Sunday, September 27, 2009



When you hear the word fellowship what comes to your mind? Does it mean drinking cups of coffee, playing games and eating good food and having fun? But true Christian fellowship while it includes all of them it also focuses on caring and loving one another regardless of who they are. When we come together for fellowship we often remain at the level of taking about the weather, sports, politics or about our children but seldom do we care to go really deep with each other to find out what exactly is going on in that person’s life. True Christian fellowship occurs when we put away our defenses and be vulnerable with each other to talk about our struggles freely without having the fear of being condemned.

We have been studying the1st century Church to understand what a living Church would look like. In other words what are the vital signs we are to look for to find out whether a church is living or not. Though the universal Church of Jesus Christ can never die, local congregations can eventually die. The fist vital sign in the early church was that it was” A learning Church.” The second vital sign was that it was “A Caring Church.” Acts 2:42; 44-45 “They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship (Koinonia).. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to any one as he had need”

What does the Greek word (Koinonia) really mean? It is often translated as “fellowship” but it has more in-depth meaning. It means, Association, Communion, Fellowship, Close relationship, generosity, fellow feeling, participation, and sharing.


The early Christians regularly gathered in the temple courts, they devoted themselves to the teachings of the apostles. They were all together and had everything in common. It was a loving and living community of believers. They were in one mind and in one spirit. They went beyond just learning the scriptures; they put into action what they were learning. Vs45 reads, “Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” When it comes to reading certain scriptures we tend to avoid them this could be one of them that we want quickly jump over and carry on our reading. Is the author saying that none of us should own any thing for our selves? Does this mean that we should sell our car, our house and everything else we own and give to the Church Board and they in turn will distribute to anyone who has a need? The thought of selling all our possessions and goods and not having ownership on anything sounds rather scary and disturbing.

This may be sounding like “communism” but it is not communism. The main philosophy of communism doesn't end with economic and political reform. By definition, it tries to abolish both Religion and the Absolute Morality founded upon Religion. The irony is that communism supposedly attempts to enhance civility within society, but removes all notions of Absolute Morality, the very cornerstone of civility”[1] The Early Christians were devoted to the teachings of Jesus Christ. God was very much their center of focus.

“Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” What do they mean? Do they mean that every living church will become a monastic community and that every believer should follow the example of the early church believers literally? John Stott throws some light on this concept with a few examples of ancient communities: “A few miles from the east of Jerusalem at that time of the early church the leaders of the Qumran community practiced common ownership. New members handed over all their money and possessions to their leaders at the time of inception. The Anabaptists of the 16th century “Radical Reformation” talked much about the community of goods.”[2]

The Hutterite, brethren in 18th Century made common ownership compulsory. All property was owned by the colony, and provisions for individual members and their families come from the common resources. This practice was based largely on Hutterite interpretation of passages in chapters 2, 4, and 5 of Acts, which speak of the believers "having all things in common.”[3] Did Jesus intend all of his disciples to follow the example of the Qumran community that was around then, by selling their properties and possessions and sharing the proceeds? Jesus did not require all of his disciples to sell all of their properties and possessions. It was a voluntary choice not required by all of them. However Jesus can certainly call some people to give up everything like in the case of the Rich young ruler to whom he said “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”(Mk 10:21) Others like St. Francis of Assisi and Mother Theresa have embraced poverty voluntarily.


God has always been mindful of the poor and the needy. Several scriptures reveal his heart and the provision he has made for the poor. Leviticus 25:35 "'If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you. Deuteronomy 15:7 “If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother.” Both these scriptures explain that we should not harden our hearts or be tightfisted toward the poor among us.
It is undeniable that poverty is a reality for a section of the society even here in America. According to the senses in 2002 there were 35 million poor people living in America. However the poor in America are still much better off than millions of people in many parts of the world.

Let’s consider these statistics:

Forty-six percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
Seventy-six percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, 30 years ago, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)
Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 30 percent own two or more cars.[4]
On the contrary in other parts of the world the poor are really suffering.

According to UN statistics about 1 billion people survive on less than $1 per day. UNICEF statistics say that “25,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world.” I am not sharing these figures to make us feel more guilty but to raise the awareness about the suffering world around us. I realize that total eradication of poverty may not happen here on earth. Jesus said that we will always have the poor among us. But he also called us to be kind to the poor.

How did the early Church practice the teachings of Jesus in regards to the poor among them? They broke bread in their homes and ate together with gladness. This breaking of bread was not necessarily the Lords supper or communion; it came to be known as “The love feast” They distributed food to the widows in the temple courts (Acts 6:1). They shared in the ministry of the saints through their sacrificial financial giving. (II Cor 8:4). They partnered with Paul in his preaching of the Gospel (Phil 1:5). They participated along with Paul in his sufferings (Phil 1:7).

When there was a severe famine over the entire Roman world the disciples in Antioch each according to their ability decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea by giving their gifts to the elders.(Acts 11: 28-29). The Corinthian and Galatian believers used to set aside on the first day of each week a sum of money in accordance to their income to support the ministry of Paul and other Apostles would be amply supplied.(I Cor 16:1-4). More than one way the early Church modeled caring and sharing through their generosity. It was love in action. When we care and share in the needs of others we are demonstrating true fellowship.

I have observed certain beautiful aspects to the body life of our church. I often hear from new comers how “warm and friendly” we are. We love to hang around with each other, do community events and fun activities. People still rave about the service we did to the community when we served the senior luncheons. Some go the extra mile and serve meals when there is illness or need or go out of their way in some way or the other. One dear lady faithfully distributes sandwiches week after week to the homeless. That’s wonderful, but I would like to see more of us can step out and excel in caring and sharing not only to the needs of our church members but also to the community around us.

Let’s face these honest questions. How could we as individuals and church demonstrate true fellowship to brothers and sisters among us who might be struggling financially? Are we participating in the ministry of the church by giving tithes and offerings? Are we mindful of others needs or are we self obsessed? How generous have we been with our money when it comes to giving to church, missions or to other charitable agencies?

There are enough books out in the market explaining how little American Christians give, like this title suggests: “Passing the Plate: Why American Christians do not give away more money.” I do not need to make another comment to add to our guilt; I would rather talk about the joy and the blessedness of giving generously to God and to the ministry of the saints. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”(Acts 20:35). Paul reminds the Corinthian believers, in I Corinth 9:7 “Each man should give what he has decided to give in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver.” When we give to God how does he give back to us? Luke 6:38 “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." The early Church was a Caring and Sharing Church and they have demonstrated it through their generosity. God has blessed them in return.

A few practical suggestions to consider: (To help us grow in our generosity)
1. Bringing our finances, properties, and possessions under the Lordship of Christ.
2. The ministries, maintenance and missions of any church largely depend on the generosity of its members. There fore develop a habit of giving tithes (10% of your income) and offerings regularly to the Church.
3. Avoid unnecessary expenditure so that you may have more money to give to missions and charities. More and more committed Christians discover the joy’s of simplified living.
4. Be sensitive to needs that may not be expressed such as the need for a kind and encouraging word, the need for a ride, help with shopping etc.
5. Practice Hospitality by inviting people to your home for a meal. When you open your home you open your heart. Make your home an oasis where people can find refreshment.
6. Make a phone call, send a card, make food to the sick, and make care packages to those who are financially struggling,
7. Help your congregation members by mowing their lawn or plowing the snow.

I believe that people are not interested in a religion but they are searching for a Church that is real. The vision of our Church is “To build an authentic community that loves God and seeks to share the message of the gospel to all ethnic groups in Quincy and beyond.” If we want to be an authentic community we must look at the early Church as a model and glean from them life guiding principles.

May the Lord help all of us and our Church to become “ A Caring and Sharing Church.”

[2] The Living Church by John Stott, Page 26

Sunday, September 20, 2009


A LEARNING CHURCH (Acts 2:42-47)
The word “Church” has largely lost its meaning and impact. Those who never step into a Church and even those who regularly attend Church have mixed feelings about Church. John Stott points out in his book “The Living Church” the concern of the Evangelical Christians about the Church, “In the recent years there has been an extraordinary production of books about the Church such as “The Church on the other side, The Mcdonaldization of the Church, Changing world, Changing Church, Church Next, The Provocative Church, Liquid Church, The prevailing Church, The purpose Driven Church and so on.” Why so many authors are trying to redefine what Church is or how it should be? Is the Church loosing its influence in the 21st Century? When there are so many Churches in America which one is the right one? Is there one perfect Church? How can the Evangelical Congregational church stay focused on the Biblical mandate of the Church?

There are a lot of Christians with a sincere desire to replicate the biblical model church, who leave the organized, institutional and traditional churches and live in intentional Christian communities. While I appreciate their efforts to form authentic communities I do believe that we don’t have to leave the established Church and form another community in order to live like early Christians, because it is highly difficult to live exactly like the early Church in this fast paced 21st century. The times have changed, however the essence and the intention of the original church hasn’t changed. In the midst of conflicting views on the Church where can we find what the church is? What are the vital signs of a living church? By studying the early church we can glean guiding principles so that we may become the Church Christ intended us to be in today’s world.

Let’s look at the early church in Acts 2:42-47, “They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” This passage gives us four vital signs of a living Church.

The early church as is recorded in the book of Acts chapter two was a direct result of a huge evangelistic campaign of Peter and other apostles. Their first gathering itself might have been over 3000 people; they just got saved and were excited about their new found faith. V 42 says that “they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching.” It was not something forced upon them but was a voluntary choice on their part. There was such eagerness to hear and learn from the apostles and their teaching. Today in many churches this desire to learn and grow in the word has disappeared. How devoted are we when it comes to reading and studying God’s word? Can we find time to attend a life group or a bible study group where our faith can be strengthened and our spiritual life is nurtured? Or are we too busy with other things?
The word apostle here in vs. 42 was referring to the twelve disciples that Jesus designated the term apostle (Mk 3:14) later on Paul was also included in the list. Many Christian scholars and theologians rightly believe that the era of the Apostles has come to an end. Though there are certain denominations or people who use titles as “the apostle” none of them carry the same spiritual authority as the early apostles did. Does that mean this verse is irrelevant? NO! Though we do not have the early Apostles with us anymore but their teachings are recorded in the New Testament.
In his book “The Student Faces Life”, Dr. Carl Kopf said that, among other things, the Bible is a textbook in which are recorded the results of the most intensive experiments ever performed in living. Each student is given a textbook. The teacher says, "Study the textbook. Learn the properties of each chemical. Then perform your experiments and record the results in your notebooks." But one freshman gets rebellious. He says, "Who wants to follow the textbook all the time?" He thinks, I wonder what would happen if I mixed some of these chemicals together? So, when he thinks the teacher isn't looking, he begins to mix several chemicals together to see what will happen. Dr. Kopf says it happens! When the experiment comes down from the ceiling, the student doesn't have to write the result in his notebook. The stain on his notebook is the result. So let us read our textbook: The Bible.”[1]
Unlike in this illustration the Bible is not like any other text book in the world; it is divinely inspired word of God. It has life giving and guiding principles for every one who reads and understands and applies it. I wonder how many of us have a habit of reading the Bible daily.
The chief researcher for one major denomination recently estimated that only about 6%-8% of the members of his denomination attend any kind of formal bible study in a given year and that only about half have ever been to a Bible study in their lives.[2] Why is there so much biblical illiteracy? We know the importance of reading the Bible then why so little interest? Why people would rather go to a BBQ than come to a Bible Study? Is the message of the Bible still relevant today?
Three reasons why I believe it is absolutely critical that we learn to read and understand God’s word the Bible: 1.God’s word is living.2.God’s word reveals God’s plan 3.God’s word is the antidote against false teaching.
The Bible says about it’s authenticity in 1 Peter 1:25 “But the word of the Lord endures for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” In other words it can not and will not be destroyed. Why? Because it is God’s word, as God can not be destroyed neither can his word. Josh McDowell point from his research, “Over 2,000 times in the OT alone there are clauses such as “ and God spoke to Moses,” “the word of the Lord came to Jonah,” and “God said”. Moreover, the Bible claims to be a record of the words and deeds of God, thus the Bible views itself as God’s Word.”[3]
Proverbs 30:5 "Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him."

Deuteronomy 32:46-47 “he(Moses) said to them, "Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you-- they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess." I can not over emphasize the need for us to daily read and apply the living word of God.

In the midst of many versions which one should you read? Before I say anything else about translations let me illustrate this. “Three persons were talking about some of the recent translations of the Bible. One said, "I like the New English version of the Gospels. It's easier reading than all the older versions." Said the second person, "I prefer the new Jerusalem Bible. The translators have modernized the language without sacrificing reverence." To which the third person replied, "I know an even better translation. I like my mother's translation best. She translated the Bible into life, and it is the most convincing translation I have ever seen. She was a loving person who always took the needs of others seriously.” No matter what version you read, if you don’t live by what you read it does not do any good to you. My personally advice especially to new believers is to read the New International Version, because it is easy to read, and to understand.


Have you ever wondered what it is that God wants you to do? Does God have a plan for your life? As the title of a book suggests “If God has a plan for my Life, Why Can’t I find it? The truth of the matter is that God does have a plan and he wants to reveal it to us provided we are willing to listen and follow that plan.

God communicates to his people through many ways. “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s Glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful Word.”(Heb 1:1-3). Though Jesus is physically not present with us today he is still speaking to us through the Holy Spirit and his divinely inspired word of God the Bible.

Let me explain how this works. There were three specific times God used scriptures to help me make life changing decisions, firstly when I was deciding to go into full time ministry, secondly when I faced a situation after my mother’s death and thirdly while deciding to marry Wilma. I am glad that I was able to make all three right decisions because of the scriptural guidance; otherwise I would not be here today. Instead of asking does God have a plan for me? We must be asking am I seeking for it in His scriptures? (Ecc 1:8, Isaiah 42: 6; 49:6, Lk 4:43).

Where else can we find God’s plan other than in the revealed Word of God. He says in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, and plans to give you hope and a future.”(Psalm 33:11) “But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.”

We are living in a time where so much wrong doctrine preached. For example: Word of Faith, Health and Wealth, Name It and Claim It, Prosperity Theology--its emphasis is on God's promised generosity in this life and the ability of believers to claim it for themselves.

In a nutshell, it suggests that a God who loves you does not want you to be broke. In a TIME poll, 17% of Christians surveyed said they considered themselves part of such a movement, while a full 61% believed that God wants people to be prosperous. And 31%--agreed that if you give your money to God, God will bless you with more money.” Unlike these Christians the early Christians were selling their properties, instead of becoming rich for themselves they were becoming rich towards God. How could we discern false teachings when we don’t read and study the apostle’s teachings? Paul writes to Timothy, in I Timothy 6:10 “for the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people eager for money have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” When we equip ourselves with the truth when the false teaching is presented to us we are able to discern wrong from right.

No one Church can claim to be the perfect Church. We realize that the Church is made up of broken people whose lives are touched and transformed by the power of the Gospel. But God is not yet finished with us, he is still working on us, purifying us and he will continue that process of cleansing until we reflect the face of His son Jesus Christ. I believe people are searching for a Church that is genuine and real. Our vision is to build an authentic community that Loves God and seeks to share the message of the gospel to all ethnic groups in Quincy and beyond. If we want to be authentic community we must look at the early Church as a model and glean from them life giving and guiding principles. The first vital sign in the early church was that the early Church was a learning Church. Next week we will discover another Sign of the Living Church. May the Lord help the Evangelical Congregational Church to be a learning Church.

[3] Josh McDowell, & Don Stewart, Answers to tough questions

Sunday, September 13, 2009


When we think of obedience unfortunately we associate this with weakness or letting ourselves down before somebody. Is obedience not the mark of a slave? but it is actually a sign of maturity and a gateway to power. The fact is: It is an important quality in leadership. “You will command so learn to obey” the slogan on a Brazilian army camp reminds us that we can not be a leader if we do not learn to obey, because to the extent we follow to that extent we lead. The great leaders of this world have not been their own masters; they arose and followed someone higher up, and thereby became the greater.

Our physical health depends upon obeying the laws of our physical nature, our strength of character dependence on obedience to God’s order. Obedience is not all that bad as it is projected; in fact there are great blessings stored in the lap of obedience. There are several examples in the Bible of those who have experienced blessings when they obeyed but when they disobeyed they brought disaster upon themselves.

Since the creation God has been looking for people who are obedient to him. Unfortunately the first parents Adam and Eve did not set a good example for us to follow. For a moment of pleasure and with a secret desire for power they have disobeyed God’s clear instructions. We all inherited Adam’s sin and as a result, obedience doesn’t come naturally to us. However, God requires obedience from his people. Only one thing that God expected from Israel was that, Deut 10:12 “And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” Therefore obedience to God is not optional but a requirement.

When we obey God it goes well with us, Micah 6:8 “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act, justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Obedience to God can keep us on a higher ground Deut 28:1 “If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. An individual learns to obey God fully, and then God can place that individual in a position of power and authority. Children begin to obey God he can make them leaders among their peers. Those who are working in government offices or companies obey God he can give them a promotion with a better pay scale. Business men honor God and keep the Sabbath rest he can bless their business. Why? What does obedience have to do with these blessings? When you obey God, you do the right thing, you don’t cheat your spouse, you work hard, you take good care of your body, you are honest in your business dealings, you honor God with your finances, and you are generous in giving.

God gave the Ten Commandments to the Israelites and to the rest of mankind to obey them. The first four commandments relate particularly to our vertical love and respect for God and the rest of the six commandments relate to our horizontal love for people.
God has the supreme authority in our lives; He is the commander in chief therefore he commands our absolute obedience and loyalty, however there are human authority figures also to whom we should give our loyalty and obedience. Let’s look at what the Bible has to say regarding human authority figures such as the parents, government leaders, and spiritual leaders?

Parents are the first authority figures in our lives therefore they are to be honored, respected and obeyed. The fifth commandment says, Exodus 20:12 “Honor your mother and your father so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Paul writes in Ephesians 6:1-3 “Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. Honor your father and mother which is the first commandment with a promise, that it may go well with you that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

In the ancient Jewish culture and even today in some eastern cultures this honor and respect to parents is still intact. But in the post modern western society the fifth commandment is badly violated. While the bible teaches children to obey their parents many in our society say that we are to free children from parental authority. I wonder from where that thought came into practice? Michael G. Moriarty in his book “The perfect 10 talks about what might have contributed to this erosion. “Following Dr. Benjamin Spock’s essentially psychoanalytic model of parenthood, the child-rearing prophets of the 1970s and 1980s touted a new democracy in the home where children are accepted as equal partners in the affairs of the family.” Many have applied Benjamin Spock’s child raising methods and the effects have been detrimental to the society even till today. Children, until the time they reach the age of accountability are to obey their parents but honor must continue throughout their life.

Moriarty, explains how crucial it is for children to respect their parents, he notes, “Respect for authority starts in the family and will produce harmonious relationships in the home and in society. Respectful children are a “national Treasure.[1] There is a lot of truth in it. When respect, honor and love is practiced within the family first between the children and parents then it can be observed in the society. But ironically instead of children becoming a national treasure they are becoming national threat. Why is it that way? Why young people would like to rebel than to obey their parents? Who is teaching them to disregard parental authority? Who are brain washing our young people? Many songs on the market today send the message to young people that they should disobey and disrespect their elders, and they should be free to do whatever they like. For example, Britney Spear’s song on Rebellion: Listen to the lyrics:

Be wary of others The ones closest to you (oh)
The poison they feed you And the voodoo that they do,
But in rebellion There's a sparkle of truth
Don't just stand there
Do what you got to do
You'll find it in rebellion
Your body starts breathing
They're not believing what they're seeing 'Cause you're rebellion.[2]

If our teenagers constantly feed on this diet of rebellion through songs, music and movies what else can we expect of them other than rebellion against every form of authority? What has sown the seeds of rebellion in this nation which was primarily founded on Judeo- Christian principles? Do we recognize the moral decay in our culture? Or are we oblivious in thinking that everything is great? Who was to blame for this moral failure? Are we as evangelical Christians setting up a different biblical standard? Or are we going with the flow and let the culture control us instead of us controlling the culture? What does it take to reverse this trend? I am sure many of us do wrestle with these questions.

Francis Schaeffer who was recognized as one of the most influential Christian thinkers of the last century, in his book “The Great Evangelical Disaster” explains what caused this moral downfall and also offers a few suggestions on how to regain our ground as Evangelical Christians in this degrading society. Let me read a few thoughts from Schaeffer “Something happened during the past 60 to 80 years which cut the moral foundation out from under our culture. Devastating things have come in every area of culture whether it be law or government, whether it is in the schools, our local communities or in the family. Our culture has been squandered and lost, and largely thrown away.

In 1920’s one word dominated the society more than any other word that was “Freedom” It is the attempt to have absolute freedom to be totally autonomous from any intrinsic limits. It is the attempt to throw off anything that would restrain one’s own personal autonomy. But it is especially a direct and deliberate rebellion against God and his law. This rebellion was triggered through the so called Enlightenment. Schaeffer calls this the problem of “Form and Freedom” Both Form( structure, order, rules, regulations) and freedom are good in themselves, however the problem occurs when they go out of balance or any one of them is taken to the extreme. For example, freedom without a proper balance of form, will lead to chaos and the total breakdown of society. Form, without a proper balance of freedom will lead to authoritarianism, and to the destruction of individual and social freedom. But note further: No society can exist in a state of chaos.” Let me put in perspective how this plays out in our lives

My wife Wilma and I come from two uniquely distinct cultural backgrounds. Wilma grew up in a society and time where “Freedom” was increasingly valued and regard for structure and order was eroding. I grew up in an Asian culture with a lot of form but little freedom. Wilma from the age of 12 in pursuit of freedom kicked against every form of authority and went away from every known Biblical standard of living. I grew up in a very conservative, traditional Christian home not experiencing much of the outside free world. When we both encountered Christ in the course of time and started growing in our understanding of God and Scripture we started learning to appreciate Form and handle freedom. We saw the need to keep both “Form and Freedom’ in a proper balance. We submitted to the authority of Christ, and made His word as our standard for life and conduct not our cultures and upbringing.

So far we have talked a lot about honoring authority beginning with honoring and respecting the parental authority where our society has gone wrong in the first place. But there are other authorities God wants us to respect such as Government leaders and spiritual leaders. A few scriptures to help us understand the need to obey these authority figures in our lives.

The whole chapter in Romans 13 deals with our submission to authorities because there is no authority except which God has established. I Peter 2:13-14, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.” We not only learn to respect and submit those in authority but we also need to pray for them I Timothy 2:1-2 “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”

It is important that we pray for our president, senators, congressmen, police, mayors, governors, firemen, military officers and so on so that we can live peaceful lives. We pray that God will protect them and enable them to do the right thing. However when it comes to obeying certain governmental and spiritual leaders we must use discretion and caution. There are those who abuse power and authority to manipulate people. In such situations we need discernment to obey God rather than obeying men. Time doesn’t permit me to share many examples in the Bible and the church history where people obeyed God rather than obeying men even it meant death.

In the end, in the Old Testament we read specific rewards to obedience and consequences to disobedience. When we obey we will be blessed but when we disobey we will reap the consequences. I like the NASB translation in Deut 28:2 “And all these blessings shall come upon you and over take you, if you will obey the Lord your God.” That is the intention of God for us, he wants to pour out his blessings on us but it all depends on our obedience or lack of it. You may be thinking, well obedience is easier said than done; you talk about obedience as you had never struggled with it. The truth of the matter is every earnest Christian struggles against sin. In Hebrew 12:4 “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: My son do not make light of the Lord’s discipline and do not loose heart when he rebukes you. Because the Lord disciplines those he loves and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”

There is blessing and life in obedience; and there is curse and death in rebellion. Which one will you choose? Let our simple prayer be the prayer of David, Psalm 86:11 “Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”

[1] The Perfect 10 by Michael G. Moriarty Page 110

Sunday, September 6, 2009


On an outside wall of the Brazilian Army Academy, cadets can read the words "You will command. So learn to obey!"

John Kenneth Galbraith, a Canadian American economist (1908-2006) in his autobiography, A Life in Our Times, illustrates the devotion of Emily Gloria Wilson, his family's housekeeper:
It had been a wearying day, and I asked Emily to hold all telephone calls while I had a nap. Shortly thereafter the phone rang. Lyndon Johnson was calling from the White House.
"Get me Ken Galbraith. This is Lyndon Johnson."
"He is sleeping, Mr. President. He said not to disturb him."
"Well, wake him up. I want to talk to him."
"No, Mr. President. I work for him, not you. When I called the President back, he could scarcely control his pleasure. "Tell that woman I want her here in the White House."
It is rare to find such unwavering loyalty and prompt obedience. Obedience is not a popular concept and is altogether scorned by skeptics. It is seldom preached from the pulpit, yet the Bible talks a great deal on this subject. There are several examples of people who obey God. In Luke 1:17, we read John the Baptist came “to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Jesus after he rose from the dead called his frightened disciples and said, Matt 28:18-20 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” If it was not for the disciple’s obedience to the great commission, where we would be today?

Those who excel in life are the ones who have learned to obey the Lord. I wonder how many of us have learned obedience in childhood? Obedience ties in with parenting and child raising. Not many parents these days expect obedience from their children. Dr. Sears a Christian pediatrician who teaches on attachment parenting writes about that “so few children obey because so few parents expect them to obey.” Yet the wise parent knows that teaching obedience to a child is imperative for the child's success. From the time a child is about one year old a parent can start teaching and expecting a child to listen and obey, the earlier the easier.
The wonderful opportunity that God grants parents is to build relationship with their children. God has beautifully designed marriage, sexuality and family. The way a child is conceived in the mother’s womb and snugly grows there for 9 months before it is born and a child’s dependency on the loving care of a mother and father is all meant to foster relationship and trust. Psalm 22:9 “You made me trust in you even at my mother’s breasts.”

When a child is consistently and lovingly cared for, trust is build and when trust is build obedience is easily learned. The truth is few of us have learned obedience growing up, partial obedience and respect at best I guess. By nature we all were born sinners as a result we are bent more to disobedience than to obedience both to our parents and as adults towards God and authority figures. When we were saved and born again into God’s family. God has become our father, we are His children. As we get to know Him better we are thrilled to discover that God is the perfect parent and that He loves us without limit. Wow! What is your response to the amazing love of God for you? What does God look for in His children? Obedience! Why is it so important?

Obedience has to do with boundaries and limits. It is the recognition of ones place in the grand scheme of things, that I am not God, I am not ultimately in charge, and I don't own all the wisdom in the world. A child who is told not to touch the stove and does it anyway gets hurt.

Certain things are not good and right for us if we go ahead and do those things anyway we get hurt. Have we learned yet that God loves us so much that he has laid out clear guidelines for right living? Or do we have no such trust and do we kick and scream at the very thought of obeying God? Let’s find out.


For God, obedience is far more important than anything else because everything depends either on our obedience to God or our disobedience. We realize that obedience is not something that we acquire from birth, but it is learned along the way sometimes it is learned the hard way. We can learn something about obedience from the way Arabian horses are trained.
Arabian horses go through rigorous training in the deserts of the Middle East. The trainers require absolute obedience from the horses, and test them to see if they are completely trained. The final test is almost beyond the endurance of any living thing. The trainers force the horses to do without water for many days. Then he turns them loose and of course they start running toward the water, but just as they get to the edge, ready to plunge in and drink, the trainer blows his whistle. The horses who have been completely trained and who have learned perfect obedience stop. They turn around and come pacing back to the trainer. They stand there quivering, wanting water, but they wait in perfect obedience. When the trainer is sure that he has their obedience he gives them a signal to go back to drink. Now this may be severe but when you are on the trackless desert of Arabia and your life is entrusted to a horse, you had better have a trained obedient horse. Similarly we must accept God's training and obey Him.

Jesus modeled obedience to God throughout his life from his childhood on until his death on the cross. But it did not come easily for him, he had to learn it. In Hebrews 5:7-9 “In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.”

In the garden of Gethsemane his obedience was challenged. During his ministry he taught his disciples unless you pick up your cross and follow me you are not my disciples. Now his very own teaching was being tested, will he go to the cross willingly or not? At that moment everything with in him must have cried out and said it is too hard, give up and let go of your rescue mission. He could have given up infact he cried out saying, (Matt 26: 39) “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me, but thank God he did not, he wanted to obey His father all the way so he said “yet not as I will but as you will.” That is called the total obedience.

Paul brought out this total surrenderance and obedience to God the father in Philippians 2:5-8 “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing taking the very nature of a servant being made in human likeness and being found in appearance as a man he humbled himself and became obedient to death even death on a cross.” His father saying, up then Salvation would not have been made possible.”

If Jesus being the son of God needed to learn obedience how could we not learn? What makes us think that obedience is not a big deal? Obedience to God should not be drudgery thing, rather when we obey him we are remaining in his love. John 15:10 “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.”
Either you are a seasoned Christian or a baby Christian we all need to learn the art of obeying God. It has not been always easy for me to obey him there were times I disobeyed him, but the most important decisions in my life were born out of obedience God. Very early in my Christian walk I realized that I can not lead others to obey Christ if I myself am not obedient. To the degree we follow to the same degree we can lead others. May the Lord help all of us to grow in the grace of obedience?