Bruce Collins, Evangelist

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Whole-hearted Obedience is True Worship

Meditation for the week of May 2, 2010

1Samuel 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?"

Saul 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!”

Obedience 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. 

In 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.

In 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. 

In 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. 

I 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?

The 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 right.”

Bruce Collins

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