is part of the way that God trains His saints for obedience to Him.

After Sandy died, her husband, Dan, sought me out to comfort me. In my dream I saw Sandy in perfect health at the peak of her maturity, and she radiated life. Dan explained that I had seen the heavenly Sandy after the Lord took her home, and that I should not be dismayed, which was very kind of him. I saw Sandy in her perfected body in a room flooded with light, but I chose to believe that it was here on earth and that she was physically healed.

Eventually, my first interpretation of the dream of me stretching out my hand and seeing people healed did come true, but not until I went through a lot of dying. God knows that man is corrupted by power and that old Adam in us must be thoroughly killed before He dares to use us in the lives of others in such a powerful way. I had to go through many years of Him killing everything in me before He used me almost 20 years later to heal those other two women that had terminal cancer.

These successful healings set me up the next temptation, to think that I was a “healer.” One friend, a retired pastor, even suggested that I “exploit my gift.” We all have read about and seen the TV version of people with famous healing ministries and all the hoopla that carnal people make over them as they are elevated to stardom. In effect Satan is right there saying, “All the kingdoms of the world are mine to give if you will obey me and just bow down and worship this image of fame that I have for you.” He is good at what he does and many people fail at this point. Paul wrote that Satan will come “with all power and signs and lying wonders seeking whom he may deceive” and he does.

I overcame the temptation to see fame, because by then the Lord had drilled into me that I was nothing and it was not my place to think otherwise or try to “grab the gold ring” when it is within reach, but rather to rest in Him and let Him do what He wants to do when He wants to do it. But once the word gets out that you have been used to heal terminal cancer, you get a lot of attention just the same and you really don’t want to disappoint others who are dying. That is the real test–will you obey the wishes of others, or will you disappoint them, seem cruel and cold, obey the Lord, and stay put?

Bob Mumford told a story in one of his books or tapes about a neighbor across the street who was training his retriever dog. He would take a stick, throw it and say “Fetch.” After many days the dog would go get the stick, bring it back to him, and he would tell the dog, “Heel.” The dog would sit by his side and wait for the next command. Eventually the dog was doing both these commands well. But then one day the man threw the stick and said, “Heel!” instead of “Fetch.” That that poor dog nearly came unglued. The action said “Fetch,” but the command said, “Heel.” That is what God does with us. He fine tunes us to obey and we can’t always go with our experiences. We have to listen to His voice.

As young Christians, when God does something miraculous or prophetic in our lives, we want to run out and tell everyone about it. What starts out as enthusiasm for the Lord ends up with us believing in our own “press releases” and blowing our own horns to draw attention to ourselves.

The sister in Australia went on to write in her comment,

“My biggies were thinking I was being told to trust a pastor for three years when he was the most untrustworthy person I have ever known! It took me a year to trust anything other than the Lord is my shepherd and he is worthy. Talk about learning to walk all over again!

“I don’t think I’ll even go into the next biggest challenge I had in trusting in what I believed I was being told by God but it was devastating. For three years I believed that something wasn’t going to happen, that God was reinforcing what I was hearing, and then it happened and I was shattered. Again! Now we hold very lightly to what we believe we are being told and just wait to see if it happens and if it does, then we talk about it to others.”

Being obedient and then having things blowup in your face as a result, as many of us have found out, pops our bubble. We think that if we obey the Lord, everything will turn out great, but in the short haul it doesn’t always do so. In the long run it does, but often not the way we think.

Sometimes obedience makes us do things that cause misunderstandings and rejection from the ones we love and care about. This very fact has gotten many of us bounced out of our churches in the past, just because we obeyed the Lord! Obedience is not about instant gratification as we would like, but about following and obeying His voice. The results to our comfort zones can be disastrous.  Jesus was a classic example of this kind of obedience and so was Paul. It got them into hot water with the religious establishment of that day and eventually killed!

There is often a cost to obeying the Lord as far as our immediate well being in this world is concerned. This cause and effect mindset had to be undone in me. I felt that as long as I obeyed the Lord or his representative (read: pastors) perfectly, everything would come up roses. It did not. Jesus obeyed the Father perfectly and it cost him everything on the cross, but it produced a far greater weight of glory and reward later — the bringing forth of many brethren and the sons to the Father. Jesus learned obedience through the things which He suffered and He is the Son of God. What makes us think that we will have it any easier? He endured the cross because of the joy that was set before Him, not the things that seemed right in His own eyes.

The real lessons in our lives are never about us having the best of both worlds. God is a good Father and He does not spoil us. We read in Hebrews that He rebukes and chastens those who are His children and He scourges those who are His sons (Put that verse in our politically correct ideas of how to raise kids!). If we are one of His, God puts us through all kinds of trails because He is a good Father. He is more concerned with our eternity with Him than He is with our temporal comfort here on earth that lasts for a short time.

T. Austin-Sparks wrote:

What is the purpose of sonship? It is to bring us into a place of spiritual responsibility. God never puts responsibilities upon ‘official people,’ but upon sons. Therefore He has to train us as children in order to develop sonship in us, to bring us there where we can take responsibilities for God. He seeks to bring us to a state of spiritual maturity, to full growth. This cannot be done in some Bible school, or by putting people ‘into the ministry.’ God never works on an official side. Oh yes, God does take us into His school. He can also take us into His school in some training institute. And it is a blessed thing if He does it.

But God’s school is something very different from mere scholarly activity. His Word says: “My son, regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art reproved of Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” Note this word “whom He receives.” The exact meaning in the Greek is not ‘receives,’ but “whom He positions” or places. It is a matter of position. God is seeking to develop a state in us where He can trust us. When God is dealing with us, there is behind it a wonderful assurance that He is going to put His trust in us. He is bringing us into a position of trust. We do not just want to be servants, bits of a machine, but sons who have become one with the Father, and in whose hands He can put spiritual responsibilities. When we truly recognize this, we begin to understand why God is dealing with us as He does. But because God is in it we knows that the end is sure. He will bring His children through.

http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/002941.html

So dear saints, if you feel that God has slighted you and rained on your parade, He probably has, but it is for your maturity and for His long-range purposes. God is funny that way–He believes that He is God, not us. God bless you as you submit to Him as your Father who loves you and knows what is best.

May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 RSVA)

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23 comments on “Learning Obedience as Sons and Daughters of God

  1. Becky says:

    Michael, I have much to process here and it’s late after a long and emotional day. But I did want to share of a movie that reminded me of something you said:

    “These successful healings set me up the next temptation, to think that I was a “healer.” One friend, a retired pastor, even suggested that I “exploit my gift.” We all have read about and seen the TV version of people with famous healing ministries and all the hoopla that carnal people make over them as they are elevated to stardom. In effect Satan is right there saying, “All the kingdoms of the world are mine to give if you will obey me and just bow down and worship this image of fame that I have for you.” He is good at what he does and many people fail at this point. Paul wrote that Satan will come “with all power and signs and lying wonders seeking whom he may deceive” and he does.”

    I don’t know if you have access to Netflix or how you watch movies, but Sympathy For Delicious is exactly what you wrote above. There are a few strange scenes and this is most certainly NOT a “Christian” film. But it was excellent. The theme as it wraps up at the end, the truths told in this “secular” film was breathtakingly beautiful. Plus, I’m a huge fan of Mark Ruffalo. You can find more information on it here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1270277/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_16

    Thank you for writing. I feel fed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Becky, Thanks for your comment. No, we don’t have Netflix but maybe I can find that movie in a local Redbox. You have me intrigued.
      I am glad you feel fed by what I wrote, dear sister.

      Michael

      Like

  2. Rick says:

    Great Post Michael!! The CROSS must be applied to even OUR ideas about obedience ,how Father works in it, what He accomplishes, etc…

    The Cross makes that divide between what is of Adam and what is of Christ, even in our obedience. Its not I but Christ in me.

    Thanks for the posts, much to ponder and chew on brother. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A very insightful and wise article, Michael, which expresses some of my very own thoughts on that topic, too. I was glad to see that you wrote about that which bothered me as well. I love the example about training a retriever dog, Michael. Indeed, God’s guidance and our natural reasoning do NOT go together most of the time. We read,

    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” (Prv 3:5-8 ESV)

    If we, finally, dare to trust Him despite the illogicality we might sense, we will find His rest in our doing or “not doing” just as He wishes and we will obey Him wholeheartedly. You so aptly wrote,

    “As young Christians, when God does something miraculous or prophetic in our lives, we want to run out and tell everyone about it. What starts out as enthusiasm for the Lord ends up with us believing in our own “press releases” and blowing our own horns to draw attention to ourselves.”

    I think there is no other way than to go through such experiences although we as “old” believers sometimes try to warn young Christians about the dangers they are right in. However, they can’t see it because they are just as blinded as we once were when we felt enwrapped by His blessings for a long time before the wilderness experiences with dryness, boredom, and aversion against everything that seemed to be spiritual eventually set in. I believe that we have reached maturity in faith when we are able to embrace dry and dark times from the Lord just the same as we once had embraced all “our” good feelings that had come from Him as well.

    “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” (Job 1:20-22 ESV)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Susanne, thanks for the wonderful reply. You said it well, when we love God and obey Him we will carry our cross up the hill to Golgotha to our deaths with equal determination as when we ride into Jerusalem on a donkey with the adulation of the masses… it is then that we know that we have been conformed into the image of the Son. Why? Because neither the jeering or the praises of the masses don’t mean squat to those who live only to please and obey their Father. Yes, it hurts to see how carnal fair weather followers can be, but we will not alter the message God has given us to speak to try and keep a following going.

      This comes right down to our blogs and comments on the net as well (leave it to me to try to bring things down to where we are really living). If we obey the Lord and write what HE is saying and giving us to do, then we should not be bothered by how well it is received or how many “likes” we get. That part is between Him and the readers, not us. Also, the day that He tells us to shut it all down should be equally received as from Him as the day that we get the most positive comments on something we post. In godly maturity nothing takes our eyes off the will of our Father and what gives joy to His heart.

      And he took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, and sat among the ashes. Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God, and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (Job 2:8-10 RSVA)

      Liked by 2 people

      • Bernie says:

        I count BOB MUMFORD as my SPIRITUAL FATHER: I am sure that I have 30 or more
        cassette tapes by him. One time, on one of his tapes: I GOT A SCRIPTURE THAT HELPED
        ME GET OUT FROM BONDAGE OF A CHRISTIAN LEADER!
        Please read the lyrics of TAKE TIME TO BE HOLY. on the internet. As Pat and I sang it. “MAKE
        FRIENDS LISTED TWICE. I THINK THE SPIRIT HIGHLIGHTED:MAKE FRIENDS. SO, I
        WOULD LIKE YOU & SUSANNE BE 2 OF MY FRIENDS!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Michael says:

        Hi Bernie,
        Bob Mumford had a lot of great things that the Lord gave him to share. I used to have one or two of his tapes and they were a joy to listen to. Yes, Bernie, like I said in my other replay, I consider you and Pat my friends. Hope to meet you both in the days ahead.
        Michael

        Like

  4. I’m on board brother. For 40 years now. In the beginning He told us this and that and then all these years one big ‘NO’ to all of it.
    I’m grateful and excited. I get it.
    Had this brother for years. His name is Rocky. That’s right. The deep Sam Elliot voice, handsome, charismatic. Christian women passed out around him, I kid you not. He was a god. Guitar player and singer. No matter what church he’d walk into they all thought he was Paul the apostle, he told me that. He didn’t like it either. In 2 weeks time, he’d be teaching adult Sunday school class.

    Not because he wanted to but because they knew that they had a movie star in their midst.
    And me? It never happened to me. Oh how I wanted to teach a class. Never was asked. I knew I had something to offer but never an open door. God said ‘NO’!
    At the time it was hell, decades of hell but now I see the plan clearly and I’m so thankful I never was able to climb the coveted ekklesiastical ladder.
    Others would get saved years after me and were handed the ‘keys to the kingdom of ministry’ by the pastor, again leaving me on the outside looking in.
    One guy was still smoking grass as he read his bible. He was made assistant pastor. Confusing then but not now.

    But here’s the deal. These guys weren’t given any favors. It did not really help them to go deeper with Christ. Still mesmerized by churchianity and all of its glimmer and glow of falsehood, arrogance, and avarice.

    My friend Rocky eventually turned back and rejoined pagan Rome, catholism.
    His son, little Rocky, finally got saved a few years ago but had the same curse on him….he had the same kind of carnal charisma. He was into vampirism but then found Christ and was teaching adult Sunday school within a month. Here we go again. Blow me away Lord!
    He hung in their for some years with all the accolades and acceptance by church, but then it finally broke him down.
    He’s now getting a divorce and giving up on God.

    (I would like to correct something I just learned. Little Rocky seemed to be hanging in there for God. This time his wife has gone the way of vampirism. Divorce is going forward. She wants it. It’s a mess ain’t it. I’ve lived to long!!)

    So being rejected and despised is the best way to go on this deal. ‘BEWARE…..BEWARE, when all men shall speak well of you’!! Run, run as fast as you can!

    In a nut shell this has been my observation these 4 decades.
    So when I see a new convert being heralded to the top of the ‘church system’ mountain, my heart cries for them. I pray that they will survive it and be brought down to where Jesus is and out the gate of Babylon, out side the city of deception.
    I’m so glad to be part of David’s little group of misfits, pariahs, hiding in the Cave!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Michael says:

    Devon,

    I know exactly what you have gone through and where He has you now. Been there and doing that! God has spared us of being popular by the measurement of the world and what it seeks after. Like Jesus said,

    “But woe unto you that are rich! for you have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! for you shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for you shall mourn and weep. Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets”.
    (Luke 6:24-26 KJ2000)

    It appears that this man and his son you wrote about have had to find out the power of these words. I thank God that Isaiah 53 more describes my life than the above passage. It has force me to seek the God who is NOT of this world and look beyond the values system of the churches I once attended.

    God bless you my brother with humility and brokenness for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

    Michael

    Like

  6. Mia says:

    Dear Michael
    I just love the story of the dog. Sometimes animals seem to have much more common sense than us humans! Who is Mr Bob Mumford? I would like to know more about him and thie book you are mentioning. Hope you are well.
    Blessings XX
    Mia

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Deborah says:

    Oh my Michael…..this is so wonderful! God bless you brother! I would give you a big bear hug with tears in my eyes! You are such a blessing to me! Now I will pass this on to my son Aaron. Thank-you!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Beautiful! And I would much rather be a “son” than a slave, even if that career path involves higher commitment and more intense discipline. It also produces greater intimacy, which I wouldn’t trade for anything. Thanks for once again putting my heart into words.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Dear Tiffany,
      I know the “carer path” you have been on and God has you and has destined you to be conformed to the image of His Son.
      You and your upcoming trip are in my prayers, dear sister, that an effectual and open door for Christ be granted you into the hearts and lives of those you come in contact with.
      Michael

      Like

  9. kenneth dawson says:

    yes God is our perfect Father and we have been birthed into His realm and now He is schooling us to become like His Son–school is not fun but its needed.I like the way one person translates the word obedience–he says it means to listen under–OH how we need to learn to listen to DADDY!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Kenneth, that is a very important topic that I written a lot about, listening to God. So many verses in the New Testament about this as well as the old, yet it is so rare that Christians listen to the voice of our Shepherd. I think that by the end of the first century when John was writing Revelations, the church had already become deaf to the Lord’s voice for He had to repeat himself seven times to the churches of Asia with the same statement, “Let he who has ears HEAR what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” The church today is spiritually emaciated because it’s full from eating man made fluff, yet Jesus said, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by EVERY WORD that PROCEEDS from the mouth of the God.” My life did not change until, with the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit, I started listening an obeying to my Shepherd’s voice, not merely the voices of men.

      “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27 ISV)

      Thanks brother,
      Michael

      Like

  10. I loved reading about the phases of hearing God in The Vision, The Problem and The Promise. I had never thought about it in that manner but I sure have experienced it! It really does make perfect sense- if I were to know exactly what God had called me to accomplish I would run ahead and attempt to do it myself- right now. Then I would have limited “success” and praise from men only to have it all crashing down upon me in the end. No thanks. I have been spared more than I could ever know and what I do know….”Christian college, professional ministry, my own ministry” etc.

    I am also familiar with God bursting my bubble despite my doing what was right- and again. I don’t complain about this anymore, though it makes me sad at times, and yes, that much more dependent. He has rained upon my parade and continues to do so. Thank You Jesus!

    If He has shown me anything it is this: I must be willing to walk alone if need be. It would not be my choice, but my devotion to Him above all things will be tested. Friends, family, health, security and all that I may hold dear may need to fall at the foot of the cross. In due time they may be restored or replaced, or they may even rise as an earnest enemy.

    To leave these things for that which is Greater….that is the truest test of allegiance I know, because I’m holding His hand as if He is all that I have or need.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you for the lesson, Michael. You teach with such a gentle hand.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Michael says:

    Anna, it is the Lord if that is the case. I have had many hard years under harsh teachers and God seemed to put me through everything He wanted me to never do to His tender ones.
    Thank you, my sister! Your gentleness is wonderful as well with the hurting ones.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Fred Thoren says:

    I liked this. I have misunderstood what GOD wanted me to do many times.

    Liked by 2 people

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