OBEDIENCE IS BETTER THAN SACRIFICE – PART 2

Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. – 1 Samuel 15:22

MEANING OF OBEDIENCE

Last week we explained that obedience is the act of submitting (obeying) to the commands (laws) of God, the highest authority, creator, and Father of mankind. If we have faith in God and believe Christianity is the truth, obedience is the practice of living by faith, obeying the teachings of the Bible.

A sacrifice is a ritual transaction between a person and God that physically demonstrates a relationship between them. But if the person’s heart is not truly repentant or if he does not truly love God, the sacrifice is a hollow ritual.

1. WHY DO WE OBEY GOD?

We do not obey God because of fear, guilt, or a sense of duty. We obey God because of His love to us, because He loved us and saved us. Obedience to God is not a feeling, not knowledge, but rather, it is a choice and a decision.

SCRIPTURES ON OBEDIENCE

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. – James 1:22-25

It is important to listen to what God’s Word says, but it is much more important to obey it and to do what it says. We can measure the effectiveness of our Bible study time by the effect it has on our behaviour and attitudes.

As Christians, we are saved by God’s grace, and salvation frees from sin’s control. As believers, we are free to live as God created us to live. Of course, this does not mean that we are free to do as we please.  “Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.” – 1 Peter 2:16. We are now free to obey God.

Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around Him was so large that He got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in His teaching said: “Listen! A farmer went out to sow His seed. As He was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”

Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” – Mark 4:1-9

The hearing Jesus wants from us is not the kind we use when we listen to background music or when someone starts to recount a long story we have already heard. To truly “hear” Jesus’ words is to believe them, to use them immediately in decisions and attitudes, and to base life on them – our recreation and work, family plans and money matters, praying and singing. To hear Jesus’ words is to make Jesus your true Lord.

Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.” – Mark 4:13-20.

Jesus is talking about receiving His word and obeying it. We are like the seed that fell on fertile soil because it is reproductive.

If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” – John 14:15

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. – 1 Peter 1:14

2. BENEFITS OF OBEDIENCE

As human beings we always think of what is in for us when we do something for others. Of course, we should never think of a quid pro quo with God! Nevertheless, God shows His faithfulness by rewarding us for our faithfulness. These are rewards for obedience:

  1. We become a friend of God. “You are my friends if you do what I command.” – John 15:14.
  2. We become holy as God. “And if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.” – Deuteronomy 6:25
  3. We receive earthly blessings. “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land” – Isaiah 1:19
  4. We have the assurance of salvation. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” – Ephesians 6:13
  5. We receive answers to our prayers. “and receive from Him anything we ask, because we keep His commands and do what pleases Him.” – 1 John 3:22
  1. We are assured of the blessings, example Abraham. “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God” – Deuteronomy 28:1-2
  2. We avoid punishment. “Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” – Romans 13:2

CONCLUSION

The reality of this new covenant was portrayed in Jesus’ supreme example of obedience to the heavenly Father, when He gave Himself as the ultimate sacrifice for atonement of sin.

Jesus’ emphasis on being born again underscores the need of atonement for effecting forgiveness of sins. Jesus talks to Nicodemus about being born again or “from above” as the requirement for entering the kingdom of God (John 3:3-6). The way of death would be thus changed to the way of life.

Jesus prayed that His disciples would be sanctified, be made inwardly holy, and thereby be enabled to live a holy life outwardly (John 17:6-19). Provision for this inner holiness and cleansing requisite for true obedience was effected by His atoning sacrifice on the cross.

The Holy Spirit is provided to all who believe in Jesus. The Spirit’s abiding presence enables all God’s people to carry out God’s will and to live obediently before Him.

Stay Blessed!

Please continue to join us on Asempa 94.7 FM – Sunday 5.30 am., Sunny 88.7 FM – Tuesdays 5:30 am; and Uniiq 95.7 FM – Saturdays 7:30 pm, YFM 107.9 – Sundays 6.30am; for our Radio Bible Study as well as Sunny FM 88.7 FM every Sunday at 3:30 pm. for Hymn and their Stories.

KINGDOM VALUES – PART 1

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, and He began to teach them. He said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. – Matthew 5:1-12

INTRODUCTION

Jesus presented an upside-down kingdom. The very things valued by the Greco-Roman world (and us too) – wealth and fame – were devalued in Christ’s kingdom. Blessed is usually understood to mean “happy”, but more precisely the word suggests the idea of “being congratulated” because God’s favour is granted to the individual. The blessedness described in the Beatitudes is not a quality characteristic of human beings but a trait of God Himself. Only God imparts this blessedness – not on demand or as the result of your fulfilling prescribed conditions. Blessedness is a characteristic exclusively available to believers. Since this blessedness comes from within, it is neither caused nor affected by outside circumstances. Social and spiritual aspects of life are woven through each Beatitude.

As believers we are characterized by our humility and confidence in God. Through the Beatitudes Christ explained His personhood and His ministry, which were marked by humility and sacrifice. The world despised anyone who was considered weak, but Jesus taught that anyone who recognizes his own spiritual poverty and helplessness is ready for spiritual growth.

1. THE POOR

The poor in spirit could refer to those who are both spiritually impoverished and socially and economically oppressed. Nowhere in Scripture is poverty or absence of possessions declared to be the path to spiritual blessing. The emphasis was upon emptying ourselves to make room for God. One who is poor cannot satisfy his/her own need; they are driven by their poverty to dependence on God. When self-sufficiency and pride are stripped away, we are ready to be responsive to God, His Word and the gracious ministries He sends to meet our needs.

As with most godly character traits, the pattern is found in the life of Jesus. He came into the world in a humble setting – a stable manger in an insignificant village. There is no way into the kingdom of God other than with the poverty of spirit that comes from emptying ourselves in pride, self-reliance, and self-sufficiency and in contrast filling ourselves with God, His strength and God-sufficiency. The emphasis is on God’s power instead of our resourcefulness.

The New Testament uses the phrase kingdom of heaven in three ways. Here all can be included in the meaning:

  1. The kingdom of God within the heart of a believer. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:33
  2. The body that includes all believers on earth. “He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. – Luke 11:2.
  3. The kingdom prepared for believers after death. “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will beloosed in heaven.” – Matthew 16:19.

In each case God ushers in the kingdom, and Jesus reigns over it. Only the poor in spirit, claiming no personal merit, can enter because grace, and not works, opens the door.

2a. THOSE WHO MOURN

The meaning cannot be confined to sorrow over sin. Again the reader finds a paradox since most people do not recognize sorrow as a blessing. Followers of Christian Science even deny the existence of physical illness and suffering. Yet sorrow and death will always be present. Still this Beatitude does not suggest that physical suffering or loss of a loved one or any other tragedy of life would bring blessing merely as a payment for grief. Spiritual mourning indicates a sensitive consciousness of sin and an accompanying sorrow because of that sin. “Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.” – James 4:9. Those who mourn recognize who they are; they see purpose in sorrow and suffering; they allow that sorrow to give glory to God. Tragedies become stepping stones to the heart of God and His comfort. Grief prompted by the sin itself, rather than only by the consequences of the sin that might have affected you adversely, produced sanctified sorrow.

2b. THEY WILL BE COMFORTED

The Holy Spirit enables us to cry out for help because He not only brings conviction but also awakens within our sorrow over sin. As the believer mourns over sin, the Holy Spirit who abides within does His work to give comfort and joy and enables him/her to persevere, even in the midst of sorrow and suffering. The Greek verb is in the passive voice and the future tense, implying not only assurance for the present but also security for the future. The cycle of comfort will be continuous because the Holy Spirit dwells now and forever in the believer’s heart. The blessedness should not be construed as coming from the path of sorrow itself but from the comfort accompanying the believer in the journey.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Source: Culled from The Study Bible for Women

To Be Continued!!

Stay Blessed!

Please continue to join us on Asempa 94.7 FM – Sunday 5.30 am., Sunny 88.7 FM – Tuesdays 5:30 am; and Uniiq 95.7 FM – Saturdays 7:30 pm, YFM 107.9 – Sundays 6.30am; for our Radio Bible Study as well as Sunny FM 88.7 FM every Sunday at 3:30 pm. for Hymn and their Stories.

THE POWER OF PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING

“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him,
and bless His name.” – Psalm 100:4 (NKJV)


INTRODUCTION
Praise and thanksgiving are vital steps toward entering the presence of God. Thanksgiving gets
us through the gates, and praise brings us into the courtroom of the King of Kings. Without
taking these steps, we remain outside of the courts of God.
Unfortunately, many Christian pray that way. We stand outside of the gates crying out for God
to help us or to heal us. Sometimes we ask others to pray for us, but we never go inside
ourselves. We don’t enter into His presence, because we fail to apply these two simple
principles from the Word of God. We don’t enter into His gates with thanksgiving and enter
into His courts with praise.
Ten lepers also stood at a distance, crying out for Jesus to heal them, and He did – but only one
returned to give thanks. All ten were healed physically, but only one entered His presence of
God and was also healed spiritually. Thanksgiving is an amazing thing; it grants us access into
the very presence of God! Praise and thanksgiving take effort, just like returning to thank
Jesus…

  1. PRAISE IS VOCAL; it is uttered. It is the act of proclaiming the greatness of God, extolling
    Him for who He is. Hebrews 13:15 says, “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the
    sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” We
    are to continually offer up the sacrifice of praise (whether we feel like it or not), the fruit
    of our lips. And oh, by the way, you cannot praise God with your mouth shut. You might
    think you can but you can’t. Praise has to be proclaimed – and when it is, when we
    praise God with all that is within us – our spirit is elevated into His presence. Praising
    God is never a waste of time. In fact, it’s one of the most important things we can do.

  1. THANKSGIVING IS LIKEWISE VOCAL. We praise God for who He is, and we thank Him for
    what He has done. Thanksgiving is the act of expressing gratitude for all that He has
    done. When we go to God without a heart of thanksgiving, we treat Him like a vending
    machine. If you have children, you know the difference between a demanding child and
    a grateful one.
    Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and
    supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Paul tells us this,
    because we can become anxious. Instead, God wants us to bring our concerns to Him in prayer and never be so focused on our needs that we neglect the giving of thanks. Prayer and supplication needs to flow from the lips of a thankful heart. When we come to God with a heart of thanksgiving, the gates of heaven swing wide open.
    God’s Word is real; it’s true, and it’s forever settled in the heaven. Praise and thanksgiving
    usher us into His presence. He is just waiting for us to believe it and actually do it.

CONCLUSION
God alone is worthy of being worshipped. What is your attitude toward worship? Do we willingly and joyfully come into God’s presence, or are we just going through the motions, reluctantly going to church? This psalm tells us to remember God’s goodness and dependability, and then to worship with thanksgiving and praise!

WORSHIP, AND THANKS, AND BLESSING – MHB 412
1 Worship, and thanks, and blessing,
And strength ascribe to Jesus!
Jesus alone defends His own,
When earth and hell oppress us.
Jesus with joy we witness
Almighty to deliver;
Our seals set to, that God is true,
And reigns a King for ever.
2 Omnipotent Redeemer,
Our ransomed souls adore Thee;
Our Saviour Thou, we find it now,
And give Thee all the glory.
We sing Thine arm unshortened,
Brought through our sore temptation;
With heart and voice in Thee rejoice,
The God of our salvation.
3 Thine arm hath safely brought us
A way no more expected,
Than when Thy sheep passed through the deep,
By crystal walls protected.
Thy glory was our rear-ward,
Thy hand our lives did cover,
And we, even we, have passed the sea,
And marched triumphant over.
4 The world’s and Satan’s malice
Thou, Jesus, hast confounded;
And, by Thy grace, with songs of praise
Our happy souls resounded.
Accepting our deliverance,
We triumph in Thy favour,
And for the love which now we prove,
Shall praise Thy name for ever.

Stay Blessed!
Please continue to join us on Asempa 94.7 FM – Sunday 5.30 am., Sunny 88.7 FM – Tuesdays 5:30 am;
and Uniiq 95.7 FM – Saturdays 7:30 pm, YFM 107.9 – Sundays 6.30am; for our Radio Bible Study as
well as Sunny FM 88.7 FM every Sunday at 3:30 pm. for Hymn and their Stories.