Who is YOUR Lord?
I woke up early a few days ago feeling “blah.” Being sick for so many months this past year taught me that the best “picker upper” is digging into the Word of God and expecting Him to speak directly into my life as I read and meditate. He never disappoints me! I’m working my way through 1 Samuel, but thinking that there might not be much in there for practical application to my life. Let me just say that I’m always wrong when those thoughts surface! This day was no exception. He provided a real whopper of a lesson. The Scripture is quite familiar to most of you, I’m sure. It was the application I received that thrilled me. "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice…” (1 Samuel 15:22) The Lord told King Saul - through the prophet Samuel - to conquer and destroy every Amalekite and all their possessions. Although victorious, Saul and his soldiers came back to town dragging a “live” King Agog and hundreds if not thousands of sheep and goats. Maybe Saul and his men were going to offer all the sheep and goats to God as a sacrifice of thanksgiving – maybe not. It really didn’t matter because that is not what God told him to do! God wants us to obey Him the way HE wants to be obeyed – not the way we think it should happen. Partial obedience is simply not an option with God. • He tells us to tithe 10% - not 2% or 3% or 5% because we think that is more reasonable. • We are to love others HIS way – unconditionally. It’s much easier to love those who love us back or who follow the principal of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch your back.” That’s not God’s way! • We are to do our jobs HIS way – with integrity and full commitment. He expects us to give our all when we are on the clock. Unfortunately, many feel entitled to slide a day here and there because “I’ve been here more years than anyone else” or “I worked a couple hours over last week so I deserve this!” Really? That’s not God’s way! • He expects us to use our gifts and talents right where we are today – even if it isn’t our ideal job. He expects us to be fully engaged. Working half-heartedly or with a sour attitude because “I’m not in the right job where people can appreciate how bright and talented I really am” is not God’s way! Verse 23 says “For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.” How is that possible? Well, it is always idolatry when we assume lordship over our own lives. We assume lordship when we worship our own desires; when we do the things that make us feel good and refuse to do things tbecause they are simply “beneath us.” We want control so that we can be careful not to take on too many challenging projects. After all “I have had more than my share of challenges. I need a break!” When we live in God’s will, it sometimes does feel like the challenges just keep on coming! I will give you that. But honestly, are there any more of them then if we are not in God’s will? Probably not! Let’s face it. Life on earth will never be free of challenges. The difference between facing them with God versus without Him is grace. Grace is the gas that keeps us going; it gives us the courage to do it again one more day. If our challenges are a result of disobedience, don’t approach a solution the way Saul did. Repent and God will help you move on through whatever is facing you. It is His grace that gives us the strength to cope with and even utilize hard times for both spiritual and emotional growth. When we try to do this life on our own, we won’t build spiritual or emotional strength. If we even come out the other side of some challenge without God, we will eventually drop to the floor weak, discouraged and even bitter. Verse 24, 30 reveals who was “lord” over Saul’s life: "I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the people and so I gave in to them. … "I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel.” Aren’t many of us just like Saul? We disobey “a little” bit of God’s command because we don’t want the people around us to think we are weird. We want to fit it; we want “them” to like us, maybe even admire us. Our defense? “Of course I’m a Christian. Jesus is my Savior!” Maybe, but it doesn’t appear that He is our Lord, does it? Saul said, “I have sinned. But…” It’s that “but” that gave Saul away. It gives us all away. We get caught – we are sorry we got caught because we feel the humiliation of being caught. Repentance – what is required by God to warrant forgiveness and grace – is a very different reaction to being caught. Feeling true repentance will cause us to make every effort never to do it again. We turn from whatever thoughts, words or actions we committed that violated the will of God. If Saul had truly repented, he would have never asked Samuel to come back into town so that he could “save face” with the people. This is a journal entryies that I have read and re-read several times. I’m hoping it will stick! Reading it will bring it to mind for me, but it must be practiced if it is ever going to become part of me.