Psalm 128:1-2 (NIV) Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.
Let’s talk about obedience. In a world filled with rules and regulations, each day is equally consumed by choices. Will I obey? Or will I decide not to. It is a question of reward versus risk. I must decide if getting to the destination faster outweighs the fine of the speeding ticket because I chose to ignore the law. There are many conscious choices made in a day that are defiant. However, the carefully constructed gray area of life makes it a comfortable resting place. But it doesn’t make it compromise nevertheless. We live in a country with governed by certain laws enforced by policing bodies. Our forefathers thoughtfully detailed such things based on the Word of God – like it or not. However over the years our inability to remain obedient and man’s interpretation of such things has caused it to become convoluted. The legal system offers reduced sentences and probation rather than the full penalty prescribed. Partial obedience. The penalty is not stringent enough to stop repeat offense. Compromise has overtaken this world. It is just as Jesus said that it would be. Nevertheless as it seeps through the walls of the church, the reality of grace become watered down and unpalatable as people miss the blessings of God by choosing not to obey the Lord.
Freedom from the penalty of sin allows us to experience the blessings of obedience. God’s Perfect Will and His Perfect Plan considered our imperfection and provided an equal measure of grace. His Grace is sufficient for me to live in the blessings of God each day. Grace without obedience is meaningless because grace will not allow you to continue in darkness and sin. To truly encounter and experience God’s Grace requires genuine repentance that turns from sin to obedience. The Lord will not allow His Children who call Him by Name and desire His Presence to remain impoverished. Prosperity begins in our soul. It is the seed called faith watered by grace that grows into our salvation which produces certain fruits by His Spirit. Are you blessed today? Or does it seem like the Favor that once covered your life is fading? God desires to bless you. He longs to release His Favor in our life. If only we would choose to obey…
Deuteronomy 30:15-16 (NIV) See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
God decided to bless us before He created us. It is written in His Plans for us. He called it a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) The way that it is discovered is by pursuing the Lord wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:13) The Lord goes to great lengths to describe His Blessings in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. Read them. God’s Blessing for our life contains provision, prosperity, peace, passion, purpose, protection, promotion and more. It is God’s Will for us to lack no good thing. Sin kept us from the blessings of God so Jesus came to pay our debt in full so that we can now walk in His Blessings despite our inability to be perfectly obedient. There is no reason by the Grace of God that we cannot live a blessed and prosperous life.
In Deuteronomy 30, it says, “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.” We choose each day whether we walk in the Light of His Love or bask in the darkness of death. Salvation is freedom. We choose to take advantage of God’s Grace or step over it to pursue lesser things. Could it be that we approach godly obedience as we do the speed limit? Though it says that it is 45 mph, we are convinced by public opinion that as long as we do not exceed 55 mph that the officer will ignore our offense. Maybe? However, may I remind you (and me) that even though we are not penalized that the law is still being broken. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!
Romans 1:5-6 (NIV) Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
We received grace to call all (mankind) to obedience that comes from faith in the Name of Jesus Christ. Grace was not meant to be an excuse to sin. Let me say it again…grace was not meant to be an excuse or pardon to sin. I have certain people who I love that hate to say, “I’m sorry.” Their philosophy is that if I didn’t intentionally do it, then an apology or pardon is not necessary. For example, if I step on your foot but I didn’t mean to then why do I still have to say that I am sorry. Just because God has given us unlimited grace through Jesus Christ doesn’t mean that He excuses our sin. He is paying the penalty of our sin but it does not change the fact that sin is sin and God hates it. It required a price that I could not pay so God paid it for me.
If I go to the movies and the person in front of me pays my way, how would they feel if I walked away and decided to get ice cream instead. The price was paid. I chose not to follow through by walking to the theater, taking a seat, and watching the movie. Grace paid your way to walk in the Blessings of God but obedience is the avenue taken to get there. Grace allows us to experience the blessings of obedience that sin once kept us from. You can walk in the prosperity of God just as if you never sinned thanks to the Blood of Jesus Christ. You will not experience the same kind of blessing in choosing partial obedience which is disobedience just the same.
I Samuel 15:22-23 (NIV) But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”
True story. Saul was made King of Israel to lead the Children of God. It was going pretty well for him and he was successful. God decided to punish the Amalekites for “what they did to Israel”. God told Saul specifically to “go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them.” The Lord went on to tell him to completely wipe them out including all men, women, children and livestock. So Saul “obeyed” the Lord and attacked them. But we read in I Samuel 15:7-9 that he was not completely obedient. He spared King Agag. He kept everything that was “good” and everything “despised and weak” were destroyed. Ugh! Compromise.
Well, the Word of the Lord came to Saul so he paid another visit to Saul. When the prophet questioned King Saul about all the livestock, he quickly reasoned that they would be sacrificed to the Lord. Oh what a tangled web we weave… When pressed, Saul finally admits that he gave into the pressure of his men to keep spare King Agag and keep the livestock out of fear. (vs.24). God stripped Saul of his position in that moment. “As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you. He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.” Sadly, Saul lived before the dispensation of God’s Grace.
Hebrews 5:7-10 (NIV) During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
If God required obedience even unto death by His Own Son, why wouldn’t He also require it of me as His Child, too? It wouldn’t make sense that God would require of one child and not the other. God is a consistent and constant being. He does not lie or change His Mind. He is not like a man. He is God and He is perfect. We cry out for the blessings of God. He has already given them to us according to His Word, yet refuse to obey Him completely. Yet, still cry out for more. It just doesn’t make any sense. In both Leviticus and Deuteronomy, the Lord makes it clear that His Blessing is found in obedience. Just because you decide that the “law” doesn’t apply to you doesn’t change the consequences if caught in violation. Perhaps, if we paid for grace with our life then we would understand its cost.
Jesus did not come to do away with the Law of God but fulfill it. (Matthew 5:17-18) The Law was not just the penalty for disobedience but filled with blessings of obedience that we could not have because sin kept us bound from it. The only additional commandment given by the Lord is that we love one another as He has loved us. If we obey the Word of God, grace allows us to experience its blessing. The only change is in the reward. By choosing daily obedience, we will live in the fulfillment of the law and all of its blessings.
2 John 5-6 (NIV) And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
This is love. To walk in obedience to His Commands that you heard from the beginning. His Command is that you walk in love. We will follow the one we fear. Fear physically or respect mentally. Both are considered to be definitions of fear. Just as King Saul feared his men, we fear people and their opinions. However, once our life is established in truth pursed with a commitment to obey the Lord in all things – His Blessing will prosper our life in many ways beginning with our soul. I don’t understand the philosophy of free grace that allows sin to continue in our life as accepted. God hates sin but loves the sinner. Jesus takes our excuse away. If we obey, the blessings of God become our abundance making it worthwhile. Apart from God’s Grace, no matter how hard we tried – humanity could not satisfy the debt of sin on our life.
If obedience is an obligation, it will become a task. However obedience offered in love becomes our passion. Passion is driven by desire and need rather than desperation. The more we fall in love with Jesus the less sin will be appealing and disobedience a distraction. Once fully consumed by God’s Love and Grace – we are partnered with Christ in a covenant like marriage. If we honor that commitment – our latter days will be better than our past. We will thrive in life rather than barely survive. God’s Prosperity will work through our soul as His Spirit begins to produce spiritual fruit that ends famine and lack in our life physically, emotionally and spiritually. We become complete in Christ and content in obedience because the reward always outweighs the risk.
Micah 6:8 (NIV) He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.