When Moses sent out men to investigate the land that God was giving Israel, ten spies came back with the report of how strong the people were that lived in that land. One of the people that they were referring to were the Amalekites (Exodus 13:29). These were the same people that attacked Israel right after God had delivered them from Egypt. They waited until Israel was tired and weary and they targeted those who were weak, who had fallen behind and were isolated from the others (Deuteronomy 25:18). When God brought Israel out, He brought them out wealthy (Exodus 3:21) so I’m sure they robbed Israel as well. Shortly after the attack, Israel fought the Amalekites and won, but God promised that He was going to destroy every Amalekite for what they did to His children (Exodus 17:14-16, Deuteronomy 25:17-19).
Israel wanted a king. God didn’t think it was a good idea, but He gave them what they asked for. In 1 Samuel 15, Samuel, a prophet of God, anoints Saul as king. It was time for God to fulfil the promise He made to his children and He was going to use Saul to carry it out. I remember what Amalek did to Israel, how he waited for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek and utterly destroy all that they have and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass (1 Samuel 15:2-3). This scripture proves to us that God is not forgetful. Maybe it’s been years since God said it, but God loves you, He has not forgotten you nor has He forgotten the promise He made. If He said it, He shall do it.
Saul just had one job, but he didn’t do everything God told him to do. He spared the king of the Amalekites and he kept the best sheep, oxen and lambs and all that was good (1 Samuel 15:8-9). God told Samuel what Saul had done and now Samuel was grieved and cried all night to the Lord. The next morning, Samuel goes to meet with Saul. When Saul sees Samuel, he tells him of his obedience, but all Samuel hears is disobedience. What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? Saul then blames his men. THEY have brought them from the Amalekites. And then he assures Samuel that the animals weren’t for him, but they were to be sacrificed to the Lord (1 Samuel 15:15).
Even after Samuel explains to Saul what he has done, Saul still tells him that he obeyed God, but the people didn’t (1 Samuel 15:20-21). Saul heard what God said yet he spared the king of Amalek. He also saw what the people were doing yet he refused to stop them. He was king, but He allowed the people to do what they wanted to do.
And Samuel said, 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 to offer the fat of rams (1 Sam 15:22).
Samuel never said that the sacrifice of animals wasn’t good, but his obedience would have been better. God never asked Saul for sheep or lambs. Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service (Romans 12:1). God wanted his body. He wanted total obedience. He wanted holiness. When you obey God, you sacrifice (or kill) your will and your ways.
There have been things God told me to do in the past and just like Saul, I did some things, but I didn’t do everything He told me to do. The sad part is that I wanted God to overlook my disobedience, but to accept my sacrifice. But Lord, look at the other things I’ve done for you. The only way to please God is to give Him what He wants, not what you want to give Him.
The Amalekites lived on the southern part of the land that God promised to give to Israel, but before Israel could possess the land, Saul was told to kill everything. I know that the enemy doesn’t want us to get those things that God promised us, but in studying this passage of scripture, I realized that it’s not always the devil or people that are trying to stop me, but it’s me and my disobedience that keeps me from ‘possessing the land’.
One of the things that God told me recently was, If you can’t obey Me, I can’t trust you. And if God can’t trust me, then He can’t trust me with the things that He wants to give me. Anytime God tells you to do something and you don’t do it, you just don’t reject His word, but you reject Him. When Saul rejected God’s word, God rejected Him as king.
But we will not be like Saul. We will kill it, let it go, cut it off and we will separate ourselves from those things that separate us from God’s will. We will honor God and we will honor the ‘Samuels’ He has placed in our lives.
At one time or another, we have all done what we thought was good, but let us do better.
To obey God is better than sacrifice.
One day, Jesus told a parable of a certain man who had two sons (Matthew 21:28). The man went to his first son and said, ‘Son, go work today in my vineyard’.
- Go (move, take a different course).
- Work (assignment).
- Today (now).
I’m not sure what these men were doing when their father called them, but he apparently had a different plan for them – to work in HIS vineyard. It reminded me of when Simon Peter and Andrew were casting their nets to catch fish and Jesus told them, Follow me and I will make you fishers of men. Prior to the invitation, they had been working for themselves and for their families, but this day Jesus called them to work for his Father.
The man didn’t ask his sons if they wanted to go. He told them to go. This wasn’t about what they wanted to do. This was about what he needed them to do. He sent both of them to his vineyard to plant and to water so that it would bring forth fruit. The first son’s response was, I will not. Initially, he didn’t want to change. He was stubborn and disobedient, but afterward he repented and went. The man went to his second son and said the exact same words. The son said, I go, sir, but he never went.
The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few (Matthew 9:37).
God just doesn’t want us to attend church every week. There is work to do. Just like Joseph, God has sent us ahead of the famine (Psalm 105:16-17). There are people who have a need and God needs us to be in our place to meet their need. God doesn’t want us to be like the second son who hears the word, but refuses to do the word.
The first son almost missed a great opportunity, but he believed and went to his father’s vineyard. The second son saw his brother go to work. He saw the change and the ‘fruit’ of his labor, but still refused to change. To be honest, I don’t think he wanted to work. I think he is like some of us who just expects our Father to do everything.
If faith does not have works [deeds and actions of obedience to back it up], it is by itself dead [inoperative and ineffective] (James 2:17).
God told Abraham that a great nation would come out of him. He was going to make his name great. And not only was He was going to bless him, but He was going to make him a blessing. How do we know that Abraham believed God? Because He obeyed God. He moved toward the promise God made. He went to get what God had given him. Some of us have missed out on things that God has promised us because we refuse to do the first thing He told us to do.
Your blessing is in the obedience.
Maybe God is not telling you to leave a certain location or to walk away from some people, but maybe you need to leave the lies that the enemy has told you – what you can’t do and what you will never be. Sometimes there are things such as hurt and unforgiveness that are keeping us from moving forward. Joseph could have blamed a lot of people for what he was going through – his brothers, Potiphar’s wife and the butler who forgot about him. It seemed like the people who he was sent to help, only hurt him. My point is this: The longer he stayed angry and bitter, the longer he would have stayed in prison (mentally). And in Joseph’s case, he didn’t have a lot of time to waste. A famine was coming and his family as well as many others needed him to be free from prison.
In John 5:4, an angel would go into the pool at a certain season so it was important that one be ready at all times. Whoever stepped in the water first after the angel troubled the water would be made whole of any disease he had. I don’t know how long the impotent man had been lying at the pool, but he had an infirmity for 38 years. According to this man, he kept missing his healing because someone would always step down before him. One day, Jesus saw the man lying at the pool. He knew how long he had been in that condition and He gave him another opportunity to be healed, but the man had to want it. Do you want to be whole?
It’s not too late for you. God has not counted you out. A missed opportunity doesn’t have to be a lost opportunity. Another opportunity is coming to you. I believe God is going to do something even greater in this next season. And just like the impotent man, He doesn’t want any of us to miss it. He wants you to be a part of what He is doing. In fact, He wants to do it through you. He wants to use you greatly in this next season. He wants to make you whole. He wants to restore years to you.
If you believe it, then do the thing that you’ve said in your heart, I’m not going to do it or I’m afraid to do it or I don’t want to do it. Maybe some of you are thinking, I’ve done what the Lord told me to do and nothing has happened yet. The key word is yet. It may not have happened the last time, but it will happen – if you don’t faint. Try it again. Believe Him again. God wants you to see His goodness.
Don’t miss it!
lie: to convey a false image or impression; to exhibit a false representation
At one time or another, we have lied about something. We lied to get out of trouble. We lied to prevent hurting someone’s feelings. We lied because we thought that was the only way we could get what we wanted. Whether you told a little lie, a big lie or a white lie, a lie is still a lie and according to Proverbs 6:17, a lying tongue is one of the things that God hates.
If we SAY that we have fellowship with Him and WALK in darkness, we lie (1 John 1:6). What we say should match what we do. If we say that we abide in Christ, then we should walk as He walked (1 John 2:6). Telling others that I’ve been going to church since I was child or that I’ve read the whole bible isn’t proof that I know God. If I truly know Him, then I will do what He says. We do know that we know Him if we keep His commandments (1 John 2:3).
It is what we do – not what we say – that confirms our relationship with God. This is what separates the carnal Christian from the spiritual Christian. The carnal Christian refuses to grow up in the Lord. They refuse to be taught. They live the way they want to live. They do what they want to do and not what God wants them to do. They are like the scribes and Pharisees. They say, and do not (Matthew 23:3). They don’t walk in godliness. They just have a form or an appearance of godliness.
Sometimes it takes years before you discover who a person really is. You may be able to lie about who you are, but you can’t hide who you really are but for so long. Do you remember the parable of the wheat and tares? A tare resembles wheat while it is young, but when they begin to grow, they look nothing alike. The reason why the householder didn’t allow his servants to gather up the tares or expose them is because he knew that the tares would soon expose themselves. You see, the tares have seeds inside of them, but only the wheat brings forth fruit.
Verily, verily I say unto you, unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit (John 12:24).
But when the blade (wheat) was sprung up and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also (Matthew 13:26).
If I bite into a plastic fruit (fake), I don’t get anything out of it – only disappointment, but when I bite into a real fruit, there are many benefits – health, vitamins, mineral and less risk for certain diseases and illness, just to name a few. Fruit is a sign of maturity. When we refuse to die to selfishness, pride or our way of doing things, we remain the same and there is no fruit, but when we fall to the ground (humility) and die (submission), we will grow and bear much fruit.
A few months ago, I (a Christian) saw someone (another Christian) who hurt me in the past. Honestly, I didn’t want to see or talk to this person ever again. (It’s funny how we remember when someone hurt us, but forget when we hurt others). As I saw the person approaching, I looked straight ahead to avoid the individual. I didn’t speak – on purpose. The Lord immediately said, That’s not Me. In other words, I wasn’t displaying Him. Love doesn’t behave that way.
I admit I need help in that area. I don’t want to teach it or in this case, write it, but not live it. I don’t want to become what I hate – a liar and a hypocrite. If we as Christians are tired of people lying and pretending, then let us stop lying and pretending. Instead of talking about what everyone else is doing, let us examine ourselves and be careful how we live. If you’re going to dress as sheep, then act like sheep. Put on the armour of light (Romans 13:12). Put on the new man (Ephesians 4:24). Put on love (Colossians 3:14). Just as you identify a tree by its fruit, people identify us by what we do.
We are representatives of Christ. We aren’t chosen just to speak for God, but we are chosen to live for God. Jesus just didn’t say what His Father said, but He did what He saw His Father doing (John 5:19).
Let us walk as He walked.