If God graded us on obedience, I’m not sure I’d get a high score. Absolute obedience is the desire of my heart, but I admit that is not my reality.

Wouldn’t you think that when Creator God gives direction, his created ones would respond in obedience? Yet we struggle. God gives a plan and we say let me tweak that just a bit.

In all my busyness serving the Lord, these words of Jesus bring me to a sudden stop. “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).

I have no answer for that. He’s talking about obedience. Absolute obedience.

He goes on to say, “Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.

“But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great” (Luke 4:47-49).

This turns my thoughts to the Israelites. God had delivered them from bondage in Egypt and led them to the edge of the land he had promised to give them—a land flowing with milk and honey. Moses chose twelve men, one from each tribe, to scout the land. After forty days they returned with a glowing report of the land and samples of the luscious fruit found there.

But there’s a problem, ten said. The inhabitants are huge! Like giants! Next to them, we’re as grasshoppers! They’re too much for us!

Here’s my question: what was their alternate plan? God said to go in and possess the land. Ten spies suggested tweaking the plan. They didn’t think they had a chance against the giants.

What were they thinking! Did they think the massive congregation would stay on the outskirts, build homes, and enjoy a comfortable life just outside the promised land?

Wouldn’t that have been sad? Close to receiving God’s promise but not quite.

You know the rest of the story. Two of the scouts—Joshua and Caleb—wanted to go forward, believing God would keep his word. But the negative report had discouraged the people. As a result of their lack of faith and disobedience, the ten spies died in a plague and the Israelites spent the next forty years wandering in the wilderness.

What a waste!

Immediate obedience is always the right decision. Tweaked obedience is risky.

Immediate obedience is always the right decision. Tweaked obedience is risky.. Click To Tweet

We see the power of discouragement even before the throng left Egypt (Exodus 6:1-9 NIV).

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh; Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country…I am the Lord…”

The Lord told Moses to say to the Israelites:

  • I am the Lord.
  • I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.
  • I will free you from being slaves to them.
  • I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.
  • I will take you as my own people.
  • I will be your God.
  • I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob.
  • I will give it to you as a possession.
  • I am the Lord.

Moses reported this to the Israelites “but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage.”

Discouragement is crippling and it’s contagious. Imagine—the Lord is speaking! I will bring you out…I will free you…I will redeem you…I will take you as my own people…I will be your God…I will bring you to the land…I will give it to you as a possession…

Yet…because of discouragement, they did not listen. They did not believe God!

After the Lord performed many signs and wonders, they followed Moses out of Egypt. Exodus 13:17-18 says God led them the long way, lest they lose heart. He knew them well. Throughout the journey, they grumbled and complained. They couldn’t seem to catch the vision.

I’m running a little low on sympathy. Was it too much just to believe God and rely on him to keep his promise?

In my life, is it too much just to believe God and rely on him to keep his promise?

What the Lord wants from us isn’t mysterious. In his Word he clearly lays out the path to a joy-filled life. We can find wisdom for every situation.

What the Lord wants from us isn’t mysterious. In his Word he clearly lays out the path to a joy-filled life. We can find wisdom for every situation.. Click To Tweet

Besides the printed Bible, we have the Holy Spirit within us to direct our steps. The Lord doesn’t leave us to flounder around on our own, wandering aimlessly in the wilderness.

“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye” (Psalm 32:8).

Absolute obedience is the desire of my heart. I pray the Lord will make it my reality.

What have you learned from tweaked obedience? I’d appreciate your leaving a comment. And please share this with your friends!

© Dianne Barker 2020

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