Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How To Be Obedient

John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

John 7:17, “If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.”

It is undeniable that faith is tethered to obedience. One cannot possess faith in God without also possessing obedience toward God. These two aspects of our Christian walk are symbiotic, and they are interdependent. No man can say that they have faith in God, yet simultaneously be in disobedience or rebellion to the selfsame God they claim to have faith in.

As Samuel said to Saul so long ago, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

So how can we be obedient? How is it that we are to obey the voice of God, the urging of God, and the will of God for our lives?

The first we way in which we must be obedient, is with urgency of purpose or with immediacy.

One of the most vivid examples in the Word as to the dangers of delayed obedience occurred while Israel was making its way from Egypt toward the Promised Land.

Throughout their journey Israel had seen the hand of God upon them; they had seen the protection of God, as well as God intervening on their behalf. They were now within a stone’s throw away from laying hold of the promise of God, from taking that which God promised them, and they sent out spies to reconnoiter the land before them. Twelve spies were sent to Canaan that they might have a better understanding of who they were up against.

When the spies returned, ten of the twelve were distraught, already defeated before the first blow was struck informing the people that there was no possible way they would be able to overcome the Canaanites because they were giants, and the land itself devours its inhabitants.

Only Joshua and Caleb stood on the promise of God, and because they saw through the prism of the spiritual, rather than tell the people that the land devours its inhabitants, they said that the land is an exceedingly good land, a land which flows with milk and honey.

Numbers 14:9, “Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.”

Rather than heed the voice of Joshua and Caleb, rather than acknowledge the fact that the Lord was with them, and that the people of Canaan would be as food for their consumption, the entire congregation was ready to stone them with stones.

God had commanded a thing, He had proven Himself time and again, He had interceded on behalf of Israel, He had shown them His awesome power, and now the people wanted to stone the two messengers that brought them the truth.

Numbers 14:11-12, “And the Lord said to Moses: ‘How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them? I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.”

God was angry, and justifiably so. Even though God had promised them the land before them, they chose not to believe Him. As such, God said that Israel would wander and die in the desert, and the only ones who would see the fulfillment of the promise, the only ones who would enter the land which God swore He would make Israel to dwell in would be Caleb and Joshua.

When the people heard this, they mourned greatly, and early the next morning they decided to obey the voice of God, but it was too late.

Numbers 14:40-45, “And they rose early in the morning and went up to the top of the mountain, saying, ‘Here we are, and we will go up to the place which the Lord has promised, for we have sinned!’ Then Moses said, ‘Now why do you transgress the command of the Lord? For this will not succeed. Do not go up, lest you be defeated by your enemies, for the Lord is not among you. For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and you shall fall by the sword; because you have turned away from the Lord, the Lord will not be with you.’ But they presumed to go up to the mountaintop; nevertheless, neither the ark of the covenant of the Lord nor Moses departed from the camp. Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who dwelt in that mountain came down and attacked them, and drove them back as far as Hormah.”

When the people heard that due to their lack obedience they would be made to wander and die in the desert, they finally wised up and decided to obey God. It was however, too late, and even though they presumed to go up to the mountaintop, God was not with them, and they were driven back by the Amalekites and the Canaanites. If only they had obeyed the command of God without delay, if only they had trusted and believed, and gone up against their enemies rather than attempt to murder Joshua and Caleb, Israel would have been spared forty years of wandering in the desert, and that present generation would have not only seen but settled into the Promised Land.

We don’t obey God when we get around to it, we don’t obey God when it seems logical and reasonable in our own mind, we obey God with urgency and immediacy of purpose in whatever He asks us to do.

Matthew 21:28, “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.”

Today! ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ Not a week from now, not a month from now, not when you think the grapes are ripe enough to be plucked, today, go work in the Father’s vineyard.

The second way we must be obedient is with specificity.

Obey the command of God in all its fullness. If God commands a certain thing of us, then we must be obedient to the last and most finite of details.

Many believers today choose to play it by ear when it comes to obeying God. The ‘good enough’ mentality is alive and well among many servants, but when it comes to obedience ‘good enough’ won’t cut it.

God sends Samuel to Saul with a command. It is simple, straightforward, and absent of any ambiguity.

1 Samuel 15:3, “Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.”

And so, Saul gathers the people together, goes to war against the Amalekites, and attacks them taking the entire nation. So far so good, but then Saul starts to think that ‘good enough’ is good enough, or that he knows better than God, and his obedience becomes incomplete.

1 Samuel 15:9, “But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.”

From a purely human standpoint, what Saul did was not so terrible. He showed mercy and spared the king of the Amalekites, spared the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings and the lambs, because let’s face it, the people could have used some good livestock, and why let it fall to the sword when they could use it, but in doing these things Saul also disobeyed the specifics of God’s command.

1 Samuel 15:10-11, “Now the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying, ‘I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.’ And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the Lord all night.”

Seems a little extreme doesn’t it God greatly regretting setting up Saul as king for sparing some livestock and the life of Agag? The livestock was not the issue, the spared life of Agag was not the issue, the issue was disobedience, or incomplete obedience of what God had commanded Saul to do.

1 Samuel 15:17-19, “So Samuel said, ‘when you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the Lord anoint you king over Israel? Now the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the Lord?’”

When you were small in your own eyes, you did not presume to interpret the mind of God, when you were small in your own eyes, you did not presume to know the mind of God, when you were small in your own eyes, you obeyed, not in general terms but in specifics, doing everything the Lord God commanded. May we continue to remain small in our own eyes, may we continue to lean not on our own understanding, may we continue to walk humbly, and obediently, with God, doing His will not in part but in the fullness thereof.

The third way we must be obedient is with all our heart.

It is undeniable that Balaam was indeed a prophet of the Lord. This is the selfsame man who had a vision of none other than Christ Jesus, when he said, ‘I see Him, but not now; I behold Him but not near; A star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel.’

Yet it was this selfsame man, who had such glorious visions, who allowed himself to be talked into coming against the people of God because a king made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. If we are God’s than we are God’s in our totality, with all our heart, with all our strength, with all our being, and with all our purpose. We let nothing stand in the way of our obedience toward Him, nor do we allow ourselves to be dissuaded by offers of possessions or positions.

May we be wise servants and as such obey God our Father with urgency, in totality, and with all our hearts.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

If only it were that easy to obey. I think we all most likely disobey more than obey. We most likely take a long time to learn to obey and then disobey the next command.

If people were really able to obey God, the world would be much different. Even Jesus wondered if when he came back to the earth, if he would find any who would obey.

The heart is willing but the flesh is weak. The closer you get to God, the harder it gets to obey. You have to walk a finer and finer line. There is also no turning back or the punishments are horrendous and terrifyingly horrific.

Once you join the God squad, you can't quit. You also have to keep stepping up your game. It is very hard, like an army regiment. You need more and more discipline to just keep up.

I feel sorry for the people who can't obey, because it is hard. It seems the people who can obey have a special grace. God really makes no sense most of the time. You just have to do what he wants and wait for the roof to cave in. It takes a lot of nerve.

Jesus was very brave when he obeyed and went to the cross for us. Maybe we can ask him to help us have more courage to obey.