GROWING IN OBEDIENCE…

PSALMS 32:8-11: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will advise you with My eye upon you. Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, Otherwise they will not come near to you. The sorrows of the wicked are many, But the one who trusts in the Lord, goodness will surround him. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones; And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.” NASB

OBSERVATION: What is the most important area in my life? Is it to grow in knowledge and wisdom? It is to show compassion and mercy? Is it to stand up for truth and justice? Is it to grow in godly character?

All of these are important. However, all of these are dependent upon one thing. They are dependent upon my obedience. I can gain all the knowledge and wisdom the world has to offer but without obedience, I will not know how to use them. Without obedience, my best efforts to show love, compassion, and mercy will be misguided. And, without obedience, I will not be able to discern the truth and I will confuse God’s justice.

Jesus likened the Kingdom of God to the faith of a small child. He said,

  • “…Allow the children to come to Me, and do not forbid them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” Luke‬ ‭18‬:‭16‬-‭17‬ ‭NASB

What are the characteristics of a small child? First, they believe. Their faith is simple and sincere. They have a heart filled with trust and are willing to believe and receive. A small child is also obedient. When their father or mother asks them to do something they are eager and quick to respond. However, the older they get the more they begin to question, doubt and resist.

Jesus welcomed the small children and then He was approached by a rich young adult. This young man was a ruler among the people. He asked Jesus how he could inherit eternal life. Jesus listed several of the commandments and the rich young ruler gladly responded that he had kept these from his youth. Yet, Jesus knew that this young man was bound by covetousness. So, Jesus challenged him,

  • “…One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Luke‬ ‭18‬:‭22‬ ‭NASB

What would the young ruler do? Would he obey Jesus’ command or would he walk away? This young man did not lack in his interest. However, the one thing he did lack was in his obedience! In fact, it was his lack of obedience that kept him from the Kingdom of God!

  • “But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely wealthy. And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” Luke‬ ‭18‬:‭23‬-‭24‬ ‭NASB

The Psalmist reminds us of the importance of obedience. God does not call us to blind obedience. He is not expecting us to obey without understanding. He promises to teach us, advise us, and watch over us each step of the way.

  • “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will advise you with My eye upon you.”

Yet, we are called to guard our hearts. The rich young ruler’s heart was filled with covetousness and this kept him from responding in obedience. God is looking for those who will respond with childlike hearts that are willing to obey Him freely, joyfully, and fully. Therefore, the Psalmist warns us,

  • “Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, Otherwise they will not come near to you.”

You have heard the expression – “He’s as stubborn as a mule!” Try guiding a mule without bit and bridle. I guarantee you that you will have a fight on your hands. How many times are we like an unruly mule? God will never force us to obey Him. He will always invite us and provide the grace we need to respond in obedience. He wants His children to obey Him freely, joyfully, and fully!

I believe that if the rich young ruler would have cried out – “Jesus, help me, I want to obey you, but I don’t have the strength to, have mercy on me!” – the whole story would have ended differently. Yet, this young man was like a stubborn mule. He heard the call of Jesus to sell all he had, give it to the poor, and follow Him, and he walked away disobedient.

Choosing to obey is not always easy. Yet, it is always the best choice that lies before us. To obey God’s Word in our life is to align our lives with the best expression of God’s love and provision. It is to walk into the will of God and discover our destiny. It is to live in the continual flow of His Spirit, grace, and forgiveness. The Psalmist closes these thoughts with a contrast and a promise.

  • “The sorrows of the wicked are many, But the one who trusts in the Lord, goodness will surround him. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones; And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.”

Here are the choices. Disobedience will bring sorrow. Obedience will bring God’s goodness and favor. Everything we are hungering for and looking for in life will be found as we live in the Kingdom of God like a humble, trusting, and obedient child.

Lord, I desire to grow in my obedience to Your Word and the still small voice of Your Holy Spirit. I repent that much of my life has resembled the stubbornness of a mule. Grant me the grace I need to live like a child and to embrace the Kingdom of God with all my heart, my soul, my mind, and my obedience!

In Jesus’ Name!

About Kirk's Devotional Journal

Kirk L. Zehnder is the Founder of Resurrection Christian Outreach. RCO is a ministry that promotes the growth and vitality of the local church through speaking engagements, seminars, various media tools, and written curriculum and books. This ministry was started over 35 years ago by Kirk as a means to strengthen the church that he was pastoring. It grew as Kirk began to share these tools with other churches. Today many of the materials are being used by local churches both nationally and internationally. Kirk's Devotional Journal is a result of struggling with Bible reading programs that never seemed to work. Kirk feels the Lord helped him discover an easy-to-follow program to Read, Reflect, Pray, and Journal through the Bible in one year. This program is called L.I.F.E. Unlike other programs there are no dates to follow. You can miss a day and still complete your reading. You never feel like the dates and verses you missed are chasing you. You are free to enjoy your daily Biblical journey and listen to the voice of The Lord. For more information on the L.I.F.E. plan, send an email to rcoutreach@aol.com. Kirk is also available for speaking engagements, seminars, and retreats. With over 40 years of professional business and pastoral ministry experience, Kirk brings a unique combination of practical wisdom, humor, and Biblical insight. If you would like Kirk to speak at your church, school, or ministry, please send an email to rcoutreach@aol.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible to discuss your opportunity.
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