Sunday, July 24, 2016

oBEdient - a sermon from Acts 5:29-42

Acts 5:29-42 – oBEdient
But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom YOU killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 
BUT a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After HIM Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of MAN, it WILL fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!”

So they took his advice, and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them NOT to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

A little boy was sent to bed early by his dad because of disobedience.  5 minutes later he hollers out, “Daaaaaad!”  “What, son?”  “I’m thirsty!  Can you bring me a glass of water??”  “No son… you had your chance, now lights out!”
5 minutes later, “Daaaaaaad!”  “What?!?”  “I’m thirsty.  Can I PLEASE have a glass of water??”  “Son, I told you ‘no,’ and if you ask one more time, I’m gonna spank you.”
5 minutes later, “Daaaaaaaad!”  “What!?!?”  “When you come to spank me, can you bring me a glass of water????”

Ahhhh obedience - Like it or not, much of the Christian life is defined by the word “obedience.”  Jesus Himself said… “IF you love me, KEEP my commandments.”

Additionally, He said… Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Obedience is important.  According to the scriptures, there are certain things believers OUGHT to do.  In fact, the word “ought” is used 32 different times in the NT, and means, “that which is necessary,” or “things we must do.”  Scripture teaches that failure to do what we “OUGHT,” is sin.  

And from the lips of Samuel the prophet in a confrontation with his King who thought he could have religion without obedience, comes THESE classic words, “…to OBEY is BETTER than sacrifice, and to LISTEN than the fat of rams.”
His point?  Worship, without obedience, is meaningless.  Service and sacrifice, while living in disobedience, renders those things unacceptable.  

Peter understood this.  That’s why HE, standing in front of men who had the power to take his life, said, “we must obey God, rather than men.”  

We MUST obey God EVEN WHEN it puts us in a bad position with men.  

When Peter made this statement, it was in response to the court outlawing the preaching of the Gospel.  Man said, “This is forbidden!” Peter said, in effect, “I owe everything to Jesus.  Do to me what you have to do – but I MUST obey my Lord!
Obedience is essential to pleasing the Lord.

There will come a time in EACH of our lives when we will have to decide between obeying MEN or obeying GOD.  

  • It might be as a teenager - under the influence of a powerful peer-group to do those things that are WRONG - you have a decision to make

  • It might be that young man or young woman who feels the Spirit’s gentle tug to professional ministry - though surrounded by individuals who thinks such a move to be a waste of talent.  You have a decision to make.

  • OR it might be as an adult, expected by their employer to blur the lines between RIGHT and WRONG. You have a decision to make

Whatever the occasion - you WILL BE faced with the question of OBEDIENCE.  

What will YOU do?

Peter’s statement to the Jewish High Court reveals 4 aspects of obedience:
1.  First we see the Principle of Obedience.  The Principle.  The day before Peter makes this statement, he and his friends were arrested and thrown into prison FOR preaching the Gospel.  They saw a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit too:

  • people were being saved
  • the sick were being healed
  • demons were being cast out – it was an amazing display of the power of God.

But in a fit of jealous rage, the religious leaders seized them and put them in prison.  

In an effort to silence them and buy themselves some time to figure out what to do, they took hold of these men of God and shut them up in a dungeon.

That ought to be a reminder to us, folks… following the Lord - putting Him first, doesn’t often mean that we will receive praise and honor or even THANKS. Sometimes, doing what we OUGHT to do will lead us straight into the teeth of Satan.

That night, the angel of the Lord intervened - opened their cells - removed their chains and told them to go back and PREACH the gospel in the temple.  Even though it was for THIS very reason that they had gotten into trouble in the first place, the angel said, “go do it again!”  

Instead of trying to negotiate with God, instead of justifying disobedience, Peter OBEYED, even IF it might cost him his life.  It was the principle of his life to obey the Lord.  Why?
Because God demands it – for one.  When God said “Go!” it wasn’t a suggestion.  It was a command.  

One that still stands for us TODAY.
But not only does God demand it, Peter obeyed God because:
God deserves it.  Peter had been lavished with grace.  He owed everything he was to the Lord.  All the times God had
  • forgiven him,
  • delivered him,
  • provided and
  • defended him,
how could he NOT do what God had commanded him to do???

So let me ask you – is obedience the principle of YOUR life??  When you are faced with an important  decision, when you think about the way you ought to go, is your FIRST consideration what the LORD would have you do???  Or is it money… acceptance… or what YOU want?

If you would be a Christ follower, obedience must be the principle of your life.

2.  But not only do we see the Principle of Obedience, we see the Practice of Obedience when Peter not only SAID, but followed through with His statement, “we must obey God rather than men.”  These were MORE THAN words to Peter.  It was his conviction - he practiced what he preached.
A lot of Christians talk a pretty good game.  You listen to them and it almost sounds like they are spiritual giants.  
  • They talk about prayer.  
  • They talk about witnessing.  
  • They talk about God’s word and giving of their time and resources – and honoring Him.

And you know what???  It’s all talk.  For they no sooner walk out those doors, and they are right back doing the things that God told them to stop doing.  They go to work on Monday and act nothing like the person they CLAIM TO BE on Sunday.  We don’t do the simple things He tells us to do – and yet we proudly wear our Christian T-shirts and act like it is perfectly normal for Christians to be ………… hypocrites.  

I hope that’s not true of you.  I hope you are more serious about serving the Lord than that.  For your Christianity to mean anything, it cannot be limited to what goes on inside these 4 walls.  It must go with you, grip you, and guide everything you do.  It must be practiced!  

3.  And third, not only do we see the Principle and the Practice of Obedience, we also see the Purpose of Obedience.  Its purpose.  You ought to obey the Lord for two reasons:
First, to expedite His plan.  God has a plan for my life – for your life –for every man, woman, boy, and girl in this church.  THAT PLAN is to save people.  It is His plan to show those who are lost and undone, without peace and purpose, that He is a God of love and grace and desires NOT to condemn, but to save.
So Peter obeyed that plan.  He wasn’t just being obstinate before those spiritual leaders.  His intent was NOT to disrespect those in authority.  In fact, we are taught in the word of God to obey those in authority and to pray for them that we might lead quiet and peaceable lives.  But while we are taught to be cooperative and peaceful people,

we must NEVER compromise the plan of God.  

Peter obeyed the Lord in order to expedite His plan.

That’s why YOU need to obey the Lord.  God has a plan to reach the people in YOUR life.  He has strategically placed you where there are people who need the Lord.  As you obey God, His light is seen – the gospel becomes attractive – people come under conviction, and some may be saved.  THAT’s why we obey.
Secondly, I obey the Lord to experience His power.  

Hear me now - God will not bless disobedience.  But when you obey the Lord, you will experience His power, His presence.  As I’ve quoted many times in the past - - 2 Chronicles 16:9, “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.”
I fear the modern church has lost the power of God.  We don’t see revival, we don’t see lives changed, or needs met, because we are living in disobedience.  We want blessing and growth, we want moving services– but we want it - without - obedience.

We need a good old-fashioned revival.  We need God to move and touch and minister like never before.  Look at our world.  It’s a mess!  But understand, revival doesn’t depend on THEM!  It starts with US.  And it ain’t gonna happen without obedience!  Instead of blaming THEM – the blame rests squarely upon the Church!

4.  But not only do we see the Principle, the Practice, and the Purpose of Obedience, I want you to see the Products of Obedience.  I want you to notice a couple of verses that mention these “Products.”  

  • Verse 32 says, And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”  

  • Then look at verse 41, “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.”  

Two products of obedience are clearly seen:
First, you will be filled with the Holy Spirit when you obey the Lord. Why is that so important?  You can’t live the Christian life without the Holy Spirit.  
  • He guides us,
  • comforts us,
  • helps our prayers,
  • gives power to our witness,
  • gives us the strength to overcome temptations and trials.  

The problem with modern Christianity is that too many attempt to live it without the fullness of the Holy Spirit.  Christianity without the Spirit is not Christianity at all – but empty and powerless ritual.  But when we are filled with the Spirit, we experience life change.  We are more than conquerors.  We are holy.  We see our prayers answered.  We will be united.  We will see people coming to know Christ.  Our families will be getting stronger.  Our faith will be unstoppable when we are FILLED.
But a Christianity without the fullness of the Spirit is nothing more than empty ritual – no life-change, no peace, purpose, or power.  Just a bunch of folks flapping their gums.
But not only are will filled with the Holy Spirit when we obey the Lord, we are also filled with Happiness.  Verse 41 says they “rejoiced.”  They were filled with unmitigated joy!  Joy unspeakable and full of glory.  Even if serving the Lord meant public humiliation and beatings – they were happy!
We can’t comprehend that.  When we hear words like “sacrifice,” “hardship,” or “suffering,” the LAST thing that comes to our mind is “happiness.”  So much of the time, our attitude is “what is the very LEAST I can do and still be a Christian?”  We can’t believe that God would have the audacity to expect anything from us.  And then we wonder why we don’t have JOY.

Look at us!  All the long faces.  It seems as if Christians think there is something virtuous about having a sour attitude.  And when we hear about “joy” we blame our lack of happiness on our circumstances or on other people.  But know this – you can be happy REGARDLESS what others do IF you are obedient!!!!!!!!

Peter stood before that assembly of powerful men and said,We ought to obey God, rather than men!
How about YOU?  Are you obeying God?  In your home, at your work, in your leasure… are you obedient??  

How many of us, THIS VERY MOMENT, feel God dealing with our hearts about some things, but instead of obeying the Lord, we are rationalizing our disobedience and trying to negotiate with God.
We are blind.  Blinded by the devil… by our pride.  A world of confusion and disappointment has resulted from our trying to follow Christ WITHOUT obedience.

If God is speaking to your heart about some area of disobedience in YOUR life, come pray about it right now.  Let’s stand…