Power: Obedience

Power: Obedience

Last week, we learned about the incredible power accessible to us in the name of Jesus.  Jesus has been given the name above every name.  All power and all authority have been granted to Him.  Then, He chose to entrust it and His continued ministry to us, His church, through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into our lives!

This morning, we’re learning about one of the keys to us unlocking the power of God in and through our lives.  This key unlocks not only God’s power, but also God’s rich blessing.  This key transforms chaos into peace, lack into plenty, confusion into confidence, and fighting to rest.  This key is obedience.

Obedience and submission carry extremely negative impressions in our culture and, to a degree, for good reason.  This is because of the forced oppression that many have sadly experienced in their lives at the hand of abusers. 

Obedience to God, however, is never forced.  Submitting to God is completely a free choice. 

God extends to us a simple invitation into His plans and purposes for our lives.  It’s an invitation into His sheltering Presence.  He invites us to follow His ways which lead into an abundant life and rich blessing.  Obediently submitting to God doesn’t strip us of our power or individuality or dignity.  It actually empowers us and leads us more fully into our God-designed uniqueness and crowns us with glory and honor!

Obediently submitting to Jesus, the One who first gave their lives for us, who truly loves us perfectly, who has only our best interests in mind, who desires only good things for us, and who created us on purpose and for a purpose is all gain and very little loss for us.

Obedience to God, as a child of God, is the key to unlocking the transforming power of God in and through our lives!  Whereas selfish pride and arrogance set us up for a great fall, humility sets us up for great promotion!

To see all of this happen within a real life in a practical way, we’re taking a look this morning at the life of Asa.  He came from a bit of a rough background.  His father was king, but was an evil one who only reigned for three years.  He continued his family traditions of going their own way into sin and rebellion against God and against themselves.

1 Kings 15:3

He committed all the sins his father had done before him; his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his forefather had been.

His grandmother also was wicked and held a position of authority as a queen mother (gebirah in Hebrew).  A king often had many wives, but only had one mother.  Her position was often one of counsel and intercession to the king granting her a lot of influence over the nation.  She would even rule the land between kings.  It was so bad that Asa eventually fired his own grandmother from her position of queen mother because of her unrelenting wickedness.

All this being background information is being shared for one reason.  It is to encourage us that we have the opportunity to break generational habits and curses.  We don’t have to follow in the wrong traditions that our families may have followed in before us.  We can forge new traditions and begin new legacies and new patterns to follow. 

We can choose to proclaim, like Joshua, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord!”  Asa did just this.  I’m sure it wasn’t easy, but Asa pioneered a new path for his own life, for his family, and for his nation!  His story begins in tragedy.

2 Chronicles 14

1 And Abijah (Asa’s father) rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David. Asa his son succeeded him as king, and in his days the country was at peace for ten years.

2 Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. 3 He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. 4 He commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and to obey his laws and commands. 5 He removed the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah, and the kingdom was at peace under him.

It’s easy to read through verses like this and to overlook the reality of this.  Asa just chose to tear down all that his father and grandmother had worked so hard to build. 

The people in the land were worshipping other gods.  They setup Asherah poles so that the fertility goddess Asherah would bless their crops and livestock and bring them prosperity.  A new king begins to reign and goes around literally and spiritually cutting down what the people considered to be sacred and keys to their success.  This new king smashes sacred stones and removes altars and high places made to worship other gods.

Just the physical act of destroying these objects would be chaotic and loud and messy.  Then, the relational conflict and strife and chaos that would follow from destroying what someone considered to be sacred and dishonoring the gods that they revered and worshipped would not have happened quietly.

However, this chaos resulted in peace.  A short time of chaos resulted in ten years of peace.

When we make a choice to stand with the Lord and to serve and worship Him only, it will bring conflict and chaos with those who disagree or simply don’t understand.  Choosing to obediently submit to the Lord is not an act that goes unnoticed.

Choosing to rid our lives of sin and demolishing everything that we once held sacred can look like a great loss to others, but we know that it is great gain.  Putting to death our old selves and our old deeds can look like only destruction to others.  However, we know that it is just the demolition part of the process.  It is only a preparation as we begin to build our new lives becoming a new and far better person. 

Ultimately, the chaos of cleaning up our lives brings us peace.  If it can bring peace to an entire nation, how much easier can this process establish peace in our own lives?

After the demolition work settles, it’s then time to start building!

6 He built up the fortified cities of Judah, since the land was at peace. No one was at war with him during those years, for the Lord gave him rest.

7 “Let us build up these towns,” he said to Judah, “and put walls around them, with towers, gates and bars. The land is still ours, because we have sought the Lord our God; we sought him and he has given us rest on every side.” So they built and prospered.

8 Asa had an army of three hundred thousand men from Judah, equipped with large shields and with spears, and two hundred and eighty thousand from Benjamin, armed with small shields and with bows. All these were brave fighting men.

The land was at peace, there was rest, and no war was taking place.  The short-lived chaos and battles were worth the lasting peace experienced.  However, Asa still worked in that time of peace to fortify the cities and towns.  Asa trained and prepared and equipped a massive army for war when there was none. 

A saying that holds some sound wisdom is, “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.”

During a time of peace and rest, Asa prepared the land and the people for the war that would inevitably come.  During the seasons of peace and rest and blessing that God brings into our lives, we must guard our hearts and build up the fortification around our thoughts and attitudes with God’s truth and ways and principles knowing that the enemy is relentless and that another battle lies ahead of us.

The war eventually began for Asa and the people of Judah.

9 Zerah the Cushite marched out against them with an army of thousands upon thousands and three hundred chariots, and came as far as Mareshah. 10 Asa went out to meet him, and they took up battle positions in the Valley of Zephathah near Mareshah.

11 Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. Lord, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you.”

12 The Lord struck down the Cushites before Asa and Judah. The Cushites fled, 13 and Asa and his army pursued them as far as Gerar. Such a great number of Cushites fell that they could not recover; they were crushed before the Lord and his forces. The men of Judah carried off a large amount of plunder. 14 They destroyed all the villages around Gerar, for the terror of the Lord had fallen on them. They looted all these villages, since there was much plunder there. 15 They also attacked the camps of the herders and carried off droves of sheep and goats and camels. Then they returned to Jerusalem.

Although Asa did his part to prepare for the battle, he acknowledged that the battle was still the Lord’s.  We must obediently do our part in faith and trust that God will always faithfully respond by doing His part.  It was God alone who could win a victory for them and He alone is who they chose to rely on. 

The Lord responded and fought their battle for them.  The victory was great and the plunder was even greater!

2 Chronicles 15

1 The Spirit of God came on Azariah son of Oded. 2 He went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. 3 For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law. 4 But in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them. 5 In those days it was not safe to travel about, for all the inhabitants of the lands were in great turmoil. 6 One nation was being crushed by another and one city by another, because God was troubling them with every kind of distress. 7 But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”

8 When Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Azariah son of Oded the prophet, he took courage. He removed the detestable idols from the whole land of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns he had captured in the hills of Ephraim. He repaired the altar of the Lord that was in front of the portico of the Lord’s temple.

The Lord is with you when you are with Him.  We live in cooperation with God.  It is His joy to work in and through our lives when we choose to follow Him in obedience.  It is an adventure and the only way to live life to its full.

Our work here on this earth is never finished.  The good work that we did before that brought us success, we do again.  It is a life-long process to clean up our lives and to rid them of everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles us in our passionate pursuit after God.

It’s a lifestyle of maintaining the balance of living here in this world full of temptation to our flesh, but with the stronger desire to allow the Spirit of the Living God within us to overcome them.  It’s a lifestyle choosing to please God and not ourselves; trusting that what He wants for us is also for our own good.

When we are with Him, seeking Him, pursuing Him, then He is found by us and abides with us.  When we stand on the word of God, both written and spoken through the prophetic, we find encouragement.  We gather up the courage to face any obstacles that may come our way.

We can stand with confidence because we know that the battle is then not ours, the battle is the Lord’s.    

Paul wrote to Timothy:

1 Timothy 1:18-19

18 Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, 19 holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.

We’re reminded of our own church’s recent breakthrough that came as a fulfillment of God’s prophetic promise.  It came at an unexpected time and in a very unexpected way, but God is faithful and fulfilled His word to us.

Even as the angel told Mary about her virgin pregnancy with Jesus:

Luke 1:37

no word from God will ever fail.

No word from God will ever fail.  The Lord is with us when we are with Him.  The Lord is for us when we are for Him.  When we walk in obedience to Him, nothing is impossible for us.  When we walk in obedience to Him, His power can be unleashed into our lives, transforming us into a new creation.  Then, it can flow out of our lives transforming those around us.

As God prophetically told Asa, He’s also speaking to us this morning.  “As for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded!”

Today is the day of salvation.  Today is the day when we can choose to shake off our old selves, leave our past once and for good truly behind us, and step into the new life that God has prepared for us.  Today is a day when we can become a new creation.

This all happens by simply placing our faith in Jesus.  It happens by handing our lives over to Him and praying that “Not my will, but yours be done from now on.”  It happens by following His lead and living by His word and no longer by our opinions or feelings.  Only then does the power of God begin to radically transform us into a new creation by the work of the Holy Spirit that He places within us.