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Archive for Obedience


When God Speaks

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In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee,  to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David.  Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.  “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.  He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.  And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”  Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”  The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.  What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she’s now in her sixth month.  For nothing is impossible with God.”  Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.
(Luke 1:26-38, NLT)

It was in the quiet routine of the ordinary that the angel appeared to Mary. Mary, who was probably around the age of 14, was engaged in life as she knew it. It would not have been uncommon for a young Jewish girl to have plenty of regular household duties. It is not beyond reason that a young girl like Mary would work in the fields. In addition to her many responsibilities, she would have been preparing for her marriage to a young man named Joseph.

One of Mary’s becoming qualities is faithfulness. There were and still are plenty of people who are faithful for the sake of noteriety. But Mary would not have had any means of being the center of the public eye. She was faithful to God in ways and in places that people would never see, hear, or know.

Her character and faithfulness garnered the attention of heaven’s throne. She would be selected to live the dream of every Jewish girl that age:  to be the “God-bearer.” In the midst of her faithfulness God watched, then spoke.

Mary’s story stands in contrast to what I see, hear, and read people do to get heaven’s attention. It’s as though we have tried to develop processes that guarantee God’s visitation to our lives. We need to be reminded that we cannot manipulate God, nor can we conjure God’s voice through formulas. We must trust that if God could find Mary in her quiet obedience, He can certainly find us right where we are.

After all, God found Abram in Ur, Joseph in prison, Moses in Midian, David on a Judean hillside, and Peter, James, and John in a fishing boat.

God speaks to faithful people in their faithfulness. Mary is a wonderful example of one who was tuned in to God’s voice. She lived in anticipation and readiness. When God spoke, she heard and responded. And when God speaks, He changes the world.

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Seeking God’s Will?

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Perhaps no other question is more frequently asked than how to discover God’s will. Certainly it’s an important question, because God does have a will. If God has a will, then we have a significant responsibility to discover it and live in compliance with it. But before a person goes through the steps of discerning God’s will, I think its important to first of all discover what the Bible has already said about the matter. The reason this is important is that people waste a lot of time fretting over looking for answers to questions concerning things that God has already gone on record about.

Think about whatever it is that you’re concerned about. Is your concern really a question of legitimately needing God’s will and direction? Or do you need to simply obey what God has already said? If you’re “seeking the will of God,” hoping that his “will” will come in contrary to the Bible, you’re wasting your time. Obey. That’s the will of God for your life.

Categories : God's Will, Obedience, Obey
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Teaching Obedience

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The Great Commission of Jesus Christ can be understood in three parts. Make no mistake, its one command, yet it contains three significant elements. Jesus said that we are to make a lifestyle of gospel proclamation. Those who respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ are then to publicly profess faith in Jesus through the waters of baptism, thus identifying with Christ as Lord and Master of their lives. After those two steps, Jesus then said we are to teach obedience to  his commands. Sometimes we soften this final component through nomenclature like discipleship or spiritual formation. Those are great words that we should not throw away, but we cannot forget that at the root of discipleship and becoming spiritually formed is a lifestyle of obedience to Christ.

How then do we teach obedience?

In the initial stages we obey because we have to. Plain and simple rote obedience, primarily motivated by a sense of obligation that seeks to avoid punishment. As we mature we then begin to obey because we understand that we need to. Here, we may view obedience as our response to God that is motivated by personal benefit we may receive. In other words, we see the value of obedience, determine it is good for us, and practice obedience for our own good. But as we mature further we move past obeying because we need to and obey Christ because we want to. This is the simple motivation of love. We no longer obey because we have to or need to, we obey because we want to. We want to obey because we love Christ and want to please him. Rather than finding our motivation in some element of personal fulfillment, we seek to obey for the glory of God.

Thinking about this I believe it can be easily illustrated in parenting. As a parent of three teenagers, I’ve seen this evolution first hand. When you have a preschooler, you teach them to obey because they have to obey. There is no democracy with a preschooler in the house! You don’t want your toddler running out into the street or wandering off in stores or sticking paper clips into electrical outlets so you teach them that they have to obey.

As the child gets older and communication becomes easier and more natural, they begin to obey because they need to. Want to go to the movies? Clean your room. Want an allowance? Do your chores. Want to have a sleepover? Get your homework done. Children understand the value of obedience because they perceive obedience is good for them.

But wait, there’s more! Children don’t stay children, they continue to grow and mature. As your relationship with your child matures, they value you as a person as well as a parent. They understand that you love them and have their best interest at heart. They also learn that your love for them is so deep that you would literally give your life for them. That’s when they begin to obey because they love you and want to please you and don’t want anything to come between you.

Jesus said that his church is to teach obedience. But obedience for the sake of obedience is often reduced to legalism. The goal is not obedience in and of itself. The goal is a love relationship with Jesus Christ, where your life in Christ is natural and your obedience is reflexive. My point is that you don’t start there. But you can certainly get there. It just takes some time and commitment.

“Then He (Jesus) returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them” (Luke 2:51).

“When He appeared in human form, he (Jesus) humbled himself in obedience to God” (Philippians 2:7).

“Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).

Categories : Jesus, Obedience, Obey
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I’ve logged a little windshield time lately passing the time thinking about obedience. Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like the word “obey” (as in obedience to God) is a word that is missing from our current Christian vocabulary. Do you feel this way? What emotions do you associate with the word obey? Is it a word that we need to recover? How do we recover obedience without reducing it to legalism?

I’d like to encourage you to weigh in. To comment, simply click on the title of this post and the comment box will appear at the bottom of the page. Comment moderation is on, so I’ll try to get to them as quick as they hit my phone.

Categories : Obedience, Obey
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