That Ugly Four-Lettered "O" Word

About the time we turn two we decide that the word "obey" is an ugly word.

"Put the cookie down."

"No! My cookie!"

"Obey me right now and put the cookie down."

And there's the rub. We want to please our parents, obey them, but we also want. that. cookie. Or the toy or the TV show or the boyfriend who isn't a believer or the right to stay out as long as we want or the house we can't afford or the money we worked so hard for or the approval of others or to fit in or the sweater just like the one hanging in our closet or ... the cookie. We're back to that blasted cookie, the one that isn't on our diet.

But the fact of the matter is there is no way around obedience, not in the Christian life. In fact, that's what walking with Christ is all about...obedience. When we obey it's like putting one foot in front of the other and traveling on down the path in the right direction. When we disobey we're either standing still and going nowhere or we're backing up and digressing. Maybe we're even veering off the path and heading in the wrong direction.

I love to study Abram who later, because he was obedient, became Abraham. Why? Because while Abraham was usually obedient, he wasn't always. His life is a portrait of the difficulty of obedience.

Today I read Genesis 11:1 - 12:20 and just barely got into Abraham's journey. But here's what I've already discovered.

Obedience may seem like a gamble, but it's really a sure thing.

The more we obey God, the easier it actually becomes. And blessings always result from obedience. Maybe not immediately, but God does always bless obedience.

Notice one interesting thing from today's scripture with me real quick. Here are some interesting out takes. See if you notice a subtle progression. I'll italicize what I want to draw your attention to:

Now the Lord had said to Abram:
"Get out of your country, from your family 
And from your father's house,
To a land that I will show you."
(Genesis 12:1)

So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, 
and Lot went with him. 
And Abram was seventy-five years old 
when he departed from Haran.
(Genesis 12:4)

Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, 
"To your descendants I will give this land."
(Genesis 12:7a)

And there he built an altar to
the Lord, who had appeared to him.
(Genesis 12:7b)

So Abram journeyed, 
going on still toward the South.
(Genesis 12:9)

(all italics are mine)

Did you notice that at first God only spoke to Abram? At least that's the way it's divinely written. We have no evidence that God appeared to Abram when he was first asked to obey Him. He just spoke to him--perhaps audibly or perhaps just to his heart, like He most often does when He speaks to you and me.

Then, when Abram had obeyed God and picked up his family and moved away from his home, God appeared to Abram (Genesis 12:7). At that point, Abram worshiped God -- acknowledged Him and reverenced Him -- and continued on in his journey of obedience.

And that's how obedience works. I'm not saying that if you obey God He'll appear to you. But I do believe that He will make Himself more known to you. He will reveal more of Himself to you and more of His plans for you. He'll reward your obedience with a little more light on the path, a little more hope, and a little more assurance.

For me, first steps are always the hardest. Until I come to the final step, that is. Those are hard quite often as well. (Think Abraham and Isaac and the living sacrifice...) But first steps require we move out into the unknown. First steps are unsure, unsteady. We're not even sure most of the time if we heard Him correctly. I bet Abraham wondered if he'd heard God correctly as well. Those events I just pointed out happened in the span of nine verses in Scripture, but they probably happened over months or even years in real life. I'm sure he had days when he wondered if he'd made the right move too.

But here's what we learn from Abraham's life today:

Obedience may seem like a gamble, but it's really a sure thing.

When we're young, immature, the word "obey" seems like an ugly four-lettered word. But in reality it's a good thing. In God's economy, obedience is the surest way to please God. In fact, Hebrews 11:6 says, "And without faith is it impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." At first glance it may appear that all you need to please God is a little heart-felt faith. But as you read on through Hebrews 11, you find that true faith is always demonstrated by complete obedience. Faithful obedience pleases God.

Obedience may seem like a gamble, but it's really a sure thing.

When is it hardest for you to obey God? First step? Further down the road? When difficulties hit? When your zeal wanes? Or last step, when the final request demands your all?

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