This is a really nice sermon, I hope you all like it.
Date Written: November 11, 2006
Date Preached: November 12, 2006
Where Preached: OZHBC (AM)
Sermon Series: Living a Life of Service
Sermon Title: The Service of Submissive Obedience
Sermon Text: John 14:21; 15:10-24; Matt 22:37-40
As believers we are called by God to be submissive and obedient to His will. And for many of us that statement or that commandment is confusing and difficult for us to understand… simply because we do not understand the ‘what’ when it comes to submission and obedience to God.
First, I want everyone here this morning to know that God does not encourage us to be obedient… God DEMANDS obedience of His children. It is a direct commandment of God that we be obedient to His commandments.
But for many believers… the commandments of God is not something they can lay their hands on… it is something nebulous or hard to grasp… well if you are one of these people today, I am so glad that you are here… because when you leave this church this morning you will no longer be able to say that you do not understand what God’s commandments are… or what you are called to be obedient to…
This morning I want us to look at John 14:21 and see that is reveals to all believers that the only way we can reveal our love to God is to be obedient to His commands… so this morning I want to share with you the 3 commands that Christ set forth that we MUST obey… and if you are obedient in these 3 areas… you will be obedient in ALL areas of your Christian walk.
But understand obedience to Christ is submission to Him. So many believers FAIL to realize what true obedience to God requires… it requires TOTAL submission in our hearts and minds…
Total submission to God is revealed in Mary when the angel of God appeared to her and told her what was going to happen. Christin Ditchfield, in a recent issue of Focus on The Family magazine, writes that basically Mary took the news in stride.
“[Mary] didn’t demand a sign or some sort of proof or additional confirmation. She voiced no complaint at the total disruption of her life. She knew now that things would not turn out the way she had planned at all.” However, “…in her [Mary’s] heart there was no resistance, no rebellion. Just a sweet, simple submission-surrender to the will of God.”
SOURCE: Christin Ditchfield, Focus on the Family Magazine.
[Illustration found on sermoncentral.com]
We find Mary in total submission to God and we find in her life she was happy and content in God’s plan for her. So often we believe that we simply cannot be happy if we submit to God’s call on our lives… and without submission, obedience cannot happen!
It is because we simply cannot be obedient without a submissive spirit. There was a great missionary pioneer named Hudson Taylor who once said, "The real secret of an unsatisfied life lies too often in an unsurrendered will." Lack of submission on our part will bring lack of fulfillment in our walk in Christ.
Mary Lewis once said, “…Halfhearted obedience satisfies neither us, nor God….” -- Mary Lewis
[Illustration found on sermoncentral.com]
This is one reason we have so many unfulfilled and malcontented Christians in our world today… they want the peace and joy that comes with salvation, but they refuse to submit and surrender their hearts as God requires… They want all the privileges without any of the responsibility!
There are some of us who are willing to be obedient but we put God off for a while and debate whether or not we want to do what God is calling us to do… but let me share with you, as I have shared before from this pulpit… half-hearted obedience is NOT obedience at all…
In fact the great theologian Thomas a Kampis said this about hesitance in our obedience to God. He said, “Instant obedience is the only kind of obedience there is; delayed obedience is disobedience…”
[Illustration found on sermoncentral.com]
Our total submission to Christ is reflected in our immediate obedience to His call on our lives. There are a lot of believers today who pray to be used by God is some great way… to go on the mission field or something like that…and that is not really what God means when He demands total submission in our life!
Let me explain by sharing a story told by Mark Twain…
There was once a wealthy businessman, who was well known for being ruthless and unethical. He told Mark Twain that before he died, he wanted to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He said that when he got there he wanted to climb to the top of Mount Sinai, where Moses received the Ten Commandments, and there read the Ten Commandments aloud at the top.
Mark Twain said, “I have a better idea, you could stay in Boston and keep them.”
It seems as if we always prefer some great religious experience to the routine of obedience to God in our daily lives. So many of us would like to encounter some mountaintop emotion rather than actually showing the evidence of a changed life.
As a pastor, I have personally witnessed many people who talked a lot about some great spiritual encounter they have had, but these same people never really showed much evidence of it when it came to the way they lived, their ethics and the manner in which they treated other people.
Contributed by: Rodney Buchanan (altered by author)
[Illustration found on sermoncentral.com]
We are called by God to be obedient to God’s commandments and our obedience is to be complete and immediate as we totally surrender and submit to God’s call on our lives…
But pastor, you still haven’t told us WHAT commandments? There are so many that I get lost in them and don’t know where to start when it comes to obeying God’s commands…
Well I believe we must first begin with our relationship with God, for you see we are…
1. Commanded to Love God (John 14:21)
21 The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him.”
John 14:21 (HCSB)
If you love God you are must obey Him, and Jesus refers to this here in John, but in the book of Matthew we find Him revealing HOW we are to love God… read Matt 22:37-38
37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important commandment.
Matt 22:37-38 (HCSB)
This tells us that the 1st commandment we must be obedient to is to love God… John informs us that loving God is being obedient to His commands…
How are we to be obedient?
• We are to be obedient with all our heart…
• We are to be obedient with all our soul…
• We are to be obedient with all our mind..
In other words, with every fiber of our being we are to submissive to God’s call on our lives, we are to obey Him, willingly and without hesitation! Jesus tells us that loving God in this way is the 1st and greatest commandment!
So as a believer this morning I want you to mentally imprint this on your brain… your first duty as a believer… your first priority as a Christian is to love God! That comes before all things…
And how do we love God… we can only reveal our love for God thru being obedient and submissive to His call on our lives!
I know to many of you this may sound a bit over simplistic and elementary… but nowhere in God’s word does it tell us that things have to be complicated!
Our 1st commandment is to love God by our total submission and obedience to His call on our lives… and when we are obedient in this manner… we fulfill this commandment.
When God calls you to teach a SS class and your surrender to do so… that is loving God with all your heart, your soul and your mind!
But when God calls to teach a SS class and you procrastinate, or you argue with God, or you doubt what God is saying… your lack of obedience amounts to DISOBEDIENCE to God’s call… and you are NOT loving God with all your heart, soul and mind! And that means you are NOT fulfilling the 1st and greatest commandment of God!
But there is another commandment that believers are called to and it is that we are….
2. Commanded to Love One Another (John 15:12)
12 This is My command: love one another as I have loved you. Jn 15:12 (HCSB)
Here we find Jesus repeating a commandment He had recently given in 13:34-35 when He said…
34 “I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:34-35 (HCSB)
And when we look at Matthew 22:39 we find Jesus teaching…
39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.
Matt 22:39 (HCSB)
Here Jesus is teaching that our love for one another is a very important part of WHO we are as believers. In fact, it is how the world is to KNOW that we are serving God… all because of our love for one another!
How many times we, as believers, hold grudges, refuse to forgive, or treat others with contempt? As believers, we can never fall prey to the belief that we have the RIGHT to STAY mad or hold something over someone else’s head!
Now I want you to notice that I did NOT say that we did not have the right to BE mad or to get angry. The Bible shares with us that we can be angry… but we cannot sin when we are angry!
Getting mad is one thing, and being angry is NOT a sin, but when we STAY angry with our brother… when we begin to use that anger against our brother or sister to build walls of separation and division within the body of believers… we are guilty of sinning NOT just against that person, but against God Himself…
Well preacher that is so easy to say, but how do I apply this teaching to my life? How can it be made evident in WHO I am?
Well when the world sees you loving someone in spite of all the difficulty and struggle they may be causing you… they sit up and take notice. When they see you loving your brother or sister in Christ even though you may not agree on things… the world sits up and takes notice…
This means that your love for God is evident in the way you live your life… this means that your love for your fellow believers is evident in the way you live you life… but it also means that your love for the lost… is going to be evident in your life… and believe me when I say… the world is going to notice your life and your love!
We are commanded by God to love HIM and to love OTHERS and those others are our fellow believers and those who do not know Christ as Lord and Savior…
So the first 2 commandments are that we love God and then we love people… but let me take you to a 3rd commandment that many of us DO NOT want to hear… I want us to all know that we are also…
3. Commanded to Persevere in this Evil Generation (John 15:18-24)
18 “If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love [you as] its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you. 20 Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours. 21 But they will do all these things to you on account of My name, because they don’t know the One who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin. Now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 The one who hates Me also hates My Father. 24 If I had not done the works among them that no one else has done, they would not have sin. Now they have seen and hated both Me and My Father.
John 15:18-24 (HCSB)
Now I want us to understand what is being said here… Jesus is revealing what is going to happen when we reveal our love for Christ and our love for each other!
Many believers think that if we reveal the love of Christ in our lives and toward or fellow believers that the world will gush over what we are doing… but what Jesus says is that the world will take notice of this and they will hate us and persecute us because of it…
Our love for God and each other will be rejected by those shrouded by the dark cloud of sin and deceit blanketed on them by the Enemy… Satan will tell them that we are ‘goody 2 shoes’ and that we think we are ‘better’ than they are…
When Christians take a stand for God and reveal the love of God the world hates us for it, let me give you some pretty obvious examples…
In the case of abortion, the world believes abortion to be a women’s rights issue… plain and simple.
However, when the church reveals that God loves that little embryo and considered it to be a living, breathing human being and that ending the pregnancy is murdering one of God’s creations… the world reacts by saying things like…
Christians treat women like 2nd class citizens because they don’t believe they should have the choice to do with their bodies as they see fit…
IN the area of homosexuality, when the church reveals its love of God in that God created humanity with a purpose and with an order to things…
The world spouts that we HATE homosexuals and just don’t want to see them happy. They hate us because we stand for the sexual purity of God’s word…
In fact, the when we reveal to the world, the love God has shown in the person of Jesus Christ and that He came and died for our sin… they say things like… how DARE you judge me and call me a sinner! We are called by God to persevere in an evil and perverse generation.
Now it may seem that I have painted a bleak, no-win situation for believers, but in reality just the opposite is true. Jesus said that the harvest fields are white for the harvest, but there are not enough workers to do what needs to be done!
The Holy Spirit is going through the world and it is convicting souls of their sin… it is revealing to souls the truth of God’s word, and as believers we are to be there when God’s Holy Spirit brings the lost soul to the point of submission to Him…
We are called to be His witnesses and to share Christ and His teachings with the world around us. As part of our perseverance in this world, we are to work for the Kingdom and strive to bring souls to the foot of the Cross so that they may know Christ as Savior!
The human heart is prideful and arrogant, and when God’s Holy Spirit reveals the sin in the human heart… its first and natural reaction is to rebel and run away, but that is where our love comes in…
When we love people with the love of Christ, even though they may reject us initially, they will take notice of our true and sincere love for them… and for many of these people that love will bring them back to the Cross and back into a face to face meeting with Jesus Christ!
But these things cannot and will not happen unless the people of God are willing to be submissive and obedient to God’s calling and commandments on their lives!
I believe that we have come to the point in this world that our love is NOT true… that our love is NOT being revealed as it should be…
The church has become cynical of the world and we have all but shut out the world and we have all but written the world off for dead…. We have a hardened adult heart toward the sin and perverse nature of this world! But God has said that for us to be used in the kingdom we must come as a little child…
In other words, if we expect to make a difference in winning the world to Christ we have to be obedient, but we have to reveal the love of God in our actions and attitudes to the lost people in this world! Let me give you an example of what our love should be like…
There was once a family eating at a restaurant around the holidays…and the mother tells of what happened to them that day…
“We were the only family with children in the restaurant. I sat Erik in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly eating and talking. Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and said “Hi There.”
Our son was excited about seeing a man with a tattered rag of a coat, and who was all dirty, greasy, and worn. Erik wiggled and giggled with a joy at this man whose pants were baggy, with a zipper at half mast and his toes poked of would-be shoes.
This man’s shirt was dirty, his hair was uncombed and unwashed and his whiskers were not quite a beard and the varicose veins charted a complex map across his nose and face.
We were too far to smell him, but I’m sure he smelled. His hands waved at my baby “Hi there, baby; hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster,” the man said to Erik. My husband and I didn’t know what to do. Erik continued to laugh and answer, “Hi, Hi There.”
Our meal finally came, and the drunken geezer began shouting across the room “Do you know patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey look, he knows peek-a-boo.”
No one thought the old man was cute. My husband and I were embarrassed. Erik, on the other hand was running through his repertoire of tricks all of which were admired by the bum.
We finally got through the meal. My husband went to pay, Erik and I headed for the door. The old man was poised between me and the door. I uttered a prayer “Lord just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik.”
As I drew close the man, I turned my back trying to side-step him and avoid any air he might be breathing. As I did Erik leaned over my arm, reaching with both arms in a baby’s ‘pick-me-up’ position.
Before I could stop him, Erik had propelled himself from my arms to the man’s. Erik in an act of total trust, love and submission laid his tiny head upon the man’s ragged shoulder.
The man’s eyes closed and I saw tears hover beneath his lashes. His aged hands, full of grime, pain, and hard labor gently, so gently, cradled my baby’s bottom and stroked his back.
The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms for a moment and then his eyes opened and set squarely on mine. He said in a firm, commanding voice, “You take care of this baby.” Somehow I managed “I will” from a throat that contained a stone. I received my baby and the man said “God bless you ma’am you’ve given me my Christmas gift.”
I ran to the car. My husband wondered why I was crying and saying “My God, my God, forgive me. That ragged, dirty, smelly old man, unwittingly had reminded me “To enter the Kingdom of God we must become as little children.”
[Illustration found on sermoncentral.com]
For us to ‘love’ those who are lost in sin… those who are filthy with lust and lies… those who are reek heavily of doubt and distrust… we have to be willing to reach out TO them…
This little child did not see the dirt, he did not see the filth, all he saw was someone who needed love! We have become too much like the parents in this illustration, thinking of how embarrassing they are and how we can get by without even saying a word to them.
But Christ has called us to be a witness… a witness that is filled with a love for God and love for other people and a willingness to share that love NO MATTER how the world treats us when we do share it…
When we come to love those who are lost as Christ loves them… we won’t run from them… we won’t fear them… we won’t be ashamed to be around them… we will simply love them!
Are you being submissively obedient to Christ today? Are you allowing Him to guide you? Are you doing what He has called you to do? If not, I call on you to change the way you are living and surrender to Christ totally and fully!
If you are living a life that rejects full and complete obedience to God then God’s word shares that you are NOT a part of who He is… for you to be a part of the body of Christ means for you to be fully and totally submissive to His commandments!
As Bro Jerry comes, I call on ALL believers here this morning to surrender to Christ and give your ENTIRE heart to Him. AMEN