The secret to joy-filled obedience

My kids love to make chocolate milk. When they pour chocolate syrup in the milk, the glass clearly shows the chocolate-infused milk; it’s a cup full of white with a big brown blob at the bottom. They usually forget the last step to making chocolate milk—stirring! But if they do insert the spoon and mix the chocolate into the milk, they get the homogenous yummy brown glass of chocolate milk. When they pour themselves too much and are unable to finish the glass of milk right away, they place it in the fridge for later. When they return to it, the chocolate has again settled to the bottom. It’s still chocolate milk, but it no longer looks like it. The effects of mixing are no longer evident.

They’d have to stir it again.

When I first came to Christ in seventh grade, so many things changed. Once in darkness—sin-stained, lost and without hope—I was granted new spiritual life, a new nature, a right-standing before God and many great and precious promises. Though my eternal landscape changed irrevocably, my immediate lifestyle and patterns did not. Like the glass of milk, I was forever changed into something new and better.

The Holy Spirit was permanently poured into my life and dwells with me every moment of every day. But—just like the chocolate in my glass—He will not fill every ounce of my life if not continually stirred. Some moments, the Holy Spirit saturates my every thought, emotion and action. Other times, I deny His transforming presence and my life looks just like my old “white milk” days without Christ. On those days, my actions don’t reflect His presence in my life.

Moment-by-moment obedience plays a huge part in the chocolate-milk-making days of our lives. Obedience is what picks up a spoon and stirs, inviting God to permeate every part of our days which leads to an incredible filling of His presence. When others encounter us, they can see the “chocolate” in us—the undeniable presence and character of God.

With every choice, we either allow God’s Spirit to fill our beings or stuff Him down to the bottom of our glasses. Just as the glass with the chocolate syrup at the bottom doesn’t look much different from the glass without any chocolate, Christians with the Spirit stuffed down into the bottom of their lives don’t look much different from those without the Spirit.

Don’t get me wrong, obedience is hard … not to mention everyday, moment-by-moment obedience! It may seem impossible at times. But, when I remember that it’s not solely up to me to obey because I have been invited to walk hand in hand with God’s Spirit, I am free to give Him control of my life. That’s something only the power of God can achieve! The Spirit is meant to fill our every word, action, thought and feeling. He is our Comforter, Counselor, Advocate and Help for everyday living. And as He fills every part of our glass, He enables us even more to live obediently.

We must understand our need for the power of the Holy Spirit. Without the empowering presence of God’s Spirit in our lives, any effort we make will bring us back to our insufficient self-righteousness. That, and complete exhaustion. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8 ESV).

I love the way the New Living Translation (NLT) puts this truth.

“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life” (2 Peter 1:3).

Did you get that? Everything we need! Everything! And by His divine power! Obedience is not out of reach if we are relying on the power of God. If the Spirit of God is within us, we will obey. This does not mean we will obey perfectly, but it does mean there is always part of us that longs for a more obedient life.

Though we may understand that we enter into a relationship by God’s grace through faith alone—not works—and are wholly dependent on the power of God to save us, we still move from salvation into “I got this” mode. We are still tempted to leave behind our need for God. As the Apostle Paul says,“How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” (Galatians 3:3 NLT).

We need the power of God today just as much as we did the first moment we depended on it for salvation.

God, help me see where I am attempting to live my life on my own. I am desperate for your grace to be an enabling power in the everyday change I need. Help me make my moments a continual concert of your praise.

This teaching is an excerpt from Everyday Obedience, a new inductive Bible study by Katie Orr from New Hope Publishers (a division of WMU). Designed with the busy woman in mind, this easy-to-use, four-week study will help you better understand the correlation of how God’s grace coupled with your obedience leads you to unexpected freedom as you walk forward in holy living.

  • Quit trying to prove yourself worthy of God’s love and learn how to walk forward into obedient worship as a way of everyday living.
  • Break through surface-level Bible study to experience a deep and transformational time in God’s Word in as little as 15 minutes a day.
  • Let go of the lifestyle of guilt-based behavior and discover the secret to a joy-filled, shame-free everyday obedience.
  • Overcome the feeling of intimidation and develop confidence through a quick yet effective approach to Bible study.

Grab your copy today: Amazon | WMU Store | LifeWay and wherever else books are sold.

Published May 22, 2017