Summary: To obey God is to live abundantly, but to fully abandon we have to settle the issue of trust first
LIVE THE LIFE
5. Obedience is Prosperity.
For the past few weeks, we’ve been talking about LIVING the LIFE - which means experiencing a life of inward freedom from sin and outward transformation and joy. Of all the keys we’ve talked about to access that LIFE, Community, Discipline, Giving, Service, today’s key summarizes them all. That is, OBEDIENCE.
To help me explain this, I’d like to introduce you to the latest addition to the Thiessen family. His name is Manitoba, but we call him Toby for short. He’s an 8 month old Alaskan Malamute. He weighs almost 100 pounds and he ain’t done yet. He’s likely to be 120 it 150 lbs before he’s done.
Now, we’ve spent a lot of time and good money trying to train Toby because at 120 lbs, if he’s not well trained, we’re not just going to lose slippers and newspapers, we’re going to lose fingers and other body parts. How do you think that’s going? Well, let me put it this way:
You know those stories, like the one I heard this week, about a man who told his dog to stay by his forest cabin while he went to town. But a forest fire came up and the dog died because he didn’t move. He stayed right where he was, in perfect obedience to his master’s word?
This is not one of those kinds of dogs. You see, we have high hopes for Toby but really, he’s here today as an anti-illustration about OBEDIENCE. I’m sure it’s somehow our fault, but Toby is an extremely stubborn animal. Here are all the commands he’s supposed to know. Sit, come (here), stay, stand, heel, stop, down, shake and potty.
Now watch as I demonstrate Toby’s amazing submission and respect for me his master…
Toby, here. Toby sit. Down. Stay.
Now, I’m managed to get Toby into what we call a DOWN/STAY. (He’s supposed to be able to stay here for at least 30 minutes - with distractions. You should be able to say his name, praise him, and tempt him and out of sheer love for me, he should obey.)
As you can see, everything and everyone is more interesting to him than me. And I’ll tell you why: He doesn’t trust me yet. He doesn’t believe that I have his best interests in mind. He doesn’t believe that when I demand that he stop, it’s because I don’t want him to get lost. When I demand that he come, it’s because I know there are cars.
Toby is oblivious. We had a foul tempered Great Dane in his obedience class (that class is misnamed) and Toby just got right in her face. Duh huh?! Toby’s above the law. He fancies himself to know more than I do. So when we let him out for a potty break, he actually tries to sneak away from me.
If he can slip out of view, it takes him 3.6 seconds to run to the neighbors where someone is liable to run him over, or shoot him thinking he’s a wolf. Does Toby get this? Look at him. Clearly not. Now there is something we can do to help the situation. I will now let Toby know that I have treats. Watch the difference:
Toby come, Toby sit, Toby down. Toby STAY.
You see, self interest is a powerful motivator, isn’t it? When Toby knows he’s getting perks, it changes everything. The instructor has told us, never let your dog be dependant on snacks to obey. Why? Because you may not always have snacks, and they should be devoted to you as master, not their stomachs.
That’s what I want us to talk about this morning. But I should dismiss Toby before he sees one of your kids and he starts making lunch plans. Toby say goodbye. SHAKE! And HIGH FIVE!
When God was training a people to call his own he spent a lot of time and effort training them to obey just the way we’ve tried to TRAIN Toby. And I want you to pay careful attention to God’s obedience classes for the Israelites. Read Lev 25:17-22
17 I am the LORD your God.
18 Follow my decrees and be careful to obey my laws, and you will live safely in the land.
Now here is the premise of God’s law. God’s law is good and if we obey it we will live a life of abundance. We will be protected, defended, our lives will be enriched, we get to the end of the day and we’ll have provision, we’ll have aid.
Now as good as that sounds, we Christians know that we can never obey all of God’s law – but let me ask you this: does that mean the law is bad? Paul says, in Rom 7:7-12