Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Series: “Heroes: Extra-Ordinary Living For Ordinary People”: 2nd Hero - Joseph

Here's the audio from last Sundays talk.

You can download it and listen to it on your MP3 player or you can stream it and listen to it online right now. Choose the link below you want.

Joseph - Blessings In Disguise Stream
Joseph - Blessings In Disguise Right-click to download
Talk length (41:48)

Below is the intro to the talk to give you a little teaser of what the talk is about....

This story is from Reader's Digest, March, 1993, p. 123….

“A friend of mine awoke one morning to find a puddle of water in the middle of his king-size water bed. In order to fix the puncture, he rolled the heavy mattress outdoors and filled it with more water so he could locate the leak more easily. The enormous bag of water was impossible to control and began rolling on the hilly terrain. He tried to hold it back, but it headed downhill and landed in a clump of bushes which poked it full of holes.

“Disgusted, my friend threw out the water-bed frame and moved a standard bed into his room. The next morning, he awoke to find a puddle of water in the middle of the new bed. The upstairs bathroom had a leaky drain.”

Sometimes problems in life just seem to get worse and worse and make no sense at all. It’d all be funny if it wasn’t you!

· If you’ve ever felt like God has delayed his promises or blessings in your life, then what I’m about to talk about is for you.

· If you’ve ever felt like God’s forgotten you or that he just isn’t coming through for you, then what I’m about to talk about is for you.

Here’s the thought I want to plant in your mind as we start today…

What if the delay and the problems you’ve felt showed God was against you were actually a part of the plan to help you live out your purpose?

Last week, I read to you from John Eldredge’s new book “Epic: The Story God Is Telling”. I want to remind you again of one part of that quote from John. He says, “What if all the great stories that have ever moved you, brought you joy or tears – what if they are telling you something about the true Story into which you were born, the Epic into which you have been cast?

“We won’t begin to understand our lives, or what this so-called Gospel is that Christianity speaks of, until we understand the Story in which we have found ourselves. For when you were born, you were born into an epic that has already been underway now for quite some time. It is a story of beauty and intimacy and adventure, a story of danger and loss and heroism and betrayal.”

We looked last week at the story of David and Goliath and saw that God sends trials to use to prepare and train us so that we can learn to trust him, rely on him, take risks, and learn how to let God use us.

Today, we’re going to learn one final lesson about being used by God to live heroically. It’s something that could change the way you see your problems right now and it could reframe the way you see your whole life.

We’re going to discover this idea by looking at the life of Joseph. He was a guy who had a dream that didn’t get fulfilled in the way he thought it would. It was in harder, but greater and larger way, then he ever could’ve imagined! We’re going to start our story today in Genesis 37...

Listen to the audio to hear the whole talk!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Series: “Heroes: Extra-Ordinary Living For Ordinary People”: First Hero - David

Sunday July 8th – 1st talk in series

Intro: John Eldredge, author of Wild At Heart, has a new book out. It’s a little book called, “Epic: The Story God Is Telling”. I want to start by reading to you some of it today. And I want you to listen to what he says in it about our lives. He says…

We find ourselves in the middle of a story that is sometimes wonderful, sometimes awful, often a confusing mixture of both, and we haven’t a clue how to make sense of it all.”

Then he asks, wouldn’t it be great to be able to know where you are in this story and where you should go? And he tells a clue about where to start. He says…

“Start with the movies you love.

I’m serious. Think about your favorite movies. Notice that every good story has the same ingredients: Love. Adventure. Danger. Heroism. Romance. Sacrifice. The Battle of Good and Evil. Unlikely heroes. Insurmountable odds. And a little fellowship that in hope beyond hope pulls through in the end.

Most of us haven’t stopped to ask ourselves, now why that heart? Why those longings and desires? Then he says…

Next, I want you to notice that all the great stories pretty much follow the same story line. Things were once good, and then something awful happened, and now a great battle must be fought or a journey taken. At just the right moment (which feels like the last possible moment) a hero comes and sets things right, and life is found again.

Its true of every fairy tale, every myth, every Western, every epic – just about every story you can think of, one way or another. Braveheart, Titanic, the Star Wars series, Gladiator, The Lord of the Rings trilogy. They all pretty much follow the same story line.

Have you ever wondered why? And this is the part I want us to hear from him today…

Every story great and small shares the same essential structure, because every story we tell borrows its power from a Larger Story, a story woven into the fabric of our being – what Jung tried to explain as archetype or what Joseph Campbell calls myth.

All these stories are borrowing from the Story. From Reality. We hear echoes of it through our lives. Some secret written on our hearts. A great battle to fight, and someone to fight for us. An adventure, something that requires everything we have, something to be shared with those we love and need.

There is a Story that we just can’t seem to escape. There is a Story written on the human heart.

As Ecclesiastes has it,

“He has planted eternity in the human heart”

Later Eldredge says this...

What if?

What if all the great stories that have ever moved you, brought you joy or tears – what if they are telling you something about the true Story into which you were born, the Epic into which you have been cast?

We won’t begin to understand our lives, or what this so-called Gospel is that Christianity speaks of, until we understand the Story in which we have found ourselves. For when you were born, you were born into an epic that has already been underway now for quite some time. It is a story of beauty and intimacy and adventure, a story of danger and loss and heroism and betrayal.”

Most of us here today don’t realize it, but the problems and junk that you’re facing in your life – that you think are holding you back and messing you up – could actually be the battle that gives you the greatest opportunity you’ve ever had to see God work in you and through you.

Today you’re about to hear one of the most famous, amazing stories in the Bible about a mild manner guy who because of his faith in God, faces a problem – the battle of a lifetime – and comes out of it as a hero. And after it all over, his life is never the same!

You’re about to see from the life of David the first lesson you need to learn to become a hero. Turn with me to 1 Samuel 16. I’m just going to just tell you the story today, but you can read and follow along – if you want to.

Backdrop: Israel has rejected God and asked for a leader. He gave them a great one named Saul, but Saul has turned from God and fallen from God’s favor. Israel now needs a new leader. And God is about to give them one. That’s where 1 Samuel 16 begins…

1 Samuel CHAPTER 16 - Samuel Anoints David as King

1Finally, the LORD said to Samuel, "You have mourned long enough for Saul. I have rejected him as king of Israel. Now fill your horn with olive oil and go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected (past tense – already done) one of his sons to be my new king."

2But Samuel asked, "How can I do that? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me." "Take a heifer with you," the LORD replied, "and say that you have come to make a sacrifice to the LORD. 3Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you which of his sons to anoint for me."

4So Samuel did as the LORD instructed him. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the leaders of the town became afraid. "What's wrong?" they asked. "Do you come in peace?"

5"Yes," Samuel replied. "I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Purify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice." Then Samuel performed the purification rite for Jesse and his sons and invited them, too.

6When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, "Surely this is the LORD's anointed!" By any human standards Eliab, Jesse’s oldest, was the man! He was the first born and he just had the look of a leader. But was he the one? Listen and see…

7But the LORD said to Samuel, "Don't judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn't make decisions the way you do! People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at a person's thoughts and intentions."

Let’s stop for a second here, so we don’t miss this… God has a certain standard he uses when he chooses someone to use and it’s not the same ours and the rest of the world’s standards.

We judge by people’s look, their personality, their charisma. We look on the outside. We look at their family background. We look at their resume.

But God decides who to use based on the qualities you can’t see. It’s based on their heart - their thoughts, desires, and intentions – and their faith. God’s looking for a person with a good heart. Someone who has good thoughts, desires and intentions - someone who has faith in Him.

He’s not looking for someone who is perfect. He’s looking for someone who wants to do their best to do what’s right. He’s looking for someone who will trust and rely on him. He’s looking for someone who will take a step of faith and take a risk for him. That’s someone he can use!

This is good news! That means that anyone – any of us – can qualify to be used by God. If we just guard our hearts and trust in God.

Alright, back to the story…

8Then Jesse told his son Abinadab to step forward and walk in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, "This is not the one the LORD has chosen." 9Next Jesse summoned Shammah, but Samuel said, "Neither is this the one the LORD has chosen." 10In the same way all seven of Jesse's sons were presented to Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, "The LORD has not chosen any of these." 11Then Samuel asked, "Are these all the sons you have?" "There is still the youngest," Jesse replied. "But he's out in the fields watching the sheep." (Jesse didn’t think God could want to use David, because he was the youngest and in their culture that meant you were the lowest on the totem pole.) "Send for him at once," Samuel said. "We will not sit down to eat until he arrives."

12So Jesse sent for him. He was ruddy (reddish faced) and handsome, with pleasant eyes. And the LORD said, "This is the one; anoint him."

13So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the olive oil he had brought and poured it on David's head. And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him from that day on. Then Samuel returned to Ramah. You can’t imagine how amazing this moment was for David. His other brother had to be shocked and jealous!

Before we go on, I want you to remember today, that it doesn’t matter today if you meet the requirements of what the world says is a successful person. God has a different set of requirements and he might just have chosen you or be choosing you to do something great through.

But first he has to prepare you for the big day when he can use you. You won’t be able to be used by God unless he can teach you how to trust him, rely on him, take a risk, and let him use you. And that lesson isn’t learned quickly. It takes repetition and practice.

You’re about to see how God prepared David and you might just find out that you’re in the middle of your training right now and not even know it…


Goliath Challenges the Israelites

1The Philistines now mustered their army for battle and camped between Socoh in Judah and Azekah at Ephes-dammim. 2Saul countered by gathering his troops near the valley of Elah. 3So the Philistines and Israelites faced each other on opposite hills, with the valley between them.

4Then Goliath, a Philistine champion from Gath, came out of the Philistine ranks to face the forces of Israel. He was a giant of a man, measuring over nine feet F58 tall!

I want to stop for a second and clarify something here. Goliath was not a giant like in the story Jack and the beanstalk. As kids that’s the way we were told the story and that’s what made it seem to unbelievable to us later as grown-ups.

He was not a giant. He was just a huge man. Goliath was 9.75 feet – 3 meters. 3 ft 4 in. taller than Ioannis. (A lot taller than me!) That’s huge, but it’s not an unbelievable height.

The tallest recorded man to ever live according to the Guinness Book of World Records was Robert Pershing Wadlow. (See pic) He was 8 ft 11 in. He lived in Alton, Illinois and was measured on July 15, 1940. Goliath was only 10 inches taller than this guy.

So see? This story’s not so unbelievable! Let’s get back to the story…

5He wore a bronze helmet and a coat of mail that weighed 125 pounds. F59 6He also wore bronze leggings, and he slung a bronze javelin over his back. 7The shaft of his spear was as heavy and thick as a weaver's beam, tipped with an iron spearhead that weighed fifteen pounds. F60 An armor bearer walked ahead of him carrying a huge shield.

8Goliath stood and shouted across to the Israelites, "Do you need a whole army to settle this? Choose someone to fight for you, and I will represent the Philistines. We will settle this dispute in single combat! 9If your man is able to kill me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him, you will be our slaves! 10I defy the armies of Israel! Send me a man who will fight with me!" 11When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken.

Jesse Sends David to Saul's Camp

12Now David was the son of a man named Jesse, an Ephrathite from Bethlehem in the land of Judah. Jesse was an old man at that time, and he had eight sons in all. 13Jesse's three oldest sons—Eliab, Abinadab, and Shammah—had already joined Saul's army to fight the Philistines. 14David was the youngest of Jesse's sons. Since David's three oldest brothers were in the army, they stayed with Saul's forces all the time. 15But David went back and forth between working for Saul and helping his father with the sheep in Bethlehem.

16For forty days, twice a day, morning and evening, the Philistine giant strutted in front of the Israelite army.

17One day Jesse said to David, "Take this half-bushel F61 of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread to your brothers. 18And give these ten cuts of cheese to their captain. See how your brothers are getting along, and bring me back a letter from them." Jesse and David don’t realize this at the time, but Jesse is about to set his son up for a moment in time where he’s going to get the chance to be used by God to become a hero.

19David's brothers were with Saul and the Israelite army at the valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines. 20So David left the sheep with another shepherd and set out early the next morning with the gifts. He arrived at the outskirts of the camp just as the Israelite army was leaving for the battlefield with shouts and battle cries. 21Soon the Israelite and Philistine forces stood facing each other, army against army. 22David left his things with the keeper of supplies and hurried out to the ranks to greet his brothers. 23As he was talking with them, he saw Goliath, the champion from Gath, come out from the Philistine ranks, shouting his challenge to the army of Israel.

24As soon as the Israelite army saw him, they began to run away in fright. 25"Have you seen the giant?" the men were asking. "He comes out each day to challenge Israel. And have you heard about the huge reward the king has offered to anyone who kills him? The king will give him one of his daughters for a wife, and his whole family will be exempted from paying taxes!"

26David talked to some others standing there to verify the report. "What will a man get for killing this Philistine and putting an end to his abuse of Israel?" he asked them. "Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?" 27And David received the same reply as before: "What you have been hearing is true. That is the reward for killing the giant."

28But when David's oldest brother, Eliab, heard David talking to the men, he was angry. "What are you doing around here anyway?" he demanded. "What about those few sheep you're supposed to be taking care of? I know about your pride and dishonesty. You just want to see the battle!"

29"What have I done now?" David replied. "I was only asking a question!" Isn’t this a classic argument between an older brother and his kid brother!?!30He walked over to some others and asked them the same thing and received the same answer. 31Then David's question was reported to King Saul, and the king sent for him.

David Kills Goliath

32"Don't worry about a thing," David told Saul. "I'll go fight this Philistine!" Are you wondering why/how could David have so much confidence to volunteer to fight this huge dude? You’re about to see why. Listen…

33"Don't be ridiculous!" Saul replied. "There is no way you can go against this Philistine. You are only a boy, and he has been in the army since he was a boy!"

34But David persisted. "I have been taking care of my father's sheep," he said. "When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, 35I go after it with a club and take the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. 36I have done this to both lions and bears, and I'll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God!

Can you believe someone could kill and bear & lion like that? Again I want you guys to see that this isn’t some make-believe, unbelievable story. I can prove someone killing a bear or lion like that because of what just happened less than a month ago!

Chris Everhart, an ex-Marine, saved the lives of his three young sons when a 300-pound bear attacked their Georgia campsite.

While cleaning up after dinner, the family came face to face with the large animal.

"From out of nowhere we heard this loud crash," Everhart said on "Good Morning America." "For a second, I didn't know what it was, but I realized it was a bear. I went to the back of the Jeep to get my pots and pans to scare the bear off."

At the same time, Everhart's 6-year-old son, Logan, tried to frighten the animal. Instead of running away, the bear turned on the boy. Logan's brother, Kyle, tried to help him.

"I threw about five rocks at the bear to keep him away," Kyle Everhart said.

Realizing his sons could be killed, Everhart grabbed a log and threw it at the bear's head, striking and killing him.

"I forgot all about pots and pans and picked up whatever I could to try to distract, fend off, do what I could to get this bear away," Everhart said.

(See pic and full story at http://www.abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=3306263)

That’s living proof of someone killing and bear with a log, so it’s obviously possible to kill it with a club like David did! But don’t be fooled. Don’t think David was able to do this cause he was some tough or powerful guy. He knew it wasn’t from his strength. He told Saul…

37The LORD who saved me from the claws of the lion and the bear will save me from this Philistine!"

Let’s stop again for a second. Here’s the reason David had so much confidence!! He had already seen God help him defeat a lion and a bear. (Bear’s average size can be up to 6 ft./Lion is 9.84 ft in length about Goliath’s size.)

David believed if God could help him defeat these two animals he could help him defeat anything! When you think about it that way, David’s confidence and faith seems a lot more logical.

Think about your current problems. What could God be training you for? In what ways could he be trying to grow your faith? One day if you trust God through it all you’ll be able to use this experience to defeat a bigger problem… and see victory!

That should be your incentive to trust God in whatever you’re going through! That’s how David was prepare and trained for his battle with Goliath. Back to the story…

Saul finally consented. "All right, go ahead," he said. "And may the LORD be with you!"

38Then Saul gave David his own armor—a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. 39David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before. "I can't go in these," he protested. "I'm not used to them." So he took them off again. 40He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them in his shepherd's bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd's staff and sling, he started across to fight Goliath.

It was good that David didn’t wear Saul’s armor, not just cause it didn’t fit him, but because it could’ve made him rely on the armor instead of on the Lord – the one who had always given him the victory before! This also allowed God to get the glory and credit in this.

41Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him, 42sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy. 43"Am I a dog," he roared at David, "that you come at me with a stick?" And he cursed David by the names of his gods. 44"Come over here, and I'll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!" Goliath yelled.

I would’ve been getting nervous at this point, but not David. Listen to the faith and courage (in God) in his words…

45David shouted in reply, "You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD Almighty—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46Today the LORD will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! 47And everyone will know that the LORD does not need weapons to rescue his people. It is his battle, not ours. The LORD will give you to us!"

The cool this is that David never forgot this whole time who his strength was in and what was going to give him victory. It wasn’t his strength, or skill with a sling. He knew it was God.

This next scene is so cool. You’ve gotta imagine it in your head with me. Listen to what it says…

48As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. 49Reaching into his shepherd's bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it from his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face downward to the ground. 50So David triumphed over the Philistine giant with only a stone and sling. And since he had no sword, 51he ran over and pulled Goliath's sword from its sheath. David used it to kill the giant and cut off his head.

This is one of those moments when one person’s heroic action inspires and affects people all around him. Watch what happens next…

Israel Routs the Philistines

When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they turned and ran. 52Then the Israelites gave a great shout of triumph and rushed after the Philistines, chasing them as far as Gath F63 and the gates of Ekron. The bodies of the dead and wounded Philistines were strewn all along the road from Shaaraim, as far as Gath and Ekron. 53Then the Israelite army returned and plundered the deserted Philistine camp. 54(David took Goliath's head to Jerusalem, but he stored the Philistine's armor in his own tent.)

I think the Israelites and the Philistines both realized the same thing when David killed Goliath: only God could have caused that to happen! When the Philistines realized this they became scared and ran. And the Israelites realized this they were filled with faith and courage and they ran and attacked!

55As Saul watched David go out to fight Goliath, he asked Abner, the general of his army, "Abner, whose son is he?" "I really don't know," Abner said.

56"Well, find out!" the king told him.

57After David had killed Goliath, Abner brought him to Saul with the Philistine's head still in his hand. 58"Tell me about your father, my boy," Saul said. And David replied, "His name is Jesse, and we live in Bethlehem."

I want you to remember this today, because this is the part that applies to us …

David had the faith to face Goliath, because he had already trusted God over and over when he faced the lions and the bears. Those moments prepared him for this one.

Two things I want you to get from this:

1. For those of you who have seen God move and help you through things in the past… Is there a giant of a problem in your life right now? You know what you can do?

Remember what God’s done to help you in the past. Dwell on it. Relive it in your mind. Let it get you excited and let it remind you of God’s power. Remember what you did last time to trust God and move forward in action. Pray and ask God if you should do the same thing this time or something different.

I also want you to notice something else. It says that in the past, David clubbed the lion and the bear, but he doesn’t go in there this time with the same weapon and technique as he used in the past. He goes in with the same God, with the same faith, but he decides – this time - to use a sling and stones.

He let God guide him in a new way! So don’t get stuck on what you did the last time God did amazing things. Pray and ask God whether to do what you did before or whether you should do something else, but no matter what, go forward in faith and trusting God to help you.

  1. For those of you who have never seen God move and help you through things in the past… If there’s a problem you’re facing right now, then this could be your lion or bear. This is your chance to learn to trust God!

    Read stories like this one from the Bible or biographies of Christ-followers who God has done amazing things in their lives, so that they can inspire you to trust God and take a step of faith. Pray and ask God what to do and when. Then do it!

    You can only learn how to do something by doing it.
    You can only learn how to do something well by doing it over and over. It takes practice and repetition!

    What you’re going through now could be your practice to get you ready for a future victory – the one that will matter the most in your life.

    How you respond to this training
    will determine if you ever are ready for your greatest battle and your chance to be a hero! So use what you’re going through now to learn to trust him, rely on him, take a risk, and let him use you.

    What area do you need to work on?
    Is it trust, reliance, courage/risk, letting God use you? Pray and ask God and ask him for his grace to help you to learn and improve in this area! Let’s close in prayer.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

"One Of The Secrets To Experiencing Change"

I found a story online about ex-quarterback Roger Staubach that I want to start with today…

Roger Staubach who led the Dallas Cowboys to the World Championship in '71 admitted that his position as a quarterback who didn't call his own signals was a source of trial for him. Coach Landry sent in every play.

He told Roger when to pass, when to run and only in emergency situations could he change the play (and he had better be right!). Even though Roger considered coach Landry to have a "genius mind" when it came to football strategy, pride said that he should be able to run his own team.

Roger later said, "I faced up to the issue of obedience. Once I learned to obey there was harmony, fulfillment, and victory."

Many Christ-followers wonder why their lives aren’t going better. They can’t understand why things are the way they are.

They regularly attend church. They read their Bible. They pray. But things still aren’t any different! Why?

Because there’s something their life is missing – it’s the one of the things that will change it all if they just added it to their life. What is it?

Obedience. We need to obey God if we’re ever going to see change in our life. Without obedience, there’s no change!

This is obvious, but most of us never realize this missing element in our lives. We disobey God in different areas of our lives and then wonder why things aren’t working out right.

Obedience is one of the secrets to a better life.

Over the last few months, we’ve been talking about doing simple, but powerful things: praying for friends we want to know Jesus, reading, memorizing and meditating on the Bible, so we can know God’s and his word more, and shining the light of Jesus to other people around us by doing good deeds.

In our last larger gathering we had on June 10th, I told you that the most important thing is that we need to make sure that in all we’re doing that we’re loving God. Without love of God behind all this we’re just doing empty, lifeless rituals! I told you that Jesus said the way to show that we love him is by obeying commands.

Obedience is the next thing to add to our lives if we want to go to the next level in our walk with the Lord.

Today, I want to help us see how important obeying God is in our everyday lives and overall life experience. Here is why obedience is important…

Obedience is how we show respect for Jesus as our Lord.

In Today in the Word, July 30, 1993 they told this story…

Neil Marten, a member of the British Parliament, was once giving a group of his constituents a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament. During the course of the visit, the group happened to meet Lord Hailsham, then lord chancellor, wearing all the regalia of his office. Hailsham recognized Marten among the group and cried, "Neil!" Not daring to question or disobey the "command," the entire band of visitors promptly fell to their knees!

These people heard a command (at least what they thought was one) and they followed it – instantly without question. Why aren’t we like this?

We read God’s commands, we learn about them, but we only seem to do them if they make sense to us and agree with them. Think about how disrespectful that is to God!

If we have to know WHY we should do what God has told us to do, then we’re basically saying to God, “If it makes sense to me, then I’ll do it, but if it does I won’t!” Does that sound like someone to you who believes and trusts Jesus as Lord?

The Culture and Media Institute released a special report March 7, entitled "The National Cultural Values Survey: America: a Nation in Moral and Spiritual Confusion”.

In it they had an interesting finding…
“While half the population (52 percent) said they believed the Bible was God's authoritative word, only 36 percent of those said they believed people should live by God's word, while 45 percent said they operated by a mixture of God's commands and their own inclination. 15 percent said they ignored God's word if it conflicted with their own plan.”

In Matt. 7:20 Jesus said this, "Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as 'Lord,' but they still won't enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven.” Obedience is how we submit to Jesus’ Lordship in our lives. Obedience is how we show and prove that we believe he is Lord.

God knows and wants what’s best for us. He always knows what’s right. Until we really know and believe that we won’t follow God’s commands.

The first sin, that Adam and Eve committed, happened because they didn’t obey – they didn’t believe God knew what was best. They believed the devil’s lie that God was keeping something good from them.

And that’s the same reason why every Christ-follower has sinned ever since!

But that’s not the only reason why obedience is important. We need to realize that obedience causes things to happen in our lives.

Here are some of the things it causes to happen in our lives…

Obedience keeps us safe.
If a kid won’t listen to their parent’s rules, then they won’t be safe. The other day I caught my son Will trying to put small bits of napkin in the fan. I told him that was dangerous and that he could get his finger cut off by doing that. He looked at me and listened, but I could tell he didn’t seem to believe what I told him. He had the “No it won’t” syndrome. He listened and pretended he believed me, but deep inside he was thinking “I can do that without getting hurt!”

We have that same syndrome. God tells us, “Don’t do this or that. It will hurt you,” and we look at like “Oh ok.” And turn around and do it! Then things go wrong later and we wonder what went wrong! We did. We went wrong! But obedience doesn’t just keep us safe…

Obedience gives us success.
If you think about it, the Bible is a book of “success secrets from the author of life.” That’s the way the Israelites saw God’s law. They saw it as a gift and an honor that God gave it to them.

That’s how we need to see it. Sometimes I tell the boys rules to protect them, so they won’t get hurt and other times I tell them rules to help them experience the best in life! My rules are because I want the best for them. God’s the same way!

Sometimes God tells you to do something. Sometimes he tells you not to do something.

That’s why obedience can be seen by what we do or what we don’t do.

Obedience doesn’t always look the same. Sometimes it’s action and sometimes it’s inaction. We should realize God’s commandment’s whether they start with “Do” or “Don’t” are never to keep us from the good things in life, but to help us experience the best in life! Jesus said it like this, “I have come that you might have life and have it to the fullest.”

Obedience brings us success in life! But it gets even better…

Obedience will bring success not just for us, but to our offspring. In Exodus 20:6, God says, “But I lavish my love on those who love me and obey my commands, even for a thousand generations.” Deut. 12:28“Be careful to obey all my commands so that all will go well with you and your children, because you will be doing what pleases the LORD your God." When we choose to obey God if gives us more success in life and that success and blessing passes on to our kids and grandkids and on and on!

Obedience also causes something else to happen in our lives…

Obedience gives us fulfillment.
How can we ever do and become all that God has created us to be, if we don’t obey what he tells us to do? It’s impossible!!

There are two kinds of commands that God gives us: personal, specific commands that are just for us and general commands that are for all people. There are commands that God has given to all people that any and everyone needs to follow, but there are also commands that God has given just to individual people.

There are things that God wants you to do that he doesn’t want me to do. There are things that God doesn’t want you to do that he DOES want me to do. And it’s the same for me! The general commands are found all through God’s word. The specific, personal commands are given to us as we seek God and learn to hear him.

The only way to reach and experience fulfillment in life is to obey God in the general and the specific things he tells us to do!

Dr. B.J. Miller once said, "It is a great deal easier to do that which God gives us to do, no matter how hard it is, than to face the responsibilities of not doing it."

There’s something else obedience caused to happen in our lives…

Obedience is our source of rewards.
This idea is tied to the last one. When we obey God he rewards us – now and in the next life. When we obey we get to have these rewards, when we don’t obey, then we miss out on them!

Obedience lets us live a freer life.
In The Integrity Crisis, Warren W. Wiersbe, quotes Peter T. Forsythe as saying, "The first duty of every soul is to find not its freedom but its Master".

There are so many things that we become entangled in, weighed down and trapped by, because we disobey God and do something he told us not to do!

Hebrews 12:1 says, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.”

Think of how much freer we could be if we began to obey God and stopped doing the things he’s been trying to protect us from our whole lives! Psalm 119:44-45 “I will keep on obeying your law forever and forever. 45 I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.”

Ex. Me and the boys walking across the parking lot. I tried to teach them like always to be safe to protect them!

When we submit to Jesus’ Lordship we actually become freed from prison of our own sinful choices! Romans 6:16 “Don't you realize that whatever you choose to obey becomes your master? You can choose sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God and receive his approval.”

Today’s the day to choose the freedom that comes from obedience!

Obedience encourages others to obey.
It makes us living proof to others that God’s ways are right. Deut. 28:13, 9 "If you obey the commands of the LORD your God and walk in his ways, the LORD will establish you as his holy people as he solemnly promised to do. 10 Then all the nations of the world will see that you are a people claimed by the LORD, and they will stand in awe of you.

Obedience helps others.
(One of Jack’s friends can’t play the rest of summer because of bad choice. This affects Jack and Will.) Deut. 4:6, “If you obey them carefully, you will display your wisdom and intelligence to the surrounding nations. When they hear about these laws, they will exclaim, 'What other nation is as wise and prudent as this!'”

The reason God gave us a free will in the first place was so that we could learn to submit ourselves to him, to trust him and obey him. God didn’t want people who had to follow him. He wanted those who wanted and chose to follow him!

To obey everything another person sayswithout question is a crazy thing to do! People don’t have perfect knowledge or understanding, they make mistakes, and they don’t always have our best interest in their plans.

But to obey all of God’s command without question is NEVER a crazy thing to do! Because God does have perfect knowledge and understanding, he never makes mistakes and he always has our best interest in his plans!

But we need to understand something.

Obedience doesn’t mean you’ll have a pain free or problem free life. Obeying God doesn’t guarantee you won’t have any problems, pain or suffering. Sometimes obeying God will bring problems, pain and suffering into your life! (That’s because he wants to use these things to teach you something or prepare you for something.)

But what obedience does guarantee is that your life will be better overall. And most importantly, you’ll become and do what God has created you to do. In the end you’re obedience will please God and he’ll reward you for it – in this life and the next!

Revelations 2:26 - "To all who are victorious, who obey me to the very end, I will give authority over all the nations.”

The other important thing we need to remember before we finish today is…

We don’t try to obey God so we’ll be accepted or loved by God. We can’t be good enough! We obey because we are accepted and loved by God. Gal. 3:5 “I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law of Moses? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.”

Obedience is showing our love and gratitude to Jesus for loving us first!

1 John 2:4-5 “If someone says, "I belong to God," but doesn't obey God's commandments, that person is a liar and does not live in the truth. But those who obey God's word really do love him. That is the way to know whether or not we live in him.”

I really believe that if we’re going to be a church who sees God move in our lives (individually and together), then we’re going to have to obey Jesus more – individually and as a whole.

This has to be our highest goal.

If we become this type of church, our lives will change for the better, will see more success, we’ll be protected from unneeded danger, we’ll be rewarded and we’ll help others and show them the benefits of following God by our obedient actions.


Take one command that you feel you need to work on an focus on thinking/praying about how you can live it out 30 minutes a week. Live out the plan that week. Focus on a different command the next week. Try to mix between general and specific commans.

Start with the 10 commandments. Focus on one each week for 10 weeks, then start over. You’ll focus on each command about 35 times a year!

You might look at some areas of your life where you’re having problems and see if there’s a command from God’s word that you’ve been ignoring.

If you’re having trouble with your money, or your relationships, or whatever, then pray and ask God to show if you if there’s a command from his word about this area of your life that you’re ignoring.

Having trouble in an area isn’t always a sign that we’re disobeying God in that area. It could be happening for other reasons.

But if you’re having problems, it’s a good place to start. That way you can at least know to your best ability that you haven’t been doing or not doing something that has caused this.

Also this isn’t about seeing if you’re being punished. It’s about seeing if you’re missing out on a blessing or success in an area, because you haven’t been doing what God commanded us to do.

Trust leads to obedience. It’s where you have to start.

There’s an old song we used to sing when I was a little kid. “Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

This simple song is still as true today as it was when I was little.