– The reading and studying of Scripture
-The playing and singing of songs
We continue with the fifth way we can learn obedience to God, and that is through our physical health and rest. By obeying God, growing in His Spirit, and becoming the true worshiper He intends us to be, we can reap physical benefits. Our physical health, for example, is contingent upon our fearing God and following His statutes (Proverbs 3:7-8, 4:20-22). Being rested is also crucial to our health, and no one is more rested than the man or woman who is at peace with the Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth (Psalms 16:8-9, 62:1; Matthew 11:28).
Physically working and laboring for God is the sixth way we can learn the discipline of obedience. God did not command us to merely believe in Him, pray to Him, and wait on Him. He commands us to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) and reminds us that when we “labor in the Lord” it’s not “in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58). In fact, this isn’t just about laboring for God’s kingdom; it’s also about working for our families and ourselves.
King Solomon wrote time and again how an idle man gains nothing but that “all hard work brings a profit” (Proverbs 14:23a), again not just monetarily speaking. Working and laboring for God means we can “share with those in need” (Ephesians 4:28b). No matter what we do, we should labor as “working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). If you are a hard worker, then God says you are respectable; and should you happen to be working for another person, which most of us do, then you should respect him or her and honor him or her, as well (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13). And know this about your work, “God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them” (Hebrews 6:10). When you work and labor for God, your toiling will be remembered by your heavenly Father.
The seventh means for learning the discipline of obedience to God is through our love and faithfulness. The psalmist tells us that our love for God brings about our faithfulness to Him (Psalm 85:10); and King Solomon taught that we should never let our love for God and faithfulness to God leave us, but we should “write them on the tablet” of our hearts (Proverbs 3:3). The apostle John wrote that if we truly love God we will become obedient to God (John 14:15), and he noted that our love for God and faithfulness to Him brings about encouragement and joy to other believers (3 John 3).
Most importantly, though, our love and faithfulness is a testament that we belong to Christ (John 13:34-35). As Peter R. Scholtes, a former Catholic priest, penned in 1966: “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love; they will know we are Christians by our love.”
Sacrifice and trust is our eighth opportunity for learning obedience to God. In fact, in the book of Romans, chapter 12, verse 1, we learn that offering ourselves to God as “living sacrifices” is a “spiritual act of worship.” God desires for us to willingly give of our whole selves to do His good and perfect works. Apostle Paul, the writer of Romans, just one verse later revealed that this sacrifice will allow us to know God’s “good and perfect will” (Romans 12:2b).
Being a “living sacrifice” also means that we can lift up the “sacrifice of praise” and “do good and share with others” (Hebrews 13:15-16). Our very words as well as our works and labors of goodwill can be sweet and pleasing to God. Our trust in the Almighty generally stems from our willingness to offer our lives up to Him; trusting in the fact that God intends good for us and not harm or ill-will. In Psalm 28:6-7 we read, “Praise be to the Lord, for He has heard my cry for mercy . . . my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped . . . I will give thanks to Him in song.” And a few chapters later, in Psalm 37:3-4, we see that if we do trust in God and do His good works, He will give us the desires of our hearts, which once again is referring to the spiritual things in life and does not necessarily guarantee us a Ferrari or huge estate in Hawaii. Remember what Christ told His disciples, in John 12:36, regarding trust. Jesus said, “Put your trust in the light [God] while you have it, so that you may become sons of light [God].” If we trust in God, we will become His children and seek after His spiritual attributes.
Our ninth way of learning the discipline of obedience to God stems from our fear and respect of our Creator. Why should we fear God and what does it mean to fear Him, you may ask? Well, King Solomon said in Proverbs 8:13 that “to fear the Lord is to hate evil.” Evil is everything that God isn’t. Evil isn’t love, but is hate. Evil isn’t faithfulness, it is doubt and infidelity. Evil isn’t hope, it is darkness and loneliness. So, if fearing God means we hate evil, then we are saying we fear the loss of godly attributes in our lives. Do you desire blessings, respect, and abundant life? Then present yourself to God in humility and fear life without Him (Proverbs 22:4).
“Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling” (Psalm 2:11); here is a verse full of contrasts. We serve God and each other because we want to obey His wishes for us to do so and we fear the idea of not being in His service. We also rejoice at the thought of being in God’s presence, but we tremble at His majesty and power. We praise God because we fear Him (Psalm 22:23a). God allows us into His confidence if we fear Him (Psalm 25:14). If mankind fears and gives the respect rightly due our Creator, then opportunities for true worship will be made known and humanity will benefit from it, for it will teach us not only to honor God but each other (1 Peter 2:17).
Celebration and rejoicing is the tenth opportunity for learning obedience to God. The psalmist wrote in Psalm 5, verse 11, “But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy . . . that those who love your name may rejoice in you.” In the forty-seventh Psalm, verse 1, the director of music exclaims, “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.” The book of Psalms is full of verses where we are encouraged and taught to celebrate the goodness of God and rejoice in Him (Psalms 66:1, 100:1-2). God commanded Joshua, at the battle of Jericho, to shout out to Him at the blowing of the trumpet, resulting in a miraculous victory (Joshua 6:15-21). Our faith in God and obedience to worship Him in this manner will produce many opportunities for us to experience our Maker’s attributes in so many fresh and exciting ways (Romans 5:1-5). So, let us all “rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
Being a peacemaker is our eleventh way to learn obedience to God. Christ taught that to be called the “sons of God,” we have to become true peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). But in order to be at peace with our brothers and sisters, we must first be at peace with our Creator.
In Psalm 119, verse 165, we read that “great peace have they who love Your [God’s] law, and nothing can make them stumble.” Obedience to God’s laws doesn’t just mean we are living right. No; it’s so much more than that! It means we are unified, one with, at peace with the living God, Creator of all life. How do human beings attain such peace with God? By faith in Jesus Christ, His Son.
Jesus said, “I have told you [His disciples] these things [truths about Himself and future events] so that in me you may have peace” (John 16:33a). God the Father and the Son both teach us of God’s laws and truths so that all of humanity can find peace . . . peace with both God and fellow believers. The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5:1-2 these famous words:
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”
We are found justified in God’s eyes because of our faith in His Son, Jesus, and that relationship with Christ gives us the peace we so desperately seek to have with both God and each other. Remember this proverb from King Solomon, “A heart at peace gives life to the body” (Proverbs 14:30a). Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6); the peace at the heart of King Solomon’s proverb comes only from a true faith in Christ.
Our twelfth, and final, way for learning obedience to God is through our individual and corporate worship of God. We must now take all these things to heart that we have been studying concerning worship and apply them to our daily walk with the Almighty. Whether we are alone or with our families or with others at church, our ability to be faithful in this matter is crucial to our being seen by God as a true worshiper.
Christ taught us of a day when God’s true worshipers would worship Him in “spirit and truth” just as God is spirit (John 4:23-24). We can accomplish this by allowing God’s attributes (faithfulness, hope, and love) to surge through our spirits via our hearts on a daily basis, moment by moment, breath by breath. We can do this by gathering corporately as a family or church body and singing to God and of God, teaching of God, and encouraging each other with God’s Word (1 Corinthians 14:26). This can be done by praying for each other, praying for the lost, praying for our governmental leaders, and praying for our enemies (1 Timothy 2:1-6). We should take the time to testify to and glorify God, faithfully and together as a family or church body as well as individually (Psalms 22:22 and 25).
The writer of Hebrews in chapter 12, verse 28-29, penned these words concerning the importance of worshiping God daily: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”
How will you be consumed? Will you be consumed in the spirit and truth that is our Creator; as a true worshiper of God? I hope upon the hope of heaven, Jesus Christ — our ultimate example of obedience and true worship — that you will.
I’ll close with a thought provoking quote from LaMar Boschman (Academic Dean of the International Worship Institute, author, and preacher): “When I worship, I would rather my heart be without words than my words be without heart.”
When someone writes or states a profound thought like this in Hebrew, we are generally instructed to stop and listen by the use of a simple word, “Selah.” Let’s read through this quote once more and really take in what it’s saying: “When I worship, I would rather my heart be without words than my words be without heart.”
We have laid our foundation, set the cornerstone, and erected four walls on our temple of worship. We have but one thing left to do — raise the roof!
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They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love lyrics and music written by Peter R. Scholtes. Copyright © 1966 by F.E.L. Publications, Ltd./ASCAP (1925 Pontius Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90025).
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