April 29

Seeking Direction: The Obedience Factor, Part 1

James 1:22-25 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

Luke 8:19-21 Then His mother and brothers came to [Jesus]…And it was told Him by some, who said, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You.” But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”

Luke 6:46 “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”

God is so gracious, and has shown so much mercy to us, that we can underestimate the power of obedience. We know that He is faithful, even when we aren’t. We know that His love is constant, and that He continually makes up for our many weaknesses and shortcomings.

But as we ask Him for direction and hit the proverbial “brick wall,” we may need to ask if there is anything undone that might be getting in the way of receiving direction for the next step. Perhaps there is forgiveness that needs to be extended. Or a relationship that needs preparing. Or something that needs to be done that has been sitting there undone.

The story of Achan in Joshua 7 is the classic story of disobedience getting in the way of God’s plan. In that story, Achan disobeyed Joshua’s directions, which Joshua received from the Lord, in that he took something that was meant for destruction. Israel’s progress was stopped short and there were terrible consequences for Achan and others. When we have problems hearing God, perhaps we need to review our actions to see if we need to repent of an active wrong like Achan’s.

But sometimes that wrong is a sin of omission rather than a sin of commission. Achan disobeyed a command of the Lord by doing something. We may have disobeyed a command of the Lord by not doing something. Why would we do that? Perhaps we simply didn’t want to, or found it too hard at the moment, or were afraid of what would happen if we did it. Whatever the reason, disobeying the Lord by omission is as great a sin as something we do against His express command. A special danger of disobeying by omission is that we often try to forget about it as a way of resisting it, which makes it harder to see than an obvious sin of commission.

Only God knows what is important enough in His plan for our lives that things could be ground to a temporary halt by our lack of obedience. But the next time things aren’t clear and you are seeking His direction, consider what hasn’t yet been done that He has told you to do. That may well be the key to releasing His wisdom for the next step.

Prayer: Father, please bring to mind what I haven’t done that You’ve told me to do. Forgive me for resisting Your command and for letting things go. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit that can bring all these things to mind, and then can empower me to move forward in strength and wisdom.

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