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This week, let's take time to think about the fact that we should have a constant will to do what is right. Experience has surely taught us that it is sometimes easy to obey God and sometimes it is not. In every situation, however, our duty is clear: we must discipline ourselves to do the right thing, easy or not.
What kind of "faithfulness" would it be if we obeyed our Lord's will only when it was easy? If we did the right thing when all our external circumstances were favorable, if we went along when all those near and dear to us were encouraging us in the right direction, if we acted as we felt physically when we felt like a million dollars, and if we obeyed when there was no sacrifice or pain involved in obedience . . . so what? Do not even the irreligious do the same? The thing that determines whether we really are the Lord's people is what we choose to do when the prevailing winds turn and blow against us.
Feelings are wonderful things. God gave them to us, and life would be dull and dreary without them. But whatever may be the virtues of feelings, stability is not one of them. If our lives and our obedience to God are to have any constancy, they must be built on something more solid than our emotions. Whatever we may feel like -- whether our emotions are pushing us toward God or pulling us away from Him -- we must exercise our wills to do what we should do. We must get a hold on ourselves and do what God wants us to do.
The devil is a master at manipulating our emotions. In trying to tempt us to go against God's will, he tries to focus our minds on the present moment and its feelings. But there is more to be considered than the present moment. Eternity matters far more!
Life is a long haul, and it is not without difficulty. Thankfully, there will be times when the sun is shining and obedience comes easily. But when the clouds roll in and obedience is the last thing on our minds, we need to hear the Lord say, "Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Rev. 2:10). We must want to obey God . . . even when we don't want to do what is difficult.
Monday: Hebrews 12:1,2
Key Idea: We need to keep on obeying God and never quit.
Questions for Family Growth: What is "endurance" (or "patience"), and what does that have to do with obeying God? What are some things that make us feel like quitting? According to v.2, what did Jesus do?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 21:15.
Tuesday: Revelation 2:8-11
Key Idea: We should faithfully obey God even when we have hardships.
Questions for Family Growth: In v.10, what did Jesus say the church in Smyrna ought not to be afraid of? Should we only obey God when it is easy or convenient? What did Jesus say, in v.10, about being faithful?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 21:16.
Wednesday: Genesis 22:1-14
Key Idea: In deciding what God's will is, we should not trust our feelings alone.
Questions for Family Growth: How must Abraham have felt emotionally when God told him to offer his son Isaac? Why did Abraham pay so little attention to his feelings? Is it always right to do what we want to do or prefer to do?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 21:17.
Thursday: Job 2:1-13
Key Idea: We should faithfully obey God even when we do not feel like it physically.
Questions for Family Growth: What kind of mood do you think Job was in during his suffering? Would feeling terrible have made it alright to say and do things that were not proper? In v.10, what sin is Job said not have committed?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 21:18.
Friday: Matthew 26:36-46
Key Idea: Jesus always obeyed God even when He did not feel like it.
Questions for Family Growth: How do you think Jesus may have felt during His ordeal in the Garden of Gethsemane? Did He decide to die on the cross for us because of how he felt, or was it because of what He knew was right?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 21:19.