I’ve been reading through Leviticus and Numbers lately. I know. Who reads through Leviticus and Numbers?
Obedience. Worship. Lists. Rules. Count this group. Assign this task. Offer that sacrifice.
And we can’t help but wonder why?
What is the message of these two hard to read and harder to process Old Testament books?
In Leviticus, Israel is camped around the base of Mount Sinai while God meets with Moses giving laws that set His people apart from the nations around them.
What set God’s laws apart?
Love. His love for people and His desire for them to love Him and love each other.
Every law of God is based on love.
Jesus summed it up in His conversation with an expert in Moses Law:
Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Luke 10:26–27
Obeying God is an act of love and failure to obey . . . well, it feels like a lack of love.
Obedience is not a way to earn God’s love and favor. God has already given us His love and favor. Obedience is our worshipful loving response to everything He has already given.
I remember when our children would stand up tall, puff out their little chests, cross their arms and say, “I can do it myself.”
And you know what? That’s exactly what I’m doing when I regress into a “good little church girl” mode . . . I know the rules and I can keep them all by myself.
Or the times they said, “I don’t want to.” AKA “NO.”
I have a friend who tells the story of the day her young son ran out in the street. She’d told him a million times it was dangerous but they day he decided to test the boundaries.
So, she grabbed him out of the street and took him inside and had a moment of “discipline.” She asked him to sit and think about it and after several minutes asked him if he was ready to go outside and try again.
He said he was . . . so out they went.
Guess what? As soon as they got outside he looked over at her and promptly ran out into the street.
She told that pattern repeated a half dozen times that day.
I’m happy to say her strong-willed child has grown into a wonderful adult.
Truth is, I’m like that too.
When I’m impatient, quarrelsome, selfish, jealous . . . you get the idea.
Any time I fail to love well, I’m disobeying. I know God wants me to love well but I still “run out into the street.”
So, I’m trying to change my thinking. I don’t want to think of obedience as following God’s list of rules. Going forward I want to think of obedience as an act of worship.
I made a simple acrostic to help me remember.
O – Only = W the addition of anyone or anything. A Solely. Exclusively Only God’s Way – given in love for my good.
B – Because = For this reason or due to the fact that. I choose to obey because of all that God has done for me.
E – Empty = Containing nothing of its own. Being empty of my own stubborn selfish attitude. Worshipful obedience is not about me.
Y – Yielding = To give up, give in . . . to surrender. Yielding to God’s will. Surrendering to His plans and purposes by the power of His Holy Spirit.
Put it all together…
I am able to obey God’s Law of Love—Only Because (I am) Empty and Yielding.
Yielding love reminds me of the movie The Princess Bride. I love the moment when Buttercup realizes that every time Westley says, “As you wish,” he is really saying, “I love you.”
It’s what Jesus said in obedience in the Garden of Gethsemane.
“Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Mark 14:36
When you and I empty ourselves of stubborn pride and selfishness yielding to God’s plans and purposes with an attitude of loving worship we’re saying, “as You wish,” — “because I love You.”
“I want your will to be done.”
A theme of the Bible from beginning to end is that God loves people . . . every rule and command comes from a loving Father who wants our lives to be blessed and beautiful. And obedience is our loving worshipful response to Him.
The fact is, I can’t do it myself. On my own, I will continue to try to be “a good little church girl” or “run into the street.” But with God’s help, I can surrender . I can be empty and yielding.
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
With my heart and mind focused on God’s all-sufficient grace, His healing mercy and perfect love I can surrender all and worshipfully obey trusting His will is for my good and His glory.
It takes obedience out of the “have to follow the rules” category and puts it into the “get to worship” one.
And like everything else, it’s all about my attitude. Where my heart is.
Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. Luke 12:34
And the desire of my heart is to trust and obey my Father.
To know without any doubt His will is best because He loves me. Then I will enthusiastically respond with “As You wish, Father.”
Quotes to Remember Obedience is Worship
“True worship is obedience to God for no other reason than that you delight in God.” ~J. D. Greear
Loving God means keeping His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:4
“It’s one thing to worship and praise God at church; it’s quite another to move out into the real world and worship Him through daily obedience.” ~Dave Branon
So brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy, I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship. Romans 12:1
“God created us for this: to live our lives in a way that makes him look more like the greatness and the beauty and the infinite worth that he really is. This is what it means to be created in the image of God.” ~John Piper
Father, by your grace, help us to worship You through obedient living. In Jesus name. Amen.
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Faith ‘n Friends Link Party
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by Dawn Klinge
@ Above the Waves
Last Friday a gunman entered a mall and killed five people. My mind has gone back to this news, over and again, often, over these past days- more than is usual for these types of things. It happened less than sixty miles from where I live, and when I first heard the news, I had only just returned from a shopping trip at a different mall. I know people in the community where it happened. It was too close to home.
How to be Spiritually Fit
by Valerie Murray
@ Cord of 6
Every Friday, I drag myself to the gym and stand in line for the most intense workout of my week—cycle class. It’s here that I know I’ll be pushed to my limits. I feel like I’m literally going to die or fall off my bike because my heart is going to explode from beating so fast.
Thank you, Dawn and Valerie, for partying with us!
No More Rules Link Party
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