Thursday, December 22, 2011

Obedience of Faith

Mary, not yet 16 years old, betrothed to marry Joseph, is alone when an angel of the Lord appears to her. Luke 1:28-35, “The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” So, Mary was faced with the prospect of being the mother of the Messiah, the Son of God. Was this a reason to rejoice or of great apprehension?  Becoming pregnant out of wedlock was an offense that could be punishable by banishment or death by stoning. Knowing that her betrothed was not to be the father should have caused great anxiety for the young woman. But, how did she answer the angel? Luke 1:38, “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.” This is obedience without question. God asks her to turn her life completely upside down and she answers, Your will be done.

How often have we answered the Spirit by simply ignoring the gentle tug to serve Him? To obey our Lord is not a leap of faith. We obey out of our love and trust for the one who gave His life so that we may live, eternally with our Father in heaven. But, to simply obey is not enough. One must freely give that obedience with a joyful heart. We are Disciples of Christ. If we truly love him, it should be our greatest desire to please Him in all that we do. And in Scripture, our Lord and Savior, called on His Disciples to obey His teachings. “Is it not written” was mentioned by Jesus whenever He cited Old Testament law, confirming that the law remained valid and was to be obeyed. Even though we are no longer under the penalty of the law, we are called to remain obedient. Romans 15:4, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” When Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, the New Testament had not been completed, so the Scriptures he referred were the Old Testament.

When one chooses to use earthly experience, knowledge and tradition to interpret Scripture to be more pleasing is selfish disobedience that greatly displeases our Lord. Deceiving their membership by adopting the doctrine of bound conscience, the leadership of the ELCA allows their members to place themselves in authority of God Himself. Any interpretation of Scripture, no matter how erroneous is acceptable to this misguided denomination through the doctrine of bound conscience. One is free to determine what is or is not sinful in the eyes of the Lord. This is just one more example of disobedience of a selfish human race that revolts against our God far too often. Romans 1:3-6, “His Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. 6 And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.”

Joyfully obey the word of God. Romans 2:13, “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” May our joyful obedience be pleasing in our Lord’s sight. Continue serving the Lord faithfully, giving Him all the glory. Give thanks to the Lord for the opportunity to be a faithful servant and a willing vessel to do His will. Prayers for a blessed Christmas and joyous new year for all.

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