To me, one of the greatest acts of obedience in the Bible was done by Peter. He and his coworkers had fished all night and caught nothing. They were cleaning their nets when Jesus walked up and asked to use his boat for a pulpit to preach from. After the sermon, Jesus asked Peter to go further out to a deep spot and put his freshly cleaned nets back into the water. None of it made sense, but Luke 5:5 says, “‘Master,’ Simon answered, ‘we worked hard all night long and caught nothing. But if you say so, I will let down the nets’” (GNT).
Peter was tired from fishing all night. He had then cleaned and prepared his nets for the next night, and he was ready to go home to sleep. Putting the nets back into the water meant he would have to clean them again. Also, it was proven that you catch more fish at night in shallow areas. Everything Jesus was asking was different than his lifetime had taught him. His way had not worked, but because of what He had seen Jesus do, He was willing to try it. The result was the catch of a lifetime.
If you’ve tried things your way and it’s gotten you nowhere, listen to what God is asking you to do. It probably won’t make sense in the natural, but obedience activates the supernatural. When you’ve tried everything on your own and come up empty handed, try it God’s way. It may not make sense, but if you do it, your miracle will be waiting on the other side of your obedience. You may be exhausted and emotionally spent from doing things your way. You may feel like you’re at the end of your rope. Despite all that, do what God asks anyway and you’ll see Him answer like never before.
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When it comes to keys on a key ring, I’m a minimalist. I’ve got my car key and a key to an office. I don’t even have a house key on there. I’ve got friends though who have lots of keys on their key chain. They’ve got a key for every door in their life on their key ring. I’m not quite sure how they remember what key goes to what, but they know. Every key on their ring has a purpose. What’s great about keys is that they open locked doors. So when I read that their is a key to life, I immediately peeked up.
Deuteronomy 30:20 says, “You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life” (NLT). The first key to opening the locked doors in your life is loving God. Jesus said that this is the greatest commandment of them all. It’s the master key of you will. When we love God with all our heart, our soul, our mind and our strength, our purpose in life becomes clear and doors open.
The second key is often the toughest for us. It’s to obey God in whatever He tells you to do. I believe in simple obedience. I expect it from my son and God expects it from us. It’s the faith to simply act on what God says without always understanding why. We have to trust that God sees the bigger picture of not just our life, but all lives and how they’re connected. Our obedience never just affects us. It has a ripple effect across His Kingdom.
Finally, is to commit ourselves firmly to Him. We’ve got to get past our commitment issues and cling to God through thick and thin. Just like we make a vow at our wedding, we need to make a similar vow to God. For better or worse, in sickness and in health, until death unites us. We can’t allow ourselves to be seduced by the things of this world causing us to break that vow. We must fully commit to Him. When we do these three things, I promise you that locked doors will open because these are the keys to life and blessings.
One of the things my wife and I decided after we had a kid was that we weren’t going to use the Three Count Rule. We wanted our son to obey the first time we said something, and not for him to think he had until the count of three to obey. Our reasoning was that if a car was coming and he was running towards the road, we wanted him to obey immediately. Kids are often distracted and unaware of their surroundings. As parents, we are constantly looking out for his safety and need him to obey without understanding why.
You and I are not so different as God’s children. We get distracted by the things of this world and our lives. We have a Heavenly Father who watches out for us and asks for our obedience without our understanding why. Instead of obeying, we often argue or don’t do what He asks because we don’t understand the why behind it or because it just doesn’t make sense. We could all learn a lesson from Peter who obeyed without understanding.
In Luke 5, Jesus was teaching near the Sea of Galilee. The crowds kept pressing in until he had no more room to stand. Peter and his fishing buddies were there mending and cleaning their nets from an all night fishing trip. Jesus asked to get in the boat and to then have him push off land a bit so He could teach the crowd. After He taught them, Jesus asked Peter to go out a little further and then cast His nets. It didn’t make sense to Him because the prime fishing time had already passed plus he had already cleaned his nets. He was tired and wanted to go home.
In verse 5, Peter said, “Master, we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again” (NLT). He didn’t argue even though he didn’t understand. He simply obeyed. The result of his obedience was the catch of a lifetime. That trust he had in obeying Jesus, no matter what, also led him to be able to walk on water. He understood that God knows better than we do. He sees things we can’t see. We may not understand the why behind what He’s asking, but we still need to obey or we will miss out on some of His greatest blessings.
My uncle told me the story of how my grandfather once pastored a small town church. They were dependent week to week on the offerings to make a living. For whatever reason, there wasn’t enough in the offering one week for them to get groceries. As my grandfather prayed about it that Sunday afternoon, he felt God telling him to go to the post office. He argued that it was closed, but he went anyway. When he arrived, sure enough, there wasn’t anyone there. After sitting there a while, he decided to get out of his car and check the door. When he did, a man walked up, handed him money, and walked away without saying anything.
I don’t know if the other guy argued with God or not, but I do know that he showed up to a place that was closed. It took faith on both sides. It’s hard to obey God when it doesn’t make sense, but that’s what God asks of us sometimes. Part of it could be that He’s testing us. Part of it could be that we ask God for ridiculous signs so we can make sure it’s Him. Whatever it is, obedience is key. A Biblical example of this is a Phillip in Acts 8. He was preaching in a town, people were getting healed and saved to the point he needed help from the other disciples. That’s when God asked him to do something that didn’t make sense.
Acts 8:26 says, “Later God’s angel spoke to Philip: “At noon today I want you to walk over to that desolate road that goes from Jerusalem down to Gaza” (MSG). The instructions were very specific, but they didn’t make sense. Leave a place full of people accepting Jesus to go down a deserted road? Why would God ask him to do that. He could have questioned whether he heard God or not, but he didn’t. He obeyed. What he found was one man on a chariot on his way back to Ethiopia reading the book of Isaiah.
He went up to him, explained what he was reading, and the man got saved. I’m sure it still didn’t make sense to leave many accepting Christ for one, but what we now know explains it. That eunuch went back to Ethiopia and started the Coptic church with has led many to Christ in Northern Africa through the centuries. Because of Philip’s obedience, generations have been affected, changed, and saved. God doesn’t just look at the immediate situation, He looks at the future situation. What doesn’t make sense now, may only make sense to future generations.
Are you ready at a moment’s notice to obey when it doesn’t make sense?
Obedience is decided well before God asks. What can you do now to be prepared to obey later?
Do you remember when you were told to clean your room? What did you do? You probably went in there and thought of ways to not do it. After a long time contemplating, you decided to either shove everything under the bed or put it in the closet. When your room is checked, you didn’t fool anyone. The shelves and boxes where your things should have been are still bare. Your closet gets opened and your sheets pulled back exposing your lack of obedience.
Sure the floor is free of clutter, but you didn’t do what was asked. You didn’t clean your room. You merely rearranged it without putting things where they belonged. In your mind, you think you obeyed, but deep down you know what you did was an act of defiance. You try to argue your case by using technicalities, but you don’t get very far. What you’ve done is caused more work for yourself and lost more time because you have to do it over the right way.
Saul was like that. He got specific instructions from God on what to do, but somehow put the toys in the closet every time. He obeyed, but didn’t. Each time he had an excuse for doing what he did. God finally had enough and Samuel called him out on it. In I Samuel 15:22-23 Samuel said to Saul, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the LORD, he has rejected you as king” (NLT).
Each of us struggle with simple obedience for some reason. God gives us simple instructions, but somehow we complicate them. God is looking for us to simply obey what He’s asked us to do. Anything other than obeying His call on your life is an act of rebellion in His eyes. Whatever He’s called you to do, you need to do. Wherever He’s called you to go, you need to go. Whatever He’s called you to say, you need to say. Don’t find ways to put they toys in the closet. Do what He’s asked willingly and with a good attitude and your life will be fulfilled like never before.
When I was in high school, one of my teachers had us open the cover of our Bibles. He then told us to write, “This book will keep you from sin. Sin will keep you from this book.” What a powerful message. Every time I opened my Bible, I read those words. They challenged me to read it daily so that I wouldn’t stray from God. To this day, I hear those words, even though I no longer open a physical Bible, and they challenge me.
When Moses was giving the final instructions to Israel, before they crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land, he gave them instructions for their future kings. In Deuteronomy 17:18-19 he said, “When he sits on the throne as king, he must copy for himself this body of instruction on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. He must always keep that copy with him and read it daily as long as he lives. That way he will learn to fear the LORD his God by obeying all the terms of these instructions and decrees” (NLT).
God knew then that His instructions would keep us from a life of sin. He not only wanted them read daily, He wanted them to write them down too. Imagine if you had to hand write the Bible and then carry that manuscript with you daily. The time and effort that would take would cause you to value His Word more. Then reading it daily would teach you how to follow God’s path.
David, who would have written it out and carried it with him, wrote something very powerful in the longest chapter of the Bible. In Psalm 119:11 he wrote, “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” David didn’t just read God’s Word, he hid it in his heart. He studied it, memorized it, and applied it. Were there times he failed? Yes. It was God’s Word that put him back in right standing with God.
He knew what you and I need to know. The more we know who God is, the more we see Him as a loving father who doesn’t expect perfection from us. He forgives our sins and loves it when we come clean. The enemy wants us to hide our sin like Adam and Eve, but God wants to create a clean heart in us. His Word will not only keep us from sin, but lead us to forgiveness when we do. Don’t let sin keep you from God’s Word. Let God’s Word keep you from sin.
Since I was a child, I have heard the story of King Saul in I Samuel 13. The army of Israel had won a small skirmish with a Philistine garrison. The Philistines then mustered an army several times the size of the Israelite army. As they waited for battle, fear crept into the Israelite camp. Men began to desert the army. Those that remained were visibly afraid. Saul looked around, saw their fear, and then checked the calendar. Where was the prophet Samuel? He had said he would be there by now.
As he watched more troops leave, he decided decisive action is what was needed to keep the troops. Verse 9 says, “So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself” (NLT). Wouldn’t you know that as soon as he finished with the burnt offerings, Samuel showed up. Saul realized that he jumped the gun. He ran to Samuel hoping to smooth things over, but Samuel wouldn’t hear it. He explained what a foolish thing he had done, and now God would take the kingship from him.
For me, this story is a reminder to stay patient when doing what God asks. If we let our circumstances dictate our obedience, we will fail and miss out on the blessings of God. It’s hard enough to stay obedient when God is silent, let alone when your circumstances show your obedience isn’t paying off. The easy thing to do is make assumptions, but assumptions often lead to disobedience. If God asked you to do something, you must keep at it until He says, “Stop.”
I Samuel 15:22 says, “But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.” Whatever God has called you to do, obedience to that calling is most important. Your calling may seem small and insignificant. It may lack the spotlight that you want, but it is a valid calling. Don’t ditch it to do something more spiritual. God has you doing exactly what He wants you to until He’s ready to give you more. Stay obedient in the silence and God will reward you in due time.
Recently I attended the commencement ceremonies for my alma matter and a friend of mine had been asked to be the keynote speaker. He talked to them about how the Bible says they should dress for success in life. In one of his points, he made the comment, “Be led by obedience to God, not by opportunity.” I stopped and wondered how many times I had confused opportunity with the will of God. It’s natural to think when a great opportunity presents itself that it’s from God. More often than not, those times are tests of our faith to see if we are going to be obedient to what God wants or to do what’s expedient for ourselves.
If you know anything about the story of David in the Bible, you know that after he was anointed King, Saul began to hunt him down to kill him in order to preserve his royal lineage. In I Samuel 24, Saul was hunting David and went into a cave to relieve himself. What he didn’t know was that David and his men were hiding in that very cave. The opportunity presented itself to David to be able to take Saul’s life and assume the throne. It appeared that God had given him the opportunity to fulfill the promise He had made to him.
David’s men saw it as such and spoke to him about it in verse 4. They said, “Now’s your opportunity! Today the Lord is telling you, ‘I will certainly put your enemy into your power, to do as you wish.” His men were led by opportunity instead of obedience and they gave him bad advice. I’m sure they were tired of living in caves and were ready to live in palaces. They saw this as their opportunity to get out of poverty. They knew David had been anointed the next King so this must have been God’s way of making it happen.
David took their suggestion that this was God’s will instead of seeking it out himself. He made a split decision that he regretted. He snuck up next to Saul and couldn’t kill him. Instead, he cut off a piece of his robe. He heard the quiet voice of God in his spirit over the overwhelming voices of his advisors. He chose to obey God instead by not killing him. His conscious bothered him for even cutting Saul’s robe. In verse 6 he said, “I shouldn’t attack the Lords anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him.” He knew the scriptures had said, “Don’t touch God’s anointed.”
The Word of God should overrule any opportunity that presents itself. God will not ask you to do something that is contrary to the Bible. He may allow opportunities to arise in your life, but He will not ask you to chose them over obedience to what He’s already said. It takes wisdom, patience and courage to do what God says even if opportunities present themselves as God’s will for you. Always take time to seek out God’s voice over man’s when opportunity knocks. Don’t just assume it is God giving you what you want. Be led by obedience not by opportunity.