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Entries in Obedience (11)

Thursday
Apr052018

Cherish Each Day

In this Life UPGRADE, Dawn invites us to look at all the areas of our life to consider what we cherish, and how we can treasure these people and things more every day.

As I write this, I'm listening to a broadcast about a bridge collapse in Miami near Florida International University (on March 15). I wept to think about families whose loved ones died under the bridge, and the thought came to mind:

We never know our last day. We need to cherish our loved ones before it's too late.

It's not a new thought. Many have expressed the same sentiments, especially after a great tragedy like America's 9-11 or the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Hish School in Parkland, Florida.

As our minds and hearts try to wrap around these horrible circumstances, thoughts of REGRET may arise.

"I wish I had ...."

"I wish I hadn't ...."

"Why didn't I ....?"

"If only I had another opportunity to ...."

I've learned to deal with regrets.

  • I look for the LESSONS God might want to teach me.
  • I seek and receive God's FORGIVENESS for my failings, if that is a factor.
  • I try to think of positive, biblical ACTION steps to move forward.

One of the steps to my moving forward is this:  

I'm learning to cherish what I once took for granted.

To "cherish" is to hold dear, prize, value highly and treasure something or someone. When we cherish someone we protect and lovingly care for them.

I have a little plaque on the back of my bathroom toilet that I see every day. It simply says, "Cherish EACH DAY."

We often hear "seize the day," and that's good counsel too. But to cherish each day is to see value in each day.

It starts in the heart and then flows out through wise responses and actions.

Still, "cherish each day" seems generic.

To know how to cherish each day, we need to think about what we love and treasure within those days.

As I think about what I often take for granted, I've identified some things and people I need to learn to cherish more.

1. I Need to Cherish My LORD.

The scriptures admonish us: "... seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (Matthew 6:33).  

When we cherish the Lord, we will seek Him and we will seek to please him with right choices.

We will have no other gods before Him—no idols that displace our love for Him. 

"... love the Lord your God will all your heat and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind..." (Luke 10:27.

And if we cherish the Lord, we will love and obey Him and His Word.

"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46)

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15).

 2. I Need to Cherish My LIFE.

This one is a little complicated. On the one hand, we are to cherish our life because we are made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27). On the other hand, our life is a "vapor," a whisp of wind. We are creatures made by a mighty creator, and He knows we are but dust (Psalm 103:14).

The Lord may call on us to make the ultimate sacrifice of our life because we cherish some things even more—our decision to follow and obey Jesus, His calling on our life and our desire to please the Father.

Certainly, taking all of this into account, I need to cherish my life because Jesus died to rescue and redeem me! (Titus 2:14) He is the one who has established my worth.

3. I Need to Cherish My SPOUSE.

In the great scripture passage about husbands and wives, Paul says,

"no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it...." (Ephesians 5:29).

This is often seen as a man's sacrificial love and care for his wife, but it also could be an outflowing of verse 21: "submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ."

Certainly, a wife's submission to her husband's leadership (v. 24) and respect for her husband (v. 33) are manifestations of her desire to cherish her husband as God's provision.

When a spouse is difficult and stubborn, it is hard to find ways to cherish. Indeed, for all marriages there are difficult times when a spouse annoys and disappoints us. Cherishing in those cases comes from Christlike character and grace, living out the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:32; Galatians 5:22-23).

4. I Need to Cherish My CHILDREN... and GRANDCHILDREN!

5. I Need to Cherish My MINISTRY.

All Christians, in one sense, are called to ministry (Matthew 28:18-20).

But also, God calls us to specific tasks whether in the secular world or church-related; and we need to cherish that calling and not consider it a burden.

The Lord gives us gifts (Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-5; 8-10; Ephesians 4:4-14) to enable our ministries and vocations, serve the Body of Christ and bring Him glory. We want to be the "fragrance of Christ" (2 Corinthians 2:15) no matter where He calls us to serve.

Where God calls, He establishes, equips and empowers (Psalm 37:23; Isaiah 30:21; Hebrews 13:20-21; Ephesians 3:20-21).

6. I Need to Cherish My BODY.

It's too easy to take our bodies for granted. When we lose our health, we suffer greatly. God wants us to cherish our body—not in a self-focused, obsessive way, but rather to bring Him glory and preserve our ability to serve Him and others.

The Bible gives us keys to good physical health (along with other kinds of health). It surprised me to see how obedience to God's Word can promote health (Proverbs 3:1-2, 8; 3 John 1:2).

There are many scriptures about health—too many to put here. The simple truth is, our Creator knows how our bodies work and what is best. We need to follow wisdom as we respect and honor Him (Ecclesiastes 12:13). He doesn't want us to suffer the diseases brought about through ignoring wisdom about health (Exodus 15:26).

One thing I know for sure . . .

The boundaries God gives us are for our good, to protect us!

7. I Need to Cherish My FRIENDSHIPS.

God gives us friends in the body of Christ to challenge, teach and encourage us.

I cherish friends who:

Maybe you have some friends like that. Cherish them!

Or maybe you will think of other RELATIONSHIPS you treasure—extended family, co-workers, etc.

You may think there's one thing I've left out—THINGS!

Many have "things" they cherish—things they have or collect.

In the world's eyes, these things might be worth lots of money. But let me ask  you: How TRULY valuable are your things? Yes, we can enjoy things now, but we need to keep them in proper perspective. And we must never let our "stuff" become idols, replacing God's place in our hearts.

The Lord has challenged me on that, and helped me focus on eternal values.

"for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world" (1 Timothy 6:7).

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal" (Matthew 6:19).

In recent years, I've observed the attitudes of a number of people and couples who either lost homes to fires or floods, or had to drastically downsize.

In all of these cases, the people testified that "things" were important, but not what they cherished most.

It's all a matter of perspective.

What or who do you value most? How can you express your appreciation today?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Heartsand a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe

 

Thursday
Mar152018

Declare Your Allegiance

In America, the most common time we hear the word "allegiance" is when we say "The Pledge of Allegiance" to our flag. In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, Dawn Wilson reminds us Christians have another—even more crucial—Pledge of Allegiance.

I recently read through the Apostle's Creed. Dating to about 400 AD, the creed was ascribed to Jesus' apostles. It's not something my particular church regularly reads or recites. But I wanted to read it and think about what it says.

Matt Chandler once said of the early church reciting this creed, "it was simultaneously their greatest act of rebellion and their greatest act of allegiance."

When the early church spoke those words, they knew they might face persecution or worse. While Rome declared Caesar lord (and dared anyone to deny it), Christians bravely stood against their culture and said, "No, Rome. JESUS is Lord."

There is much in our present-day culture—many voices—calling out for our loyalty and time. We need clear discernment to know our responsibilities toward our government and our Lord (Matthew 22:15-22).

We need to determine what matters for Christian life and growth, and more importantly, for the Kingdom of God.

We need to learn to spot unhealthy, unholy distractions, and then pursue biblical, right choices with purpose and passion—to "walk in wisdom" (Ephesians 5:15-17).

To declare or pledge allegiance is to give our loyalty or commitment to a cause or a person. For instance, one who wants to become an American citizen must swear allegiance to the republic.

Here are some truths I've learned about ALLEGIANCE to JESUS.

1. Allegiance to Jesus is more than mouthing loyalty.

Allegiance speaks of heart-felt loyalty, faithfulness, devotion and obedience. Perhaps this is why we put our hands over our hearts when we recite America's pledge.

I remember saying two pledges, the "Pledge to the Christian Flag" and the "Pledge to the Bible," as a little girl in a a group called Pioneer Girls. The idea of loyalty to God, His Kingdom, His people and His Word stuck with me over the years—even before I became a true Christian.

I had a growing sense of the cost of complete loyalty to God.

Later, I would learn Jesus said, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and then looks back is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62); and Paul wrote about a man named Demas who forsook Paul and the ministry because of his greater love for the world (2 Timothy 4:10).

I knew there could be no sitting on the fence or wavering. Wavering would not please God. I needed to follow the Lord by faith (James 1:6; Romans 4:20).

2. Allegiance to Jesus is a decision.

In Sunday school, I sang, "I have decided to follow Jesus; no turning back, no turning back." Yet I didn't know the Lord in a personal way. I only knew a lot about Him.

In 1971, an evangelist confronted me with the terrible truth. I had acted the part of the Christian for many years, but I did not genuinely know Him. I felt deep grief with that realization and the heavy weight of my guilt.

I had mouthed my loyalty to Christ, but I lived like I belonged to the devil. The only "fruit" in my life was self-planted and generated.

I could hear Jesus saying, "Depart from me... I never knew you" (Matthew 7:21-23).

I was saying one thing and living another, and that dissonance led to spiritual chaos in my heart and life.

But once I trusted Jesus to save me from my sin and transform my life, all of those words and songs about allegiance came rushing back.

And then some time later, I heard the lyrics to a song that reminded me of the great cost that might be required if I pledged my loyalty to Jesus. (View a powerful video with the song—it made me weep—here.)

"I pledge allegiance to the Lamb with all my strength, with all I am. I will seek to honor His commands; I pledge allegiance to the Lamb."

3. Allegiance to Jesus is a lifestyle.

I decided I didn't want to be double-minded (James 4:8), toying with the enemy. I wanted to be clean before God. I knew I had to stop listening to Satan's suggestions. I had to stop believing the culture's lies. I had to live in light of eternity.

Allegiance—loyalty to Jesus—isn't just a concept; it's meant to be a lifestyle.

  • It means taking up the cross of Christ, no matter the cost (Mark 8:34-35).
  • It means boldness to declare the Gospel (Romans 1:16).
  • It means obedience to the Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit (1 John 3:24).

Simply knowing who is in charge, the Sovereign Lord, has uncomplicated many of my choices.

I am to obey Him (Luke 6:46):

  • immediately,
  • joyfully,
  • and without reservation.

Once a Christian declares allegiance to Christ, every day is a continuing surrender process of saying “Yes, Lord”—even if it is sometimes challenging. And that surrender gives us direction and peace.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “You are Lord and I am not;” and each time I sighed, sensing the release of complete trust.

4. Allegiance to Jesus Means No More Rivals.

As I've become more like Jesus, bit by bit through the work of the Spirit of God, I've found  allegiance means no more rivals.

It's been disconcerting to discover big and little idols that compete for my loyalty to Christ.

  • My food idol—Gluttony
  • My money idol—being a Shopoholic
  • My pride idol—"It's all about me."

Shall I go on? The enemy wants to sidetrack me with all sorts of idols.

But the Spirit keeps whispering, "Is Jesus Lord ... or not?"

We all have idols—our own private and public expressions: unhealthy pursuits, success without God, leisure, money and power, sexual appetites.

But when we declare our allegiance to Jesus as the Lord of all life—the Lord of OUR life—He desires to expose and conquer the power of every idol that claims HIS rightful place to rule us, bless us and delight our hearts.

Have you declared your allegiance to Jesus? Do you know Him, love Him, and desire to serve and obey Him as Lord?

What are some of your "rivals" for His rightful place in your heart?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Heartsand a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Robin Higgins at Pixabay.

Thursday
Jun152017

When God Interrupts

Kolleen Lucariello’s goal is to help women discover and live out their identity in Christ, and in this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she encourages us to see the Lord’s “interruptions” as His appointments.

“I listened as my sister explained her dilemma and easily sensed the disappointment and controlled panic in her voice,” Kolleen said.

I (Dawn) think it’s clear Kolleen has a sensitive heart—a heart primed to help.

But is helping at that moment what the Lord wanted? Great wisdom here.

Kolleen continues . . .

After months of struggle, my sister was finally able to help a young woman she had been mentoring find residential housing suitable to help her overcome the obstacles she’d been battling.

Unfortunately, she had just been informed her friend would not be able to continue in the program and my sister would need to find a new place for her immediately.

As in: ASAP.

After hearing the complexity of the assignment before her, I offered her the only sisterly advice I had when I said, “I’ll pray for you.”

I’ve learned this answer is the safest when the fixer in me rises up at the same time my empathy levels increase. As a recovering-controlling-fixer I often offer quick solutions to the pickles people found themselves in; my advice flowing from emotion with little thought or prayer involved.

This, my friends, usually put Kolleen in a pickle with her husband, Pat.

So now, rather than allow my emotions to speak up, I’ve become determined to wait on the Lord and be prayed up. So pray I did. 

I prayed hard for my sister. I prayed fervently for her friend.

I prayed that whoever God had given the ability to help would clearly follow His leading.

Each morning for almost a week I would grab my cup of tea, play “I Surrender” quietly in the background, and enter my quiet time of prayer—seeking God for wisdom in this situation.

As the day of her discharge grew closer and no temporary housing had been found, the desperation level began to increase. Calls for help were put out but—with a list of very specific needs in housing—choices were limited.

What became unlimited, however, were the many reasons for the answer, no.

Still, I prayed on.

I sensed the Lord was beginning to unravel this mystery of where He had in mind for her to go when I was reminded of the empty spare room we had recently painted and put together.

I began pleading my case for why the answer had to be no.

Since we were on limited time, the Lord wasted little of it exposing the reason for my hesitation: Interruption. Exactly.

How is it possible to sing “I Surrender” or “Withholding Nothing” in the morning and yet refuse to be interrupted by the One I promise to surrender to and withhold nothing from?

Ouch.

I wonder how Abram managed when God spoke to him, “Go away from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you” (Genesis 12:1 AMP). Talk about interruption. 

You UPGRADE your responsiveness to the Lord when you:

1. Listen for God to speak to you.

Abram was settled in Haran when the Lord spoke to Him and told him, “Go.”

Is there a chance we’ve become so settled in the safety of our routine that we fail to hear the Lord when He speaks to us?

2.  Allow God to move you out of your comfort zone.

God instructed Abram to leave his country, his relatives and his father’s house.

Is it possible we’ve become unmovable by the comfort of people, places and things?

3. Receive God’s blessing through obedience.

The Lord promised Abram there would be great blessing for him in exchange for his obedience.

Could we be missing out on the blessings He longs to give us each time we fail in our obedience?

Abraham became the father of many nations when he “...departed [in faithful obedience] as the Lord had directed him” (Genesis 12:4, AMP).

I wonder what we might become if we depart, in faithful obedience, when the Lord directs.

We won’t know if we refuse to surrender to His interruptions.

Does the Lord want to interrupt your life?

Kolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, is the author of the devotional book, The ABC’s of Who God Says I Am. Kolleen and her high school sweetheart, Pat, reside in Central New York. She’s a mother of three married children and Mimi to four incredible grandkids. She desires to help others find their identity in Christ—one letter at a time. Learn more about Kolleen here.

 

Thursday
Apr132017

Gasp: A Relationship's Last Breath

Cythia Ruchti is a hope-lover, hope giver and hope promoter. In this Relationship UPGRADE, she offers hope for all human relationships (and our ultimate relationship with the Lord).

"Who sits sipping coffee when a dying man or woman lies on the hardwood floor of the coffee shop or the breakroom at the office?" Cynthia says. "Even people with minimal skills know that someone needs to start CPR, call 911, and ask, 'Is there a doctor in the house?'"

At first, I (Dawn) thought this sounded a little like the beginning of a mystery, but knowing Cynthia, I figured it was more likely a powerful life lesson. I was not disappointed!

Cynthia continues . . . 

With relationships—marriage, parent/child, friendships—isn’t that what we too often do?

We sit idly by, caring but not responding.

“That’s for the professionals.” As if that absolves us of the responsibility to act, to do something, even if our skills are amateur at best, even if all we know about CPR is what we’ve seen on TV dramas.

But sometimes the last gasp occurs before the professionals arrive on the scene.

And sometimes the relationship in trouble is our own.

It’s been said that the number one killer of relationships is neglect.

  • How many friendships would still be alive if years, distance, and neglect hadn’t gotten in the way?
  • How many parent/child relationships could be strong and vital, life-giving, if given more attention when they started to fade?
  • How many marriages list “neglect” as one of the reasons for their “failure to thrive”?

Although the following scripture specifically speaks to a community’s forsaking or neglecting their relationship with God, doesn’t it also give a gripping word picture of the way we handle distance in marriage relationships or friendships?

“For our fathers…have forsaken Him and turned their faces away from the dwelling place of the LORD, and have turned their backs. They have also shut the doors of the porch and put out the lamps…” (2 Chronicles 29:6-9 NASB).

What a poignant visual! Leaving a porch light on is an expression of hope. He will come home. She will return. We will be okay. We’ll get through this. It may be long into the night, but we’re going to make it.

In this incident in the Bible, the people had boldly extinguished all evidence of hope. Lights off. We’re done.

After decades of marriage, my husband and I still disagree. Shocking, isn’t it? But even when our disagreements reach what seem to be impossible impasses, neither one of us reaches to shut off the porch light, because hope lingers in our commitment to one another.

Most MARRIED couples can recite the list of relationship CPR (Caring enough to Proactively Resuscitate) instructions:

  1. Maintain frequent date nights, even if you’re empty nesters. Get away from the house and its responsibilities for a while to focus on each other.
  2. Set aside an extended period of time for a getaway at least once a year.
  3. Be intentional about what the other person needs, honoring him (or her) above yourself (See Philippians 2:3. Check out the Phillips version—“Live together in harmony, live together in love, as though you had only one mind and one spirit between you. Never act from motives of rivalry or personal vanity, but in humility think more of each other than you do of yourselves. None of you should think only of his own affairs, but should learn to see things from other people’s point of view.”)
  4. Learn and respect your mate’s love language.

What would that list look like if our connection WITH GOD is the relationship that’s been neglected, left gasping?

  1. Re-establish a regular time to leave all other concerns behind and focus on listening to Him.
  2. Make it a priority to create an extended time for aloneness with the One you love. A silent retreat. A day-long or week-long sabbatical from other responsibilities. Unplugging. Fasting.
  3. Set your own needs aside to concentrate on what God wants from you—worship, adoration, devotion…
  4. Learn and respect God’s love language—OBEDIENCE (John 14:15).

If your human relationships or your connection with God are gasping for air, what CPR measures do you intend to implement?

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed-in-hope, an ever-lit porch light hope, through her award-winning novels, novellas, devotions, nonfiction, and through speaking events for women and writers. She and her grade-school sweetheart husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five (to date) grandchildren. Her latest novel is A Fragile Hope (Abingdon Press). In June, Worthy Publishing releases her book of encouragement and reflections called As My Parents Agehttp://www.cynthiaruchti.com/books/a-fragile-hope/.

Graphic: adapted, Click at Morguefile.

Thursday
Mar302017

Obedience ... and My Bathroom Scale

Dawn Wilson discovered a simple concept that changed her health overhaul, but it had far deeper consequences. In this Health and Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she focuses in on a key life-changer: Obedience.

I stepped off the bathroom scale one morning with disgust. Hadn't I stayed "on program," following my nutritionist's counsel carefully? (Maybe I deviated a wee bit... OK, twice.)

But really, the scale should have budged a little over a week. I was eating healthier and exercising more than a year before.

What happened?

Now I knew, from my nutritionist's cautions, that many things can influence the scale: gaining muscle from exercise as we lose fat, overeating, emotional eating, the time of the month, and even being constipated!

So I shouldn't worry. I knew I should just stay the course and over time, I'd see change.

But I was still mad that morning.

I started questioning the whole process. I grumbled. I was ready to throw in the towel, or maybe toss out my scale!

But wouldn't you know it. God was watching.

And the Lord provided an answer for me that very morning.

It came from Lysa TerKeurst. She quoted a friend who said,  

"Define your week by obedience, not by a number on the scale."

I tell you, I cried as I read those words.

When it came to my weight and appearance, I was trying to live according to human expectations, not with joyful obedience to the Lord.

Lysa continued, again quoting her friend:

"Yes, eating healthy and exercising get our bodies into better shape, but we are never supposed to get soul satisfaction from our looks. Our looks are temporary ... The apostle Paul wrote, 'We must obey God rather than human beings' (Acts 5:29).

"I read that verse differently now. 'I must obey God rather than human values'—like a number on the scale or the size on the tag in my jeans."

I wanted to solidify that thought in my mind, and my study on obedience that day encouraged my heart. I simply asked:

Why do we obey the Lord? (Or maybe, why should we?) And here's what I discovered:

1. We obey the Lord because He IS Lord!

Obedience is the right thing to do, because He is our Lord, our Master, and He has every right to tell us what to do. He rightly expects obedience. He says, "Be holy, for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:16), and "love each other as I have loved you" (John 13:34). Commands like that.

In the Old Testament, God required obedience regarding particular laws. He told his people, "keep my commandments and do them" (Leviticus 22:31). In other words, put them into practice!

Why? "... I am the LORD."

God also connected obedience to His sovereignty and His rescuing of Israel from Egypt (v. 33). Their obedience was a humble response to their gracious Lord's deliverance.

Likewise, we must respond to His Lordship and holiness from grateful hearts, because He has "delivered" (rescued) us from sin and spiritual darkness (Galatians 1:4; Colossians 1:13-14). We glady offer ourselves to Him as living "sacrifices" (Romans 12:1-2) to do His bidding.

What we want (desire, crave) is always to take second place to what He wants.

This is so crucial. In fact, our desire to obey the Lord is one sign to others that we know Him (1 John 2:3).

We are to obey the Lord IMMEDIATELY, COMPLETELY and JOYFULLY (Psalm 119:60; 1 Chronicles 28:8; Psalm 112:1).

2. Obedience demonstrates love for the Lord (1 John 5:2-3).

If we love Him, we will desire to keep His commands (John 14:15, 23).

It's not a matter of obedience to a plan, program, any list of arbitrary rules or people's preferences for our lives, but rather: "What is the Lord teaching me through the things He brings into my life and the disciplines He wants me to cultivate?"

If I love the Lord, I will seek to obey Him as I'm prompted by the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:16; John 14:26). It is the Spirit who gives us necessary wisdom and empowers us to obey (1 Corinthians 2:9-13, 16; Zechariah 4:6). It is the Spirit who helps us in our weakness and intercedes for us when we struggle with obedience (Romans 8:26-27).

3. Our obedience in faith pleases the Lord (Hebrews 11:6).

It's about our hearts. God sees our hearts and delights in us when we obey (1 Samuel 15:22).

We can be such disobedient creatures—willful and independent of God. Disobedience can indicate a heart filled with fear, lack of faith, wrong desires, personal agendas or even idolatries.

The Lord showed me a deep idolatry I cherished: the idol of food. Food is good and nourishing, but giving in to my rebellious appetite controls and enslaves. Constant cravings and lack of discipline point to a tremendous heart issue. My false god will never satisfy the deep needs in my heart. I need to give my food idol to the Lord and worship Him alone—not fudge and French fries!

It takes faith to obey the Lord when we can't see the end results. But when we choose to "trust and obey," this pleases Him.

4. Obedience is one way to prove our faithfulness to the Lord (1 John 2:3-6).

God does not respond to our mere discussions about obedience, but rather to our active obedience (James 1:22-25).

He evaluates our behavior for signs of faithfulness. He checks to see what values are driving our actions. He looks for intergrity.

In the Old Tesament, God said he would "raise up a faithful priest" who would serve Him and "do whatever I tell him to do" (1 Samuel 2:35). Likewise, God is looking for faithful servants today. It's ESSENTIAL.

5. Obedience opens the door for the Lord to bless and reward (John 13:17).

As the old hymn says, "Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey." Obedience may be difficult at times, but it ultimately brings joy, freedom and fulfillment (Psalm 119:1-2).

"Blessed (HAPPY) are all who ... walk in obedience" (Psalm 128:1).

Throughout the history of God's people in the Old Testament, the Lord promised reward and many blessings to those who obeyed Him and His Word (Genesis 22:18; Deuteronomy 4:39-40; 5:29; Proverbs 3:1-6; Jeremiah 7:23-24). Truly, in keeping (embracing and obeying) God's Word, there is great reward (Psalm 19:11).

Jesus echoed this truth. If we obey His commands, He said, we will be blessed to dwell in His love and find joy that is complete (John 15:10-11).

Some of the rewards of obedience are long life, gladness, protection, a sense of God's presence, assurance, peace; and answers to prayer. (Scriptures for these are at the end of this post.)

God rewards those who seek Him with a heart bent to obey.

6. Obedience glorifies God in our lives and before others (Matthew 5:16).

We should never want to bring shame on God's holy name; we should deeply desire to bring him honor and glory.

Our testimony of obedience to our loving Father shows the world God is working in and through us (1 Peter 2:12); and the sweet blessing is, God honors those who honor Him (1 Samuel 2:30b).

In these terms, living according to human expectations or values cannot be compared to living in obedience to God. Obedience is a far superior way to live, and with eternal dividends.

And it might even nudge that bathroom scale!

How can you apply these points of obedience to something practical in your liferegaining your health, getting out of debt, working on a relationship or something else?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Scriptures for "rewards" of obedience: long life (Deuteronomy 32:46-47; Proverbs 3:1-2); gladness (Nehemiah 8:17; 1 Chronicles 16:27; Acts 2:41, 46); protection (Deuteronomy 23:5); a sense of God's presence (John 14:21); assurance (1 John 3:24); peace (Psalm 119:165); and answers to prayer (1 John 3:22).

Graphic adapted, courtesy of HyenaReality, FreeDigitalPhotos.net.