I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to HIm, for He is your life and the length of your days; that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them. (Deut. 30:19-20)
If you are a believer, you are a descendent of Abraham and an heir to the covenant God made with him (Gal. 3:16). The covenant established a special relationship with Abraham and his descendants so that they would be blessed by God and would be His people (Gen. 12:1-3). Later, God made the covenant above with Moses telling them that choosing to His way would result in blessings in this life.
I tell my kids all the time, “make a good choice”…or, in some cases, “you made a bad choice”. Good parents set strong boundaries for their children and are consistent in the enforcement of the boundaries. Children must be taught to “choose their consequences” – good choices produce good consequences and bad choices produce bad consequences. Many parents I know say this to their children, including our Heavenly Father (as in the passage above).
My parents were very strict but what I did not know when I was young was that my parents made rules, not to rule over me (though they had every right to do so), but for my good, because they knew what was best for me. God is the same way…Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones (Prov. 3:5-8).
When a child gets off track, a parent must help the child make a correction. No discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:11)
Discipline is training. Think of military discipline or the discipline of an Olympic athlete. But God trains us for righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16-17). God wants us to remove our impurities and bring us into a place of abundance (Ps. 66). He promised Moses: The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love Him with all your heart and with all your souls and live (Deut 30:6).
He wants what is best for us spiritually over what is best for us physically because His focus is eternal. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my way your ways,” declares the LORD, As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:8-9).
God requires more than physical obedience, He requires an obedient heart. He has always prized this: Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows out from it (Prov. 4:23). He does not value lip service. He does not want your rote prayers, your comfortable rituals, or your social religion.
For the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, their religion was more important than their God…Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly are full of hypocrisy and and lawlessness (Matt 23:27-28). In contrast, David said, “You do not delight in sacrifice or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offering. My sacrifice is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, you, God, will not despise.” (Ps. 51:16-17). Jesus introduced a new and lasting Covenant. My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow me; and I give eternal life to them and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of my hand (John 10:27-28).
Your obedience does not start in your actions, but in your thoughts. I want to challenge you this week to submit to God’s authority over you. Allow Him to be the Lord of your family, your time, your finances, your health and your heart (plus more!). Commit to surrender, then you are ready to obey.