How to Obey God
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ -Matthew 22:37-39
Obeying God has been a tricky endeavor for mankind since the very beginning. It’s the very reason we needed a Savior—sin entered the world and saturated every part of it. Because of sin we also needed an example, a teacher. Someone who we could look to as the standard of honor and obedience to God, who could even resist temptations in this fallen world others couldn’t. Jesus is that Savior for believers, and even here when some of us would be tempted to become angry at the Pharisees trying to trap us by questions, He succinctly responds by quoting the Old Testament (Deut 6:5, Lev 19:18), and by questioning their logic of viewing the Messiah as simply “the son of David”. Jesus doesn’t get defensive, but rather gives us a most important lesson—if we as believers are abiding in these two commandments, we are likely abiding in Him. These verses easily break down to a formula of how to obey God, and have been an unintended recurring theme this month in our teachings at COC.
But God certainly knows what He’s doing. He knows we struggle with temptation and obedience, and He’s the one who leads us through prayer and the Holy Spirit to be teaching this foundational truth in every group. Once we have secured our faith and belief in Jesus, we desperately need to be taught how to obey. This is no different with the COC kids. As we teach these children, answer their Bible questions, and encourage them toward Jesus, we are profoundly blessed to see the work of Christ…but also know the challenges to which they’ll return after the few short hours we have together. They need us to walk with them through tough, out of control situations, not give up on them when they have moments of disobedience, as well as spur on repentance and model forgiveness. We know that sometimes our work with them will be grinding and slow because they sometimes return to an environment in which no one is honoring these two important commandments or providing an example pointing to Christ. Even still, we know that the light of Jesus shines brightly into a dark, dark world, and therefore, the light of Jesus can shine just as brightly through us into a child’s heart who may live in a bleak or otherwise hopeless situation. And now that we’ve grown in relationship with the students over the past few years, the evidence of their hope and progress is ever encouraging.
This month we’ve really seen our students be ready for pickup and excited for their group. Obedience and self-control during Bible study, sincere prayer requests, and honest participation have highlighted the kids’ efforts in February, and have really been made possible by the implementation of the small group. Our middle/high school girls’ group has been doing so well that we took a night to worship on a Friday night with the folks of Pinellas Worship Collective. It was amazing to see our girls in the front row soaking up praise music. Just this past week, we added some new elementary boys, with one in kindergarten and not reading yet, and even for his first day with us listened intently to the story of Gideon and correctly answered several questions. This little guy really impressed and humbled us, that no one is too young to hear the Gospel… and we felt he heard the story because God’s put together an environment limiting distractions and magnifying His Word.
Speaking of His Word…we are humbled and grateful to report that we had several donations toward our goal for elementary bibles that more than doubled what we needed! And so, we have decided to use these surplus donations to provide reward incentives for students who complete our Bible Knowledge Challenge before the end of the school year. Each group is given a memory verse each time we meet, and is being given a list of the 66 books of the Bible as well as an introduction to “The Books of the Bible” song. Students who complete all their memory verses and memorize the books of the bible will get to choose to go on adventures like Sky Zone, Tampa Zoo, racing go carts, or visiting the dolphins and animals at Clearwater Aquarium. If you have any connections to get tickets or would like to donate towards tickets to these or similar kid-friendly experiences, we would love for you to reach out to us to help us bless our hard-working students this summer. Thank you to those who supported bringing God’s Word to every COC student’s hands, and to all who continually support our great mission. May the blessings and love of Christ be with you all.
Prayers: Please pray that our students would have the desire to explore God’s Word on their own as they each receive their own study bible, and that they would be even more stirred up to do so after their group meeting.
In His Service,
Justin & Shannon Tellez
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