Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sobering Devotion

A part of my devotional reading this morning was 1 Samuel 15. This chapter talks about how Saul, the king of Israel, defeats his enemy in a decisive battle. But the story doesn't end there. God had given Saul specific instructions about what to do in and after the battle, but Saul decided to do it his own way. He was only partially obedient. Then along comes the prophet Samuel. Samuel confronts Saul about his partial obedience (read: rebellion). Saul then makes some pathetic excuses and put the blame on others. Samuel then gives that famous line... "To obey is better than sacrifice." He goes on to say, "Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft." The peculiar end of that chapter has the prophet Samuel chopping up king Agag (the king of the defeated people) into little pieces. You will just have to read and study for yourself to see the reason and the significance of that unusual act.

Altogether the chapter is about the seriousness of being only partially obedient...

My first thought as I was reading was, "I should preach on this!"

But then the Lord reminded me that my devotional readings were not meant to look for sermon fodder, they are an opportunity for me to hear from the Lord for ME.

Then I thought of some partial obedience in my life. I thought of some areas where I have been about 90% obedient and I have been smug about it. I think I have been guilty of using some of the same excuses that Saul used too. I need to be more diligent to obey. I need to 'hack Agag to pieces." (OK, it might take a message to explain that last sentence.)

The interesting thing though about king Saul is that while God was condemning him, everyone else was cheering him on. While God was confronting him about his sin, the crowd was complimenting him for his leadership and his skill at war making.

Sometimes we can look like heroes to the people around us and at the same time look like zeroes to God.

This last Sunday afternoon between church services, I went on a very long walk. As I was walking and praying, I felt like the Lord was impressing something on my heart... (those of you who know me know I hardly ever say something like that). I felt like the Lord was saying, "Be wary when people brag more on your abilities than they do on your character." That will give you pause for thought...

I wonder how many times we have been where Saul is? I wonder how many times we have been in a place in life where our abilities have surpassed our character? I wonder how many times we have looked better to people than we have to God? I wonder how many times those around us have been impressed with our partial obedience, while the Lord has been disappointed in our lack of obedience?

The Lord woke me up early today to ponder those questions for my life and walk...

I'm glad He did...

Pastor Noel