Summary: If we want to learn to pray, we must learn to obey. If we want to pray well, we must obey well. If we want to become prayer warriors, we must become obedient children.
Discuss this sermon at http://prayerkeys.blog.com/obedience
“[We] receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him,” 1 John 3:22.
Not just once again, but twice again I was reminded last Sunday that God’s timing is remarkable. When he is ready to emphasize a lesson, he will emphasize it.
Sunday night, after the excellent children’s musical, I heard about this missionary’s work, about how the girls they rescue from red light districts in India mean fewer servants for the mafia in India, and about how the mafia is now upset with them. The timing of that testimony and the presentation she will give this evening was remarkable because last Wednesday night, for a few moments, we talked about the persecuted church and how we need to pray for them. That should be high on our prayer time tonight, also. She will speak in the second half of tonight’s service, which will give us specific things to pray about.
I was reminded twice last Sunday that God’s timing is remarkable. When he wants to emphasize a lesson, God will emphasize it. In his series on faith, Bro. Jim was preaching on the passage from Hebrews that “by faith, the walls of Jericho fell.” He then went to that event Joshua 5-6. I’m not going to re-preach his sermon, but I am going to remind you of one incident he described.
God’s people, with an army of maybe a million men, were to march around the city each morning silently, no orders were to be given, no questions were to be asked, no side comments were to be made. And they obeyed.
After the service, I told him that the prayer key for tonight is “Obedience.” “[We] receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him,” I John 3:22. Obeying his commands includes other prayer keys we have discussed, like praying according to his will and praying in the Spirit, praying as the Spirit leads us to pray. But obedience is not limited to these things.
Andrew Murray wrote that, “Obedience and faith are simply two parts of one act - surrender to God...”
Faith leads to obedience. Obedience strengthens faith. Faith leads to obedience. Obedience strengthens faith. It is a blessed cycle that should characterize Christians. All too often, I allow the cycle to break down in my life. It is still a blessed cycle. Faith leads to obedience. Obedience strengthens faith. Faith leads to obedience. Obedience strengthens faith.
The importance of obedience cannot be overestimated.
In Acts 8, Phillip is experiencing a revival in Samaria when the Holy Spirit tells him to get up and go. He gets up and goes. He eventually sees the Ethiopian’s chariot going south from Jerusalem. The Spirit says, "Go to that chariot." He runs to the chariot. You know the rest. You know that Phillip leads the Ethiopian to Christ. But think for a moment how that happens.
I don’t know where the road from Samaria meets the desert road from Jerusalem to Gaza. In my mind, I see the road from Samaria and the desert road from Jerusalem forming a “Y.” Phillip is coming down one branch while the Ethiopian is already at or past the intersection. The Spirit says, "Go to that chariot." He has to run to catch the chariot.
Think about the timing. What if Phillip had hesitated to obey? “Lord, are you sure? There is a revival going on here. They need me. I can’t leave now.” If Phillip had hesitated to obey, he would have missed the chariot. Instant obedience led to a witnessing opportunity.
On June 27, 1976, Palestinian terrorists hijacked an Air France plane with 248 passengers and flew it to Entebbe, near the capital of Uganda. At Entebbe, the four hijackers were joined by at least four others, supported by the Pro-Palestinian President Idi Amin. All non-Israeli passengers, except one French citizen who chose to identify himself as an Israeli Jew, were released. The captain and crew refused to leave.
Hijackers demanded the release of 53 Palestinian prisoners. They threatened to kill the 106 hostages if their demands were not met.
On July 4, 1976, Special Forces of the Israel Defense Forces carried out a rescue mission led by Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu, brother of future Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The commandos entered the terminal shouting into megaphones, “Get down. Stay down.” They shouted in Hebrew. The Israeli hostages obeyed. The hijackers and the Ugandan army did not speak Hebrew. They did not obey... and died.
The operation is considered one of the greatest and most daring special forces operations in history. 102 hostages were rescued. Col. Netanyahu was killed and five Israeli commandos were wounded. All the hijackers and 45 Ugandan soldiers were killed.