How to stop being stiff-necked (practically)?

As we go through the Bible, in Genesis 17, we learn about the covenant of circumcision, God instituted with Abraham. Interestingly, the Bible uses the word stiff-necked to describe an uncircumcised heart. A couple of instances where there is observed is in Deuteronomy 10:16 and Acts 7:51.

Deuteronomy 10:16
Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.

Acts 7:51
Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

A stiff-neck is a condition that occurs when the muscles that attach the neck to the spine have been strained or  sprained or as a result of some cervical spine disorder. A person suffering from a stiff neck usually experiences pain and is unable to turn their neck in any direction without some discomfort. It is highly likely that you have experienced this condition at some point in time of your life. The most common reason for this is poor posture while working or poor position when resting (sleeping in an angle).

From a Christian perspective, there are many stiff-necked Christians. I often find myself stubborn in my willful ways and sins and can empathize with Apostle Paul, where he says, the things I do not want to do, I do and the things I do want to do, I do not do (Romans 7:19). It is likely that you can relate with me on this. In other words, we all suffer from stiff-neck syndrome during the course of our Christian walk with God. So what can we do to address this? How can we stop being stiff-necked practically?

As a warm up in our Shaolin Do Kung Fu class, one of the exercises that our Son, Reuben Paul and I do, at the beginning of our class is to stretch the muscles of the neck. We do this by slowly looking up and then looking down and then we turn the neck left to right and in all directions.

A Christian remedy to stiff-neck can be extrapolated from the world of Kung Fu. To stop being stiff-necked as a Christian,
– We ought to look up toward the heavens and fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2)
– We ought to look down and bow down, kneeling before the Lord our God, our maker, for he is our God (Psalm 95:6-7)
– We ought to look around (left and right and in all directions) at people, with compassion in our eyes i.e., look at our neighbors, whom we must love as ourselves (Mark 6:34; Matthew 22:39).

Points to ponder:
Are you stiff-necked? Are you willing to look up at God, bow down to him and look at his people around us, with compassion in your eyes, just as Jesus did (Mark 6:34) and teaching them about the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, who laid down his life for his sheep (you, me and the whole world) (John 10:11).

The right posture and position for stop being stiff-necked is to be with bowed heads and raised eyes, on our knees.
Let us stop being stiff-necked!

Hebrews 12:2 (KJV)
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Psalm 95:6-8 (KJV)
O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.
For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice,
Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

Mark 6:34 (KJV)
34 And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.

Nahum 1:7 – The Good Lord is a strong hold and he knows

Nahum 1:7 reads, “The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble, and he knoweth them that trust in him.

Many times, in Psalm 136, we are counseled to give thanks to the LORD for he is good (Psalm 136:1-26). Jesus said, that he is the good Shepherd and he knows his sheep (John 10:14). Sheep trust their Shepherd to keep them safe, secure and satisfied for the good Shepherd leads his sheep by still (peaceful) waters and green (productive) pastures. Sheep that wander away are lost but the good Shepherd comes seeking for the lost (Luke 15:4-7). Many a times, like sheep, we wander away from the presence of God and get lost, but because the Lord is good, and he knows who are his (2 Timothy 2:19), he instructs sinners (us) in his ways (Psalm 25:8). Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness (2 Timothy 2:19).

God is a strong hold – he is a strong foundation and his solid foundation stands firm (2 Timothy 2:19). He holds on strongly to those who trust in him amidst the tempestuous storms of troubles, that buffet against their lives. Because God is the stronghold in the times of troubles, the Lord is the Salvation to the righteous (Psalm 37:39), who trust in him and who believe in his name. When the shepherd boy David faced the giant Goliath, he went forth holding on to the name of the Lord (1 Samuel 17:45) and God held on to him as he faced the giant, giving him victory, which in human minds seemed implausible and impossible.

Points to ponder:
Jesus is the good Shepherd coming in search of you and me. Only in him, can we be safe, secure and satisfied. We who confess his name, must turn away from wickedness and hold on strongly to him. He will never leave us nor forsake us and he will hold on to us strongly, and is therefore our Salvation, no matter how gigantic our troubles may be.
O taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8), bless is the man who trusteth in God, for God knows them that trust in him. Does God know you?

Nahum 1:7 (KJV)
The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.

2 Timothy 2:19 (KJV)
19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.

Psalm 34:8 (KJV)
O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

Our Father :: The Protecting Father God

From the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples we can learn of many characteristics of the kind of God, Our Father, is. In this prayer, Jesus teaches us to request God to keep us from being tested/tempted and to deliver us from the evil one (the devil). This establishes the fact that God our Father is a Protecting Father. In the prayer of Jabez, one of the requests that Jabez made of God was that He be kept from evil and the Lord granted him his request (1 Chronicles 4:10). In other words, Jabez recognized that he needed God’s protection, because the evil one is like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). Just as David fought the lion and the bear that tried to snatch a single sheep away from his fold (1 Samuel 17:34-35), God the chief and Good Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4, John 10:11) would not allow any of us, not even one, who have believed in His Son, and put ourselves into the safety of his protecting hands, from being snatched away by the evil one. Jesus assured us of this when he said, no one can pluck those who are in Christ from the Father’s hand (John 10:29). To pray for God’s protection so that we do not succumb to temptation and to be delivered from the evil one is in a sense, uttering the same prayer of Jesus from the Cross, “Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)

Point(s) to ponder:

Have you/I surrendered our lives to God and placed our trust in Jesus to save us?
Have you/I asked God to keep us from being tempted and t0 rescue us from the evil one?
Have you/I committed our lives/spirit into the safety of God’s hand; for Our Father is a Protecting Father God.

Matthew 6:13 (NLT)
13 And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one: …

The sheep’s cry

When a sheep is lost, you would hear it bleat (cry) as it seeks to be found by the shepherd. The Psalmist expresses that this should be the cry of all who have gotten lost as stated in Psalm 119:176 which reads “I have  gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.”

Though we are like sheep gone astray and lost, the good news is that when we cry, Jesus Christ is not only a shepherd who seeks those who are lost (Luke 15) but that He is the good shepherd, one who is willing to give it all for us (His sheep), who will listen and respond. What should be the cry? Answer: Seek thy servant.

Is that your cry today? Is that my cry today?

Psalm 119:176 (KJV)
176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.

John 10:11 (KJV)
11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

Jesus in the OT :: 1st Samuel

The book of 1st and 2nd Samuel (originally written as one book) gives us a glimpse of who Jesus is in the Old Testament (O.T).

1 Samuel is mostly about the life of David, who was a shepherd boy that God took and made Him ruler of His people. This is what God has to tell of David. Now therefore so shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel: (2 Samuel 7:8)

1 Peter 2:25 says that we are like Sheep that have gone astray, but the good news is that Jesus said in John 10:11 and John 10:14, I AM the good shepherd that will

  1. Give my life for my sheep
  2. Care for my sheep
  3. Knows my sheep
  4. Lay down my life for my sheep and
  5. Bring other sheeps into my sheepfold

And 1 Corinthians 15:24 says that God made Him (Jesus Christ) to be, ruler over ALL men

David, was a king who was elected, established and enlarged
In 1st Samuel, Jesus, The king is God’s elect, who was established by man (in birth, he was sought as the King of the Jews and even in His death He lived up to his name, INRI – The Rex Iudaeorum – king of the Jews) and God (as King of kings) and His kingdom is being enlarged today by the sheep that returns to his fold and is a kingdom forever indestructible and forever established.