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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Obedience to God

15 February 2017
Opening Prayer/Worship

Hymn: When we walk with the Lord

Theme: Lord of all

Topic: Obedience to God

Reading: Sirach 15:15-20
15 If you choose, you can keep the commandments,
   and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice. 
16 He has placed before you fire and water;
   stretch out your hand for whichever you choose. 
17 Before each person are life and death,
   and whichever one chooses will be given. 
18 For great is the wisdom of the Lord;
   he is mighty in power and sees everything; 
19 his eyes are on those who fear him,
   and he knows every human action. 
20 He has not commanded anyone to be wicked,
   and he has not given anyone permission to sin. 

Obedience to God is one of the qualities of Christians.  To obey the Lord is vital to our relationship with God, and with the people He has put in our lives.  In the Old Testament, obedience is measured by how close one comes to keeping the Law; but according to the New Testament we live under Grace and not the Law.  So how do we know that we are living in obedience to God?  Can we be lawless and yet profess to be Christians?  According to Scripture, shall we continue in sin for grace to abound?  One of the major differences between the Old and New covenants is that whereas in the Old covenant obedience is a requirement, in the New covenant obedience is a by-product of the grace of God in our lives.  We obey God not because we are under the Law, but because of the grace He lavished on us.

1) What is obedience? 
1 Samuel 15:10-26
The word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11‘I regret that I made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me, and has not carried out my commands.’ Samuel was angry; and he cried out to the Lord all night.12Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul, and Samuel was told, ‘Saul went to Carmel, where he set up a monument for himself, and on returning he passed on down to Gilgal.’ 13When Samuel came to Saul, Saul said to him, ‘May you be blessed by the Lord; I have carried out the command of the Lord.’ 14But Samuel said, ‘What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears, and the lowing of cattle that I hear?’ 15Saul said, ‘They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the cattle, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; but the rest we have utterly destroyed.’ 16Then Samuel said to Saul, ‘Stop! I will tell you what the Lord said to me last night.’ He replied, ‘Speak.’ 17 Samuel said, ‘Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel.18And the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, “Go, utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.”19Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?’ 20Saul said to Samuel, ‘I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 21But from the spoil the people took sheep and cattle, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.’ 22And Samuel said, ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obedience to the voice of the Lord? Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is no less a sin than divination, and stubbornness is like iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.’ 24 Saul said to Samuel, ‘I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. 25Now therefore, I pray, pardon my sin, and return with me, so that I may worship the Lord.’ 26Samuel said to Saul, ‘I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.’

Matthew 7:21-23
‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?” 23Then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.”

James 1:19-25
You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. 21Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. 23For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; 24for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like.25But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.

2) What are the lessons for us in Matthew 5:21-37 regarding obeying the Lord?  
Matthew 5:21-37
‘You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder”; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgement.” 22But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool”, you will be liable to the hell of fire.23So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. 25Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. 27 ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.”28But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell. 31 ‘It was also said, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.” 32But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. 33 ‘Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.” 34But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37Let your word be “Yes, Yes” or “No, No”; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

3) What are some of the challenges to obeying the Lord?  How do we overcome them, and what are the rewards of obeying the Lord? 
Deuteronomy 30:15-20
See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. 16If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. 17But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, 18I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, 20loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

Psalm 119:1-8
Refrain: Happy are they who walk in the law of the Lord.
Happy are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Happy are they who observe his decrees and seek him with all their hearts! R Who never do any wrong, but always walk in his ways. You laid down your commandments, that we should fully keep them. R Oh, that my ways were made so direct that I might keep your statutes! Then I should not be put to shame, when I regard all your commandments. R I will thank you with an unfeigned heart, when I have learned your righteous judgements. I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me. R

1 Corinthians 3:1-9
And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, 3for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? 4For when one says, ‘I belong to Paul’, and another, ‘I belong to Apollos’, are you not merely human? 5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. 6I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labour of each. 9For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.


We obey God not because we are under the Law, but because of the grace He lavished on us.

Closing Prayer (Collect for Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany)

O God, the strength of all who put their trust in you: Mercifully accept our prayers; and because in our weakness we can do nothing good without you, give us the help of your grace, that in keeping your commandments we may please you both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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