Sunday, June 16, 2019

Obeying is Sacrifice

Obeying is Sacrifice
June 17, 2019
1 Samuel 15:22  ". . . has the Lord as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obedience to the voice of the Lord. . . ?"

The Lord said that it is better to obey than to sacrifice. This was said after an act of disobedience. The Lord had given Saul clear and concise directions, very specific and direct instructions. Saul disobeyed. Back then, when you sinned, the Lord had made a way for you to make it right. You had to offer a sin offering, basically bringing something of value, usually a live animal, and destroying its value to you.  It cost you something to make it right when you disobeyed. The Lord said it was far better to obey rather than pay the price for the sin. In fact, you could offer a sacrifice to the Lord just because, destroying something of value to you simply in honor to the Lord and yet the Lord said he'd prefer you and me to just obey. The Lord doesn't want you to pay the price for your sin; He wants you to obey.

There are two ways to obey. The first is the easier of the two. If the Lord tells you to NOT do something, then don't do it. If He tells you to not lie, then don't lie. If He you tells you to not murder, then don't murder. It's pretty easy to not murder, at least for most of us. If you violated these few rules, then you would be required to pay the sacrifice for the sin. He said it was better to obey than to offer a sacrifice. The second way to obey is move out and do something that He specifically tells you to do. This requires you to acknowledge His voice and directions, then to step out and take action. It brings honor to the Lord when you step out in obedience to do something for Him. When the Lord told Saul it was better to obey than sacrifice, Saul was clearly hoping to offer a sacrifice in hindsight to make up for his lack of follow through. This did not, and does not honor the Lord. Many people feel guilty for not stepping out in obedience to the Lord's leading in their lives. Many people give and give and give to make up for their disobedience and their feeling of guilt. Even as Christians we feel guilty when we don't do something we know we are supposed to do, so we give something to appease our guilt. The Lord would say to keep your gift. He would prefer the obedience.

I would tell you that to obey the Lord is a sacrifice, however. It requires you and me to lay down our own wants in order to do what the Lord wants us to do. Sometimes the Lord asks a great feat from us, to step out and do something that is bold or scary or even painful. It takes great faith and courage to obey when this type of command is as stake. It takes a great sacrifice sometimes to obey the Lord. Jesus told Peter to lay down his net and follow Him. Following the Lord, obeying him, was a sacrifice for Peter. In my own life, my family has followed a difficult path, one we knew the Lord asked of us, but would be painful and difficult. We could have chosen to disobey, then attempt to appease our guilt by giving to the Lord, but the Lord doesn't want our giving, He wants our obedience. 

You can sacrifice until you are blue in the face, but it does not take the place of obedience. Obedience, however, still requires a sacrifice and if you think obeying the Lord does not bring Him honor then you are playing the part of a fool. The Lord is well aware of the sacrifice involved with obedience and it brings Him great honor and joy and you find favor in His eyes when you do that. The Lord says your life will go well for you when you obey Him, when you step out and do the things He has for you to do. It is better to obey and find favor in the eyes of the Lord than it is to offer a sacrifice to Him that He did not request.  He requests obedience, not the offering you'd like to bring.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: 1 Sam 15:1-23, Jer 7:21-23, John 21:15-19, Eph 6:1-4

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