I recently saw an advert for a ‘Life manifesto poster’. It emphasised that life is short and gave a list of what to do and what not to do in order to get the best out of life, and to make it as good and happy as possible. As you can imagine the things to do and not to do were all self-centred – whatever is best for me.
God’s manifesto for life is, of course, entirely different and much more straightforward to follow. I believe it can be summed up in a single word – ‘Obedience’. Obedience is a theme which runs through the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Despite the amazing promises to those who obey God, there are more examples of disobedience than obedience in Scripture. Our text for today gives two of the gifts of obedience - peace and well-being - the very things that human beings yearn for, so much so that numerous well-being centres have sprung up over recent years promising answers to distressing human problems through qualified teachers. God’s way is clear; what the human heart longs for can only be found in Jesus and obedience to Him.
Obedience to God is a stranger to the human heart until it falls in love with Jesus. We can trace disobedience back to the Garden of Eden and see main sins that led to the beginning of disobedience when Adam and Eve chose to listen to the devil in the form of a serpent. Firstly, doubt was sown in their minds by the serpent who asked, “Did God really say you must not eat of the fruit of the tree of good and evil?” Secondly pride. The serpent convinced our first parents that, if they disobeyed God’s direct command, they would be like God. Thirdly, fear caused them to hide from God, consumed by shame (Genesis 3:1-10).
What about us today? Is our obedience to God spontaneous because we love Him, or is it calculated and conditional? Doubt, pride and fear usually lead to the sin of self- pleasing and people-pleasing which are part of the old nature which needs to be crucified at the cross. They rob us of fullness of life and true freedom – the fruit of obedience. Without obedience, our Bible knowledge will be information, while obedience to God’s word and will results in transformation of the heart. True obedience is the safest way to live, even if it seems costly at the time. What can I fear?
Elisabeth Elliot, and her husband, Jim, were in their twenties when, with their baby daughter, they went to Ecuador to take the good news of Jesus to the Auca Indians. The Auca Indians murdered Jim when he was only twenty-nine years of age. When Elisabeth returned to the same tribe two years later, with her three-year old daughter, she was somewhat criticised. Her answer was, “Obedience is my responsibility; the consequences are God’s”. I close this seed with more of her challenging words, “When obedience contradicts what I think will give me pleasure, let me ask myself if I love Him.”
Prayer: Dear Father, please forgive me for the times when I have chosen my way and my desires instead of Yours. Please give me a fresh understanding of what the death of Jesus really means and the debt of love I owe. I confess that I am powerless in my own strength to truly love, honour and obey You, so I ask for a fresh infilling of the Holy spirit to teach me the path of true love and obedience to Jesus. I bring my prayer in His precious name. Amen.
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