Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sacrificial Obedience

When God speaks to us and gives us direction, we have a choice to either obey His direction or to run in the opposite direction. For most born again Christians the choice is easy and they would obviously choose to obey God. But what do we do when God is calling us in a direction that we don't want to go in. Not because we don't want to obey God, but because what He is asking of us is the hardest thing He has ever asked of us before and honestly, it is seemingly unfair that we should be the one bearing this load.

One choice we have is to choose to do what we want to instead of what God is asking us to. That would be the easy way out in the moment, or so it would seem. History seems to show though that this option usually results in misery until you change direction and return to the way God wants you to go. Take Jonah for example. God asked him to go to Nineveh. He chose to go the opposite direction. Where did that get him? Swallowed by a big fish!! That could not have been a pleasant experience.

Maybe we decide that we want to obey God. We truly do have a desire to do what He is asking of us, but what He is asking doesn't make sense in this world. Choosing this way that God is leading, means that the people around us will likely call us crazy, stupid, nieve, or even ignorant. Noah faced this same delima. What God asked Noah to do seemed ridiculous to the people of his time. However, if Noah had refused to build the ark, he would have suffered the fate of the flood like the rest of the people did. Not only that, his family also would have suffered the same fate. Noah's decision to follow God's direction saved him and his family literally from death. His obedience meant life for his family.

Sometimes obedience requires sacrifice. It sometimes requires us to take the criticism of others. It sometimes requires us to put our own feelings aside. God often asks us to forgive those who have hurt us. That is a task that depending on the circumstances could seem almost impossible. When we are hurting, forgiveness is sometimes the last thing we want to think about. To forgive others in the midst of hurt and betrayal requires you to put aside your own feelings in exchange for showing love and giving grace to the one who hurt you.

Sometimes the sacrifice of obedience means giving up possessions or uprooting to physically go somewhere else to do something for The Lord. Missionaries and Evangelists do this throughout their life and for most it becomes a part of who they are. What if you aren't a missionary or evangelist and you begin to feel that calling. What if you are that person who has lived in the same house your entire life and had dreams of retiring there? Sacrificial obedience.

The good news is that God hasn't called us to stand on our own two feet to accomplish what He asks us to do. His word clearly tells us over and over again that He is our strength, our help, and our shield. It tells us that He will carry our burdens and fight our fights. If He is asking something hard of you, consider this, He will not ask more of you than you and Him together can bear. You may feel overwhelmed and unable to bear the load, but that's ok, because He isn't asking you to bear it alone.

Scripture to stand on:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5, 6 NKJV)

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. (Colossians 3:12-15 NKJV)

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV)

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place. Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you; Therefore I will give men for you, And people for your life. (Isaiah 43:1-4 NKJV)

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