Did Jesus Ever Feel Obligated to Do Anything?

How do you feel when there is a sense of obligation tied to plans you have? Rarely is the word obligation associated with a positive sense of responsibility, although that is clearly one of its definitions. But I’d guess 96% of the time, when you feel obligated to make or keep plans, go somewhere or do something, instead of a right sense of duty and just weight you are honored to carry, there is a sense of… “I wish there was a way to get out of this.”  When telling others about these plans, you use words like “have to” “need to” or “should”.

I was processing this while on a walk a few days ago, and I began to compare this way of thinking to how Jesus would have thought.

I find myself doing that the more I study Him.

So the resounding question in my mind became, “would Jesus have ever felt obligated to do anything?” And I may be wrong, but I can’t see it happening his whole life long, according to the accounts of Mark, Luke, Matthew and His closest friend, John. Well, up until the night before He was crucified when he said “O my Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”  But in many accounts, He didn’t even finish his sentence before adding:  yet not my will, but Yours be done.

In adding that last part, he was essentially saying He had a will to survive (like every human being innately has), but He had another will – one greater: He wanted the Father’s will – even if that meant suffering. Even torture on a cross.

Because Jesus declared his own will to match his Father’s, the only sense of obligation I see in his life – even in the angst-filled hours in the garden, was in a just and right and responsible sense – a heavy weight He was honored to carry and carry through to completion. This obligation – in the right, just, responsible sense, actually refers to Him being bound.

Bound?! Jesus? The very embodiment of freedom?

Yes. Because He is Truth. You’ve heard the saying “My word is my bond” – well, the only human being who can say that and mean it is Jesus. He is bound by His own word. But His word is the only thing that could or did ever bind him.

He may be persuaded to change the course of a circumstance because of faith put on display, but He is not a man that He should lie.  He speaks peace or order over a thing, and it follows His command – from eyes to wind. Light to death. His words are power. He fulfilled every single prophecy spoken about Him from the beginning of creation.  Like it states in the first definition above, He is “legally bound” – or obligated – to complete, fulfill, follow through on his own word.

This should make us, his followers, sigh the biggest sigh of relief and rest peacefully every night, knowing and believing His promises will come to pass for us as a people – and as His individual friends.

In pretty much every other sense of the word, I think it is safe to say He never felt obligated to do anything.  We can also sigh in relief knowing we never have to feel obligated to do anything either! No wonder the feeling we get when we cancel plans we’ve been dreading is the feeling of freedom! Here’s why:

Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing.  The time He’d spend with the Father created a bond between them that afforded Him security, power, authority, and reassurance of His identity. If you continually walked in these things, would you ever feel obligated to do anything? Not in the negative sense. That kind infers bondage.

For if there is something we ought to do, the Holy Spirit will speak to us saying so, and cause a stirring in our heart to desire it because He desires it.  Now, the enemy may attempt to make us believe a lie and feel terrible or feel responsible for things we ought not. But let’s train our spiritual ears to hear our Shepherd’s voice. Let’s reject the imposter’s voice that would have us take on more than we should, resulting in heaviness, stress, co-dependency and more. That is not part of the abundant life He has. We are safe when we can pinpoint and embrace with confidence the things the Lord is telling us to commit to (and to let go of those things he is saying to let go of – to free yourself of the responsibility of – without feeling guilt or shame).

Our response of YES to his invitation, because of the bond we’ve created with Him over time, means, I WANT to do it – because YOU want me to, Abba Father.  Hmm… Sounds familiar. Kinda like, “…not my will, but YOURS be done.” This matching of the mortal will to the Father’s can only happen safe inside a deep-rooted, trust-filled relationship. Oh that we could all experience that!

One of my favorite lyrics by Hillsong United is, “Break my heart for what breaks Yours. Everything I am, for your Kingdom’s cause.” It shares this same sentiment.

This is my prayer – that my heart would break with His, and rejoice along with His. So that every action I take – every reaction I make throughout my days would come from a place of total trust and resulting obedience. And like Jesus, may my only sense of obligation – the only way I am bound – be to my word.

A New Default for Problem-Solving

How often do you find yourself in a situation where you’re at a loss of what to do – or how to react?

Maybe you’ve already tried 6 ways of dealing with a specific child, and have run out of the energy and even the will to come up with one more thing that could solve their current problem. It seems that whatever group of children I have in my care, there is usually at least one who, for a season, makes me truly at a loss. So if I’m not conscious about its spiritual aspect, I will let it go on for days or even weeks – trying to come up with solutions using human logic and reasoning.

I forget sometimes, that I serve a God who solves problems all the time, and his solutions often bypass logic and reasoning. He was showing me this week that the road to discovering a divine solution (revelation) is paved with relationship. It is not in his nature to always come right out and tell us what the answer is, or see us trying different things and then suddenly download a wisdom file about the issue at hand. Instead, he waits for us to make the first move. Kind of like he did with Jeremiah:  “The Lord gave him this second message… ‘ask me and I will tell you some remarkable secrets about what is going to happen here’.” (33:1-3)

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This week, my challenge was to stop making my own ways of problem-solving – my default ways. And to make going to Him for his thoughts – my new default setting.  If there is emotional or relational chaos, frustration, anxiety, confusion, academic setbacks, depression, rage or other behavioral stress, He is reminding me that I can ask him what his solution is. And then wait. Expect him to answer. This is where I can go off-track too. I can pray…and even expect him to answer me, but then forget to listen for the answer.

Listening for an answer is a discipline that takes focus and intention. It takes turning down the noise of the everyday activities…and getting quiet. Last night, I prayed for a solution for a child, and the Lord literally woke me up at 2:30 with one. Even then, as I pondered it in bed, my natural first thought was not to thank him for doing this. It was, “Why am I thinking about this in the middle of the night? I should be sleeping!” And then it hit me. “Ohhh… that’s right. I prayed for this. God, this isn’t me, it’s you. You’re answering me. Thank you.”

See, this is the point where I have been deceived so often. The enemy has convinced me that it’s just my own voice, when God Himself has spoken. And sometimes because I don’t hear Him audibly, and all I get is that whisper still and small, the enemy comes in, lies to me saying it’s just me (minimizing or discrediting the voice of God like he did to Eve) and that’s all that I need to hear, to dismiss it – forgetting that the closer I grow with the Father, the more my voice sounds like His voice. For the Word of God through Paul says (“But we have the mind of Christ [to be guided by His thoughts and purposes].” –1 Corinthians 2:16).

Why did He reply to me in the night? It’s when I’m most at peace, and when it is most quiet in my home.

I believe the more we realize we can come to Him and ask “Can you tell me your thoughts about this?”, the more of a space it creates for intimacy to grow between us and the Father. And that intimate space is perfect for kingdom-secret-telling. It is a natural space that has actually been ours to share with Him since the day we said YES to following Jesus and everything in Him became our inheritance. We just don’t realize or utilize fully the access we’ve inherited. 

Here are some scriptures I found on getting closer with God and how He can hide and reveal wonderful things to his kids:


Daniel 2:22 (NKJV) says:  “He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him.”

In John 15:15 (NIV) Jesus talks about abiding in him (referring to ongoing connection and intimacy) and says the sweetest thing: “I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”  

So could this mean that what qualifies someone as a friend of Jesus, is the passing along of revelation He’s gotten from his Father? Solutions – new names – purposes – concepts – words of wisdom and knowledge – bold and creative ideas – He feels comfortable sharing these with us. And this three-way communication between Father, Son and us – His adopted and beloved, means we’re friends. How humbling this is to accept.

Proverbs 25:2 says “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.”  To me, this is referring to God – as the King of kings – and us being the lower-case kings. It’s saying he loves to bring glory to himself by keeping things from us for a season, because he knows that the experience we have in searching out his answers and finding them at just the right time – is a glorious adventure, for us!

Ephesians 1:9  “He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ”

Proverbs 4:18 “The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.”  What a vision that is. We are declared righteous…and our path in life – or perhaps in a season of life – is meant to grow lighter and more clear – like a pathway illuminates with the sunrise. I love this so much.

Let’s trust that He’s never ever stumped – He knows with omniscient wisdom the solution to every single problem we face – at school, in relationships, at home – everywhere! He’s just waiting for us to switch our default setting to “ASK…LISTEN…WAIT…and TRUST”. So lean in. He will speak to you, passing on what you need from the Father – because believe it or not, he calls you His friend.

Just Ask for the Milk

I was recently at the closest grocery store to my house – the one I go to for all the convenient things we eat or need – Grocery Outlet. I love that place…I just make sure I look at the expiration dates on dairy before I put it in my cart, but I love it there because they really do have what we need – all except “lactose-free” milk. I’ve been shopping there for years now, and every time, I just felt as if I had to make two separate trips – an additional one to Fred Meyer, JUST for our lactose-free milk. It’s so annoying! But I’ve just always done it.

Then it dawned on me to ask if it’s possible to get it there. Yeah… after almost 5 years, I thought to ask. The checker got a manager, and she walked up, and I asked her if I could ask for an item that I continue to not see -one that our family uses all the time. She turned me down right away, “Sorry, the way we work is that we get items delivered to our main warehouse from other stores, and if it’s not there, it’s just not there.” So I replied, “Oh, so it’s not possible to make a request for an item?” “Hmm… No, not really. No. Sorry.”

I normally would have just thanked her for her time and left, but that day I thought, why not let her know what it is. Not that it would change the policy or how they work, but why not. So I looked down, and then up at her again, this time, specific, “…it’s lactose-free milk. Not soy, almond, cashew, or coconut milk. Lactose-free.” She repeated it back to me and then said, I can ask our warehouse guy that does our orders to see if he can look for it next time he pulls he does one. Do you mind waiting here for a few minutes?”

“Not at all”, I said, surprised. And a few minutes later she returned.  “He said he’d add it to the order Thursday, and it can be here Friday. Homogenized or 2%?”

“2%.”

“Is $2.57 ok?”

“Yep! Thank you.”

What just happened? She went from saying they don’t “do requests for certain items” to “we can order that item for you this week”! What’s the difference?

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As I walked away, I heard her yell back to me, “2%, right?” I yelled back, “Yes. Thanks!”

And this might seem like the silliest analogy because it’s about milk of all things, but I really do feel like God was telling me as I drove home,

“Be specific when you ask for what you need of me. Even if it feels like the odds are against you. Even if you’ve not experienced it yet. Just ask. You never know.
I might say, Yes. I can do that.” This was a “wink from God” that really encouraged and empowered me.

Voicing Praise Will Shake the Faulty Foundation of Lies

One night, it was around midnight, on the other side of the planet, two guys were thrown in prison – wrongfully. But their prayer and praise and hymn singing resulted in earth and soul-shaking miracles.

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The very foundations of the prison were shaken. This was literal. Today, we do not find ourselves in literal prisons – but rather, demonic strongholds, or fortresses. These strongholds also have foundations. What would be the foundation of addiction, for example? The foundation of depression? The foundation of pride? I would venture to suggest that the foundation for most if not all demonic strongholds – that which all outward symptoms are built upon, is deceit. Lies.

When we see our prison-like circumstance as an opportunity to lift up the name of Jesus (in prayer and praise), the very foundation upon which demons have been stationed – becomes powerfully shaken! The core of their arsenal, their “Big Guns”, Lies, are dismantled. Rendered impotent.

And as a result, every time, there is a releasing. There is a spiritual opening of doors, and breaking of chains! 😳

There is a supernatural freedom that accompanies the proclamation of Truth.

But notice – the last 4 words of this passage. “Everyone’s chains were unfastened.”

Freedom did not just come to Paul and to Silas. But when they used their voices in the midst of their utter agony, sitting in their pools of blood, to give praise to Jesus, and lift up expectant prayers…everyone around them who was held captive became free! Paul and Silas’s decision to praise in the prison directly resulted in not just their own release, but the release of everyone else in that dungeon.

Our praise in duress. Our fervent, expectant prayer. Our singing – can do the same. Make it loud. Our God will shake the enemy to his core. He will open doors that were sealed and locked before. He will unfasten tight chains that were once the source of pain.

When have you encountered immediate freedom from bondage after deciding to sing, praise and pray to Jesus?

To be Remembered as Your Preschool Teacher

Sometimes I wonder how much of a difference I’m making in the lives of the preschoolers I teach. I wonder why I’m throwing so much of myself into this.

I know I’m there to demonstrate love, first, to nurture and teach them their ABC’s, bend down and coach them on how to write their first name, and give them room to explore and play like tiny civil humans. I know I do so much more than that, too. Like… give them tips on pencil-holding, nose-blowing, turn-taking, Bible verse-remembering, and germ-containing.

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What is Soul Rest?

One thing that puts a little smile on my face on any given day, is when I see a hummingbird fly over to my feeder and take a drink. I usually think the words, “Drink Up!” which makes me think of drinking in the things of the Spirit. Maybe that’s why I don’t like it empty for too long.

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Today I realized when watching one little guy sip to his heart’s content, that his wings never stopped. Did you know a hummingbird’s wings beat between 50 and 200 flaps per second depending on the direction of flight, the purpose of their flight and the surrounding air conditions? After thinking about it, only one in about four will actually stop flying when they drink at my glass feeder. They get enough food to last them a while, and they’re off. They’re fed… sustained, and then they resume their busy little schedule of whatever it is hummingbirds do.

I watched, hesitant to move, waiting for his wings to stop. But they never did.

An average hummingbird’s heart rate is more than 1,200 beats per minute (compared to the average human heart rate of 60-100 beats per minute). A hummingbird takes an average of 250 breaths in that one minute – and that is when they’re at rest. Their breathing pace naturally increases when they are in flight.

A moment later, I heard through the kitchen window glass, the hum of those wings as my tiny friend flew away and disappeared through a hole in the hedge. I squinted for a last glimpse of him – and wondered if God ever watches us like I do hummingbirds… waiting for our wings to stop. Waiting for us to actually rest while we take in what He’s left for us take in. We sip on our Sunday morning message. We “drink up” our devotional, and I wonder if it matters to Him how often we drink a little at a time, “on the go”.

There must be more value to rest than we can consciously grasp. This world values the opposite. It overwhelmingly values busyness, often equating busyness with productivity. “If I can just keep flapping my wings while getting this food, I can get more accomplished. Carve some seconds off.” “If I can just soak in some decent lyrics while I’m driving…” “If I can cook dinner while I get one more chapter read from my audiobook…”

But either I’m lazy, or I’m wise to think it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re more productive. At least in God’s eyes. So…what is “productive”, what is “accomplished” in God’s eyes?

Am I lazy, or am I wise to think that resting is crucial? Even Godly. That as upside-down as it might seem, resting in Him – in his presence – in the faithfulness of his words – without a scheduled start and finish time – is probably the most productive thing we’ll do all day – or all week.

But rest is not a given. It’s not something that is transmitted to us if we slow down, sit in front of the fire or have a screen off for long enough. I mean, doesn’t even the term “long enough” change from day to day, depending on a dozen variables? True rest, from what I’m noticing, is more of an opportunity that comes to people as a direct result of their obedience to what God is telling them to do. It’s not even non-scheduled chill time with Him. Although non-scheduled chill time with Him is some underestimated gooood stuff, that I am valuing more and more with each year.

Soul-rest is a gift from God Himself, written about in Hebrews 4. Read that whole thing – it’s only 16 verses long. And the last 3 give hope to the weary and busy of us – the weak and tempted of us. Please – keep reading till the end!

I want to be intentional this year, to stay “rested” in Him. Meaning, not just not busy or multi-tasking. Because neither one of those is wrong. But to stay rested by checking myself – and asking, “God, am I walking out what you’re asking of me in this season?” And the inverse – if I notice I’m not at rest, asking Him, “Ok, Dad… I feel stress. I know something’s off-balance. Am I not obeying? Is it as simple as not believing a promise you gave me a long time ago? What is it? Would you help me pinpoint it?”

Every single child of God has access to a special kind of rest that no one else in the world has access to, because of Christ. Soul rest. He makes it possible. And obedience makes it ours. Let’s drink up.


https://www.thespruce.com/fun-facts-about-hummingbirds-387106

 

Highest and Lowest

When worshiping tonight, I had the urge to lay down on the floor. I’ve never done that before, at home, in my kitchen. The rest of the family was out and I had a long, random Youtube video playing through my speaker – a One Thing conference worship session. After The Lord met me in a precious way as I interceded for some people, I dropped to the floor and stayed there for awhile. Not thinking of the dirt or crumbs. Arms out. I did wonder what my kids would say if they walked in. But they didn’t.

I noticed some things when I got low to the ground. I didn’t want to get up. I felt almost weighted. I just wanted to be silent, not move, and soak in the words. Or sing. Or yell them. My poor neighbors. Then be silent again and think about Him. All kinds of things about Him. I asked Him if He would give me a vision, but He didn’t. I am realizing I don’t really know how to be still for long. I don’t know how to quiet my thoughts…or let my mind go blank for Him to write on. But I’ve heard it’s possible and it sounds awesome. So I’m going to practice it. See what happens.

I remember this thought I had as I lay: It is right for me to be down here. So low.

Not like, “I’m nothin’ but a lowly worm” off-base humility kind of thought, but like, “Jesus, you are higher than all. And I cannot get physically any lower than this. How are we close tonight? How is it that I can feel you here with me like this?”

There was a rightness about it, this is difficult to explain.

The song ended. I wiped my tears with my sweater, got up a little weak, and started making myself a tasty fajita. All was well with the world.