09/24/Th – Faith and Obedience

1 Samuel 15:1-35; John 7:37-53; Psalms 109:1-21; Proverbs 24:1-2

OT: “Then Samuel said: Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? Look: to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and defiance is like wickedness and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king. Saul answered Samuel, “I have sinned. I have transgressed the Lord’s command and your words. Because I was afraid of the people, I obeyed them. Now therefore, please forgive my sin and return with me so I can worship the Lord.” Samuel replied to Saul, “I will not return with you. Because you rejected the word of the Lord, the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” When Samuel turned to go, Saul grabbed the corner of his robe, and it tore. Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingship of Israel away from you today and has given it to your neighbor who is better than you. Furthermore, the Eternal One of Israel does not lie or change his mind, for he is not man who changes his mind.”” (‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭15:22-29‬ ‭CSB)

The Lord gave Saul very specific instructions through Samuel: he was to completely destroy the Amalekites as judgement for their treatment of Israel. Saul didn’t completely follow the instructions that were given, but took it upon himself to save the best of the Amalekite’s resources as spoils. When the Lord sent Samuel to confront Saul with his sin, Saul’s initial response was to make excuses and shift blame. Then he attempted to cover his mistake with “spiritual” reasoning: he saved the best of the livestock to offer as a sacrifice to the Lord. Samuel quickly corrected Saul’s faulty thinking. Far more than sacrifice, the Lord desires obedience. It was because of Adam’s and Eve’s disobedience that sacrifice was needed in the first place. Earlier, Saul’s lasting legacy was removed because of his lack of faith. Saul’s kingship was then stripped away because of his lack of obedience. The two things that prevent people from seeing God’s purposes fulfilled in their lives are a lack of faith and disobedience. Saul had enormous potential and was given every opportunity to live up to that potential, but he threw it all away through a lack of faith in God, which led to disobedience and defiance.

NT: “On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” He said this about the Spirit. Those who believed in Jesus were going to receive the Spirit, for the Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.” (‭‭John‬ ‭7:37-39‬ ‭CSB)

The Festival of Tabernacles (Sukkot) was initiated by the Lord to remind Israel of the forty years the Lord sustained them as they wandered in the wilderness. Why did they wander in the wilderness for forty years? Lack of faith and disobedience… yet still the Lord sustained them, because He is ever faithful to His word. On the last day of the festival, there was a ceremony where the priest would pour out a pitcher of water on the ground to symbolize the times that God provided water in the midst of the barren desert. It was as the priest was pouring out the water… in the midst of all that symbolism, that Jesus cried out these words: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me…” If we come to Jesus and place our faith in Him, we will be resourced with an abundant flow of living water. Even if we find ourselves in a dry and barren place, if we place our faith in Him, we will never run dry. Not only will we not run dry, but that living water that bubbles up from within us will flow out of us to quench the spiritual thirst of those around us. How does He do that? Through the gift of the Holy Spirit. To those who fully place their faith in and on Christ, He will fill them with the Holy Spirit. Complete faith, which is evidenced through complete obedience, opens the door to an endless supply of life and sustenance that is not reliant on  a conducive environment. In Christ, we can thrive anywhere, and by the Spirit, we can bring life into any situation… and it all starts with faith and obedience.

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