Can we talk for a few minutes about obedience? God has laid this word on my heart today. As mothers, we talk about or ask for obedience on the regular, don’t we? We instill it in our kids, we punish them when they aren’t obedient. I know in our home we have regular time-outs or restrictions when our kids don’t follow the rules. Sometimes disobedience requires a spanking. We give our children instructions, they are clear and we expect them to follow those instructions. We understand that they are children and they are going to mess up but as a general rule, we expect obedience.
So does God. Not just for our children though, He expects it from us, He’s laid out all the rules. He gives us instructions, tiny whispers spoken in our hearts. Oh but He, in His infinite wisdom, knows that we are going to make mistakes. His plan for our life is so perfect though. When we make mistakes we come to Him with genuine repentance in our hearts and He lovingly forgives us. Do you know that there is often a consequence in that plan? No, God won’t put us in a time out in the same sense that we do with our children, but sometimes our sin will separate us from important things in our life. A friend, a relationship, maybe something we want to do.
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops;10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.
For example, God has instructed us to honor him with our first fruits. This is our tithe. Tithing is not about money, tithing is about obedience. God asks us to trust him enough to give our tithe before we give to any other bill. When we disobey this we will likely find ourselves in financial struggles. When we spend our money only on the things that please us, we may find ourselves unable to afford things that we need or even want later on. However, when we honor God with our money, when we give Him our trust and obedience, He blesses us.
When my husband I first started attending church we didn’t tithe. We gave money, when we felt we had extra, but that wasn’t what God wanted from us. Giving money when all your bills are paid, when your belly is full and your wallet is overflowing isn’t trusting God. It’s saying “Okay, all my wants and needs are fulfilled, here… you can have what’s left.” Those aren’t your first fruits. When you get your paycheck and the first thing you do is give to God, before you see how much is left over, before the bills are paid, when your savings is empty… that’s when you’re trusting God. That’s when you’re saying “God, I don’t know how I’m going to fair this month, but I’m going to be obedient to you.” This is what he wants. Do you know that God doesn’t want or need your money? He’s God! He wants your dependence, your trust and your obedience.
So back to my hubby and I… we didn’t tithe for nearly a year. It wasn’t until after we went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (<<< I HIGHLY recommend this class!) that we began trusting God. I remember when we wrote our first tithe check. It was a little nerve wracking to give that much money away but we trusted Him. We knew that He would bless our obedience and that He would meet our needs. Notice I said needs not wants… Within a week of me writing our first tithe check I was checking the mail and I had an envelope from the local hospital. It was a refund check for a bit more than we had just tithed, from our middle son’s birth 3 years earlier. Can you imagine the odds? Now, is God going to send you a check every time you give Him yours? Of course not, but He does bless you for the obedience. For us it’s been in the form of a promotion at my husband’s work, the ability for me to stay home and homeschool our kids, being able to get out of debt and begin saving money. He orchestrated us moving into a house that is nearly 2 times the size of our old home and would you believe that our payment is $100 LESS per month? That’s how God blesses us. Our obedience to Him puts us in His will. It puts us on a path where we are following after His heart. And He pours out His blessings on His children. You only need to read Deuteronomy 28 to see how God feels about obedience.
Several years ago I was driving home with our middle child; who was two at the time. He noticed that Chick Fil A was up ahead and asked for a biscuit. We weren’t in a hurry so I decided to stop. As we were turning in I noticed a man standing on the corner. He had a sign stating that he was hungry. I felt God speak to my heart, He told me to buy this man breakfast, so I did. I ordered him a chicken biscuit and a coffee as it was pretty cold outside but as I was paying fear struck me. Here I was, a woman, alone with a small child and I was about to approach a strange man in the street. I reached over and grabbed my purse while I was still in the drive thru lane. I put it on the floor behind the passenger seat so that it wasn’t within reach of the window and I prayed, “God, I’m doing what You want me to do but I am scared. Please protect us.” As I pulled out of the parking lot I could see the corner where the man was standing only now the scene was very different. There was a police car there with the blue lights on and two officers had this man up against the back of their car. They were patting him down. He was being arrested, for what I have no clue. There I sat, at the red light beside them; I had his hot coffee in my cup holder and his breakfast in a bag on the passenger seat. God had protected me, He had shown me in a way that would reach me like no other (my husband and my mother are both law enforcement so seeing the blue lights spoke a message of safety to me) that He was there. I was so amazed. I called my husband, I told my pastor, I called anyone and everyone I could think of to tell what God had done for me that day!
Later that night I met some girlfriends at a fancy sushi restaurant for a birthday dinner. It’s an expensive place and there were probably 20 of us sitting together celebrating our friend. I had a couple of sushi rolls and a diet coke but most of my friends at the time were sharing bottles of wine and lots of food. As they were just getting started I was ready to leave, I’m not a drinker myself, and I tended to cut out when things got exciting. I asked the waitress for my check, it should have been about $25 if I was calculating correctly. The waitress smiled and said “it’s been taken care of.” I was confused, I assumed one of my girlfriends had picked up my tab but that wasn’t the case. An elderly gentlemen who sat inside had seen the celebration we were having on the porch. He had paid the nearly $600 (my best estimate based on the number of women and what our table ordered)tab for our entire group. He hadn’t even come out to tell us. He paid and left. The waitress said he does this about once a month, he picks a table and blesses them without ever saying a word.
I went back to my friends and told them what had happened, I also told them about what God had done for me that morning. One or two of them laughed, they thought I was making a whole lot out of a coincidence but I knew. I knew that God had rewarded my obedience. He had showed me He was watching. He made His presence known to me that day. He showed me that when I am obedient He takes notice.
God whispers to our hearts. He gives us little tasks throughout our days, some of those tasks may seem menial or even silly, but when we are obedient He moves mountains with those small tasks.
Be obedient, be submissive, look for the appointments in your life that God places before you. Even when you don’t have time or the desire, obey Him. Don’t let fear be an obstacle, fear nearly kept me from homeschooling my kids. God called me to be on this journey and He has blessed me for obeying, but fear delayed me for a full year. I didn’t trust that God could work through this area of my life. I felt like the stress would be too great. The task too difficult. But my God knew, He knew that this was where I needed to be. He knew that my children would thrive. He knew that our family would grow in a way that I can’t even put into words. He grew my faith. He grew my trust. He grew my relationship with Him. Obedience, Obedience is the key to following God’s heart. It’s the key to happiness, to being contented in your life. It’s not just what we expect of our children, it’s what our heavenly father expects from us.