Crossways Concepts

Because it is all about the cross...

Insights from the scripture as lead by the Holy Spirit

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Yes, Sir!

We are called to be obedient to the Lord.

There was a time that I thought of obedience to the Lord as being just about keeping the rules, but that was before I came to really understand God's grace.  Now I have come to understand that obedience to the lord is really about living the life He wants you to lead.

The most pure example of obedience can be found in Jesus' prayer in Gethsemane, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me.  Yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39).  Jesus put down His life and accepted a torturous death in order to be obedient.  He modeled for us a life that ranked God's purposes as the most important thing.

But obedience like that isn't natural.  For many of us, we have to ask ourselves, “What would we do if God asked us to...?” and wonder what the answer might be.  God gave up His son to the killed, could we give up our children if He asked us to?  Would we submit ourselves to a painful death if He asked?

In our mind we conjure up all kinds of fearful scenarios of God asking us to do all manner of things.  God, however, knows what we are capable of, even when we don't.  When he says, “pick up your mat and walk,” to the man that has never walked, then he is only asking for the action that He has made possible.

Sometimes it is tough just to do something embarrassing. It is amazing how easy it is to pretend that voice couldn't possibly have been the Holy Spirit, when we felt an urging to speak to somebody about our faith.  It is so simple to ignore that little voice that suggests we swallow our pride and make up with somebody.

As much as we might like to believe that God never asks His people to do anything uncomfortable, that just isn't true.  Consider this story:

In the year that the commander-in-chief, sent by Sargon king of Assyria, came to Ashdod and attacked and captured it – during that time the Lord had spoken through Isaiah son of Amoz, saying, “Go, take off your sackcloth and remove the sandals from your feet,” and he did so, going naked and barefoot – the Lord said, “As My servant Isaiah has gone naked and barefoot three years as a sign and omen against Egypt and Cush, so the king of Assyria will lead the captives of Egypt and the exiles of Cush, young and old alike, naked and barefoot, with bared buttocks, to Egypt's shame. (Isaiah 20:1-4)

In theory, if we are submissive to the Lord, then we will do whatever He asks, without question.  As humans, though, we may find challenge with some things He could ask us to do.  His is good and He loves us, so what He asks is realistic and important.

One aspect I have seen of God, is that He is good at preparing us for what He is going to ask us to do.  There have been periods where I wasn't even aware of God working in my life, then an opportunity comes along.  At this point, I can look back and see how He had been preparing me for what I didn't even know was coming.  In many cases, I realize that if the same request had come a year earlier, then I would have been terrified and unsuccessful, but He had orchestrated the event along with my personal growth.

The problem with being obedient is that we would like for God to say, “just keep doing what you are doing” because we like to do what we are comfortable with.  But, God knows that we grow the most when we are forced right out of our comfort zone to places where we have to rely on Him.  It doesn't require much faith to do what we have always been successful at; but to do something that scares us, forces us to count on Him every inch of the way.

Consider the story of Gideon (Judges 6-7).  He was asked by the Lord to do something big and important, but at the same time it was very scary.  He responded with fear, as many of us do when God makes a request.  This fear of his then translated into doubt.  

While these doubts could have paralyzed him, he took them to God.  When He went to God with his doubts, God provided Gideon with confirmation.  Once Gideon knew that God was with him, he was able to act courageously, God was able to use him and God's will was accomplished.

Even as Gideon was acting as God's servant, his doubts kept coming back.  He kept taking them to God.  God kept confirming His presence.  In the end, God made sure that it was obvious to all that the victory was His, and this wasn't an accomplishment of man.  God got the glory.

This man was asked to do something that seemed way beyond what he felt he was capable of.  In truth, he was correct: by himself he was not capable of accomplishing this task, to attempt this by his own strength would only result in his death.  His fear was natural.  His doubts were a natural result of his fear.  I suspect that he was thinking, “what if I only imagined God's message?”, or, “what if I misunderstood?”

When we have doubts, we have two choices: we can stew in them or we can take them to the Lord.  To stew in our doubts might result in a failure to be obedient to God.  If we take them to the Lord, He can confirm them and strengthen us for the task.

The other advantage in taking our doubts to the Lord is that we are imperfect.  I have certainly had ideas leap into my head that I thought were from God.  Yet, when I continued to take the idea to the Lord, I came to realize that this wasn't His plan at all.  In these cases, my nature of doubting provided me with an added line of defense against being obedient to a deception.  The results can be disastrous if we go off, thinking we are acting at the will of God and with His backing, but we are wrong.  This is a lesson that I had to learn the hard way.

If we are going to live a life walking with Christ, then it is essential that we be obedient to Him.  If we continue to just run our life in accordance with our wishes and desires, then we are going where we want instead of going where He is wanting to take us.

We can't just wait for God to hit us over the head with a 2 X 4.  Our seeking to be an obedient servant has to be an active, intentional process.  We need to seek Him, listen for His voice and watch for His hand each day.  

While obedience may not always be comfortable, when we are being obedient we know that He is with us, helping us all along the way.  While we are being obedient, we can see the most amazing things.  While we are being obedient, amazing things can be accomplished.  When we are being obedient, we learn what real joy is.

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Lexington, Ky