Tag Archives: obey

A Bird In Hand

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.


“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” is a proverb so many of us were raised with. From our childhood we are taught that we should hold onto what is certain instead of going for the unsure thing. We are taught that risk isn’t worth it through this proverb. I would even say that this proverb teaches against faith. It wants us to hold on to what we have instead of letting go to see what God might give us.

Abraham was a man who walked by faith. In Genesis 12:1, the Lord said to Abram, “Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s home, and go to a land that I am going to show you” (NLT). In this verse, God is asking Abram to let go of the bird in the hand. He had security where he was. He had his father’s inheritance coming to him and the protection of family too. God was saying, “Walk away from all of this, and I will give you more than you could ever imagine or think of.”

I believe God still speaks that to us today. I believe He calls each one of us to trust Him on a level beyond where we are so that He can give us more than we have. The promise is only good if we let go of the bird in the hand. Abram was promised descendants, a nation, blessings and fame if only he would walk away from everything he knew. I wonder how long he wrestled with it. I wonder how long he questioned if he had really heard from God.

Because Abram was human, you know he had to struggle with these questions just like you and I. The difference is that he was willing let go of the temporary for the eternal. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” God has called you and I to live by the same faith he required of Abram. He calls us to let go of the bird in the hand and to trust Him. When we do, He rewards us with so much more. 

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Immediate Obedience 


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. 

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Strange Obedience 


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?

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Simple Obedience 

  
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.

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Obedience In The Silence

  
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.

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10 Scriptures On Obedience

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1. An undisciplined, self-willed life is puny; an obedient, God-willed life is spacious. (Proverbs 15:32 MSG)

2. Samuel said, “Which does the Lord prefer: obedience or offerings and sacrifices? It is better to obey him than to sacrifice the best sheep to him. (1 Samuel 15:22 GNB)

3. [Live] as children of obedience [to God]; do not conform yourselves to the evil desires [that governed you] in your former ignorance [when you did not know the requirements of the Gospel]. (1 Peter 1:14 AMP)

4. Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. (Ephesians 6:1 NLT)

5. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; (Isaiah 1:19 AMP)

6. Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, (Titus 3:1 ESV)

7. Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19 NLT)

8. For as the human body apart from the spirit is lifeless, so faith apart from [its] works of obedience is also dead. (James 2:26 AMP)

9. “Preach to the people of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem. Tell them this: ‘This is GOD ’s Message, the Message of Israel’s God to you. Anyone who does not keep the terms of this covenant is cursed. The terms are clear. I made them plain to your ancestors when I delivered them from Egypt, out of the iron furnace of suffering. “‘Obey what I tell you. Do exactly what I command you. Your obedience will close the deal. You’ll be mine and I’ll be yours. This will provide the conditions in which I will be able to do what I promised your ancestors: to give them a fertile and lush land. And, as you know, that’s what I did.’” “Yes, GOD,” I replied. “That’s true.” “‘Obey what I tell you. Do exactly what I command you. Your obedience will close the deal. You’ll be mine and I’ll be yours. This will provide the conditions in which I will be able to do what I promised your ancestors: to give them a fertile and lush land. And, as you know, that’s what I did.’” “Yes, GOD,” I replied. “That’s true.” (Jeremiah 11:4-5 MSG)

10. I will give them a new heart and a new mind. I will take away their stubborn heart of stone and will give them an obedient heart. (Ezekiel 11:19 GNB)

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He Simply Obeyed

Joseph, the father of Jesus, has always been one of the people in the Bible that have intrigued me. There’s not much written about him, but he played such an integral role in the story of our salvation. Outside of Jesus, we tend to focus on Mary when we think of the birth of Christ rather than Joseph. We’ll look at her role tomorrow. For today, I want to spend some time looking into the man who would shape the man Jesus would become.

Joseph is mentioned in all four Gospels, but not a word of what he ever said was recorded. I’ve always heard it said that “actions speak louder than words.” If that’s the case, then Joseph speaks volumes. Here’s a man who is engaged to the woman he loves and finds out from her that she’s pregnant. He knows it’s not his. Instead of blowing up and making a big scene, he thinks his response through and decides to handle things quietly so as not to disgrace her publicly. He had every right to have her stoned to death, but he chose not to.

While he was still reeling from the news, an angel visited him and explained that the baby was indeed conceived by God. In Matthew 1:21, Joseph received some amazing news. Not only would he be the earthly father of the Messiah, he would be the one to name Him. God reserved that honor just for Joseph. In verse 24, it says, “When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel commanded.” He didn’t question or argue with God. He simply obeyed at the risk of looking like he had gotten her pregnant before marriage. He took the shame that would have been Mary’s and provided a covering so that Jesus would be born.

The next time we read about Joseph is when the wise men left for home. The angel came back to him at night and said, “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother. Stay there until I tell you to return (Matthew 2:13 NLT).” The next verse says that during the night Joseph left for Egypt. He didn’t even wait until dawn or for Jesus to wake up. He obeyed immediately. Again, he never questioned the angel or God’s plan. He simply obeyed. He was a man of action when it came to obeying the voice of God. I think that’s just who he was as a person too. He was a hard worker, a man who feared God and a man who heard from God.

Joseph heard from the angel one more time. Again, it was at night and the angel said, “Get up! Take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel.” Joseph woke everyone up, packed and headed out before sunrise. He simply obeyed what the angel spoke to him. Mary didn’t argue with him over waking her and the baby up to leave. She knew that he was a man of obedience to God. When he told her God spoke to him, she trusted him. She was obedient as well. Simple obedience is what God desires from each one of us. I believe that’s why Joseph was chosen to be the earthly father of Jesus. It’s a trait that Jesus would see modeled in Joseph and later practiced when He went to the cross. You’ll recall that Jesus said, “Not my will be done, but yours.”

Our lives are built around following our own will. They’re built on doing what’s right for ourselves and making ourselves look good in the eyes of others. Those things are the opposite of what being obedient to God is all about. Joseph was a man of simple obedience. He was a man of few words. A man of action. We could learn a lot from this silent hero in the Bible if we just took some time to listen to his actions. The next time God asks you to do something out of the ordinary or that could paint you in a negative light, will you argue with Him or answer in simple obedience? You won’t have to say a thing. Your actions will speak louder than words.

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