Sunday, 1 April 2007

Obedience …

if someone says that word, what springs to mind?

Rules?

School?

Doing what people in authority say?

Being good...?


Is your mind gradually switching off as you're reading and thinking these things?

Would someone describe you as an obedient person, or do you see yourself as a bit of a rebel?

If you still live with your parents, do you obey them? (I know I often don't)

If you're a teacher or a parent, do the people in your care obey you? If they ask you a favour, do you obey them?

If you are a leader in your workplace, do people obey you? Do you obey your boss?

And what about obeying God? Do you think you obey God?

Numerous times when I've been listening to a sermon, or taking part in a Bible Study or just reading the Bible in my quiet times and God has often blatantly asked me to do something, I've often foolishly thought, 'Yeah, yeah, whatever..' or 'I'll obey God later, it can wait till tomorrow..'

And sometimes I hear things and realize I need to change what I'm doing, but then try and change things by myself, without asking God to help me first.

Maybe you've thought about whether you should bother doing what God says at times. Maybe you feel depressed because it seems that everyone else around you who is not following Him look like they are having a less stressful life and more fun than you, by not trying to live the way God wants us to live.

But here are some reminders why we really need to obey God

We need to obey God because...

His will is perfect, and ours isn't… it’s as simple as that.
‘Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ Romans 12 v 2

We will have a deeper relationship with Him
‘We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.’ 1 John 2 v 3

If we love God (how can we not love God, when his love for us is so incomprehensible and wonderful!?) we should do what He says:
‘Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him... Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.’ John 14 v 21, 23-24

When we become a Christian, God gives us the Holy Spirit, the one who helps us do God’s will and helping us to be more obedient to Him… if God has given us this part of the trinity to be inside us, should we ignore Him when He tries to remind us of the perfect things He has said?
‘But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you’ John 14 v 26

We will be more firm in our faith with Him
‘"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” ’Luke 6 v 46-49

He's given us the Bible so we can understand and know what his will is. We have this wonderful and useful gift God has given us, so we have no excuse not to do what it says!
‘The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.’ Psalm 119 v 130

We will be blessed & God's law gives us freedom
‘Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.’ James 1 v 22-25



In the Bible, Daniel is someone who I identify most with (apart from Jesus), who tried to obey what God commanded. He was an Israelite prince and was taken hostage by the Babylonians. In Babylon, the other Israelites who were captured were a small minority trying to live the way God wanted. Daniel and his brothers were kept in the Royal Palace to be educated as Magi.

Daniel was not afraid to carry on obeying God despite the circumstances - he refused to eat meat offered to an idol, told King Nebuchadnezzar the exact interpretations to his dreams that God had shown him (he was at risk of displeasing the King by doing this) and continued his relationship with God, even when King Darius decreed a death penalty for those who did.

And by obeying what God said amazing things happened. By not eating the meat, King Nebuchadnezzar found Daniel and his brothers were 10 times better than all the magicians and enchanters in the whole kingdom (the empire of Babylon was huge). By telling the truth of what the dreams meant, King Nebuchadnezzar eventually came to acknowledge the Lord as his God. By defying King Darius and being thrown into the lion's pit for continuingly doing God’s will, Daniel was miraculously saved from the lions and King Darius also acknowledged God and issued a decree that others in the empire should do the same.

This story, as well as being an encouragement, also is a reminder that trying to do what God says in this world we live in is extremely hard and often we'll feel like it's just us against the world. But it's not.

'I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!.’ John 16 v 33

We should also remember that only by the gift of grace God has given us we can be cleansed from our sin when we ask, and receive eternal life and a place in Heaven. For nearly the first twelve years of my life, I thought, like many others still do today, that it was only by being a 'good person' that I would get into Heaven. Even though I probably had teaching on why Jesus died for the world, my brain probably switched off and I was spiritually blind until God spoke to me through a talk I had on my first Motiv8 (my old youth group) weekend away.

I learnt that nothing we can do can earn God's salvation except by accepting the grace God has offered us. (Read Ephesians 2 v 1-10). We must remember that we have all fallen short of God's expectations and we have all done wrong in His eyes. We therefore must be reminded that we will never always obey God's commands as a Christian. It is inevitable we will still sin, but as we've become followers of Jesus and therefore God is the ruler of our lives now, we should still do what He commands - He's our King... a loving King who actually cares about every single one of us!

So, with that in mind, let's ask God to help us be obedient to Him.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for giving us Your word, so we can find out more about You and Your love for us which is greater than all things.

Thank you for marking and giving us the Holy Spirit when we decided to follow you, that He prompts us in what You command and that He remains inside us forever.

We're sorry we have done wrong and not obeyed You, but thank You for Your grace you have given us, so that we may have eternal life in Heaven and a completely clean slate whenever we need it. Please cleanse us of our wrong doings and evil ways, so that we can all have a fresh start to this day.

Work in us, Lord, so we will be reminded of Your commands and follow them, for You are worthy of being obeyed. Help us follow Your perfect law, so we may be an example to those around us of Your power, in this world we live in.

In Your name, Amen.

from your sister in Christ,

Imogen

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