Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Consequences’

Obedience

Then came the word of the Lord unto Samuel, saying,

It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night.

And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.

And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord.

And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?

And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.

Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the Lord hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on.

And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel?

And the Lord sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.

Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the Lord?

And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.

But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in Gilgal.

And Samuel said, Hath 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 hearken than the fat of rams.

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king. ~~ 1 Samuel 15:10-23 (KJV)

We get a fearful lesson in today’s reading. Saul was chosen by the Lord to be king of Israel. But Saul got carried away by his successes and decided that he knew better than God what he should do.

Saul’s disobedience grieved the Lord, and the consequence for that disobedience was the Lord’s rejection of Saul as king. When we reject the Lord, He withdraws His favor and leaves us to our own devices.

Every action carries within itself the seed of its own reward or punishment. No good parent stands between a child and the consequences of his own actions. Our God is a good and loving Father. He allows us to learn from our mistakes. But experience is an expensive teacher.

Saul could have avoided the negative consequences had he simply been obedient to the Lord.

“To obey is better than sacrifice.” Mark it well in 1 Samuel 15:22.

When we know what to do and refuse to do it, we sin. Sin separates us from God. Not a good place to be.

Father, God,

Give us ears tuned to hear You. Make our hearts ready to obey. Keep us from the sins of arrogance and disobedience.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

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The Power of the Tongue

Today’s reading is all about speech, appropriate speech and inappropriate speech. The tongue is a small member of the body, but it has great power.

My son, if your heart is wise,
then my heart will be glad,
my inmost being will rejoice
when your lips speak what is right.  ~~  Proverbs 18:20 (NIV)

Your lips can speak foolishness bringing all kinds of adverse consequences. If you speak wickedness many ills can befall you including the destruction of the city.

Flattery, slander, gossip, hurtful talk, quarreling, lying, all are condemned in today’s reading. How many of us have said something in the heat of a moment that we wished we could “un-say.”

It doesn’t happen. Once a word is spoken and heard, it is forever in the memory of the hearer.

In today’s world, our words have become filled with poison of all kinds. Then the words escalate to violence. And it all comes from venom in the heart.

The closing verse for today says:

The tongue has the power of life and death,
and those who love it will eat its fruit.  ~~  Proverbs 18:21  (NIV)

My grandmother used to say: “Let your words be sweet and tender; you never know when you may have to eat them.”

Father, God,

Grant us the wisdom to speak only those things which are healing, uplifting, beautiful, profitable, honorable, and reverent. Help us to tame the wild tongue.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen

The Fool

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.

God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.

Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread: they have not called upon God.

There were they in great fear, where no fear was: for God hath scattered the bones of him that encampeth against thee: thou hast put them to shame, because God hath despised them.

Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! When God bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad. ~~  Psalm 53 (KJV)

“There is no God.” These are the words of the fool.

But we seem to have a whole society of fools. People run after wealth and possessions and power. We live as if God did not exist. We flout His laws and do abominable things.

When the consequences of our sins are upon us, we whine “why me?” We never stop to think that every action carries within itself the seed of its own reward or punishment.

Because God is a faithful parent, He never stands between a child and the consequences of his own actions. Children learn safe paths and acceptable behavior by the natural process of actions and consequences.

Of course, if we see a child on the highway in the middle of traffic, we pull him out. But we also admonish him about the dangers of playing in traffic. And he may lose a privilege as a consequence of his disobedience.

God has warned us about the consequences of actions. He has given us specific directions about what is and is not acceptable in His sight. We cannot sow the wind and not reap the whirlwind.

Just like any faithful parent, God grieves over those who go astray. Let us resolve never to grieve God.

Father, God,

You have given us an illuminated path to follow. Keep us faithful to your laws and let us not stray from the path you have given us. Help us not to grieve You.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen

First published on Garment of Praise on May 7, 2009.

Peace?

And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the Lord, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord God! for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face.
And the Lord said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.
Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovahshalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.  ~~ Judges 6:22-24 (KJV)

Shalom – Peace – a thing to be greatly desired.  We live in world which is much in need of peace. We see riots and violence all around us.  Clenched fists and raised voices punctuate many public gatherings. Terrorists plot destruction at random. Anger and dissension seem to rule our public conversations. Where is our peace?

Look at Gideon. He was living essentially in hiding. When the angel of the Lord came to him, he was threshing wheat under the cover of the wine press to hide it from the Midianites. His father had even built an altar to Baal, the god of the Midianites. Talk about appeasement and living in fear!

But Gideon saw the angel of the Lord face to face and was given peace.

We, too, can see the Lord’s peace in the midst of adversity. When you know who God really is, when you have done all you have been instructed to make a situation right, you can safely leave it in God’s hands and quit worrying about it.

If we look further at Gideon’s story, we notice what appear to be contradictions. Gideon is threshing wheat in hiding because of his fear of the Midianites. But the angel of the Lord addresses him as “Mighty Man of Valor.”

Going even further, as Gideon sets out to do battle with the Midianites under the Lord’s orders, God reduces his army strength from 23,000 to 300. What! You are going out to do battle and send the bulk of your army home. What kind of strategy is this?

It is the same strategy with which David slew Goliath:

And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands. ~~ I Samuel 17:47 (KJV)

If you are marching under the Lord’s orders, you are responsible only for your own obedience. The results of that battle are left to the Lord. He is in charge.

Father, God,

Help us to understand our limitations. Grant that we may see Your power through the lens of our weaknesses. Give us the peace to rest in you, even when things seem all wrong.

In Jesus’ most precious name,

Amen.

Making Things Right

Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord.
Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord.
And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.
And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord.
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness. ~~ Jeremiah 23:1-6

Reading this passage, I am struck by its similarity to our times.  We have preachers and teachers who dilute the scriptures and preach a social gospel which is not the word of God. Many of our traditional congregations are dwindling because our church leaders want to be popular in order to garner the gifts of the congregation.

Other congregations are springing up – some of which are true to the Word and others are true to the quest for money.

When we water down the words of God, we are feeding the flock plastic Easter grass, not the nourishing fresh green shoots of a verdant pasture. The Lord promises to let us reap the consequences of our actions. “…behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord.

There are multiple adages that echo this truth. “What goes around comes around.” “You reap what you sow, more than you sow, and later than you sow.” “Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.” “Every action carries within itself the seed of its own reward or punishment.”

We know this truth, but we behave as if it weren’t so.

Do not despair. God has promised a faithful remnant. We may have to endure many faithless shepherds and dedicated charlatans, but there is a Redeemer.  We know Him as Jesus Christ. We just celebrated His victory over death and destruction. We have the benefit of the Paraclete that He has sent to dwell with us personally.

If we listen to the whispers of that Comforter, examine everything in the light of God’s word, and obey His directions from the Scriptures, we can be sure that we are in God’s will, doing His work, and reaping His rewards for the faithful.

The word “righteousness” as used in our text for today carries the meanings of justice, virtue and prosperity. Can we be surprised that justice and virtue lead to prosperity?  I think not.

God is clear in His directions. In His world there are no shades of gray. It’s yes or no, right or wrong. Our choice is also clear. But it is our choice to make. Will we be part of His faithful remnant?

Father, God,

Even as You give us clear choices, help us to make the right decisions. We would hear Your voice only. Grant that we may filter out the din and cacophony of this world and enter into your quiet place where we can hear Your words distinctly.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen

Back to the Basic

We have heard it with our ears, O God;
    our ancestors have told us
what you did in their days,
    in days long ago.
With your hand you drove out the nations
    and planted our ancestors;
you crushed the peoples
    and made our ancestors flourish.
It was not by their sword that they won the land,
    nor did their arm bring them victory;
it was your right hand, your arm,
    and the light of your face, for you loved them.
You are my King and my God,
    who decrees victories for Jacob.
Through you we push back our enemies;
    through your name we trample our foes.
I put no trust in my bow,
    my sword does not bring me victory;
but you give us victory over our enemies,
    you put our adversaries to shame.
In God we make our boast all day long,
    and we will praise your name forever.
But now you have rejected and humbled us;
    you no longer go out with our armies.
You made us retreat before the enemy,
    and our adversaries have plundered us.
You gave us up to be devoured like sheep
    and have scattered us among the nations.
You sold your people for a pittance,
    gaining nothing from their sale.
You have made us a reproach to our neighbors,
    the scorn and derision of those around us.
You have made us a byword among the nations;
    the peoples shake their heads at us.
I live in disgrace all day long,
    and my face is covered with shame
at the taunts of those who reproach and revile me,
    because of the enemy, who is bent on revenge.
All this came upon us,
    though we had not forgotten you;
    we had not been false to your covenant.
Our hearts had not turned back;
    our feet had not strayed from your path.
But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals;
    you covered us over with deep darkness.
If we had forgotten the name of our God
    or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
would not God have discovered it,
    since he knows the secrets of the heart?
Yet for your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.
Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep?
    Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.
Why do you hide your face
    and forget our misery and oppression?
We are brought down to the dust;
    our bodies cling to the ground.
Rise up and help us;
    rescue us because of your unfailing love.

Psalm 44 (NIV)

“Rise up and help us; rescue us because of your unfailing love.”

The hand of the Lord reaches to His people because of His love, not because of anything we have or have not done. There is none pure enough to stand righteous in the face of God on his own merits.

We are a weak and sinful creation. Left to our own devices, we fall into sin and wantonness. We tend to follow the lust of the flesh rather than the love of God. We satisfy our immediate appetites regardless of the consequences. We behave as if there were no consequences.

This psalm should be our prayer for our nation today. Look at all the things we’ve done.

We’ve allowed prayer to be stripped from our schools.

We have gagged the word of God and removed symbols of our faith from public lands.

We’ve misconstrued our own Constitution and the amendments thereto, twisting them to read that not only can government not interfere with religion (which was the original intent), but religion can have no say in government (which was not true even when the constitution was written).

The Declaration of Independence refers to a Supreme Being three times. Look for these three phrases: “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” – “endowed by their Creator” – “the Supreme Judge of the world.”

The foundation of our freedoms lies in our understanding of God and His moral laws. Having flouted those laws and turned our backs on the Author of those laws, we are now reaping the consequences of His disfavor.

Father, God,

Remember our beginnings. In Your unfailing love, draw our nation back to Yourself. Restore us to the values of our roots and cleanse us from our iniquities.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

This was first posted 26 February 2012.

Thank you for your indulgence.

Obedience Is Better

10 Then came the word of the Lord unto Samuel, saying,

11 It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night.

12 And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.

13 And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord.

14 And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?

15 And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.

16 Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the Lord hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on.

17 And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel?

18 And the Lord sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.

19 Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the Lord?

20 And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.

21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in Gilgal.

22 And Samuel said, Hath 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 hearken than the fat of rams.

23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

1 Samuel 15:10-23

We get a fearful lesson in this reading. Saul was chosen by the Lord to be king of Israel. But Saul got carried away by his successes and decided that he knew better than God what he should do.

Saul’s disobedience grieved the Lord, and the consequence for that disobedience was the Lord’s rejection of Saul as king. When we reject the Lord, He withdraws His favor and leaves us to our own devices.

Every action carries within itself the seed of its own reward or punishment. No good parent stands between a child and the consequences of his own actions. Our God is a good and loving Father. He allows us to learn from our mistakes. But experience is an expensive teacher.

Saul could have avoided the negative consequences had he simply been obedient to the Lord.

“To obey is better than sacrifice.” Mark it well in 1 Samuel 15:22.

When we know what to do and refuse to do it, we sin. Sin separates us from God. Not a good place to be.

Father, God,

Give us ears tuned to hear You. Make our hearts ready to obey. Keep us from the sins of arrogance and disobedience.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

First published 30 March 2009.

Thank you for your indulgence.