Good afternoon everyone. It is good to see you all here. I would like to start with a story from the Old Testament today, a story about a King who was told to go to war by God. God wanted him to completely destroy a certain people because of their actions against Godís people when they first came up out of Egypt, and not only the people but even their possessions and livestock. The King listened to the Lord and attacked, destroying everything except the nationís king and the best of their cattle. His reasoning behind it was, ďIf I offer the best of this to the Lord as a sacrifice, the men can keep part of the plunder.Ē So they took all of the animals to a small town nearby to make sacrifices.
But the Lord was angry and sent His prophet to the King with this message, ďWhy have you disobeyed me?Ē When the Prophet arrived, the King greets him with a big smile and says, ďI have done what the Lord commanded.Ē Godís prophet looks back at him and then says, ďThen why do I hear sheep and cattle behind you?Ē
This is the story of King Saul and the Amalekites, and we can find the story in the book of I Samuel, chapter 15. Saul was told to destroy the Amalekites to fulfill the Lordís promise in Exodus 17:14, that Amalek would be destroyed for attacking the Israelites. The Lord told him to destroy everything, men, women, children, livestock and possessions. The King obeyed partially everything the Lord said, leaving only Agag the king and the best of the livestock alive. God was not pleased and sent Samuel to ask why he had not obeyed the Lord, and this was Saulís response. Read with me I Samuel 15:20:21.
Saul had already justified his actions in his head and was not willing to repent. He was arguing because he truly believed that he had followed the Lordís instructions because he had altered those instructions slightly in his own head to say, ďall but the best.Ē The Lordís response, however, makes it clear that just because King Saul thought he had done everything required, he had still sinned. Continue reading in verses 22 and 23. Saulís disobedience with ďgood intentionsĒ was compared to worshipping idols or seeking aid from false gods. Because of this his family will be removed from the throne of Israel and David will eventually become king.
The reason I came to this lesson today is because their are a lot of people today who claim to serve the Lord, yet they do not obey what He says. I was recently asked why I took my faith so seriously and why I didnít give ground in some areas where others had. My response? Because I want to obey the Lord.
Just because everyone else is doing it doesnít make it right. The Lord desires obedience above sacrifice. God wants us to be obedient to his word instead of sacrificing our souls needlessly. I have had this on my heart for a while now, but it wasnít until this week that I came across this story again. I see in Saul so many of my friends back home, who have started obeying the Lord, but just twisted what He has asked to fit their needs. I worry for them and I pray all the time that God will open their eyes or slap them upside the head to get them back on the narrow path. I have family that have started to fall away recently because they didnít understand that obeying the Lord would not always make them happy. Everyday I have to remind myself that, itís not Jaredís will, but Godís will.
Saul forgot that, but fortunately Jesus didnít. Every Sunday we take the Lordís supper to remember and thank God that He was obedient to death. (Php. 2:8) And I want to thank God that his Apostles, 11 of which were killed, did not have King Saulís mentality! Jesus said that if you hear his words and believe, you will have eternal life. He also said later that if we love him, we will obey his teaching. Notice that teaching is singular, not plural. The problem we face today is people are not obeying the whole of Jesus teaching, but are just taking bits and pieces of what Jesus taught and ignoring the rest. Some have the very best of intentions, but they stop at a point and try to add their own take on things. Iím telling you this today because it is what I believe as part of the body of our Lord. I believe it not because others tell me too, but because I have studied things for myself. If we donít build up our own faith, how can we even hope to obey Jesus words when he said in Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus tells them, make new disciples, to baptize them, and then to teach them to obey everything that was commanded them. I say we canít know everything he commanded them unless we take the time to look.
This week, I want to ask you to take the time to make a reading schedule for the Bible, even if itís just 20 minutes a day, in the book of Mark, and write some of the questions you have down and bring them back next week. I will make my own schedule to do the same. God wants us to love and obey Him, but unless we take the time to read and understand and develop a relationship with him, it is useless. Like Saul, we can make up all the excuses we want, but it wonít do any good. We all make mistakes and the Lord is quick to forgive because He loves us so much. We are his adopted children and He cares for us enough to want us with Him for eternity. Like children, we must be taught to obey at first, and then we must continue learning on our own. I donít have all the answers and there are times I wish I knew more, but God is patient and kind. He already knows everything and He canít wait to share it with us if weíll let him.