Dare to Obey

1 Samuel 12:6-15

6Then Samuel said to the people, “It is the Lord who appointed Moses and Aaron and brought your ancestors up out of Egypt. 7Now then, stand here, because I am going to confront you with evidence before the Lord as to all the righteous acts performed by the Lord for you and your ancestors. 8“After Jacob entered Egypt, they cried to the Lord for help, and the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your ancestors out of Egypt and settled them in this place.

9“But they forgot the Lord their God; so he sold them into the hand of Sisera, the commander of the army of Hazor, and into the hands of the Philistines and the king of Moab, who fought against them. 10They cried out to the Lord and said, ‘We have sinned; we have forsaken the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths. But now deliver us from the hands of our enemies, and we will serve you.’ 11Then the Lord sent Jerub-Baal, Barak, Jephthah and Samuel, and he delivered you from the hands of your enemies all around you, so that you lived in safety.

12“But when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites was moving against you, you said to me, ‘No, we want a king to rule over us’—even though the Lord your God was your king. 13Now here is the king you have chosen, the one you asked for; see, the Lord has set a king over you. 14If you fear the Lord and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the Lord your God—good! 15But if you do not obey the Lord, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will be against you, as it was against your ancestors.

Heater

Last week, the Heater at the office area stopped. Kuya Max called Ernie. Ernie came and checked the Heater on the roof. The Heater was restored but the next day it stopped again. Kuya Max contacted a Heating company and agreed to check the Heater on the following week. On weekend, the Heater was working again. So, Kuya Max cancelled the Heater service appointment. But, when I came to the office on Monday, the Heater was not functioning again.

Somehow, when the Heater fluctuates, it affects us. It can possibly affect communications like when we make appointment with Heating Companies then cancel it. If the Heater is consistent, it avoids undesirable miscommunication with Heating Companies, right? Of course, it is much desirable when the Heater is consistently working and not fluctuating, especially during winter.

Similarly, the Israelites have been fluctuating in their relationship with the Lord. They were not very consistent in trusting the Lord as their God. When their life became normal, and they prospered, they disregarded the Lord. The Lord would send invaders or calamities, and the Israelites cried out to Him for help.

1. Cry

8“After Jacob entered Egypt, they cried to the Lord for help, and the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your ancestors out of Egypt and settled them in this place. 9“But they forgot the Lord their God; so he sold them into the hand of Sisera, the commander of the army of Hazor, and into the hands of the Philistines and the king of Moab, who fought against them.

It’s when they cried for help that prompted the Lord to bring the Israelites out of the Egyptian slavery. Why did the Lord wait for the Israelites to cry for help before He sent Moses and Aaron to bring them out of Egypt? Why wait for cries?

When Moses was 40 years old, he has already sensed that the Lord called him to lead the Israelites out of the Egyptian slavery, really? Actually, he killed an Egyptian who maltreated an Israelite. But, instead of recognizing that as an act of help, the Israelites thought that Moses would also do to them what he did to the Egyptian. Truly, their life was tough but did not expect Moses to help them.

Anyway, they entered the Promised Land, and they disregarded the Lord when they occupied their inheritance. They have forgotten the Lord. So, the Lord caused invaders to harass the Israelites so that they cried for the Lord’s help.

10They cried out to the Lord and said, ‘We have sinned; we have forsaken the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths. But now deliver us from the hands of our enemies, and we will serve you.’ 11Then the Lord sent Jerub-Baal, Barak, Jephthah and Samuel, and he delivered you from the hands of your enemies all around you, so that you lived in safety.

Their trust in God fluctuated.  Samuel led the Israelites and confirmed Saul as king of Israel. After that, Samuel gave his farewell speech and reminded the Israelites not to forget the Lord. He narrated to them how their ancestors suffered in the hands of their enemies whenever they forget the Lord. He also told them that the Lord was ready to help them whenever they cried out to Him.

A pattern of behavior of the Israelites toward the Lord has been recorded in Judges 2:18-19, 18Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. 19But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.

It is not necessarily invasion or battle of nations against nations but we can also easily observe a similar pattern of behavior among Christians, even in our generation. We claim to have Christ as our Lord and want to serve Him as Lord.

But if we seriously evaluate our lifestyle, our relationship with Christ as our Lord does not reflect the real essence of Lord and servant relationship.

When the Lord Jesus appeared to the Apostles after He resurrected, Apostle Thomas declared in John 20:28, “My Lord and my God!”

The term translated in English as “Lord” is properly interpreted as a person exercising absolute ownership rights. It denotes an owner or master exercising full rights, supremacy, supreme in authority, controller.

The term translated in English as “God” is properly interpreted as the Creator and owner of all things. It refers to the Supreme Being who owns and sustains all things, the supreme Divinity or godly.

Apostle Thomas understood intellectually and acknowledged that Christ had full authority over his life as his Creator. We may fluctuate in our trust in the Lord Jesus but He is very much willing to help us. He said in John 14:26, But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

The Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit reminds us that we need the help of our Lord Jesus Christ in everything we do to live a godly life. Our challenge is: Are we willing to let Christ be the Supreme and absolute authority over our life?

2. Challenge

13Now here is the king you have chosen, the one you asked for; see, the Lord has set a king over you. 14If you fear the Lord and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the Lord your God—good! 15But if you do not obey the Lord, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will be against you, as it was against your ancestors.

Samuel offered a challenge for the Israelites and their king to decide for themselves. He told them that it is for their own good to obey and serve the Lord. If they decide to do otherwise, Samuel had warned them that they would surely experience similar troubles that their rebellious ancestor had encountered.

The Lord is love. We understand that intellectually. He does what’s best for us. We believe that also. He also does not hesitate to discipline us if we turn the other way. He would redirect our steps for us to follow the path of going back to Him. But many times, we resist the Lord just like in the first century Christianity.

Stephen

One of the first deacons in the church of Jerusalem was Stephen. He was full of the Holy Spirit. When he was brought before the Sanhedrin, he testified and declared in Acts 7:51-54, 51“You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!  52Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him—53you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.” 54When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 

Similar situation happens in this generation. Listeners are furious, react and resist anything that would touch their favorite sin. Many preachers these days would rather prepare motivational speech rather than preach against sin, why? They don’t want to be accused of using the pulpit to attack individuals.

Do preachers intentionally use sermons to attack sins of anybody?

It says in James 3:1, Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

Godly preachers and teachers won’t ignore such strict judgment for them. When we hear malicious things that may provoke us to react negatively, our attitude reveal our trust in Christ. We can learn from King David how to trust God.

When King David was escaping from his son Absalom, a Benjamite from the clan of King Saul named Shimei threw dirt and stone at David. David’s officials were about to kill Shimei but he told them in 2 Samuel 16:9-12, 10If he is cursing because the Lord said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?’” 11David then said to Abishai and all his officials, “My son, my own flesh and blood, is trying to kill me. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. 12It may be that the Lord will look upon my misery and restore to me his covenant blessing instead of his curse today.”

Revenge is a natural human reaction toward animosities. We want to hit back those who hit us. But, we can view undesirable events as God’s way to discipline us if we’re filled with the Spirit of Christ. And, we want to grow in our relationship with Christ as our Lord, then, we dare to obey Him and be blessed.

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