Summary: This message is about how we need to be obedient to God in the present if we are going to have success in the future. It looks at why we obey and why this is often more difficult than we think.
A while back, my oldest girl Clarissa was in her play room and she had overturned a box of wooden blocks and it made to worse mess you could imagine. I walked in there and said, “Clarissa, I want you to pick up every last one of these blocks right now.” She fussed a little bit and then I walked out and started doing something else. About 10 minutes later, she comes to my desk dressed up like Cinderella holding a picture that she had just colored and she said, “Daddy, you like it?” I said, “It’s pretty, but how does that room look?” No comment. So I asked again, “Is the toy room picked up like I asked?” Her response…. “I don’t know.” Then she goes, “Don’t you like my picture?” I said, “I do darling, but do you know what I would really like? Do you know what would really make Daddy happy? If you did what I had asked you to do.”
And you know the one thing God wants from us above anything else. To do what He says. 1 Sam 15:22 says, “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice” Obedience isn’t a real hot topic. You probably didn’t see the title this week in the bulletin and say, “Barry is going to be preaching on obedience, I can’t wait to hear that!” It’s not a real popular issue to bring up, but it’s one we need to talk about, because that’s the direction toward which we are going to be moving. Eugene Peterson has written a book entitled , A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. And I think that explains our church. We’ve looked at our wonderful past This is not the time for our church to rest on its laurels, its not a time to coast. It’s a time to make certain that we deepen in our faith and our relationship with Christ. That’s what we want to talk about this topic today. How can we focus upon obeying God’s commands in the present?
For the base of our talk this morning we want to look at what was expected of the Israelites as they prepared to enter into the promised land. Remember Moses had brought them there but he would not be able to enter in with them, so he is giving them instructions on what to do and how to behave when they enter into the promised land, and you’ll see here that the one reoccurring theme is “Do what God says. Listen and obey Him.”
Throughout this chapter Moses will continue to drive this point home, in a variety of different ways. In this opening verse he overemphasizes and he restates the same word four different times to describe what it means to follow the commandments of God. Look at verse 1 of our text, “Love the LORD your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always.” Always, not sometimes, not when you feel like it, but always. You see, selective obedience isn’t obedience at all, it is merely convenience. So Let’s start off this morning by looking at the motivation for our obedience.
Our first motivation given is to be our love for God. In the New Testament Jesus taught that this was to be the distinguishing characteristic of the Christian. He even crystallized commitment down to this phrase, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments!” John says in 2 John verse 6; “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands.”
When you love somebody, you don’t want to disappoint nor upset that person and we know that when we go against God’s commands it hurts the heart of God just as a child’s disobedience hurts his father. There were two teenage boys who were toying with the idea of doing something wrong that they knew they shouldn’t do. One of them finally decided he just couldn‘t do it. The other young man asked sarcastically, "Are you afraid your dad will find out and hurt you?" And the other boy quietly said, "No, I am afraid he will find out and it will hurt him." And we obey because we don’t want to hurt our Father.
Obedience is the choice of those who love their Heavenly Father and want to please Him. But it’s not just our love for God, but also God’s love for us. We know that God wants what is best for us and He wouldn’t give us a bunch of commands just to harass us. Those laws are there for a reason. A high school guy who wanted to go swimming with his girlfriend at midnight. The neighbors down the block had a pool, and he knew it. So they ran down there and scaled the fence even though there were No Trespassing and Do Not Enter signs. Just as he hit the diving board, the girl yelled, but it was too late. There was only a foot of water in the pool. He broke his neck, and he’s in therapy to this day. He didn’t realize that the signs on the fence - the precepts - would have protected him. And so many people ignore the signs that God has placed up to warn us. Jesus came to give us abundant life and He doesn’t want to see us spoil it. So out of love, He has rules to guide and protect us.