The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all. Psalm 103:19 (NIV)
Obedience can be defined as doing what God says, how He says it, and when He says to do it. We may prefer to redefine it in another way, however this is what God expects of us. And thank Him, He always enables us to do whatever He requires. Yet there may be times when we’re afraid to obey Him because we don’t know what will happen as a result. Sometimes obedience is costly. However, if we know that the God is our heavenly Father who always does what’s best for us, we’ll be able to trust Him and leave all the consequences to Him.
Obedience requires the following characteristics. We must be willing to:
1. Recognize that God is the sovereign ruler of the universe – Because He allows human beings the freedom to make choices which sometimes result in heartache, suffering and even disaster, it may seem like He’s not in control. Verses like Psalm 103:19 above assures us “His kingdom rules over all”. When we acknowledge His right as the Creator to reign over the earth, we also recognize our responsibility to submit to Him as our authority.
2. Have faith – If we’re going to obey God, we must believe what He says. Hebrews 11:6 says, “…anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” The Lord loves us and has chosen the best path for our lives if we will follow Him. The consequences of disobeying the Lord are terrible and the blessings of obeying Him are terrific.
3. Be courageous – God told Joshua as he led Israel into the Promised Land “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) God knew as Joshua obeyed, he would face all kinds of difficulties and challenges that required confident boldness. We must be careful not to let fear stop us from fully obeying the Lord.
4. Wait upon the Lord – God’s timing is always perfect, but from our perspective it may seem slow. If we focus on the circumstances and the advice of others, we may be tempted to jump ahead of the Lord. Isaiah 64:4 says “God…acts on behalf of those who wait for him.” God knows all the facts and the perfect timing for every situation.
5. Meditate on God’s Word – To obey, we must first know what the Lord wants us to do. That is why God told Joshua, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.” (Joshua 1:8) If we desire to follow the Lord, the Bible must fill our minds and hearts and must become the text for living.
6. Learn to listen to the Lord – Since so many voices could lead us astray, we must be careful what we listen to. God wants to speak to us if we’re willing to quietly listen for the Holy Spirit’s inaudible voice. The Lord will never tell you something that contradicts His Word. That’s why meditation on Scripture is essential.
7. Suffer a head-on collision with the world, if necessary – When Peter and the disciples were told by the Jewish leaders not to preach the gospel, they said, “We must obey God rather than human beings!” (Acts 5:19) This is the same choice we may be called to make as we live in this world.
8. Forsake any and all sin – There is no way to walk obediently with God while tolerating sin in our lives. According to Acts 4:25-31, we are to “put off” all our sinful practices. If any sin keeps cropping up, we must continually deal with it until it ceases to have a hold on us.
9. Surrender your will to the Lord – We should have the same attitude as Jesus, who said, “yet not my will, but yours be done.” Each morning we need to yield everything to the Lord, wanting only what pleases and honors Him.
10. Walk where the way is unclear – God doesn’t always give us full understanding of the path He wants us to walk. God told Abram to leave his country and go to the land He would show him (Genesis 12). God doesn’t show us the entire picture up front, but promises to guide us if we’ll take one step of faith at a time. When we can only see one step ahead we need to follow the Lord knowing He knows all the steps.
How many of these 10 characteristics of obedience to God do you need to work on? God deserves our absolute obedience in every detail of our lives. Maybe you, like this pastor, need to repent of being short of the “absolute” part of your obedience. Join me in recommitting to “doing what God says, how He says it, and when He says to do it”.