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Episode 13 of Kindavangelical just released! Patriarchal Regrets

Living Like God Intended
5-DAY READING

Does following Jesus ever feel exhausting? Like no matter how much you muster for fighting the flesh, you can’t quite seem to measure up? In this 5-day reading plan, Pete Briscoe introduces the weary, worn out Christian to a beautiful and soul-satisfying truth—the better and only way to live like God intended.

Day 1

If Christ Was Dependent On God, Why Shouldn’t We Be?

Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair. —Gilbert K. Chesterton

When my kids were little, they were totally dependent on me for everything; Food, shelter, love, all of it. They could do nothing without my provision. When we think of dependent people, Jesus probably isn’t even on the list. But He was. Big time.

The granddaddy of all the passages that teach that Jesus was dependent on the Father during His time on earth is John 14. It’s a beautiful picture of the dependence of a son on his father… of the Son on the Father, showing the intimacy Jesus and the Father share.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him… The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” (John 14:6,10)

Consider the implications of this mystery. Jesus is the revelation of the Father to us. When we get to know Jesus, we get to know the Father. When we see the work of the Son, we see the Father’s work as well—because Jesus is in the Father, and the Father is in Jesus.

That’s not just theology. That’s a dependency on the Father that Jesus modeled over and over, showing us a new way to live.

Dear God, stun me with the reality of Your truth. Touch my soul with the spiritual reality that the Son is in the Father, the Father is in Son, and that through Jesus only, I can come to the Father in the same way. I praise You and thank You for what You have done. I bow in awe and worship. Amen.

Day 2

Skipping the Middle Part

Learning to trust is one of life’s most difficult tasks. —Isaac Watts

Jesus loves the Father and lived His entire earthly life fully dependent on Him—and He calls us to do the same. Our love for God should lead to dependency on God. And that dependency leads naturally to obedience.

Our love for Him → dependency on Him → obedience to Him.

But we tend to skip that second part. We skip the dependency, faith, and trust—trying instead to please God by obeying Him in our own strength rather than by faith.

Acting in our own strength is called independence—and it’s the exact opposite of the moment-by-moment dependence that Jesus modeled while walking this earth. As believers in Christ, we’re called to follow His lead, displaying a dependent faith worked out in obedient action as we trust Him!

James puts it to us this way:

But someone will say, “You have faith, I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. (2:18)

The bottom line is this: Our dependency on Christ is displayed by our deeds.

True faith will display itself!

Dear God, I love You! Break the independent desires of my flesh. Give me the wisdom and faith to depend on You with increasing trust. Then, God, I ask that You would enable me to follow You in joyful obedience into any work that You have prepared for me to do. Amen.

Day 3

The Key to Joyful Obedience

A boy can learn a lot from a dog: obedience, loyalty, and the importance of turning around three times before lying down. —Robert Benchley

Being loved and empowered by God leads us into obedience to whatever He asks of us. We don’t just begrudgingly submit to His commands like He is some far-off tyrant. We don’t have to obey to earn His favor or acceptance or be fearful or tentative when our efforts fall short. That’s not the way He designed it to work. It’s actually joyful!

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. (2 John 1:6)

In our human terms, we don’t normally equate love with obedience. But that’s just how God set it up. Since He loves us so much, we are hardwired to return that love by joyfully obeying Him. We know where true joy is—not in our independent efforts but in a dependent relationship with Christ. If we have experienced His unconditional love, we will love Him back, and if we love Him, we will naturally follow His lead.

Father, I yearn to walk in obedience, but it gets tough when I look at You as some sort of killjoy. I resist when I feel like I have to perform to earn Your love. Shower me with an experience of Your unconditional true love. May that love empower me to serve in heartfelt joy! Amen.

Day 4

How You Get Power to “Do All Things”

A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it. —John Steinbeck

When I first began a relationship with my wife, I wasn’t dependent on her. But we fell deeper in love, we got married, we made a commitment to become dependent on one another, and over time it became more and more natural to become dependent on one another.

Love is the motive we have not only for getting married but also becoming dependent on Christ. True love is like that—it draws us together in a way that makes separation and independence seem impossible. Through our love for Christ, we become dependent on Him. As we immerse ourselves in His unconditional love, allowing Him to accept us just the way we are, a new strength to walk with Him is found within:

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:12-13)

Being dependent on Christ is how we get the power to “do all things.” We’re equipped for obedience by being attached to Him and relying on Him for everything. What a relief! It’s not up to us!

Lord Jesus, thank You for being my Source. May Your love become so real that it just naturally overflows, moving me to do “all things” through You, who gives me strength. Thank You for empowering me through Your love for my tasks to the glory of Your name. Amen.

Day 5

It’s Time to Give Up

I have to admit that I’m one of those people that thinks the dishwasher is a miracle. —Clarence Thomas

There are two ways to split logs for a fire. One is the “character building” way (as countless fathers have told their sons), which is swinging an ax over your head until your arms fall off, slowly accumulating a small pile. It’s exhausting and back-breaking. The other is by using a motorized log splitter. You can do it four or five times faster and save yourself a lot of effort.

We forget that we have access to an amazing power in Christ through the Holy Spirit. It is miraculous, I daresay… easily the difference between an ax and a log splitter:

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12)

Think about this! This is not the time to try to explain away the clear meaning of His words. Jesus promises us that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we will be able to do anything and everything that the Father wants to accomplish through us. It’s not up to us to gird our loins and “git ‘er done.” The key is to allow the power of the Spirit to do it through us.

If you are tired of swinging an ax for God, working your hardest for Him (and if you think you’ve already built enough character this way!), it’s time to give up. Quite frankly, He doesn’t need your help anyway. God’s design is a walk of faith, not works. Faith in Jesus opens up a new way of obedience, where we are empowered by His Spirit in us as we allow Him to work through us.

Lord Jesus, I believe that I have access to amazing power through Your Spirit within me. I’m tired of trying to do this in my own strength for You. I want to be used for Your glory, but I want to do so in Your strength through me alone. Thanks.

Reflection:

  1. How is Jesus the perfect model of living the way God intended?
  2. What is the relationship between dependence and obedience in the life of a believer?
  3. Why can genuine, Spirit-empowered obedience be considered joyful instead of a killjoy?

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