Jesus, Social Media and Me

I’m up front with everyone, it’s understood that I use social media to accomplish a specific agenda: sharing Jesus by every available means. But this morning I felt the Spirit calling me out, challenging me as to the authenticity of my claim. Is sharing the love of God really my motivation?

It’s easy to deceive ourselves (at least it is for me) about a great many things. I can convince myself that what I’m doing is for God when the reality is that I’m really trying to fulfill a need for acceptance- receiving an “attaboy” from men instead of God. On Twitter I see the popular, hip preachers who daily provide their followers with cool tweets, and there’s a part of me that wants to be a part of the club. While I can’t pretend to judge the motives of these guys, I most certainly am required to judge my own. And lately, they’ve been mixed at best.

I believe that social media is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, we can potentially touch more people than we would ever physically be able to encounter. But on the other hand, it can feed the narcissistic, megalomaniac tendencies we all have to some degree. We can share  the Gospel with the click of a mouse, but we can also become addicted to “likes,” “retweets,” and “mentions.” Or maybe it’s just me-I know how sick and twisted I can be.

I’ve been thinking of some things the Apostle Paul said to the church in Corinth about “ministers and ministries.”

 Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.

According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.  If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

We find ourselves in the day of hash-tag theology and clever quips. Social-media enables us to feed our innate need for validation, and would be prophets and teachers clamor about seeking to impress with fancy talk and highfilutin prose. In times such as these, I find myself falling increasingly more in love with the One who, while being the embodiment of all truth and wisdom, used mustard seeds, nets, lost coins and farmers to explain heaven’s grandest mysteries.Yeah, I’m going to continue to use social media to share Jesus. But I’m also going to pay more heed to Paul’s words, praying that I will be conscious of the REALITY the verses cited above reveal. If I may be so presumptuous as to tell you what I think the bottom line is concerning Jesus and social media, it is this: folks don’t need us to be cool and clever, they need us to speak the truth in love.

 

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Little Foxes

This New Year’s weekend I had the opportunity to be with a group of men from all over the United States. (I think there were a few from other countries as well.) Anyway, they left their families and homes to come together, and bring in the New Year in fellowship, seeking the face of God. There were many ministers, diverse theological views, egos, and personalities, which were all set aside for the express purpose of crying out to God in intercession. While I was richly blessed, I was at the same time humbled as I rubbed shoulders with these men of God. As I ate with them, worshipped with them, prayed and wept with them; I was touched by their depth of passion and commitment to the Lord. I was also deeply convicted.

Today, back at home reflecting on everything; the scripture that came to my mind was, “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards…” Although I am involved in ministry and various “work for the Kingdom,” I saw in these brothers an intensity and singularity of focus that has begun to wane in my own life. I began to see that I have allowed seemingly insignificant compromises, those “little foxes,” to trample the “vineyard” of my life. Strange, these little foxes didn’t look that dangerous at all. In fact, they were kind of cute. However, the reality is; it is their intention to eat up the blossoms that are in bloom and prevent the fruit from reaching maturity. Thank God for his Spirit, his grace, his mercy, and his people! “Catch for us the little foxes!”

Brothers and sisters, we must be sober and alert, keeping watch over our hearts lest the little foxes enter in undetected and began to ruin the vineyard. So often we become complacent, at ease in Zion if you will. And, while we may keep out the roaring lion that seeks to devour us entirely; we ignore the little foxes that seek to ruin the vineyard. Jesus tells the church at Ephesus, “I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.”

Let us, at the beginning of this New Year, pray that God by his Spirit will reveal to us any little foxes running loose in our lives.

A Holy Ethnicity

I often have the opportunity to sit with “church leaders” of various ethnicities in the Charlotte NC area and discuss many hot button topics. As you could probably guess, as of late, the Presidential Election has been the prevalent topic. While the conversations have always remained civil and respectful, I couldn’t help but notice that there was an “elephant” in the room which we all avoided mentioning- racial tension. Sides were being taken along racial lines, and it really grieved my heart that no one (including me) addressed the issue. This got me thinking about the verse in I Peter 2, where Peter says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Hmm… race, nation… Is there anything we can learn from this other than the usual, “I’m royalty.” bit?

Peter tells his readers that they are a chosen γένος (genos) or race. That’s where we get our word gene, genetic, etc… He also calls them an ἔθνος (ethnos) ἅγιον (holy) or holy nation. Ethnos, hmm…ethnic, ethnicity- interesting.  I began to think of the diverse audience to which Peter had written. I thought of the social and cultural context in which they existed. Here were a people (Jew & Gentile alike) scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, living under the oppressive hand of the Roman Empire. If you weren’t a Roman citizen, chances are you were having a pretty bad day. In the midst of this difficulty, Peter wants the believers to understand that they are a holy “ethnic group,” intentionally chosen by God. Brothers and sisters, in Christ, we are no longer white or black Americans. We have been made into a brand new, holy ethnicity!

As children of God, we are a new creation. We are in Jesus, and there is no Jew, Gentile, Black, or White.  A new man has been created in Christ. A new, holy “ethnos” has been made out of every kindred, tribe, and tongue! There is no place for racism of any kind in the body of Christ for we are all together a chosen race and a holy nation. When we as members of the body of Christ define and/or divide ourselves along racial lines we are being carnal and have forgotten that we are literally joined together as one in Christ. When we make distinctions along racial lines according to the flesh, referring to “our people,” “our this,” or “our that”; we have forgotten who we are in Jesus. Frankly, I as a middle-aged, white, southern, male Christian should be more at home with my black sister from New York than I am with a middle-aged, white, southerner who doesn’t know the Lord. Think about it. The same Holy Spirit is conforming us to the image of Christ. Shouldn’t we have more in common with each other than with the world? Shouldn’t we resemble one another? Shouldn’t we desire  fellowship  with one another more than we do the fellowship of those who are our “kindred” after the flesh?

Brothers and sisters, a President is not the hope of our people. A transforming political ideology is not what our people need. We have a King, and his name is Jesus. We are one in his Spirit, a chosen race, a holy ethnicity. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and though we are many; we have been made partakers of the same Spirit. So, while in the world, comments like, “You can’t possibly understand because you’re not black/white.” may be the norm, in the body of Christ, we know each other after the Spirit. We always have common ground and avenues of understanding because in Him, we are one.

The political process has served to expose the earthly-mindedness of many of God’s people. Apparently, we have become so in love with this world that we are willing to be divided from our brothers and sisters in Christ for the sake of our own carnal desires. We have forgotten that together, all of us make up the body of Christ. We belong to Him and to each other. We are called out from being simply a white man, or a black woman. We are a brand new creation in Christ. We are a chosen race with a common “genetic code.” We  are a holy ethnicity, a brand new nation of people, set apart in Christ,  to show the world the glory of our King.

 

 

 

 

 

OZmosis

Walking down the old “Roman Road” just wont do for those who have taken the yellow-brick road to Oz, and now reside somewhere over the rainbow.

In an ever undulating culture, only the Wind of the Spirit can communicate the steadfast reality of life in the Son.

Reciting a list of God’s attributes does little for those who, having seen through the sterilized facade of our dead religion, attribute to us no relevance at all.

Is it because we do not truly know Him ourselves that we doom a generation to invent heresies which provide them with the communion and intimacy they so desperately seek?  It’s so hard to tell them about Someone we don’t really know.

Have the “Cross” and the “Blood” become mere nails we use to secure our institutions against the intruding winds of change? It’s the Cross and the Blood which are to reveal the very love and life of God, not provide a manual by which we construct impenetrable religious strongholds where we hide safe from the chaos of the world.

Aunty Em is standing on the front porch pleading for Dorothy to come back home, but Dorothy Gale has been mystified by Professor Marvel and his crystal ball.

In a world inundated with parlor tricks, only the Power of the Spirit can demonstrate the reality of an almighty God.

Repeating the sinner’s prayer does little for those who, having seen through the hypocritical veil with which we cover our own sin, pray that we simply go away.

Is it the preoccupation we have with the lust of our own flesh that will doom this generation to a hell which we ourselves will barely escape? It’s so hard to tell the world about the beauty of holiness when we’re no different than they are.

Have “Sanctification” and “Righteousness” become nothing more than pharisaical labels used to keep out those “undesirables”? It’s the Church clothed in garments of white that is to invite an on looking world to glorify God, not push them away as if we’re afraid they might get us dirty.

“Better get under cover, Sylvester. There’s a storm blowin’ up – a whopper, to speak in the vernacular of the peasantry. Poor little kid, I hope she gets home all right.”

Desire

Christian,

After you have confused Christianity with Patriotism  …

After you have forsaken preaching the gospel of Jesus for becoming a minister of the American Dream…

After you have partnered with the world and made unholy alliances which divide you from others in the Body of Christ…

After you have argued, manipulated, and fought to secure your precious rights…

After you have voted…

When it turns out just as you hoped it would and you get everything you want, will you be able to bear it when you see with your eyes what you have truly desired in your heart?

“Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

The Test of Success

“But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart.” (II Chronicles 32: 31)

We know as believers that God has promised to never leave or forsake us. I mean, his very Spirit indwells us, so we should realize he is with us always. However, I wonder if sometimes, like he did with Hezekiah, God doesn’t “leave us to ourselves” so that we might be tested, refined, and so that what is truly in our hearts might be revealed.

There are times when we are enjoying such intimate fellowship with the Lord that we feel as if we could almost reach out and touch him. Our prayer lives are kicking, and I mean we hit the hallway on our knees and slide into our prayer closet, right on up into the presence of the Lord with no problem. Everyday Holy Spirit shows us something awesome from the Bible, and we are experiencing victory after victory.

That’s how it had been for Hezekiah. He had been a good King, and had experienced God’s blessings. The Lord had healed him of a life threatening illness and his fame had spread far and wide. Then, right there in the midst of all the great things going on; a situation arose that revealed that there were still some things in Hezekiah’s heart that were not pleasing to the Lord. The thing I want you to see is that the Lord didn’t test Hezekiah during the hard times. It wasn’t during his sickness or when invading armies were threatening Israel, but rather right after he had been healed and news of the miracle had spread.

We tend to equate God’s testing and refining with suffering, valleys, and dark times; however, there are times when the Lord may use success to reveal what is in our hearts. What is in your heart when you hear people say, “Man, the Lord sure is using you.”? Are you still giving God all the glory for his presence in your life or have you come to think that somehow you deserve it all? Sometimes, in the midst of all that God does in our lives, we assume that we must have “arrived.” We forget that we are only men, who but for the grace of God are capable of the most horrendous sin. Like Hezekiah, it may be success and not hardship that reveals what is truly in our hearts. I am reminded of the words of Paul found in the book of Galatians, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”

Asleep in Babylon

Asleep in Babylon, they dream.  As the words of the Apostles and Prophets come alive around them, they dream on.

They are oblivious to the beginnings of the stirring of the beast, and the cry of, “Come out of her my people, and do not partake of her sins.” is but an echo of His voice meant for some generation long ago.

The days of the Spirit have ceased, and God no longer speaks. All that remains is to sleep, and wait for the gospel to permeate the world. It’s easy to ignore the writing on the wall when you’re convinced you know everything.

“Take the book and open the seals.”

Asleep in Babylon, they dream. Conferences and impartations, trivial pursuit is such a deadly game. They dream on.

Who is gonna reform the Reformers? Tired arguments, stale rhetoric, and doctrinal clichés doom the next generation to invent heresies. They know something is missing, but to admit what It is would blow their theology. Lullabies are plentiful in Babylon.

Institutionalized, mesmerized, idealized- It’s over guys! Yet, it’s business as usual, sleepwalking on the deck of the Titanic. There has to be some way to save all that we have built.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock.”

Asleep in Babylon, they dream. If you ignore the riders on their horses maybe they’ll just go away. They dream on.

Wholesale slaughter, a loaf of bread for a days wage, deception, war, and pestilence abound. You better not touch my Chick fil a. The world is on fire. I wonder if they have an app for that.

IPhones, ringtones, a trumpet blast, and we’ll all be gone, ‘cause you know God wouldn’t let his people suffer. Hey, our worship team just got a smoke machine. That’ll go great with the angel feathers and the glory cloud!

“I find your deeds incomplete in the sight of my God.”

Asleep in Babylon, they dream. I heard Jesus came back Saturday night. Never mind that; services start tomorrow at eleven.

Looking In the Mirror

In prayer, I began to think about some of the people in my life. There are those who are mere acquaintances, others who I know rather well, and still others who I would consider to be intimate friends. (While I most definitely haven’t retreated into some kind of monastic solitude and ceased to interact with those outside of Christ, I should point out that I am talking about brothers and sisters in the Lord). Anyhow, I was thinking about how my closest friends love the Lord and seek him just as I do, yet; we have such different thoughts concerning life and ministry. I began to ask the Lord to help me understand theses things. Honestly, I must say as of now I haven’t received any great “revelations,” but He did show me some things – about me.

Isn’t it strange that when you go to the Lord with your complaints about “every body else,” he is usually more interested in talking about you? The Spirit brought to my mind that passage in James 4 that asks, “What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?” I immediately began to ask God to expose my motives. I started thinking that maybe some of the difficulty I was having with my thoughts about others was due to my own selfish desires. I wondered if perhaps my expectations of others had become centered on my desires instead of the will of God. I thought of how strange it is that in the midst of our pursuing Jesus, we are still able to hurt each other; if not outright, in the secret place of our hearts. Something just didn’t seem right about that. I began to suspect that perhaps even my supposed selflessness was selfish, and that my love for others was shallow and disingenuous.

As I waited before the Lord, I began to ask him if I had come to cherish the act of ministry more than the people to whom I minister. Am I truly seeking to build up and equip the body of Christ, or am I in love with preaching, teaching, and singing? Am I holding on to my position out of fear that if I let go, I wont be able to “minister” as I have I have become accustomed to doing? Has my service to God become about me? Perhaps the conflict regarding ministry I sometimes sense with others is merely a result of my own selfish desires.

Pondering these things in his presence, I began to cry out for God to heal me. I thought of David’s prayer to God for a clean heart and a right spirit. I was reminded that it is the willing spirit that the joy of fellowship with God produces that yields fruitful ministry. I was brought back to the realization that knowing and loving him is what life is all about. Anything that is pleasing to the Father is produced out of our intimacy with Jesus. I don’t have the capacity within myself to truly love or sincerely minister. I need God’s Spirit to expose me, and give me discernment as to my motives, and then produce in me the heart of Jesus. Yeah, there are always going to be trials, especially when it comes to relationships (real boats rock), but honestly; I’m beginning to think that the biggest problem I have with everybody else is me.

“So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, ‘Lord, and what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!’”

Gettin’ Your Mind Right

“But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (Psalms 73:2, 3)

The guy who wrote Psalms 73 was named Asaph. He was what you might call the first worship leader. He came into leadership as David came to power as Israel’s king. We know that Asaph was the author of a number of the Psalms, as well as being a prophet, and a skilled musician. He saw Israel’s golden years under David, and then later witnessed the deterioration of the kingdom as Solomon turned from following after the Lord. Asaph was a stable leader and faithful follower of God. Yet, there came a point in his life when he became disillusioned and almost lost his way.

Asaph began to look around him, and he observed that the people who did not serve the Lord were living the “high life.” They were full of pride, always at ease, and even mocked the things of God. He noticed that they were cruel and violent, not hesitating to oppress whomever they had to in order to get what they wanted. “They boast against the very heavens, and their words strut throughout the earth. “ ‘What does God know?’ they ask. ‘Does the Most High even know what’s happening?’” What Asaph saw blew his mind, rocked his whole theology, and he was close to slipping away from his faith in God. He became envious of the wicked.

Envy is akin to coveting, but it’s a lot deeper than that. Being envious is wanting what others have, and even going so far as to desire ill will upon those of whom you are envious. Asaph desired the apparent ease and pain free life he observed that the wicked enjoyed. He also desired that they be punished. As he tried to understand these things, he began to question the value of being a follower of God at all. He wonders, “Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason? I get nothing but trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain.” Asaph became bitter inside, and this bitterness was close to destroying him.

Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever looked around you, seen the “ease” with which those who don’t serve God seem to be living, and in your heart envied them? The world is in love with sex, power, wealth, pleasure, and it’s in your face everyday. All of the TV shows, commercials and music of our culture say, “Come on man. Quit being so hard on yourself, you deserve to live a little.” We see a godless society pridefully flaunt their disdain for God, and nothing whatsoever happens to them. In fact, they are enjoying life, while you encounter trial after trial. They are without a care in the world while you seem to be carrying the world on your shoulders. If we’re not careful, we can get to a point where we say, “God, you are not fair. I serve you and get nothing but trouble. I’m done!” Ever been there? Asaph, worship leader extraordinaire was. He needed to get his mind right and he did- in worship.

“So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is. Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.” It was when he went before the Lord that he was able to get the proper perspective. As Asaph worshipped, he saw that the wicked were on a slippery path that eventually would lead them sliding over the cliff of destruction. He may have “almost slipped,” but those who reject God would slip beyond recovery. He understood that their ease and prosperity was like a dream, void of any true substance. He must have shuddered when he realized that “ In an instant they [the wicked] are destroyed, completely swept away by terrors.” Asaph also realized that he had forgotten that the Lord was his portion. He said, “I’ve been acting and thinking like an animal.” (v22)  The Lord renewed his mind and he responded by acknowledging that God was all he truly needed, the very strength of his heart. He again saw the reality that in spite of all the hardships, God was with him, guiding him, and leading him to glory. He saw that his envy of the wicked was senseless as he came to the sobering realization that all who reject God will ultimately be destroyed. It was in worship that he got his mind right and once again was able to say, “ But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.”

Are you discouraged? Do you spend more time thinking about how God ought to “stick it to those sinners” than you do worshiping Jesus? Have you become envious of how the world seems to have it so easy, while you have it so rough? Christian, you are called to share in the glory of Jesus. Remember, “… be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” Consider the words of Paul, “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?”

Don’t let envy of the world lead you into having a bitter, unbelieving heart. Come to the feet of the One who can renew your strength and get your mind right. Jesus is your portion. He is the strength of your life, and being near him is truly all you need. And, as you are renewed, you will be able to tell others of the wonderful things he has done.

Worship: A Life Laid Down (part 1)

I guess one thing we all have in common is that we tend to “compartmentalize.” I am not a psychologist (a few of my friends probably thing I need to see one though), but it’s my understanding that each of us separate thoughts and actions into “compartments” in order to cope with reality. Psychologists tell us that compartmentalization can be used as a defense mechanism, one that assists people in dealing with tragic occurrences in their lives. I’m one who would rather folks come to Jesus in situations like that, and let him actually heal and restore instead of simply tucking away the hurt, but that’s another conversation altogether. My point is that I think maybe we all do compartmentalize in one way or another, and I don’t think it’s always good. And, I think we as Christians tend to be among the chief “compartmentalizers.”

So many Christians separate their lives into compartments: this is work, this is family time, this is time with my friends, and this over here is my “God-time.” Our “worship services” are put into different compartments as well: this is worship time, this is offering time, this is prayer time, this is preaching time, and so on. Something that I have come to understand is that true worship is a life laid down. It’s the place where sacrifice and obedience meet through our trust in the Lord. There is no need for compartments-Jesus is my life. If you look into the Bible you’ll find many references of people who wanted to be religious, who kept offering up sacrifices, but whose lives were compartmentalized to the point that they did not understand that their disobedience revealed the fact that they were not true worshippers of God, that they did not truly know him.

          King Saul is a good example of someone who didn’t understand that worship is a life laid down. You may recall that Israel had wanted a king.  Saul, who the Bible describes as tall and handsome, was anointed the first King of Israel. You can see from the beginning that it appears that Saul only had a relationship with God when someone else was around (good observation Mike). The only time you see him interacting with the Lord is when he was the prophets of Gibeah, or with Samuel the prophet. In fact, if you read on in the Old Testament you’ll discover that during the reign of Saul, the Ark of the Covenant (representing God’s presence) was not sought at all. Saul never came to know the Lord.

In I Samuel 15, Saul had been commanded by God to utterly wipe out the Amalekites- I mean utterly. However, Saul decided to spare their king along with the choice livestock to “sacrifice to the Lord.” When the prophet Samuel arrived, Saul rushed out to meet him proclaiming, “I have obeyed the commandment of the Lord!” Samuel asks, “Well, what’s up with all the sheep I’m hearing?” Saul replies, “Oh, we only spared the best of the sheep and the oxen for God, but we destroyed everything else.”

Samuel then proceeds to rebuke Saul, reminding him of how God had made him king, and asking him how he could not then obey the Lord’s commands to utterly wipe out the Amalekites. Saul persists, “But I did obey the Lord. I have brought Agag the king, and destroyed everything else. Only the best part of the spoil was saved to sacrifice to the Lord.” Samuel replies,

“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 the fat of rams.

 For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.”

Rebellion is an act of usurping an authority, in this case God. Samuel said that rebellion is similar to witchcraft or divination. How’s that? Well the ultimate goal of witchcraft is to manipulate events. The sorcerer seeks to manipulate spiritual forces so that a desired result will be manifested in the physical. When Saul rebelled against God, he was taking matters into his own hands in an attempt to bring about the outcome he thought was best. He wanted to exercise authority. God had spoken, but he rejected his authority and chose his own way.

Samuel went on to say that stubbornness or insubordination is like idolatry. Say what? Well, when we rebel against God, stubbornly pushing against him, or trying to push him to do what we think is best; we are setting ourselves up as God- idolatry. (Oh, I forgot to mention the fact that just before his meeting with Samuel, Saul had set up a monument to himself in Carmel.) In his stubbornness, Saul had declared, “I am god!” His rebellion and stubbornness blinded him to the reality of his disobedience.

Okay, so how does all of this apply to us? The reason Saul, and we as well, are rebellious and insubordinate towards God is because we don’t trust him. God is working in the events of our lives (even the hard ones) to help us get to know him and thereby trust him. He wants us to listen to his voice, lay down our lives and surrender to him, not just offer up what we think he wants. As we learn to trust the Lord, our sacrifices and obedience come together in a life laid down. Saul never learned that. God used him, he won many battles and was the champion of Israel, but; he never came to trust in the Lord. God had a little compartment in Saul’s life to live in, and he only got to come out when Samuel was around. Saul only sought to manipulate God through offering up the sacrifices he thought would push God towards doing what he wanted Him to do. And in the eyes of God, this was akin to witchcraft and idolatry.

We, here in the West, consider ourselves far too civilized and advanced to worship some kind of idol made of wood or stone, instead; we have proclaimed ourselves as god. Even we who name the name of Jesus are guilty of creating a god after our own likeness and worshipping it instead of the true and living God. We have invented a god who is okay with our witchcraft and idolatry, one who winks at our rebellion and insubordination. We have turned his grace into a license to sin. Like Saul, we offer God our disobedience as a sacrifice, and cry foul when he demands our lives instead. True worship is not simply an act that we perform. True worship is born out of our trust in God. True worship is the place where our sacrifice and obedience come together, expressed in a life laid down.

To be continued… (Next, we look at Abraham.)

(By the way, Christians, we need to repent of reading horoscopes and the little magic emails that guarantees a “blessing” if you just forward it to ten people. That’s straight up witchcraft-just saying)