Part 4 - Partial Obedience is Not Obedience

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(video where he is sitting on the couch at his parent’s house) And check this out. What I began to notice was, almost always behind the “666” was a “555.” It’s like they started showing up together. I’d see a “666,” I’d be like, “Ugh,” and then I’d see the “555,” “but I’m going to deliver you, through My grace. I’m going to deliver you.”

(video of Michael sitting in front of his computer monitor – present day.) Let me pause the video here and explain this next picture . . . this is truly amazing . . . that you’re going to see. I remember being in the moment when this happened. It is the morning of another Hearing before the Judge, and I am feeling nervous, and I said to the Father, as I am going to Staples . . . this happens at Staples in Colonial Plaza on Colonial Drive in Orlando, Florida . . . and I’m there to make copies of some papers in an effort to defend myself, once again, against a massive amount of false accusations that have come against me. So, I’m there making copies, and I’m just kind of whispering prayers, “. . .pray without ceasing.” I’m praying to the Father, “Lord, I’m a little bit nervous. Father, you haven’t shown me a “555” in a while, and I’m feeling a little insecure.”

Let this be another reminder of just how pathetically weak that Michael Chriswell has been through these difficult trials, and how unbelievably awesome and faithful my sovereign, and your sovereign, heavenly Father is to help those who trust in Him. The Lord is near to those who fear Him. The Lord is near to those whose hope is in Him, to keep them alive in famine, and to deliver them. He is amazing. He delivers us from death. He keeps us alive in famine. He does these kinds of things.

So, here I am, saying, “Lord, I haven’t seen a “555,” and I need some encouragement,” and watch what happens. As I walk out of the Staples, there is a UPS truck on the right, and I see the number, and just as I’m getting my camera out to take a picture of that, going “Oh, man, Lord, this isn’t what I want to see,” a vehicle right behind the UPS truck that, at this time, I could not see, begins to back out. Look at what I captured with my camera when I take a picture. I’m just like, “God, thank You so much. This is just incredible.” The Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in Him. Take a look.

(He shows us a picture of the UPS truck with “GCA-666” on the back, and the truck beside it with the phone number ending in “5555.”) Let me explain to you the amazing thing that happened after I saw this picture. It’d be one thing to see this picture and go, “Oh, that’s cute. That’s a coincidence, Mike. Way to go.” But what is the fruit? Remember Jesus said, “you will recognize a tree by its fruit,” and “wisdom is proved right by her children.” Her offspring. The results. Right? So, I walked into that Courtroom with all those papers that I had copied at Staples, prepared to defend myself against these evil lies that were being said against me. They naturally got the chance to go first, and as the lies began to come out, I began to squirm, and at one point, I said, “Your Honor, am I going to get a chance to address the fact that what they are saying is not true, that I have proof here?”

He said, “Yes, Michael. No problem at all. Once they get a chance to finish explaining this to me, and I have my conversation with them, I’m going to let you share what you have brought here today to share with us.” And I said, “Thank you, your Honor.” So, I went back to silently, quietly trusting in the Lord, being very quiet and allowing all of these lies to come out, just sitting there, knowing that I had to be silent, just as Jesus was before His accusers.

Here’s what the most amazing thing about that day in Court was: at one point, I began to realize, “Wow, the Judge is defending me right now to them. He doesn’t even know what I know. He’s defending me.” He finishes, shuts them down, they turn back white, he looks to me, and he says, “Mr. Chriswell, do you still feel the need to share anything, or are you okay with what I just said?”

I was like, “No, Your Honor, that’s good. Thank you very much,” and I completely shut myself down. I thought, “Wow, just as my Father told me, again, He would deliver me. All these papers I made were useless.” This is how amazing our Father, God, in the heavens above . . . that sovereign hand of God . . . is in our lives for those who trust Him. “The Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man or woman who trusts in Him.” Let’s keep going.

(video where he is speaking from the couch at his parent’s house.) Wow. Then, I would see the “777’s.” So, one time, I’d seen the “777” several times, and I’m like, “God, what does this mean? I get all of the other numbers. What does this mean?” Well, I’m studying in the Book of Revelation one morning, in the early explanation, introduction part of Revelation, and I notice that it says . . . in fact, in my Bible, it says right here in the introduction to the Book of Revelation . . . it says “There is a distinctive feature which is the frequent use of the number 7. The number 7 appears 52 times in the Book of Revelation.” And it says, “Symbolically, the number 7 stands for completeness.”

And as I read those words, I felt like God was saying to me, “This season is almost complete. Hang in there. We’re almost done.” It was like God was saying, “I know this has been rough. I know this is a long battle. I know this is ugly. But hang in there. It’s almost done. I am warning you every single time something bad happens. I am covering you in My grace, “555 – I will deliver you,” and this season is almost complete.” So, you can imagine, I’m going into this battle that lasts what feels like forever, my kids are caught in the middle, everything is falling apart, my whole . . . nothing is going my way. Nothing. But God’s grace is more than sufficient.

This brings me to skipping a lot of details. We’re coming into the day of divorce trial. Now, you already know the divorce trial story, okay. What you do not know, because it’s been so difficult for me to figure out how to tell this is, on February 16th of 2012, when I had the divorce trial, and I got that amazing victory when I walked out of that Courtroom completely shocked, because it looked like, you know, the Egyptians had been hot on my tail all day long, I’m standing at the edge of the Red Sea, and I’m doomed to die. But, in fact, in the last minute, the seas part, and I walk across on dry land. But it never stuck. And this is where the story gets amazing, because you don’t know this part yet.

What happened is, the Magistrate . . . see, we had to have our divorce in front of a General Magistrate, not a Domestic Relations Judge, because the Judge had retired, so we opted to have it tried in front of a Magistrate. Well, that morning, I had seen “555” five times on the way. Now, remember, that means “I am going to deliver you.” But I also saw “666” one time. I had been so excited, and that “666” brought me back down, so that I would walk in even-keeled. God didn’t want me going in there like a hot potato.

So, as you know, I went through the whole day feeling like, “Man, God, this isn’t going like the way you told me it would go. I’ve stuck everything on this.” Keep in mind, my mother and I got into fights where they . . . not yelling and screaming . . . but they almost wanted to kick me out. They almost thought about handing me a check and saying, “Get out.” This is true. The reason is because my mother and I had such an antagonistic relationship. My mother’s faith was not at a place where mine was, and she is watching her child self-destruct, she thinks. Right? You with me.

At the very end, before the divorce, she tried to get my stepdad to have a “talk” with me, to get me to do this. And I said, “Mom, would you ask me to go out and rape somebody? Would you ask me to go to a store and rob? Would you ask me to go and hurt somebody? Because that’s what you’re asking me to do. You’re asking me to violate what God has told me not to do,” and I had to trust God above my earthly parent. Above everybody, because people thought I was crazy.

As you saw, I got delivered. But check it out. It didn’t stick, because the Magistrate says to her attorney, “Will you take my recommendations and put them, draw them up, in the proposed final agreement?” See, an attorney . . . the Judge doesn’t do that, one of the attorneys does. Who’s my attorney? I don’t have one. Me. I can’t draw up the papers, so she gets to draw all the papers up. Guess what they do? They throw the kitchen sink in those divorce papers. When I got the Proposed Judgment, I about fell out of my chair. I thought I was having an out-of-body experience.

They threw the $125,000 impugned income in there. There threw in two, four-day visits during my eight weeks. She was supposed to have the first week and the last week in the summer, me the eight weeks in the middle. Well, they decided to throw two, four-day visits in the middle of my eight weeks with the kids, and two, four-hour visits during the half-day. They threw in me paying 75% of all extra-curricular expenses; any outside activities, school, baby-sitting, I had to pay 75%. $200,000 life insurance. $10,500 of her attorney’s fees. You saw all of this stuff. Just crazy stuff.

So, I’m looking at all of this stuff, and I’m going “Great. This is unbelievable. God, You told me You were going to deliver me. You delivered me. But now the papers are here, and it didn’t stick.” So, I go online, and I try to contact the Magistrate’s assistant. I’m like, “What do I do?” I looked online, researched what I needed to do, and found out I needed to file a Notice of Exceptions, which says you are not in agreement with what the Magistrate’s recommendations were.

By the way, they had passed through. When they submitted this to the Magistrate, (showing a copy of the “REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF GENERAL MAGISTRATE” document) they looked over it and said, “with the exception of the one child being designated as a special-needs kid, everything else looks to be in line with the Judge’s recommendations,” and I’m going “What!?” They don’t look at it. The Court System is so overwhelmed, they just pass this stuff through, and attorneys leverage this. This happens all the time. I have read about this online. I have seen multiple people complain: “Judge recommends this. Final Proposed Judgment, not in there. Totally different.” What do they do?

So, I filed my Notice of Exceptions. I was able to get a Hearing, and they allowed me to appear over the telephone. The problem is, it’s with a Domestic Relations Judge. So, watch how trickery this is. It’s not going to be with the Magistrate who tried it. It’s now with another Judge who doesn’t have any idea what that Judge said. I have to produce a transcript. So, I order an audio copy of the program, and then I have to pay a court reporter to transcribe, and I have them transcribe the last 30 minutes, which was the Judge’s recommendations. Okay? So, I turn this into the Court. I’m on the phone, and in the first two minutes, the attorney is trying to throw the whole thing out on a technicality.

The Judge ignores her technicality, but then says, “I’m sorry, Michael. I’m afraid I’m going to have to throw this out,” and I’m like, “Why?” “You didn’t provide the full transcript. You only provided the last part of it.” And I said, “Your Honor, the matters in dispute are over the matter of the Final Judgment. The Judge made his recommendations for that the last 30 minutes. All the matters in dispute are covered in that last 30 minutes.” “Sorry, Michael, you needed to have provided the entire thing.” It was going to be $2000. I didn’t have the money to pay $2000 to transcribe . . . I mean, how would you feel? The Judge favors you, gives you his word, puts it in the paper. Now, you’ve got to turn around and spend $2000 to prove that the Judge said what he said, and that this (referring to the Final Recommendations Proposed document his wife’s attorney provided) is not what the Judge said. I was like, “I cannot believe this.”

So, I’m just continuing, “God, help me! What do I do? What do I do?” I keep seeing “555.” But here’s where I went wrong. And this is one of the only times I’m going to stop and share a lesson that I learned. I’m going to share more about this story in more lessons down the road, because it’s important that people understand what real Biblical Christianity looks like, and it’s important that people understand that God’s Word is true. One hundred percent. There is nothing more true than what you will read in this book (holding up his Bible). I love this book. This is God’s Holy Word. It is true, it is faithful, it is real. It is more real than the couch I am sitting on. Okay?

But I’m going to go back through and deconstruct all of the lessons from this along the way, but not right now . . . but here’s one thing I want to share with you where God blind-sided me . . .

(video where Michael is in front of his computer monitor, present day) How neat to look back and see this desire in me to open up a path for other people to walk on. It’s like I’m knowing, deep in my soul, even at this point, before there are any followers, before there is any audience: What God has done is going to be for the good of those who will follow behind. It is going to be some wonderful food and some wonderful steps for people to really have something solid to stand on in learning how to walk with God. That is so cool for me to look back and see, and now recognizing, that it’s seven years later that I’m actually getting to the part where I’m deconstructing this story, and helping you to identify some of the Biblical principles that Father was operating under when I was learning to walk with Him through this terrible, terrible time in my life.

I believe it’s Psalm 75:2 where God says, “It is I who choose the appointed time. Such it is.” So, for now, I’m going to continue to let this guy, since he’s so full of passion and conviction and truth right now . . . I’m going to let him continue to tell you the story, and deconstruct. This truly is an important lesson, what I’m getting ready to share. And I don’t think anybody can say it better than the guy who was in the hot seat. So, I’m going to let him say it, and then continue on with a little more, and then at the end, I’ll add some of Michael’s big-brother commentary to kind of wrap up this day’s lesson. May God continue to bless you, as you listen.

(back to the video where he is at his parent’s house sitting on the couch). While I was looking at the transcript, and in listening to it, I came across the part of the transcript where I was asked to cross-examine my wife. Now, one of the things that God had asked me not to do, He asked me not to defend myself. See, I had recorded some very, very damning things about my wife. She had put me in a position where she was beginning to be so dishonest, I knew I needed to protect myself, and I needed to protect my children, because she was now waging a war where she was no longer playing by the rule. She knew she was being recorded; it didn’t stop her.

I had these recordings the whole time, and at one point, trying to get her to have peace with me, I said, “Look . . .” In fact, you probably saw the video where I said, “All of these accusations, and I still kept my mouth shut.” What I’m referring to is, I never told anybody about the recordings. I mean, bad stuff on these recordings, horrible. And I told her, “I have these recordings, and I have never showed them to anybody, and honestly, unless God asks me to, nobody is ever going to see them.” I told her that, in an effort to try to make peace with her. Because God told me, “Don’t use the recordings.”

We get towards the end of the divorce. The other side gets clever. Her attorney finds out about the email that I sent that said I had these recordings; she demands that I produce these recordings. In front of the Judge, demands and requires me to produce them, because now, they think I have illegally recorded my wife, and that I’m guilty. So, the Judge asks, “Michael, is there a reason why . . .” – this is during the Pre-trial Hearing – “. . . is there are reason why you don’t want to produce these recordings?” I said, “Your Honor, I’ve been asked not to defend myself, and quite honestly, I don’t see how any of the things they are saying warrant me defending myself against them.”

And he said, “Well, Michael, a case is being made against you, and typically, you want to produce witnesses and these recordings.” I said, “Your Honor, if the Court asks me to produce these recordings, I’ll do it.” I ended up producing the recordings. (He shows a copy of a document “TRIAL EXHIBITS: DIGITAL FILES AND RECORDINGS”). I gave them to the Judge. Halfway through the day of trial, I go to lunch . . . my mentor and good friend of mine took me to lunch. I’m white as a ghost. I’m, like, getting beat up. I’m like, “Guys, they are killing me in there. It’s bam, bam, bam, bam.” You don’t know where to turn. You don’t know what to defend against. So, I’m white. I’m at lunch, and they’re trying to put life back into me. They’re like, “Mike, you’ve got to tell them to listen to the recordings. You’ve got to tell them to listen to the recordings. You’ve got to defend yourself. You’ve got to prepare some things to tell him to defend yourself.”

I caved in. Remember, God had told me not to defend myself. So, here I am back in there, and the Judge gives me the opportunity to cross-examine. After I had gone back from lunch, I said, “Your Honor, I believe that the Court should hear these recordings.” And he ends up dismissing them. He says, “I don’t think that they are necessary at this point, and that gets into some other issues,” so he didn’t feel the need to listen to the recordings. All right?

Well, God had told me that He was going to do this in an unusual way, remember? So, now I know why the recordings weren’t played. Nevertheless, he says, “It’s your turn to cross-examine your wife,” and I had made a list of about 15 different things I wanted to knock her off her rocker with, and I went down this list of questions. As I was listening to the recording during the making of the transcript, God says to me, “Michael, this is why you’re still not divorced.” I was shocked. “You were not obedient, son. Partial obedience is not obedience.” And I was just crushed. I defended myself. I turned around and returned wrong for wrong. I began to . . . out of desperation, I caved in, I lost my faith, and I began to retaliate against my wife.

I had permission to do so, but God had asked me not to. He had asked me not to, and I failed Him. And He was telling me, “Michael, this is why you’re not divorced. Partial obedience is not obedience.” And it broke my heart. I sat at my desk, and I just cried my eyes out. I said, “Father, I am so sorry. Please forgive me, Lord,” and I just begged Him to forgive me. I said, “God, give me another chance. Lord, I promise I will trust you fully. Just please give me another chance,” and I just caught my breath.

A couple of hours later, I’m like, “God, please, will you just show me a number, Lord? Would you just show me You’re still with me? Show me that we’re good again, Lord,” because by this time, I had gotten so used to God showing me these numbers and letting me know that He was with me, I just wanted to know that we were back together again.

By God’s grace, He started showing me the “555” again, and the “777,” and I was just so excited. I was like, “Thank You, God.” He was giving me another chance. This is God’s grace. If we repent, He is faithful, and just, and will forgive us of all unrighteousness.

(back to present day where Michael is in front of his computer monitor.) A-men to that. A-men to that. Now, I want to share something with you that is incredibly remarkable. I had no way of knowing what I’m about to share with you today was going to happen. This is another just incredible instance of God’s sovereignty.

I have not watched these videos in any great length or any detail at all previous to me sitting down to do this. This interview was shot seven years ago. I believe, probably, about three or four years ago, I broke up a long interview into multiple pieces, kind of like we’re doing now, but just as little short tidbits. And I went through and started making titles, to do this deconstructing this story that I just mentioned I would do in the future here, but it wasn’t God’s timing, and that’s why you have never seen it, and I never produced it.

I don’t watch these videos until the morning I am doing this. Then, I kind of watch through. I know my story well enough, and I know the Bible well enough, to watch this, and then to instantly, with God’s help . . . again through prayer, I ask Father to give me what you need to hear in the principles that He wants me to highlight. I’ve been doing this, trusting God to do this. This morning, something extra-ordinary has happened. I had no idea that today was going to be Part 4, which actually comes from a sequence over here, Part 14 – there were multiple sequences from a previous story that I had to pull this out of. So, I now have just shown this clip to you where I’m talking about “partial obedience is not obedience.” You heard those words come out of my mouth.

Now, I want you to hear what I wrote this morning in my journal entry, before I ever had any idea what the subject matter was going to be in today’s video. It has absolutely nothing to do with it. This, my friend, is astonishing. I’m just going to read to you exactly what I wrote. So, here is today’s message, and this is an important lesson. I want you to understand, you have to see how seven years later, I mean, like to the day here . . . I shot this seven years ago. Here, seven years to the day, later, I’m doing this video. This is incredible.

The title is “God Testing My Obedience Again.” “Email received February 7th, 2019.” That’s yesterday. I’m not going to say the person’s name, email address, subject. “A message from my heart to you.” And incidentally, I’ve received a few of these emails, but just listen to this. You’re going to see how amazing this is, this principle that you and I have got to be so careful to obey, so careful to obey. Even when it makes sense to nobody, even when other people who are sincere, who are loving, who are mature in Christ tell you otherwise, if you’ve heard differently from God, YOU OBEY GOD. You leave all the results to Him. Disaster can happen in your life if you do not.

God gave me another chance here. It’s extra-ordinary, because He saw my ignorance, and He saw how much I wanted to obey Him. He saw that I obeyed Him right up to the point that I could, and that my lack of maturity and lack of understanding caves in to the pressure of the situation, and to an authority . . . Romans 13 says I am to be under the authority of the government, and I remember justifying, going, “You know, this Judge is telling me I need to defend myself. I am supposed to obey the law of the land.” Even though Christ was silent before His accusers, I am not Jesus. My friends are all pleading with me, and honestly, there was a lot of pressure on me in this moment to not disappoint my friends. I loved these two men: Larry and Brent. They were two of the most respected people in my life, at the time. They loved me. I loved them.

I had tremendous trust for both of them, and they are sitting there across that lunch table, saying, “Mike, you’ve got to defend yourself. You’ve got to do your part in this.” All the while, as you heard, Father has told me, “Don’t defend yourself.” You don’t know how unbelievably difficult this moment was, okay? But God gave me another chance. Far be it for me to ever forget that lesson, and the one you’re about to hear in my journal today, and repeat that mistake. I was on my face this morning before God, asking Him, after writing this journal entry, “Please, God, may I always tremble at this Word, and at this passage of Scripture, and God, may I never . . . please, God . . . may I never forget this lesson.”

My friend, I tell you the truth: I could lose everything just like that, no different than Saul did in this passage, if I delay obedience, or I partially obey God when He asks me to do something. When you hear this journal entry, perhaps you, and several of you who need to hear this, will understand why I am so absolutely stubborn about obeying God, and telling and doing exactly what He tells me, no matter what you think. That’s what I mean. I mean you, whoever you are. No matter how sincere you are. No matter how mature you are. No matter how long you’ve been following God longer than me. I will never listen to you, or anybody, tell me to do something that my Father has not.

Look. I care about you, I care about your feelings, but only up to a point. If it means caring about your feelings at the expense of obeying what I know God has clearly told me, you’re out. Anybody is out. My wife is out. I have disobeyed what she has thought, many times, because I’m not called to listen to my wife. Adam made the very biggest mistake in the Bible by listening to what his wife told him; “Hey, you want to try some of this delicious fruit? It’s amazing. Now, I can see good and evil. You ought to try it out, too. We can both die here together.” Like Romeo and Juliet, they are essentially the first Romeo and Juliet, aren’t they?

But here’s my point: Don’t ever disobey God at the expense of what some well-meaning person . . . there are plenty of trolls on the internet, there are plenty of haters, there are plenty of people who are ignorant. There are plenty of people who have nothing to do with their time but to hate on other people who are ahead of them or stand for something that they don’t have. I’m not talking about those kinds of people. Those people, for me, are easy to ignore.

I’m talking about the people who are sincere, people who are loving, people who mean very well, people who have an insight into God. People who perhaps have spiritual maturity and may come along to you and say, “If I were you, and it were me. . .,” my friend, I tell you, you can lose every bit of God’s blessing in your life, and all that God has planned for you could go straight down the toilet, just as it did for King Saul, if you don’t learn to obey His voice above any and all other competing voices. Take a listen.

“Hi Michael. I just want to let you know how much I love what you do and what God has done in your life.” Notice this is sandwiched very well. It’s very kind, I believe this lady is very sincere. She’s not saying, “You’re an idiot. You’re an adulterer. You need to leave your current wife and go back to your ex-wife.” None of that garbage. “I watch your videos, and congratulate you and Persis on your new home. In watching your recent video, something struck me, and I wanted to share with you, with love . . .” See, I believe her heart is very sincere in this. “Is it good to still mention your past and what your wife did, and how she had an affair with that young employee . . .” Incidentally, he’s much older. “. . . seven years on? Shouldn’t we not let go and forget it?” Very legitimate question. “The more you mention it, the more it shows that something isn’t right. Cover her sins, brother, and let it go.”

Incidentally, the Bible teaches us to cover the sins of a believer, not of a hypocrite. It’s very important to notice this. If we take her “cover her sins, brother, and let it go,” and we look at Paul speaking to Elimass, Paul speaking to Simon, the Sorcerer . . . when you look at Stephen, looking at Acts 7, against all the teachers of the law, all the Pharisees, all the Jews, we need to go back and say the same thing to Jesus, “Jesus, Matthew 23, You need to cover their sins, Brother.”

But if you’ll notice, nowhere in Scripture, not one place, I challenge you to find, does God ever cover the sins of a hypocrite. He covers over the multitude of sins, and as are we of those who we are in fellowship with, those who sincerely love God, who have been born-again, and who have stumbled in a moment into sin, not those who, first, are Titus 1:16 – “. . . claim to know God, but by their actions deny Him, showing themselves to be hypocrites.” God has never asked that. On the contrary, it says to expose those things. Jesus, did He not say, there is nothing hidden that will not be made known, or concealed, that will not be brought out into the open? He says this. These are His teachings. Everything exposed by the light becomes visible.

She says, “Make no mention of your past, other than what God did for you and how He changed you. Hearing the comment that even your son called and asked what the guy’s name was didn’t seem to fit what you are doing. I am divorced also, and try not to raise my past, other than to say, I made a poor choice, as I was rebellious at that time when I married, so forth and so on. I pray that you understand where I’m coming from.” Very nice. “May the peace, love and joy of Jesus Christ . . .”

And Sister, if you’re watching this video, I want to tell you that I . . . and obviously, I’ve not made you known, in any way . . . but I want you to know, I dearly know that you are sincere, and I appreciate it, and I don’t doubt for a minute that perhaps God may have actually caused you to send this email. I have received several like this. Okay? I can also take you to 1st Kings 13 and show you where an older prophet and a younger prophet get into a tangle, and God uses the older prophet to test the younger prophet. God, indeed, speaks a word intending to deceive the younger prophet, to see if the younger prophet will, in fact, obey the first word he heard from God, not the “Hey, I’m a prophet, too. I have heard from God, also, on your behalf. Here’s what you need to do.”

If you haven’t heard that story in 1st Kings 13, you need to go listen to it, because that young man, sincere as he was, absolutely stubborn on obeying God, was yielded . . . he yielded to the older prophet. He ends up losing his life and being devoured by a lion. God tested him and found him wanting. Far be it from you, far be it from me, to do it.

There may be some well-meaning people God might send in your life with a “word” that contradicts something you’ve been told earlier. Be very, very careful, my friend, very careful.

So, I thank you, Sister, whoever you are . . . I know who you are, but you know who you are . . . for sending this, but I want the rest of you to see what I have written. “I have now received a few emails like this to see if I will obey the “good” people, or God’s specific command for me to tell all. Mark 5:19, you’ve heard me mention it many times, but Jesus said, “No, go home to your family and tell them everything . . . tell them everything . . . tell them everything . . .” This is God’s call to me. “. . . tell them everything the Lord has done for you, and how He has been merciful to you.”

I write, “People are asking me to “spare” my ex or “spare” my children, or “spare” them. Did Jesus ever once teach to “spare” your children, to “spare” your mother and father, “spare” your wife and children, or to “spare” your life? No. On the contrary, all of Jesus’s teachings were about hating those and never loving them or anything more than you love Him, being willing to lose your life, not to spare it, even if it hurts somebody else. It used to be in the beginning that these emails and comments were hate-filled or harsh. But now, years later, the greater test is when they come from nice and sincere-meaning people, like you, Sister. They have no idea that God has spoken clearly to me about what I am to do, and that I would prefer not to talk about all of this stuff, even making myself look bad by doing so.”

Trust me, if you haven’t seen that I truly am the chief of all fools, keep listening to my story. You will discover it. I don’t like telling about these things. I don’t like telling things that bring up . . . I mean, is it in your nature to tell all of your foolish sins, your darkest sins, to show all of your weaknesses? No. Father has called me to do this, even though it involves a few other people along the way.

So, “it’s not my desire to do that, or that they are being used, but I also make myself known that they are being used to test me like God tested Saul and also the young prophet in 1st Kings, 13.” Now, listen to this. 1st Samuel, 15:3, 9 through 24. This applies to you and me, my friend, especially if you’re going to be a servant to the Lord.

1 Samuel 15:3 – “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”

Skip to Verse 9

1 Samuel 15:9-24 – “But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs – everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed. Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: “I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from Me and has not carried out My instructions.” Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the Lord all that night. Early in the morning Samuel got up and went out to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone down to Gilgal.” When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.” But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?” Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”

You know, I see something interesting here. Don’t you notice? He’s saying “the soldiers” did the parts that are disobedient. “They” brought them from the Amalekites. “They” spared the best of the sheep. But then, he includes himself in saying, but “we” totally destroyed the rest.

Samuel says to him, “STOP!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.” “Tell me,” Saul replied. Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. And He sent you on a mission, saying, “Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.” Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?” “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.”

“But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has rejected you as king.” Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the people and so I gave in to them.”

“I was afraid of the people . . . I was concerned about what the people said . . . I wanted to make sure the people were pleased . . . I wanted to earn the praise of the people and I was afraid.” What an absolute devastating blow to a man, the Bible says, was given a new heart with which to serve and love God, a spiritual heart from his heart of flesh. And now, after this second fatal blow to his obedience, he comes to nothing. My friend, this story is in the Bible for us to learn from it. When I read this this morning, a fear and trembling came upon me again, and I asked God, “Please don’t ever let me disobey You like this, no matter what the cost is to anybody.” The people in my family, my wife, my friends, they all know that Michael Chriswell stubbornly obeys God, no matter what.

People have been trying to change what I say in this ministry, people have been trying to redirect me, people have been trying to get me to focus on other things they want me to focus on. But let it be known that in all that I have, clinging to all that He has, I have stubbornly resisted any distractions away from what Father has asked of me, and anytime He has allowed me, by His own sovereign hand to get off, He reminds me. He brings me right back, and I have remained steadfast. I am committed more now, than ever, to doing only that which my Father has asked me to do.

As you probably can tell, if you haven’t followed the story long enough yet, the Father has no problem speaking to Michael. I’m going to tell you something that is really bizarre: In the seven years of me doing this ministry, I don’t believe there has ever been a single time where God has used another person to speak to me. Why would He? When God has my ear, when God has no problem getting His voice, why would Father, all of a sudden, stop speaking to me directly and instead, mediate through somebody else? That’s Old Covenant faith. We don’t need Samuel’s in the New Covenant. Okay? We all can go, one-on-one, to Jesus Christ, the mediator between God and heaven, and the Holy Spirit living inside of me. How foolish would it be?

Now, if I were young in my faith, just getting along, perhaps I might expect God to use somebody, and He did, as you know, several times, to tell me and guide me in things, right? But God has never once used another person, in the seven years I’ve been in this ministry, to correct me, to change me, to stop me from doing anything. Now, He’s allowed other people to get in the way. He’s allowed people to sue me. One time, I lost my entire YouTube ministry, all my videos, from a person who falsely sued me. You’ll hear about that story.

He’s allowed other people to get in my way, and allowed me to yield to temptation, which caused me to have to get out for a little while, in the very beginning of my ministry . . . you’ll hear more about that story . . . but God, to my knowledge, has never used another person. In fact, everything that people have said has been wrong. Can I just say this, again, for your benefit? Every single person that has ever sent me a “God told me,” . . . I can’t tell you how many emails . . . I’m saying this to you with the greatest humility before my heavenly Father, okay, . . . but I have never once received a “God told me to tell you” email that was not completely wrong. Not a single one have I ever read and said, “Oh, Father, thank You so much for speaking to me through that person.” It’s not necessary.

God has my ear. You understand? God has my ear. Now, God may use another person in some way to confirm something He has already told me, but God has already spoken to me, just like He did with Paul and the early church, when the Holy Spirit has already told them to go, and the people come and say, “Don’t go, don’t go,” and they say “the Holy Spirit told us this.” But you can see, Paul still went. I can see in there, there is some testing going on, to see if Paul will obey what he first heard from God, or will he now obey all these people who say, “The Holy Spirit clearly told us to warn you, and that this is going to happen to the man who goes, this is what is going to happen to you.” But nevertheless, Paul went. He obeyed what the Spirit of God told him. Right?

It’s so important to understand this. Once you get to a place in your walk with God where you can hear from God directly, please tell me that it doesn’t make any sense to you at all why God would, all of a sudden, need to speak to you through a bag of dust. Honestly. Does the Bible not . . . is it not replete with warnings about going to man, trusting in flesh, running to Egypt, trusting in those who trust in idols? “Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his refuge, who does not look to those who trust in false gods. Woe to those who go down to Egypt who do not look to the holy one of Israel and call on the name of the Lord.”

Isaiah 2:22 – “Stop regarding and trusting in man who has but a breath in his nostrils, of what account is he.” You can know and have a relationship with God. I have really delighted in all of these emails where people, in a moment of passion . . . they may really sincerely believe what they are saying, “God told me, God spoke to me.” Many times, it’s just delusions of their own imaginations. But sometimes it really could be God giving somebody a word, intentionally to test me where God has already spoken to me. So, I was just kind of like, “Oh, okay, all right,” and I sometimes thank the person for being sincere. But God’s already spoken to me so clearly about it, that for me to now obey somebody else would be to disobey God.

My friend, you’ve got to recognize this principle, if you’re ever going to serve God. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been tested in this way. People have always thought that they know better about my life than God does, and it’s not going to be any different for any of you who God calls into full-time ministry ever. There will be dozens of people who are convinced, men and women of God, ahead of you, behind you, below you, beneath you, beside you, who at some point become convinced they know better about God’s will and plan for your life than you do, and these will be moments for you to be tested, just as Saul.

Saul failed miserably. Saul failed fatally. And Saul failed eternally. May it not be that this happens to us, and thank God, Almighty, for these incredible lessons.

“Partial obedience,” I write in my journal entry, “is not obedience. Like the older prophet sent by God to the younger prophet, they are sent to test me. 1st Kings, 13. This morning while listening to the School of Obedience, by Andrew Murray, the Lord blessed me with the connection between this story of Saul and the principle of obedience, and those who are now commenting or emailing me to “spare” my ex-wife.”

My friend, do you see the connection? Do you see it? See, we come with our own human understanding, and you cannot see this story, or your story, from a human understanding. You have to be able to see it from God’s perspective, walking in accordance with the Spirit, understanding His wisdom. I write, “This is surely part of the reason I’ve been seeing the Scriptures “Be very careful to obey Me” recently. There is always a temptation to side with the people, and a desire to accommodate their Godly and seemingly loving requests for insights. Nevertheless, seven years later, I continue to be very careful to obey the Lord and not shrink back into “sparing” anyone in this story, lest I be found guilty of disobedience, and rejected just as Saul was.”

“Even when my own wife, Persis” . . . it’s a story that you’ll hear down the road . . . “when she began speaking against my . . . speaking about my ex in this story . . . I held my ground, and God eventually gave her light to not stand against the work He asked me to do.” Do you know how hard it was for me to have such an adorable, humble, quiet wife who, at one point, God allowed to turn against me in this way and question “I don’t understand why you’re doing this. It doesn’t make sense.” And I had to continue. I had to decide, “Am I going to take this fruit that my wife is offering me to eat, that makes sense, that has all kinds of Scripture we can justify, or am I going to continue to obey what I know God has asked me to do, no matter the cost, even the person closest to me getting hurt or not understanding or totally disagreeing with me?” What am I going to do?

I obeyed God, and God soon gave Persis light, where she would admit to me, “You know something, I know God has called you to do this, and I now accept it, and I understand it.” But in the beginning, she didn’t. God used her, and used that situation, to test me and try me. If I will not obey my own wife, who I love and adore, how much less will I obey you, those of you who want to send me the “God told me to tell you” emails? Don’t waste your time.

“Acts 4:19 through 20 – “But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than Him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.” My friend, if you have that kind of commitment to God, that is a life, that is an obedience, that God can build an amazing servant on, an amazing ministry that God can do amazing things. But see, you’ll have to be tested. God will have to put you in very, very costly experiences where in order for you to obey Him, it is going to cost you, because it is going to cost those who love you. It is going to cost other people because of your obedience to God.

I write in my journal, “I am willing to be misunderstood. I’m willing to be looked down-upon, willing to be thought of as unloving and unChristlike, as opposed to disobeying my Father.” You have to be willing to be misunderstood by people, if you’re going to follow Jesus Christ. Look at that Scripture, Mark 3:21 – “When His family . . .” – this is after Jesus calls the disciples to Himself – “When His family heard about this, they went to take charge of Him, for their said “He is out of His mind.” Can you believe that? Even Jesus’s family thought He was out of His mind.

So, “I am willing to be misunderstood. I am willing to be looked down-upon, willing to be thought of as unloving or unChristlike, as opposed to disobeying my Father. Obedience is costly,” I write, “but disobedience is far more costly. Please help me to remember this, Father, all the days of my life.” And then I wrote, “I started writing this paragraph at 5:33.” That’s another one of my numbers. 5:33 is about obedience. I took a screen capture of it, Deuteronomy 5:33 – “Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” My friend, what did God do to these people after He gave them all of these commands to obey, but to test them ruthlessly . . . Deuteronomy, Chapter 8 . . . to find out and know what was in their hearts, to see if they would actually obey Him.

I write, “I used to get quite irritated when people would send these kinds of “God told me to tell you” or “God put a word on my heart” emails. Now, I think to myself, perhaps the Lord did send them and give them those words, exactly like He did the older prophet in 1st Kings, 13, in order to test me and know whether or not I would steadfastly obey the Lord. Again, A. B. Simpson’s sailing illustration is perfect: I’m at the helm, fighting to keep her in God’s rest, as these rogue waves and cross winds attempt to blow me off course and out of His rest. I hold steadfastly to the helm, and it’s God’s job to keep me in the peace, under full power.”

I write, “Words I never want to be said about me by God, to Himself or anybody else: “I am grieved that I have made Michael Chriswell My servant, because he has turned away from Me and has not carried out My instructions.”” My friend, it’s hard for me to take that message and go back and look at the rest of the notes that I made, because this is the pressing message that we all need to hear. This is the message the Holy Spirit would have us understand, how important it is, and how much partial obedience is not obedience. God help us to obey more.

But let me just quickly run through the other notes that I made. Perhaps you can go back and listen to this part again. I talk about my parents really struggling with all of this. They thought I was nuts. I just quoted you Mark 3:21 where even Jesus Christ’s parents thought He was nuts, and remember John 15:20? “Remember the words I spoke to you; no servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed My teaching, they will obey yours also.” Also, I put on there, “Notice how when the final judgment seems to have been corrupted, all of my attempts to fix that corruption failed.” Nothing was working out for me. God, again, teaching me that I will not be able to deliver myself, but for me to learn how to totally abandon my self-sufficiency unto God’s deliverance. Very difficult lesson to learn, but so important.”

And then I wrote, “Obeying my heavenly Father meant disobeying my earthly parents.” I kind of covered that a little bit in this past message I just made, but trust me, when you go to obey God, God will ask you to do some things in accordance with His already-revealed Word, and will in His Word, and then His personal will for your life, as He sees you obeying His written will. It’s going to cost you, and it’s going to cost many of those around you. You have to be willing . . . my friend, are you willing to lose your parents for Jesus Christ? Are you willing to lose your wife, your spouse, your aunts, your uncles, your best friend, your children?

If there is anybody on this earth more important to you than Jesus Christ, you cannot expect Jesus to be able to trust you in order to do anything. My life is one that has been proven, time and time again, okay. Not by my strength, but by God’s grace and my desire to obey Him. My life has been proven in heaven that I am willing to surrender anything and anyone in order to obey God. I’m willing to lose anybody in order to obey God. Even my own children know this, okay? My wife knows this. God is my first love.

Love the Lord, your God, with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength. Now, not many people are willing to love God like this, and that means not many people are going to experience God like this. You cannot have one without the other. You cannot have life to the full in Christ without absolutely abandoning your entire will into His hands, to do with as He sees fit, at the cost of any and everything you may have, and perhaps at the cost of others around you. You can’t do it. There is no other way. Christian history for 2000 years has proven there is no way.

Now, this obedience that I’m walking in is all empowered by the grace of God. I have brought God the humility to tell Him I cannot, the faith to believe He can, and the patience to wait until He does, and Father has continued to operate with me on these three principles. He equips me to obey them. And as the bar, or the weight, as you will, gets higher and higher, so does His grace. Where difficulty and sin and temptation abound, the grace of God abounds even more. I believe it’s 2nd Corinthians, 9:8 that God is able to make all grace abound to me, so that in all things, at all times, having all that I need, I will abound in every good work. That is a Scripture for you. That is a Scripture for all of us.

That is God’s Word to all of us, but I claim it. I take it like a check, and I write it out. I say it before I sit down in front of this camera, no matter what I’m going through – stomachache, headache, whatever, you name it, whatever issues, whatever devils. I mean, man, my friend, I tell you, if you could see what the devil does to try to stop me from telling you this information, from sharing this story. If you could see the kind of stuff my poor computer has to go through. It’s unbelievable the kind of attacks where while I’m working on a video, the computer just completely locks up for three hours, I have to restart it. No matter what I do, it won’t do.

This same thing happened when I went to tell the main story, Trusting God In The Storm. The devil has power. He can touch electronics, your body. He can touch things. He is the god of this world. He tells Jesus that all the kingdoms in the world have been given to him, and that he has the power to give them to whoever he wants. He is a powerful, formidable foe. But greater is He that is in me than he who is in the world, and we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus.

What you see now is me giving you back the wealth. I’m giving you the “booty” as the pirates call it. Even the Bible calls it . . . I’m giving back, not just the battle that has been won, but . . . I’m taking all the loot, the spiritual loot, that I have warranted, that’s been given to me, that I collected, as the devil was fighting me, and I was fighting back . . . God not only gave me victory, but He gave me all that loot, that spiritual treasure, to keep as mine, which makes me more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus.

Now, here years later, I’m able to pass this on to you. Isn’t that incredible? Isn’t that extra-ordinary? My friend, that’s all the notes I have for today. It’s a little bit of a long message. May God help you and I both to tremble at His Word, to be humble and contrite in our heart, for this is the one that God delights in. This is the one that God honors, and may we tremble at His Word. His Word is to be trembled at. He is a fearsome, mighty, awesome, terribly amazing God.

Father, we want to always obey You. Father, please help us, and continue to be merciful to us, God. Have mercy on those of us, Lord, who are still trying to learn how to obey You perfectly. Remember, Father, Psalm 103. God, these are Your Words, that as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him, for You remember we are but dust. You remember how we are formed. Father, thank You for being so merciful to my ignorance, to my dust, to my foolishness. God, do this also for Your children who are listening to this message, in the name of the Lord, Christ Jesus. Father, strengthen them, help them, encourage them.

The final thing I want to remind you is, the mercy that God gave me. Don’t be stuck on this, “Oh, man, I’ve done the same thing, Michael.” Okay. I did it. You just saw it. I disobeyed, I failed. And now, look at today, look at what God was able to do. Okay? I’m not sure what God could have done if I would have obeyed Him perfectly, but I’m not Joseph. I failed. I failed in another way you are going to hear in the story, in a big way. You’re going to hear it, okay? You’re going to see it in my story, if you stick along with it. But you’re going to see how amazing and merciful God has been. And if I am eating the scraps that fall from the Master’s table, they are good scraps indeed, and I am pleased to have these scraps, of God’s blessings, of God’s providence, of God’s guidance, of God’s grace in my life. These scraps are enough for me. Okay?

Who knows what I could’ve done if I would have gotten this right the first time? Who knows what you could do? If you are a young person watching this, and you don’t make the same mistakes Brother Michael will. But for those of us who have messed up, those of us who have lived years and squandered it, what the locusts have devoured, God can restore. God can take all of this oil of gladness that you see in me, He can bring this about in your life, no matter how big the pile of ashes is in your life. God . . . no matter how much you messed up, no matter how much you failed, no matter how much you disobeyed, no matter how much you doubted, God can turn it all around, if you come to Him humbly, and you ask His mercy. Does the Word not say His mercies are new every single day?

This is who God is. His mercies are new, every single day. If you need His mercy, cry out to Him, but my friend, when you receive it, don’t turn around the next day and stomp it. When you receive God’s grace, don’t trample it. Live in the fear of God. Respect Him. What does it say in Romans 12:1? In view of God’s mercy, he says . . . “I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, wholly and pleasing to God, for this is your spiritual act of worship.”

What you see me do on camera now doesn’t even matter. My spiritual act of worship is what I did back then, when you weren’t here, when nobody could see. It’s the things I’m doing right now behind the scenes that nobody can see. I’m surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, as are you, Hebrews 12. This is the glory of God, people seeing this done in secret. It is in secret that my life brings glory to God, that my life is a living sacrifice. Not in front of this camera. In front of this camera, all I’m doing is relaying to you, in obedience.

I will tell you, there is some sacrifice. There is some sacrifice in working for God. There is a lot for me. This is hard for me to do for all kinds of reasons. But the sacrifice of my life, a life that is holy and pleasing to God, has been in this obedience that I have walked out along the way, in private. That is what is important, my friend. That’s what you have to do, is when nobody is looking but God, when nobody can see . . . this is something nobody can take away from me. No Pharisee. No internet troll. Not the most stubborn atheist in the world can take away what I’ve walked out in private before my God.

In view of His mercy, I have presented my body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to my Lord. This is my spiritual act of worship to my Father. Not what I do singing to a song. Not what I do to praise Him on this camera. It has been what I have done in private, before my Father who loves me, who has given me this mercy, to live as a living sacrifice.

Give Him that same thing. Romans 12:1 is not just for Michael. It’s for you. It’s for all of us. May God bless you and keep you, in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ, and I’ll see you on the next part.