Obstacles to Obedience
Here is Pastor Priji and Pastor Rashmi discussing about the obstacles in obeying the voice of God in this morning podcast.
Pastor Priji: This morning I thought we could talk a little bit about obedience. I was just reading, in fact, I have been listening to audio bible regularly, and I am in the book of Genesis and listened to the story of Noah again and something that grip my heart is how when God spoke to him you should understand it does not show anywhere that he was obedient to God first or he prayed to God first or nothing. It says Noah found favor in the eyes of God, in other words, God bought him or purchased him or looked at him through grace. Grace is the word used there. How are we all saved? By grace. How are we in the ministry? By grace. Whatever we do today it is the same for us. It is not because of our efforts, it is because of his efforts that we are in ministry or doing whatever we are doing, but after that, the bible says he did everything God commanded him to do. So often, we mix this up. We think that we are in here, because we have obeyed God, but now, it is for us to do whatever we want to do, but it is the other way around, we are in here because of the grace of God, but now that we are here, we are expected to obey His voice and do what He wants us to do in our lives and ministry, and I think that is the fundamental foundation for us to build our ministries and lives upon, even our families. Even if you are business leader something to build your life upon is obedience to God’s voice. I can’t tell you how many times I have sat with leaders and had conversations, and so often, I find them telling me that they are doing stuff that it is most convenient or most easy for them and not what they are sure that this is God’s will for their lives, and that is why when they are faced with problems or challenges in life, it is very easy to step down from ministry or give up or go back home and say okay this is not my cup of tea. It is because you have not heard from God. The one thing that gave Peter the audacity, the guts, the courage to walk on water was the words of Jesus saying, come, because Jesus said come, I know I am not going to sink, I know I am not going to end my life with this first steps that I am taking on the water. I think that has to be the passion, the desire of every man of God, every woman of God that is listening to us. In your heart, it has to be that I want to obey the voice of God. Because like Jesus said in Matthew 7:21, not everybody who calls me Lord, Lord, but those who do the will of my Father in Heaven, they will enter into the kingdom of God. So, it does not matter my dear friend what you are doing, where you are, if you are not obeying God, then you are in the wrong place, your are in the wrong ship, you are going to Tarshish instead of going to Nineveh. You are in the wrong business. So, obeying God is fundamental. So this morning, we are going to probably discuss some of the obstacles in obeying the voice of God.
Pastor Rashmi: Moving on to probably the story in the life of Noah, when we look at Noah, I am a kind of surprised as to when we talk about leadership or when we talk about leaders, I am not sure of Noah really figures as a very spectacular leader. He was a chosen man of God. He was chosen by like you said by Grace, but when we look into the life of Noah what is that made him like a choice of as an example of a leader or someone that we might want to follow as an exemplary person? What was it that you saw in Noah’s life that made you really go back to him?
Pastor Priji: You should understand that a leader is not just may not defined by the number of followers he has. Of course, Noah had no followers, Noah preached and no one repented, and he was not popular. So often, we define good leadership by popularity and the number of followers and all of that. Noah was not popular. Noah did not have any followers, but the choices he made, the decisions that he took impacted the whole world! If he would have said no to God’s voice, if he would not have obeyed God’s voice, I am guessing that the whole humanity would have been wiped out because that was the one man that God said I can work with this guy, and If he would have said No I don’t want to work with you God, God would have given up completely on humanity, so that one choice that Noah made to obey God, I think that is what defines your leadership, what defines how good of a leader you are or if you are really a leader or not is the impact that your decisions is going to make upon your generation, the impact your decisions, your choices are going to make upon your church, upon your city, upon your nation. You may not be the most famous preacher or the most influential business man, all of that, you may not be any of that, but still, what you leave behind, how you make your choices and the decisions, those are the things that make you truly a leader.
Pastor Rashmi: Moving on to the topic that we’re doing this morning is the challenges of obeying God, the challenges that you might face in obeying God. Obeying god is one thing, but sticking through what you go through, when you obey god is a totally different ball game altogether. So, moving on to the challenges, the first one probably we might want to discuss is the fact that as a leader the very reason that you picked it up or you made a certain decision if you are able to listen to God in the first place, if you have been able to hear God and heed the direction, because if you have not heeded or if you have not even heard his voice, then there will be very less for you to cling onto in the leadership position or in fact it is not even just about leadership it could be about anything that you have picked it up in your hand, and if you have not heard from God, I think that is the first step that we need to take “Why I am here? What I am doing? What do you want me to do now that I am here?” If you could redirect everything through God and to God, I think it is going to be a lot easier, because here is the thing, humans are never constant, but God is. It is just our emotions or our circumstances, our situations or people around us, our plans for tomorrow are never constant, and there is nothing that you can really base your foundation on or you can base what you are standing on and what is that is going to give you assurity that tomorrow will be taken care of; it is God. So unless you go to him, unless He gives you a task, unless He commissions you for something; when He commissions, he provides, he takes care; and if He commissions, then He is the one in-charge, but if He doesn’t, then what, and if He is not in it, then how are we going to go about it, so that is something that probably you may want to do in the beginning as to before even obeying God have you heard from God, and if you heard from God, do you have the faith in him to be able to say no matter what comes my way I will still hold onto the one word that you gave me or the one commission that you gave me.
Pastor Priji: I agree that lack of being able to hear from God or not willing to hear from God, or not available to hear from God is one of the biggest reasons why we don’t do His will. How can you do His will if you don’t know His will? I think as leaders we need to get back to the basics of daily prayer, daily reading the bible, daily waiting on him. So often, we do this annual fasting prayer where we want to hear from God for the whole year, and then not hear from god until the next year’s fasting prayer. I think that culture needs to change where we depend on God on a daily basis. One verse that challenged me most in the recent times is Isaiah 50:4 where the bible talks about Jesus receiving the directions from the father morning by morning, I think that has to be the lifestyle of every leader, and another challenge that I have seen of leaders not being able to obey God is when they see the cost that is involved in obeying God that sometime you have to leave behind everything for example Noah and his family they have to leave behind their entire lives, wealth, homes, friends, and their entire society; all their entire social life they had to leave it behind for the direction and for the destination that God was calling them to. Sometimes that can turn out to be a deterrent in so many of our hearts and lives. For us personally, when you decided to go into ministry you had the option of either working or ministry, there were so many objections in your heart. When I wanted to go and get into ministry, there were so many things because my family needed help, and there were so many objections in my heart, and so often, it is easy for us to get carried away by the weight and the obligations and the responsibilities that we have, and we are not able to obey God because of that, we are not able to make the right choice because of that, and I think that just being willing to say yes to the 100% will of God, will have to come with its own share of giving up of your comfort zone, giving up the things that you are used to, your conveniences you may have to give them up, but it is a part and parcel of obeying God. In the Old Testament, it says that obedience is better than sacrifice which means that the sacrifice that you are doing is not the real sacrifice. When you obey, that is the real sacrifice that God is looking for.
Pastor Rashmi: Something that comes to my mind is when you obey, there is always a fruit, there is always a reward in the obedience, and I personally believe it to be growth. When you obey, your reward is that you grow, and I am not sure that if any growth as such has been very comfortable. The fact that growing brings with itself a lot of lesions when you grow, be it in your career, be it in your physical growth, but when you grow in your character, you need to go through some refinement and the sacrifice that you are talking about probably is not for us to sit and complain about rather those opportunities are those problems in our lives are coming so that we may be able to grow and refine ourselves. That is the reward in obedience that I have seen personally in my life the fact that when there has been obedience, there has been reward in the chance of growth and that has led me personally into bigger and better opportunities.
Pastor Priji: So often, we are only looking at today and we are looking at tomorrow and we are not looking it from God’s perspective. We are just looking at this is how it pans out for me right now, and this is not comfortable, this is not good, I have a better opportunity there, I have a better salary here, I have a better work environment here, and those becomes the criteria upon which you make your decisions and make your choices and that is where we completely go off and we go wrong. I think one of the other biggest challenges in making decisions especially in obeying God is the thing that what will people say, social acceptance what will my parents say about it, what will my church say about it, how will my best friends react, where will I stay after this if I step out into ministry, will people really accept me. That is the cost. Jesus said it like this, if any man puts his hand on the plough and looks back is not worthy. It is not because he was not called, but he was called, he put his hand on the plough, and now, he is looking back at what he left behind, and Jesus is saying no, you can’t do that, and if you are in here, you are in here for the long haul and you cannot go back. I think more than that I have heard a lot of people say this; I want to obey god, I know what god wants me to do but I don’t know how to do it. That is his inability to obey God or I do not have the resources, I do not have the support or income that you guys have or influence that you guys have or I don’t even have the passion doing this, everybody comes and tells me saying do ministry but I don’t want to do it, like I don’t feel like doing it. What would you suggest and what would you tell them from your personal experience of walking with God from your personal experience of God telling you this is my call for your life and you stepping into it, one phase at a time of course, one day at a time you accepted, and for me, it is being over a long period of time so it was easy for me to, for you it was all of sudden, for me I have been from my childhood days one a day at time I have been trained, all my life I have lived for and towards ministry, but for you it was all of sudden and people started coming in and prophesying over you and God started speaking. I am sure that hundreds of time when you have felt inadequate and not able to doing what God has called you for, so how did you handle that pressure and how did you overcome and how has your journey been?
Pastor Rashmi: It is easier for me to probably talk a lot about this than actually go through it because my personal experience of not having the desire or not having a passion or feeling that God has given me enough skills or talents to do what I am called to do. Going through that emotion actually is not a very helpful place, but having said that, I have seen that God has never failed me. There is this very popular phrase that says “God does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called” which means that he already done the job of calling; if you have done the job of listening and following and responding, then he qualifies you, and I have seen that the 10 minutes of obedience that I have given him He has worked amazingly, so I believe that when we have this emotion that I am not good enough or I don’t have enough, I think we are limiting God who is infinite into a very finite little circle called us because whatever we are putting across is based on our understanding of what can be done, So you are basically saying my God cannot do much with my weaknesses or with whatever he has made me. It is a very radical thought. It is something that I do not want to tell myself at times, but I have seen personally in my life because the maximum I can do is probably talk about what God has done in my life, so I have seen that whenever I let God, “I am really not capable of doing it but if you want me to do it, then you better do it, you better take charge.” So when he has done that, I have seen like beautiful beautiful testimonies and beautiful beautiful stories so I believe that if you feel inadequate, if you feel the inability or if you feel the lack, you need to place yourself in God’s eyes instead of bringing him down to your level. You raise yourself up to his level and then challenge the situation and then challenge the thought, and then see the outcome.
Pastor Priji: The bible says his strength is made manifest in our weaknesses; his strength is not made manifest in our strength. When we are already strong, we come to this place where we don’t need God. I was in South Africa recently, and Pastor. John Joseph was teaching about the word “anointing” and something that he said blows my mind over and over again; he said the one thing that it means when it says you are anointed, it means that what you had was not enough that God had to anoint you that you don’t have what it takes to do this that you needed the anointing to do the tasks, to do the calling to be, to obey the voice of God you needed the anointing, you needed the presence of the Holy Spirit, you needed the supernatural ability that God would put on the inside of you. That is what it means to say I am anointed. So often we think that when I say I am anointed I am strong. It actually means that I am weak, and he had to fill in the gap, otherwise I can’t do this. This is not me that is what it means. When we say he is an anointed man of God, what we saying is he is a weak man of God who is depending heavily on the strength of God. I think that being aware of our inabilities is actually the one thing that allows us to depend on God.
Pastor Rashmi: In fact, you are telling God that well here is where I need you the most and you just leaning on him completely.
Pastor Priji: So often when we have the strength, we stop leaning on God.
Pastor Rashmi: That takes us to a place of pride because we are all so super-focused on ourselves like these dying stars that keep collapsing within themselves, we are like that, and I think having the knowledge of the fact that you have a weakness is a good place to be in because that is where you are going to say Lord here is where I stop and you start.
Pastor Priji: I think that as leaders we need to rise up to the challenge of being obedient to God that if you have not been able to hear God’s voice, cut off from everything else and take some time out and just read the bible. If nothing else, the bible is the language of God, it is the voice of God, it is the heart of God, just read the bible, nothing else just go and sit under someone else’s ministry. If you are in a culture of only preaching every Sunday and only ministering every now and then, but you are not receiving from anywhere else, anybody else, take a break and go sit under someone else, look for a congregation where people don’t know you and go receive, and if nothing else works, just fast and pray that always works, just disconnect from everything else and just seek the face of God and what ever the cost maybe, I know that it can pinch you, it may hurt you, but bring it to the feet of Jesus and say, Lord I have put my hand on the plough, I am not willing to look back. Even if people don’t respect me, even if I don’t have my convenience spots and my comfortable seats and my pleasurable lifestyles, I am okay with it, I am willing to give up my comforts to attain what you have, and that last but not the least, it is about being aware of your weaknesses, being aware of your inabilities and depending on God, especially let me say this for those of who are thinking that you don’t have enough finances to do ministry. If God has called you, he will pay your bill, for sure; he will pay the bill for your ministry. God will not give you a calling that he is not willing to pay for. He will not call you for a ministry or he will not call you for a task that he is not able to or he is willing to pay for. He will not call you for a ministry or he will not call you for a task that he is not able to pay for. If he is called you, he will pay the bill. So, trust Him with that. I understand that sometimes it can be very hard but trust him 100% to pay the bill and you step out in faith and you can see how God will come and take care of the remaining 99 steps. You take the first step, because the bible says draw near to me and I will draw near to you. So, you take the first step, and let God take the remaining 99 steps.
That’s all from us this morning. Any concluding thoughts from you Pastor Rashmi?
Pastor Rashmi: It is a challenge definitely to obey God, but it is worth it, it is worth every minute of it, it is worth it and the thing about this is that you are not pleasing a man, the benefit of obedience is long term and it is lasting and it is something that is going to leave an impact. You can be sure about that. You may not see it today, but if God is called you for it, He is the one who has seen time from the beginning to the end. So, He knows what He is doing. Give him the benefit of doubt and let Him take over. Amen.
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