“…because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.”-Saul, 1 Samuel 15:24
Samuel 15 is a window into Saul’s soul; we see his truest motivations. In this account we discover what motivates Saul, the praise of men. (1 Samuel 15:17,24) Saul loves the praise of men more than he loves the praise of God, so he skirted obeying God fully because it would have put him out of favor with the people. The irony is, the people clamored for a king to lead them, and now the king was being led by the people.
Here is a good question for us to ponder:
How do you know when you prefer the praise of men more than the praise of God? What are the signs?
Saul had convinced himself (and tried to convince Samuel) that he had obeyed God, and even planned to use the spoils for a “good” thing, a sacrifice to God. Do we ever do the same thing? I’m not sure if God delights in all the “good” things we do, if we fail to obey him in what he has commanded.
Re:Verse Passage – John 15:9-17 (day six)
This is an important question: what is the basis of our friendship with Jesus? Are we friends because we obey His commands? Do we earn Jesus’ friendship because of our meritorious behavior? Sometimes we can behave as if this is true. We lapse in our worship attendance, so we think, “If I return to worship I will find favor with God again”, or “If I get a few quiet times under my belt then Jesus will like me.”
That is not the Gospel; it’s heresy. We are friends because Christ first loved us (vs. 12) by laying down his life; we are friends because of His work, not ours. Obedience then is not the condition of friendship but the affirmation or confirmation of our friendship with Jesus.
Listen, you don’t have to earn Jesus’ love or His friendship; He has already loved you, He died on the cross for you. The cure for disobedience is not trying harder, but repentance and returning to your first love or remaining in His love; believing in the work of Jesus through which he calls you friend. We always obey whom (or what) we believe; believe in Jesus!
Re: Verse reading–1 Kings 19:1-18 (day six)
The human heart is so fickle. One minute it can swell with confidence, and the next be overrun by fear. That was certainly true of Elijah. Elijah was afraid for his life, not to mention he was depressed over the lack of repentance, so he ran as far away as he could. Interestingly enough God does show up, but he doesn’t console him; he tells him to prepare himself for his next task.
What if the spiritual antidote to fear is movement? What if fear is overcome not through consolation but by obeying God, doing the things you know he wants you to do? Perhaps fear will never be overcome by hiding in caves, but by seeing God at work in our own obedience.
Re: Verse reading–Exodus 20:12; Luke 2:45-52; John 19:25-27 (day six)
Not sure if this is the case for everyone, but the word Obedience often has a negative connotation. In our culture, it can have the meaning of less then, subservient, or demeaned. “Subjecting yourself” is the very antithesis of the American Dream; we are told to “be true to yourself,” “do what you please,” “be subject to no one.”
The call to obedience is not a call to oppression and servitude. We don’t know much about Jesus’ childhood, but the Scriptures make one thing clear, he obeyed his parents. Of all kids, Jesus alone has the grounds to say, “no, dad.” He is the Son of God, he didn’t need Mary and Joseph bossing him around, and yet he “continued” to obey them.
The Scripture connects two truths when it comes to obeying parents, wisdom and love. Both the commandment and Jesus’ growth in wisdom teach us that it is not only right to obey parents, but there is wisdom to be had in it. Obedience is also an expression of love. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey me.”
Jesus obeyed his Father in heaven, by obeying Mary and Joseph. The call to obedience is not a call to be “less than who you are,” but rather by design to fulfill who you are to become.