Posts tagged Obedience
Open Hands, Willing Heart {Team Journal}

 Today’s team journal is written by our Bible Study Director, Lauren Steckling.

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While I want to offer baskets full of gifts and talents, many times all God asks of me is a willing and open heart.

I’ve probably mentioned before that I am a “behind the scenes” person. I prefer to be out of the spotlight, away from the center of attention. I see myself as a “follower” - the kind of character who plays the supporting role as the people around her are doing big things. I like being able to carry out the details while someone else comes up with the visionary dream. Any time the word “leader” or “leadership” is mentioned I am quick to announce: “that’s not who God created me to be.”

here are my empty hands. Fill them with qualities that only You can. If they need me, I’m willing to learn.

The problem with all of that is that it is who I say that I am. It’s my comfort zone, my safe place. I don’t like being in charge so I shy away from good opportunities for growth. Why? Because growth is uncomfortable and it takes me away from my safe place. Throughout the last ten years or so though, God has gradually, and intermittently placed me in positions of leadership that continue to stretch me. And every single time it has been good for me. From management at work during college to teaching classrooms of little ones to, most recently, my position on the Dayton Women in the Word’s Director Team.

This last position, as Bible Study Director, has definitely been a season of stretching for me. It was just over a year ago that I joined the team, and it had been evident by the events leading up to my commitment that this was where God wanted me to be. I almost didn’t apply, because little ol’ Lauren is quiet, reserved, and doesn’t take initiative - and those just aren’t the qualities of a leader. Except... God thought otherwise.

Just before I was interviewed for the position I told the Lord:

“God, I am not qualified for this job. I have empty hands and a laundry list of excuses why they’d be better off with someone else. BUT, here are my empty hands. Fill them with qualities that only You can. If they need me, I’m willing to learn.”

I constantly have to remind myself of this and I continue to pray that God would equip me. He has answered my prayer up to this point and I know He will be faithful to continue to give what I need. In my DWITW 365 reading from today (Matthew 25), I recalled the lesson of the parable of the man who gives his servants bags of gold, or talents. Two of the three servants invested their money and earned more gold for the master. One, however, hid his bag of gold and earned nothing more. To the two wise servants, he said:

 

“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; now I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”
(Matt. 25:23)

 

God has been giving me small areas of leadership to be faithful in for a while now. He is proving to me that I have the ability to do good things for His glory, and as long as I am faithful in those small areas and trust Him to equip me with what I need, I can continue to trust Him to provide when He brings larger areas of leadership.

His call for me, and for you, is faithfulness and stewardship - not perfection. He has already shown us that He is the one in charge anyway. He is the true planner, provider and leader of Dayton Women in the Word and the Summer Bible Study. And oh, what a beautiful relief that is to me! He has already shown me once again that He is going before us and providing for Summer Study 2019 before we even have the chance to feel a need! I still feel unqualified and insecure at times, but the Lord is being glorified all the more because it cannot be said that any “success” is credited to me or my abilities - it is, and will always be, Him!


 Lauren Steckling wants to live in a world where donuts have no calories, weekends last longer, and everyone would feel the grace and peace that comes knowing their Savior Jesus. When she's not taking care of her toddler, you can find her sewing, baking, or with her nose in a good book.

Her favorite Scripture is Isaiah 41:10, ESV: "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

Going Scared {Team Journal}

Today's team journal was written by our Team Lead, Natalie Herr. 

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“King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, ‘I am afraid of the Judeans who have deserted to the Chaldeans, lest I be handed over to them and they deal cruelly with me.’ Jeremiah said, ‘You shall not be given over to them. Obey now the voice of the Lord in what I say to you, and it shall be well with you, and your life shall be spared.” -Jeremiah 38:19-20

 

There’s a story I want to share with you from the book of Jeremiah. It’s about an exchange between Jeremiah the prophet and King Zedekiah. Let me set the scene for you: Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, put Zedekiah on the throne. The people of Judah were in a time of turmoil and upheaval, and Zedekiah was chosen to be the one who would decide if God’s people would surrender to the Chaldeans, come under their rule and therefore escape their attacks on the city of Jerusalem. Zedekiah acted like he wanted to hear from the Lord on this decision (Jer. 37:3,17; 38:14), but ultimately he did not want to accept the difficult truth that Jeremiah had to deliver. Jeremiah was proclaiming to the king and the public that those who stayed in the city would die by fire, and those who surrendered and went into exile would live, and the city would be spared. As you can imagine, that’s not what the leaders wanted to hear, so they threw Jeremiah in jail and stuck him in a cistern and ignored his message from God.

In Jeremiah’s last exchange with Zedekiah, the king opens up and tells Jeremiah that he’s scared. He doesn’t want to surrender to the Chaldeans because he’s afraid he’ll be hurt or killed. This is a very candid and vulnerable admission from a king. So, how does Jeremiah respond? He says to Zedekiah:

“Obey now the voice of the Lord in what I say to you, and it shall be well with you, and your life shall be spared.” Jer. 38:20

Jeremiah pleads with his king; promising that if he would only obey, he would experience the protection and favor of the Lord. If he obeys, then God will save him. Zedekiah is at a decision point. Will he obey God NOW and surrender? Or will he shrink back in fear?

The text tells us that after this, Zedekiah stuck Jeremiah back in house arrest and did nothing. Zedekiah chose not to obey. He chose not to act. He let his fear dictate his actions. Because of his fear, he was captured, watched his children be slaughtered, was struck with blindness and bound in chains as his city burned to the ground. Time was of the essence. The outcome of the whole nation was based on his obedience. But he refused to obey the Lord.

If you’ve continued reading this far, you’ve probably caught on to the point I’m trying to make. God called Zedekiah to obey his voice - and to do it right away. There was no time to waste. Lives were at stake. God was asking him to act out of obedience, not out of fear; he was asking him to trust Him for the outcome, even if it was scary to do so.

God was asking him to act out of obedience, not out of fear; he was asking him to trust Him for the outcome, even if it was scary to do so.

The concept of obedience is hard for us to accept because we want to be in charge. We want to make our own choices. Like Zedekiah, we want to consult God and get his opinion, but we want to ultimately make the final decision ourselves. We want the freedom to walk the other way if we don’t like what God has to say. And the thing that’s very clear in this story is that we actually have this choice! We have the freedom to choose the other way, to go against God. It’s what we’ve been doing as a human race ever since that first mistake in the Garden of Eden. We wait for His voice and when we finally hear it, we get scared. We fear the obedient route because it’s often not the easy route. We shrink back when it feels like He’s asking too much of us.

I can totally relate to Zedekiah here. There are so many times I feel inadequate and scared; not up to the tasks God has asked me to complete. I look at the effort it takes to be a loving spouse or train up Godly children or keep an orderly home or serve my church or take care of my body or run a ministry in His name... and it all seems like too much. It seems like it’s not going to work. It seems like it’s too hard for me. But when God asked Zedekiah to obey, he didn’t leave him wondering what the result would be. He told him clearly: You won’t die! It well be WELL with you. Your life will be spared. Step out in faith NOW and do what I’m asking you to do.

That phrase “be well” is yatab in Hebrew, meaning: to be good, pleasing, glad, joyful, beautiful, right. You see, obedience is good for us. It brings joy. It is right. It is what is in our favor.

I believe that principle stands for us, too. I believe when we choose to obey, it will be yatab. We will experience blessing. Deuteronomy 6:24 tells us that obedience is “for our good (our yatab!) always.” Always! It might not be simple or enjoyable or popular to obey, but it is for our good AND for the good of those around us. Zedekiah had the opportunity to save others’ lives and homes from the fire, but instead, he let everything burn to the ground. Our choices are not just about us. As relational beings, we have the opportunity to bless others with our obedience, as well.

Our choices are not just about us. As relational beings, we have the opportunity to bless others with our obedience, as well.

And so, as Jeremiah called up Zedekiah, I’ll do the same for us. Is there an area of your life where God is asking you to obey NOW? Is there something He keeps bringing up that you keep putting off?

I beg you, my friend: obey his voice NOW. Don’t wait until you feel ready or you have everything you think you need. Go scared. Trust him to work out all the details. Ask Him to help you believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to work in and through your imperfect self. For me right now, that looks like agreeing to setting my alarm early to meet with Him and move my body, even though I’m afraid I won’t follow through. That little step of obedience has the power to change my days and my interactions with others. So, what about you - what does it look like for you to go and obey, even if you’re scared?

Lord, may we all go the way of obedience by the power of your Spirit. May we listen and obey NOW, before it’s too late. Help us refuse to be controlled by fear, and in Jesus’ name, may we never have to watch another city burn.


Natalie Herr is the founder and team leader of Dayton Women in the Word. She is a servant of God, a wife, a mom of four and a God-sized dreamer. She loves teaching and equipping women with God's Word.