May 15

1 Samuel 15:13-15 (NIV) 13When Samuel reached him, Saul said, "The LORD bless you! I have carried out the Lord's instructions." 14But Samuel said, "What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?" 15Saul answered, "The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the LORD your God, but we totally destroyed the rest."

Saul is still blessed of God and empowered by God to defeat the enemies of Israel. He was commanded by God to destroy the Amalekites and do as Joshua did to Jericho. He knew the story of Achan. Saul has been compromising, thinking that it is not all God but that he is a pretty great guy He just built a monument to himself. And since he is so great, he can change what God has said to fit his desires.

I've heard it a number of times in the stories of fallen Christians. "You don't understand the pressure I'm under. God makes exceptions for me because of my great need. I'm in special circumstances."

Saul saw the good plunder and decided God didn't need it destroyed. Saul needed it for himself. When confronted by Samuel, Saul justified his sin. Here is the main difference between Saul and David. Both are anointed, both empowered, both successful, both disobeyed, but their reaction when confronted couldn't be anymore different. Saul justifies his sin. "My flesh isn't that bad. It makes necessary choices." David repents with a broken heart. There is the telltale evidence that a heart is either after God, or turned to self as lord.

Caution: Justifying sin ends in disaster.

May 15

Luke 15:28,31-32 (NIV) 28"The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.

31"'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'"

In answer to the religious leaders' question, "Why do spend time with sinners?", Jesus told the story of the prodigal son. He included a little illustration about the leaders' bad attitude. When the younger son returned home with a repentant attitude, the father threw a celebrations feast. The oldest son was out working the fields and could hear the commotion. When he found out it was a party for his brother, he was furious. No doubt he thought, "My brother blows a third of the family wealth having fun, and Dad throws him a feast! I can't believe it! I slave away here on the farm, scrimping and saving, so my brother can blow it all."

The father went out to try to resolve things by getting the older brother to look at the half-full glass. "You've got me, your father. You have all that is mine. We had to celebrate because your brother has turned from death to life. We lost him to his wandering desires, but now he has come to his senses. Don't remain angry with him. Rejoice in the transformation."

The religious leaders needed an attitude adjustment, a different perspective, just like the older brother needed. They were angry for the sins of the past but not rejoicing in the change that was taking place in these "sinners'" attitudes. How is your attitude toward the "sinner"? No doubt there are some of them in your life, or you may be one. This parable can help us see things from God's perspective. What is important is that they have gone from death to life, from being lost to being found. Let's share in Jesus' joy when a "sinner" comes into our fellowship and enters the family of God.

Consider: Be careful not to have an older brother attitude toward those who have seen the destructiveness of sin and now come home.