Day 5

Blessed Obedience

from the Daniel reading plan


Daniel 1:17-21, 1 Samuel 12:24

BY Kaitlin Wernet

My dog will do anything for green beans, hot dogs or chocolate. Even together. I know. Chocolate is terrible for dogs, I know. Before you begin to think I’m the worst pet owner, I promise I do not serve my dog any of these things purposely.

Okay, maybe once or twice, but only when times are hard.

When she had a bellyache and wouldn’t eat anything for days, green beans did the trick. When she’d run away down the street, the only thing that would send her galloping back was my voice yelling “HOT DOG!” (Or maybe it was my classy demeanor. Who knows?) And the chocolate? The only thing the dog could hunt was a Reese’s peanut butter cup.

So, when I think of obedience, I think of my dog. She isn’t the most well-mannered, but girl knows how to get what she wants.

Puppy obedience school runs on a principle our human hearts know too well:

If ______, then _______.

If you sit, stay and roll over, then you’ll get a treat.
If you run, hydrate and eat well, then you’ll lose weight.
If you read, study and work hard, then you’ll ace the test.

As we read about the young men at the end of Daniel 1, the same seems to be happening. They have probably prayed, listened, kept faith and now they are blessed! But see, when I hear that, my heart fills in the blanks for me: If I pray harder, obey more and read the Bible, then I’ll be blessed. I begin to confuse blessing with a means to getting what I want, and I’m left feeling defeated.

Here’s the thing: our failure to perfectly follow Christ has already been defeated on the Cross. The connection between faith and works can become muddled and sticky, especially when we involve our own sinful, yet well-intentioned, minds to straighten it out. However, we can rest assured that, from God’s holy perspective, faith and works are never in opposition because His design for both is purposeful and good. Daniel and his friends didn’t follow a prescribed regimen for holiness. By God’s grace, they humbled themselves as His servants, so He would exalt them at the proper time (1 Peter 5:6).

When my dog isn’t running away for prepackaged meat treats, she spends the other half of her time perusing my closet. Other than maybe catching my contagious love for fashion, I don’t know where she learned this, because I absolutely did not teach it to her. Especially the part where she likes to welcome guests with a presentation of my dirty laundry.

Each day, she picks items of clothing, sinks her teeth gently into the fabric and parades it downstairs to her favorite spot. She sits in her scented souvenir pile each day, never hurting it, only lounging. Now that I think of it, this too, is my fault.

Because I leave my closet door cracked slightly, she can push it open with her nose.
Because I feed and love her, she wants to surround herself with my scent.
Because I allow this to happen, she can go straight to the reward, without an “if” or “then.”

The same is true for us.

Our obedience is always and only prefaced by God’s goodness and grace to us. The only “if, then” statement in the Bible we need to worry about is the one that was completed by Jesus—He turned our “if” into a “because”!

Because we are in Christ, we get to seek first the reward: the Kingdom of God!
Because we are in Christ, our obedience is no longer driven by lack but by taking joy in The Giver!
Because we are in Christ, His blessings are given with specific Kingdom purposes.
Because we hold this as truth, we get to obey him by fearing the Lord and worshipping Him faithfully with all of our hearts (1 Samuel 12:24).

Friends, whether in exile or eating chocolate, we can only obey because of God’s grace.

May our obedience flow from the reward we already have in Christ. Amen.

 

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Post Comments (110)

110 thoughts on "Blessed Obedience"

  1. Shawna says:

    I appreciate so much the truth that issues from these lessons. This is meat not milk.
    I've always thought this of Daniel. He wasn't following laws , his heart was following God. Trusting God with the outcomes. God asks us to seek Him, Love Him with all our heart and seek His kingdom and that's what Daniel does and teaches us to as well. God will take care of you. Leave those Details to Him.

    1. "meat not milk". Exactly. :) Love this truth today!

    2. Michelle says:

      “He wasn’t following laws, his heart was following God.” Mm love this!

    3. tina says:

      Lord , that my heart would follow God…no matter what…I like these words shawna…Thank you..x

    4. Ari H says:

      His heart was following God. Love that, working on living it daily in all I do.

  2. Sarah_Joy says:

    I have struggled throughout my life with the sticky works/grace struggle. To do good works for me to feel good becomes my goal instead of chasing God. Father, change my heart. Woo me and draw me into the purposes you have for me. Spirit, lead me. Thank you, Jesus, for making my works unnecessary. May all I do flow out of love and thankfulness as an offering.

    1. What a beautiful prayer. My heart is right there with you in the sticky struggle.

  3. Bethany says:

    Blessings are a gift, not a reward!

  4. Michelle says:

    the thing that jumped of the page to me today is how much of a HEaRT thing this is.Its all about the heart.Yesterday Daniel purposes in his heart..Today Faithfully worship with all your heart.There is so many times I obey or try to obey without asking God to change my heart.I don't go deep enough with the Lord,asking him to clean my heart.O that I may purpose in my heart..to worship him with all my heart!

    1. MS says:

      Great reminder! Thank you!

  5. Brittany says:

    Let me not do good because of what you can do for me, but let me do good because of my love for you.

    1. amyriker1 says:

      "…let me do good because of my love for you."

      I will pray this today, Brittany.

  6. Jenn Plumb says:

    This caused me to stop and seriously think about why I do good. Do I think that it will bring me blessings? The answer is no. That isn’t why I do good. On days where I’m clinging close to God (which is more often than not), I just feel better. I feel like a better person. I feel joy inside. I look at the world in a different way. I’m thankful for my struggles and the things God is doing in my life when it seems like nothing is happening. But, I also believe that God does good for those who love him. But, it is definitely not an if, then for me at all.

  7. Janny says:

    I didn’t realize how stuck I was in the “if, then” brand of obedience until reading this today. This is such an important shift of mindset. I love the point Carly made…”if, then” makes it all about us.

    One thing that really stood out to me was…because we are in Christ, His blessings are given with specific kingdom purposes. The blessings in my life are not a reward for good behavior, they are a gift/tool to use for God’s glory and His purpose. Wow! Lots to think on today. Lord, please help this message to sink deep into our hearts and not be lost as we move forward with our days.

    1. jessiechatchat says:

      Thank you! I’m where you are… And I love the image of blessings as tools.

  8. ~ B ~ says:

    The thing that strikes me about Daniel's position is that he was in a place he likely didn't want to be, yet he obeyed and did "being there" very well. He was "all in" regardless of his place and God blessed his position for it. God had a plan to use Daniel to make great change, if Daniel went kicking and screaming what kind of impact would he have made? Certainly not one others would have taken very seriously or been keen on listening to. How many times does God ask something of us and we do it, but so begrudgingly. We plod along our position because we have to, not because our obedience positions us to, but because we have a chore mentality. If we can train our hearts to remember, just as we breathe, that our life is about God, then our tasks would feel less cumbersome and we could look towards our struggling seasons with a little more anticipation and grace then conflicted-ness. It's not about where we are, it's about what God is going to do with it.

    There are always going to be times that our jobs, our marriages, relationships, journeys put us in situations we'd rather not be, but are we going to pout our way through them, standing firm like a toddler fitting, or dive in and do it well? Remembering that a significant part of obedience is doing it out of the desire to show our appreciation for all that He does, for the reward He has already supplied. If we focus on obedience as a task, how is that showing love? I am reminded of a season that the path laying out before me was one I did not want to go down. I was not in control of my situation and I knew that some of the choices were not ones God-centered, but I had no choice to walk it out. In that season, there was a song by Avalon that became my daily prayer. What God pointed out over time in that, is that in those situations, when paths are forced upon us, He is still with us. He doesn't send us down the walk without Him. He knows it's a dark and troubling time and He walks it out with us. If we let Him, He will use it. It will be for His glory, somehow and we can lend ourselves, our lives as instruments to His purposes through our graceful obedience. ~ B

    Avalon – I don't want to go
    "So come whatever,
    I'll stick with You.
    I'll walk You'll lead me,
    Call me crazy or a fool,
    For forever I promise You…

    That I don't want to go somewhere
    If I know that You're not there,
    'Cause I know that me without You is a lie.
    And I don't want to walk that road,
    Be a million miles from home,
    Cause my heart needs to be where You are.
    So I don't want to go
    Without Your touch,
    Without Your love
    Filling me like an ocean.
    For Your grace is enough,
    Enough for me.

    1. MNmomma (heather) says:

      Thank you so much for this powerful reminder B……..especially as I head back to work (to say it can be physically and emotionally draining is an understatement), these past few days of studies have really hit home……truly preparing my heart….

      1. amyriker1 says:

        I am returning to work, too, and believe that these studies are preparing my heart.

        1. ~ B ~ says:

          Praying over your return too Amy! ~ B

      2. ~ B ~ says:

        Prayerful over your return to work Heather! Hope this is a fantastic year ~ B

    2. Marcie says:

      "a significant part of obedience is doing it out of the desire to show our appreciation for all that He does, for the reward He has already supplied" — this really resonated with me!

      Looking at the if . . ., then discussion, it is not "if I obey, then God blesses" but really the inverse (as so many biblical truths are in contrast to the world's ways) "since God blesses, then I must (and will be compelled to) obey Him and do good works"

    3. amyriker1 says:

      "all in" regardless of his place

      thank you

    4. Lynda says:

      Wow B! I’m convinced God gave you those words just for me. I’m listening

      1. ~ B ~ says:

        I love how God uses us all for His plans for one another. Love! ~ B

    5. Jenny R says:

      Oh, YES. This is a lesson I’ve learned many times, and yet continue to learn. Thank you so much for writing this out today!

      1. ~ B ~ says:

        Right there with you friend. Constantly learning along side you! ~ B

    6. Beverly says:

      B! Thank you! I’m in my own ‘place I’d rather not be.’ Yet, I chose this place initially. And along the way, the more I kick and scream and fight it, the more it keeps me stuck and miserable. And boy am I tired of all this selfish nonsense. Owning it, surrendering it, and realigning it with Him for His purposes. It’s going to be hard work, but keeping on forward with Him – choosing obedience – is so worth it! I’m grateful for your words, B.

      1. ~ B ~ says:

        You just described a tar-ry quicksand, Beverly. The more you kick and scream, the more it holds on to you. I know we all fall into this pit from time to time. Surrender your place and the pressure will ease up. You know this. Continuing to be prayerful over this position for you. I know God has great things planned! ~ B

      2. Beverly says:

        Thanks for your prayers and hope, B.

    7. Helen says:

      I love the idea of struggling with grace. Sometimes I find myself struggling with a particular kind of unintentional ugliness or snark that just feels icky….and at the same time, kind of justified. Thanks for the reminder that even the trudge through the muddier fields of life can be done with love and light if we are in Him.

    8. tina says:

      What blessed words ~B…Thank you..

      Big hug and pray family are all well..xxx

      1. ~ B ~ says:

        Hey you! Been praying over your return to a new normal after your journey with your family. Hope you are feeling God with you in it all T! ~ B

    9. Jena says:

      So beautiful! I think we have all struggled with being obedient. I love your point about how David obeyed regardless of what the situation looked like. Obedience is less about someone restricting or telling you what to do – although we have long understood it with that "chore" mentality. With Jesus it is all about trust. The more we break ourselves from our fleshly ways of thinking we know best, or wanting to be in control – we will understand everything He lays in front of us or directs us to do is for our good. I think I struggled with this for a long time because I was in between wanting to trust God wholeheartedly and thinking I knew the best way to get the job done. Obedience is powerful and I believe the enemy uses this if, then mentality to trick many of us into thinking there's a wrath or a very negative cloud around that word. We really have to throw out everything we think we know when it comes to Jesus. His definitions are so different from what we think.

      1. ~ B ~ says:

        "We have to throw out everything we think we know….His definitions are so different…." Love that! ~ B

    10. Kori says:

      Wow I know you posted this 2 weeks ago, but you have no idea how you just spoke to my heart!

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