Tuesday, November 13, 2007

To Trust and Obey

Impotence fueled the high priest's indignation, and he shook with anger and frustration. How dare they, a bunch of uneducated fishermen, how dare they attempt to overturn centuries of tradition, how dare they perform miracles, how dare they heal the sick and cast out demons, without his permission, without including him, without asking him of all people to come and lay hands on the sick, the lame and the infirm as well? He didn't have the power they possessed, but at least for show, at least to confirm to the crowds that he was still relevant.
They'd been warned, they'd been told not to preach Christ crucified, the most brilliant minds of the time had tried to convince them not to upturn the apple cart, but they just wouldn't listen.
The miracles they performed made the high priest look all the more irrelevant, a relic of a bygone era, and the people were responding unlike they ever had to one of his dry, ceremonious diatribes, and that's what frustrated him most. Three thousand, then five thousand, how could men who still smell like fish be so successful in winning over the hearts and minds of the common people?
The high priest was well aware of the proven motto, when all else fails resort to violence, and so filled with indignation they laid hands on the apostles and threw them in common prison.
With that nuisance having been taken care of, the high priest returned to his priestly duties, gathering the council, and the leaders of the children of Israel because everyone knows there is strength in numbers, and why should he be the only one to feel the guilt and shame of reacting with violence just because he felt inferior?
After everyone was brought up to speed on the troublemakers, the high priest sent for them, the apostles of Christ, only to discover they were no longer in the common prison. Nothing as trivial as prison walls, or prison bars, shackles or chains, can stand in the way of the truth, and since they were needed for duty, an angel had seen to their expedited release the night before.
After their release from prison, the angel gave the apostles instructions, and it was not to run from the wrath of the high priest, or hide from his minions, they were instructed to go stand in the temple and preach. Indifferent of their own safety, that's exactly what they did, they went, stood in the temple and with the booming voices of conviction preached Christ, and Him crucified. They realized it would only be a matter of time before they were discovered and apprehended again, but they also knew they had no choice but to obey, and trust that the God who had seen to their release once before, would be faithful in seeing to their release again.
When we learn to trust and obey the voice of God, everything else fades into obscurity. All that surrounds us becomes blurred, like a camera that is out of focus, and the only thing we see with clarity and in vivid detail, is Jesus standing before us, showing us the way. We are no longer concerned with the how, the who, the when, or even the why of any particular situation, we simply obey.
Sure enough, the captain and his officers went into the temple where the apostles were teaching, and due to the fact the soldiers feared the crowds, they were taken and bought before the high priest without violence. Oh, how they would have enjoyed tuning them up a little bit, perhaps the whip, perhaps the rod, even a closed fist would have sufficed, but the crowds would have reacted, and so the apostles were spared a beating.
Unconcerned with how they managed to escape from prison, I suspect he already knew the answer and really didn't want any confirmation of the facts, the high priest got right to it, down to the heart of the matter, and said, 'did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name?' (The name of Jesus Christ)
Then Peter and the other apostles said, 'we ought to obey God rather than men.'
There is a simplicity in truth that can be grasped even by the slowest of minds. No, Peter wasn't highly educated, but he still knew enough to know that we ought to obey God rather than men. His answer left no wiggle room, no room for debate, it was simple and matter of fact. If only today's generation could think so clearly and succinctly.
Obviously the high priest wasn't getting his point across, and so in anger and frustration he began plotting to have the apostles killed. That however, is a story for another post.
As simplistic as it might sound, it's easy to obey, when it's easy to obey. There are moments in this life, when we realize that obeying God will bring about repercussions to our flesh, that we might have to endure at the hands of unbelievers for our unwavering stance. Even when the decision is not easy, even when we know that the consequences of our obedience will bring about persecution, we have no choice but to obey. Whatever the reason for deliberating obedience of God, whether it be that you walk might be easier if you compromised, or the world would love you more if you remained silent, always remember that God prizes obedience, He values it above sacrifice itself. When you choose obedience, trusting God becomes an after effect of your obedience. Because you obeyed, you trust that God will see you through, that He will make a way even when there seems to be no way.
If we can learn one thing from the forerunners of the faith, those who we consider the pillars and the foundation of church, it's that obedience is never in vain. God sees, God knows, God rewards His faithful.
1 Samuel 15:22, "Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams."
If we are obedient servants, if we obey the voice of God, then when we are called to sacrifice we will do so with gladness.
However when men attempt to sacrifice as a substitute for obedience, trying to garner God's favor by offerings rather than obedience, it is as a stench in His nostrils.
Trust and obey, in spirit and in truth, knowing in whom you've placed your trust. We trust not in the things of this earth, or in the strength of this mortal flesh, but in the power of the risen Son of God, the one who overcame death itself.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.


Elm Street Chapel said...

Amen, brother.

The Lord spoke this very same thing to me this morning. Obedience is better than sacrifice. He is looking for those who will not only be hearers of His word, but doers also. It is in the knowing that you are being obedient to God where all doubt and fear flee, because you know you are living by every word that has proceeded and is proceeding out of His very mouth.

Out of the mouth of two or three witnesses, let every word be established.

God bless,

Anonymous said...

Yes, obeying the commandments of God, staying true to his word.

This could be easier done if ALL would CHOOSE to do so.

We would then have no other cultural, familial, or peer pressure to do other than obey what God has put on our hearts.

God has seperated myself and my husband to a place where we seem to be all alone. A place to bring us closer to Him and learning to obey by actually doing(not just reading, not just studying) actually doing.

This has caused conflict with our families, and others just don't understand.

I know we are not the only ones who feel alone, or even persecuted for obeying.

Even harder is in teaching my 3 and 4 year old. Especailly when bombarded by the "American World", via T.V., the schools(teachers), neighbors, family(grandparents.

Choosing the side of God is hard, but is eternally rewarding.

God Bless all who obey by doing.

Cathy in Texas.

Anonymous said...

Thank you brother Michael, this is an encouragement to me as well. To be a living sacrifice is to obey. Sometimes what the Lord is asking me to do seems too simple and basic and my flesh feels like it's not enough, particularly from the point of view of others who are doing so much "more". I feel like I "should be doing more," but that's such a lie if I'm being obedient!

Cathy P., be encouraged that a great cloud of witnesses is surrounding you and cheering you on, just as they did with Job. I say that to myself too. :)

Anonymous said...

Several months ago when I was thinking about what Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 12:12; “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”; I couldn't help but notice the underlying foundation for this was a love relationship with God. In order to be able to trust someone completely, you have to understand that they love and care for you. Many Christians understand that God loves them, but that's only half of the relationship. To obey testifies of our love for Him. (John 14:15; If ye love me, keep my commandments.). One of the problems for many Christians is they think that it's enough that God loves them. It's similar to a rebellious child that has loving and caring parents. When they get into trouble, they understand that mom and dad will bail them out. They trust their parents, but they don't reciprocate that love in return by obeying. I believe that is why trust is listed before obey. God loved us before we loved Him. I also noticed that God's love goes without question. It's up to us to recognize His love for us (trust), and then return that love by walking in His precepts (obey).
God Bless,

P.S. Last night as I was watching a popular so-called "Christian" network, they constantly kept telling the audience to present their sacrifices; in the form of money of course. But not once did they ask them to obey the Lord's commands; but rather to obey the prophets command to give money.

Anonymous said...

If I may...Cathy, my wife and I have taken to reading the Bible at dinner time to my 6 and 10 year old daughters. After prayer, I or my wife will read a chapter or two of Scripture while everyone else eats. For the rest of the dinner we then discuss what was just read. Amazingly my daughters get excited about the Word. My daughter had to run to the bathroom one evening and she made sure I didn't read anymore until she got back because she didn't want to miss a thing. At first they didn't take to it very well, but after a couple of weeks they began to look forward to reading in the Bible. Just something you might try to push back the world.
God Bless,

Anonymous said...

I so enjoy this blog... it is a great encouragement! Cathy, after reading your post (we also are alone) I felt the Lord wanted me to share the following poem:


It began With a longing,
That’s how I remember it
I didn’t know its name
But I knew
I wanted it
I was afraid…
But only because it was unknown
Some nameless dread
Would stand in my way
But I would always
With trembling heart
Push it aside
The longing always stronger
Than the fear
And I began to be rewarded
Not with things
But with Him
We often hear the expression
‘He is all you need’
But this was more
He was all I wanted
My hearts obsession
And the cost became daily
Yet each thing
Thought of as cost
Became as the giving
Of a candle flame
To gain the sun
And it moved beyond me…
And became all about Him
And the time came
When the longing
Now drinking freely
From the bottomless cup
Became passion
And burned with zeal
And with the passion and zeal
Came a focus…
And all pertaining.

The Lord bless you all!


Anonymous said...

Yes, it can be a lonely walk when you choose to obey and it can cause offense and hostility from others. I know what you are saying, Cathy with trying to raise godly children - the outside influences are so terribly strong. I am constantly fighting what comes into my home, and sometimes things slip under the radar. This is particularly hard, since my husband is not a Christian and in fact is often opposed to my beliefs and standards. But the Lord knows, and I do my best to remain faithful to what I know is right. I believe He honours that.