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The Principle of Obedience

The Principle of Obedience

Words of Faith 7-6-18

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Luke 9

   [10]  When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, [11] but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing. 

   [12] Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, "Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here." 

   [13] He replied, "You give them something to eat."

   They answered, "We have only five loaves of bread and two fish--unless we go and buy food for all this crowd."  [14] (About five thousand men were there.)

   But he said to his disciples, "Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each."  [15] The disciples did so, and everybody sat down.  [16] Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people.  [17] They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 


         With thousands of hungry people around, Jesus told the disciples what He wanted them to do.  "You give them something to eat."  After they argued a bit over the finance report, Jesus gave them another directive.  "Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each." 

         What happened next would determine history.  With no significant food in sight, Jesus wanted the people set up in groups for a huge picnic.  The disciples did exactly that.  The second principle in Kingdom Ministry is obedience.  Trust... and obey.  Obedience is the way we step into the Will of God. (This is starting to sound like the words for a great hymn!) 

         Henry Blackaby in "Experiencing God" says, "Once God speaks, what you do next tells what you really believe about God."  Everything else is just talk.  When God speaks, whether in the study of Scripture or through circumstances or through wise counsel or an inner confirmation, what we do next tells what we really and truly believe about God.  

       When Jesus called Peter to step out of a perfectly good boat onto water, what Peter did next told what he believed about God and Jesus.

       When God speaks in some way to a group or ministry, perhaps through a consensus of His leading, what that group or ministry does next tells what they really believe about God.

       When God speaks to us about the freedom we will discover in tithing and giving to His Kingdom, what we do next tells what we really believe about God. 

       When God calls us to a ministry opportunity that seems far beyond our ability, what we do next tells what we really believe about God.  

        The truth is that the most exciting and growing moments in life occur when God speaks and we cannot see how this thing is possible, but we obey, and God provides.  Jesus did not ask the disciples for a finance report or an analysis giving the reasons why this feeding ministry would not work.  He asked for one simple thing-- obedience.  Feed these people.  The call of God calls for one thing, obedience.

         That is how Faith Fellowship Church was started.  When our church started, we really did not count what we could handle or do on our own for God, because it was so ridiculous.  According to our best projection when our church was planted we should have been out of business in about three months max.  It was better not to count too much.  There just was not enough money, even with some very generous gifts.  Three families had formed the church and we met in the living room of one family.

         At first we didn't even have a certain name.  But the very first thing that we did after the first service with 17 adults and 8 children was to assign someone to find a missionary that we could give a tithe to.  We were certain God wanted us to look beyond ourselves from the very beginning so we gave to a mission, out of the inadequate money that God had already provided.  I have seen many church plants that stumble on this principle saying, "We will be our own mission for a while and then later we will give to others."  Such church plants often never do and they never grow.

         We also knew that if we could not be obedient as a church to tithe, then it made no sense to teach people to tithe.  If we could not trust God to provide, then we could not really expect people to trust God to provide in their homes.  If we could not be trusted with the small blessings that God had already given to us, how could He trust us with more?  

         God led us to support a dear missionary in Guatemala named Mike Black.  We had no idea, but he was in a financial crisis at that very time!  He had no idea who we were, but he was so thrilled when he began getting regular checks from us.  He was one of those missionaries out on the field in many ways without a purse or a second shirt or a rod or anything, just trusting God.  God now started providing Mike's needs through a church he had never heard of and didn't know existed!  What a joy it was to finally meet this missionary whom God touched and provided for through our little church.  Our friendship has been a rich one.  

        When God called Mike Black, He did not say "How much money do you have to support a mission to Guatemala?  Give me a finance report."  God said, "Feed my people in Guatemala." Obey. And they did.

        When we made a major move in our lives to follow God and plant Faith Fellowship, God did not say, "Jeff,  how much support do you think you can raise for a new church plant in Melbourne."   No.  God said, move to Melbourne.  Feed my people and await further orders.  We are to be obedient.  Today, Faith Fellowship is not enormous but we serve about 2000 people.  There are FFC missions around the world as well as church planters and local outreach missions in the United States.  This is only because of God's mercy, but it did call for obedience.

         As I study this text, I find myself wondering, what if the disciples had refused?  What if they had said, "We feel silly putting these people into groups when we know there is no food.  We just don't see the resources. We can't do it.  So we won't obey."  We don't really know what would have happened.  Perhaps Jesus would have asked the little boy and his friends to organize the crowd.  Perhaps the feeding would have happened in some other way, we don't really know.  But because the disciples obeyed, they experienced a faith lesson that has endured for centuries as a reminder of what God will do if we trust Him and obey.


       Father God, teach me the walk of faith and obedience.  Help me to act in faith when You direct me even if I cannot see the way or the resources.  Show me in simple and spectacular ways the wonder and power of Your love.  In Jesus' name.