1 Samuel 15 – “Because I Said So.”

“Because I said so!” Most of us can remember hearing this from our parents. We didn’t like it then, and we still not crazy about the “because I said so” reason for doing something.

But there are times when we’re called upon to simply obey…whether we like it or not.

This is the central theme of 1 Samuel chapter 15. There, Saul is given a simple command that required simple obedience, and he chooses to ignore it.

Why is obedience so hard? At times it’s because we what what we want. Other times, our pride keeps us from humbling ourselves and obeying. Sometimes, we’re afraid we won’t like the outcome of our obedience. Other times, we’re afraid we will look bad in the eyes of others. All of these can lead to disobedience… Saul’s and ours.

As a Heavenly Father, God loves us and desires to be close to us. He wants to protect us, provide for us, and encourage us. But as a Father, God will also tell us what He wants us to do. Despite all He has done for us, He is still God! Despite the fact that we, as believers, are His children, we are still His creation and His servants. And we are still called upon and expected to obey.

Like Saul, our disobedience may seem small and inconsequential, but as someone once said, “partial obedience is total disobedience.” And disobedience can have debilitating consequences.

When God calls us to do something and our human nature rise up in opposition, may God give us the Spirit of Jesus who said, “Not my will but yours be done.” (Matthew 26:39) May we respond like Jesus, who humbled Himself and became obedient…even to death. (Phil. 2:7-8)

Because, God’s commands are not our options.

1 Samuel 13 – Pay Attention to the Red Lights

Some people are “feelers.” They respond to things based upon their feelings.

Now feelings are not bad and should not be avoided. God Himself has feelings and expresses emotion. (Gen. 6:6) (Ex. 4:14) (Job 33:26) But, we should not allow our feelings to drive us.

Feelings are like the red lights on the dashboard of your car. They warns you that something needs your attention. If you ignore the red lights, or cover them up, or disconnect them…you court disaster. The red light is not the problem. It’s just an indicator of a problem.

Here’s what this has to do with 1 Samuel chapter 13. Saul was a feeler. He made decisions based upon feelings, not faith. When the situation became grave, Saul followed his feelings and panicked. His feelings over-ruled his faith, causing him to disobey the Lord in an attempt to calm his fear. Then, when confronted with his disobedience, Saul (driven by guilt) sought to covering things up with rationalization. (1 Sam. 13:11-12)

If you’re a feeler, the key to not letting your emotions drive you is found in what Samuel tells Saul. (1 Sam. 13:14) Samuel tells Saul that God is looking for someone who is after God’s heart, rather than their own.

Pay attention to your feelings, but be more concerned with God’s feelings than your own. Bring your feelings in line with God’s through prayer and a knowledge of His word. Then, when your feelings light up, you’ll know there is something going on under your hood that need to be tuned up or corrected.

Pay attention to your red lights.

Joshua 12-19 – Is Close Enough Enough?

In Joshua chapters 12-19, you see two different standards on display…

  •  “Close enough for government work.”
  • “A job worth doing is worth doing right.”

In these chapters, you read how the Children of Israel took over and divided the land God had promised to them. Yet, at least four times you read something like: “but they did not drive out the (fill in the blank) from the land.” They almost finished the work, but they left a group of people, who continued to live among them and cause them problems. In other words, the Israelites settled for “close enough for government work.”

But God, through people like Joshua and Caleb, was urging the people toward the other standard: “A job worth doing is worth doing right.”

  • Caleb completely conquered his section of territory, because he followed the Lord completely and wholeheartedly. (Joshua 14:8,9,14.)
  • Joshua cheered on the tribes of Ephriam and Manasseh, telling them they could drive out the Canaanites even though the Canaanites were strong and had iron chariots. (Joshua 17:18.)
  • Joshua asked seven of the tribes how long they were going to wait before taking possession of what God had already given them. (Joshua 18:3.)

In light of all of this, here are some questions we need to ask ourselves…

  • When it comes to the things to which God has called me, do I have an attitude of “close enough for government work,” or an attitude of complete, wholehearted obedience?
  • Do I partially do what God has called me to do, or do I see it as a job worth doing and doing well?
  • Are some of my current problems the result of a lack of complete obedience?
  • How long will I wait before taking full possession of what God has already given me?

If you wonder what God desires from you, check out 1 Corinthians 10:31 and Colossians 3:17. Give yourself completely to that which God is calling you. Take every bit of that land!

Joshua 6 – Walls

Walls. They prop up our structures. They give us protection, privacy, and a sense of security. Walls can also isolate us, impeded us, and entrap us. All these functions can be good or bad, depending on our motivation.

But any wall that stands between you and what God wants for you needs to come down.

Read moreJoshua 6 – Walls

Joshua 5 – Little Things

“Little things are important.” “It’s the little things that mean the most.” These are sayings most of us have heard all our lives. The reason little things are important and matter so much is that big things are made up of little things. Little things require a lot of thought, discipline, commitment, and sacrifice. That means that little things are actually “big things.”

Read moreJoshua 5 – Little Things

Deuteronomy 29 – Trusting “Because I Said So.”

When children become pre-teens and teens, they think more abstractly and become more self-focused. When this happens, they want to know “why” before they carry out instructions. If they’re not told “why,” or if it makes no sense to them, they often resist the request or directive.

At times, parents need to take more time to explain the reasoning behind their directives. But, because of their age and experience, parents know and foresee things their children are unable to. So there are times when a child needs to trust their parent’s wisdom, intentions, and love…even though the child doesn’t have the information they desire.

Read moreDeuteronomy 29 – Trusting “Because I Said So.”

Deuteronomy 17 – No One is Above the Law

“No one is above the law.” This statement is cliché and almost laughable in this day and age. High officials regularly navigate around the law, gang members seem to do whatever they choose, ministers sexually abuse women and children…the list goes on and on. Some are caught and tried, but a large majority of people will continue to violate the law, seemingly undetected.

Deuteronomy chapter 17 stresses the importance of careful and complete adherence to God’s law; whether you’re a lowly citizen or a high official.

Read moreDeuteronomy 17 – No One is Above the Law

Deuteronomy 12 – Be Specific

Have you ever noticed that when it comes to details, there are people who are more specific in nature and people who are more general in nature.

Specific people meticulously read the instructions before starting. General people just jump in, occasionally glancing over the instructions…if they look at them at all.

Specific people will sit at a red light for five minutes waiting for the light to change…even when no one else is at the intersection. General people will stop at the red light, but if no one else is there, and they’re already been waiting longer than they think they should, they will drive on.

Specific people see a rule as something to be followed. General people see a rule as something to be considered.

When it comes to worship, are you more general or specific?

Read moreDeuteronomy 12 – Be Specific

Deuteronomy 10 – The importance of Being Persistent and Consistent.

When I was younger, I used to think that success was dependent upon talent, or skill, or wealth, or connectedness. I thought those who were successful merely had the right stuff and/or were in the right place at the right time.

There’s no doubt that these things are helpful, but the older I get, the more I’ve come to believe that success is much more about being persistent and consistent. Persistence and consistency are the two inseparable keys to success…both temporally and spiritually. In his book by the same name, Eugene Peterson called it “a long obedience in the same direction.”

Read moreDeuteronomy 10 – The importance of Being Persistent and Consistent.

Deuteronomy 5 – Awe and Obedience

Remember when you were a kid and the sight of fireflies, shooting stars, and rainbows would cause you to stop in awe? Remember when your parents seemed so big and powerful that the sound of their voice would quickly snap you into obedience?

As we grow up, we tend to lose our child-like sense of awe, as well as our desire and willingness to obey authority.

We can also lose our sense of awe and obedience when it comes to our relationship with God. We lose our awe of God when we become too familiar with Him or too indifferent to Him. We lose our willingness to obey God when our self-motivated desires dampen our desire for prompt and complete obedience to Him.

In Deuteronomy chapter 5, Moses reminds the children of Israel that the key to their relationship with God, as well as their success in the world, would come from maintaining their awe of Him and their obedience to Him.

Awe and obedience should still be the core of our life and relationship with God. Without them, our life will lack power, passion, and production for God. Perhaps that’s why Jesus put such an emphasis on becoming child-like…as opposed to childish. (Matt. 18:3) (1 Cor. 13:11)

Our lives need to be based in awe over God’s indescribable greatness and obedience to His perfect Word. And one will prompt the other. If we reclaim our awe of God, it will renew our obedience to Him. If we improve our obedience to God, it will increase our awe of Him.

Have you lost your awe over the greatness of God? Do you find yourself treating obedience to God more as an option than a mandate? Pick one to focus on and the other will not be far behind.