When to Obey God, Instead of Man

Daily Devotional: Day 121

“Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives . . . “When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.” But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive” (Exodus 1:15-17, NKJV).

The Israelites lived peacefully with the Egyptians for about 400 years. But all of this changed when a certain Egyptian king ascended the throne, who felt threatened by the increasing number of the Israelites. He, therefore, adopted a policy of hostility and enslavement to subdue God’s people. This is the background for our Scripture reading today. The king of Egypt ordered the Hebrew (Israelite) midwives to kill all Hebrew sons whose birth they assisted. But the midwives disobeyed the king. As I often like to stress, pay attention to the detail. The midwives did not disobey just for the sake of disobeying.  They did not disobey because they were arrogant and rebellious. Notice this: The midwives disobeyed the king, because they feared God.

On several occasions the Bible admonishes us to honor and submit to civil/political authorities (cf. Mark 12:13-17Romans 13:1-71 Peter 2:13-17). When, however, you are ordered to commit evil, deny your God, or violate your Christian conscience, then you must object, and if necessary, disobey that human authority. In other words, whenever you are put in a situation where you must choose between obedience to God’s Word and obedience to men, God wants you to obey Him rather than man. God alone must be feared. I have said this in one of my Daily Devotionals, and I’d like to repeat: You cannot fear God and fear man at the same time. You must choose whom to fear.

God rewards those who fear Him and respect His commandments (See Exodus 1:20 for the blessings God bestowed on the midwives for their bold stance). When the Hebrew midwives disobeyed the king of Egypt, they were putting their profession and even their life on the line. But because they feared God, they did not fear what the king could do to them. They’d rather die than disobey God. This is the meaning of fearing GodBeing willing to rather die than sin against God. If you are a ‘people-pleaser,’ you can’t be a ‘God-pleaser,’ or vice-versa. Likewise, you cannot be a ‘God-fearer,’ if you are a ‘people-fearer.’

I’ll share a personal story with you. About 15 years ago, I was a senior at a seminary in Ghana where I was training to become a Catholic priest. As president of the student council, I had several responsibilities, and often I had to make important judgment calls. I’ll spare you the details, but one day there was a shortage of food at lunch time. Three professors (who were my superiors) ordered me to break into the food storage room to make food available to the students. But in good conscience, I disobeyed the order. I was fully aware that these professors were taking advantage of the temporary crisis to use me as their pawn to further their political agenda against the Rector of the seminary. I refused to play along. At the end of the day, God vindicated me. 

The point is this: You have a God-given right under the Bible to disobey a human law that commands you to violate the law of God or your Christian religious conscience. Whom or what you fear says a lot about you. Do not compromise your loyalty to God’s law because of your fear of human power. Your sole desire as a Christian is to do what pleases the Father, following your Bible-trained conscience, regardless of what people think about you or threaten to do to you.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you today. Amen.

Pray to the Father about what you’ve heard today.

For further study: Daniel 3:1-30

Rethinking Worship

Daily Devotional: Day 88

‘“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:36-38, NKJV).

Your heart is not yours; it is for the Lord. God wants, not some of your heart, but all of it. He requires, not some of your devotion, but all your devotion. The Lord has no tolerance for half-hearted devotion. Recall that He warned the church in Laodicea that due to their lukewarm attitude, He would vomit them out of His mouth (cf. Revelation 3:16). Love is a two-way street. The Bible says that God first loved us; and His love for us has made it possible for us to love Him (cf. 1 John 4:19).

 In Christ Jesus, God has lavished all His love upon us. Therefore, the only reasonable and acceptable response to this radical love is for us to love Him back with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind. This is the definition of worship: total consecration of your life to God, removing all resistance to His will.

Many of us have been raised, unfortunately, to think of worship primarily in terms of the 30-minute or 1-hour slot allocated for singing and dancing during Sunday or Saturday service. Today, when many people hear “worship,” we often associate it with loud music, drums, dazzling lights and intense emotional experience. Making music to God is part of worship, but it is by no means the definition of worship. The Bible truth is, worship is a lifestyleit is a way of beingit is a state of mind.

Worship encompasses a Christian’s whole life. It is not a moment on Sundays or a morning devotion. It is a lifestyle of holy living characterized by around-the-clock devotion to the law of God and submission to His will as expressed in the Bible.

Paul put it so well when he wrote to the Christians in Rome: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). Let’s be honest: How many Christians have offered their bodies to God as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable?

The word “service” (from Romans 12:1) is a translation of the Greek word latreia. This word, among other things, means religious or sacred service, i.e. worship. True worship, therefore, means to voluntarily present your entire self to God as a sacrifice for Him to do with you as He pleases. When love for God consumes you, your only desire will be to please Him, not yourself. Let Christians arise and worship the Lord in spirit and in truth. Let’s rethink worship.

Prayer:

Dear Father, I bless you for your tender mercies. Thank you for lavishing all your love upon me. I give you all my heart, all my soul, and all my body as my reasonable worship. Lord, have your way in me. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: Deuteronomy 6:1-25