“Obey Me, and I will be your God, and you will be My people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you” (Jer. 7:23) NIV.
“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey – whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16) NIV
Perhaps for us, obedience implies the due submission to authority and control; a readiness to conform to another’s desire and will. Our 21st Century’s postmodern world’s culture so cherishes rampant individualism, freedom, and absolute relativism, is obsessed with rights, that concepts and practices such as personal responsibility, reverence, discipline and especially obedience are a complete and almost absolute anathema to be utterly detested and shunned.
However, biblically speaking obedience is about our ability to listen intently, to learn and put that learning into action. God is not here to make us successful but obedient. He will redirect our lives. To listen intently and learn from Almighty God is a significant goal of faith. To be obedient demonstrates our trust in and gratitude towards our Heavenly Father.
Charles Finney described revival as, “a new beginning of obedience to God.” It’s also said that “the first great condition of revival is brokenness of heart that is sensitive to the least touch of the Spirit, and that has only to know the will of God, to do it.” You see we don’t want to bring pain to the One we love.
The only thing that matters in seasons of revival is being thoroughly right with God and man. No price is too great to pay for a conscience void of offence toward God and man. In revival you don’t “have to” obey God—you “get to” obey God! Our hearts are so yielded to God that our overwhelming attitude is, “Yes Lord, what else?” We no longer view obedience as an oppressive burden but an immense blessing. Obedience to God is our loving response to His infinite, steadfast and unconditional love (Rom. 12:2).
If we cling to known sin whilst ‘pretending’ to seek revival, we are deluding ourselves and engaging in an exercise of complete futility. Agreed no one is consistent, but our double-mindedness or half-heartedness gains no favour from God. We cannot surely expect the windows of heaven to open up if we are practising partial, incomplete obedience. God is unlikely to override our defiance.
Jonathan Edwards highlighted that revival is often preceded by acts of extraordinary obedience, submission to the Word of God, and great conviction of sin.
Someone gave this definition, “Obedience is instantly doing all God tells me to do with a right heart attitude.” Obedience is when you activate your will by immediately acting on all God has commanded with a proper spirit. Have any of us ever witnessed a move of God apart from compliance to the Word and Spirit of God?
We should not doubt that obedience brings blessing! Humanly speaking we cannot work up revival, but we can prepare the way of the Lord. We can remove any hindrances and any roadblocks and make His paths straight. Frequently, a key issue in churches holds back and delays the full blessing of God. Once that concern is resolved, the logjam is broken a host of lesser matters fall like dominoes.
What is the Lord prompting us to act on right now? For the cause of revival, we would do well to heed Mary’s words to those servants at the wedding feast, “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5 ESV). Will it be business as usual or the unusual business of revival?
Full obedience is God’s first and primary requirement as we pray. The two cannot be separated. Blessing and realizing His divine presence will only be ours as we fully obey Him. God responds to our brokenness and total submission to His will. Only then is the mighty power of God released.
Dr A. W. Tozer was spot on when he said, “The men God uses in revival were always men who did not merely pay lip service to the Author of Scripture. They had a fear of being disobedient.” Think about biblical characters such as Abraham (Gen. 12:1); Noah (Gen. 6:5-8); Moses (Ex. 14, 15; Num. 20); King Hezekiah (2 Kgs. 18:6, 2 Chron. 29; Prov. 25); and the greatest ever example found in our Lord Jesus Himself in His faithful obeying of His Father (Phil. 2:8).
In the 20th century, we have the example of Evan Roberts who while only a boy of thirteen, accepted the burden from the Lord to pray for revival in Wales. Roberts claimed God’s promises for eleven years! As a result of his obedience to God he was filled with the Holy Spirit as he prayed, “Lord, bend me. Lord, bend me,” meaning, “Lord, make me totally submissive to You.” God’s Revival fire descended upon Wales spreading rapidly throughout the country. God’s awesome power couldn’t be contained in Wales – it soon spread to Scotland, England, Europe, Scandinavia, South Africa, India, South America, and America. Such is the power of God released when He finds even one of His children totally obedient and pliable in His hand.
“Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore, my soul keeps them. The unfolding of your words gives light; imparts understanding to the simple.I open my mouth and pant because I long for your commandments.” (Psalm 119:129-131) ESV
“For here is the covenant I will one day establish with the people of Israel: I will embed my laws within their thoughts and fasten them onto their hearts. I will be their loyal God and they will be my loyal people.” Heb. 8:10 TPT
Heavenly Father, we pray for the clear and faithful preaching of Your Word. That Your Holy Spirit convicts us of our spiritual apathy and sin. That He opens our eyes to get a new glimpse of Your holiness and Your wrath against sin. Lord, grow in us a realization that our sin has separated us from You and that this is the cause of so many of the difficulties we have been experiencing on a personal or national level.
Lord Jesus, help each of us to see our desperate condition and to realize that on our own we are helpless to do anything about it unless You powerfully remedy the situation. Help us to realize that our faithless, disobedient lives have dishonoured Your holy name. So, we repent and ask You to be glorified in our midst.