Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Obedience (01/31/05)
TITLE: Choice Spoils
By Cheri Hardaway
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Mankind is born into a life-long spiritual struggle: “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore, choose life, that both you and your descendants may live,” – Deuteronomy 30:19 (NKJV). So instructed, there is a choice to be made. To obey or not to obey - that is the question comprising the struggle in which people find themselves. Webster’s Dictionary defines “obey” this way: “to follow the commands or guidance of; to conform to or comply with.” Likewise, The New American Dictionary defines “obedient” as being “submissive.”
Throughout scripture, obedience is portrayed as a virtue to be diligently sought, for it brings upon its acquisition great blessings, while its opposite, disobedience, yields curses.
• Genesis 28:1&2 (NKJV) instructs: “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments...all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you...”
• Genesis 28:15 (NKJV) warns: “But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments...all these curses will come upon you and overtake you...”
Therefore, it becomes obvious that a study of obedience will be incomplete without a parallel examination of disobedience.
God’s word is replete with illustrations of both obedient and disobedient people. Abraham was told by God to leave his country and his family, to go to a land that God would show him. Jonah was instructed also “to go” (to Nineveh). Abraham became the father of many nations because he chose to obey, while Jonah found himself in a whale’s belly (Ugh!) because he chose to disobey. Two Old Testament leaders serve also as good examples. A conquered Jericho was Joshua’s reward for compliance with God’s command to march his troops around the walls of that city for seven days. The Israelite victory also recompensed Joshua's troops, who must have thought him crazy when he informed them that God would bring Jericho’s walls down with only shouting and a trumpet’s blast. Saul, however, was soundly rebuked for disobedience: “But now your kingdom shall not continue…. because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you,” – 1Samuel 13:14 (NKJV). Simon demonstrated submission in Luke 5:5 (NKJV), when he said, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” The resultant blessing was described in Luke 5:9 (NKJV): “For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken.” But the rich young ruler in Luke 18 was not so fortunate when instructed to sell all that he had and distribute it to the poor. Unable to comply, he became very sorrowful. He missed out on an opportunity for blessing.
Natural scientific laws, such as gravity, are easily substantiated and readily accepted by people. However, this same populace may balk when told there are equally valid spiritual laws in operation in our universe. Revealing these spiritual laws clearly, the battlefield of choice is where all mankind finds itself, by necessity of being human and having the ability to reason. People are promised in Deuteronomy 28:8 that the Lord will command the blessing on them in their storehouses and in all to which they set their hand, and He will bless them for their obedience. In contrast, they are guaranteed in Deuteronomy 28:20 that the Lord will send on them cursing, confusion, and rebuke in all that they do, for failing to remember His commands. Because God is truth, one cannot defy His spiritual laws and avoid the consequences, just as one cannot step off the top of the Empire State Building without plummeting to the ground below. Laws are laws.
Choices are inevitable. Obedient choices bless. Disobedient choices curse. Both blessings and curses overflow from their recipients into the lives of those closest to them. What if Noah had not built the ark? What if Christ had refused the misery of the cross? With so many examples, what makes obedience such a difficult choice? The battle. This battle we all face is one of wills – our will or His. Submission to our own will, doing things our own way, will spoil His intended blessings. Surrendering to His will by doing as He instructs, will bear blessings and produce the choicest of spoils, hearts right with God.
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