Why Should I Obey God?

The following is a brief outline of a sermon that Nathan Booth preached for us Sunday on the topic, “Why Should I Obey God?”

He began the sermon with a funny story about how his sons were debating with their mother about who was going to put which dishes away while unloading the dishwasher. It came down to one son refusing to put 3 bowls away because they were another son’s responsibility. Nathan recounted that he began to reason with this son that, “It’s only 3 bowls.” He then quickly began to think, “Wait a minute, is that the reason my son should obey his mother…because it is only 3 bowls? What am I teaching my son?” Nathan concluded the story with the point that his son should obey his mother because she is his mother, not because there were only 3 bowls. It doesn’t matter, Nathan pointed out, if there were 300 bowls or only one fork!

This led into a thought process which became the sermon on Why Should I Obey God? Below is the rough outline of that sermon for your consideration. If you want to listen to the sermon, as well as get the full outline for the sermon, click here.

Why Should I Obey God?

Are there incorrect reasons for obeying God?
  1. To earn salvation (Ephesians 2:8-10).
  2. Thinking God will make my life miserable if I don’t obey (Matthew 5:44-45; Psalm 73:11-12). Even wicked people have God’s blessings rained down on them at times.
What are VALID reasons for obeying God?
  • Faith – He is the Lord (Leviticus 22:31-33; Exodus 34:6-7; Luke 6:46-48). The Lord, Jesus, also came and gave us an example of obeying His Father’s will (Philippians 2:5-11; John 15:10). Nathan used the account of Jesus turning water into wine to make a point about Jesus’ relationship with his mother. Mary’s statement in John 2:5, Nathan stated, is “the confident expectation of a mother who is used to being obeyed” (see also Luke 2:51).
  • Love – We are thankful for, and will not mistreat God’s gift of grace. He purchased us with His own blood (Acts 20:28)! We love Christ for what He did for us (John 14:21).
  • Hope – There are eternal rewards for following Jesus (Luke 6:35; Matthew 5:8; 16:27; 25:19-21; John 14:23). You will just have to listen to the sermon to hear about Ice Cream Universe!

Again, please refer to the link for Nathan’s full outline. Thanks, Nathan, for this wonderful sermon!

By Their Fruit

Reading a book recently, I came across a discussion between two young men. In this novel, one young man had become infatuated with the “most beautiful girl” in their class. This young lady, had turned her attention towards the young man. Obviously, he was very gratified. So gratified, he in fact ignored how she treated his friends and others in general. In many ways, the young man, had “blinders” on that prevented him from seeing the truth about this young woman. His friends approached him with the truth and consistently he denied it. Finally, one of the young man’s friends asked him to consider a truth, “nice people are nice to everyone.” Even the young man had to recognize that was not true of his infatuation.

Think about Jesus’s warning in regards to false prophets: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” Matthew 7:15-20

This principle applies to not just the “false prophet.” By their fruits you will know them. There are a number of applications for us:

Men who would consider a woman as a potential spouse – how does she treat others (this point would be in the direct context of our introduction)?

There are times when we can see an individual treat us like “gold,” but that is not how they treat everyone else. Consistency of character will show itself in all areas.

Time is such an important factor

A quick assumption, or brief recognition of an individual’s fruit will not necessarily reveal the truth. Time will show all the fruit, and allow for an evaluation on what they truly base their life on. Psalm 92:12-13, “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord Shall flourish in the courts of our God.”

Finally, remember, the actions of a man, must be consistent as well. We have to consider our fruit and actions.

How do we treat individuals who are outside our normal acquaintances?

Are our actions consistent with everyone?

Do we hold others to a standard we do not hold ourselves?

Then You Will Understand

My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; He guards the paths of justice, and preserves the way of His saints. then you will understand righteousness and justice, equity and every good path. (Proverbs 2:1-9)

When I studied under another minister, Steve, he instructed me in a host of topics. He gave me lots of answers and teaching from God’s word. But one of the things he taught me that helped me the most was when he didn’t answer my question. He wanted me to find the answer on my own.

I remember the day that I walked across the hallway into his office and said, “Hey Steve, why did Jesus always seem to tell people not to tell anyone after He did a miracle?” He replied, “I’m not telling you…go study it some more and come back to me.” Frustrated and impatient, I went back to my office and begin digging some more. More reading. More searching. Then the light went on…and I yelled across the hallway, “I think I figured it out!” I went back into his office and discussed it with him, and I could see him beaming. He wanted me to find the answer on my own. Steve wanted to instill confidence in God’s word that truth is there if I am willing to dig for it. He was right.

Then You Will Understand

He was directing me to God’s wisdom, not to his own wisdom. A powerful lesson for me that day, indeed. Have the confidence in God’s wisdom that the answers are there, you just have to dig awhile. That old adage of “Give a man a fish, or teach a man to fish,” is true in this context as well.

Solomon most certainly did have “words” and “commands” for his son, but the goal was to train his son to seek for God’s wisdom. Do you see those words in the above passage like “incline,” “apply,” “cry out,” “lift up your voice,” “seek,” and “search”? What is he teaching his son?

Fathers and grandfathers, meditate upon this today. There are many times we will give answers, wisdom, advice and teaching. Let us also instruct them on how to find the answers for themselves. Don’t cripple your child by always giving him or her the answers.

Something I often say to people when I am teaching them is, “The truth never suffers from investigation.”

Trading Gold for Bronze

So Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s palace. He took everything; he even took the golden shields which Solomon had made. Then King Rehoboam made shields of bronze in their place and committed them to the care of the commanders of the guard who guarded the door of the king’s house. As often as the king entered the house of the LORD, the guards came and carried them and then brought them back into the guards’ room (2 Chronicles 12:9-11).

Gold shields replaced with bronze shields. Gold in the Bible, and throughout history, is known for its great value and preciousness. Bronze is shiny and pretty, too, but it isn’t gold. Because Rehoboam had left God, God gave him over to Egypt, and things that were gold were now bronze. King Rehoboam traded God’s sacred things for lesser things. He gave up the holy things, the precious things, for things of much lesser value.

The Olympics are going on right now, and we can clearly appreciate this principle. Can you imagine Michael Phelps trading his 23 gold medals for 23 bronze medals? Would we be making such a big deal if he won 23 bronze medals? Nope. Interesting fact, he has won more Olympic gold medals in his lifetime than 62 other countries have won in the Olympics!

Fathers, this is a principle we can be teaching our children. Use the Olympics and this passage from 2 Chronicles 12 to show how Rehoboam traded gold for bronze.

Trading Gold for Bronze

This is a sermon I preached last Sunday, and here are the things I found in the Scripture about Rehoboam trading gold for bronze.

  1. He traded God’s ways for his own ways (2 Chronicles 12:1,14).
  2. He traded God’s strength for his own strength (2 Chronicles 12:1).
  3. He traded the wisdom of the elders for the wisdom of his peers (see 2 Chronicles 10:8,13). Those wise men had grey hairs for a reason, and he chose not to listen to them. His peers gave him the advice he really wanted to hear anyway, and he went with it.
  4. He traded the holy things for lesser things (2 Chronicles 12:9-11). He put bronze shields in the place of the gold shields. Think of how we do that in our lives today! Our minds are to be holy, fill them with gold. Our bodies are to be holy, they belong to God, treat them like they’ve been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). Don’t trade down…don’t settle for things of lesser value.
  5. He traded serving God for serving man. God let him experience the “difference” between serving God and serving the masters of men (2 Chronicles 12:8). Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden is light. We often do not learn that until we see how cruel the masters of this world are to us.

Don’t trade gold for bronze. Just like Esau traded his birthright for a bowl of stew, we can give up very special things for things that in the end are of no value at all. Go for gold!

He who loves wine and oil

He who loves pleasure will become a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not become rich (Proverbs 21:17).

There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man swallows it up (Proverbs 21:20).

A very good friend of mine says often, “You have time and money to do what you want to do.” Folks don’t like it when he says it, but he is right. Surely we can find exceptions to that principle, but it is generally true, especially here in America. People have money, they simply choose to spend it on a lot of frivolous stuff. Video games, going out to eat, movies, impulse purchases, etc., all can drain a bank account in a hurry.

What happens often is that we spend $5 here and $10 there and we think, “No big deal, its only $5.” But all those small purchases add up, don’t they? Before long, you look back at your account – you spent $100 to $200 on “wine and oil.”

And then…a repair comes up. You might be tempted to say, “I don’t have any money for that,” but you might want to look back at what you have spent for the past two or three months.

Financial restraint

The Proverbs referenced above show ancient wisdom that is still relevant today. If you love pleasure (wine and oil), you will be bankrupt. A wise person saves and shows financial restraint, while a foolish person spends all that he has. There is no end to the things on which we can spend money. Yes, put aside money for fun things, but show self-control. Learning to say “No” is a vital tool when it comes to our finances.

Fathers, this is a valuable lesson from Proverbs not only to live for ourselves, but to teach to our children.

When Daddy apologizes

If you don’t know it by now, dads, your kids can see that you are human. They know you make mistakes, too. What they are watching for is how you will deal with it when you misbehave. When Daddy apologizes, some very good things happen in our relationships with our kids.

When Daddy apologizes

My son or daughter needs to hear from me that my behavior was unacceptable. If we have been overly critical of them or if we have lost our tempers with them, they are injured. They need to know that this behavior is not right. We as fathers must make sure they hear that this is not how you treat people. There are not two sets of rules in this home, one for daddy and one for everyone else.

Think of the alternative…if a child grows up where Daddy never owns up to his poor choices, then what does the child learn? We would not want a culture in the home where, “Daddy never admits when he is wrong.” Being right with God is more important than maintaining the illusion that Daddy is always right.

When we own up to our sins, we become vulnerable and transparent which are vital qualities in a healthy relationship. Wouldn’t we rather hear, “Daddy isn’t perfect, but he fesses up to it when he’s wrong.”? This helps to foster an environment in the home where your kids are more likely to admit their own mistakes.

Finally, make sure that in your apology you don’t make them responsible somehow for your anger or poor choice of words. It is as old as Adam and Eve, but we as humans like to shift the blame. It sounds like this, “Well, son, if you wouldn’t have done this, then I wouldn’t have said that.” That is not an apology. Own up to it; take full responsibility.

He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion (Proverbs 28:13).

A Hard Day’s Work

There is great benefit in a hard day’s work, and I believe as fathers we should instill that early and often in our children.

In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty (Proverbs 14:23).

God made us to work:
  • To provide for ourselves and our families (1 Timothy 5:8).
  • In order to help to others (Ephesians 4:28).
  • So that we can glorify God with our work. The way we work “adorns the doctrine” (Titus 2:9-10).
The blessings of a hard day’s work:
  • Hard work is good for the body, mind and the soul. Sweating cleanses the body and the mind.
  • Builds a strong work ethic in your children.
  • Keeps those feisty kids out of mischief. Of course, some ornery kids (like this one) would get in trouble while working. Just give them more work.
  • Helps your kids to appreciate the things they have when they worked hard to save and pay for them. Parents who give their kids everything are crippling them.
  • You have a great sense of pride (the good kind) in a job well done. When the yard is mowed, or the gardens are weeded, you can look and say, “I did it and man, it looks good.”

Here are a few Proverbs on diligence for your meditation today.

Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich (Proverbs 10:4).

The hand of the diligent will rule, but the slack hand will be put to forced labor (Proverbs 12:24).

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made fat (Proverbs 13:4).

Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men (Proverbs 22:29).

A man who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty. A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished (Proverbs 28:19-20).

Let Him Who Boasts

Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD (Jeremiah 9:23-24).

Dads, we hear often how important praise is to the health, growth and emotional stability of our kids. That most definitely is true. Kids need to hear more of our praise and acceptance than our criticism. This dad needs to remember that.

Here is what I am thinking about today. I was reading Jeremiah last night and came to the above verse about boasting. The real focus of our boasting should be that we know God and understand His character. God delights in the qualities of lovingkindness, justice and righteousness. It is very easy and common to brag about money, education, intelligence, status and strength. None of that matters to God. None of those things are enduring.

So, when we praise our kids, what is the focus of our praise? Is it centered around how smart they are? Is it focused on how good he or she is in a sport? You know, it would be cool to tell others that our son or daughter is a CEO of a corporation. It would make our chests swell out to tell others that our son is governor of a state. We would have no problem going around and bragging that our daughter won the state championship in basketball and also was valedictorian in her class.

None of that is enduring, though. Certainly, we can and should praise our kids for their accomplishments. Nothing is wrong with that. However, the focus of our praise should be the spiritual qualities that our children possess. That’s what really matters.

What does God praise?

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised (Proverbs 31:30).

What is God looking at?

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

What is precious in God’s eyes?

…the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God (1 Peter 3:4).

Praise them for their faith. Glory in the great decisions they make for God. Boast in the hidden person of the heart. Shine the light on their humility, their mercy, and their commitment to Jesus.

Remember, dads, our kids will most likely value what we value. Our children will go where the praise is, because they are designed to seek a father’s approval. Where is the focus of our praise, dads?

What kind of man are you looking for?

Here are a few thoughts I recently shared with my daughter, and I pray they are wise. Believe me, my wife and I are in unchartered territory right now as parents of young men and women who are now seriously considering who they might marry one day. So…what kind of man are you looking for?

Is He Spiritually strong?

I do not mean that he is a flawless, super-Christian. But listen to him. What really matters to him? Where are his priorities, really? There are young men who “go to church,” and are “Christians,” but they are not spiritually strong. Their priorities are all wrapped up in earthly things. Is he someone who constantly has a reason not to be at worship services? Is he someone who loves to be around God’s people? What is his prayer life like? How does he make decisions? There really are young men like Daniel, Joseph and Jeremiah in this world, young men who are deeply committed to God, and it is evident in their conduct and conversation. Again, you are not looking for flawless perfection, because if that were the case, no one would ever get married. You are however, looking for a man who is seriously committed to walking with Christ. Pray for a man who will love God more than he loves you. Pray for a man who is more concerned about your soul than your body.

Is he Emotionally stable?

I do not mean the man has no emotions, nor that he is stoic. But if he is extremely insecure, you will one day pay the price for that in your marriage. Is he showing traits of being possessive, manipulative and controlling? Does he fly off the handle emotionally? How does he treat his parents? How does he treat people with whom he disagrees? How does he behave toward you when you do something he doesn’t like or approve of?

Is He Financially sound?

I do not mean that he is rich and wealthy. You are not marrying for money, but money fights are one of the biggest causes of dissension in a marriage. And of course, money is not the problem, it is our attitude toward money that is the problem. Remember what the apostle Paul said about the “love of money…” (1 Timothy 6:8-11). This is something you definitely should discuss with this young man. Is he on a pathway to lots of debt, because he is irresponsible with money? Does he have a healthy relationship with money? Again, you are not looking to marry into money, but if this man is not able or willing to provide for a family, you should find someone else (1 Timothy 5:8).

“Marriage is to be held in honor among all…” (Hebrews 13:4).

You’re Gonna Miss This

You’re Gonna Miss This

Watch this video by Trace Adkins. This song came out several years ago, but I heard it on the radio in Tim Horton’s yesterday. It always helps bring my mind back to a good perspective as a parent.

Below are the lyrics:

You’re Gonna Miss This

By Trace Adkins

She was staring out the window of that SUV
Complaining, saying “I can’t wait to turn eighteen”
She said “I’ll make my own money, and I’ll make my own rules”
Momma put the car in park out there in front of the school
She kissed her head and said “I was just like you”

You’re gonna miss this
You’re gonna want this back
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you’re gonna miss this

Before she knows it she’s a brand new bride
In her one-bedroom apartment, and her daddy stops by
He tells her “It’s a nice place”
She says “It’ll do for now”
Starts talking about babies and buying a house
Daddy shakes his head and says “Baby, just slow down”

You’re gonna miss this
You’re gonna want this back
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you’re gonna miss this

Five years later there’s a plumber workin’ on the water heater
Dog’s barkin’, phone’s ringin’
One kid’s cryin’, one kid’s screamin’
She keeps apologizin’
He says “They don’t bother me
I’ve got two babies of my own
One’s thirty six, one’s twenty three
Huh, it’s hard to believe, but

You’re gonna miss this
You’re gonna want this back
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you’re gonna miss this

You’re gonna’ miss this
Yeah
You’re gonna’ miss this

Songwriters: ASHLEY GORLEY, LEE MILLER
© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.