Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Word of the Week - Obedience

Last week I was constantly being reminded of the word obedience. I had been studying it as I worked on a Bible Study, our pastor preached on it, I read it in my morning devotional and helped my son memorize a verse about it. We all know obedience is important - our parents, teachers and coaches expected it of us as children. Now as a Mom myself, I have the same expectations for my children, but we must realize there's more to obedience than a child doing what the authority figure tells them to do.

In Matthew 11:28 we read about Jesus commanding us to come to Him and His promise to provide rest. This is something we all need in one way or another as we live in a world that constantly demands our attention and calls for our service. But did you know we can also experience rest thru obedience? The very next verse (29) records Jesus saying, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Friend, Jesus tells us He will give us rest in verse 28, but then immediately follows that up saying we will find rest in verse 29. So what's the difference? It's true He will give us rest when we come to Him, but this rest tends to be the eternal rest and hope of heaven, the peace that accompanies the knowledge of knowing we are saved. This rest is a result of His death on the cross. 

The other rest, the rest we can find is based on us following His command of taking up His yoke. It's a rest that involves surrendering control to Jesus and dying to self so He is our Master. This rest includes a peace of mind and the freedom from a burden stealing our joy and creating anxiety. This rest is a result of our obedience and comes from following the example our Lord and Savior set while He walked this earth and living out the commands He provides in His Word. 

So, obedience leads to rest, but it also results in so much more. Scripture tells us God blesses obedience, but as I study and walk out my days I'm reminded that partial obedience is actually disobedience. Like my little people I may want to think my half way job is good enough, but God's Word clearly shows us differently. 

Look with me for a minute at a short story about Moses, one of the greatest men in the Bible. In Numbers 20 we read about water coming from a rock. Verse 8a says, "Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water." 

God had worked through Moses earlier, so though this seems like a crazy command, he knew God was able and had been faithful. So they gather the people together and verse 11 tells us what happened next - "Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff." We read on in that same verse and see God was faithful to His promise - the people had water to drink.

Let's not pass over what went wrong in these verses though. Let me ask you a question - "Did Moses obey?" Read verse 8 again. What did God tell him to do to the rock? Now reread verse 11. What did Moses do to the rock?

Our pastor recently preached on this passage and during the children's sermon he talked with the kids about cleaning their room. They all knew it wasn't enough to just clean one side of the room or hide clothes under their bed. Even if they followed some of their parent's directions, it wouldn't be enough. The kids said their parents expected them to "do what they said."

Friend, God is our heavenly Father and He expects the same. When He gives us a command, half-way isn't good enough. His directions are to be followed completely. And we can return to Moses' story to find out that there are consequences when we don't follow through.

Verse 12 says, "But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them." I'm sure Moses could have come up with reasons why he did what he did and he could rationalize the changes he made to the command God gave, but in God's eyes it didn't matter. Moses hadn't obeyed all the way. He struck when he was commanded to speak. Clearly this lack of obedience was something God did not take lightly.

Scripture tells us God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow - friend that Truth often brings comfort, but there are times it should also bring conviction. Is there something God is asking you to do? Has He given you direction, but like Moses you've added your own twist? The answers to these questions are between you and the Lord, but my prayer is like me you will take some time to think and more importantly pray about them.

Finally to close, I pray the word that's been showing up for me this week speaks to your heart as well - wholeheartedly.

"But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it." Numbers 14:24

"He gave them these orders: 'You must serve faithfully and wholeheartedly in the fear of the Lord.'" 2 Chronicles 19:9

"Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people..." Ephesians 6:7

Friend, today may we walk in obedience wholeheartedly!

Dear Heavenly Father, You are a good, good Father. You not only want what's best for me, you know what's best for me and you've planned what's best for me. Help me remember who you are and trust in the promises You will faithfully follow through on. Lord, I know obedience is important, but I also know I fall short. I pray I can live out the slogan I've taught my kids and ask you to help me obey right away, all the way! In order to do that I need to do it wholeheartedly Lord, so I ask you for a humble, tender heart that's willing to trust and able to resist the temptation to rebel. Do a transforming work in me Father God so that I will do the good works you have waiting for me. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen

1 comment:

  1. Early on, I so struggled with what happened between God and Moses in this story. But the longer I study the Word, the more I see how deeply God wants us to understand and live obedience. It's imperative.

    And I do love that Moses eventually did set His feet in the Promised Land on the Mount of Transfiguration. It wasn't when he wanted to, but our gracious and loving God did give Him that privilege.

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful reminder of the importance of obedience and how it is tied to rest.

    Blessings,

    Wendy

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