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Obedience is True Worship
15:14 But Samuel said, "What then is this bleating of the sheep in
my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?"
had been told to destroy the Amalekites and everything that they owned.
He did all that the Lord asked him to do except he saved the best of the
animals which he was going to give to the Lord. Samuel reminded him that
he had been disobedient and asked him, "Has the LORD as great
delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of
the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the
fat of rams (1 Samuel 15:22)." He was like the kid who has been
told to wash the dishes and washes some of them but not all of them.
When asked if he has obeyed, he obviously will say, "Yes!"
is a costly thing. Hebrews 5:8 says of the Lord, "though He was a
Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered." I
don't think the Lord had to learn how to be obedient since he always did
those things that pleased the Father. However, I would think that the
word "learned" really means that he "experienced"
obedience. His experience was through suffering and came at a great
cost. Obeying the Gospel by believing in the Lord, has a cost as well.
Some have learned that obedience means the loss of friends and family
and in some cases it has been the loss of life itself.
order to be obedient to the Lord, we have to want to understand what He
is saying. Because so many people seem to interpret the Bible
differently, it would be possible to throw up our hands and say that
knowing what God wants is impossible. As a result, we might just do what
"we think is right" like the nation of Israel did when the
judges were ruling. A person who devotionally studies the Bible is going
to get an altogether different view of God than one who comes to the
Bible like a defense lawyer looking for a loophole. In order to
understand what God wants we have to believe that "is" means
"is" and that "up" means "up" and that
"must" means "must." It is not legalistic to assume
that when God asks us to do something, that he really does want us to do
what he asks.
Matthew 18:20 we read, "For where two or three are gathered
together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." We often use
this verse to define a local church. I would suggest that it really
doesn't do that but instead it is a summary of what has been said about
dealing with church offenses and discipline. I think He is saying this,
"When the two or three involved in this incident do what I ask them
to do the way I have asked them to do it then I will honor what they
have done. I will sign my name to what they have done just as if I did
it myself." However, if we decide that culture is different today
so we can't do things God's way or if we decide we may offend someone by
doing things the Lord's way, then we can't be sure that God is going to
sign His name to what we do. He may consider us to be disobedient just
as he did with Saul.
the old testament, God began to find the feast days and sacrifices to be
an abomination because Israel as a nation was not faithful. He said in
Isaiah 1:13, "Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an
abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of
assemblies-I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.
wonder if our worship has become like that. Have we become so culturally
relevant that we are no longer devotionally obedient. Does what the Lord
think about us motivate us as much as what people think about us?
Lord became obedient unto death so that we could be saved from the
punishment that we deserve because of our sin. Our obedience to Him will
never make us fit for heaven (His blood does that), but if we really
love Him, we should want to know and do what pleases Him. That obedience
should be whole-hearted. We should be careful to avoid being like Saul
or like Israel under the Judges and doing "what we think is
for the week of May 2, 2010
Sacrificial Love of a Mother
Kings 3:26-27 Then the woman whose son was living spoke to the king, for
she yearned with compassion for her son; and she said, "O my lord,
give her the living child, and by no means kill him!" But the other
said, "Let him be neither mine nor yours, but divide him." So
the king answered and said, "Give the first woman the living child,
and by no means kill him; she is his mother."
love and protect their children—at least most of them do. Because of
that love Solomon was able to determine which of these women had lain on
her child and killed it and which of these women was the mother of the
living child. It would seem to me that both women might have wanted to
to save the living child. But since one of them was willing to sacrifice
the child, Solomon knew that the living child belonged to the woman who
did not want the child killed and divided.
mother's love is represented in the Scriptures by mother hens. In
Matthew 23:37 the Lord says, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who
kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I
wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks
under her wings, but you were not willing!" I sometimes jog on a
path in the spring time where ducks hatch their young. Most of the year
when I come upon a duck, they get out of my way. But if I see a mother
crossing my path with her brood following her, I am very careful. I have
seen the mother stop and face me hissing and those beaks look like they
could do some damage. I know better than to mess with the mother when
she is protecting her young.
must it have been like for Mary, the mother of the Lord, to stand at the
cross and to see the anguish that her son was being put through? She had
been told this would happen by Simeon in Luke 2:34 and 35. Simeon had
said to Mary, "Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul
also." Mary must have found the death of her son to be nearly
think we see this same love when Lot's wife looked back toward Sodom as
it was being destroyed. I know she wasn't supposed to look back, and in
looking back she turned into a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26). However,
I think she looked back because her children were there and she was
concerned about them. Her children had been raised in Sodom and were not
worshipers of the living God that Lot worshiped and that I suspect his
wife worshiped. In new testament terms, the children and their spouses
had never been saved or born again. I have wondered if she turned into a
pillar of salt because the fire and brimstone over took her when she
looked back, or if she turned into a pillar of salt the moment she
turned and saw that her children were dying in that disaster. When some
people preach on the passage "Remember Lot's wife (Luke
17:32)", they preach about her disobedience. But when I preach on
it, I always think of a mother's love. She lost her children because of
a judgment that they didn't believe was coming. When the Lord returns to
usher in the tribulation period, there may be many mothers who lose
children that they love in the judgments of that time as well.
a mother's love is one of the few examples in life where we see
unconditional love. The other place where we see unconditional love is
when God sent His Son to die for our sins. While there are notable
exceptions in real life and in Scripture, generally a mother will love
and try to protect her children no matter what the circumstances or what
need to be thankful for our mothers and for their love. Our mothers
chose life and because of that we are here today. Our mothers nurtured
us and sacrificed for us. We should thank God for mothers who proved
their love by teaching us the Gospel and by praying for us.
for the week of May 9, 2010
Company we Keep is Important
Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good
translation of the Bible called God's Word rephrases this to say, "Don't
let anyone deceive you. Associating with bad people will ruin decent
people." Obviously, it is important to
choose our friends and associates wisely since they will influence who
we are, what we do and what we believe. Solomon violated this principle
when he married foreign women who were not worshipers of Jehovah. In
stead of converting them, they converted him at least for a time. Since
he wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, he may have been restored to the Lord
at the end of his life. However, because of the influence of unbelievers
in his life, this wise man lost the confidence of the Lord and caused
the kingdom of Israel to be divided.
often say that "birds of a feather flock together." That seems
to mean that we seek out others that are like us. While that may be
true, we are all subject to peer pressure and the desire to be accepted.
As a result, sometimes we seek out those that we really aren't like but
whose approval we want. Then, in order to obtain that approval, we
become like them. I have become more and more aware of the fact that the
friends that I keep will affect who I am.
we play tennis, we should play with those who are better than we are. We
may lose a game or a set, but we will improve our game. When we play
chess, we are told the same principle will improve our game. Playing
with those better than we are may be hard on the ego when we lose to
them, but in time we may actually learn how to win most of the time. The
same principle applies in the spiritual realm. We need to "hang
out" with those who are more spiritual than we are. They will
challenge us to be more Christ-like in our attitudes and life. Of course
we do and should spend time in the right circumstances with those who
are unsaved or carnal or less spiritual. However, when we do we need to
make sure that they are not going to be influencing our behavior. We
need to be influencing theirs.
we are trying to be so culturally relevant in our Gospel outreach and
church meetings that I feel that the unsaved and the carnal are
influencing us rather than the other way around. We make our meetings of
the church such that everyone including the unsaved will feel
"comfortable". We change the language of the Gospel so that
instead of talking about the lost or the unbeliever, we talk about
seekers and the unchurched. When we talk about sin, we fail to make
people realize that sin is first and foremost an offense against God. We
can redefine it and we can make it socially acceptable, but God still
hates it. We don't like to talk about the eternal consequences of our
actions any more so we never mention that one of our eternal destinies
could be a place where the worm does not die and the fire never burns
itself out (Mark 9: 48). We tend to encourage the unsaved to worship
with us when they have never been converted, born again, saved, or
regenerated. Who is changing whom?
am beginning to realize how important it is in making close friends to
ask the hard question, "Do I want to be like that person?" Do
they represent Christ the way I think He should be represented?" I
have seen the changes that take place in people's lives when they
associate with the wrong people. Non-drinkers become drinkers. Language
that used to be becoming to the person becomes rough. Places of
entertainment that used to be considered sinful become acceptable. I
have seen Christians who used to be gracious and loving become hard and
critical. I have seen Christians who had standards and convictions at
one time throw them all out and begin living like the world lives.
of our greatest challenges in life is to choose our friends wisely. I am
glad that I do have one friend who sticks closer than a brother
(Proverbs 18:24), and who loves at all times (Proverbs 17:7). He proved
His love by dying for me. We can't go wrong when the Lord Jesus becomes
our closest friend.
for the week of May 16, 2010
6:7 I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall
know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the
burdens of the Egyptians.
can the Lord do to make believers out of unbelievers? In the old
testament, over and over again we have the phrase, then shall you (or
they) know that I am the Lord your God. But in most cases, the people
that should have known Him really didn't know Him. The idea of knowing
the Lord meant more than knowing about Him. It meant entering into an
intimate relationship with Him.
the nation of Israel's case, they were delivered from Egypt in a
miraculous way. But even so, not everyone who had a physical deliverance
had a spiritual one where they actually came to know the Lord. In Jude
verse 5 we read, "But I want to remind you, though you once knew
this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt,
afterward destroyed those who did not believe." Over and over
again, the children of Israel turned away from the God of creation who
proved himself to be their God through signs and wonders to serve idols
and pagan superstition. Even the Egyptians who were subjected to the
judgments of God because they would not let His people go, thought that
their pagan religion could defeat Jehovah. Their army died in the Red
Sea because they would not be convinced. Pharaoh had said, "Who is
the LORD, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I DO NOT KNOW
THE LORD (Exodus 5:2)." He became the object of God's judgment
after declaring himself to be an unbeliever.
the new testament knowing the Lord means that we believe in the Lord
Jesus Christ. In Matthew 16:15, Peter was asked, "But who do you
say that I am?" Peter answered in verse 16, "You are the
Christ, the Son of the living God." Peter believed that the Lord
was who He claimed to be and that He was the Savior of the world. He
knew the Lord.
have been wondering why in the Bible as well as in real life it seems
easier to turn away from the Lord than to turn away from idols? Is it
because some of us haven't been truly convinced that Jesus is the Christ
the Son of the Living God and that He is going to be judge of the living
and the dead (Acts 10:42)? We know that we aren't saved by what we do,
we are saved by Who we trust. But if the Lord is the One we believe in,
wouldn't we want to worship Him and only Him in the way He has asked?
Should we who have turned from idols to serve the Living and True God (1
Thessalonians 1:9) be turning back to the idolatry of this world as the
Israelites often did?
seems to me that many Christians are assuming that everyone who says
they are following Christ have actually been convinced that Jesus is THE
ONE AND ONLY CHRIST or messiah or savior. Even if what people believe
and practice is not Biblical, we do not want to be considered judgmental
and unloving today by asking too many questions. But what is really
unloving is to accept people who obviously are not serving the Lord of
the Bible without pointing out to them that only those who truly
"know the Lord" will be saved from an eternity in the Lake of
Fire. We have become so shallow in the way we preach the Gospel that it
is easy to assume that everyone who says that they are believers
actually believe in (or trust) the Lord.
of us who were delivered from the religious confusion of the world to
serve the Christ, the Son of the Living God, are grieved when we see
people turning back to the idolatry of this world from which they said
they were delivered. Today, light and darkness are being mixed since the
Bible is not always accepted as the final authority. New age practices
are being promoted in many churches. Being spiritual in a mystical sort
of way is accepted while being Biblical is considered narrow.
wonder how many of us have really been convinced that Jesus is the
Christ the Son of the Living God? Do we really "know the
for the week of May 23, 2010
12:23 Now these were the numbers of the divisions that were equipped for
war, and came to David at Hebron to turn over the kingdom of Saul to
him, according to the word of the LORD:
12:32 of the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to
know what Israel ought to do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all
their brethren were at their command.
it be nice, if a person were President of the United States, to have men
in your government who were not only men of war who knew how to defend
the country but who had understanding of the times to know what the
country should do? David had two hundred men from Issachar like that.
Today, people turn to horoscopes and fortune tellers to tell them what
to do. But David had men available to him who had the wisdom of God in
them. They knew what Israel ought to do.
weekend we are remembering our loved ones who have died as well as
soldiers who have died in battle. I wonder how many of those who have
died in battle would say that they followed men who understood the times
and knew what to do. Down through the years, those who have died in
battle have been honored as they ought to be, but most of them died
playing following the leader. They did what they were told to do. In the
United States some died in the Civil War, some in WWI, some in WWII,
some in the Korean Conflict, some in the Vietnam War, some in the first
Gulf War, some in the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and many in
miscellaneous operations around the world in addition to the wars and
conflicts just mentioned. Obviously, we have never had men who could
bring lasting peace to this world through war. So did these leaders
really understand the times and know what to do? No leader including
King David has been able to bring about lasting peace although his son
Solomon came close. Our leaders today need to have men available who
understand the times and who can tell them what to do. Likely, President
Obama would like to have men who could tell him how to bring the current
wars to a conclusion without losing more lives than the conflicts
themselves have lost. He just might like to have men who know how to cap
runaway oil wells and who know how to clean up the mess left behind when
a well goes rogue. He just might like to have men who could tell him how
to handle the present budget mess and how to get a handle on medical
costs while providing treatment to everyone who needs it.
that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10), if
I were President I would try to find men like the men of Issachar to
give me guidance. I would try to make every decision based on the
rightness or wrongness of the decision without considering the possible
problem of being reelected. I would keep in mind that even though
representative democratic rule is the best men can offer, this system of
government assumes that the majority is right. But Biblically the
majority is usually wrong so I would try to remember that satisfying the
majority will probably not be ethical or right. I would try to not base
my decisions on my understanding of prophecy. We don't need to bring
prophecy to pass, God can do that fine without our help. I would try to
make every decision based on the ethical guidelines of the Bible instead
which are summed up in the command to love our neighbors as ourselves.
we have had some really good leaders in this country, but I am quite
certain that none of them have ever made all of their decisions as I am
suggesting. The only One who ever will do this is the Lord Himself when
He comes to reign over the world. And yes, the One who died has been
raised from the dead and is even now preparing to come again. His coming
will be a blessing for true believers since they will be saved from the
wrath that is coming on an unbelieving world (1 Thessalonians 1:10). But
the Lord will first judge and purify the world of unbelievers before
setting up a kingdom that is truly righteous. During that period of time
which will last one thousand years, there will be peace. The world's
resources will not be wasted on armies and wars (Isaiah 2:4).
prayer is that our governmental leaders might know that we who are
Christians pray for and respect them. Let us give honor to whom honor is
due (Romans 13:7). And if our leaders are not saved, maybe they will
realize that for their own personal well-being as well as for the
well-being of the county, they need to be saved. Then God can guide them
in understanding the times and in knowing what to do.
we remember those who have sacrificed their lives for their country this
Memorial Day weekend, those of us who believe in and fear the Lord
should also do battle with the forces of darkness. But let us do it the
Biblical way by preaching the Gospel and by praying fervently for and by
honoring our leaders.
for the week of May 30, 2010