Jesus' Footprints

Posts Tagged ‘obedience

Let this mjesus-crossind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,  who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,  but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:5-8).

When I read this the other day, it hit home that Jesus didn’t think anything of leaving the glory of Heaven and coming to earth to live among His creation.   He had no problem setting aside His nature which made Him equal with the Father and taking on the form of sinful man.  Why did He do this?  1 John 3:8 tells us why.  “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”  Jesus came to undo the work of the devil which he started in the Garden of Eden when he tempted Eve and succeeded.

Jesus wanted to defeat sin in the flesh because it was through the flesh that sin entered the world. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—” (Romans 5:12).   Sin is like an epidemic, a cancer and Jesus is the only One who could completely destroy it.  So, He came into the world as an infant, born to a virgin.  He lived a simple life, worked as a carpenter before He began His ministry.  Throughout His life here on earth, Jesus lived in total obedience to the Father and humbly.

In His humility He defeated the devil in the wilderness, using, not His divine power, but the Word of God to counter each temptation until the enemy had no other choice but to go away.  In humility, Jesus allowed the religious leaders and the roman soldiers to mock, spit, strike and humiliate Him.  Not once did He complain or call down the angels to help Him.  In humility, He carried the cross to the place where they would crucify Him.  On the way, women bewailed and lamented Him but He didn’t think about Himself.  He foresaw what would befall them and warned them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.  For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!’ Then they will begin ‘to say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”’ For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?”

I always wondered what Jesus meant by “green wood and dry” and today I learnt that green wood is not used as fuel for fire, whereas, dry wood is perfect for that.  And Jesus is represented by the green wood, as the One undeserving of the cruel treatment He was receiving from the people.  And the people who were fanning the flames, pushing for Jesus’ crucifixion, after requesting that, Barabbas, a criminal be released, were the dry wood.  They were deserving of the Divine judgement that they would one day face.  Jesus was telling the women to cry for these people.  The people who continually reject Christ and His work on the cross are the ones we ought to mourn for the time will come when they will be judged and will be cast into the lake of fire.

In humility, as He hung on the cross, He asked God to forgive the very people who wanted Him dead.  He was dying for them too.  The cross is where we ought to go when we find it hard to forgive those who hurt and humiliate and mistreat us.  In humility we realize that Jesus hanging on the cross in our place is what made it possible for God to forgive us too.  We too are responsible for Jesus becoming a curse for us. Humility is about acknowledging that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory and that we have a Saviour who thought nothing of emptying Himself.

In humility, Jesus thought nothing of the shame of the manner of His death, endured the cross, because of the joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:2).  He wasn’t thinking about the shame but the salvation that would be offered to all those who accepted His ultimate sacrifice.  Through His death, many would receive life eternal.  And through His death and resurrection, many would have the same victory over sin and death.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for humbling Yourself and becoming one of us so that You could defeat sin and death.  Sin had separated us from our Father but Your death on the cross, reconciled us to Him.  We will never be able to repay the debt You paid with Your precious blood.  We can honour You by loving others and sharing the Good News about what You did for them on the cross.

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,  and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).

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Then His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd. And it was told Him by some, who said, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You.”

But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it” (Luke 8:19-21).

Basically, you are a member of God’s family when you live in obedience to His Word.  It makes sense that if you want to be a child of God or if you already are, you would do what it says in His Word.  God has spelled out clearly what He requires of us.  Just look at Jesus’ teachings.  They are filled with how God wants us to live our lives.

We are told to forgive others if we expect God to forgive us.  Jesus told a wonderful story about a king who showed mercy to a servant who could not repay his debt and begged the king not to sell him.  The king forgave the servant his debt but that same servant refused to release another servant from the debt he owed him although it was far less than the debt the first servant owed the king.  Of course, the king was upset and that servant received a just punishment for his unforgiving attitude toward the other servant. 

joesph-and-his-brothersJoseph is a perfect example of someone who forgave his brothers although he could have easily justified holding on to his anger and bitterness.  After all they had planned to kill him and then decided that they would sell him instead.  He never saw his mother again and years passed before he was reunited with his father who thought he was dead.  He was falsely accused of and thrown into prison for attempted rape.  He spent years in prison before he was released.  In spite of all of these things, Joseph chose to forgive.  And he even saw the good which God achieved from the bad things that happened to him (Genesis 50:19-21).

We are told to love our enemies.  This is a tough one but Jesus said that we are to be like our Heavenly Father who “makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust”.  We are to be different from the rest of the world who loves those who love them and hate those who hate them.  We are called to love those who hate, spitefully use and persecute us.  

We are told not to judge.  Jesus used the example of a person looking at the speck in his brother’s eye when he has a plank in his own.  How could he possibly see that speck when he has a plank in his eye?  Why is it that we look at the sin of others and ignore the sin in our own lives?  Let us deal with our own sin problem.  It’s like the religious leaders.  They were judging the tax collectors and other people they considered outcasts when they were far from being righteous themselves.  They were envious, unmerciful, judgmental, self-righteous and hypocrites.  Are we guilty of judging others because they don’t measure up to our standards?  Do we think we are better than non-Christians?  We should always bear in mind the words of Paul, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  We cannot judge people.  Only God can.  He knows the heart.

We are told to be persistent in prayer.  God is just waiting to give good things to those who ask Him.  All we have to do is ask, seek and knock.  We ask as often as it takes.  We ask in faith, never wavering.  And if it is God’s will, what we ask for we will receive.

We are told to enter the narrow way.  Don’t do what is popular or easier or less resistant.  Don’t follow the crowd if it is contrary to the Word or will of God.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego did not go along with the rest of the society in worshiping the idol image of Nebuchadnezzar even if it meant their deaths.  They stood apart from the crowd and make a strong stand for their faith in the one true God.  We are to enter the narrow way which leads to everlasting life and not the broad way which leads to destruction.

We are to bear good fruit.  As Christians we are exhorted to bear good fruit.  Good fruit means we act in accordance to God’s word and will.  We bear fruit worthy of repentant and changed lives.  This means we are no longer living as we did before we came to Christ.  We practice what we preach.  We are Christians in deed and not in name only.  We follow Christ’s example and bear the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22, 23).  This goes back to what Jesus said about not acting as the heathen do.  We love those who hate us; have joy even during tough times; experience the peace of Christ during the storms; are patient even when it’s hard; are kind and good to others whether or not they deserve it; stay faithful to God even when it seems like our prayers are not being answered; show gentleness even when people are unkind or inconsiderate toward us; we exercise self-control no matter what kind of situation we are dealing with.  Bearing the fruit of the Spirit is not easy as we know that the flesh and the Spirit are always warring against each other but those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh.  Christ living inside you enables you to walk in the Spirit.

We are to do the will of the Father.  None of us wants to hear Jesus say, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’  Why would He say that?  There are professing Christians out there who believe that they will be saved because they have prophesied, cast out demons and done many wonders in Jesus’ name but Jesus will declare that He doesn’t know them.  These are Christians who, although they did all these things in His name, they did not do the will of the Father.  Only those who practice the will of the Father will enter the kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus said that not everyone who calls Him “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom.  If Jesus were truly Lord of their lives, they would not be practicing lawlessness.  They would be doing the Father’s will.  Their lives would bear fruit worthy of entering the kingdom.  Obviously, it is not enough to be active in church ministry, going to church, distributing tracts or feeding the poor.  If you are not doing something that God has revealed to you–that you need to change or renounce, you will not be among those of whom He will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” 

We are to build on the Rock.  What is your foundation?  Is it tradition or the teaching of the church?  In Jesus day, the religious leaders seemed to place the traditions and teachings of men above the commandments of God.  Jesus made it clear that our foundation should be on His word.  When we hear His teachings and we apply them to our lives, we will be like the wise man who built his house on the rock and when the rain, floods and wind threatened to sweep it away, it stood.  It did not fall.  It’s the same with us.  Once we are anchored in the Word of Jesus and we do what it says, when the enemy comes and tries to topple us over with temptations, opposition, persecution, etc. we will stand because we have built our lives on the Rock.

Jesus taught many other things that would help us in our Christian walk.  All we have to do is to decide today to be doers and not just hearers of His Word.

That it may be well with us, when we obey the voice of the LORD our God” – Jeremiah 42:6

When Jesus told Simon Peter, James and John, “Do not be afraid.  From now on you will catch men,” they must have trusted Him enough to leave everything behind and follow Him.  They had seen with their own eyes what miraculous things He could.  All night the three men had been fishing and had caught nothing yet when they cast down their nets as Jesus bid them, they caught so much fish that the net holding them was breaking.  The two boats began to sink under the weight of the fish.  How was it possible that the same lake where the men hadn’t caught any fish a moment ago and the minute Jesus told them to cast their nets in, they were bursting with fish?  Jesus had done the impossible.  When, the men saw this, they were astonished.  They probably never caught so much fish in all the years they had been fishing and here Jesus had done it in such a short time.  Possibly ashamed of his reluctance earlier, Peter fell to his knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”

Jesus told Simon Peter not to be afraid and that from now on, he would catch men.  Simon Peter’s days as a fisherman were over and he was now a follower of Jesus who had great plans for him and the others.  Just imagine how differently things would have turned out if Peter hadn’t decided to literally drop everything and follow Jesus.  He could not have imagined in all his wildest dreams what miraculous things he would be a witness to or that he would be preaching the same gospel he heard Jesus preach to the people from Peter’s boat or that he would be walking on water or that he too would be healing people.  None of these men could ever have imagined that their lives would change so dramatically because they had put their trust and faith in Jesus.  Just like these men, we should leave our worries behind and follow Him.  Catching the fish that had seemed nonexistent a short while ago was Jesus’ way of showing the three men what is impossible for man is not impossible for Him.  And that He could help them to catch bigger and better things if they just allow themselves to trust Him.

When we follow Jesus we are in for a treat.  As He pointed out, “I am the light of the world.  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  Peter and the other apostles believed that casting the net in the lake was hopeless because they had been trying all night to catch fish.  Fishing was their livelihood when they weren’t catching any it must have been very frustrating for them.  Then, Jesus came along told them to cast the net in and when they did there was an abundance of fish.  He wanted to show them what would happen if one doesn’t give up every time things don’t go well or as expected.  Jesus wanted to demonstrate through these men that He could penetrate the murky waters of our limited imagination and bring forth treasures that are possible only when we have faith in Him.

Jesus is the Light and when we trust in Him, we will no longer be in the dark about who He is and what He is capable of.  “I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known.  I will make darkness light before them, And crooked places straight.” (Isaiah 42:16)  Jesus led Peter and the other disciples out of spiritual blindness into spiritual awareness.  On that fateful day on the lake, He opened their eyes to His magnificence.  He took them on a journey that forever changed their lives.  They went from reeling in fish to reeling in people.  Jesus taught them everything they needed to know and after His resurrection, He sent them into the world to finish His work.  “All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:18-20)

Just as He had promised, He was always with them, in person when He was here on earth and in spirit after He had returned to His Father in Heaven.  He is with us in spirit and when He calls us to do His work, He is right there alongside us, giving us guidance and all the tools we need to accomplish the task.  He left behind the Holy Spirit who would guide them into all truth; speak only what He hears and tell them what was to come.  In Acts 2, the disciples were gathered in one place on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit filled them and they began to speak in other tongues.  The Holy Spirit enabled them.  Peter addressed the non-believers, reminding them of Jesus and the miracles He performed before them, His crucifixion, and His resurrection.  He called them to repent and be baptized.  That day, about three thousand people accepted Christ and were baptized.  A fellowship of the believers was started; they broke bread, gave to those in need, and praised God who increased the number of people saved.  Jesus was with His disciples throughout their ministry, helping them, as they became fishers of men.

When we obey God we are blessed and through our obedience other people are blessed.  The apostles obeyed Jesus and they were blessed with His teachings, His love and with the Holy Spirit.  They were blessed with the task of spreading the gospel and as a result, others were blessed because they came to know Jesus.    When Moses obeyed God’s call to free the Israelites from Egypt, he had no way of knowing that he would be remembered as one of the greatest prophets of all time.  When Abraham obeyed God and went to a strange land, he had no way of knowing that he would be the father of many nations or that one of his descendants would be one of Israel’s greatest kings or that one of them would be the Messiah.  When Peter and the other fishermen followed Jesus they had no way of knowing that they would be witnesses of miracles or doers of miraculous signs.

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” – Philippians 2:8.

 

Abraham was told to leave his country and go to a strange land believing God’s promise that, “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:2)  Abraham obeyed and journeyed to Canaan.  Difficult times were ahead for them.  They faced famine; strife between Abraham’s herdsmen and Lot’s livestock; and war which resulted in Lot’s capture.  Abraham and Sarah were childless.  At their age it must have seemed unlikely that they would be parents as God had promised.  But, God kept His promise and Isaac was born.  Isaac became the ultimate test of Abraham’s faith making the earlier challenges pale in comparison.

Abraham was asked to “take now your son, your only son to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (Genesis 22:2)  One cannot imagine what it must have taken for Abraham to be able to obey such a command.  For years he and Sarah had been childless and now the son God had promised them was going to be taken away and offered up as a sacrifice.  What about God’s promise of an everlasting covenant with Isaac and his descendants?  What must have been going through Abraham’s mind as he bound his son and laid him on the altar?  What must Isaac have been thinking?  As Abraham raised the knife to kill his son, was it his love for God that gave him the strength to go through with such an act?  God explains why He stopped him, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son from Me.” (Genesis 22:12) 

Without question, Abraham obeyed God.  He did not demand to know why God was asking him to sacrifice the child he and his wife had waited so long to have.  He didn’t ask God why he was taking away the child he had promised him, “in Isaac your seed shall be called.”  He did not wonder why God who was faithful and never broke a promise was now asking him to do the unthinkable.  Abraham had no way of knowing that God would stop him.  He had no way of knowing that God would replace Isaac with a ram for the sacrifice.  Abraham’s faith in God was so strong, so powerful that he was able to obey the most difficult command a man would ever receive from his God.  As a result, God, in His loving kindness, spared Isaac and blessed Abraham. 

Obedience is not too difficult to achieve.  Abraham is proof of this and so is Jesus.  Jesus faced many difficulties during his ministry.  He was criticised, rejected, mocked, flogged, deserted, denied and crucified because He was speaking on God’s behalf as He was commanded.  When Jesus was on the Mount of Olives, He prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” An angel from Heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him.  And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly.  Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. (Luke 22:41-44)  Jesus had a crisis of faith but, He was strengthened and He remained obedient. 

We too have crises of faith sometimes when faced with difficult times or temptations, but, if we pray to God, as Jesus did in His hour of need, God will strengthen us so that we don’t fall into temptation and remain obedient to Him.  Obeying Him will not always be easy but if we remember that it is the only way we will be able to experience God’s best and become closer to Him, we will be greatly motivated.

Behold, to obey [is] better than sacrifice” – 1 Samuel 15:22

Obeying God is the key to having a productive and lasting relationship with Jesus. “As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in My love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in His love.”  Jesus is telling us that His love for us is the same as His Father’s love for Him and that just as He obeyed God out of love, we should also obey Jesus out of love.  When we obey Jesus we remain in His love, we remain connected with Him because we are living by His guidelines. 

 

The definition of a commandment is: A rule or teaching that people should obey.  God gave us commandments to help us to live good, productive lives.  They are designed to keep us from sinning and from hurting each other.  Jesus’ commandments are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and being and to love our neighbour as we would love ourselves.  Jesus loved God and obeyed His commandments and glorified Him.  When we live as Jesus instructed us to live, we are glorifying Him.

 

It is not enough to declare our love for the Lord, we have to show Him and we only do this by obeying His commands.  Obedience is another form of love.  It is a willingness to do whatever we are asked to do for the One we love.  We know God loves us because He has expressed it in words and in deeds.  Jesus willingly gave up His life for us so we should willingly give ourselves to Him.  We can never repay Him for all He has done for us but we can try.

Abraham loved God enough to obey Him when He asked him to pack up his family and belongings and move to a new place.  He obeyed God’s command when He asked Him to sacrifice Isaac.  Noah obeyed God when he was told to build the Ark.  Gideon obeyed God when He told him to take fewer men in battle against the Midianites.  Peter obeyed Jesus and went to preach the gospel to the Gentiles.  These men remained in God’s love.

 

When we disobey God, we are rebelling against Him.  Adam and Eve disobeyed God and as a result sin and death entered the world.  Saul rebelled against God by offering up sacrifice at Gilgal instead of waiting for Samuel.  As a result, his kingdom was taken away from him and given to David.  The Israelites rebelled against God when they were in the desert on the way to the Promised Land by worshipping a golden calf.  They rebelled against God when they worshipped other gods and built altars and offered sacrifices.  They turned their backs on the same God who led them out of Egypt and provided them with food and water while they were in the desert.  The same God who delivered them from their enemies and saved them every time they cried out to them.  The same God who repeatedly forgave them the moment they repented. 

 

God loves us and desires that we love Him in return.  All He wants is for us to obey Him, follow His guidelines.  We see what happens when we don’t.  We should obey all commandments not just some.  Just as we don’t murder, commit adultery, steal, give false testimony, covet what other people have, call God’s name in vain, we should worship one God, honour our parents and remember the Sabbath and most importantly, love God with all our might and soul and love one another. So the bottom line is, obedience to God is our guarantee of a good, Christian life and a lasting relationship with Father and Son.



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