As a follower of Christ I am commanded to obey the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. I wish I could say that obedience unto the Lord is always easy and without sacrifice. Maybe it is always easy for some folks ... but not for me. There are times when I struggle to do as the Lord commands in His Word or as He leads through the Holy Spirit. When I struggle with obedience I become painfully aware of my own laziness, insecurities, and even prejudices against others.
I have always found the commandment of tithing and giving of first fruits to be easy. However, I have not always found it easy to bless the ministry or individual the Holy Spirit leads me to bless.
|2014's gleaning from 1st trip to the garden.|
Every year, as our first garden fruits become ripe, I give them to an individual or family as I feel lead by the Holy Spirit. This is a joy and something I'm eager to do when it is a person or family I "approve" of. However, when it is someone with whom I disagree with in lifestyle ... I struggle to obey. Yes, my own sinful pride and prejudices rear their ugly heads. I've even found myself struggling to bless my own children if I'm aware of any unbiblical life choices they may be indulging in.
BUT, the Lord does not call me to judge others - that's His job. He calls me to witness the saving power and grace of Jesus Christ. He calls me to warn the world of the perils of sin and His judgment. He calls me to share His love and mercy for mankind - regardless of their station.
The Bible is full of promises and great blessings for those who follow Jesus Christ. However, none of these blessings are without cost. The price is obedience. We, followers of Christ, are to obey even when we feel lazy, insecure about or abilities or come face to face with our own judgmental prejudices.
I personally know of more than 25 scripture verses on obedience found in both the New Testament and the Old Testament (I'm sure there are far more than I'm personally aware of). A few of my personal favorites are:
Deuteronomy 30: 15-16 - "See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it."
Philippians 4:9 - "Those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you."
1 John 3:22 - "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight."
Deuteronomy 6:3 - "Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey."
Not only does obedience in the Lord bring many abundant blessings, but it can also enlighten us to our own shortcomings and sinful temptations. This enlightenment gives us an opportunity to repent of sin we may not always be cognitively aware of. What an awesome blessing ... an opportunity to keep our own minds, hearts and souls connected and in good rapport with the Lord!
The basket in the above photo may not look like much in the way of first fruits. But I blessed a small family with it anyway. Since then, despite our too cool weather, I've gathered more than 32 quarts of green beans, a bounty of lettuce, enough poblano peppers for an entire meal, lots of fantastic slicing tomatoes and bell peppers. Our potatoes, corn, carrots, beets, Swiss chard, onions and melons are thriving. I genuinely believe the Lord is blessing my obedience and through repentance has forgiven my initial reservation about whom He led me to share our first fruits with.
When you struggle with obedience do you obey anyway? Do you welcome the opportunity to repent of your sinful desire to disobey? What sort of abundant blessings have you experienced through obedience and repentance? I'd love to read about your own personal testimony on this subject.