Going through the memory lane, I will not forget the day I nearly ended my life for disobeying a traffic stop sign. We were two in the car, and we were deep in our conversation. Suddenly, I noticed we were very close to a stoplight. Instead of slamming on break, I decided to accelerate to beat the red light. Wow! It was a costly assumption. I crashed into an expensive car. The impacts on both cars were great. Knowing that I was wrong, I quickly admitted my fault and agreed to repair the other man’s car, which cost me a fortune to repair. Looking back, I thank God that it was my car that was damaged and not my life. From that experience, it dawned on me that obeying a stop sign may save a person’s physical life. Much more, obeying God’s word may save not just the physical life but the spiritual life as well.
This article is about obedience. Let us now consider how the simple obedience of Joseph saved Jesus’ life, made Joseph (a man of no reputation) an important figure in history and how obedience can position you to do exploits for the Lord.
The story of Jesus’ birth as recorded in the book of Matthew chapters 1 and 2 tells us how Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, obeyed God on three occasions. The passages are:
1. Matthew 1:20; 24: “But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife.
2. Matthew 2:12-13: “And been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their community by another way. Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and the mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”
3. Matthew 2:19-21: “But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead. And he arose, and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.”
What is Obedience?
In all the three instances above, Joseph obeyed God promptly. There was no procrastination or rationalization. It was an unquestionable obedience. What then is obedience? A dictionary defines it as, “compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another’s authority. . . .” Looking at it from the spiritual point of view, obedience is faith in action; faith in God who knows the end from the beginning; in God, who is all knowing and powerful. Obedience is doing what God instructs, even when His directives doesn’t make sense. When God instructs, he is not asking for your opinion, all He wants is your compliance.
Peter’s remark to Jesus in Luke 5:1-7 is a classical act of obedience. Jesus told him, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” He answered, Master, “we have toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word, I will let down the nets.” What was the result of his obedience? They caught a large amount of fish, and their nests were breaking.
In the Joseph story cited above, if he [Joseph] had chosen to disobey God, probably, something terrible might not have happened to him, but he could have been replaced by another man willing to obey God and definitely he would have missed the blessings. Luke 11:20 says, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep [obey] it.”
Rewards of Obedience
Do you know that obedience can transform your life, make you change the course of world history, impact the next generation and make you become a hero of faith? When God instructed Noah to build an ark, it was like asking him to build a castle in the air. His background was not in ship building, yet he obeyed the word of God that came to him. What was his occupational background? He was a farmer. They don’t correspond, isn’t it? When God gives an assignment, he provides all one needs. The secret is following God step by step, allowing God to guide along an unfamiliar path (Isaiah 42:16). Your obedience to God will determine the next step He will reveal to you. Many of us stop God’s Spirit at work in us because we could not follow Him through.
Following God is not by sight. It is a faith journey anchored in God. Like the wise men who visited Jesus initially missed their way before they reconnected back, stop and consider many opportunities you have missed this year because you ‘disconnected’ from the Lord in one way or the other. Think about the times you doubted and gave in to rationalization and procrastination. Or the times you wasted opportunities because you were waiting to have all the details. Whatever has happened, as God allowed the wise men to discover the guiding star that finally led them to Jesus, you will be connected. At this point, repent, confess and look to Jesus. You will be who God intends you to be.
2017 Christmas is a reminder to obey God
Each year, the story of the birth of Jesus is read, acted as a drama, and narrated during carols, nine lessons etc. What does it mean to you? Let the Holy Spirit use this period of Christmas to ignite radical obedience in your life. Your story in 2018 will change from a disobedience child, to someone whose heart is ready to follow God and whose act of obedience will honor God.
Finally, read Hebrew chapter 11, go through all the names listed in the Hall of Faith. They were all ordinary men who received grace and their history changed. I pray that 2017 Christmas, will be different from the past years. May it be the beginning of new obedience to God that will positively affect your walk with God permanently, amen.
Merry Christmas and an obedient New Year!