Archive for February, 2013

What does Obedience mean?

I recently heard a pastor talk about other pastors who mostly speak about favor and abundance to people. I don’t think the pastor I heard had a problem with the message. What he didn’t like was that there was no mention of the obedience that precedes favor and abundance. This same observation has been on my heart for the past week, so I knew that I had to speak about obedience and what that means to us Christians.

I’ve always thought it was interesting that we Christians feel that we are called to strive for perfection like Christ, when clearly perfection is unattainable on this earth (as evidenced most directly by Jesus having to die for our sins on the cross). Knowing what we know about grace, we get up each morning and understand that Gods mercies are new each day. He knows we’re imperfect – He showed us perfection in His Son. But does that mean we should just give up? Doesn’t all this somehow let us all off the hook?

When writing to the Romans, Paul spoke about this very thing. He wrote: “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one you obey – whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” Rom. 6:15.

To Paul, being a slave to righteousness was a supernatural step-up from being a slave to sin. Indeed, he said that we were set free from sin so that we could become obedient and thus slaves to righteousness, leading to holiness that, in turn, results in eternal life! Whenever I hear talk about trading one form of slavery for another, I always think of Bob Dylan, who sang that it didn’t matter who you were or how high up in the world you had climbed: “It may be the devil or it may be the Lord, But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” We Americans don’t like to think about serving anyone. But, really, that’s just us thinking about life in the natural world with Kings and Presidents and what-not. In the supernatural war for your soul, however, there’s no sitting on the sidelines. If you don’t pick a side to serve, you’ve already picked the devil. Obedience to God opens up the supernatural doors to everything God has to offer, including favor and abundance in this world.

I prefer to serve God and to be a slave to obedience, and I believe that true obedience has several basic parts.

1. Obedience is about knowing who God is and His direction and promises for your life. Do you know God personally or just through someone else?

To really know God, I believe you have to really read His word. Don’t just depend on your Sunday service and Pastor’s teaching to tell you who He is. He speaks to us through His word and gives us insight that is special and personal to you. You simply can’t get this kind of personal insight in corporate teachings. Every day, spend some time (even 5 minutes) reading the Bible to see what treasure the Lord has to tell you.

2. Obedience is Giving of Yourself for others – How do you treat God’s people?

Even if you don’t have a call on your life for full-time or part-time ministry service, you are still called to be an ambassador for God. I saw a man with a walker trying to get up some steps and having just spent many weeks on a walker my heart broke that no one offered to help him. I asked if he would like some help, and he was so relieved and grateful. I didn’t have to mention God or Jesus, but God definitely touched that man through me!

Look for people to bless – get out of yourself and your own way and try to actually do something to help those around you! Really, it’s not enough to notice some acute societal need and then post a comment about it in your status box on Facebook. At the very least, smile at people and be prepared to give a kind, positive, and uplifting word to everyone. People are starving for the love we have – do not be stingy. And YES, be prepared to tell people about how great our God is and give them an example of something amazing that He has done for you. Plant the seeds of what we have and let God water them.  And, if you can, MEET THEIR NEEDS! Remember that Jesus said that whatever we do for the least of God’s children, we do to Him. Matt. 25:31-46. If we ignore the homeless, we ignore Jesus. If we say “good riddance” to those in jail . . . well, you get the point. Loving one another isn’t always easy. It’s all about obedience.

 

3. Obedience means doing what He tells you to do.

I think many times God withholds his favor and abundance simply because we don’t do what we’re told. I’m not just talking about the 10 Commandments, or the “greatest commandment” to love others. I’m talking about something maybe you were told to do personally. I was recently having a difficulty at work with one of my co-workers. He thought I had said something bad about him and he told others I was a hypocrite because here I was, a Christian, speaking badly about him. Honestly, I didn’t know what I had even said, but I prayed to God about what to do. God told me that I had talked about this person, and that whether or not he took it out of context, I was to go and apologize to him. Believe me, I didn’t want to apologize, but I did. And that person was surprised and grateful! I don’t know if it healed everything, but I know that God told me to do something and I did it. For that reason alone, I felt peace.

 

Here are a few questions that I periodically ask myself to check my obedience and to ask God to help me clean up my act.

a. Am I holding un-forgiveness towards someone for any reason? If so, I need to release it!

b. Do I know that I was told to do something and I haven’t done it yet?  If so, I need to DO IT!!

c. Have I sinned and not asked God for forgiveness? If so, then I need to get on my knees and ask. Then I need to forgive myself. I can’t continue beating myself up  — if the God of the universe forgives me, then surely I can forgive myself too!

d. Am I ungrateful? If so, I remind myself to be grateful and say “thank you” to God, who loves me more than I can imagine. I give praise and thanks in even the smallest things, so that He constantly hears how much I love him!

If being a “slave” to obedience leads to righteousness and holiness, then bind me up and tell me what to do! If it also leads to God’s favor and abundance, then tie those knots even tighter!

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Measure of Favor

We just talked about walking in favor, but today I was given an additional message. I never discount additional revelation on a topic whatever the source – radio, books, the Word, a message from my pastor, dreams and visions, or speaking with another believer when the topic is brought up and discussed. So I was pleased this morning as I was getting ready for worship to see a church TV pastor, Joel Olsteen, talking about us having “a flash flood….of favor of God profusely abounding in our lives.” This reminded me that in addition to our faith and belief, our measure of favor is limited only by our own level of obedience.

The entwining of obedience and favor should not be unfamiliar to us because it’s depicted in nearly every supernatural event in the Bible. Sometimes, its’ portrayed in negative terms – that is, through disobedience and the removal of favor, such as the sacking of Judah and the delivering of the Jewish people into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. Nevertheless, our Lord prizes obedience more than any other work we can do to please Him, and he rewards obedience in the same measure. You might recall that Daniel wasn’t eaten by the lions when thrown into the lions’ den. Daniel 6:22 states, “My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight.” Like Daniel, Joseph was also given a flood of favor through his obedience. Recall how Joseph was promoted and treated while a slave in Pharaoh’s house because he continued being obedient to God and didn’t dwell on revenge on his jealous and wicked brothers.

So let’s continue to walk in obedience to God and call forth and walk in the flood of favor our Lord has reserved for us! Think big, ask big, walk big, and receive a big measure!

Walking in Favor

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the

knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord

2 Peter 1:2

Did you know that, according to the New Testament Greek Lexicon at www.biblestudytools.com , the Greek meaning of grace, or Charis, includes “goodwill, loving-kindness, and favour”?

What this means is that when Peter wrote the words at the top of this page, he was endowing those of us who know God and Jesus with multiplied grace and peace – in other words, multiplied or abundant peace and favor. When we believe and embrace the fact that our Heavenly Father wants us to have abundance in everything in our earthly lives, we can call upon it and activate it in our lives. That’s what it means to “walk in favor.”

I sort of stumbled upon activating favor in my life when I realized that if I asked and believed in favorable treatment because of who the Bible says I am – a princess of the Most High God – I would receive it. Remember that we’re told by James, “[y]ou do not have, because you do not ask God.” (James 4:2) What we also know is that when we ask, we must believe; Jesus himself said “If you believe [i.e., have faith and do not doubt], you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matt. 21:22) Our only limitation seems to be that our requests must follow the will of God, for even Jesus asked God in Gethsemane, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matt. 26:39). I am a princess of the most high God, and you are all princes and princesses of the same God. Your inheritance is abundant favor, which is the will of God, but only if you ask for it.

I found that activating favor is as easy as speaking out loud and testifying to others my anticipated and my realized favor. I don’t do it in a manner that seems smug, lording my blessing over others, or bragging – more like just a statement of the blessings of the Lord. It’s not bragging when you give God the glory for everything in your life. After all, He is responsible. If someone says they like my house, I say that God blessed me with my house. If someone praises my work, I say that God gave me the gifts and talents to do my work. I activate favor in everything large or small. If I barely make my bus or find a good parking place, it’s God’s favor and I tell people that. If I am supernaturally healed, it’s God’s favor and I testify to it. Every bit of God’s favor is the same, and it’s all equally and supernaturally amazing! The bottom line is that God wants to be actively involved in EVERY aspect of our life, and He loves to show His hand at work in each of our blessings.

So here’s what I do:

1. I verbally thank the Lord for the blessing I’m about to receive (out loud – the enemy hates this!). I say something like, “Thank you, Lord, that you always give me the perfect parking space.” By the way, don’t laugh, everybody knows I always get great parking spots, and now you know why!

2. I believe and expect the blessing to be given. This isn’t as hard to do as it seems. True believing faith comes from actually seeing God’s hands in little things so that you can begin to expect His hand in the big ones. In my book, I talk quite a bit about faith not necessarily coming from believing in the unseen, but rather in believing in the glorious things that you have actually seen.

3. I thank the Lord for fulfilling my request and I tell others how great He is!

As followers of Jesus Christ, you are all royalty, abundantly blessed. So go and walk in favor. See every good thing you experience as a gift from your Father, who loves you. And when you receive those things, be grateful and testify to the amazing grace/favor or our Lord!



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