Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 7 May 18:
1. 1 Samuel 15:1-4 — God reminds Saul from where Saul came and what God had done for him before God gives him the command to totally destroy the Amalekites. Don’t lose perspective on who it is that commands you.
2. 1 Samuel 15:9 — Saul and the people devoted to the Lord only gave what they didn’t really care about but kept for themselves what they really valued. The best they saved for themselves. Have you ever seen Christians do that?
3. 1 Samuel 15:11 — “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” Following means obeying. Jesus told us to deny self, take up our cross, and “follow” Him. This requires obedience.
4. 1 Samuel 15:13 — Saul set up a monument for himself, disobeyed God and yet had still convinced himself that he was godly – “I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” How often do people use religion in an attempt to validate their pride?
5. 1 Samuel 15:14 — “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?” Having chosen his own desires over obedience, Saul still attempted to claim obedience and fidelity to God though his disobedience was plainly obvious.
6. 1 Samuel 15:15-16 — “Saul said, ‘They have brought them…. the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the LORD your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.’ Then Samuel said to Saul, ‘Stop!” Instead of humbly confessing His sins, Saul blamed other people and said has actions were for The Lord – good intentions. Samuel couldn’t listen to Saul’s pathetic denial and deflections any longer.
7. 1 Samuel 15:20 — Partial obedience is disobedience.
8. 1 Samuel 15:21 — Like Adam, Aaron, and countless others, Saul blamed his disobedience on someone else – “But the people took of the spoil….” No one can make you sin. You own it.
9. 1 Samuel 15:22, 23 — “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 listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.” True worship is obedience to God’s word, not just ceremony, displays of emotion or sacrifice. Disobedience is a rejection of God’s Lordship and makes an idol of ourselves as we place our selfish desires over God’s commands. Partial obedience is disobedience, and like Saul, we have a tendency to hold something back from God, often telling ourselves, “God is OK with it; he understands.” As you consider your life and your fidelity to God can you hear the “bleating of the sheep… and the lowing of the oxen?” What sins have you been holding on to that you need to surrender this moment? “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15).”
– James 4:7 — Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
10. 1 Samuel 15:23 — “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king.” We reject the word of The Lord when we make ourselves idols and serve ourselves instead of God. We might not practice witchcraft or worship statues, but the Bible says that rebellion and presumption are essentially the same thing, prioritizing something over the LORD.
11. 1 Samuel 15:24-28 — There are basically three levels of motivation (from worse to best): fear/pride, duty, and love. We should always consider why we do what we do. Saul was motivated by fear. He disobeyed in fear, and he only obeyed in fear. God commands us to love and only accepts obedience which comes from love, not from fear, greed, or duty.
12. 1 Samuel 15:25 — “Please pardon my sin.” Being sorry and being repentant are not the same thing. A person can be sorry because they don’t want to suffer the consequences of their sins without having a heart that is genuinely sorrowful for having sinned, regardless of consequences, and that earnestly desires to never sin again.
13. 1 Samuel 15:32, 33 — The pain Agag’s loved ones would feel due to his death was not Samuel’s concern. Agag himself bore the burden of the consequences of his crimes even though those consequences would continue past his death. The consequences did not transfer to another.
14. 1 Samuel 16:1 — We should not grieve over the Lord’s decisions, His perfect will.
15. 1 Samuel 16:6-13 — The Lord chooses who He desires and provides the Holy Spirit to whom He desires. We cannot know who God is calling and who He has rejected unless God reveals it.
16. 1 Samuel 16:7 — “For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” The Lord does not look at what we display to others but rather what is really in our heart. God is looking for the faithful to lead his people, not just the talented.
17. 1 Samuel 16:18 — “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the LORD is with him.” David was very talented, but what set him apart was that The Lord was with him.
18. 1 Samuel 16:18 — “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him.” – quite a resume. David was known to have not only competence but also character, someone who could be trusted.
19. 1 Samuel 16:21 — “And David came to Saul and entered his service. And Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer.” Again, God arranges circumstances to prepare His faithful servants to accomplish His purposes. With God’s people, there are no coincidences.
20. Proverbs 7:6, 7 — The truth is evidenced by the consequences of sin in the lives of those who reject the truth.
21. Proverbs 7:18 — The sinful call lust love.
22. 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 — You will either act spiritually or carnally (like an animal) in any given situation. Selfishness reduces you to the same motivators to which animals and infants respond.
23. 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 — “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?” God’s word says, “Grow up!” An adult can’t help but be an adult, but they can still act like a child. Certainly you have known adults who failed to mature in some area of their lives as expected of an adult and subsequently limited the effectiveness of their lives and robbed themselves of the fullness of life. Similarly, a Christian can’t help but be spiritual but can act worldly, failing to mature in sanctification, and remaining an “infant in Christ,” incapable of experiencing the life of an adult in Christ. We know that adults experience far more in life than children do. Are you living a full, mature, spiritual life, or are you letting worldliness get in the way? One of the easiest tests of your spiritual maturity is the quality of your relationships with others, particularly with those closest to you. If there is strife or separation, immaturity remains.
24. 1 Corinthians 3:2, 3 — “And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?” The Corinthians were not maturing in their faith because they were still acting worldly.
25. 1 Corinthians 3:4 – “For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not being merely human?” You may say you are “naturally” impatient, cynical, or (insert negative trait here), but God works in the supernatural realm. We are not called by be “merely human.”
26. 1 Corinthians 3:7 — “Only God who gives the growth.” We are but messengers of God’s word. The Holy Spirit does all the convicting and convincing.
27. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 — Everything we do outside of genuine, selfless service for Jesus Christ, as a true disciple, is worthless. All that we do for self is meaningless, regardless of how much we say it was really for Jesus.
28. 1 Corinthians 3:19 — “For the wisdom of this world is folly with God.” Just obey and teach God’s simple word. You don’t need to be clever, just faithful.
29. 1 Corinthians 16:21 — “So let no one boast in men.” It is VERY tempting for Christians to focus on popular preachers and pastors more than Jesus, to proclaim their pastor’s name more than Jesus, and to identify with a church rather than with Jesus. Don’t tell people about your pastor; tell them about Jesus. Don’t just invite people to your church, invite them to know Jesus.
30. 1 Corinthians 3:16-22 — Don’t build with the world’s wisdom.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 7 May: Pay attention to your first responses to crisis, conflict, or strife. Do you at times think or act negatively and then say, “Well I am not really like that; I just got caught off guard.” How you first respond is a better reflection of what is in your heart than your calculated response. C.S. Lewis said it this way: “When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected: I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself. Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way, the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man: it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.” Pray that God will help you exterminate the rats that remain hidden in the dark. (1 Cor 3:4)