Learning to obey God
1 Samuel 15:22
Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as
in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice,
Obedience does not come naturally and just as a child has to learn obedience and the consequences of not obeying we to have to learn to obey the Lord. We must be willing to do whatever is necessary to bring our minds and our wills under submission to Him and to His Holy Spirit. One of the hardest things for us humans to do is to surrender our will to another for it makes us feel vulnerable, powerless and seemingly unable to control our own lives. We must realize that it is His will that matters, not ours. The following are some of the ways we learn how to obey the Lord.
1] Be willing to wait in prayer.
Proverbs 15:8 The prayer of the upright is His delight.
Obeying God involves accepting various disciplines along with surrendering our will to His. When we choose to daily wait before Him in prayer, then His thoughts and His ways become our thoughts and our ways. For this to happen we must be willing to give up our personal agendas, the ones we have laid out for our own lives, and be willing to leave the “Comfort Zones” we have created for ourselves and spend time waiting upon the Lord.
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the hearts.
It is when we seek God through prayer that we find the will of God for our lives. There are times when it seems like God is delaying in answering our prayers and we get anxious. We live in a ‘right now’ society; we want everything right now, immediately. If you have a problem waiting on God, remember this, there is one thing worse than waiting on God and that is not waiting on Him and then wishing that you had.
Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; do not worry.
You don’t want to be rushed into making hasty decisions. You want to be sure that what you do is what God wants you to do. We find what that is by our waiting on Him in prayer. Human reasoning cannot take the place of God speaking to us. A point to remember, sometimes our own reasoning can be our worst enemy. As a child learns to trust in its earthly father we must look to God and in the same manner learn to trust in Him.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
There will always be people who will try to tell you what you should do and how you should do it. You no doubt have heard the expressions, “If I were you”, or “I wouldn’t do it that way” these are the wrong voices to listen to. You need to hear the Holy Spirit speaking to you, it is His voice you want to obey. His voice and His only. Learn to wait on the Lord.
17 Pray without ceasing,
18 in everything give thanks; for this is
the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
2] Be willing to meditate daily in the Word.
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth,
but you shall meditate in it day and night, so that you
may be careful to do everything that is written in it.
For then you will make your way prosperous, and then
you will be successful.”
Our thinking, our attitudes and our actions are affected by how much or how little time we spend in the Word of God. We cannot walk in obedience without daily feeding upon His Word. Just dabbling in the Word won’t do it; pulling verses out of little boxes won’t do it. We know what happens to our physical bodies when we don’t eat right or regularly. The body will grow weak, and its defense system will fail, it will become vulnerable to all kinds of harmful germs and could eventually die. Our physical health depends on how often we eat and what we eat. May we be able to say as E. Stanley Jones, a great missionary, “Lord, make me as hungry for your Word as I am for my everyday food.” So it is with the spiritual man. We need spiritual food for the spiritual man. Without it we get spiritually weak, we are easily deceived and opened to every false doctrine that comes along. We have no defense against them for we do not know what God is saying to us or what He wants us to do. It is only as we feed on the Word each day and mature spiritually that we will know what to obey. The Word of God must become a living organism within us. If we are emotionally and physically unhealthy then we will be spiritually unhealthy also for you can’t have one without the other.
How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that
proceeds from the mouth of God.’”
And they said, “All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient.”
As we meditate on God’s Word and it begins to get down into our hearts as well as into our heads, and we begin to mature spiritually we can now be fed the meat of the Word and get off of the milk as the Apostle Paul so clearly tells us to do. The more we read, the more we meditate on the Word, and become intimate with its author, the easier it will be to hear and to know the voice of the Lord through His Word. We will also show our love for Him by walking in His ways and by our obedience to His commandments. The end result of our obedience will be as it is said in the book of Jeremiah.
“But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice,
and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk
in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it maybe well
But when we do not obey His commandments and go our own way, leaning to our own understanding, we are then in grave danger of reverting back from whence we came.
“Yet they did not obey or listen willingly, but followed the
counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went
backward and not forward.
When we go backwards we then become slaves to whomever or whatever we are obeying. We must keep our minds and hearts immersed in His Word that we might not sin against our God. His Word will keep us from sin and sin will keep us from His Word.
3] Be willing to go when the way is not clear.
Obedience will compel us to go where He tells us to go even when we can’t see the way clearly or we don’t understand how it can be done. We are told, first do and then we will know. Doing precedes knowing. As we learn to obey without always questioning the way that is opened to us it will then begin to make sense and we will begin to understand..
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to
the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And
he went out, not knowing where he was going.
Abraham was no different than we are, he was a business man, a husband, a father. He had fears, doubts and questions, and he had to deal with these doubts and fears and make the choice whether to obey or not obey. We read of him and others in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews which is called the faith chapter; it could also be called the obedience chapter. At times we feel that what God is telling us to do just doesn’t make sense, we just don’t understand. If our trust is in Him and Him alone, we don’t have to understand, we can rest assured that God will never ask us to do anything stupid or senseless. He will never ask us to go anywhere that is not important to Him and His Kingdom. We may question when by His Spirit He is telling us to leave our job, to move to another part of the country or maybe to a foreign country. When it is something so important that it tests our faith to the limit, it would be well to remember, God does not make mistakes, and nothing is by chance. You see God casts the die, not the dice.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD
“The Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom and the Knowledge
of the Holy One is understanding.
God has a purpose in everything He asks us to do or go through, even if it is not clear and we do not understand. He not only establishes our way, He delights in doing it. If you want to give God something to smile about, try telling Him all of the plans you have made for your future. Instead we should say;
“If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”
We should remember that when we learn to obey and are obedient to His commands with out questioning and we fulfill all the Ifs, then we can claim His promises. One of these promises is as follows;
23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD,
and He delights in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
for the LORD upholds him with His hand.
4] To obey may mean suffering and persecution.
1 Peter 5:8-9
8 Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring
lion looking for someone to devour.
9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you
know that your brothers throughout the world are
undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
Persecution is not from God; it comes from mans hatred against God and God’s people. Ever since his conversion the Apostle Paul had given his all to the cause of Jesus Christ, his Lord, he held nothing back. Now, at this point in his life, he is telling the Christians in Ephesus that they will be seeing him no more and for all his endeavors, there waits for him, chains and persecution. But he did not waiver for he intended to finish his race with joy.
22 And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not
knowing the things that will happen to me there,
23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city,
saying that chains and tribulations await me.
He was he willing to go and face persecution, imprisonment, and death. He was not a superman; he was flesh and blood just as we are. He was so in love with his Lord that even the prospect of death brought him joy because after death he knew he was going to be with his Lord. He was able to say to his brothers in Christ that he was going to finish his race with joy. Remember this; what we are will determine what we do.
“But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life
dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy,
If we are going to follow Jesus and learn to be obedient we must know that we not only will suffer persecution but may also suffer death. If you are determined to finish your race for Jesus you will run head on into the world and all its human reasoning and pitfalls. The world is a war zone for believers; we must be obedient, for if we are disobedient, we lose in the end.
2 Timothy 3:12
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
But praise be to God, it will be worth it all. What we have sown we will reap, so sow abundantly my Brother, my Sister, for if we do we will reap a harvest of souls for the Kingdom. And our names will be recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and God Himself will welcome us home and reward us for our faithful endeavors.
He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with
songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.
I will close this section with the words of the Apostle Paul;
2 Timothy 4:7-8
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have
kept the faith.
8 Finally, there is laid up for me the Crown of Righteousness,
which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that
Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
5] Be willing to leave the consequences with God.
By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen,
moved with godly fear and prepared an ark for the saving
of his family,
Try and picture this scene. God has told Noah to build something that up to this time hadn’t existed, an Ark, a boat, a big boat. Now if Noah was a man such as most of us, which he was, he would have listened and possibly responded this way; “What did you say Lord? An Ark, what is an Ark? But Lord there are no rivers or oceans near here, and how am I suppose to do it?” This would be logical questions, asked by a logical man. God’s response to Noah’s logical questions would be, “Noah, just do it.” “But Lord, what will my family say when I tell them what you told me to do, my neighbors, my friends? What will I look like to them, what will they think?” “Noah, just do it.”But because Noah reverentially feared God, he obeyed and with his three sons built the Ark. What if Noah had not obeyed, for there must have been a great conflict of mind and flesh. But Noah had learned to obey the voice of the Lord and so he chose to obey and because of his obedience the human race was saved from complete extinction.
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days.
Another scene to envision, Joshua is standing before thousands of battle hardened, seasoned troops, all of them experienced soldiers, and he is giving them the battle plan for invading the walled city of Jericho. “Once a day, for six days in a row, we will march around the city, no one is to either talk or make any sounds; there will be no shouting at the enemy. Then on the seventh day we will march around the city seven times in total silence, no talking and no noise. At the end of the seventh time around, the priests will blow their trumpets and then everyone with a loud voice will shout and the walls will fall down.”
MARCHING AROUND JERICHO
Can you just imagine what was going through the minds of these soldiers, what they must have been saying to each other as they listened to Joshua? “Sure, we just walk around the walls and they will just fall down.” Leaning on our own human reasoning, our own under- standing always gets us in trouble when we use it to try and understand God. Joshua must have wondered how they would respond to him when he told them of this plan. Would they still look up to him as their leader, would they still have confidence in him? Joshua obeyed, it was not what man might say, but what God had said. He was leaving the consequences to God; Joshua knew He was big enough to handle it.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
We ought to obey God rather than men.
The question is, are we willing to obey and do as God wants us to do, regardless of what others say or do, no matter how they perceive us. The consequences are His, not ours, when we obey Him; we are not to worry about them, for they are in His capable hands.
Commit your way to the LORD, trust in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.
Do not worry– it only causes harm.
If we cannot leave the consequences to Him, then we will question and doubt and never be truly obedient. Obedience is always better than our sacrifices.
6] We must be willing to submit to earthly authority.
1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there
is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist
are appointed by God.
2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of
God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
Submitting to authority begins early in life, as children we have to learn to obey our parents, teachers and other adults. This process is meant to continue as we mature and hopefully grow wiser. Our human nature doesn’t like to submit for it makes us feel vulnerable and unable to control our lives. Pride is and always will be a hindrance to learning obedience.
Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.
Servants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh,
with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ;
Or we could say, “Employees, obey your employers.” A lot of people have problems with that. But the choice is not ours, we either obey what God tells us to in His Word or we are disobedient. If you have a problem obeying the orders of others who have the authority to issue those orders, go start a business of your own, but don’t disobey God. He makes it very clear where He stands on the issue of our obeying those in authority. That means those representing the government, federal, state, local, those who are appointed over us, the life guard at the beach, the teachers at school, our parents. Then there are our spiritual leaders, our Pastors, Deacons and Elders, these are the ones God has made responsible for the welfare of our souls and has put them in places of leadership in His church.
Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out
for your souls, as those who must give account.
We can see that obedience is a learning process, and the sooner we learn the better. This is not learned quickly, we learn gradually as we mature. Our desire to obey God and to please Him makes it easier to obey earthly authorities for we know it is His will for us to do so. Even God’s Only Begotten Son learned obedience by the things which He had to endure and suffer while here on earth in order to fulfill His purpose for coming. To obey is better than sacrifice,
Though He was a Son, He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
Obedience and sacrifice go hand in hand. Very seldom, if ever, do you have one principle without the other. Some people go through life getting results, others get consequences. Leave it all in God’s capable hands, He deserves our complete obedience. Jesus was and is our example, our role model both now and forever.
7] We must be willing to except divine chastisement.
ADAM & EVE BANISHED FROM THE GARDEN.
So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work
the ground from which he had been taken.
Chastisement is another word for discipline, correction or punishment. If we rebel against His chastisement, when we disobey, we are directly rebelling against God. If we are not willing to obey or receive His correction or punishment for our disobedience, we miss God’s best for us. We must, for our own good, be willing to except it as from a Father who loves us and desires nothing but the best for us. We do not get punished for obedience, it comes from disobedience and disobedience brings unwanted circumstances.
If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what
son is there who a father does not chasten (punish)?
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten (punish).
God calls each one of us at various times in our lives to answer some very important questions. He asked Peter three times, “Do you love Me?” He is asking us the same question, “Do you love Me? If you do will you do what I ask or tell you to do?” “Will you obey me and not question?” “Will you put Me first in your life?” If we can say yes to these questions, the benefits of being obedient are beyond measure. Obedient children are a delight to the Father.
Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will Obey
My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him
and make Our home with him.
Obeying from love is far better than obeying out of fear. Obedience is a sign to God and to all that we love Him. Disobedience is a sure sign of our lack of love for Him
“ He who does not love Me does not Obey My words;
Is our giving, our worship, our sacrifices a sign that we love God? God says it isn’t, it is our willingness to be obedient to His commandments that convinces God that we love Him. He said if we do not keep His Word we do not love Him.
1 Samuel 15:22
Behold, to Obey is better than sacrifice,
We have just covered some of the ways by which we learn to obey God and what we must be willing to do in order to faithfully obey Him and not turn our backs on Him. Remember this world is not our home, we are pilgrims and we are just passing through. He who has put his hand to the plow, then turns and looks back is not fit for God’s Kingdom.
TRUST and OBEY for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus but to TRUST and OBEY.
Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back
is fit for service in the Kingdom of God.”
If you love Me ,you will keep (OBEY) My commandments.”