1 Samuel 15:10-23 (Part 2) – Obedience: That’s It, That’s All, That’s All It Can Be

Posted: January 28, 2018 in 09-1 Samuel, 99-Uncategorized
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1 Samuel 15:10-23 (Part 2 of 4)
The Lord Rejects Saul

How are Elena and I supposed to approach this new job as a pastoral couple when we move to Illinois and I become the executive pastor at Calvary Church? Our motives make all the difference in the world. If we are not doing it for the right reasons, this move will be a disaster for us personally and for me professionally. This move will involve a serious change both monetarily for both of us and professionally for me. Whatever cracks there may be in our faith will be exposed by this drastic change. I will be earning less than half than what I make in here in South Carolina. It will be a drastic change in what I do for a living. I will, yes, be using my financial skills developed over a 33 ½ year career in finance and accounting, but doing it as a pastor in a church setting full-time (not as a side job as it has been at LifeSong) will be a radical change. We will be in a new region of the country, a new state, and a new town – a place that neither of has ever lived or even visited before. It will all be new and challenging.

If we are doing this for show – to show how religious we have become. If we are doing this out of ego or some need to be in the spotlight. If we are doing this because of the local celebrity that comes with being a pastor brings. If we are doing this to gather praise for the sacrifice that we are making, then, we are doing it for all the wrong reasons and we will fail. Yes, we have been faithful servants at LifeSong Church here in Lyman for the last seven years. We have done whatever has been asked of us. We have served the church in just about any way we can serve it. We love LifeSong. That is evident to anyone who goes to our church. We have gained great respect and much love from the people who claim LifeSong Church as they home. This is the place where we grew from toddlers in Christ to the spiritual young adults that we are now. But if we have done any of the things that we have done because we want the popularity that it brings or the accolades and praise of other church members then we have done it for the wrong reasons.

The only right reason to become a minister and leave LifeSong Church for Calvary Church, the only right reason to serve in positions of leadership in our current church and our future church is because we want more than anything to be obedient to the Lord’s call on our lives. The only reason to serve as we have served at LifeSong over the years is that we love God and love His people. The only reason to go into full-time ministry is that God has called you to do it and you, in your heart, can do nothing else than to obey that call and that you will be miserable if you turn down the opportunity as presented. The only reason for us to leave is that, after much prayer over the years and being patient and then feeling from the first interview to the last that this new pastoral position is what we were supposed to do. I have felt something special about Calvary Church from the moment that I had my first conversation with the Senior Pastor there. Our weekend there a couple of weeks ago was less a third interview than it was spiritual confirmation to everyone involved that God has called us there, that this was intended by God. Sure, it would be easier, oh so much easier to turn this opportunity down, but honestly I must tell you that I think I would turn out to be miserable from this point forward if we do not answer the call. So, this is not about show. It is not about minor celebrity. It is not about gaining praise for our faithfulness. It is simply about being obedient, about being appreciative of what God has done in our lives, about being faithful to the Lord, about doing what He asks of us with complete love for Him. We are obeying the Lord because we love Him.

Some people say we are crazy – to give up this wonderful and settled life that we have here. We have it made here. Good job that has blessed beyond belief over the past decade and would continue to do so until I retired if I stayed here. Great church where we are trusted leaders and have made oh so many friends, really good friends, and some really, really close friends. We have our family here. Our children and one grandchild are all within a 1 ½ radius of our home. We have an adorable granddaughter who is 18 months old and is just so adorable and so smart and has such an amazingly good personality for a child her age. All of these things are perfectly good reasons to stay and not obey what God has laid in front of us. If we were just doing this change in our lives for the celebrity of it all or to garner praise and respect from others, then, we will fail and come running back home within six months from now.

The only way that this radical change in our lives, in our employment, in our place to live, in our marriage, in our family life and in our church life is that we simply can do nothing else other than be obedient to the Lord’s call on our lives. God desires our obedience not some flashy shows of religiosity. If we do things just to be seen doing them, then we are not being obedient, we are being prideful. The only reason that we are moving to Moline, IL and going off into the unknown is that we want to be obedient to what we know is God’s call on our lives. That’s it. That’s all. That’s all it can be. There will be rough times ahead. Ministry is just that way. Satan targets you when you go into the ministry. There is a target on your back. He will find your cracks in your armor and will attack you there. If we are doing this for show, then we will crumble under the attacks that will come. If we are doing this because we love the Lord and are willing to be obedient to whatever, wherever, He leads, we will still have attacks from Satan and we may get knocked down, disappointed, ocassionally disillusioned but we will get back up and get back in the battle because we cannot be comfortable doing anything other than be obedient to the Lord.

That’s the thing I thought of this morning as I read through 1 Samuel 15:10-23 for the second of four blogs on this passage. That thing was how God wants obedience from us more than following ritual for ritual’s sake. How God wants us to obey Him not out of obligation or showing off to others but because we dearly love Him so much that we seek His agenda and not our own. Let’s read the passage now:

10 Then the Lord said to Samuel, 11 “I am sorry that I ever made Saul king, for he has not been loyal to me and has refused to obey my command.” Samuel was so deeply moved when he heard this that he cried out to the Lord all night.

12 Early the next morning Samuel went to find Saul. Someone told him, “Saul went to the town of Carmel to set up a monument to himself; then he went on to Gilgal.”

13 When Samuel finally found him, Saul greeted him cheerfully. “May the Lord bless you,” he said. “I have carried out the Lord’s command!”

14 “Then what is all the bleating of sheep and goats and the lowing of cattle I hear?” Samuel demanded.

15 “It’s true that the army spared the best of the sheep, goats, and cattle,” Saul admitted. “But they are going to sacrifice them to the Lord your God. We have destroyed everything else.”

16 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! Listen to what the Lord told me last night!”

“What did he tell you?” Saul asked.

17 And Samuel told him, “Although you may think little of yourself, are you not the leader of the tribes of Israel? The Lord has anointed you king of Israel. 18 And the Lord sent you on a mission and told you, ‘Go and completely destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, until they are all dead.’ 19 Why haven’t you obeyed the Lord? Why did you rush for the plunder and do what was evil in the Lord’s sight?”

20 “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul insisted. “I carried out the mission he gave me. I brought back King Agag, but I destroyed everyone else. 21 Then my troops brought in the best of the sheep, goats, cattle, and plunder to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”

22 But Samuel replied,

“What is more pleasing to the Lord:
your burnt offerings and sacrifices
or your obedience to his voice?
Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice,
and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.
Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft,
and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.
So because you have rejected the command of the Lord,
he has rejected you as king.”

In this passage, we see that this is the first of numerous passages in the Bible where the theme, “obedience is better than sacrifice”, is stated. Other examples included Psalm 40:6-8, Psalm 51:16-17, Proverbs 21:3, Isaiah 1:11-17, Jeremiah 7:21-23, Hosea 6:6, Micah 6:6-8, Matthew 12:7, Mark 12:33 and Hebrews 10:8-9 are other examples. Was Samuel saying that sacrifice is unimportant? No, he was urging Saul to look at his reasons for making the sacrifice rather than at the sacrifice itself. A sacrifice is a ritual transaction between a person and God that physically demonstrates a relationship between them. However, if the person’s heart was not truly repentant or if he did not truly love God, the sacrifice was a hollow charade. Religious ceremonies or rituals are empty unless they are performed with an attitude of love and obedience. “Being religious” (going to church, serving on a team at church, or giving to a church or a charity) is empty is we do not act out of devotion and obedience to God.

Do you go to church to worship the Lord every Sunday with all your heart or do you go to church because your church is the cool, hip, trendy church in town? Do you go to church to love the Lord in praises of thanksgiving or do you go because of the networking that benefits your career or personal life that your church affords you? Are you involved in the ministries of your church because your best friends are doing it? Are you involved in the ministries of your church so people will see you doing it? Do you get involved because your wife made you? Do you go to church so you can check it off your list of duties to be done? Do you go to church and praise the Lord on Sunday but live like hell the rest of the week?

God want us to praise Him, love Him, and serve Him not because of obligation or because it makes us seem religious or to be seen being religious? He wants our heart. He wants our obedience because we love Him. He wants our obedience because we are so thankful to Him for what He has done for us through Jesus Christ. He loved us so much that he left the 99 sheep to find us. He loved us so much that He sacrificed His Son on the cross and the once and final sacrifice for our sins. Jesus went to the cross and suffered the most gruesome of deaths known to man as an act of obedience to His Father because He loved us that much. Why then cannot we simply do what God asks of us, obedience to His Word and to His call on our lives, out of that same kind of devotion and love? He saved us from hell by what He did on the cross. Wow! Obedience to what He commands then should be done out of this heart swell of love for Him. Obedience should come out of our amazingly thankful hearts for what we were saved from – a soul destined for the eternal flame of hell. Obedience should come out that love for what He has done for us. That’s it. That’s all. That’s all it can be.

Amen and Amen.

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