God always enables us to do whatever He requires, yet there may be times when we’re afraid to obey Him because we don’t know what will happen as a result. Sometimes obedience is costly.
However, if we know that He’s our loving heavenly Father who always does what’s best for us, we’ll be able to trust Him and leave all the consequences to Him. Therefore, obeying God means that we:
Recognize that God is the sovereign ruler of this universe. Because He allows human beings the freedom to make choices that sometimes result in heartache, suffering, and even disaster, it may seem like He’s not in control; however, Psalm 103:19 assures us that “His sovereignty rules over all.” When we acknowledge His right as the Creator to reign over the earth, we also recognize our responsibility to submit to Him as our authority.
Have faith. If we’re going to obey God, we must believe what He says. Hebrews 11:6 says, “He who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” The Lord loves us and has chosen the best path for our lives if we will follow Him. But unbelief is the enemy of obedience, and the consequences of rebelling against Him are terrible.
Be courageous. When the Lord picked Joshua to lead His people into the Promised Land, He told him, “Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Josh. 1:9). God knew that as Joshua obeyed, he would face all kinds of difficulties and challenges that required confident boldness. This has been the common experience of all the Lord’s prophets and apostles, and it will be the same for us as well. We must be careful not to let fear stop us from fully obeying the Lord.
Wait upon the Lord. God’s timing is always perfect, but from our perspective, it may seem slow. If we focus on our circumstances or the advice of others, we may be tempted to jump ahead of the Lord, but Isaiah 64:4 says that God “acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.” When we wait for the Lord, we are not sitting idle but are being sensitive to His direction before making decisions. He knows all the facts and the perfect timing for every situation.
Meditate on God’s Word. To obey, we must first know what the Lord wants us to do. That’s why He told Joshua, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it” (Josh. 1:8). To meditate means to mull something over in our minds and reflect on it. If we desire to follow the Lord, the Bible must fill our minds and hearts and become our text for living. Meditation helps us thoughtfully consider His directions, promises, and truths and apply them to our lives. As we read and meditate on His Word, it will challenge us to examine ourselves, and if necessary, change our thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors.
How is your obedience affected by your level of trust in the Lord? When circumstances or outcomes tempt us to doubt, remember that you can rely on Him. Our faith is not blind. God has proven Himself worthy and enables us to handle anything that comes our way.
This article was originally published on January 8, 2016, and is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message “What Does Obedience Require?” which airs this weekend on TV.