Our modern western culture, which is influenced by Greek philosophy, segregates the words “listen” and “obey” into a mental and a physical activity respectively. First, we hear, then we evaluate to gain understanding and then make a choice based on our evaluation. But in the Hebrew language, there’s no word for “obey”. The Hebrew word for “listen” and “obey” comes from a singular word, “Shema”, which means to hear AND to follow through what you’ve heard with tangible actions and commitment.
Observant Jews will recite Deut 6:4-5 every day, “Hear (Shema), O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” By saying this, a Jew would remind himself of his commitment to love God, to dedicate himself to following God and doing His will. Similarly, when Jesus said in Matthew 13:9, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”, He’s calling us to put His words into action, not just listen.
Some of you might be wondering why God has stopped speaking to you. Perhaps it’s because He had spoken on several occasions but you had no intention of obeying Him. Oswald Chambers said, “The call of God only becomes clear as we obey, never as we weigh the pros and cons and try to reason it out.”
I remembered shortly after I came into full-time ministry, I received my income tax assessment notice which was based on my previous year’s tax record. I was shocked as the amount payable was quite substantial and would cause a big financial strain on my family. Then I recalled Pastor Yang’s testimony on God’s provision when he entered full-time ministry. So I prayed, “God, if You’ve called me into the ministry, You’ll provide for me.” Some time later, I received a call from my previous company requesting for my help to do some consultancy work, at my own time and I’ll be remunerated based on my last drawn salary. When the seven months were up, I tallied up the total income earned and it was just the right amount to pay off my income tax. Praise the Lord!
Pastor Yonggi Cho started Yoido Full Gospel Church about 60 years ago with just six people and has since grown phenomenally to about half a million people. He was once asked how he built such a great church and without hesitation, he replied, “I pray and I obey”.
On the cover of the book “The Intercessor” read these 5 words – “A life lived for God”, which summed up the life and legacy of Mr. Rees Howells, a man who lived surrendered to the Lord, confronted his humanity, overcame the struggles and progressed in his faith and intercessory prayer. That, together with the praying saints at the Bible College of Wales (BCW) impacted the course of World War II and other global events, and turned the course of human history.
A particularly notable event that BCW had impacted was the evacuation of Dunkirk when Hitler came into power in Germany in the years leading up to WWII. Mr. Rees Howells was disturbed in his spirit and knew that he had to wage warfare and gain victory so that the Gospel would not be hindered from spreading, and that Britain would not be invaded by the Germans. He rallied the entire college to pray and sought God to stop the war and they prevailed in their prayers. They also prayed through the 1948 mandate when the UN was voting if Israel was going to be a new nation and again, their prayers prevailed.
Once, Mrs. Howells was showing Leonard Ravenhill the estate from the verandah they stood at and she said, “Everyone read in the book that my husband had only two shillings in his pocket when he signed the documents to buy this beautiful estate. What they didn’t know was that for nine months, 11 hours each day, he’d spend his time on his knees in prayer, storming heaven for the breakthrough of finances. That’s how the victory came.”
By redeeming this estate and restoring the bible college, Cornerstone has access to the legacy of intercessory prayer laid by Mr. Rees Howells and all the spiritual and historical significance that it carries.
And it’s with this faith and confidence that we’re serving as the anchor church for the Central Zone to kick-off the 40-Day Solemn Assemblies from July 1 to 7 of this prayer and fasting initiative. It’ll be a powerful time as we unite as the Body of Christ in Singapore. As you prepare yourself for this time of personal and corporate prayer, I believe God will show you things which He’ll require of you. Will you be the answer to your prayer? May these four words then be your response to Him, “I hear, I obey!”
Pastor Kevin Koh