Written By: Lyndsay Terry
Right away, all the way, happy way.
If you’ve been around me and my children for awhile, you’ve undoubtedly heard me say this. And while I know it can be controversial (“It’s not right to expect them to be happy about obedience all the time!”) we make it a part of our DNA in our family. And no, I don’t expect my children will always be happy to obey what I’m asking/telling them to do. It’s not about their attitude toward the action, it’s about their attitude toward me.
“You don’t have to be happy about it, but you don’t have to be disrespectful either.”
“You don’t have to like it, but you know that I only ask you to do things that are for your good and betterment.”
“I don’t expect you to skip with delight over this, but I do want you to choose joy in the midst of disappointment.”
Obedience is an important value to our family. And obedience, while not always full of happiness, always brings joy in the end. It may be awhile before we see it, feel it, know it, but it’s there waiting for us to experience.
“If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” John 14:15
“Whoever knows me and obeys my commandments is the person who loves me. Those who love me will have my Father’s love, and I, too, will love them and show myself to them.” John 14:21
“Jesus answered him, ‘Those who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will go to them and make our home with them. A person who doesn’t love me doesn’t do what I say. I don’t make up what you hear me say. What I say comes from the Father who sent me.” John 14:23-24
Obedience has such high value in the Kingdom of God. Obedience proves our love for the Lord. It is the primary way we show our affection and our gratitude to Jesus for all He has done. If we love Him, we WILL obey Him.
It doesn’t say perfectly, but I think it implies that our hearts are continually becoming bent toward obedience. We aren’t naturally that way. We are rebellious and self-focused people. It is the grace of God that has made us think of anyone other than our own desires. It is the grace of God that prompts us to obey. It is the grace of God that wins us over to JOYFUL obedience. We learn - through obedience - that He is trustworthy, that He is looking out for our best interest, that He knows what’s truly good for our hearts and souls and bodies. Through obedience we come to know His heart and what may start as skeptical obedience grows into joyful obedience.
“Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the JOY that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 (emphasis added)
It was FOR JOY that Jesus obeyed the Father unto death. He knew that obedience ALWAYS brings blessing and joy. We may have to go to hell and back before we experience the joy, but it is always waiting for us on the other side. And it’s greater than the trip to hell. It’s greater than whatever suffering we may endure. Suffering as small as not having candy for breakfast or as great as losing relationship with a loved one. If it’s done out of a heart to obey the Lord, there will be joy waiting for us.
And sis, I can’t promise when our joy will be made complete in all things. Some moments will be on this side of Heaven, but others will be when we see Jesus face to face. Either way, either grace we’ve been given, it is enough for us to obey having full trust and confidence that the Father is worthy of our obedience. We can have peace knowing that joy awaits us.
What area of your life are you struggling to obey the Lord? Think about it…
Do you have your answer yet?
Take as long as you need to remind yourself of past moments of obedience that brought blessing. Remind yourself of His goodness, His faithfulness, His wisdom, His heart for you, His sacrifice on the cross for you. If he spared not His son for you, why would He withhold what He knows is good for you? Obedience is the pathway to blessing. Obedience is the pathway to joy.
Right away, all the way, happy way - it’s the only way sis. He is worthy of our obedience.
At What Cost?Read Now
Written by: Gay Idle
From the dawn of time, God’s plan for mankind was to be accomplished through obedience.
When God placed man (Adam and Eve), in Eden’s garden, he basically said, “Here you go. You are in charge of this paradise. I planted this garden, now you take care of it, nurture it.” And paradise it was. No weeds, so the work was not backbreaking; it must have been incredibly rewarding to see and experience the results of their labor. I can only imagine the beauty of creation in its infancy.
Do you wonder if God walked with Adam and Eve every evening in the garden? What do you think they talked about? What must it have been like to have no concept of evil in the beginning…only good, coming from the heart and hands of their Creator? To know that God had given them dominion over all the earth and every living thing on the earth? That alone would be enough to keep them talking for weeks or months. This nurturing/ruling thing…keeping it all in balance was going to be an adventure. And God was sharing the adventure with them.
In the midst of this garden, God placed two particular trees. The tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In creating Adam and Eve in His own image, God was also giving them the opportunity to choose. They could eat from any tree in the garden except for one; the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He even told them why. If they ate from that tree, they would surely die (Genesis 2:16).
The choice was really quite simple. Obey God and live, or disobey and die. And we all know what happened after that. If you’re not sure, go read about the fall in Genesis chapter 3.
Yes, they fell. They sinned against God. They knew they had really messed up. They fell from their state of perfect unity and fellowship with each other and with God. Everything was different now. And what a hot mess it made of things. Severe pain in childbirth, weeds, thorns, and thistles. Instead of rewarding and meaningful work, they would experience hard labor, and work by the sweat of the brow. Oh…and that whole unified relationship between man and woman was now an unholy mess! And to top it all off? Death…separation from God…spiritual death along with eventual and inevitable physical death.
God is love. And Love makes a way. Even in the beginning, He knew that to give us choice meant we could/would choose to disobey His command. But it also meant that we weren’t just puppets put on this earth to blindly walk through life with no way to choose love. He created us to live, to love, and to choose eternal life. And so He made a way to restore fellowship with man. So God drove them out of the garden and closed the gate so they could not re-enter the garden and eat from the tree of life. Doing so prevented them from eating from that tree and living forever in their sin.
And so even before he proclaimed the aforementioned curses upon Adam and Eve, God said to the serpent, “...I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15 NIV)
There is so much to unpack in this verse, but for our purpose and the sake of brevity, let’s just say that this was the beginning of the end for Satan. God would provide His Son, the seed of the woman, to administer the final death blow to the head of Satan. The striking of the heel is a picture of Christ’s death on the cross...but we know that Satan did not have the final word in Christ’s death because we serve a RISEN SAVIOR! We have access to the Tree of Life through the saving work of Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, defeating the enemy and rising again to life, so that we too may rise with Him to life everlasting.
And that brings us back to obedience. While man’s original disobedience closed the gate to the Tree of Life, God opened the way through His Son. I love the way the Amplified Version says this in Philippians 2:8, “After He was found in [terms of His] outward appearance as a man [for a divinely-appointed time], He humbled Himself [still further] by becoming obedient [to the Father] to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Romans 5:19 tells us this, “For just as through one man’s disobedience [his failure to hear, his carelessness] the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of the one Man the many will be made righteous and acceptable to God and brought into right standing with Him.”
When the man failed to obey, a sacrifice was required. In the garden, God provided an immediate sacrifice for Adam and Eve when he “made garments of animal skins for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” Their awareness of their nakedness required a covering…their sin a sacrifice. They wore a reminder of their disobedience…the consequence of their sin. This also served to remind them that God would provide a way back to Him through the shed blood of the perfect lamb of God.
1 Samuel 15 says that “...to obey is better than sacrifice…” All that I have just written drives home the point that it is our disobedience that requires sacrifice. And that breaks my heart when I think of it in terms of my own sinful choices in life. It kind of makes it personal. My sin caused the sacrificial death of Christ on the Cross. All of our sins really, but still. If you never sinned, my sin would still have caused His sacrifice and that makes it personal. And heartbreaking. And humbling.
And thankful…oh so thankful, because He died on the cross to bring us back to the life of obedience.
All this talk of obedience puts me in mind of a puppy I had years ago.
Puppies are a bit like toddlers as they go about exploring, everything ends up in their mouths. Clair quickly became well acquainted with the words, "no", "quit", "put that down", "spit it out...NOW", oh... and "that's my shoe, thank you for bringing it to me but I would rather you had left it in the spot by the door".
One morning it occurred to me, as I was yelling once again, "Clair...where are you and what are you into this time?", that I am a bit like my puppy...and maybe you are too. You see, Clair loved to please us and she was a very loving puppy, but she had a tendency to test every boundary that we put into place. Some things she learned rather quickly, but others...took time and work.
She was a work in progress. Aren't we too a work in progress?
Just as He did way back in the Garden, God, in His loving kindness, has set boundaries for us. He created us and knows what is best for us. Some of those boundaries aren't really hard for us to abide by...I mean most of the Ten Commandments are easy to keep aren't they? After all, I've never killed anyone. But there are those things that I know God asks of me that I don't always follow through with. How about you?
As Clair found...some of the bad things we do are well...just plain fun...but the end result is well...not fun.
Obedience is a hard lesson to learn.
When Clair was being obedient she anxiously waited at my feet either for her reward, a loving word, and a hug, or she waited for the next command. When she was not being obedient, she was so busy getting into trouble she missed out on the reward and instead suffered the consequences of her actions.
Sound familiar? Yeah, me too!!
With all my heart I want to be known as one sitting at the feet of my Master, anxiously awaiting my reward, a loving embrace, and looking forward to the next command.
I want to have a heart that is captivated by His voice, filled with His love, and obedient to His plan!
Photo by Garrett Karoski on Unsplash
Lessons in ObedienceRead Now
Written By: Olivia Caldwell
I've been reading Numbers 14 over and over again and just mulling over this portion of Scripture this week. As I have been praying over and reading about and living out obedience for the last year and a half (I spoke on the Wonder of Obedience at our Wonder Conference last October, so y'all know I had to live it before I could speak it!), I have become increasingly convicted when it comes to obedience. Honestly, I pray I never stop becoming more and more convicted regarding obedience to the Lord. I certainly need and desire to grow in this area, to obey immediately and in full faith in whatever it is that the Lord asks me to do.
This passage covers so much about obedience.
The Israelites are on the cusp of entering the Promised Land. Twelve men are sent out, one chief from each tribe. For forty days they are scoping out the land of Canaan, of which the Lord said, “I am giving to the people of Israel.” (Numbers 13:2), and they return with their report of the land. All but two of these men bring the people a bad report of the land, saying that the land flowing with milk and honey is actually a land that “devours its inhabitants” and that they are but grasshoppers to the people in the land.
Numbers 14 begins with the people of Israel crying and weeping and longing to return to Egypt, to a life of slavery without the Lord's presence and protection. They say,“Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” (Numbers 14:2b-4, emphasis added)
The other two men who surveyed the land, Caleb and Joshua, tear their clothes at this and look at what they say to the people: “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, he will bring us into the land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread to us. Their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.” (Numbers 14:7-9)
The land is a good land. The Lord will bring us into it. Do not rebel against the Lord. Do not fear the people of the land- they are bread to us! The Lord is with us!
And the people said to stone them with stones for these words.
The Lord says to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them?” (Numbers 14:11)
I have to admit, that even though I recognize I have many Israelite tendencies, I have found myself about ready to chuck my Bible across the room as I read about these people. “Are you kidding me? The Lord literally said He is going to give you this land. You were just delivered from slavery in the most incredible, miraculous of ways, you've been led by the Lord in a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire. You've seen His hand and you've seen His provision and you have trembled at His glory and at His judgment and - and you're telling me that you don't believe Him when He says that He will give you this land and bring you into it?”
And then the Holy Spirit nudges me, “What about last week when I prompted you to pray with that woman?” Why did I hesitate?
“And that person you know you need to share the Gospel with?” Why do I fear?
“And the work that you know I want to do in your home, in your family, that you have been distracting yourself from?” Why do I doubt?
How long will I not believe in Him, in spite of all of the signs I have seen?
This part of the Israelites story grieves me so much. The Lord declares that none among the people of Israel listed in the census from twenty years old and upward will enter into the land, except for Caleb and Joshua. He says, “But your little ones, who you said would become a prey, I will bring in, and they shall know the land that you have rejected. But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in the wilderness. And your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness.” (Numbers 14:31-33, emphasis added)
“Who you said would become a prey.” It's interesting to think that if their parents had obeyed, the children would have avoided the suffering of the wilderness and entered into the land of the promise because of the faithfulness and loving kindness of the Lord.
They said that their children would become a prey and they feared for their children. And because they presumed that they knew best, that their ideas in the face of unbelief were better than the Lord's plans and promises, their disobedience caused the ones they had so much concern for to suffer. And yet, because of the goodness and steadfast love of the Lord, these children would know the land their parents had rejected.
When Moses told this to all the people, they mourned greatly. The Lord had told them to turn and to set out for the wilderness (Numbers 14:25) and instead they rose the next day, early in the morning, and went up to the heights of the country, now ready to enter into the land the Lord promised, saying, “Here we are.”
Doesn't that just tear your heart apart? I imagine regret and desperation gripping them, compelling them to try to take back their grumbling, their complaining, their unbelief in the sight of their Almighty God.
Moses rebuked them for their disobedience, since the Lord directed them to start for the wilderness, and he warned them not to go up into the land: “...You shall fall by the sword. Because you have turned back from following the LORD, the LORD will not be with you.” (Numbers 14:43)
“But they presumed to go up to the heights of the hill country, although neither the ark of the covenant of the LORD nor Moses departed out of the camp.” (Numbers 14:44) And they were thus defeated.
It is clear that our delayed obedience is disobedience and that disobedience is sin.
There is so much grace in Jesus, but there will come times when our obedience must be swift as we receive instruction for that moment. One moment. There is no room for delay or hesitation. We must have our minds made up that we will obey the Lord Jesus, right here, right now, even when it doesn't make sense. There is nothing more crushing than missing an opportunity to obey that is a gift to us from the Lord. We simply do not know what is on the other side of our obedience. What will disobedience cost us? What will it cost others?
I want to give the Lord my “Here I am.” before I am even asked. I do not want to offer Him my “Here I am.” with delayed obedience. He is worthy of my complete, pure, wholehearted obedience, not a mixture.
There are times we are unsure if we have heard Him right. There are moments when we worry that our obedience will be weird or distracting. Listen, I hear you, but what the Holy Spirit is prompting you to do is none of those things; it is the will of the Father. It could not distract if it is for His purpose. What seems weird to you is on purpose and specific for what He intends your obedience for. When you worry you have heard Him correctly? Sis, sometimes we need to stop arguing with ourselves about what we think we have made up and simply obey. Let the Lord grow your faith.
Always, always, we must remember just who our God is. We must be in the Word, poring over His will and His character and His promises. We must know precisely who He is and what He has done so that we will not give way to unbelief.
We must desire to be like Caleb, who “had a different spirit” (Numbers 14:24), insisting and persisting in the ability of the Lord to do anything and in His mighty hand. We must be prepared for some around us to react, not with stones, but in ways that could deter or distract us if we take our eyes off of Jesus. Remember that the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel when they intended to stone Caleb and Joshua? Walk in the fear of the Lord, trusting in His purpose to prevail and for Him to be glorified.
What keeps you from obedience to the Lord? What is keeping you stuck? Stop and pray right now. I'll pray for you here:
God I thank you for your Word. God I thank you that you are holy. I thank you for your steadfast love and I thank you for your goodness and for all of your promises that are yes and amen in Christ. Lord, I ask that you would teach us by your Spirit, that you would embolden us and that you would help our unbelief! Forgive us, Lord, for when we hesitate and for when we fear. Forgive us when we simply do not believe. Help us to cling to your word and to your word alone. Help us to be completely yielded to your Holy Spirit and to trust and obey. There truly is no other way to be happy in Jesus. Show us what a joy and a privilege and a gift it is from you, Father, that we get to follow you and to obey you. And Lord, I pray over any areas of regret in our lives when it comes to obedience. I pray that you will speak to our hearts concerning these things and that you will even redeem some of the situations that may come to mind now. Nothing is impossible for you, God. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.
Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash
Because I Said SoRead Now
Written By: Angie Reese
I hated it when she said it. “Because I said so,” in response to my asking of “why?” was infuriating as a kid. Sure, sometimes I asked “why?” because I was playing a game, but sometimes I really wanted to know why. Why do I have to put my clothes away? Why do I have to come inside? Why do I have to stop hitting my sister? Ok, I knew the reason for the last one…I swore that I would never say that as a mom. So here I am with a three year old of my own. I have answered “why” patiently all day. All. Day. Long. Somewhere around dinner time my patience wore out and I said it. And you know what? It felt good. (But more importantly, it worked!) I took a deep breath and moved on. It wasn’t the cursed experience I expected it to be.
But isn’t that what God says to us? Obey me because I said so. He tells the Israelites specific things to do, wear, eat, and say. He gave the 10 commandments. He told us the greatest commandment. And we (sometimes whine) and ask God “WHY?” all the time. We ask it when we are angry, confused, or told to do something we don’t want to do.
This week I was pondering about this and wondering what God’s answer to us is.
Isaiah 15:22 has Samuel the prophet say “...To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” Here are a few of the verses that I came up with.
Exodus 6:2 “God also said to Moses, “I am the Lord.” (and then goes on to explain why he was leading the people of Israel through the desert)
Matthew 13:11 “He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.” (as Jesus explained why he spoke in parables)
Job 37:5 “God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.”
Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.”
Deuteronomy 29:29 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever,...”
These verses have made me realize that just like I really didn’t MIND Alora asking me “why?”, neither does God. People have asked him that question throughout the Bible. He has also asked that question of many people. I have also learned that sometimes God answers with an explanation. And sometimes he doesn’t.
Where does that leave us then when we really want to know why? It leaves us with obedience. As disciples of Christ, we are asked to obey God no matter what it costs us. Sometimes we just have to remember that He is a good father and wants what is best for us. His eternal knowledge is beyond what we can comprehend. That is not the answer we want. It is the equivalent to “because I said so”. But sometimes with a little time and space, we can see that the experience of being told that by the loving, perfect, one true God of the universe isn’t the cursed experience we thought it would be. I hope you can find peace in that like I have this week, sisters. It certainly isn’t an easy task, but obedience is sometimes like that. It stings a little. Give it a try. Pray through it. Ask why and listen for an answer. And when you get one - whether the explanation one or the “because I said so” one - obey. Trust Him and his eternal lense. It will always be His perfect will.
Photo by AZGAN MjESHTRI on Unsplash
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