Saturday, 16 February 2013
Every believer needs to take the decision now and resolve to remain obedient to God even in difficult times.
Oftentimes, I have asked myself whether there are times when obedience to God is impossible. I have wondered how those that find themselves in situations of war and chaos manage to obey God and keep clean. I have equally wondered how believers manage to obey God in situations where they are alone, in situations where everybody around them is comfortable in unrighteousness and yet, the saint has the imperative of obedience. Does obedience to God often hurt?
A well-known believer was recently screened by the Nigerian Senate for a ministerial position and he said during the session that the political landscape of the nation is littered with banana peels and that he’s got to thread very carefully. In situations where obeying God means swimming against the tide and walking literary on banana peels, what will the believer do?
First, we have to be aware of not only the joys of living in obedience, but also the challenges it poses to us because we live in a world that is rebellious to God and His ways. We have to internalize this fact that Obedience to God does not always make us popular. It does not always make us look humanly sensible. Obeying God often hurts us temporarily. It often interrupts our ambitions and plans, makes us look like an enigma because most family members and friends may fail to understand us and it often attracts sufferings. Sometimes, a believer has to walk alone for a while. Now, does God vindicate His people? YES, He does! Sometimes, He does it immediately in the believer’s lifetime. Other times, He does it when the believer is no more. Sometimes, He vindicates and brings explanations to a watching audience while at other times He gives His reasons for His demand upon His own to the next generation. It is also very important to note that there are sometimes understanding is kept until when we get to heaven.
During the Kidnapping Crisis in the Southern Nigeria, I heard a sad story of a pastor’s family that the kidnappers visited. They wanted to carry the pastor himself but he was not around. They then asked the first son to sleep with their mother, but he refused and was shot. When they asked the second son to sleep with their mother, he hesitated but was persuaded by their mother, the pastor’s wife. He slept with her and they still carried her away. Unfortunately, the boy committed suicide the next morning.
It is true that this is a very extreme case, and we pray that God never allows us to be pushed to the wall like this. However like i have already noted, every believer needs to take the decision now, what to do in difficult times, for it when we resolve this way that grace and help are released. We need to take the oath of loyalty and allegiance to our Lord, to obey Him both in good and bad times. What will you do when obeying God means to put your life on the line? What will you do when obeying God will bring about some hurts, not just to you but also to those around you, who you love? What will you do when obeying God will make you look foolish? You look for explanations to give but cannot find and no one understands you? What will you do when to obey God means to suffer loss?
I am well aware of the fact that this is not an easy terrain. Some people may term people like us alarmists and believers that always look at the negative and bad side of everything about Christianity. For example, some time ago, I shared about the coming persecution that might come upon the church, and a brother asked me to remove his name from the Evergreen Word of Life Mailing List without any explanations. I equally believe in the goodness of God. My problem with those that see only the good things that come with salvation is that they do not want to accept the lordship and sovereignty of Christ.
When God moves on to implement His sovereign plans, will our response be that of obedience and submission to His eternal will or will it be that of rebellion? Who are we to question God in the things He allows and not allow in His eternal will which He mapped out before the world began? I agree that some things that happen also are caused because of the Fall of Man and the presence of sin. However, will everything always work for our pleasure or God’s pleasure? When God’s pleasure clashes with our own pleasures, are we ready to submit and obey?
The more I read the Bible the more I see saints that denied themselves, the more I see believers that obeyed God even when the times were very dangerous. As I read stories of men who God used, I see men who were totally sold out to Him and damned the views, values and opinions of the world around them. The more I read the Bible, the more I see men that obedience to God landed them into 'trouble'; men that obedience to God was very costly both to them and those around them. It cost them cherished relationships, material things, positions and comforts of this life. For some of them, they came out like Joseph in Egypt, Daniel, Shedrach, Mishach, and Abednego in Babylon, and received deliverance and were promoted in life. Meanwhile for others like Isaiah, Jeremiah, many old prophets, James the brother of John and others listed in the later part of Hebrews 11, obedience to God meant suffering and death.
We need to look at our lives and those around us. Are we ready to be all that God wants us to be? Are we ready to obey God even if it hurts? Are we ready to remain loyal to Him till the end?
Tuesday, 29 January 2013
Obedience to God has no alternatives
We are close to the end of the month of January. Many of us have made resolutions and taken further steps to ‘order’ how we want the year to go for us. Most churches had one week of fasting and prayers. Others took fourteen days, twenty one days and so on while others are yet to round off because they want to reach the last day of the month. In fact, I once heard a brother in one of the churches, while leading in a prayer session, said that he would continue in fasting till the end of the first one hundred days of the New Year. Let us assume that the reasons and motives behind these efforts are correct, the activities are good spiritual exercises that will help one to focus and develop his spiritual strength.
However, there is a deception I have a burden to address here and that is, the lie of believing that our fasting and prayers can buy us favours from God and make Him ignore His demand for total obedience and trust in Him which is the platform for good success. Throughout the Scriptures, you cannot clearly see any promise of God that is hinged on fasting. On the contrary, the Bible is filled with promises of good rewards when we give heed and do what is commanded. We also see the curses that follow rebellion when we refuse to listen to God’s word.
As I read Isaiah 58, I really wondered why God asked the prophet to raise his voice like a trumpet and shout His word aloud to His people. He said that “day after day they seek me out. They seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them” Vs 2. NIV.
Is this not our condition today? We run around doing all kinds of prayers asking God to avenge us of our enemies and prosper us. We look like those who are seeking God but our hearts are very far away from Him. We are not willing to do what His word says. You know, God’s people have a way of developing spiritual lethargy and hearing problems, especially the older we become in church. Hence God told the prophet, ‘shout it aloud with your voice like that of a trumpet. These people fast and seek me day after day as if they really want to know me. But they are stuck in their own ways. They continue in their rebellion and expect me to come down and answer them. No! They cannot be heard from on high’. Observe carefully that God did not condemn their efforts of fasting, but He frowns at their rebellion. Obedience has no alternatives.
There are people that do not have the intention to change their ways. They want God to do something for them but they ignore His word. Their attitude demands that it is God who should shift grounds and change His mind and not them. What they do not understand is that you cannot be living a disobedient life and enjoy blessings at the same time. You cannot sleep on the laps of Delilah and wake up in the bosom of Abraham. The two do not go together. Obedience to God is the key to a life of blessing.
King Solomon leant many lessons late while he was alive. In his old age, when he had lost it all, the little recovery he had just before he died, he concluded, “After all this, there is only one thing to say: Have reverence for God, and obey his commands, because this is all that we were created for.” Eccl 12:13-14 GNT.
King Solomon had blown everything before he came to this conclusion towards the end of his life. Just one thing to say, ‘fear God and obey Him, this is all that we were created for’. You were not created to live for yourself or someone else but to live for God. What God has asked you to do is more important than what you want to do for Him, no matter how ‘spiritual’ and noble. Doing what He tells you to do is more important than a sacrifice of a thousand rams. Taking time to note what brings God glory, what makes Him smile, and doing it attracts favour and blessings than fasting in the midst of a lifestyle that is contrary to Scriptures. Living a lifestyle that violates God’s word cannot bring us to a life of blessedness. In fasting we humble ourselves. It builds our spirit in our walk with Him but it cannot replace an obedient spirit. Please do not be deceived.
Like the prophet, I am shouting on top of my voice to all that care to listen, ‘obedience to God has not alternatives’. Decide to obey God this year in all that you know are His will. Walk with Him and you will testify at the end. Is somebody hearing me? God bless you.