14 April 2014

You Can Only Fool Yourself

Now go and completely destroy  the entire Amalekite nation—men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys.” ~1 Samuel 15:3
God's instructions are clear, simple, and straightforward. We best understand them through His Spirit, but even without the Holy Spirit's assistance, we can easily understand the meaning of His word.
Saul and his men spared Agag’s life and kept the best of the sheep and goats, the cattle, the fat calves, and the lambs—everything, in fact, that appealed to them. They destroyed only what was worthless or of poor quality. ~1 Samuel 15:9
But how often and quickly do we humans take what God has said, and then put our own spin on it? How readily do we add to His instructions and will because it is appealing to us? We tell ourselves that we're fulfilling His command, but in breaking what we see as only part of His word, we disregard it completely. Adding even just a drop of gasoline to a tall glass of milk makes it completely undesirable.
Then the Lord  said to Samuel,  “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. Early the next morning Samuel went to find Saul. ~1 Samuel 15:10-12
The Lord cannot look upon sin with any degree of allowance. No matter what we personally believe our state of obedience is, wrong thinking about that state won't save us. Justification, excuses, they don't change what we've done. When we continue on in our idolatrous ways (putting our own desires or fear of mortals above and before what He instructed us) we utterly reject the God of Israel, our Savior and Redeemer, who gave everything for us. When we're in harmony with God, and listen to His Spirit, we are alive to the tragedy and loss that idolatry is. My heart goes out to Samuel, who had to go through that--had to witness Saul falling from the Lord's favor, despite the pleadings of an entire night.
Someone told him, “Saul went to the town of Carmel to set up a monument to himself; then he went on to Gilgal.” When Samuel finally found him, Saul greeted him cheerfully. “May the Lord  bless you,” he said. “I have carried out the Lord’s command!” ~1 Samuel 15:12-13
And meanwhile, those who have rationalized their idolatry continue on, having convinced themselves that all is well, they are blessed, and the Lord will be so, so pleased with what they've done. (After all, they worked their tails off getting it done, and look at what they accomplished!)
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.” ~22-23
Samuel lays it out so clearly here: don't do it. When we transform the holy word of God, we break His command. Obedience to what God actually said, what He actually commanded is what He wants. Not the fat of rams. Not sacrifices. All of those things are already His . . . all He wants is our love. He wants a real, close, familiar relationship with each of us, so He can continually reveal to us more of the true extent of His love. Saul had convinced himself that he had done what the Lord commanded--but his delusion was no guard against the truth of what he had done.

I've been feeling lately that this time is one of urgent preparation, that I and my family need to draw close to the Lord, for the time is far spent. I need to know God, truly, for myself, and have a living, constant connection with Him as I go through each moment.

Father, thank you. Thank you for Your love, your patience, and the incredible Gift of Your Son that makes my happiness and peace and intimacy with You and Him so much easier. I praise You for Your eagerness to reveal Yourself to me, for the way you continually offer peace and freedom, righteousness and rejoicing, even in the hardest times. Lord, I pray that the hearts of those who profess Your name will be softened. That those who do many things in Your name might have a radical encounter with Your love, and be changed forever. Open their hearts and minds to know You, the only true and living God. You are good, faithful, kind and loving, and I rejoice that I can trust You completely, in everything, because You are perfectly just, too. I know that anything I endure for You will bring support and strength down from Heaven, and that You will redeem the pain, redeem the time, and bless me on every hand for what I might experience because I follow You. Lord, bless and guard my family. Lead them in the ways of truth and righteousness. Reveal Yourself to us more each day, and always show us better how to follow You, how to follow, Jesus, how to follow the Word of God. In Jesus' beautiful name, amen!