Most of us understand that obeying God is what we should want to do.  There are some decisions that probably won’t change our lives.  When I go into a restaurant, I’m handed a menu.   I must make a choice about what I’m going to eat.  My husband used to tell me, “Linda, it’s not your last meal.  Just choose something.”

But not everything in our lives should be a choice.  There are some things and some people that I should obey–speed laws, my husband, my boss.  God wants us to learn how to obey Him in the same way that Joseph learned.

In Matthew 1:24 we read about Joseph, When Joseph woke up, he did what the Lord’s angel had told him to do. Joseph took Mary as his wife.”

Mary was going to have a baby and the baby didn’t belong to Joseph.  Being a good man, Joseph wanted to do good to Mary.  He had decided that he would send her away; and she would have the baby.  But an angel came to him and told Joseph that God was the father of this baby.  In spite of the obvious objections and misgivings, Joseph decided to obey God.

Joseph did have a choice but his choice was to obey.  Obedience was an option; but if he did obey he would be in big trouble.  I can imagine that even after the angel had spoken to Joseph, he probably had concerns about obeying.

He knew his life would be changed forever.  He knew that this baby was not his child.  His family, friends and neighbors would suspect him for getting Mary pregnant before they were married.  He knew that for a lifetime he would live in shame because no one would understand.

Obeying God may take many forms.  When we get ready to make an important decision, such as buying a house or changing jobs, who do we want to please?  Our husband or wife, our children, our boss or ourselves.  Do we think about pleasing God?

When we are ready to make a smaller decision, when we are with our boy/girl friend, who do we want to please? Ourselves? Our boy/girlfriend?  Or the Lord?

When it is time to be generous in regard to our money? Do we want to please God.  Or do we want to soothe our conscious?

Joseph did obey because God sent an angel to instruct him.  Good sense said that Joseph would not have a good life, if he chose to obey God.  Joseph made the right choice.  He married Mary.  For eternity, Joseph will be honored for that decision.  Yet, he could not see the future and making the decision was not easy.  There are times that we obey only because we know that it is what God wants.

While the enemy of our souls often perverts this, God does speak to his children.  However, we often make it hard to hear him.  I Kings 19 gives us one of the most interesting accounts in the Scriptures of how God chooses to speak to mere mortals. 

You remember the story, Elijah was running for his life because Jezebel was trying to kill him.  In hiding, God speaks to Elijah and asks him what he is doing out in the wilderness.  Then God tells Elijah to go to the mountain and God will speak to him.  Elijah goes and waits.  There is a roaring wind.  But God isn’t in the wind.  There was an earthquake; but God isn’t in the shaking.  Lastly, a fire rages across the mountain.  God isn’t in the fire.

Finally, God spoke to Elijah in a still, small voice.  God told him to go home to Israel.  He told Elijah to anoint a new king.  God told him to anoint Elisha, as the new prophet.  Then God assured Elijah that these men would help lead Israel to worship God again. 

Even today, earthquakes, floods and volcanoes seem to be consuming and terrorizing whole countries, is God trying to get our attention?  Probably so.  However, is he speaking through these events?  Being obedient to the Lord means that we must learn how to listen to the Lord.

Often we lazily wait for God to speak through the events in our lives.  We may even teach our members to learn from the events.  However, our efforts may be a bit misguided.  Perhaps we should be teaching our members how to listen for the Lord’s voice in the middle of these terrible events.  God always speaks clearly and plainly so that everyone can understand. 

No matter what a person’s disability may be, we can learn to listen to the Lord.  There are some secrets hidden in this passage in I Kings that we can use to teach our members to be a tune to the Lord’s voice.

  • God is smarter than we are.  When we have a thought that is smarter than we are,  then we know it must be a thought that comes from the Lord.
  • God doesn’t replay history with accusations or threats.  He is the Lord of the Present.
  • Woulda, coulda, shoulda scenarios are never from the Lord.  They should be put from our minds.
  • God doesn’t scare us with the future. 
  • A good friend of mine once told me that the “What if’s” of life literally put her in a mental hospital.  In the middle of the horrifice confusion and dispair of a mental institution, God spoke to her that what if’s were not from him.  She began to put the what if’s from her thoughts and regained her mental stability.  That was 30 years ago, she remains whole in her mind.
  • God gives correction with a way to amend our behavior.  Elijah was hiding.  God said to go to the mountain. 
  • God gives correction with a hope for the future.  Our minds and Satan will tell us that there is no hope for us.  The normal implication is that we have fallen off the spiritual cliff into the abyss of despair and failure.  “There is no hope for you,”  cycles endlessly in our minds.  That is condemnation. 
  • The Holy Spirit always speaks to us in conviction.  God says, “You have failed but I forgive and I can change you.  You can be different, if you will depend on me.”
  • God gave Elijah a task for the future.  He said, “Go and do…”  God speaks of positive things that will help others and ourselves to overcome. 

Again, these are things that we can learn about God’s voice but our members can learn them, also.  As God brings correction, he also instructs us, telling what what we can do to better obey him.