Thursday, December 26, 2013

New Year, New Word

                Christmas has come and gone once again. Many of us are still celebrating with families in town, and turning our attention towards the New Year. If you have been reading my blog, you will know that I am not a New Year’s resolution kind of person. I stopped doing New Year’s resolutions years ago. I stopped because they never seemed to stick. I would start out strong and then eventually, either by the end of January or February give up entirely. Instead, the Lord has shown me to stop making resolutions and begin each New Year with a prayer; a prayer for change. So, that is what I do.

                I want to encourage each and everyone who reads this blog today, to go and spend some time with the Lord God. If you are making New Year’s resolutions, I want to encourage you to take them to Him first. When I do this time of prayer for change before the Lord, He gives me a word, a simple word that He wants to see present in my life. I take my pen and my notebook and sit before Him, listening as He directs me for the upcoming year. I pray and ask Him what areas of my life does He want to change? I pray and ask Him to grow me, and I ask Him how He wants me to grow. I pray and seek His guidance for the upcoming year, for only He knows what lies ahead. As He and I talk, He gives me my word for the year, the word that He wants to bring forth in my life. The word for 2013 He gave me was “diligence”. Which, I needed. I needed to stay diligent to complete the work that He had given me to do. This year, He has given me “obedience”.
                Obedience appears fourteen times in the New King James and twelve times in the King James. The other form of the word “obedience” is “obedient”. It appears also fourteen times in the New King James but it appears sixteen in the King James. When a word appears that much, it must be important. The first appearance of the word “obedience” is in Genesis 49:10. Jacob calls his sons to his side, as he begins to leave this earth and he says a blessing, a prophecy of sorts over his children. To Judah he prophecies the coming of Christ; “The scepter shall not depart from Judah; nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people.” Jacob looks at his eldest son Judah and tells him that from him kings shall arise until Shiloh comes, whom we know to be Jesus Christ, our Prince of Peace.
  The context of the word “obedience” in this verse means to be in submission. We know that when a king is in power, submission to his decrees and laws are to be adhered to with reverence, and respect. When Christ comes, that submission will go from earthly kings to our Heavenly King. In the Old Testament obedience was the strong tie that held the people close to God. When they obeyed His commands He blessed them, multiplied them and gave them great joy. But when they were disobedient, they were taken into captivity, many were killed with plagues and death, and their disobedience distanced them from the protection of God. It wasn’t the sacrifices and the burnt offerings that God was so concerned about, but rather it was His people’s obedience to Him.
                “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.’” (1 Samuel 15:22 KJV)
             Our obedience should come out of response to our faith. When we believe that Jesus is Lord, we become obedient to His word. The importance of obedience in the Old Testament is as great as it is in the New Testament. Just as God called and asked the Israelites to obey His commands, He calls us to obey Christ. What did Christ tell us to do? What commands did He give us to obey? Christ said that we are to love God and love the brethren. When we do this, we will fulfill the law of Christ. Obedience is more than just believing, it is living out the commands that Christ Jesus has given us. 1 Samuel 15:22 tells us that God delights more in our obedience than in all the sacrifices we could bring Him.
                I can bring God my life, lay down my heart and my soul and all my strength before Him as a living sacrifice, but if I do not do what He has asked me to do than all my sacrifice is in vain. Jesus Christ was obedient to the point of death, He willingly laid down His life for us, and we are to do the same for our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Just as in the Old Testament obedience to God’s commands and His word were important, they are important for us today as well.

                I do not know why the Lord has placed the word obedience into my life for the upcoming year, but one thing I know is that He has it all figured out, and all I need to do is be ready to hear and do what He tells me to do. For me, the next few days will be studying and learning what true obedience means, and allowing the Lord my God to work in my heart so that the fruit of obedience may be seen in my life in the upcoming year. I do want to encourage all of you who read this blog to go and be with the Lord, seek Him and ask Him how He wants to grow you, change you and make you more like Him in 2014. You may be reading this and the Lord speaks the same word to you that He spoke to me- obedience, or perhaps there is another word that is coming into your heart. Whatever it is, I pray that we, as His children, would be obedient to His word and that we would be before Him and what He desires to do in us and through us in the upcoming year. May all the glory, honor and praise be to Jesus Christ my Lord, forever and ever, Amen.