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?”

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29 All out Obedience Part 2

Luke 6:46-49

46 “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? 47 I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. 48 It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. 49 But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.”

After Jesus very direct and difficult question in verse 46 in the very next verse we see His call for:

  1. Decisive Action

Obedience isn’t just an attitude it also involves action. It is here that we read about the kind of action that Jesus is calling for from those who would call Him Lord. The first action step that we see is:

  • “Comes to Me”

This is not just the first step this is a continual and daily step. Coming to Him involves leaving everything else; it means dismissing all other distractions and making the decision to chase only Christ. You will always follow what you focus on. Coming to Jesus involves keeping Him as our focus; trusting in Him alone as Savior and Lord. In John 10:4-5 we see a powerful picture of us coming to Christ and continuing to chase after Him: “4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. 5 They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.” The sheep not only hear the shepherd but they heed and follow Him. The sheep that get picked off by the wolves are the ones on the fringes, the ones furthest from the Shepherd, not those that are faithfully following. Our greatest prescription for the prowling wolves, who want wound and lay waste to us, is to live in the center of the flock, His church. How close to Christ are you, are you staying or straying? This leads us to the second action Jesus calls us to take, comes to Me and:

  • “Listens to my teaching”

Second we must listen to the Lord. How do you listen to the Lord? Well let me ask you where do you find His sayings? In scripture, we need to base our life on the Bible, God’s Word. This means that we don’t just read the Word of God we rely on it. Is scripture your steering wheel? Is scripture your source and sounding board? Now it’s great that you read this blog, but don’t just read what others have written about the scriptures read scripture. Your primary reading must be the Bible, everything else is secondary to scripture. Look this is a blog its not the bible and if you are not in the Word you may miss hearing His voice. God is not going to substitute scripture with something else just for the benefit of the busy. Our biggest problem today is that we are trying to substitute real food for fast food. We have become an instant on demand generation that would rather turn to google than God, we would rather seeking answers from Siri than the scriptures. We have convinced ourselves that we don’t have time to find answers from scripture so we turn to those who will summarize it for us. If you want to seek success then study the scriptures. Jesus said, comes to Me, listens to my teaching and:

  • “Follows it”

Jesus makes it clear that there must be a response to His Word. The only reasonable and right response is one of OBEDIENCE. Let me ask you what is the key requirement of Christian discipleship? Is it knowledge, or talent, ability, gifting, or vision? No, these are good things but they are not the greatest. Our central calling is obedience, for only when we are obedience do all these other things flow freely. There is no true spirituality without simple obedience. Living the life that the Lord called you to means faithfully following in His footsteps, and obeying ALL of His commands. All the talk in the world does us no good if we never walk out the Word. Good intentions are no substitute for simple Obedience. The call of Jesus is to come to Him, listen to His teaching and follow them. To help us put His direct question into decisive action Jesus now gives us a:

  1. Dramatic illustration

It is here that Jesus paints a powerful and practical picture for us. He contrasts the foundations of two houses by fast forwarding to the future and showing us the results of both obedience and disobedience.  Notice that the focus is on the foundation not the buildings. Jesus challenges His followers to build their lives only upon the solid bedrock foundation of His word. “If you come to ME, and listen to MY teaching and then put them into practice, then you will be like a man building a house upon the deeply dug foundation of solid rock. Laying a concrete foundation is not always the most exciting part of construction but it is the most crucial. Everything stands and falls on the foundation. We can’t afford to skimp when it comes to the foundation, so let me ask you are skimping on scripture? Are you trying to substitute scripture or make it second? So many get sidetracked with secondary side streets, where they end up majoring on the minors. We have to come back to the fundamentals, Holiness, prayer, witnessing, the Word just to name a few. Let me ask you, do you have the basics of your Christian walk down to the point where you have arrived and there is no more need for growth? No, then why would you go searching the side streets, focusing on the fringes, when there’s so much work to be done on the fundamentals? It is the foundation that determines whether the house will stand against the storm. These houses may seem the same but it is the storm that reveals the difference. The one with the solid foundation stood firm in the storm but the one build on the sand could not stand against the storm. In this life we will face many storms, like the storm of persecution for preaching and sharing Jesus. If your foundation is faulty it will fail and we will fall. But it’s not just the storms of this life that we need to consider, there is also coming a time when Christians will stand before Christ to give an account for their lives. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 says: “11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. 12 Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. 13 But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. 14 If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. 15 But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.” In this storm at the Judgment Seat of Christ some big buildings will come crashing down. Are you walking according to the Word, are you building your life on the bible? Are you living a wise life built on the Word or are you resting on a fools foundation?