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“Lord, I Don’t Want to Do Your Will.”

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I have been doing an amazing Kay Arthur study on prayer with a ladies’ group at my church this summer called, “Lord, teach me to pray.” I love her point (pg. 54):

“And what is the root of all sin? Is it not independence? Is it not self having its own way?”

She goes on to say something very convicting, “One of the evidences of salvation is a willingness to submit to God…” And she backs that up with Scripture in Matthew 7:21-27. I would also add John 14:23-24.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Matthew 7:21

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. John 14:23-24

Here is an explanation of how we are to submit to God from www.gotquestions.org (emphasis added):

In all the New Testament incidences where the word submit occurs, the word is translated from the Greek word hupotasso. The hupo means “under” and the tasso means “to arrange.” This word and a root of it are also translated by the words subject and subjection. The word’s full meaning is “to obey, put under, be subject to, submit oneself unto, put in subjection under or be under obedience or obedient to.” The word was used as a military term meaning “to arrange troop divisions in a military fashion under the command of a leader.” This word is a wonderful definition of what it means to “submit” to God. It means to arrange oneself under the command of divine viewpoint rather than to live according to one’s old way of life based on a human viewpoint. It is a process surrendering our own will to that of our Father’s.

Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/submit-to-God.html#ixzz3dc9k7cuY

If Jesus is my Lord, I must submit to Him. If I refuse to obey Him, how can He be my Lord? I don’t have to agree with Him or understand what He is asking me to do. But if I can be content with going my own way and I have no problem with defying Christ and the Bible, I need to ask myself if I belong to Him. If I have yielded my life to Him as my Savior and as the LORD of my life but am living in sin, I am living in rebellion against Him and I need to repent and turn from sin and begin to head toward Christ immediately! Something is very wrong in my soul if I don’t want to obey God. Obedience – for one who has tasted the goodness of God – is something we do out of gratitude, joy, and love.

You do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all ; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:26-40

Kay Arthur says:

“Oh dear one, are you still in your sins, or are you a worshiper of God who longs to do the will of the Father? Only the latter has access to God in prayer.”

E.M. Bounds (The Necessity of Prayer, part of The Classic Collection on Prayer) has an entire chapter on Prayer and Obedience. You can find a free download of his amazing, Spirit-inspired books about prayer online. He writes:

The spirit that prompts a person to break one commandment is the spirit that may move that person to break them all. God’s commandments are a unit, and to break one strikes at the principle that underlies and runs through the whole. The person who does not hesitate to break a single commandment, would – more than likely – under the same stress and surrounded by the same circumstances break them all. (pg. 58)

Obedience is love fulfilling every command, and thereby expressing itself. Obedience, therefore, is not a hard demand made upon us, any more than is the service a husband gives his wife or a wife gives her husband. Love delights to obey and please the one it loves. There are no hardships in love… There are no impossible tasks for love.

If any should complain that humanity under the fall is too weak and helpless to obey these high commands of God, the answer is that through the atonement of Christ humanity is made able to obey… In regeneration and through the agency of the Holy Spirit, God works in us and bestows sufficient enabling grace for all that is required of us under the atonement. This grace is furnished without measure in answer to prayer. So at the same time that God commands, He stands pledged to give us all the necessary strength of will and grace of soul to meet His demands. Since this is true, we are without excuse for our disobedience. (pg. 60)

If you desire to pray to God, you must first have a consuming desire to obey Him. If you want free access to God in prayer, then every obstacle of sin or disobedience must be removed. (pg. 62)

An obedient life is a necessity to prayer – to prayer that accomplishes things. The absence of an obedient life makes prayer an empty performance – something wrongly named. (pg. 63)

SPEND SOME TIME IN EARNEST PRAYER TODAY:

Lord,

Please make clear to me any areas of disobedience and sin in my life. Are there things You have commanded me to do that I have refused to do? Am I totally surrendered to You and do I delight in seeking to obey You or do I want to be in charge and do things my way? Are there areas where I disagree with you and where I rebel against Your will?

I want to belong to You. Break my heart and my will. Show me anything that I am withholding from You. Let me be totally devoted and submitted to Your Lordship! Develop in me a deep desire and passion for You and for Your will. Let me long to obey You and please You more than anything in this life!

In the Name and power of Christ,

Amen!

RELATED:

Praying from an Obedient Life

FOR FURTHER STUDY AND CONTEMPLATION:

What are some of the things God commands us to do as believers?

  • Love God with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength (the Greatest Commandment) – Luke 10:27
  • Love others as you love yourself with the unconditional love of God – Luke 10:27, I Corinthians 13:4-8
  • Abide in Christ continually – John 15:1-8
  • Love Jesus much more than anyone or anything in this world and more than your own life – Luke 14:26-27
  • Forgive those who sin against you as God forgives you – Matthew 6:14-15
  • Overcome evil with good, do not take vengeance or repay anyone evil with evil – Romans 12:17-21
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but take your concerns to God in prayer and trust Him completely – Philippians 4:4-8
  • Bless those who curse you – Romans 12:14, Luke 6:28
  • Pray for those who mistreat you – Luke 6:28
  • Do not argue or complain – Philippians 2:14-16
  • Give thanks in every circumstance – I Thessalonians 5:18
  • Pray continually – I Thessalonians 5:17
  • For wives, respect and submit to your husband out of reverence for Christ so that the Word of God might not be maligned – Eph. 5:22-33, Col. 3:18, I Peter 3:1-6, Titus 2:3-5
  • For husbands, love your wives and treat them with honor and gentleness as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her with selfless, humble leadership that is first fully submitted to God – Eph. 5:22-33, I Peter 3:7
  • Do not be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Holy Spirit – Ephesians 5:18
  • Get rid of all sin – idolatry (cherishing other things or people more than Christ), rage, hatred, unbelief in God, lust, unforgiveness, gossip, resentment, irreverence toward God, worry, fear, desire for control, greed, addictions, stealing, worldliness, godlessness, sexual immorality, foolishness, coarse joking, adultery, murder, dishonesty/lying, pride, self-righteousness, false doctrine, heresies, strife, contention, disrespect, rudeness, unkindness, apathy, drunkenness, etc…
  • Be holy as God is holy by the power of His Spirit filling your life – 1 Peter 1:16
  • Make disciples of Christ by God’s Spirit’s power in you –  Matthew 28:19-20

84 thoughts on ““Lord, I Don’t Want to Do Your Will.”

  1. Thank you April. This post couldn’t have come at a better time. I have felt quite convicted in the past week due to the sins I have allowed myself for short term gain. A winge here, a complaint there, a gossip or judgemental comment, camouflaged boasting. I must obey my God in all things because these seemingly small things are messing with my heart and character. Thank you for your teaching.

    1. Charli,

      Anything good and wise here is of God, not of me. I don’t have any wisdom on my own. But I am so thankful God is speaking to you here. That is a very good thing!!! I praise Him for His speaking to you and for Him giving you a willing heart to listen.

  2. waooo! Matt 7:21……but only those who do the will of my father. that has come as such a revelation to me. who’s will am I doing as I work? talk? think? etc. i desire to be found in the will of God. thanks April

  3. Where is the scripture that says obedience must be cheerful or it is sin? Obedience even with gritted teeth is still obedience. Feeling great about obeying is ideal, but it is a form of abuse to expect cheerfulness about obedience from our children. Are we going to tell our kids, “Sorry, you don’t look cheerful enough so your obedience doesn’t count and you are still sinning because your flesh wants to disobey.” Cheerfulness is ideal of course, but I think it is a feeling.

  4. The one minor change I would suggest with what your sister says about obedience is substituting joyful for cheerful. Again it is probably a nitpick (sorry about that) but joy is a fruit of the Spirit:)

  5. Katy, may I suggest God wants us to have cheerful heart…Proverbs 17:22
    A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones… may a say not having a cheerful heart is disobedience:)

      1. Maybe the cheerfulness we have in obeying comes from having Him as number 1 in our lives and not putting anything in our hearts and minds above Him. When I’m not cheerful in obedience it’s usually because I’ve forgotten what Christ has done for me and the things He has suffered on my behalf and that I should be setting my affection on things above (Colossians 3:2) It’s usually an idol of some sort

        1. When my focus is on Christ and nothing else the joy comes. The cheerfulness in obeying isn’t so much an everyday “feeling” but a result of (fruit of) the Spirit when I cast everything else aside for Him. This is the only way we can bear anything humanly unpleasant with joy! (Acts 5:41; Romans 8:18)

        2. Lara,
          I agree. I know that I could not and did not obey God cheerfully when I had other things in my heart above Christ.

          If anyone is interested, you may search my home page for “idol” and “idolatry” as well as “contentment” and “security” for posts related to this topic.

          Thank you so much for sharing! This is a really important point. 🙂

      2. I’m not there yet either! But, I pray daily that God would change my heart to rejoice every time I put my flesh to death, lean on the power of the Holy Spirit and act in obedience to Him. My lack of joy (our cheerfulness) is a sin. I know it is because it stinks. It doesn’t give off the sweet aroma of Christ to anyone. That God would leave any part of His will to be done by stinky sinner me is AMAZING GRACE. So I try to rejoice that God let’s me be part of the amazing work He’s doing in my life and for others. That focus (not my displeasure with whatever it is He’s asking me to do) is what yields joy for me. I think of the prodigal son who returned home willing to be a servant to his father. That’s me! But, not always. I have to remember the Father’s heart in receiving me home. I’d gladly do ANYTHING for Him. 😉
        It took me a while to be able to do anything with gladness. I still have a little stinkyness left over from my “I’m going to take my inheritance and live my own life” days. I’ve been following this blog and the whole concept of respecting my husband for almost 2 years. It’s finally making a difference in me and my marriage, not necessarily my husband. I pray without ceasing because my flesh rises up in contempt for husband ALL THE TIME. But, in submitting to God – loving Father that takes me back every time- it’s gotten much easier to replace my contempt with repentance to my Father, the real One I’m sinning against. In finding my love, affirmation, joy and acceptance in Him and Him alone. I am confident of the strength He gives me to do anything. I can be a peaceful wife regardless of what I face because my Sovereign Father has my back, Jesus’s life is the one I live and the Holy Spirit’s power is fueling my victory in every battle of the flesh.

      3. Katy,

        I have found that cheerful obedience comes from the heart and understanding ALL that Christ has done for us: freed us from sin and damnation, covers us with His grace, loves us completely, fills us with His Spirit, works in us mightily and gives us MANY promises. The more you spend time in His Word, which I encourage you to do daily, the more you desire to please the Lord because you love Him so much and it is the least that we can do for ALL that He has done for us.

        The same is with children; teaching them to love goodness, purity and God’s ways since obeying God reaps beautiful fruit. It takes a LOT of speaking God’s Truth into their lives. If you are obeying with “gritted teeth,” you don’t understand the depth of God’s great and abundant love for you and that all that we have and are is because of Him. Every morning, when I spend time in the Word, I get choked up reading how great our God is and all He has done for me.

        The same goes with pleasing and loving our husbands; the more deeply we love them and want the best for them, the easier it is to submit to and obey them.

        1. Lori,

          Thank you so much for sharing your insights and wisdom – how I wish we had all known these things long ago – but I thank God that He is revealing this to us and that we can live in the blessing of His joy as we allow His Spirit to empower us to obey Him.

      4. Katy,

        I know you’ve heard from a number of people but if I may, I’d like to speak to your point as well?

        I’m not there yet either.

        And truthfully, none of us will be until the process of sanctification is complete.

        Sometimes, I don’t want to do what God wants me to do for any number of reasons. However, since I know God is good, and sovereign, and loves me, and has good plans for me, is Faithful, is…(truly this list could go on and on…Is there any end to His Wonderful Attributes?) AND he has given me free will, I can choose to do said thing, though I lack the cheerful heart at the moment.

        I have experienced that when I take all my “reasons” to the Lord (tell Him!), then focus on the Truth (the Word of God) and say plainly : “God, I really am not feeling like doing this thing but because You are You (Faithful, Good, Loving, All-knowing, the One who is the Giver of all Good Things,…) I choose Your way despite what my feelings say. Will you please change my heart?”

        This has been a prayer that He has always answered. Sometimes quickly, sometimes over an extended period of time. But perhaps, this radical honesty with the Lord might be a blessing for you too?

        Be encouraged Katy, the same Power that rose Christ from the dead, that spoke and the universe burst into being, that has given us life and life more abundantly can even do this thing – in regular folk like you and me.

        In His Love,

        Amber

        1. Love this, Amber! Thank you so very much for sharing!

          It brings tears of joy to my eyes to see so many sisters in Christ reaching out to Katy (and to all of the silent wives who are saying the same things, but just not commenting on the blog) – and to see the godly wisdom and what God is doing in so many hearts and lives.

          Wow.

          Lord, how I praise You for the beauty You are creating in Your women!!!!! Be greatly exalted here, Lord Jesus!

      5. I hope you don’t mind me meddling but I find sincere ladies blogs so inspiring.

        I’d like to address John 8:32 ‘the truth will set you free’ as it relates to the title here [‘Lord, I don’t want to do your will’] and to Katy’s honest comments. Truth sets us free! Not just the capital “T” Truth of Jesus but every little “t” truth in life that is all a part of Him. Several years ago when God was tugging on me I would ignore Him, kind of ‘hide’ from Him. Then one day I said as plain as day “I’m not ready to give you that part of my life yet, Lord.” I can’t tell you well enough about the wonderful release I started experiencing and how I started to grow….all just by telling God the truth about my heart and mind. It might come under ‘a problem recognized is a problem half solved’ or simply that I just added a little of Jesus –truth – to my life, but I encourage all to be honest with self and others close to you, and maybe those not close to you. The truth sets us free, praise God, and it comes in bits and pieces most times.

        My father was a pastor and he used to preach “sin boldly!” No, not to encourage people to go sin but to encourage people not to hide their sin. Hiding is lying and deception which is of the devil and the sooner we acknowledge or expose our sin the sooner we are healed [and others are healed].

        I have come to believe that the absolute most important attribute of a follower of Jesus is summarized in what Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet:

        “This above all: to thine own self be true,
        And it must follow, as the night the day,
        Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

        That is LIVING Jesus. Before we can have faith or hope or love we have to have truth, acknowledge truth and that starts inside of us. That is what I believe Romans 12:2 talks of with the renewed mind….stop lying to ourselves, stop being deceived. Jesus is many different descriptions but foundational to them all is Truth. If there is only one phrase I would leave with my dying breath it would be “To thine own self be true…” for then you are honest with your spouse and your kids and Jesus and…. And you have just lived the gospel.

        Acknowledge the truth of who you are and the Truth of who Jesus is and you will be set free!

        Continue on Katy being honest with who you are/where you are at!

        Blessing in our Lord Jesus Christ, Dave

        1. Dave,

          Thank you so much for your perspective. We absolutely do need to be honest with ourselves first – and this is a process. Sometimes a very long, painful process. I love that about that Truth sets you free and truth sets you free.

  6. Obeying does not come naturally to any of us. We all have to die to self and take up our cross. Learning obedience is painful – but produces a beautiful harvest. 🙂

    Cheerful obedience definitely has to be learned – but that is such good news – God can teach us this! WOOHOO!

  7. For anyone who might be interested 🙂

    English Standard Version

    Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

    2 Corinthians 9:7

  8. I understand cheerful obedience. I respectfully disagree with your teaching of real obedience. Please understand that I know cheerfulness is the best attitude and recommended, but I do not believe that scripture says it is required. That is all.

  9. Hmm. I think I get what the desired outcome is re EM Bounds statement but I am not sure its as biblical as it sounds. Scripture says that for the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross. Enduring something is hardly being cheerful and yet He was obedient to death. The joy came later. Elsewhere Jesus gives an example of two sons, whose father asks them to go work in his vineyard. Son one says I will go but then does not. Son two says I will not go but then later does go. Jesus asked who it was that did the will of the father. Answer was the one who actually went, even though his obedience wasn’t instantaneous. Gideon wanted to be sure he was really hearing from God, so he tested with fleeces to make sure. If I were him I’d probably do the same. I would not want to do something crazy and risky like take on an occupying army because I THOUGHT I’d heard from God, I’d want to make sure. God seems to have been very understanding and paitent with Gideon, evne though some Chrstian teachers have somewhat villified Gideon as providing an example of unbelief. It is therefore wise to use discernment. Abraham obeyed God with a heavy heart when God asked him to sacrifice Isaac on Mt Moriah, yet trusted God to provide what was necessary, knowing that God would not break His promises. If EM Bounds meant cheerful as in “happy” and was correct, we would see Jesus, who of all would know how to be cheerful even in difficult obeidence situations, wrestling in prayer, asking if possible that the cup be taken, setting his face resuloutely to obey the Father, sweating blood and tears as He prayed about the upcoming trial. So I am afraid that the bible has too many examples of clearly godly and obedient people obeying faithfully, resolutely, willingly, with reverence their God but it wasn’t always full of good cheer. Sometimes obedience can be heartbreaking and anguishing. Obeidnece can be the attitdue of one’s heart, not necessarily the carrying out of a task, such as the case of Job, who continued to trust God even when all of his children were killed and his goods carried off. Perhaps though, in EM Bounds’ time, cheerful meant someting more along the lines of “compliantly or willingly”, not doing something very hard to do with a stewardess like smile on one’s face 🙂 Then there’s the command to bring a sacrifice of praise. It’s hardly a sacrifice if one feels like doing it, but we do it because of who God is and because He is worthy, not because we feel.. I think as we mature and grow in knowing Him, obeying Him becomes easier and more natural. I did look up EM Bounds’ bio. He was a man of deep travail in prayer and interceded for souls with teras streaming down his face. He never negelcted his four am to seven am prayer time even when on speaking engagements and often rebuked his fellow minister for asking the heathen to sing songs of heaven and of the lamb, which they clearly had no spirit to do from a place of faith or knowledge. He suffered the loss of two children to early deaths, was injured during the war and imprisoned for something that had to do with an oath he didn’t agree with, required by the army who were trying to raise funds. One cannot dmiss him as someone who writes on spiriual things wihtout ever having paid the price for that knowledge and he has much to teach us. But I alaso thing that his statement is a bit too black and white and ignores scriptural examples that show that one may obey in more than one frame of mind and be still genuuinely obedient.
    Thanks April, for this article, it was timely and convicting. I am clearly not a very obedient character and am still reeling from some of the disobedientchoices I have made. Lots of meat here.

  10. What a beautiful post! Filled with scripture that we all need. I’m so thankful to God for your heart for Him and ministry and praying it reaches more women. The Lord convicted me of exaggerating several years ago and showed me I was “lying”, and just the other day I found myself exaggerating as I talked with my mother in law. I ask “why do I do that?”. God is revealing to me in these last couple months that I have deeply rooted stuff from my childhood that He wants to heal me of. May the Lord heal our hearts and uproot anything in us that is not of Him. May we long to obey Him with everything He tells us to do in His Word (the Bible) and also what His Holy Spirit leads us to do. One thing that has helped me obey Him more closely is constantly remembering what He did for me because of His love and grace.

  11. I feel as if my husband of 14 years hates me. We have been under severe stress lately, issues with our 18-year-old son, job related things etc. And I am struggling with the hormonal ups and downs of perimenopause, which I don’t feel like he even believes is real.if I voice my opinion about anything I’m not being submissive, but he gets very angry at me. All our problems are my fault, and he blames all our marital problems on me not being submissive. I do have a strong personality and I need grace and love not condemnation. He will get angry at me and tell me I’m incompetent, stupid and other cruel things. If it wasn’t for my special needs child that I had to take care of, I honestly don’t want to live anymore.

    1. Anne,

      That sounds very painful for everyone. So many difficult issues going on at once. 🙁 I wish I could give you a big hug!

      Would you be able to give me an example of how you voiced your opinion and he got upset so we can examine what might be going on in a bit more detail?

      How long has he been saying all the problems in the marriage are your fault and are because of your lack of submission?

      Does he genuinely believe that a wife may not ever disagree with her husband and still be submissive?

      What is his relationship with Christ to your knowledge?

      What is your relationship with Christ?

      Does he ever apologize?

      Do you ever share your concerns and the issues you have with him? What happens?

      Much love!
      April

    2. Anne,
      I read your comment with so much sadness. Parts of it sound so familiar to a season in my marriage.

      There was a time when the stress my husband was under was incredibly huge from many different directions for an extended period of time. He was not walking closely to the Lord, and I believe was even angry at God. I remember telling the woman who was advising me that there was no right time, no right words, no right gentle way to say anything of importance to my husband without him blowing up. It was incredibly painful.

      I just want to humbly encourage you to not lose heart. Over time God did amazing things in my husband’s heart, in my own heart, and in our relationship with each other and God.

      Praying for you dear sister…

      1. Thank you for sharing. I’m in the in space between where Anne is and the “other side” where you seem to be, Julie. Such a hard place still.
        Anne, I agree with Julie, it’s worth it. Not because of the work God has done in my husband (He must be working inside -> out because I don’t see it yet!), but because of the work He’s done in ME.
        Since we’re on the topic of obedience: I’ve found that it isn’t that I have lacked the wisdom or power to deal with a challenging marriage, but that I’ve lacked the confidence in God’s wisdom, the courage to rest in His peace and the surrender to let the Holy Spirit do His job. I spent a lot of time silent to my husband but praying (crying, whining, complaining, begging) non stop to God. This drew me closer to His heart and He showed me my heart.
        He showed me His magnificence and the plans He has are not just for me. He has plans for my husband. The enemy does too. And, while the enemy may try to use the difficulties in our marriages against us, we can’t let him use us against our husbands. I refuse to be a tool of the enemy but only of my beloved Lord. He calls me to respect my husband out of obedience to Him not my husband.
        I remember looking at the list of ways how to respect your husband and this site and rolling my eyes, scoffing at MOST of them. But, when I enter prayer time with the God I trust with my life, who I have claimed to surrender to and HE asks me to do some of those things, rubber meets the road. I can’t roll my eyes -well, I can but I’ll have to deal with some serious consequences. He’s met me every time I take that leap of faith and do what He’s asked as long as I do it ungrudgingly. When I have had a self righteous, prideful our contemptuous attitude. It’s shown through and actually did more damage.

        Thank you again for sharing, Julie. Very encouraging!

        1. Sandra,

          Thank you for taking the time to share some of your story. Thank you too, for your encouragement to me. What a blessing you’ve been…

          When others are hurting in ways that I’ve experienced deeply, I often wish I could just scoop them up in my arms and rescue them, somehow. But then your story reminds me of how God used my pain, and He uses your pain to mold us each into His image, and fulfill His purposes through it.

          The biggest spiritual “markers” in my life have all seemed to come through intense pain. I often recognize God’s love most keenly on the other side of the trial, rather in the midst of it. I hope that makes sense…But with each additional hard trial, it now becomes easier to know and trust Him in the midst of the suffering because He’s been so faithful in the past.

          I’m praying for you, Sandra. He will be faithful to you, too, and your firsthand experience of His attributes in action will be seen as you trust Him in the hard places.

      2. Hi Julie,
        I’m going through a similarly difficult time in my marriage. Are you able to share more of your own experience with me please! I would so appreciate it!
        Thank you,

        1. Dani,
          I’m so sorry you’re going through a difficult time, as well. I would love to share with you. I’m praying for you and your marriage…..The path God took me on was a long one, and he used so many different situations to get me to where I am now in my marriage, and in my faith. He truly changed my heart and my husband’s heart, and he still has pruning to do…until we see Him face-to-face…..I honestly don’t know what to share with you, sweet sister…Maybe if there’s a specific question, that might help me know. ??

  12. Obedience is never easy! And we are all works in progress, longing for the day when we will one day be perfected in heaven! 🙂

    I read this passage today, and would love to see us all obeying this from our hearts, even when we are writing on this blog! The brackets are mine, obviously…

    1 Thessalonians 5:12-15

    “Now we ask you brothers, (and sisters!) to respect those who work hard among you (like April), who are over you in the Lord, and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. (like April always is!) Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.”

    Being kind to each other is such an underrated thing in my opinion!

    Much love to all my sisters on here who write, and challenge, and explain their points of view in so many ways 🙂

  13. I am hopeful that most people understand that “cheerful obedience” is not about feelings, or cheerfulness (necessarily) but a decision of the will to obey willingly out of a deep desire to please and honor Christ. It is about pure motives rather than the alternative – which is outward obedience that is done with inward resentment, disrespect, or a rebellious spirit.

    Perhaps “respectful obedience” might be a more accurate term?

    Thanks so much for sharing in this discussion with me, everyone!

  14. Love the new blog makeover, by the way. The background is reading a beautiful robin’s egg blue on my screen!

  15. Ladies,

    I sincerely had no idea that the concept of cheerful obedience or joyful and ungrudging obedience would create so much controversy and contention or that anyone would construe these concepts to be unbiblical. I didn’t realize so many people would misunderstand and think it was about feelings. I have removed that part from the post because I don’t want to create a stumbling block for anyone. Please forgive me.

    I long for each of us to desire to obey God in all things and to delight in pleasing Him. He wants and deserves our obedience in all things. And God clearly cares very much about our having right motives and attitudes – rather than sinful motives or attitudes – in all things. But I don’t want to create angst or unnecessary guilt with the phrase “cheerful obedience.”

    Much love to each of you.

  16. Wow. This post and all the comments made me feel a myriad of emotions.

    I think so much of the issue here was an issue of semantics. April, you were not saying you had to be cheerful in obedience as in “oh hooray! I love this painful experience! Obeying when I don’t want to just makes me so happy,” I didn’t get that from you at all. I felt you were saying cheerful obedience was obeying WITHOUT a bad attitude, and you did a good job of explaining by using the example of a child going to their room while stomping away.

    I also didn’t think (unless I missed something) that you were saying we need to require a heart reaction from someone. Regarding children, we can’t “require” a heart reaction, but we can encourage, and teach, and model, and help them understand the importance of obeying with a “right” heart (as in – with the right attitude and not a chip on the shoulder.)

    Believe me, my heart is not always right! I have not “arrived”. I need to examine my own heart and my own attitude Every. Single. Day.

    Katy, I am praying for you tonight. I think this is either a misunderstanding, or perhaps it has struck a nerve. I sense pain in your comments. When I get upset and don’t want to hear what people are trying to tell me (meaning, maybe they are right, but I’m stuck in my own rut and don’t want to listen) I tend to get defensive. Forgive me if I’m on the wrong track, but I’m praying for you anyway.

    I teach drama to teen girls (and boys but mostly girls). I think I can safely say there is no more emotionally diverse group than teen girls who love theatre. 🙂 They obey me as their teacher and director because they respect me. There are many people who are afraid of this age group. Mentoring these teens is a gift God gave me. I think I get through to them because I speak their language. (I jokingly say it’s because I never grew up and have the same issues, but with a lot more life experience). Anyway, all of that to say, they often share if they are mad about something their parents are making them do (say, take a certain class, babysit a sibling, something.) Being a parent, and the “cool” teacher, I can often explain to them why their mom is asking them to do whatever it is, and I try to talk them through their response and see if their heart is right. I also encourage them to look at things through the lens of God’s Word. Often, once they lose the attitude, and look at the issue from both sides, and look at what would please God, they change their attitude. I am not “requiring” them to have a certain heart reaction, but encouraging them to make sure they are making their decisions with their hearts in the right place. I believe that’s the goal of “cheerful obedience.” It’s a growth process, and as April and other commenters have pointed out, requires a great deal of prayer.

    On a completely different note, April, I’m doing much better. I’d love to share more at a later time, but wanted to let you know I, and my marriage, are doing much better.

    1. Becca,

      I was thinking of you yesterday and wondering how you were doing! Thank you for the update and PRAISE GOD that you and your marriage are doing so much better! YAY!!!!!

      You heard my heart correctly, and articulated what I was trying to communicate very well about that cheerful obedience means not having a bad attitude and about that regarding children, we don’t attempt to control them and force a heart attitude, but we model it for them, encourage it, and teach them to learn to obey with a right attitude rather than with a rebellious, resentful one. I, too, must examine my own heart constantly. I will have to do that for the rest of my life here on earth.

      I hear a lot of pain in Katy’s comments, too. Anger often signals pain. I was just praying for her myself. In fact, I can’t sleep – but have been up praying for Katy at 1am. (That is how much you are on my mind, Katy!) But how thankful I am to see how God is working in your life, Becca! Thank you so much for joining me in prayer for our dear sister! It’s such a gift from God to get to watch you minister to and encourage a woman who is hurting. You have had your share of pain and anger and wrestling, too. I’m glad we get to walk this road together and that we don’t have to walk it alone.

      I appreciate your insights and really love your example with the teenagers you teach.

      Your comment blesses me greatly, and I pray it might bless many others, as well. 🙂

  17. All,

    None of us has the ability to obey God in our own human power. I sure don’t! There is not one good thing in me apart from Christ. Jesus did ALL of the work on the cross on my behalf to make a way for me to be right with God. And He does ALL of the work to give me the power to be obedient even now. “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

    Some of you are hurting very, very deeply. This is a safe place to share your pain, if you would like to. This is a safe place to ask for prayer. None of us is perfect here. None of us has “arrived” and achieved perfection. We are all still learning. God is transforming all of us to be more and more like Jesus. It is a process. All of us have struggled mightily and wrestled deeply – and we will have more struggles and wrestling in the future. There is nothing easy about surrendering completely to Christ. It is sacrifice. It is painful. Dying to self is excruciating. But it leads to spiritual life! It leads to great peace! It is SO worth it!

    How I long for you to experience the abundant spiritual blessings that Jesus has died to provide for each of you! How I long for you to live in the power of His Spirit and to experience His love, joy, peace, acceptance, power, hope, courage, and fulfillment.

    Obedience is important to God. Yes, absolutely.
    Our motives are important to God. Yes, absolutely.

    But God knows that we can’t obey Him on our own. Without His Spirit filling us, we are like a computer that is unplugged or a car without gas in the tank.

    This is not about us trying harder or being more perfect in our own power, my precious sisters! There is grace, mercy, and help for us all in Christ Jesus!

    God knows we can do nothing good whatsoever apart from His Spirit in us. That is why He gives us His Spirit! Without Him, we couldn’t even have faith in Him. He does EVERYTHING!

    It is ALL about what Jesus did for us and does for us and it is about us taking refuge in Him, seeking Him with all our hearts, and us allowing Him access to our souls and lives and minds to change us. We can’t do the changing. We can’t do the work. We can be still and cooperate while He works in us. But we can’t clean ourselves up.

    As we ask Him to take over and grow in our faith and we trust Him more and more – we allow His Spirit access to all the darkest places in our souls. He shines the blazing light of His Word in those dark places and finds the cancer, the gangrene, and all of the sin that is so toxic to us. He brings conviction and He places His finger on various areas where He wants us to change. But then, He gives us the desire to change and the ability to change. It is ALL about Him. This is His grace.

    He has commands for us to obey. But then He steps down into our lives to give us the desire, faith, strength, courage, and ability to walk in obedience as we abide in Him (John 15:1-8). His grace is so glorious! This is Good News! He changes our thoughts. He changes our attitudes. He changes our words and our actions to match His will.

    Be still, my dear sisters! Be still before Christ who died for you. Breathe. Sink into Him. Rest in Him. You don’t have to exhaust yourself trying to be a godly wife or an obedient Christian in your own strength. Let Jesus do the work that you cannot do. Your work is simply to rest in Him, to look to Him, to put all of your faith and trust in Him, to be willing to listen to Him, and to desire to obey Him. He is more than able to do the changing and the hard stuff as you allow Him access and control in your life.

    Much love!

    April

    How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit
    Stages of This Journey
    When Do I Get to Be Peaceful?

    A book I really love that explains this well is The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee.

  18. I realise this has been a very long discussion already, and I don’t want to confuse or detract from it, but I do have an example I wanted to share, to encourage others really, or maybe help another wife who is having similar struggles herself. April, this is about obeying but possibly more about parenting really, so feel free to take this comment away if you don’t feel it is relevant.

    Background: I have been trying to respect my non Christian husband of 22yrs, for about the last six months, since God brought me to my knees over my disrespect. I have been a Christian about 12 yrs. I have two older teens, both of whom know and love the Lord. At the weekend, my daughter and her Christian boyfriend attended a party together which finished at midnight. She got home an hour and half later (it was a 20 minute drive away) She said they had been to the drive thru MacDonalds. She hates fast food.

    I was in knots. Not only because, as a mother, I was up and worrying if they were safe. I’m sure many mums can relate to this! But also because I was so afraid they had been ‘up to something’. This year God has convicted me about idols, through reading this blog, and I have had to lay down idols in many areas, but significantly over: my mum/daughter relationship, and both my children’s sexual purity. I only realised I had made their sexual purity an idol due to the level of fear I had in this area. For me, idols and fears are very, very linked.

    But here I was again, full of fear! 🙁

    In the morning (which was Fathers Day) I asked my husband what I should say to my daughter regarding her late night. He said ‘don’t say anything’ ! OK that was NOT what I wanted to hear! I needed to challenge her, ask her what she was up to, voice my fears/suspicions , and generally thrash out whether she was guarding herself etc etc etc!

    I decided to obey my husband. I was glad to -talking of cheerfulness 😉 – because I have often been asking the Lord to show me ways to respect my husband and I have been telling God that I trust Him to lead me and our family through my non Christian husband. So this was a chance to prove I meant what I had prayed. Yay!

    So yes, I was glad. But I didn’t AGREE with him! Or like his decision! All day, I was preoccupied with worries, and what I should say to her, and whether to tackle her about it after Fathers’ Day was over – as I felt my husband had said not to say anything because he wanted a happy family day. So leaving it to Monday was ok, right?

    Anyway I felt convicted to leave it the following day, and also Tuesday. But I wasn’t sleeping due to worry about them, and wondering if they had been careless or slipped up somehow.

    Finally, after getting up extremely early to pray this morning, I had a very small simple text discussion with my daughter, after she had left for work, which basically told me I had NOTHING to worry about! I can’t explain here, but suffice to say, had I gone ahead in disobedience and made a massive ‘discussion’ on Sunday, I would have made everything so much worse and caused so much unnecessary angst.

    – If I am constantly doubting and mistrusting towards my children, the enemy could so easily whisper lies in their ears like “she doesn’t trust you anyway, you might as well do what she thinks you’re doing”
    – If I continually check on her and demand to know every detail, this could lead her to be secretive and to feel guilty even when she doesn’t have anything to feel guilty about!
    – If I put heavy and difficult burdens on her, she may rebel and do the opposite.
    – If I am constantly suspicious of her, and she feels she is not trusted, she may deliberately behave in an untrustworthy way just to prove a point.
    – If I had tackled her about this on Sunday, and been wrong in my suspicions, (which I was) then she would have been so angry and it would’ve driven a wedge between us and possibly stopped her from confiding in me in future.

    It is a difficult balance parenting teens, and one I am constantly worrying over. To be too heavy-handed just sends them the other way. But equally they do need to be accountable to their parents and know that some things are unacceptable.

    I am so grateful to God for His grace to me in this area, and for my precious, wise, husband who guides me (when I let him) and reins in my hot-headed approach. And I am so so sorry for all my years as a disrespectful wife and my total disregard of his opinion on so many occasions. I am amazed at how much God is doing in our family and I just want to honour Jesus every day and bring Him glory.

    Sorry this is SO LONG! 🙂 I pray it helps someone.
    God bless you and your family April, much love.

      1. Hello April, sorry for slow reply – very busy day!

        You are very welcome to use or share this, I can edit it a bit to read better if you like? Would you be able to email it back to me for editing perhaps? (I love writing and whilst I am no expert, I have been feeling called to share sometimes about parenting issues, especially with teens)
        God has blessed me with the youthwork at our church, in addition to my own two, so am very used to teenagers and all the problems that come along during these years!

        I am in awe of you and this amazing ministry, and all you do. Just want to simply say: THANK YOU!

        1. Sunshine,

          I will get with you. We haven’t gone through much of the teenage years and haven’t been involved in the youth ministry yet, so I am thankful for your willingness to share. 🙂

          I’m so thankful God has used this to bless you, my sister. What an honor and a privilege that God allows me to be part of His work in so many women’s lives. I just want to do whatever He calls me to do for His kingdom. May Christ receive all the glory!

  19. Hi. I missed the whole cheerful obedience that you took out of the article I read in the comments. My question is about prayer. Prayer isn’t hard for me. With what I’ve read from this article about obedience and prayer life and some studying about head coverings for women, I wonder if my prayers are getting through to God. My husband also doesn’t really “get” prayer. He wonders why we pray since God already has planned our lives. But then when I read verses like 1 Thessalonians 5:17-Pray without ceasing, I wonder if I don’t have to have everything perfect before I approach God? Thanks for any help.

    1. Tiffany,
      If we have to have everything perfect before we approach God, none of us could approach Him!
      But there is a way we can approach Him – with reverence, confessing and repenting of any sin, worshipping Him, honoring Him, putting Him first in our hearts above all else, seeking His will above our own, praying in accordance with His will, looking to Him for provision.

      If we have unrepentant sin in our hearts, that is a problem. If I am cherishing bitterness, pride, gossip, or any other sin – I need to allow God to help me get rid of that first.

      The head covering thing is a way that we can show honor to God and respect for our husbands’ God-given authority. I have personally been amazed at how much the simple act of putting something on my head has helped me to get in a respectful, reverent frame of mind regarding God and my husband. But I don’t think a head covering is required for God to hear our prayers. Does that make sense?

      Are you experiencing God’s peace, joy, and contentment in your life regularly?

      Why do you think your prayers may not be getting through?

      The only way we can approach God in prayer is through the obedience of Jesus on the cross and His gift of grace to us – and then His Spirit working in us and filling us. It is all about Him.

      God is sovereign, but He chooses to use our prayers to move His hand. He uses our prayers to accomplish His will on earth – so prayer is vitally important!

      Not sure if I have answered your questions. Please let me know. 🙂

      1. Thank you. You did answer my questions. I guess I sometimes only have time for a quick prayer. And I just wonder if that’s getting through without all the repentance, head coverings etc.

        1. Tiffany,

          If you never spend time in repentance – that is a problem. Most of us have things to confess and repent of pretty often. But if you are caught up on your repentance and you are spending serious time with God most days – you can always have access to Him if you are in right standing with Him and you can pray any length prayers at any time. 🙂

          And, such amazing news, Jesus is always interceding for us at the right hand of God in heaven. 🙂

  20. I think words like “love”, “joy”, “cheer”, “happy”, “delight”, and others can be very loaded and misunderstood. They’re all emotions and as such, can’t be summoned at will. They’re very dependent on personality and circumstance, as well as being generous gifts from God. However, the words as used in the Bible (and this post), seem to also mean a state of mind and will, rather than an emotion. I WILLINGLY and UNGRUDGINGLY seek to obey and love God and place Him first in my heart. Yet I don’t experience any positive, pleasurable feelings these past few months. Is something broken in me that I can’t feel joy while obeying? Is God simply withholding His gifts for some reason? Am I sinning because I can’t summon a positive experience when I’m under such a heavy dark cloud of unhappiness, even as I KNOW I’m obeying Him unreservedly? Is it merely hormonal? Or am I in fact obeying cheerfully and I just don’t recognize it because the word “cheer” is too much associated with the emotion? Like Katy, I find it really discouraging to be seeking, asking, and knocking for God’s will and strength and guidance and to be fully lacking in positivity while so many other seem to effortlessly radiate it.

    I’m not criticizing your post in any way, April, and in fact no longer see any mention of cheer between when I read and responded a few days ago (but didn’t post this comment) and a second reading of it a moment ago. Did I misread, or have you changed the wording? And I don’t in the least envy (although I also desire in myself) others’ strong faith and happiness in God!!! Your words came at an uncanny time, when my emotions these past few weeks have taken me to crippling levels of sorrow. My life is falling to pieces, my sadness is uncontrollable, and until this morning, God seems to have turned His head from me and is not hearing my desperate prayers for peace and guidance, to have my heart full of love and trust. I think He’s allowing me to hit rock bottom so He can rebuild me, but I wish my faith and patience were a bit stronger so I could rest in His strength during these trials, and sense His constant presence and love. I want so desperately to love and honour God with my life but love, cheer, trust, hope… those seem beyond me. If we’re praying for each other, might I humbly request a prayer that my faith be strengthened and that I learn how to lean on God?

    1. peregrine042,

      The term “cheerful obedience” was causing so much stumbling and misunderstanding and pain to some of my sisters, that I just removed that entire part of the post. “Cheerful obedience” means ungrudging obedience. It isn’t about cheerfulness or cheer. But I don’t want to create unnecessary pain for my sisters and if that wording is an issue – I can get rid of it.

      There are times in all of our walks where there are heavy trials and great spiritual warfare and we are not cheerful. Cheerfulness is not a command. Rejoicing in God is a command. Considering trials joy is a command. But that doesn’t mean that the pain is cheery or joyful. It is God and His work that are the beautiful and good things that we look to give us hope. I hope that makes sense.

      I am not sure what is going on – but I know that God is there with you, my precious sister. I pray for His will and for Him to give you a heart that can hear His voice and that He might rebuild you and make you more and more like Jesus. I pray that you might be able to begin to learn to rest in His strength and sovereignty – it is a process of learning how to do that! Took me a long time – and I will have many more trials to teach me to do this even more effectively. I am sure.

      Lord,
      I lift up peregrine042 to Your throne room in the highest heaven. She is hurting so very much. How I pray that You might continue to work in her for Your good purposes and Your glory. I pray for her to rest in Your love and promises. I pray for Your strength and Your Spirit to empower her. I pray for You to change her to be the woman You desire her to be. Give her much greater faith. Use these trials to draw her to Your heart. Change her. Help her to see the dross rising in the trials and skim off those parts and refine her faith to be pure and beautiful in Your sight. Help her learn to lean on You and trust You instead of self or anyone or anything else. Open her eyes to Your unfathomable love for her and to all that Jesus has died to provide for her that no one can steal from her.

      In the Name and power of Christ,
      Amen!

  21. Hi I would like to ask your advice about an addiction I have to reading romance novels. Are you able to help and do I just text you as I am doing now? Regards Mary

  22. The only thing I need to know about God is His vengeance!! I would rather receive retribution from Him instead of His blessings or forgiveness or eternal life for that matter! Satan keeps reminding me of my past and I know that I cant change the things I have done wrong. I am doomed and God will unleash His wrath and vengeance upon me until He has destroyed me completely! I am beyond salvation! Dont try to tell me otherwise! Im going to Hell when I die!!

    1. Francisco Garcia,

      Satan is the one whose doom is sure. Jesus took the wrath of God for your sins upon Himself on the cross. He offers you the gift of eternal life if you come to Him and follow Him as Lord of your life, yielding full control to Him. 🙂 No human is beyond the grace of God. Jesus’ blood can wash your sins away and give you a new heart, new Spirit, and new life! You can have His joy, peace, and fulfillment in your life now and a relationship with God through Jesus’ death on your behalf. And you can be with Him in heaven forever.

      You have a choice. You can choose God! Satan does not have a choice. There is no Savior for him. But it is not too late for you. 🙂

  23. I don’t understand why I’m not receiving these in my e-mail anymore. So, I sent e-mail address again & it says “you’re already subscribed”….??? any idea?

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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