I Did It My Way

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Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and Michael Bublé sang it and is one of the most often requested songs for funerals. Paul Anka wrote lyrics in English to a French tune and pitched “My Way” to Old Blue Eyes. We applaud people who do it their way. But should we? While the rugged individualist charts his own course, he seldom does it God’s way. 

God, through Samuel, directed King Saul to attack the Amalekites, the enemy of God’s people. God specifically said, “totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them . . .” Not the people and not even their livestock (1 Samuel 15:3). Saul and his men were somewhat obedient. “Saul and the army spared Agag [the king] and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs, everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy” (v. 9). They were unwilling to be obedient. God’s heart was grieved by Saul’s disobedience (v. 11). He sent Samuel to chastise the king.

When the prophet arrived at the camp, Saul greeted him saying, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions” (v. 13). And Samuel said, in today’s language, “Oh, really? Then why do I hear sheep bleating and cattle lowing?” (v. 14). And Saul answered that they saved the best of the animals “to sacrifice to the Lord” (v. 15).  He essentially sang Sinatra’s song – “I obeyed the Lord – my way.” Samuel replied, “To obey is better than sacrifice” (v. 22). And from that point on, God rejected Saul as Israel’s king.

No, this is not one of those warm and fuzzy devotionals. I feel an urgent need in my spirit to tell you to stop trying to do life your way. Do it God’s way. Be fully obedient to the Lord. Partial obedience is disobedience. James gave us two keys to doing life God’s way: “Submit yourself to God” (4:7) and “Humble yourself before the Lord” (4:10).

I’m not pointing fingers at you without pointing them at myself first. This morning I prayed, “Lord please give me a word for your people – and for me.” I know I need to learn the discipline of obedience, submission, and humility before God. This honors and pleases the Lord who – despite what Sinatra and all the rest believe – created man. Self-made men and women are on the road to self-destruction. Beloved, will you do it God’s way?

Jesus is . . .

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“We’re New Testament people, we don’t need to read the Old Testament.” “I just want to know about Jesus, so I’ll stick with the New Testament.” Ever thought or said anything like that? I’ve heard it many times. As Christians – Christ’s followers – we are focused on only what Jesus did and taught.  But the Old Testament looks ahead to Jesus Christ.  Check it out:

In Genesis, He is the Seed of the woman who will one day crush the head of Satan.

In Exodus, He is the Passover Lamb and the one who leads His people out of bondage.

In Leviticus, He is the great high priest and the perfect sacrifice.

In Deuteronomy, he is the Great Prophet to come.

In Joshua, He is the Captain of the Lord’s host.

In Judges, He is the one who faithfully delivers His people from the cost of sin.

In Ruth, He is our Kinsman Redeemer.

He is the anointed King in the line of David in the books of Samuel.

In the books of the Kings, He is the Spirit filling the Temple.

He is the great Teacher in Ezra and the Restorer of broken walls in Nehemiah.

He is the Interceder for His people in Esther and the coming Redeemer in Job.

He is the Shepherd in Psalms and the Source of all wisdom in Proverbs.

He is the Teacher in Ecclesiastes.

He is the Beloved Bridegroom in the Song of Solomon.

In Isaiah, He is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace and Suffering Servant.

In Jeremiah and Lamentations, He is the Man acquainted with sorrows.

In Ezekiel, He brings life to dry bones.

In Daniel, He is the Ancient of Days.

He is the faithful Husband in Hosea, the Hope of His people in Joel, the Judge of the nations in Amos, and in Obadiah the One who warns of coming judgment.

In Jonah He is the preacher of the Good News, in Micah He is the Ruler from Bethlehem.

In Nahum, He is the judge of His people’s enemy,  the Sovereign Lord in Habakkuk, and in Zephaniah, He is the God who is mighty to save.

In Haggai He is the Glory of the House of God, in Zechariah He is the Royal Priest and in Malachi Jesus is the Son of Righteousness.

Beloved, if you want to know Jesus, read the Old Testament. He is all over the place.  Then read the New Testament with a fresh understanding of Jesus who was and is and is to come.

One Step at a Time

stepping stones
“The Lord said, ‘Take a heifer with you and say, “I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.”  Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do.’ ”  (1 Samuel 16:2,3)
 
“Lord what do you want me to do?”  “What is the plan?”  “How is this going to work?”  Ever asked those questions?  I know I  have and so have scores of others.  It’s human nature – we want to have the full plan laid out before us before we start.  No builder would begin a house without a complete set of blueprints – down to the location of every wall socket and light switch.  A business proposal outlines a long-term plan and prospectus for the success of the project.  No smart business man would buy into an idea that wasn’t fully developed.  In our lives we set out a plan for the day, the week, the month and the year – and even for years ahead.   We want to know how things will turn out in the end.  We want the whole picture.
But God doesn’t give us the whole picture.  He gives us one step at a time, just as He did for Samuel.  He told the prophet to go to Bethlehem and prepare to make a sacrifice with Jesse and his sons.  That’s it.   “Do step one and I will show you step two.” 
God delights in obedience – the kind that doesn’t wait for the full plan but willingly acts on step one.  In fact, I don’t know of anyone in the Bible – except Jesus – who knew the end from the beginning.  Success in God’s eyes is not completing the whole task in one grand push; success is doing the one thing God told you to do and waiting for the next instruction.  Besides, if you knew the whole plan you would be a) completely overwhelmed and/or b) set off doing things your own way which results in c) a mess.
Beloved, God has a plan – a vey good plan, but it requires your daily, step-by-step obedience.  You can trust Him – He will not forget you or leave you stranded.  He will see you all the way through.  Today determine to obey what you know to do – the rest will come – on time and with the strength you need.  One step at a time.

I Did It My Way

“I desire to do Your will, O my God; Your law is within my heart.  Psalm 40:7

 So who’s really in charge here?

 Since the days of Adam and Eve, man has challenged the authority of God. God says this, but man wants to do that.  God commands, and man rebels.  Sometimes we stomp our feet and say “NO!” like a petulant child. But most often, our rebellion is more subtle.

 Israel’s first king, Saul, is the perfect example of someone who thought he could do God’s will – his own way.  In 1 Samuel 13, God commanded Saul to destroy the wicked and evil Amalekites, long-time enemies of the Israelites.  God’s specific command was to “totally destroy everything that belongs to them… ”(v. 3) Saul and his army set out to do as God commanded, but verse 9 tells us “Saul and the army spared Agag (the king) and the best of the [livestock] – everything that was good.”

 When the prophet Samuel met up with him, He asked why Saul didn’t obey the Lord’s command.  Saul’s reply was “The soldiers brought the…best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord, but we totally destroyed the rest.” (v. 15) In essence, Saul was saying “But I did obey the Lord” (v.20)– I just did it my way.

 Have you ever thought “Well I know God said He wants me to do this, but I know He won’t mind if I do it in my own way. It will be just as good.”  As if we dare say to Him, “I know what you said, but I have a better idea.”?  Pay attention to Samuel’s reply to Saul, “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  To obey is better than sacrifice.” (v. 22) 

God wants our full obedience and He has the authority to require it of us. When God speaks, He expects us to obey. Completely. Immediately. Anything less is disobedience.

Who’s in charge here? It is a question you must settle in your heart, then commit to total obedience – God’s way.

 Holy Father, You are truly the LORD – the Sovereign and Righteous King.  You are God and You are worthy of obedience.  Please turn my heart to always seek to do Your will Your way in Your time.  Amen.

Go Deeper: 1 Samuel 15:1-23