Jan 11, 2012, 2:05 PM
God has always spoken and still speaks to people. His medium of communication to the great personalities of the Bible has been his word. He spoke to Adam and Eve but they did not listen. He spoke to Enoch and it is recorded that Enoch walked with God. "Enoch walked with God, then he was no more, because God took him away." (Genesis 5:21) What does that mean? Enoch obeyed God and he ascended into heaven. He did not see death. Noah also walked with God; he "was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God." (Genesis 6:9) He "... did everything just as God commanded him." (Genesis 6:22)
Abraham, who became 'the father of all nations,' also walked with God. At his first encounter with him, God spoke to Abraham and said: "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing... So Abram left, as the Lord had told him." (Genesis 12:1-2) Abraham abandoned the most important things in life - home and family in obedience and headed for a country that he knew absolutely nothing about. "A land that I will show you." When God calls you, he expects you to give up everything and look up to him for guidance and direction.
Throughout the Old Testament, God spoke to his chosen people with the prophets serving as intermediaries or transmitters. Then, in New Testament times, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." (John 1:14) The system of communication changes and another level is made manifest. God speaks directly to his people. On two occasions at Jesus’ baptism and at his transfiguration, he said of his Son, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well-pleased." (Matthew 3:17) "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him." (Mark 9:7)
When therefore Jesus summoned those four young men to quit everything and to follow him, we see a resemblance with what Abraham did. They paid no heed to the investment they had made. The thought of leaving the business to their father who was growing old did not bother them. They were faced with a loftier challenge of fishing people and they were convinced, beyond a shadow of doubt, that it could be done. The only proof they had was the overwhelming fact that Jesus filled their nets with fish at the utterance of his word after their individual efforts throughout the night had yielded nothing. "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch." (Luke 5:4) It’s like Jesus was saying to them. I know all your efforts have amounted to nothing to the extent that you have given up on ever making a catch. But take just this last shot at it and I bet you will be stunned, because I know where fish could be found. They obeyed and they were pleasantly astonished.
Is there anything that you have been engaged in for years and for which you have not had satisfaction? Do you feel like you ought to look elsewhere to fulfil that need? Then come to Jesus. Ten lepers met him on the outskirts of town and they called out to him in a loud voice "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" (Luke 17:13) He had compassion on them and asked that they should go and show themselves to the priest. They then set off and received their healing on the way. It is important to note that in New Testament times it was the priest who delivered a clean bill of health. When he declared you were healed then you most definitely were. Jesus did not say to them because of your faith be healed, nor did he touch them. All he said was "Go, show yourselves to the priests." (Luke 17:14) The cleansing happened as they set out on the way to the priests. It was because they acted on God's word that they were healed.
The ten lepers did not look at their circumstances; if they did they certainly would not have been healed. The young fishermen would have returned home empty-handed if they had not acted on Jesus' orders. In both instances the actors obeyed.
We assume therefore that obedience is action. It is no good knowing the word without acting on it. If we want results, and are looking for beneficial change, we ought to put the word of God into action. Believe that God has spoken and put what we have heard into practice is the key to success. Blessings flowed out of Abraham's obedience and he received divine favour which made him the father of all nations. Adam and Eve failed to obey one single command and humanity has been scared by sin ever since. Abraham obeyed and the manifold blessings of God have been our portion. The level of our obedience to God's word is key to the level of our successes in life.
What is your attitude to God's word? Are you one of those who say it is for old people and children? Our Lord Jesus came down to earth for a purpose and that purpose is fulfilled in his word. To those who doubted he said: "The Scripture cannot be broken." (John 10:35) It is not because we do not believe, that God's word will not take its course. We cannot put obstacles in God's way. God's word is true; he is not man that he should lie. (Numbers 23.19) "Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in him." (John 10:38)
During the days following Jesus’ death and resurrection, the disciples had scattered. Some had determined to return home to Emmaus. Distraught and despondent, they had felt their time and lives had been wasted following a leader who had been publicly disgraced and humiliated. It seemed like they were going to start all over again. Unsurprisingly, they returned to their former professions. They had gambled and lost as it were.
One night Simon Peter decided to go fishing and the others followed suit. That night they caught nothing. Back to shore that early morning, someone hailed to them asking whether they had caught any fish. They replied in the negative. Then that person instructed them in these terms; "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." (John 21:6) When they obeyed, "they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish." (John 21.6) Suddenly their minds flashed back to when they were being recruited for discipleship and John said to Peter. "It is the Lord!" (John 12:7)
What do we have to show for our obedience of God’s word? What other testimony can we give other than the one which glorifies the name of the Lord, when we are obedient? The Lord has a valuable purpose for our lives if only we obey him.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)