Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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30 Obedience or Obligation

Deuteronomy 11:1-7, 26-28

“1 Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always. 2 Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the Lord your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm; 3 the signs he performed and the things he did in the heart of Egypt, both to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his whole country; 4 what he did to the Egyptian army, to its horses and chariots, how he overwhelmed them with the waters of the Red Sea[a] as they were pursuing you, and how the Lord brought lasting ruin on them. 5 It was not your children who saw what he did for you in the wilderness until you arrived at this place, 6 and what he did to Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab the Reubenite, when the earth opened its mouth right in the middle of all Israel and swallowed them up with their households, their tents and every living thing that belonged to them. 7 But it was your own eyes that saw all these great things the Lord has done.26 See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse— 27 the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; 28 the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.

In Deuteronomy 11 we see God preparing His people to cross over into the Promise land. Moses had brought them to the border but would not be able to enter so he gives them careful instruction on how to possess the promise, “Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always.” Even a casual observation of this passage reveals that the key to success is found in obedience. Today the topic of obedience may not be a popular one but it is pertinent to our possessing the promise. We should not shy away from proclaiming God’s plan just because it is not popular with people.  Moses keeps driving the same point home, do what God says, listen to the Lord and obey Him. He can’t overemphasize obedience enough and so he restating the same word four different times. He makes a point to not only tell them what to do but also when to do it, always. Always includes at all times, not sometimes, not when you feel like it, but always, because selective obedience isn’t obedience its sin. This is not a call to obedience when it’s convenient or comfortable this is a call to consistent obedience. So how do we live lives of careful obedience? By seeing obedience in light of the motive not the mechanics. Moses tells us that the motive for obedience is:

  1. LOVE

The first motivation given for obedience is our love for God. Most of us make obligation our motive for obedience. Because we have to instead of because we love, we let our lives be motivated more by law than love. Christ calls love the distinguishing characteristic of a Christian, even crystallizing commitment using this phrase, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments” John 14:15. In 2 John 1:6 we read “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands.” Our love for God is not just an outflow of feelings it is obedience that focuses on an intimate fellowship with the Father. When we love someone our motivation is more than just rules it is based on the relationship, we don’t want to disappoint or disrespect them. When we go against God’s clear commands it doesn’t just hinder us it hurts the heart of God. There is a story told about a boy that was trying to pressure a girl, who told him no, by sarcastically asked her, “What are you afraid your dad will find out and hurt you?” to which she responded “No, I am afraid he will find out and it will hurt him.” Just as a child’s disobedience hurts their father so ours hurts the heart of God. Obedience is the choice of those who love the Lord; it is the pursuit of those who desire to please God. But this longing to love is not a one way street. It’s not just about our love for God, but also His love for us. God wants what is best for us and His commands are not there to hinder and harass but to help.  His laws are based on His love for us; they are there for a reason.  There were a couple of high school kids who wanted to go swimming late at night and the neighbors down the block had a pool. So they snuck down and scaled the fence even though there were “No Trespassing” and “Do Not Enter” signs clearly posted. Just as one of them bounced on the diving board, another yelled stop, but it was too late. You see there was only a foot of water in the pool. That kid broke his neck because he ignored the signs to stay out. He lived the rest of his life limited bound to a wheel chair because he chose to ignore instruction. His focus was on having fun, but ignoring the signs isn’t fun it’s fatal. God’s precepts are there to protect us from harm not to prevent us from happiness. So many of us ignore the signs that God places before us because we see them not as warnings from a loving God but as signs that stop us from having a goodtime. The second motivation for obedience is:

  1. LIFE

Jesus came so that we could have abundant life and to keep us from spoiling it with sin he gives us rules not to ruin or prevent us from having fun but to protect. Moses now points to the past and reminds them of God’s power and presence in their past. Moses starts with the top 10 list of miracles God used in their past to deliver them from slavery because we are people who so easily forget God’s past provision in our lives. We need the reminder of God’s grace and goodness; we need to reflect on His compassionate care to remind us that His rules bring life not ruin. He sent His Son to die and save us from our sins, His Holy Spirit to comfort and care for us, His Word to guide and grow us. Whenever we call on Him he listens and lovingly leads us, He responds to our requests, He protects us with His presence He provides for us with His power. He heals our hurts and gives us the hope of a home in heaven. What does he require only that we obey. Yet this is not just about His past provision but also His present promise, “13 if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul— 14 then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. 15 I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.” Satisfaction is found in serving God not in sin. Have you surrendered self, are you serving Him with all your soul?  Verses 18 says: “Be careful , or you will be enticed to turn away.” There are many voices calling to us in our culture, competing with Christ’s. Obedience to God may not always be the most popular or seemingly prosperous choice but according to God it’s the difference between life and death: Vs 26 “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse— 27 the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; 28 the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods” Why would you choose a curse when you could be blessed? If you choose to be obedient to God and obey his commandments you won’t blend in with this culture but you will be blessed by Christ. The world will ridicule you but God will reward you. If you pursue God’s plan you probably won’t be very popular but you will partake in God’s promise. His plan doesn’t call us to pursue what is popular but instead to be a preservative and purifying agent, which means you won’t please everybody. Look Christ calls us to be salt, not sugar. Obedience is hard because it requires a great deal of faith. We are called to forgive in the face of hurt; we are called to follow even when we can’t see the face of God. We are called to witness even in the face of wickedness. All of these things require faith, they require that we believe that our Father not only knows what is best, but has our best in mind. Before us is a choice, blessing or curse, look it is a choice not chance that will determine your destiny. Who is Lord of your life? When it comes to faithfully following, forgiving or witnessing are you obeying God? May be you’re in a dilemma right now between the decision to obey God’s Will and do what you want. God has given us the choice, obey or to disobey but with the choice comes the consequence of curse or the benefit of blessing. C. S. Lewis said: “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ The question before us is “whose will is going to be done in your life?”