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Friday, January 18, 2013

Joy of Obedience: Part One

You know the story, because if you honestly admit it, it is your own. God instructs you, and you have a reason not to listen. If God is the greatest reason for your life, then obedience is not an option, and it does not just happen. It is born of deep commitment to God. It certainly calls for personal sacrifice. When it is born of sacrifice, obedience speaks your willingness to submit to God’s desires instead of your own. Often obedience contradicts the desires of your heart.

God calls us to live holy lives. Some instructions for holy living are clearly revealed in the Word. Others come from the nudging of the Holy Spirit through Scripture and prayer or perhaps through the voice of another Christian. There are many excuses a Christian uses for not following the Lord’s instruction.

“It is too hard for me to do that! I can’t give it up, Lord!”

“Lord, I don’t have time to study the Word and pray.”

“Lord, what would others think of me?”

“What if I fail you, Lord?”

“I’m afraid!”

“Lord, it is so hard to believe!”

“I can’t see how my doing this will help, Lord.”

“I don’t feel the need to do that, Lord.”

The excuses mount until God’s voice echoes like distant thunder. With your back firmly turned, and heart grown cold, you declare, “I refuse to do that, Lord.”

Refusing God is a dangerous game to play. King David, when confronted by Nathan for his sin with Bathsheba, immediately repented. “Do not cast me from your presence,” he cried out to God, “or take your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11). He understood the danger of being separated from God was the loss of God’s presence. His cry for forgiveness speaks of his loving respect for God and his commitment to God’s desires (Psalm 51).

On the other hand Solomon refused to listen to the Lord, and allowed his weakness for the things of the world to destroy his relationship with the Lord. Near the end of his life, he looks back on wasted years and declares in Ecclesiastes, “Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)! Solomon’s life is a sad account of how he blew the undeserved opportunities God had given him. Chuck Swindoll refers to this book as a “graphic portrayal of a life lived apart from God.”

Jonah ran from the Lord’s instruction to witness to the depraved city of Nineveh, and he ended up in the belly of a whale. It took disaster to bring Jonah to receive a repentant heart. Even following repentance, Jonah argued with the Lord and his obedience was less than perfect.

The Lord yearns for you to have an obedient heart—one that listens to the conviction and direction of the Holy Spirit as David listened—one which, unlike Jonah, follows God’s will without argument. You certainly do not wish your life referred to as Solomon’s—one lived apart from God. It is the responsibility of every Christian for holiness of heart and obedience to God to be the most important disciplines of his life. “I’m going to live like a believer,” should be the cry of your heart.

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