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Obedience

by | Feb 25, 2024 | 40 Days of Prayer (2024)

Obedience

John 6:5-6, 9, 11-13

5 “When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’ 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

One of the best decisions I have ever made in my relationship with God was to give up on trying to obey Him.

After Jesus won my heart, I wanted nothing more than to please and serve Him. I loved God so much, and I worked hard to obey Him. I was painfully aware of my lack and desperately tried to make up for it. What I was not aware of was that my life and relationship with the Father were rooted in fear instead of the finished work of Jesus Christ.

It wasn’t until one frigid day in a warehouse in Canada in 2001 that I began to understand how to truly obey God. I was attending a ministry school, and during worship one morning, The Father spoke the strangest thing to me:

“Melissa, I would rather you sit down out of perfect love for me than run a mile out of fear.”

Somehow, at that moment, I knew exactly what God was saying. He was showing me how fear had kept a chasm between Him and me and that that separation was the opposite of His will for me. God did not want me to try to hide, fix, or make up for my weakness or shortcomings. He simply wanted me.

I realize now that many things the Father asks me to do I am simply incapable of doing. I believe that this is intentional and is an assurance of my dependence on Him. Instead of working and trying harder to obey God, I get to take my weakness to a loving Father and ask that Jesus and the precious Holy Spirit obey through me. I believe this union with the Father is what Jesus modeled for us and is all He truly desires. God is a Good Dad. He knows His kids and is never surprised or disappointed when we struggle. I believe that when we bring Jesus our weakness, depravity, and lack while struggling with obedience, the Father only sees our pure love for and faith in Him. Beloved, that is the good news of the Gospel! Instead of doubling down on my own efforts and strength to obey God in the face of the impossible, He simply desires for me to bring the few loaves and fishes I do have and witness His miraculous work in and outside of me.

9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?’ 11 “Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. 12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’ 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.”

Don’t forget to share your stories with us! We’re eager to hear how God is moving in your life during this sacred season of prayer.

Monday, 2/26, Prayer Prompt:
Galatians 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Today, I am asking the Father to show me where in my life I am still striving. How am I still working in my own strength to obey God and ‘feed the five thousand’ instead of simply bringing all I have and all that I do not have to Jesus?
Father, please help me to surrender my efforts to Jesus and allow Him to do the ‘doing’ and live through me.

Tuesday, 2/27, Prayer Prompt:
John 6:5

“When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’ 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do”

Today, I am curiously exploring John 6:5-6, and I find myself wondering what Jesus is doing here. I close my eyes and picture myself standing where Phillip stood, facing the approaching crowd. I imagine Jesus asking me this question, hinting at His call to feed the multitude. I believe my first reaction to Jesus’ question is key to understanding the significance of this passage. Am I simply puzzled? Am I amused? Do I feel pressured? Afraid? Like the disciples, my response to Jesus’ question will reveal the belief system at work in my heart and life, and I know that is what He is after.

Jesus, as I face Your call to obedience in my own life today, please search my heart. Bring to the light what I believe about You, me, and obedience itself. Please reveal any lie that is blocking my efficacy in your Kingdom and, most crucially, my union with you. Please heal my unbelief and refocus my vision on You and Your miraculous power.

Wednesday, 2/28 Prayer Prompt:
Romans 8:5-8

“Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.” 

Today, I am asking the Holy Spirit to reveal where I might still be in bondage to Self. Based on Romans 8, I cannot even obey God without God, and attempting to rely on myself to obey God is counter-productive. This truth leads me to prayerfully examine the posture of my heart. In Jesus’ life and ministry, He asked simple yet revealing questions to most people He encountered. I believe that He cares deeply about the answers because He longs to heal what they reveal in our hearts. I invite you also to ask yourself the following questions as we sit with Jesus today. 

When have I shut the Holy Spirit out in favor of self-reliance? Have I taken time to consider why I might do this? Could there be an unmet need in me that leads to this bondage to Self that Jesus is longing to meet? If so, have I ever considered how my self-reliance impacts His heart? Has Jesus revealed steps I can take toward allowing Him to be my source instead of myself? If so, what could my repentance mean for me, my family, my friends, my professional life, my spiritual community, and my neighbor? How might my obedience look and feel differently if I allow Jesus to be my source? Do I believe that God cherishes my need for Him? Am I able to accept His unwavering affection for me?

Holy Spirit, please shine Your light where you want to shine it. Please help me to see the true nature of my bondage to Self and the damage that it does. Please allow me to see my weakness and need as You do, and help me to believe that You can be my source. Lord, please show me what is possible when I turn to You as my source, and give me the power to obey You in all things.

Thursday, 2/29, Prayer Prompt:
Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see what the LORD has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ The LORD Almighty is with us; The God of Jacob is our fortress.” 

Today, I am aware that stillness is obedience. When pressures mount on every side, when I am surrounded by clamoring need, news, responsibilities, and general unrest, with a still and quiet heart, the Lord will keep me. When I have made space and prepared room for Emmanuel in my day, He quiets me with His love. I am then at peace and obey when Jesus asks for stillness of me. When I am not at peace, when I am run down and tired, frustrated, and impatient, I might wail at His feet, but I am stilled in His arms. This is obedience. When I do not feel still, but I stay still, this is obedience. When I wait for His provision when I could just move ahead and work things out myself, my stillness is obedience. When I free a loved one to make their own choices and mistakes, this stillness is obedience. When I am quiet and listen with compassion to the foreign plight of my neighbor, seeking first to understand and serve before fixing or judging them, this stillness is obedience. When I forgive and accept responsibility for my own healing, this stillness is obedience. When I refrain from gossip and retribution for harm done to me, this stillness is obedience. When I search my own heart before pointing out my neighbor’s fault, this stillness is obedience. When I seek first the Kingdom of God before the kingdom of me, this stillness is obedience. 

Father, help me to stay still, close to You, and to rest between Your shoulders. Allow me to feel Your pleasure with me when I choose to trust in You and stay still when pressures rise. Allow me to feel Your pleasure with me when I am not still, but because of what Jesus has done, I am still Your child. 

Friday, 3/1, Prayer Prompt:
Matthew 18:12

If a man has 100 sheep, but one of the sheep is lost, what will he do? He will leave the other 99 sheep on the hill and go look for the lost sheep. Right? 

Today, I am reminded that God pursues the disobedient. In the garden, God called out to His two wayward children, asking them to come to Him; in Hosea, we witness a God rejected by His unfaithful bride but buying her back from slavery. In the Gospels, we read parables of shepherds searching for lost sheep and wealthy, respected fathers forsaking their fortunes and their dignity in favor of running to meet their lost child. We see the ransom paid and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Who preferred the company of the worst of sinners to the finest lawkeepers. Finally, we were given the bond and baptism of the Holy Spirit to help keep us. Like our first two ancestors, I try to hide my shame from God. Like Gomer in Hosea, I have forsaken Him time and time again. Like the silly sheep and arrogant son, I have been led astray and squandered what the Father has so generously given me. But Jesus–Jesus is the Way where there is no way, and He refuses to give up. He is Perfect Love, Kindness, Goodness, Mercy, and Patience. He is reaching for me when I reach for my sin, and He doesn’t stop until I am back safely in His arms. 

Father, help me to believe in Your unfailing love for me. May that truth soften my heart and increase my trust in and obedience to You.

Saturday, 3/2, Prayer Prompt:
Deuteronomy 5:14

“But the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do.” 

Today, I am meditating on the call to Sabbath. As a parent of young children, the command to practice a sabbath can seem like a cruel joke! I am sure it can feel the same for any caregiver or for anyone struggling financially. I know that pressure well. While this command to rest can appear as one of the least important commandments, I believe it is a crucial practice. I have often felt a challenge from The Lord to go against the grain of today’s culture, refrain from work, and turn my focus to Him. The pull toward upward mobility is strong, and I can easily be taken under by its current. When I choose to obey God and rest, I am putting a stake in the ground and declaring Who my God is. He is my provider. He is my source. He is my King, and I can rest in the knowledge that He is picking up the slack. I don’t practice a perfect sabbath, and I don’t practice it every week or on a specific day. I don’t know if that is truly what God is after. I believe He is after our hearts. I believe He desires to be the One and only Master we serve with a whole heart. 

God, please help me to trust in You enough to tune out the world and work around me and simply enjoy You. Help me to allow You to fill, renew, and refresh me with Your supernatural rest. 

Sunday, 3/3, Prayer Prompt:
Matthew 6:24

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other…” 

Today, I am reminded that saying ‘No’ is obedience. Recently, I felt the Lord leading me to give the totality of my focus to two very specific things in my life. Neither of them was a new thing or surprising to me, but I instinctively knew that saying yes to God in this season would require me to say no and to say no frequently. My saying no has meant letting people down and not doing some things that I enjoyed. My yes to God has meant saying no to people and causes that I care about, but I am already seeing the fruit of my obedience. I know that may not always happen, but I am grateful for God’s kindness to me. I am still often tempted to take on more, and I question my decisions, but I have to keep a yes on my lips and in my heart for God only, so I will continue to say no. 

Father, please give me the willingness to do Your will. Please clarify Your will for me so that I can say yes only to what You ask of me and no to anything that might threaten my obedience. Please help me to discern between good things and God things when necessary.

Don’t forget to share your stories with us! We’re eager to hear how God is moving in your life during this sacred season of prayer.

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