I Think About Saul A Lot

Then the Lord said to Samuel, “I am sorry that I ever made Saul king, for he has again refused to obey Me.” Samuel was so deeply moved when he heard what God was saying, that he cried to the Lord all night. (1 Samuel 15:10-11)

I wonder so much about why God condescended to the Isralites and allowed them a king. I wonder how God could say to Samuel that He regretted appointing Saul. Some might ask, “Didn’t God know Saul would turn away? How can He act like this was unexpected?” These are valid questions. I don’t know the answers, but I think about it and wonder.

And, I wonder at Samuel’s grief. After hearing God’s regret, he cries out to God all night long. What is he crying out? I don’t know. Why is he so troubled by this?

The Bible says that in the morning Samuel went to Saul. Saul is in high spirits and he announces to Samuel that he has done as God has told him. To celebrate his achievement, he has already erected a monument to himself on Mount Carmel!

Now, God’s instructions to Saul were to completely destroy the Amelekites, a judgment for thier mistreatment of the children of Israel. Samuel told Saul that God said nothing was to survive. Every one and every thing was to be destroyed. However, Saul disobeyed God. He and his men kept whatever appealed to them—the best of the livestock, in particular. So, when Saul brags to Samuel that he did all God had required, Samuel says, “Oh, really? So, why do I hear all these bleating sheep and lowing oxen?” (See verse 14.) This is Saul’s reply:

“It’s true that the army spared the best of the sheep and oxen,” Saul admitted, “but they are going to sacrifice them to the Lord your God; and we have destroyed everything else.” (1 Samuel 15:15)

I don’t know about you, but that voice, that reply, sounds very familiar! It’s this idea that if we obey some of what God tells us, it’s good enough. And, if we can find any way at all to justify the part that was actually disobedience, we think God won’t notice or won’t mind. It’s like Adam and Eve explaining to God they were just covering up their nakedness. “See? We’re being good. Right, God? We didn’t want to be naked.” They hoped He wouldn’t notice the pile of apple* cores. Listen to Saul:

 “But I have obeyed the Lord,” Saul insisted. “I did what He told me to; and I brought King Agag but killed everyone else. And it was only when my troops demanded it that I let them keep the best of the sheep and oxen and loot to sacrifice to the Lord.” (1 Samuel 15:20-21)

We humans don’t change. Not from Adam to Saul, and not from Saul to Caroline. I mean, I get it. God’s expectation of absolute obedience feels a little intense. He’s expecting an awful lot of us! We are just dust, after all. Right?

No. God does not see us that way. He did not send Christ Jesus to die for dust. He did not choose a people, the people of Israel, to carry faith in Adonai into this world, because we are mere dust-lings. Do not forget that His divine breath of life animated that first man and first woman. He created us in His image. That He used dust, well, He made the dust! Of course, He did know we would fall. He knew we would fail. This is why He did send His only begotten Son, because He knew we would need the abundant grace and mercy that only can be found at the foot of the Cross. We are a dusty flesh enveloped around the eternal, a spirit that will abide forever. A flesh that will be tranformed in the twinkling of an eye into a glorified body!

Let’s get back to Saul. In the very next section, Samuel tells Saul that his offerings and sacrifices are nothing compared to his obedience. Can you imagine? He speaks of that disobedient heart in a way that makes an honest person shudder.

“For rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols. And now because you have rejected the word of Jehovah, He has rejected you from being king.” (Verse 23)

Saul is devastated by this. He pleads and begs, but Samuel tells him it is too late. He lost it all, because of disobedience to a clear instruction from God. He tried to blame his men. He tried to say he did it for God Himself to be honored. God cannot be deceived or manipulated.

So, I think about Saul—his bloodlust for David; his calling forth the ghost of Samuel; his son, Jonathan; his spiritual demise—so much to think about Saul. So much to learn from his life. I am sad for how many Sauls I know.

If you are struggling to obey some instruction from the Lord—maybe, you rejected His word from the beginning; maybe, you think a partial obedience should be adequate; maybe, you say you’ll obey once this or that happens—it doesn’t matter what reason you may have, or what excuse you can conjure. Disobedience is rebellion against God. That stubborn will to have your way is a sin. You might take offense at being compared to a practioner of witchcraft or worshipper of idols, but the Word of God says it. Not me. If we don’t come into agreement with the Lord, my dear friend, we will lose that divine purpose He has given us. Does that mean a ministry calling, a talent that would bring you before world leaders, an opportunity to glorify God, the blessing of raising our family, our eternity in Heaven? I don’t know what divine purpose God has given you, but I know that it is worth much more than the cost of humbling yourself and repenting, and then obeying God without delay.

Please, turn away from disobedience. That is my sincere hope and prayer for you today.

*No, we don’t know if the fruit was an apple. It’s just a proxy.
This post is for Blogtober Day 13: Politics.

Quote to Consider

“We need women, and men, too, who would rather be morally right than socially correct.”  Peter Marshall (1902-1949)

I saw this quote on a social media website a couple of weeks ago, and it struck as the perfect words for this season of our lives. No matter where we live in the world, we are witnessing the results of a world that has vanquished morality based on truth and justice, and embraced a politically motivated notion of right and wrong. There is no virtue in standing for righteousness or goodness anymore. The highest priority is being popular. How many likes do I have? How many people are following me? As a Christian, this is all wrong! I am not to be concerned about my reputation or social position, but Christ’s. His reputation is what should matter to me. Why do I seek acceptance from anyone? They do not determine my value. Christ judged me worthy when He gave His life for mine. Now, I should only be concerned with living my life for Him.

How did we get this so wrong?

Blogtober | Day 5 Post | Theme: Quotes to Consider

Race to the Finish

Have we made God into an image that suits us? Have we have brought Him down to our level, and made Him someone we can understand? Someone whose thoughts and ways are like our thoughts and ways?

I don’t think we aren’t seeking God, but I think we’re impatient with Him. Instead of being willing to wait for His answer or for His will to manifest, we move forward based only on our assumption that our happiness, good intentions, and/or success matter. Without waiting on Him, we step out in what feels like faith, but is more like wishful thinking. Our ways have become what we call His ways. Whatever seems right to us. We’ve become the judge, which means we have placed our seat on His throne.

Consequently, we fall into compromise. We embrace false doctrine and reject truth outright. We have to, because our lives no longer line-up with His Word. Therefore, we must reinterpret His Word. It’s a dance. We juggle the truth and play games with it. As long as we believe Jesus is Savior, we’re all set. We have given ourselves permission to be as carnal a Christian as we want. Of course, we don’t say that out loud, but our lives are the proof. How we live does not reflect a respect for God, or a fear of the consequences of disobedience.

You see, the god we have created not only receives us as we are, but never require we change. We’ve devised a religion that requires no faith, no consecration, and no death. We haven’t forgotten about righteousness, but we’ve redefined it.

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” (Romans 13:14)

The God of the Old Testament has not changed, and He never will. He required great things of those Saints of old, yet we expect Him to be satisfied with our measly “sacrifices” today. We give Him our “extra” time. We yawn and watch the clock. We decide how much we serve according to what we’re already doing, not according to how much there is to be done. We give more time to entertainment, than we do to knowing Him. There is more Eastern idolatry on Christian’s Facebook pages, than the Word of God. What’s that about, folks? We feast on witchcraft, violence, perversion, and anti-Christ indoctrination under the the label of entertainment. We laugh at things that should make us jump up and run out of the room. Why do we want to be a part of glorifying that which nailed our Savior to the Cross?

“Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.”
(1 Peter 2:24)

Friends, the days are getting short. Christ is coming soon. That is not an inevitability that we just wait to arrive. I hear some say, “Why think about it? Why preach about it? It’s going to happen anyway.” If that is how we think, we are missing the point. Paul described this Christian life as a race to finish (2 Timothy 4:7). What athlete enters a race unprepared to finish? He doesn’t amble around aimlessly, straying off course and unconcerned about whether or not he reaches the end. He knows that finishing isn’t inevitable, but a byproduct of running the course to its end. Well, Eternity is a deadline we are supposed to prepare for, and daily be working towards achieving. We know we’ll be with Jesus, but are we running the course He set before us? That’s a willful choice we have to make everyday. We can’t run just any race and say it counts.

So, what’s a sincere Believer to do? What we should be doing every day: repenting and asking for the Holy Spirit to help us; reading God’s Word and praying. Simple. Simple obedience. We must stay the course He set before us, and pursue righteousness as we have been called to do—picking ourselves up as many times as needed along the way, staying in fellowship with the Body of Christ, and equipping ourselves daily. An end is coming, sooner than later. Let’s meet at the Finish Line.

God bless you today.