Skip to main content

Continuing on with our series Soar, reading the scripture that our series is based on from Isaiah 40:31. I’m reading from the New Living Translation. It says but those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. We’re talking about this in a series titled Soar, as in taking flight. Ascending from where you are now, and going into everything that God has in store for you.

Isaiah 40:31 ESV but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Obedience – Ps Noa Folau

We've covered subjects such as honour, humility, unforgiveness and generosity. These are all principles that will help your life elevate, based on the word that Pastor Ben received from God for our church for 2022 and that is that we are on the fly. Last year 2021 we were on the rise.

Today I’m going to discuss a subject that is difficult because it's probably the most unpopular subject in this series. It's kind of looked down on in our kind of culture, in our generation. It's something that's kind of seen as something that's weak and so it's a tough subject to cover. I'm going to do my best and today we’re going to talk on the subject of obedience.

So, obedience. It's like one of those terms nowadays, it seems like an antiquated, an old-fashioned kind of word because no one wants to be seen as kind of subservient or weak willed and it kind of, you know, someone that just obeys but I want to talk about biblical obedience in particular.

Biblical Obedience

In fact, the word obedience comes from the original word is and it literally means to come under what you hear. It means to come under the word. You've heard God speak and so it means to actually come under the authority. It's actually the same as submission. Sub meaning under, that's where we get the word submarine from under the marine, under the water, subheading, it's that underneath the main heading. Submission simply just means to come under the mission. They come under the mission of the organization you're a part of, the church you're in.

Even the marriage that you're in. Hello, it's to come under single ladies. if you are being courted right now, just ask the bloke. What's your mission? Let me just see if you're worth me submitting to. Let me just see if it's worth me coming under that mission that you have in life. I want to know specifically.

So, that's really what obedience is implying to come under what we're hearing from God. In Deuteronomy 11 and this is a really interesting passage of scripture and I’m just going to summarise this. God is speaking through Moses to the people of Israel. To God's people. This is the summary of what obedience brings. It's basically if you obey you will be blessed if you disobey you will be cursed. So, that is basically the simplified version of what Moses is saying to God's people in Deuteronomy.

He says, behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse. The blessing if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord, your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today.

It's really simple. If you want to be blessed, obey God's commandments. If you want to be cursed, then reject his commandments and go your own way. In Romans 5:19, the apostle Paul says, for as by one man's disobedience, many were made sinners. So also by one man's obedience many will be made righteous.

Romans 5:19 ESV For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.

There is this contrast. He's saying the first Adam was disobedient in the Garden of Eden, as a result of that sin entered into the world and eventually death. But the second Adam was obedient in the Garden of Gethsemane. As a result of that salvation and life came out of his act of obedience.

So here's this here's what is happening and basically under the Old Covenant, in the Old Testament, the act of obedience was based on the law. It was based on obeying the law, obeying the commandments. Jesus comes in the New Testament not to remove or erase the law, not to remove or erase what the law said but to fulfill it.

John 14:15 tells us Jesus’ take on this. He says, if you really love me, you will keep and obey my commandments. Notice the switch there. We have the old covenant law but under the new covenant love. Jesus is saying, it is no longer based on you just obeying. Because the religious leaders were great at obeying the law but they weren’t when it came to love.

John 14:15 ESV “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

Jesus is saying, no, no, no. The proof that you follow me, the proof that you belong to me is by your love. It is not in your ability to memorize scripture. It's not in how much you give or how great your church attendance is. All of that is great and it's necessary but he says, no, no, no. It is actually evident by your obedience. Your obedience communicates how much you love me.

Matthew 23:27 actually tells us what we’re actually meant to be obedient to. I love the fact that Jesus simplifies everything. Because in the Old Testament there were hundreds and hundreds of laws and commandments. Jesus simplifies it in Matthew 23:27. Jesus says to the Pharisees who are talking about the great commandments. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it. You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Matthew 23:27 ESV And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

He's saying here's what you need to do. Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and body. Everything. Love your neighbour like you love yourself. Putting them before yourself. Putting them first. So he basically summarised that. He said everything that the prophets and the law talk about in the Old Testament - if you do these two you will actually fulfill all the rest. 

That’s why I'm talking about obedience today because I believe that for many of us, there is something that God has been speaking to us about that maybe we haven't been obedient to and and I've come today not to point fingers, not to condemn, not to highlight anyones faults. 

If I'm going to start with myself, if I do that, maybe it is just a reminder that God's grace is here. His grace empowers us to be obedient to the things that maybe we find difficult. Obedient to the things that maybe we don't want to do. I believe that as we do that our lives will soar. Our lives will ascend. They will go to another level. Amen.

Partial Obedience

So before we go into what obedience is and what it brings. I thought maybe we need to highlight what is partial obedience. what gets passed off for obedience but it's not really obedience. It's really disobedient. And so the first thing I want to look at is partial obedience. Partial obedience. Just doing part of what you're told.

King Saul’s Disobedience

The great example of this is the tragic story of King Saul. The first king of Israel. Saul had an issue with pride. He was forever building monuments to himself when he should have just been obedient to what God was asking him. If you have a living king of your enemies he becomes like a trophy that you can parade around and say look what we've done. Look at this guy. You know he's now my prisoner. So he has left him alive and they have taken the best of the herds and the flocks and they've kept it for themselves.

Samuel walks in and this is what he says to Saul. Why haven't you obeyed the Lord? Really he's saying you had one job mate. You had one job. Why did you rush for the plunder and do what was evil in the Lord's sight. But I did obey the Lord. Saul insisted. I carried out the mission he gave me. I brought back King Agag. But I destroyed everyone else. You noticed that partial obedience. Then my troops took the best of the sheep, goats, cattle, and plunder to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgag.

Samuels reply. Listen to this. What is more pleasing to the Lord? Your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen. Obedience is better than sacrifice. And submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. 

So because you rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you as king. Partial obedience. It is doing what Gods asked us to do but doing it on our terms. God's saying, no, no, no, that's actually disobedience.

Delayed Obedience

The second one I want to talk about is delayed obedience. In Genesis 19, we hear this story about a gentleman by the name of Lot, Abraham’s nephew. He is living in a little town called Sodom. God is about to bring judgment on this city. What we find here is God attempts to rescue Lot.

Genesis 19:15-16, says this. When morning dawned the angels who had been sent to rescue Lot and his family. They urged Lot to hurry saying, get up. Take your wife and two daughters who are here and go or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city but Lot hesitated and lingered. The men took hold of his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters because the lord was merciful to him for Abraham's sake and they brought him out and left him outside the city with his family.

Genesis 19:15-16 ESV 15 As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” 16 But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.

What you need to know about this story is there were two angels that were sent to rescue Lot and his family. Those two angels, they arrived the sun was setting. They spent the the entire night trying to get Lot and his family out. For some reason, Lot, the Bible says, he lingered. Maybe it was the familiarity of of of Sodom. Maybe it was the unbelief that he couldn't survive outside of the city but it came to the point as the sun was rising that the angels pretty much just said, enough's enough. Grab them and said, lets go. We've gotta run.

It is delayed obedience that actually brought disaster on Lot. If you know the story, his wife turns back and she looks back even though they were told, do not turn around. She becomes a pillar of salt. He negotiates where they are going to go. They were instructed to go to the mountains. He says, let me just settle in this little nearby town called Zoa and so, they settled there.

As a result of that later on, they go to the mountains. He has an incestuous relationship with his daughters they then produce a people that become a a hindrance to the the children of Israel later on. All of this happened because there was a delay due to unbelief. That delayed obedience was really disobedience.

Many years ago I visited a church in Brisbane and it was a beautiful looking church and and just completed this amazing renovation inside where they were able to enlarge their their capacity for seating and also their stage and the Pastor later on who was telling me this story about a gentleman that came in first after they had completed the renovation and they noticed this elderly gentleman.

He would sit up the back and he would just weep. He would just weep and the team went up and tried to see if he was okay, but he would just leave. Then, finally, he did this a few weeks in a row and then, the Pastor managed to get him and they went aside and he said, what is it? This gentleman ended up talking about the fact that over 20 years ago, he was actually the Pastor of this church and he pulled out some plans and he unrolled it. They were designs and the plans which were exactly what the church had just built. The reason why he was weeping was because he said God told me to do this over 20 years ago.

I said I would do it eventually and I couldn't do it right then because what would the people think? Thinking about the finances and do we really need this. What happened is unfortunate circumstances they had change of a couple of times change of leadership. As a result of that he walks in and he sees what God had actually told him to do. Completed by someone else. It's incredible because you know he then had to live with the weight of that regret, if I had just stepped out in faith.

I’ve mentioned this before about the great evangelist Reinhard Bonnke, you know, who touched nations but in particular, the great continent of Africa and he was talking one day to God and he said, Lord, why did you choose me? Why did you choose me to do this great work? He was shocked at God's response when God said, actually, you weren’t my first choice. In fact, you weren't my second choice. So, the great Reinhard Bonke, one of the greatest evangelists in human history, ended up being the third person on God's list but the reason why he ended up doing it, is because the other two said no. However he said, here I am, send me. Here I am. I'll do it and I'll do it now. I'm not going to wait until it's convenient. I will do it now and as a result, his legacies continues to live on. Delayed obedience. It's really disobedience.

Selective Obedience

Finally the last one and this is my favourite because I'm guilty of this. We maybe all are. It’s selective obedience. It's treating the Bible like a buffet. Let me get some of that. Let me get a little bit of this, but I'm not having any of that.

The Young Rich Ruler

We see this in the illustration or the example that Jesus has with a certain young man known as the rich ruler. In Mark 10:17, it says, they were going out on the road. One came running, knelt before him and asked him, good teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? Notice his posture. He's done everything right. It's a posture of worship, submission. What should I do?

Jesus says to him, why do you call me good? No one is good but one, that is God. You know the commandments? Don't commit adultery. Dont murder. Don't steal, Don't bear false witness. Don't defraud. Honour your father and your mother. He answered, teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth. You just see him puffing his chest out and and and just saying it just loud enough that everyone could hear. Jesus looking at him, loved him and said to him, one thing you lack, sell whatever you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Come, take up the cross and follow me.

It was at this word he went away sorrowful for he had great possessions. Now, the point of this story, which is so important, is not about wealth. It is not about great possessions. It's not about riches. There is no issue with having that. The issue here is whatever comes between you and God. You see, God is obligated to tear down every stronghold in our lives. God is obligated to remove any idol anything which we have elevated before God. Gods saying for you it's actually your possessions. But here's the cure. Here's the solution. Are you ready? Sell it. Go get rid of it. Go get rid of it. Come and follow me.

See that. He was receiving a personal invitation to come and be a follower of Jesus. But it says he walked away heartbroken. Selective obedience, I am great at this. Look at this checklist. Look at what I've done. Tick and flick. Everything. Haven't committed adultery. Haven't stolen. Honoured my parents. All of this. Jesus says yeah yeah. But there's this one thing I need you to do. And he says I can't do it. I'm not doing it.

Selective Obedience Is Actually Disobedience

It reminds me of the great words of that great American Philosopher Meatloaf. Where he says I would do anything for love. But I won't do that. Sometimes we come to God and were like that. Lord, we worship you. I love you Lord. Go and forgive that person that betrayed you and hurt you. I won't do that. Lord I love you, I worship you. I want you to go serve those people. I want you to give to this. I won't do that. Gods saying selective obedience. Selective obedience is really disobedience.

So now that we know what isn't obedience lets go to what is. It's important for our growth. Here’s the first thing I want you to know about obedience. Obedience is worship. Understand that when you are obedient to God. When you are obedient and regardless of how you feel or of what the cost is. That is actually worship.

Abraham's Obedience

Genesis 22 tells the story of Abraham and God gives him this command. The story of Abraham and his wife Sarah. They couldn't have children. They had their promised son that they had to wait 25 years for. Isaac. God waits for years until Isaac has grown up then one day he interrupts Abraham. This great life that he's built. He says to him take now your son, your only son whom you love.

Notice how God qualified this. He's qualifying this because Abrahams got another son, Ishmael and he's saying, no, not that one, this one. The one that you waited 25 years for, the one that you love, take him and I want you to go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.

Watch what Abraham does. He rose early in the morning, settled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son, he split the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. Then, on the third day, Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. 3 days of walking knowing that you 're about to sacrifice your son. Three days of wandering.

Abraham said to his young men ‘stay here with the donkey, the lad and I will go yonder and worship and we will come back to you’. Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac, his son. He took the fire in his hand and a knife and the two of them went together. 

The word worship there is actually the word and the origin of that word, it literally means to come under. It is a posture of coming under what you have just heard, what you have just been instructed. The word worship there is also the very first time we see the word worship in all of scripture. That's where it is.

You know the biblical law of first mention, every time a first word is introduced, the meaning then is carried out for the rest of scriptures. So, he uses the word worship there and get this, there is no sign of any instruments. They were not climbing Mount Moriah to get to the top to sing a slow song. Worship is not a musical genre. It is not a slow song. Worship is obedience even when you don't feel like it, I don't want to kill my son. I waited for him. He was a promise for 25 years and now but I'm going to be obedient and I'm going to worship you even when I don't understand. Even when I don't feel like doing it. Even when I want to, I don't want to do it.

Obedience is Worship

Obedience is worship. Every time we do something that we don't feel like doing. It's hard. It's hard to forgive someone who has hurt you and who has betrayed you? And has spoken ill against you. But it's worship when you do it. Because you are acting in obedience with what God is saying. It's hard to restore things that have been fractured previously because of mistrust and all of that. But We've been given the ministry of reconciliation. It's not an invitation back. But it's God saying you need to be free. You need to be healed. And the only way you're going to do that is if you are obedient and you go.

It’s why Jesus said things like pray for your enemies. Bless those who curse you. Because he knew when you were obedient to those things you actually set yourself free and your life would begin to soar. Obedience is worship.

A Man After God’s Own Heart

We know this as well because Saul failed this test but the Bible says of David in Acts 13:22. This is a summary. When God had removed Saul he raised David as king. To whom also he gave testimony and said I have found David the son of Jesse. A man after my own heart who will do all my will. He will be obedient with everything I ask him to.

That's what makes him a man after my own heart. I used to think that David was a man after God's heart because he was, you know, a musical worshiper. He was great on the harp. But God says no no no. The reason why he's a man after my heart. The reason why he's a worshipper is he's obedient with everything.

Unlike his predecessor Saul who had selective or partial or delayed obedience. Davids not like that. David is a man after my own heart which was incredible at a time when people were looking for God's hand. Let your hand of power be with me. Let your hand of authority come upon me. David said that’s all great but I don't just want your hand. I actually want your heart. 

He's saying to God, in fact, what do you want? Whatever you want, that's what I want to do. That's amazing. That's revolutionary and if we grab a hold of that, it will change our lives. God is gracious and he will give us everything that we need. When we say what do you want Lord? That's when we become people after his heart.

Obedience is Faith with Feet

The second thing about obedience is that obedience is faith with feet. Obedience is faith with feet. You can't just have passive obedience. You can't have inactive obedience. The sign that you are obedient is that your feet begin to move. In the direction that perhaps you don't feel like, to do something that you don't want to do. Obedience shows up in our feet.

Joshua’s Obedience

Joshua chapter 1, God gives this amazing promise to Joshua after the death of Moses and it says in verse two and three, he says this promise, every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon, I have given it to you. That is a great promise and we love hearing that. The only problem is, the place where he was going was a place filled with giants. It was a place filled with fortified cities and God saying, give it to you but you've gotta get going. You've gotta be obedient. You've gotta walk it out. 

Watch this. Joshua chapter six, he's having another conversation with God and God says, see, the city, it's all shut up and I've given it to you and here's the strategy for you to get it. Start walking around it. For six days and on the seventh day, seven times and I am going to give it to you and because of that obedience that was evident through his feet, he got everything that God had promised him.

1 John 2:3–6 John says this, we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. If someone claims, I know God but does not obey God's commandments, doesnt love the Lord with all his heart, mind, soul, and body and doesnt love his neighbor as he loves himself. That person is a liar and is not living in the truth. They're God's words, not my words.

1 John 2:3–6 ESV 3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and cthe truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him hought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

Those who obey God's word truly show how they love him. This is how we know we are living in him. Again, the evidence of the fact that we know God, we love God. It’s shown in our obedience. It is actually displayed in our obedience. Jesus one time says to a group of people, why do you call me Lord? Why do you call me Lord and don't do what I'm asking? It's an oxymoron then. It's a contradiction. If we call him Lord, it actually means that we will do whatever it is that he's asking us to do.

Private Obedience Precedes Public Promotion

The last thing about obedience and this is a big one. This is the one that I really want to land on. Are you ready? Private obedience precedes public promotion. What do you do in secret when no one is watching? That's what qualifies you to get the promotion when everyone is watching. 

This is from the story of Joseph in Genesis and you know the story. He's a 17-year-old kid. Gets sold into slavery. He's far from home. He ends up looking after this general's house, Potiphar but because of God, upon him, God's spirit with him, he gets promoted. He's a great worker but at the same time, Potiphar's wife is trying to hit onto and you can imagine she's not ugly. She's married to a powerful Egyptian general.

The Bible says this, Joseph was a very handsome and well-built young man. Potiphar's wife soon began to look at him lustfully. Come and sleep with me, she demanded. But Joseph refused. Look, he told her, my master trusts me with everything in his entire household. No one here has more authority than I do. He has held back nothing from me except you because you're his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.

She kept putting pressure on Joseph day after day. But he refused to sleep with her and he kept out of her way as much as possible. This is a young man. He's got temptations. He's far from home. No one knows him. No one is looking. It's just him and her. And even in that scenario, he still says, no. Although no one else might be looking, I know Gods looking and that matters to me. He refused to disobey God in private.

Because of that years later, Genesis chapter forty-one, he interprets Pharaoh's dream and Pharaoh as a result of him doing that and giving him this incredible solution and strategy. Pharaoh says to him in verse 41, I put you in charge of the entire land of Egypt. Pharaoh removed his signet ring from his hand, placed it on Joseph's finger. He dressed him in fine linen clothing and hung a gold chain around his neck. Then he had Joseph ride in the chariot reserved for his second in command and wherever Joseph went, the command was shouted, kneel down.

Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of all of Egypt. When that cry went, kneel down. Potiphar and his wife were kneeling. They were kneeling along with everyone else. The fact that he was obedient to God when no one was watching. God promoted him when everyone was watching.

This actually was the same for Jesus. That earlier passage of scripture that I talked about through the obedience of one man, many became righteous. That's talking about Jesus wrestling in the Garden of Gethsemane. Where the Bible says, prayed earnestly and he prayed with such intensity that he sweated droplets of blood and his prayer was, Lord, if there is any other way, please let this cup pass. Yet, not my will. But thine will be done.

Because he settled the matter in private. Three days later, he had a very, very public resurrection. Defeated death. Death, where is your sting? That's what the writer wrote. Because he settled it privately, God promoted him publicly and I want to close with this.

Philippians chapter two tells us this about Jesus and about us and how we were to adopt what he did. Don't be selfish. Don’t try to impress others. Be humble. Thinking of others is better than yourselves. Don't look out only for your own interest but take an interest in others too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think equality with God is something to cling to.

Instead, he gave up his divine privileges. He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal's death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him. That's where we saw, elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names. That at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess or declare that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God, the Father.

Because of his obedience, God elevated and promoted him. I just felt that for this morning that like I said before, there's no condemnation. There's no finger pointing here but maybe for some of us, maybe there is something that God has been speaking to us about and we haven't done it or we refuse to do it or maybe we've only done it partially. I just believe that today is a turning point for you. You are hearing this message because God loves you too much to leave you in disobedience and he's saying, this is the time to act. This is the day to change.

A Prayer for Obedience

I just believe that today will be a turning point for you. If you’re saying, yes, that's me but today, I want to change things. Father, I just thank you for every single person that has responded. I know that you see their heart. I know that you see their circumstance Lord and I just thank that today Lord God was a reminder. The importance of obedience to you. That it is an act of worship. That it is proof of our faith in Lord God. But more importantly, as we do these things, Lord God, I just thank you that you will begin to elevate them and shift them and move them out from any places where they feel stuck and that you would enter them lord God in that place where they can soar and they can start to see their lives take off lord God. Father, I just thank you that you're empowering them with your grace, with the enabling power of God to do what they cannot do in their own strength, but that they are able to do in you. Father, I thank you for this in Jesus name. Amen. Amen.

Ps Noa Folau

Leave a Reply