It’s very frustrating to watch my fellow Christians
move about in their daily lives without happiness or any expectation of joy. I
can relate to their situation because I did exactly the same thing for a long
time. Most of my joy, happiness and satisfaction came from work, my family or almost
any sort of success. However, those feelings were always temporary and still
left me generally unfulfilled as a person. I knew what I really needed to do,
but rarely did it. That’s because it involved the “O” word. Obey.
My relationship with God was like a foot race. I was
either running to him (when I had problems and needed help) or running away
from him (when it came to doing the things that I knew I should be doing
according to his Word). Although it took some tough love on his part, the Lord
finally reached into my brain and turned on the lights.
During moments of anxiety, depression or when I was
knee deep in some sort of a problem, I would read the Bible. It was during one
of those sessions that I discovered these verses from the King James Version
Old Testament biblical book of I Samuel, chapter fifteen and verse twenty-two: “And
Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than
sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”
God opened a door for me that day. I started to
ponder all the things that I had learned about Christian living through my
study of the Bible, the preaching and teaching that I heard in church and my
own experiences in helping to establish and build local churches in various
places throughout the USA. It dawned on me that I, and many other Christians, were living unhappy and unfilled lives because we were not obeying God.
When I thought about obedience, it always seemed
like some kind of nasty, negative activity that involved people acting as mechanical
robots: I never though about it as a way to gain spiritual and even material
fulfillment. I prayed, but couldn’t understand why my prayers always seemed to
go unanswered. Then that verse hit me right between the eyes: “…to obey is better than sacrifice”. Talk
about a wake up call!
My mind was drawn to another set of verses in the
King James Version New Testament biblical book of Matthew, chapter six and
verses twenty-four to thirty-three:
"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the
one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the
other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no
thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for
your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body
than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they
reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not
much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto
his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the
field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto
you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to
morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little
faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we
drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the
Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all
these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and
all these things shall be added unto you.”
It dawned on me that I had everything backward. I was looking for help from God while in
a state of disobedience. Due to various circumstances that now seem to me as
worthless excuses, I was not regularly attending church, reading the Bible,
praying as regular as I should, giving my tithe, visiting those that needed it
or attempting to witness and win souls. In short, I wanted everything from God
and was not willing to do even the most basic things that he asks of all
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
That particular portion of Scripture stung me even worse than the previous one about obedience. I knew
that it was time to take a spiritual inventory, and that task is never a
pleasant one for any disobedient Christian. I came up with a short list of
basic things that I knew God wanted me and every other Believer to do:
READ THE WORD OF GOD
The Bible tells us in the King James Version New Testament biblical book of
Second Timothy, chapter two and verse fifteen: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
You cannot understand God, His Will for your life or even the perform the simplest of tasks that he asks us to do
without reading, studying or comprehending His Word. And, you cannot do it
alone. No one becomes a Christian unless someone else shares God’s Plan of Salvation
with them from the Bible. The King James Version New Testament biblical book of
Romans, chapter ten and verse seventeen states:
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
The King James Version New Testament biblical book of Romans gives us everything we need to be saved from eternal torment in Hell. It explains that no matter how good we think we are, we will
never be good enough to make it to Heaven by our own works:
"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (Romans 3:10).
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23).
It also explains how that Adam’s first sin in the Garden of Eden caused every person from then
on to be born with a sinful nature:
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” (Romans 5:12).
We discover there is a wage for our sins, but also
that God offers His Son as a payment for our sins if we are willing to accept
him as our Savior:
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23).
We’re told that all we need to do to accept this gift is to pray and ask Jesus to be our
personal Savior, therefore paying for all of our sins past, present and future:
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine
heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
If we trust God for our Salvation, why don’t we trust him to meet our material and
spiritual needs? The answer is simple: no one likes the idea of obedience.
I can relate to that, but I have discovered that there is no short cut. I also
learned that obeying God is for OUR SAKES, not for his. That statement may surprise
you, but consider the next step of obeying the Lord:
ATTEND CHURCH AND FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD’S PEOPLE
The Bible tells us in the King James Version New Testament biblical book of
Hebrews, chapter ten and verses twenty-three to twenty-five:
"Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that
promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some
is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day
Most people believe that God wants them to go to church to worship him. However, is
that what the previous verse states? There is no doubt that we need to worship
God, but we do that by paying homage to the Lord, giving him praise and honor
through song, word and deed. However, the primary reason that God wants us to
attend the services of a Bible-believing, Bible-preaching and soul winning
church is for the edification of ourselves and others. We are edified by
learning the word, experiencing Christian fellowship and participating in
things which bring glory to God. Church attendance also provides us the opportunity
to perform several other acts of obedience.
GIVE THE LORD A PORTION OF YOUR EARNINGS
The Bible provides some simple examples of what God expects from Believers when it comes to giving. First, he says we are to give him a portion of what we make. This practice began in the Old Testament under the law that required a specific system of giving. The King James Version Old Testament biblical
book of Malachi states in chapter three, verses eight to ten:
"Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now
herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of
heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to
The tithe (tenth part of an income) is something that I do not believe that Christians MUST give to satisfy God. Instead, under the new covenant that replaces the old, we are expected to give a portion of what God has given each of us, some more than others. There is nothing wrong with giving a tenth of your income and if you feel that is what God wants you to do, than do it. However, if the Lord has blessed you with great wealth, it would be wise to give of your increase and not just a set amount.
Riches can be a trap used by the Devil to keep you away from God. I am sorry to say that I have not met any wealthy people that were able to enjoy what they have during my life so far. Most spend all of their time worrying about making more or just keeping the riches they have. Others use their wealth to feed unhealthy habits and end up buried so deeply in sin that it's unlikely that they will ever come up for air long enough to seek God.
The Bible gives us some very clear warnings about wealth and riches, so I believe we should take heed when it comes to these verses:
"And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." - New Testament - Matthew 19:16-24 KJV
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. - New Testament - Matthew 6:24-33 KJV
Offerings are not just about money, they are also about the giving of time and effort. Many people work hard all week long and think nothing of going out at night during the work week for one amusement or another. Yet when it's time to attend a mid-week or Sunday church service, they moan and groan about how tired they are and how hard they worked all week. They reluctantly open their wallet, billfold or purse when the offering plate comes by and feel that God and their local church pastor have conspired to pick their pocket of the few crumbs they have managed to save for that purpose. And do not even try to ask these folks to help out with any church activities! After all, they reason, isn't it bad enough that they have to actually go to church and give money? Now the pastor and church leaders have the nerve to ask them to participate in God's Work.
People like that give their best to themselves and offer God whatever meager amounts of time and money they have left or feel that they can spare. Now before you think that I am coming down on them too hard, please note that I believe at some point I was like them and maybe you were too. That probably came from not knowing any better. But once we understand what God expects of us, we should be willing to display the faith we claim to have through giving of our time and effort.
The Lord uses the time, effort and money that Christians give to help local churches meet their
earthly needs and further the work of spreading of the Gospel among the lost. But more importantly, the giving of one's time, effort and money becomes a point of contact between you and God. By obeying Him in the matter of the giving of time, effort and money, you show your willingness to obey and seek him and place him FIRST in your life above all else. This is an important step in the life of every Christian that can bring a great deal of happiness and fulfillment.
When it comes to the matter of giving and serving the Lord, we must also use good stewardship. That means we have to follow the examples offered in the Word of God. If you give to a ministry where the primary goal is to just get as much money coming in as possible or build the biggest building available, do not expect God to bless you. I know of churches where pastors feel that their congregation is not doing enough unless they are driving the best of cars and living in circumstances that seem far above the need.
We are supposed to be sure that those who serve us as pastors or other church employees are well cared for, but I believe that is to be within reason. The same is true of church buildings. Any ministry is obligated to balance what is needed verses excess. And most importantly, what will please God, help to save sinners and bring Christians in for worship and growth.
Part of good stewardship also means understanding that giving to the Lord is not like investing in the stock market or a money market fund. We give to God with no expectation, other than the fact that you are in obedience to his Word. Anyone that watches television knows that almost all TV Preachers talk about giving as a kind of SEED FAITH. They appear to teach that God is some sort of Heavenly Banker who spends all his time watching what people give to these various ministries and that he rewards those that decide to support them. In short, GIVE with an expectation that you will GET. Where is that in the Bible?
If you choose to give an offering to a TV preacher, visiting evangelist, missionary or some Christian organization that you believe is doing the work of the Lord, that’s fine. But give from your heart and without expectation. I recently saw a TV Preacher tell his audience that if they need money, they should go and borrow ten dollars from their neighbor, send it to him so that God can provide for their needs! That is not only not Biblical; it’s also unethical in my view. Equally important is that fact that before you give anything to any ministry, make sure that your own local church and those who do the Lord's Work there are taken care of first and foremost.
In the matter of offerings and God's attitude towards them, we have a biblical example, Let’s take a quick look at the King James Version New Testament biblical book of Mark, chapter twelve and verses forty-one to forty-four:
"And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the
treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor
widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto
him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor
widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For
all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all
that she had, even all her living.”
The widow that Jesus honored in the Word of God is unnamed, but we are still reading
about her and her gift some two thousand years after she performed that action.
She gave “of her want.” Does that mean that she expected something in return?
That’s not what the Bible says or means. That verse clearly illustrates that
the widow had made a conscious decision to give all she had to God. She WANTED
to do that, with no expectation. And Jesus promised her no reward in that
section of the Word. Why? Because we have already learned that God tells us "...seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Jesus honored the widow’s offering because the others that gave did so to bring themselves personal glory. They
took a small amount of what we might describe as some huge stash of cash that they had
and made a big deal about giving it to the Lord in front of their friends and
fellow worshippers. The widow simply determined to give what she had to the
Lord and that was that. That brings us to the next step of obedience to God:
PRAY TO THE LORD
The Bible gives us several solid examples of prayer: we’re told how to pray,
how often to pray, what to pray for and what to expect in response. Consider
“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door,pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain
repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. After this manner
therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and
the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” - New Testament - Matthew 6:5-13 (KJV)
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that
asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye
then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” - New Testament - Matthew 7:7-11 (KJV)
“Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing
that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the
midst of them.” - New Testament - Matthew 18:19-20 (KJV)
We are given The Lord’s Prayer as a model to get us started. When we pray by
ourselves, we are to do so on a daily basis, often, and as the Lord
individually leads us in private and not make a big thing of it. When we pray together, we are to agree on the prayer requests and seek the Lord in prayer. Prayer is ASKING and God promises to respond. The King
James Version New Testament biblical book of James makes it clear in chapter
four and verse three that God may sometimes say NO because we are asking for
the wrong thing: “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may
consume it upon your lusts.”
However, it’s also clear that the Holy Spirit can help correct the errors we make in our prayers by praying for
us. The Bible states in the King James Version New Testament biblical book of
Romans, chapter eight and verses twenty-six and twenty-seven: “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our
infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for
us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts
knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."
The Christian Life is all about physical and spiritual balance and that comes as a result of obedience to God. It's also a progressive process that begins when we decide to obey him. We learn what God expects of us through His Word. We learn his Word by reading it and hearing it preached and taught in church. We respond to the needs of the church and the people of God as we meet and visit the house of the Lord and meet his people. Prayer helps us decide what we should do about those needs and good stewardship helps us to avoid wasting our time and financial resources. When we are in obedience to God, we use our time and resources in ways that please the Lord and bring blessings to many. All these things move us forward to participation in various church ministries and activities.
PARTICIPATE IN VISITATION AND SOUL WINNING TO FULFILL THE BIBLICAL TEACHING OF THE PRIESTHOOD OF BELIEVERS
Most people do not understand that just attending church
services, giving and saying our prayers is not quite enough when it comes to
being obedient to the Will of the Living God. He wants us to represent him in a
very real manner by visiting other Christians (bringing errant ones back to God and encouraging others) and leading sinners to Christ. Consider these verses:
“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then
shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all
nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth
his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the
goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come,
ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the
foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was
thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and
ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto
me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an
hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a
stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee
sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto
them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least
of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” - New Testament - Matthew 25: 31-40 (KJV)
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” Old Testament - Proverbs 11:30 (KJV)
“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to
offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” - New Testament - I Peter 2:5 (KJV)
“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and
preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every
disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with
compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having
no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous,
but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he
will send forth labourers into his harvest.” - New Testament - Matthew 9:35-38 (KJV)
“And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” - New Testament - Luke 14:23 (KJV)
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word,
that ye may grow thereby:” - New Testament - I Peter 2:2 (KJV)
"Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." - New Testament - Matthew 18: 15-20 (KJV)
Not all Christians are called to be Pastors, Deacons, Missionaries, Elders, and
Teachers; or to hold some other ordained or appointed office in the local
church. However, we are all called to be a part of “an holy priesthood” and, therefore, should participate in visitation and soul winning programs at our local church. We are told to visit the sick, those in prison and help those in need when we can. We’re commanded to “compel” lost sinners to come to Christ. We’re
also to help new Believers to learn the Word of God and encourage them to
come to church services. We are to help those who have fallen away from the Lord to return again and come back to church and the fellowship of Christians. We can do these things as members of a church, or
individually, or both.
BAPTISM AND CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
People who have been saved (born again) need to be baptized and join a local, Bible-believing,
Bible-Preaching church filled with people that love God and have a desire to serve
him. The Bible clearly states in the King James Version New Testament book of
Mark, chapter sixteen and verse sixteen: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Baptism is not necessary for salvation, but it is an important step of obedience for Believers. Water Baptism illustrates the death of our old, sinful selves (as we go down into the water) and our rebirth through belief that Christ died for our sins (as we come back up again). It is not only an example to ourselves, but allows others in the local church to see that we have made a decision to accept Jesus as our Savior and begin to live a Christian Life. Water Baptism is a perfect illustration of being Born-Again.
"There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." - New Testament - John 3: 1-8 (KJV)
The Bible also states in the King James Version New Testament book of Hebrews chapter ten and verses twenty-two to twenty-five: "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." Baptism, church membership and regular attendence is a must for those seeking to obey the Lord and grow in His Grace.
If much of what I have brought to you seems foreign, perhaps you have never actually given your heart to the Lord Jesus, accepting God's FREE GIFT of salvation. If you have never actually given your heart to Jesus and do not know for sure that you are going to heaven when you die, I suggest that you immediately go to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to come into your life and pay for your sins. Tell him that you admit being a sinner and that you accept the gift of Jesus’ death on the cross as payment for your sins. If you do that, God will
save you from Hell and you will be able to be sure of going to Heaven when you die. You will not have to guess or wonder about it any more. Your sincere request that the Lord save you will bring immediate results and you will not have to worry about it ever again.
If you’re already a Christian and simply haven’t taken the simple steps of obedience that I have outlined to you, it’s time to OBEY God. OBEY is not a nasty word with all kinds of legalistic
connotations. It’s merely a Biblical FACT OF LIFE and something that you need
to do FOR YOURSELF. You will not only honor the Lord, but you’ll start on the
correct path (which is also the shortest route) to real material and spiritual
If you have any questions about what you have read here, please feel free to email your questions, concerns, comments or even prayer requests to me: firstname.lastname@example.org