Obedience: A matter of the heart

This past month, I have been on a roll with the theme of obedience and today I share the lessons I have learnt on obedience by looking at four different biblical characters: Moses, Saul, Gideon, and the unwilling son. For almost a year now, I have been ruminating on the parable of the unwilling son and what the implication of that story might be. And as I have followed the Israelites on their journey to the promised land, this story seems to be more relevant.

The parable of the two sons can be found in Matthew 21:28-32. The gist of the story is of a man with two sons who told them to go work in the vineyard. The first son refused, but later obeyed and went. The second son initially expressed obedience, but actually disobeyed and refused to work in the vineyard. The son who ultimately did the will of his father was the first son because he eventually obeyed. As I have studied obedience from this parable and through the lives of the Israelites, my biggest lesson has been that obedience is about the heart. Actions matter, in fact what we do matter a lot! But the state of one’s heart is even more important than what we do. King Saul, the first king of Israel is a perfect example of this lesson.

God had instructed that all the nations that the Israelites conquered be completely destroyed (people and livestock alike) but when Saul defeated the Amalekites, he decided to spare their king, Agag and keep the choicest animals for sacrifice to God. One might hear this story and think it was noble thing that Saul had done but God was not pleased. He rebuked Saul sternly,

“What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams”

The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

1 Samuel 15:22 NLT and 1 Samuel 16: 7b NIV

Apart from the fact that the All-knowing God knew that one day, a descendant of King Agag named Haman would make it his life’s mission to wipe out all the jews from the face of the earth when he demanded the total destruction of the foreign nations, he was more concerned with the state of the heart of Israel’s ruler. A heart of obedience was a prerequisite for a long and fruitful reign (Deuteronomy 17:19). Saul’s grand gesture of saving the choicest livestock and sacrificing them contravened God’s edict and was in direct violation of the priestly mandate. His intentions did not matter, his actions even mattered less- because God saw his heart and he dishonored God in his heart and that cost him a great deal.

Moses was another person who dishonored God in his heart and it cost him greatly. Forty years had passed since the Israelites left Egypt to go to the land that the Lord had promised them. After camping in Kadesh, they ran out of water. When the people complained to Moses and Aaron, the Lord commanded Moses to speak to a rock so that water would miraculously gush from it. Instead of obeying the Lord, Moses chose to deliver an angry lecture to the people and then strike the rock twice with his staff. I have always wondered what was so bad about Moses hitting the rock with his staff when God had asked him to speak to the rock. Surely the Israelites deserved the stern rebuke! Why did his actions cost him the promise land even though the rock produced water? Well, scriptures clues us in that it was not so much about what he did as it was about his heart in that moment. Moses dishonored God in his heart and that spilled over into his angry outburst and actions. That is what God punished… the dishonor.

“…for when the community rebelled at the waters in the Desert of Zin, both of you disobeyed my command to honor me as holy before their eyes.”

Numbers 27:14 NIV

Many times, obedience is perceived with a “do not question; do as you are told” mentality. However, if obedience is more about the heart and less the actions, then there is opportunity to seek clarification and ask questions of God when we do not understand what is being asked of us. Gideon is a good example of this (Judges 6-8). I have been intrigued with the story of Gideon and how he appeared to question all of God’s directions without any repercussions. After carefully analyzing the story of Gideon, I conclude that even though he asked God to prove Himself over and over again, he never dishonored God in his heart through the process. His acts of questioning and clarifying were not acts of disobedience (dishonoring God in his heart) or blatant defiance and were actually welcomed by God. In this story, I see God respond to the frailty of humanity through tenderness. Gideon’s tests were designed to draw him into a deeper understanding of who God is and God indulged him.

An obedient heart may be one that has self doubt but says, “God, can you tell me some more about what you are asking of me?” “Can you show me what I ought to do and how I ought to do it?” An obedient heart may not always do the right thing but is quick to admit its wrongdoings and say “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.” An obedient heart may not be one that jumps for joy when asked by the Father to work in the vineyard but still goes any way.

My prayer for you and for myself is for a heart of obedience… and as our hearts respond in obedience to the King, may our actions follow suit.

Yours Truly

Obedience: An art and act of warfare

Now that is an unusual title isn’t it? As I have journeyed along the Israelites from Egypt to the promised land in my bible study, I have discovered nuggets such as the one I would be sharing shortly, along the way. The Israelites had now entered the promised land under the leadership of Joshua and had conquered much land to call home. However, the Israelites did not drive out all the pagan nations from the land. God allowed some of the nations to remain to teach the new generation of Israelites two things: first, the art of warfare and second, that their victory in warfare came from obedience.

These are the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience): the five rulers of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites living in the Lebanon mountains from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo Hamath. They were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the Lord’s commands, which he had given their ancestors through Moses.

Judges 3:1-4 NIV

Throughout the lifetime of Joshua and the elders who had seen the great things that God had done, the Israelites served God faithfully but there came a generation after who neither knew God or the things he had done for Israel (Judges 2:10). Now while that in and of itself is problematic and bears pause, that is not the focus of this topic. The people quickly fell into a pattern of idol worship and consequent suffering under the strong hand of raiders and nations who oppressed them. Every time they went out to war, the hand of Lord was against them just as He had sworn to them He would do and they were defeated.

Again and again, God raised up judges for them who saved them out of the hands of their enemies. And as long as the judge was alive, the people obeyed God but returned to their corrupt ways upon the death of the judge. This triggered a pattern of times of peace followed by times of oppression even though they were in the land God had promised them. As I studied the lives of the judges God raised for the Israelites and the many battles the Israelites fought in their first few years in the promised land, it became apparent obedience always led to victory and disobedience to defeat. The art of warfare- their secret weapon- was obedience. It was not a physical (carnal) weapon and yet a highly effective one!

Obedience is still an effective weapon for many seen and unseen battles in our lives today. The bible assures us of us this fact. Now pay attention to this scripture:

The weapons of our warfare are not weapons of the world. Instead, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We tear down arguments and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 BSB

This scripture demonstrates obedience in action as an art and act of warfare. Even rogue thoughts, arguments, and presumptions that have been set up above the knowledge of Christ are torn down and held captive when obedience is at work. These strongholds, when submitted to the lordship of Christ are defeated just as the enemy nations of the Israelites were defeated and many times their strongholds torn down when the Israelites were living in obedience to God. In their obedience, they listened to and followed God’s plans in times of war even when the plan did not make sense. Shouting as they marched around a city, selecting men for battle based on how they drank water, falling in love with a Philistine woman as a battle strategy, regardless of how ridiculous the strategy may have seemed, the battle was always won because someone obeyed!

Last year, I went through a phase where everything felt like a struggle and battle. Many times, I felt God telling me to hold my peace and that he would fight for me. And did I listen? Of course not! I thought I had to take matters into my own hands and I kept spinning out of control until eventually I had spun myself into an intricate web of despair and defeat. I look back now and realize how obeying the voice and promptings of God not to say this or that, or to walk away, or to hold my peace etc. may have been an effective strategy to win the battles of 2022!

Have you ever been in a situation where you feel like you are in a fight of your life for things you should not be fighting for? Are you in the thick of a physical, emotional, psychological, or financial warfare? In addition to the many weapons in your artillery, add obedience and see God lead you into great victories! Here’s to winning our battles in the strength and might of the Lord with our secret weapon!

Yours Truly.


For the past few months I have been on a hiatus from writing but certainly not from God working on me to make me into what He wants me to be. While I have been away, I have spent time reflecting on the Israelites as they journeyed from Egypt to the promised land. and as I have read through their stories, the weight of being a sojourner here on earth has not been lost on me. As I grapple with where I am in life, where I have been, and my role on this stage of life, in contrast with the stories of the Israelites, there are two principles that have resonated with me: surrender and obedience.

Throughout the sojourn of the Israelites, God asked that they loved, served and obeyed Him. And what made the likes of Moses and Joshua successful in obeying God while most of the Israelites struggled was surrender. Surrender is the answer to our commitment to intimacy and obedience to God. Our intimacy does not come from where God has placed us or what He has given us. If that were the case, the Israelites of old would have been the most surrendered people. Surrender is a choice we have to make everyday; an active choice and not a passive happening.

Matthew 25 speaks to a parable that Jesus told and while there are many lessons to draw from this parable, today this parable highlights what active surrender looks like. In this parable, a man goes on a long journey but before he does so, he entrusts his wealth to his servants according to their abilities. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two and to yet another one bag. Two of the servants understood that everything they had been given had to be surrendered to the will of their master and so they made a choice to invest the gold. The last servant took a more passive approach and instead of discerning the will of his master, buried his one bag of gold in the ground. He held on so tightly to what he had been given, unwilling to allow any transformation to happen with his bag of gold and he missed out completely in the end (Matthew 25:14- 30 paraphrased).

What are you holding on to so tightly? What have you buried so deep that you are unwilling to allow God to bring transformation and change to? What remains unsurrendered to the Master’s will? For me it has been my hurts and disappointments in people and circumstances, my time and my schedule, my abundance and my needs, my identity, my family, and my education. There have been many aspects of these areas of my life that I have held so tightly to my own way and I have been unwilling to surrender these parts. Like the servant that hid his bag of gold, I have tried to keep these areas under my own control. God has been teaching me to let go and surrender these parts to His leadings. Like the servants who had five and two bags of gold respectively ended up with better outcomes than they started off with, so will many things in my life have better outcomes if only those areas are surrendered to God. For starters, most of my strivings will cease and God will truly be exalted in my life (Psalm 46:10).

But here is the caveat: surrender and obedience walk hand-in-hand. Without obedience, one cannot be fully surrendered and without surrender one cannot wholeheartedly obey. I pray that in whatever God is calling you to obedience and surrender that you will have a heart that is inclined to listen and at accordingly and as you do so that transformation happen to the five bags of gold or the two bags of gold in your life for the glory of God.

Yours Truly

Advent Calendar day 17: The conclusion of it all

As we come to the end of the book of Ecclesiates, I have reflected on it all and realized the whole book culminates in a few simple key advice:

  • Be content with the life you have and find joy in the days you have been blessed with
  • Life lived without a higher purpose is meaningless because our toil and status on earth does not hold any currency in the afterlife
  • Finding purpose cannot be done apart from God

Solomon concludes Ecclesiates with a reflection on what gives meaning to life and what finding higher purpose looks like

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.

Ecclesiastes 12: 13 NIV

We make our lives meaningful on earth by using it to secure a place in God’s kingdom for all eternity. Our life takes on meaning when everything we do in public and in secret is geared towards living in complete obedience to God’s will and purpose for our lives

For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

Ecclesiastes 12: 14 NIV

These words are certainly worthy of pondering over.

Yours Truly

Advent Calendar day 5: A season of giving

I am going to start with a disclaimer: This post is going to be weird for some audiences but for some of you, this would be right up your alley.

Have you ever received a gift from someone and not felt right about it? It is Christmas season and as usual, it is season for gift exchanges. Earlier in the year, I had a conversation with some members of my family about whether or not a Christian could accept gifts from someone who is a known worshipper of “foreign gods” and I was first introduced to this scripture:

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

1 Timothy 4:4-5 NIV

We know that some people are desperately wicked and have ill-intentions and take advantage of the season to carry out evil through gift giving and sharing food. However, this scripture assures us that nothing is to be rejected if received with thanksgiving- the gift is consecrated by the Word of God and prayer. However, it is not only important to sanctify gifts received always and bless the giver, but it is also important to listen for God’s direction regarding the use of gifts received. Sometimes when we are blessed with things- they are for the benefit of others and God’s direction may be to send that blessing the way of someone else. And when we obey, there is even greater blessing in that.

And so in this season, it is imperative that we receive all of God’s bountiful blessings with thanksgiving (which sanctifies and consecrates the gifts) and with a heart of obedience. Let us be intentional in our posture in receiving gifts.

Yours Truly.

Our Covenant Relationship

Referencing We are Covenant People

So let’s continue from where we left off, shall we? To recap:

Abraham was the mediator of a covenant with God sealed with blood. The terms of reference of this covenant were that all that entered into it would love, obey, fear God, serve God, and keep the commandments. This covenant was meant to be an everlasting covenant between God and Abraham and his descendants, never to be broken by either party. But guess what? the children of Israel fell into a cycle of breaking the covenant, repenting and asking God to take them back only to break it all over again. Enter Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ became the mediator of a new and better covenant the new covenant which promised three things:

  • to be inclusive, not just for the descendants of Abraham but for all
  • to give access to an eternal inheritance
  • to set people free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant

Therefore Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, now that He has died to redeem them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. Heb 9:15 BSB

Just like the old covenant, the new covenant was ratified with the blood of Jesus on the cross of Calvary. And all who are willing to partake of this covenant enter into it by the circumcision of  the heart

For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, and true circumcision is not something visible in the flesh. On the contrary, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart—by the Spirit, not the letter. That man’s praise is not from men but from God. Romans 8: 28-29 HCSB

And how does one circumcise the heart you ask? You are to have put off, concerning the former way of life, the old man, which is being corrupted according to its desires of deceit (Ephesians 4:22 BLB) and you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips (Colossians 3:8)

But you know the best part of all of this. Jesus did not come to invalidate the old covenant ratified by God or nullify its associated promises. He came to offer this opportunity to all.

And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you. Galatians 3:29 NLT

This means that all the blessings of the old covenant are available to me a non-Jew through the new covenant. this also means all the stipulations of the old covenant are also enforceable: the covenant is a blood covenant that can never be broken and the parties involved are blood partners and everything one has is placed at the disposal of the other.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3 ESV

Pentecostal Christians know how to claim the blessings under Abraham’s covenant. We sing … “Abraham’s blessings are mine!”…perhaps too often… and rightly so because everything God has is placed at our disposal. we have full access but is the flip side true? Can God count on our everything to be placed at His disposal? Abraham, of whom we sing placed everything at God’s disposal even to the point that when God said “give me your beloved son”, he was prepared to give up Isaac! Are you prepared to lay it all down?

Secondly, the terms of reference remain the same:

What does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God by walking in [obedience to] all His ways, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am giving you this day for your own good? Deuteronomy 10: 12-13 BSB

So I ask you: Do you love God? Do you fear God? Do you obey God in all things? Are you serving God with all your heart and with your soul? and Do you keep the statutes and commandments of the Lord? I know I fall short of these most days and if you are like me and you fall short too, then I pray this day that God will help us   to be intentional in our covenant relationship with Him, to keep our part of the covenant so we can fully experience and enjoy the blessings of Abraham.

Yours truly.

The Evidence of Love

Have you ever found yourself saying, “I love you Lord” but deep down you are not really sure if you even know what that means? Well…that is me 99.9% of the time. However, today I discovered that I can finally put the question of whether I truly love God or not to rest with this simple test:

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. 2 John 1:6a NIV

Wow! this actually stopped me in my tracks!

The evidence of the love we have for God is found in our obedience. To rephrase, obedience is the inertia (the driving force) of our love. It is the vessel that carries out the intent of our love.  It is the donkey that carries a triumphant Jesus into Jerusalem.  A scripture comes to mind:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son… John 3:16 KJV

The intent of this love was that Jesus, would pay the ultimate sacrifice to redeem us back to God. However, if Jesus had not been obedient, the purpose for that love would have never been fulfilled.

He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Philippians 2:8 NLT

We sing wonderful songs of the love that motivated Christ to die for us and that is amazing. But let me tell you,  it was obedience that sealed the transaction of love the day an agonizing Jesus carried His old rugged cross up to Golgotha. Jesus had a choice (authority) to lay his life down and take it up again and that day, He was intentional in His obedience  to choose you and I (read John 10:18).

For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. Romans 5:19 NIV

The victory of salvation and redemption came through the obedience of Jesus. This is why you cannot speak of a victorious christian life outside of obedience. As one of my readers said, obedience is key. But I digress…

Jesus testified to His love for God in His obedience:

But I do exactly what the Father has commanded Me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. John 14:31 Berean Study Bible

So I leave you with this thought: To love is to obey and to obey is to love. Be intentional.

The Intentionality of Obedience Part 1

via Why marry a Godly person? Part 1

A few days ago God taught me a valuable lesson on obedience through this post on “Why marry a godly person” referenced above. As I was reading and re-reading my post as I always do, my eye caught something I had written in the moment without much thought. This is what I wrote:

“So the question today is, “Why is it important to marry a Godly person?” The obvious answer is because the bible says we should not be equally yoked with unbelievers… and rightly so! But why? Two answers…

In part 1, I shared about foundation and then proceeded to share about God’s Spirit in us in part 2. As I pondered over the blogs again, I realized I had missed the more obvious and most important answer: BECAUSE GOD SAYS SO!

Wow! that simple…

I love to ask and answer the question of why…why this?…why that? In fact I’d have fit right in with the Berean Christians (Acts 17:11) back in the day! It is how I process life and my world, and it is part of my process with God. When I read a scripture and want to go deeper with it, I ask, “why?”. When my expectations for life fall short and the answers to prayer is not forthcoming, I ask God, “why?” Sometimes when my husband randomly says ” I love you”, I ask “why?”

I do not believe the statement, “God is unquestionable” in the sense that we should never ask God why. I am certain of the fact that God is interested in a passionate and open relationship with creation where we can ask Him anything. He is not a Father so far removed from His children; a Lover so distant and cold; that we only have a one-sided relationship with Him. I am sure that as much as God is interested in our business, He wants us to be curious and inquisitive about His. So dare to ask, “why?” (In the same breath I caution not to be arrogant. Do not ask questions in a manner that demands that the Creator justify His ways to His creation. Ask with the willingness to be content with His answer even if He does not give an answer at all).

When it comes to obedience, I am learning that God does not mind when we question His demands and His righteous laws in our quest to obey them. Many righteous men of old did same. We have examples in Moses, Gideon, David, Job, prophets of old, the disciples, and many others. However, God is more impressed when we obey without questioning… just trusting fully that He will never lead us astray.

Abraham, the patriarch of faith, is an exemplar of such obedience. He trusted God in the face of many difficult life decisions. And in every instance, even though he did not have all the pieces of the puzzle, he simply obeyed because… GOD SAID SO.

As much as I love to know the what, the why, the how, the when, the who,  and the where of every circumstance, I believe God is leading me to a place where I can step  outside of the confines of what I know to a place of absolute trust; A place where my trust is without borders and goes beyond the questions to the place of “because you say so”

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” Luke 5:5 NIV

So as I start this journey into the intentionality of obedience, I encourage you to hop on this train with me and be open to saying, “I will obey…BECAUSE GOD SAID SO”

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior (Hillsong UNITED: Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)