May 16

1 Samuel 15:22-23 (NIV) 22But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 23For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king."

After Samuel told Saul the words from God, Saul still justified himself and tried to shift the blame onto his men. He added that they wanted to sacrifice the animals to God. Caught in the act, yet he makes it increasingly worse with lies and pointing the finger at others.

Finally Samuel cuts to the chase. He is not going to let this man of God condemn himself anymore by the lies coming from his mouth. Obedience is what God desires, not sacrifices. God will provide the ultimate sacrifice that will please Him, but He does not delight in the blood of bulls and goats. It is an obedient heart surrendered to Him that pleases Him. Saul had gone from the humble man who didn't think he could do the job, to a cocky liar that defends his rebellion, even blaming those he leads to save his own skin.

God is not after our sacrifices either. He is after a heart surrendered to Him in humility. We often look for some way to please God with service or sacrifice, when God is just looking for a humble obedient heart. The work the Spirit guides us to is rarely some great sacrifice, but often many little ones. Say a word here, lend a hand there, or give a hug or an encouragement at God's direction. We often don't realize when we are being obedient in a way that is pleasing the heart of God. That is true humility.

Meditation: A new creation in Christ will find it natural to obey, but even a new creation can harden his or her heart.

May 16

Luke 16:14-16 (NIV) 14The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15He said to them, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight. 16"The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.

Jesus was teaching about using money for the Kingdom of God and not letting it conquer your heart. The Pharisees were upset with this because they loved money. Archeological evidence indicates these religious leaders were very well off. They associated wealth with the blessing of God on their lives. This passage tells us it was more than that in their hearts. They were in love with money.

What's wrong with loving money? It's not what God loves. We should be aligning our hearts with His true heart. Natural man is inclined to love the things that God detests. What we drool over, God is disgusted with. Claiming that money was the blessing of God was merely a justification for rebelling against God. It was a way to enhance their respect in the eyes of men while continuing to do what their wicked hearts desired. It is just as prevalent today.

Then Jesus declared a turning point in history. The Law and the prophets were the word of God to man up through John the Baptist. John was the last of the prophets. Since John died, the Kingdom of God is preached. The Kingdom is about coming under the rule of the King. The King was speaking to them, but they were choosing to remain king of their own lives. Have you come under the rule of the King or does money or some other desire still reign over you? In the verse just prior to these, Jesus said, "You cannot serve God and money." What do you serve? There is only One worth serving. We will all serve something or someone. Jesus is the King that loves His subjects enough to die for them. The Kingdom of God is being preached.

Consider: Are you laying hold of the Kingdom with all your might?