The other day I was reading Matthew chapter 14. Right after Jesus hears the news about John the Baptist being killed, we see Him feed the 5000 as well as take a walk on the water. It struck me that, in both of these accounts, Jesus directly involved his followers in the miracle. He invited them into the miraculous. Despite their fears, questions, doubts, abilities, past, resources, or any other perceived hindrances, Jesus offered His followers an opportunity to be part of the amazing work He was doing in the world. And, His invitation was simple. Come. Today I encourage you to read Matthew 14 and ask yourself these simple questions: What is God inviting me to today? What step of obedience can I take in light of this? Who can I share this with?
Lately I’ve been working through the Hillsong: 40 Days of Revival reading plan on my You Version Bible App. One of the days focused on obedience, and it included a perspective I had not heard before: obedience as worship. Check out the devotional text below and see what you think. How might you extend this kind of worship into your workplace?
What exactly does it mean to obey God? Ticking the boxes next to the 10 commandments? Loving my neighbour? Turning the other cheek when someone hurts me? In essence, yes! But also, no! Obeying God with a ‘tick-box’ mindset is not only doomed to failure, but simply not what God asks of us.
God’s love for us is not based on our actions or effort but on His goodness. 1 John 4 explains that love is not about us loving God, but about Him loving us and sending Jesus. When we realise and understand God’s grace, we respond out of a love for Him and all He has done for us, beginning to do things as He directs us through His Word, preferring His ways over our own until they become our ways.
Obedience to God, through the Holy Spirit, therefore brings its own reward of purity. Obedience to His Word, under grace, provides us with the opportunity to be more Christ-like. In this way, obedience is also an act of worship, for when we live a life devoted to God we demonstrate our love for Him.
Have you ever thought about obeying God being an act of worship? How can you worship God specifically through your obedience today?
This morning my high school aged daughter told me about a sermon by Matt Chandler that she was listening to. The sermon was called “God is Able”. The message was focused on Moses in Exodus Chapter 4, and Chandler spoke about the key to finding the power of God in our lives. I can’t seem to shake this thought that he shared: “The omnipotent might of God almost always flows through obedience in faith.” The pattern then is still the same today … God speaks, we obey (exactly), then God shows up in an amazing way. God was not concerned with Moses’ past, his excuses, his brokenness, his limitations, his abilities. God had all that covered. God simply wanted Moses to act in obedience rooted in faith.
I’m so thankful for a daughter who pursues God and points me to sermons. I’m also thankful for a God who pursues me and patiently points me towards obedience.
I was recently reading a devotional by Os Hillman that talked about the relationship between obedience and motivation. The exercise of reflection was good for me, so I wanted to pass it along to you as well. Here’s what Os wrote:
“I have observed this process in the scriptures in working with people through years of ministry. I have noticed three distinct stages. First, we live based on convenience. Our obedience is largely based on circumstances in our lives. We choose to obey based on the circumstances.
The second stage is the crisis stage. God allows a crisis to come into our lives. We are motivated to obey God in order to get out of the pain of our situation. Many times God allows us to stay in this condition in order to demonstrate His love and faithfulness during our pain. Gradually, we discover something new about God and often have a personal encounter with Him that changes us. Our very nature is affected by this God-encounter.
This begins to move us into a third phase that is a relationship that is motivated now by love and devotion instead of pain. This is where God desires us to be. Another way of saying this is we are no longer seeking His hand. We are seeking Him. We want to know God personally.
Obedience will not last when the motivation is only the removal of our pain. Obedience only lasts when the motivation is loving devotion. Where are you in your obedience and what is the primary motivation? If it isn’t love, why not tell the Lord you love Him today and want to know Him for who He is and not for what He can do for you.”
Food for thought ……
Ever wonder how ordinary people, using ordinary resources, can have an extraordinary impact for God’s Kingdom? That’s the heart behind Zume (Greek word for leaven), a new disciple making / training movement that launched February 14th. To learn more, go to their website at www.zumeproject.com and also check out the video below. Zume will change your life, and the world.
Not long ago a friend shared with me about the “spiritual economy”. He phrased it this way: “There’s a kind of spiritual or heavenly economy involved in this. It’s like we are breathing in, from God, receiving from Him and then obeying, internalizing what He has given us, making sure we embrace it. We make it part of who we are, then we exhale to the world around us, sharing what we have received. The idea is — receive, obey, then share, which is very tied to the dual accountability of obedience and teaching others to obey which help us know it even better, as it goes from head to heart and hands. Whatever we get, we give away. It’s just the opposite of the world — which tries to keep what they get and charge others to give it to them.
So — We are blessed so we can bless. The question is — who, then, should we bless ?
First and foremost, God has placed us in relationship with many people.
We are responsible to steward these relationships.
He will hold us accountable for these relationships.
How can we be a blessing to them?
What can we do to empower them to take the next step in their faith journey with God?”
He summed it up very well, and I agree. Check out the video below, where Curtis Sergeant shares some similar thinking.
As the United States was preparing to celebrate Independence Day this year, I was listening to our pastor share from Luke 11:1-13, where Jesus taught His disciples how to pray. Weeks later, I’m still challenged by several statements he made. The pastor’s line of thought was something like this: Your prayer life is an indicator of your dependency on God. Your dependency on God is a primary factor in what God does in your life. Dependency, expressed through prayer and obedience, is a key ingredient in the fruitfulness of true disciples.
Does this challenge you as much as it challenges me? What would the Lord’s Prayer look like if we prayed it with the workplace in mind? How might God use a greater awareness of your dependency on Him to make you more fruitful?
A fellow Antioch Journey participant sent in a note after completing Day 2 on calling. They wrote:
“Calling is a means to for us to participate with God to fulfill the great commands, love God and love your neighbor. Serve God and serve your neighbor. Why don’t people answer the ‘call’? We have other things to do, more pressing matters. We often can’t hear the call due to sin in our lives. Romans 6 encourages us that we can escape its ravages. And if we can just try to please God, just try to grope toward holiness, then we can begin to enjoy a relationship with Him and sense whatever calling he has for us.”
Do you see your calling in this light? Are other matters more pressing, or is there some area of sin in your life that is preventing you from clearly hearing from God?
Just remember, we have been set free. Be encouraged and press on.
“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.” Romans 6:22
When we’re thinking about stepping out in faith, there can be many obstacles in the way. Sometimes God’s calls us to do things that require radical obedience. In this video by Curtis Sergeant, you’ll hear about a Chinese house church movement who took a calling seriously, and what obedience looked like on a personal level. What radical steps of obedience might God be calling you to take?