Tag Archives: obedience to God
When I want to save something to remember, I will write things on my hands or take photos with my phone. As well, I am a frequent user of sticky notes on my computer. Doing these things keeps me on track to remember what needs to be remembered.
The Bible speaks a lot about remembering God’s commands. Long ago, the people had their own ways of remembering Scripture. Even their culture was built upon remembering what God had done, as they continued to meet for prayer. They invested time in passing down the sacred text. Even during meal time, they remembered.
Today, we need to be intentional when it comes to guarding God’s Word. We need to keep it ever before us, not so as to protect the Bible but to drown ourselves in His Word and treasure it. To have God’s Word written deeply in our hearts, we must be constant in the Word. Wake up reading it. Go to sleep reading it. Have it posted and spoken around our home. Have it playing in our ears. Today, ask the Spirit how you can write the Word deep within your heart, where it will be a source of life and a treasure everlasting.
“Obey My commands and live! Guard My instructions as you guard your own eyes. Tie them on your fingers as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart.” – Proverbs 7:2-3 [NLT]
To hold tightly means you hold firmly. You cling to something or grip something, usually in attempt to not let go. I think back to when my children were small and I would hold their hands tightly as we crossed the streets. I remember walking up a high staircase and holding the handrail tightly in hopes that I could safely navigate the heights. When the wind is blowing hard, we hold tightly to our personal items as we try to get from the car to the house without losing anything. We use all the strength we have so we can keep a hold of these things.
In Deuteronomy 11, we read about “holding tightly to Him.” Do you hold as tightly to God, with the tight grip, in an attempt to not let go when the winds get high? Do you hold as tightly to God as you climb the high heights? Do you cling as tightly to God’s hand as you cross the streets of life?
The Bible tells us we are to walk in God’s ways and hold tightly to Him. It’s hard, but it’s not impossible. To walk in His ways, you must hold tightly to Him. Abide in Him and He will abide in you (see John 15). His power working through you will give you all you need to walk in faithful obedience. Today, realign yourself to Him.
“Be careful to obey all these commands I am giving you. Show love to the LORD your God by walking in His ways and holding tightly to Him.” – Deuteronomy 11:22 [NLT]
Every morning, there is the usual routine. After our daily walk (weather permitting), the dogs sit inside the kitchen awaiting their food. Typically, I’ll grab their bowls and get them water, followed by their food. There are moments when I need to do something quickly before feeding them. They still stand in their places, patiently waiting for their food. They know that their master will feed them. They trust it is coming. In time, the food comes.
The Bible references many promises of God. In Matthew 6, we read about how God cares for the birds—He makes sure they are fed. This illustration is shared to show us the importance of leaning into God and not succumbing to anxiety. Too often, we allow fear, anxiety, worry, and doubt to keep us from stepping into what God has ready for us. Rather than following His will and patiently trusting Him, we try to do things on our own and life becomes frazzled. We were never meant to do life alone on our strength.
Worry will get you nowhere. It cannot add a single hour to your life span. It cannot make the problem go away. It cannot change your circumstances. It cannot help in any way. Like my dogs stand patiently waiting to be fed, trusting in their master, we are to stand before our Master, trusting in Him. Even when nothing seems to go well—even when the circumstances look bad—cling to Him and His promises. Even when things are falling apart around you, stand firm in your faith. Wait obediently. He is faithful!
““Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” – Matthew 6:25-27 [ESV]
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In the past four days as I have taken my dogs for their daily walks, I have encountered unleashed, uncontrolled dogs. Today’s dog was a bit comical. As her master called for her to get back to her side of the street, she slowly inched her way in our direction. It was as if she thought she could slowly sneak near us and her master would maybe have a change of mind over the boundary. As I consider the barriers that we should be in place for our fur family (fences, leashes), I cannot help but think about the boundaries God has put in place for His children to keep us safe. Just like the dogs often try to sneak away from their master when not contained, we too slowly sneak away. At times, we paw at the boundary line for a long time until we finally succumb to the temptation and take the final leap toward the sin. Sometimes we slowly walk toward the line and start to think no one is watching, and we run across like a dog who has a malfunctioning underground fence.
At the end of the day, as we stroll across the boundaries that God has put in place, we find ourselves facing the consequences. For a dog escaping, the usual punishment is back to the house. Our consequences are a life apart from God. When we are actively and knowingly sinning, we are living like we are separated from God even though He lives inside of us and is ever-present. When you don’t follow the commands, you turn away from God and toward the temporary. You drown out the Spirit. You put something above God. Your life you then begin to navigate without a map or GPS, and end up off course and out of gas.
In God’s Word, we see lots of commands. These commands are not because we have a God Who wants to be making life so difficult for us like some lengthy tax code or rules that keep us from fun. The commands of God are to protect us and to promote godly living which leads to joy, to peace, and blessings. Imagine not having to wonder if something is good or bad for you. God already has broken it all down in His Word. It makes life easier. Imagine how much easier and how much more joy and peace will be in your life if you stay on the narrow path and don’t find yourself knee deep in sin. Today let us examine where we are at in life. If you are often questioning the commands of God, consider why you question them. Do you have your priorities straight? Do you think you know better? Do you question them because you truly want to find a way around them? The Bible says if you love God, you will keep His commands. It should be our aim to do just that – to honor Him in all that we do in life. It is never burdensome.
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” – 1 John 5:3 [ESV]
[The Vineyard Workers: Matthew 20:1-16]
Isaiah 1:19 – “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land.” [HCSB]
God uses EVERYONE obedient to Him – Peter asks “WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME”?
“Then Peter chimed in, ‘We left everything and followed you. What do we get out of it?’ Jesus replied, ‘Yes, you have followed me. In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields—whatever—because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life. This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.’” – Matthew 19:27-30 [MSG]
“Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous? So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”- Matthew 20:15-16 [NIV]
1) This parable is not about salvation or eternal life
Salvation is not earned by works
Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” [NASB]
Titus 3:5-6 – “He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior.” [NLT]
2) This parable is not about rewards for service
God rewards differently
1 Corinthians 3:8 – “He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.” [ESV]
LABORERS WHO BEGAN AT 6AM FAILED TO BE THANKFUL – SELF-SERVING ATTITUDE
We all will receive great rewards for following Jesus (see Revelation 22:12)
OBEDIENCE – act of obeying, words or actions denoting submission to authority, dutifulness
- Obedience expresses faith in His wisdom and love. (Hebrew 11:6)
- Obedience expresses hope in a future blessing. (Mark 10:29-30)
- Obedience expresses love (John 14:15, 2 John 1:6)
- Obedience glorifies God (Matthew 5:16)
Bible Study Questions:
1) In this parable, we read about a Landowner, Laborers, a work day, a Vineyard, and the end of the work day. What do you think these people/things represent?
Day of work –
End of the work day –
2) Those who were hired last were unworthy of what they received. They were receiving a day’s wage despite working less than a day’s work. They were paid first. They were treated equally.
How does this resemble God’s grace?
What reminds us of our unworthiness?
3) Those who were hired first were paid last. It was their opinion that they were treated unfairly though they were paid an equal amount and given exactly what was agreed upon.
Why was it difficult for these workers to accept God’s grace towards others?
What made this an unfair transaction (from their vantage point)?
4) Before this parable, Peter asks what the disciples will gain for leaving everything behind. Jesus twice speaks of the Great Reversal. Those who are first will be last; those who are last will be first. It wasn’t about the difference of the reward. We should all be thankful.
How can we obey with an attitude of gratitude? What does this look like?
What should be our motivation of service?
More Than A Story is a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on the parables of Jesus.
Acts Series: Persecutions
“… everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” – 2 Timothy 3:12 [NIV]
Bold Speech + Truth = Persecution
“When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep.’” Acts 7:54-60 [NIV]
We must obey God rather than men
Apostles had to appear before Sanhedrin to be questioned by high priest. Reminded them of orders to not teach in name of Jesus. Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than human beings! (see Acts 5:29)
— GOD DELIGHTS IN OUR OBEDIENCE —
Standing Ovation from Jesus
“’Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’” – Acts 7:56 [NIV]
Stoning of Stephen = Spread of Persecution = Spread of Gospel
“Saul was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen. A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria.” – Acts 8:1 [NLT]
— GOD USES EVIL FOR GOOD –
Blessed are those Persecuted for Righteousness’ Sake
“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit Me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.” Matthew 5:10-12 [MSG]
What to do when facing persecution:
Acts 4:3 Peter and John were arrested – didn’t fight back
“Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.” – 1 Peter 2:20 [NLT]
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” – Acts 1:8 [ESV]
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” – John 14:12 [NASB]
BE BOLD IN TRUTH
“Pray that I’ll know what to say and have the courage to say it at the right time” – Ephesians 6:19b [MSG]
Acts 4:24b-31 [ESV] “And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, ‘Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,
‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’—
for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to Your servants to continue to speak Your word with all boldness, while You stretch out Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of Your Holy Servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.’”
This is one of the 4 part Acts series:
As I turned around to head out the door and walk my sister out, I told the dogs to stay. Max and Marci both stopped and stood at attention. They immediately obeyed my words and I continued onward to see my sister out. But as I was opening the door and saying goodbye, I could hear a crinkling of plastic. I knew that although Max had remained where he was and obeyed my command, Marci went over to the garbage on a scavenger hunt because her Master turned her back.
There are a bunch of Maxes and Marcis of the world. Sometimes we are one and then sometimes we find ourselves as the other. It is easy to obey at some moments, more so than others. But we are to obey every time. Our obedience should not change because of situations or circumstances. With God, His back isn’t turned. I don’t know if we forget His eyes see the crinkling plastic before human ears would hear it. Or perhaps we think that some things aren’t so bad as others—we must obey this list of “written in stone” items like “don’t steal” or “don’t kill” but there is a separate list of “not so important” things that are negotiable.
Obedience isn’t a word we like to hear. It means that we submit to authority. It means we might not do what we necessarily desire. As you walk with Christ, you will find obedience comes a little easier. Yes, it still may be a challenge, but there’s a greater desire to do God’s will and follow His way as you grow. You start to want what He wants. You start to see that His “rules” are for your benefit. Yes, God wants what is best for you. And when you realize that and when you fall head over heels in love with Jesus, you want nothing more than to walk in obedience.
“But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him.” – 1 John 2:5 [NLT]
When I was young, I remember my grandfather always telling me about the need to take care of my eyes. Even after he went to be with the Lord, my grandmother reminded me of this important need. I’ll admit that sometimes we take advantage of our sight; we don’t realize how important it is to our lives. I certainly felt the absence of sight when I had an eye injury a few years back.
In Proverbs, it says, “My teaching is as precious as your eyesight—guard it!” Did you catch that? AS PRECIOUS. Do you consider God’s Word, His teaching, what He has to say to you as precious as your eye sight? Do you realize the importance? Long ago the Jewish people would tie the Word to themselves. Today I write verses on my hand and get scolded because it doesn’t look very professional. But in both cases, it is about keeping God’s Word close—it’s about trying to remember everything He says so you can live it out.
Your relationship with God is the most precious relationship you can and will ever have, if you take the opportunity to have one. His teaching, His Word, therefore should be most precious to you. I remember back when I would read my Bible when it suited me, when it fit in with my plans, when I needed something out of it, or just to say I did it. I thank God that today I am a different Tania; today I cannot go a day without reading His Word. Every morning. Every lunch break. Every evening. I have to read it. I want to read it. I need to read it. It is as precious as my eye sight. I pray it is the same for you.
“Dear friend, do what I tell you;
treasure my careful instructions.
Do what I say and you’ll live well.
My teaching is as precious as your eyesight—guard it!
Write it out on the back of your hands;
etch it on the chambers of your heart.
Talk to Wisdom as to a sister.
Treat Insight as your companion.
They’ll be with you to fend off the Temptress—
that smooth-talking, honey-tongued Seductress.”
-Proverbs 7:1-5 [MSG]