April 14

Luke 14:25-35

COUNT the cost so you can FINISH. Why are we considering the sacrifice? One, we count the cost so we understand the dying to self it will require. Two, we count the cost so we complete what we are called to do. As Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” He fought, AND he finished. In verse 8, Paul says there is a reward that the Lord will give him on that Day. Paul has a goal in mind.

In Philippians 3:12-16, again, Paul speaks of pressing toward a goal, the call of God in Christ. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul speaks of run in a way to get the prize, an imperishable crown. In Hebrews 12:1, the writer speaks of dropping any weights so the race can be run with endurance. God wants us to not only say yes to the work; He wants us to finish.

Galatians 5:7 in the Amplified asks about who stopped you from running your race? You started off in grace through faith, but then you got caught up in a works mentality again. You went back to rules, regulations, and performance. You had once humbled yourself, and then you got lifted up in pride and self-sufficiency again. You started to act superior to others, criticizing them, finding fault, condemning people as if you were the judge. Religious pride keeps a person from finishing their race.

Going back to Luke, builders are to count the cost of what you are building, kings are to consider count the cost of going to war with another king, and disciples of Christ are to count the cost of serving Christ. Each one of us is called to be a disciple, or a Christ follower, and that involves dying to self, turning away from sin, keeping from a religious mindset, and obeying God by being responsible with the instructions in His Word.

1 Samuel 15-16

In chapter 15, God told Saul to destroy King Agag and to “utterly destroy” all they have, or COMPLETELY destroy everyone and everything. It seems a bit extreme to mention the murder of nursing infants, women, and all the animals; however, God’s purpose through Israel was to completely wipe out this people group. The Amalekites were descendants of Esau, wicked people that God wanted to punish. God wanted no survivors and no surviving thing. He wanted to cleanse the earth of this evil.

King Saul disobeys God, spares the Amalek king, and keeps their stuff.

Rebellion against Jehovah is a serious offense. It is because of this specific sin that God rejects Saul as king and his family from the bloodline.

Samuel was so grieved that God had turned against Saul that he cried out to the Lord all night long. Then Samuel had to confront King Saul, asking him why he did not follow instruction from God?

Saul responded that he kept the goods so they could be sacrificed in worship to God. Then Samuel gives this well-known message, “It is better to obey than sacrifice.” The faith-relationship God wants with us is one of reliance to the point of action. To have that union with God, we have to lean on Him in dependency. There’s no other way to experience His life. It’s better to find sufficiency in God than to try to earn our way into relationship. Our performance, our sacrifice, will never be enough. Jesus quotes this verse to the Pharisees in Matthew 12:7, when He addresses rules verses relationship (words verses faith).

Saul’s surrender was fake, not faith.

In verse 23, Samuel says that rebellion is likened to the sin of witchcraft. Why? Because rebellion is about taking control away from true authority.

In addition, stubbornness, the refusal to submit, is like the sin of idolatry, which is self-exaltation, as if you are higher than God. Being stubborn with a leader who is following after God is wrong. Being critical of a leader who is submitted to God is self-exaltation. If a leader is accountable and has counsel, and a person under their authority tries to promote himself or herself to a position of control over that leader; it is a very controlling thing to do, not unlike the spirit of Jezebel. To put oneself in a position to condemn another Christian is to make oneself a judge, as if they are God, and it is very dangerous. Again, it is not unlike the spirit of Jezebel to become like a proud Pharisee to fault-find and condemn a brother or sister. When GOD HIMSELF sent Jesus to the world to save it, not condemn it, and a Christian decides to push the lost farther away from the Father through condemnation, it is not unlike the spirit of Jezebel.

As much as Samuel grieved over Saul and tried to be supportive of him, when God rejected Saul, Samuel had to let go of him as well. Samuel was submissive to God, no matter how much he loved Saul. He was the Lord’s servant. In verse 35, it says that Samuel mourned Saul. As pastors, there are a very few times that we have known the grieving of losing someone because of their choice to rebel. A true shepherd does not rejoice over a lost sheep.

Samuel finishes what the Lord commanded, and kills wicked King Agag, a man who was described as someone who assaulted and mutilated women so they could not bear children. He was a vile person, and God was bringing a stop to his wickedness against vulnerable people.

Stop Mourning and Start Moving
In 1 Samuel 16:1, God asks Samuel how long he was going to mourn for Saul, pointing out that he knew God had rejected Saul. God wants us to care about His kingdom and His ways over our own. When God prunes, he knows we will mourn, but out of our respect for God’s choices, we need to accept His decisions and move forward.

Fill your horn with oil and go.
As a prophet, God asked Samuel to prepare for what God wanted to do. As Christians and servants of God, we have a responsibility to be prepared for what God wants to do through us. Let’s not go out until we have first been filled up with the Spirit and anointing of God.

Following the voice of God
God told Samuel to go to the home of Jesse the Bethlehemite because the next king was among Jesse’s sons. After going through all the sons and hearing God say “no” over and over, Samuel knew there had to be another son because God had told Samuel where to go.

God said, “I will show you what you shall do; you shall anoint for Me the one I name to you.” Sometimes God gives us enough direction in order to get to the next step. It takes reliance to walk by faith. God will give us what we need when we need it. In the next step, Samuel thought the first son would be the one because he saw his stature, but the Lord said, “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” We must be careful to lean on the Lord for direction because one way may appear to be right, but may not be right. We go by what the Spirit is saying, not what we are trying to figure out.

David wasn’t in the house. There could be times in our lives when we know what God has said, but we don’t see the answer. When we don’t know, we should stick with the last thing we heard God say.

Samuel asked if there were any other sons, knowing there had to be. When David came in, the youngest son, about 15 years old, the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” From that day forward, the Spirit of the Lord would come on David. The anointing of the Lord made all the difference. When that oil flowed out, Samuel was establishing David as the next king, and as Samuel obeyed, the Spirit of God moved.

David was chosen because of his heart to lean and rely upon God. God knew David’s name. God knew where David was in those fields. He heard David worshipping him. He knew David’s faith as he leaned on the Lord for help in defeating the lion and the bear. He protected the sheep for whom he had responsibility.

As the Holy Spirit had come upon David, He departed from Saul. The Bible says a spirit from the Lord troubled Saul. The spirit leaves when David worships, causing Saul to feel refreshed and well. Either God has allowed an evil spirit to torment Saul, or God had an angel trouble Saul so David would be positioned before Saul. The people acknowledge that music would be helpful for Saul. David was called to serve Saul because someone knew David was a worshipper. There is no way this was a coincidence. God was strategically getting David into place.

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