Talking about obedience can sometimes feel a little heavy can’t it? Perhaps it’s because many of us have grown up in families, relationships and even churches where to obey meant we were safe but to disobey resulted in rejection or even punishment. However, when we get to know our loving Heavenly Father, we discover that the obedience He requires is always from a place of love and faith – both of which are gifts from Him.
Even if you don’t feel it as you read this today, I truly believe that deep down all lovers of God long to obey Him; we long to please Him and love Him from our hearts. What does the kind of faith that obeys God in the big decisions and simple daily activities look like? Let’s look to Abraham to see how this ordinary man lived a life of extraordinary obedience.
Words for the week
Hebrews 11:8 (NIV)
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
Galatians 3:7-9, 11-14, 16A, 17-18
Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith…
Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit…
The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.
Father Abraham’s life epitomises a lot of our faith journeys. We often begin by saying a big, enthusiastic ‘YES!’ to God. However, it can then sometimes seem there is a lot of difficult, confusing or simply mundane life in between our ‘yes’ and the fulfillment of God’s promises over our lives. Abraham had 25 years between the promise of a ‘great nation’ (Genesis 12:1-5) and the birth of Isaac (Genesis 21). These years were filled with infertility, mistakes & pain. However, Abraham obeyed by everyday choosing to carrying on believing what God had said to him and letting that dictate the course of his life.
‘If we try to obey without faith we get nowhere. If we try to have faith without obedience, it ends in nothing.’
A. W. Tozer
I have always been fascinated by the verse of scripture ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obedience to the voice of the Lord? Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.’ 1 Samuel 15:22. It is often easier to show our love for our spouse, friends or family in one-off extravagant gestures, when what they really might be looking for is for us to simply put our underwear in the washing basket! One-offs are easier than day-in day-out obedience, but Jesus says those who love him will obey him (John 14:15). We may say to God ‘I will go anywhere for you’ when really he may be just wanting you to learn to love those in front of you.
When my husband and I first got married our prayer was, ‘God teach us to love’. To do this we decided we would go to Africa to serve the poor, and to be honest I felt pretty good about my willingness to sacrifice for the gospel! However, God had different plans and he clearly called us to stay and to lead a community house here in Bristol. We said ‘yes’ to His call and it has been the hardest but also the best thing we could’ve ever done in order to answer that prayer. Although it doesn’t feel as glamorous, our obedience to his call to stay was far better for us and the Kingdom than a sacrifice off our own back could have ever been.
‘Obedience is not measured by our ability to obey laws and principles, obedience is measured by our response to God’s voice.’
In order for Abraham to obey God he needed faith, faith to first of all believe what God was saying and secondly faith that God was good and his plans for him were good. Obedience gives our faith legs. If we want to obey God more we need to increase our faith in God’s goodness and trustworthiness.
The Bible tells us ‘Faith comes by hearing’ (Romans 10:17) and our Galatians passage tells us that we receive the Spirit which enables us to obey God by believing what we have heard. If we want to increase in faith we must stop and listen to the words of God as Abraham did. We can do this through seeking God out through scripture, personal prayer and prophecy. Then we must give legs to what we have heard and obey. When we do this we show ultimate faith in God and it is a delight to him.
Interestingly, Abraham lived before the law was given but his faith made him righteous; obedience looks like more than following a list of rules – it looks like following God’s voice and saying ‘Yes’ even when we don’t understand. Abraham was called to an unknown place and through his continual acts of obedience the course of history changed. In the same way, we don’t know where our big or seemingly small acts of obedience will lead us or what echoes they will have in eternity.
Own it Personally
- Faith comes by hearing– Take time to read your Bible aloud each day this week. There is something about physically hearing God’s word and speaking it out that inspires faith in us.
- Review what God has said – Review God’s promises over your life, prophetic words you have received and the things you know he has called you to do. Ask God how you can either begin or continue to partner with God and obey him in these areas. If you don’t have any prophetic words over your life, seek them out from trusted Christian friends or leaders.
- Ask God – Make it a regular part of your time with God to ask him ‘How can I obey you today, in the big and the small things?’
Speak it Out – Pray and Prophesy
As you listen to the song below, ask God to increase your faith in his goodness towards you so that you will love and obey him as he deserves.
Listen to Simple Things– Jason Upton