*The Most Important Thing in Life 1 Samuel 15:1-35

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1 *The Most Important Thing in Life 1 Samuel 15:1-35 Page 1 of 9 The most important thing in life is our relationship with God. Everything else in life pales in comparison. When our relationship with God is not right, nothing else in life really works. That includes our marriage, our family, our friendships, and our work. On top of that, our eternal destination hangs in the balance. Life is too short and eternity too long to get this wrong. Having a right relationship with God and helping others to do the same should be our main focus in life. ILL One of our members, Eunice Walden, has been so concerned for her brother James relationship with God that she has been praying for him for 20 years to come to Christ and she has talked to him about Jesus when she could. This past Thursday he asked Jesus to be his Savior. It is so encouraging when you see a believer that is passionate about helping others to have a right relationship with God. How important is it to you to have a relationship with God? How important is it to you to help others have a relationship with God? Is it more important than getting my way or getting what I want? Am I willing to obey God even when it cost me? Some people try to substitute being religious in place of a right relationship with God. That is what King Saul did for most of his life. In chapter 15 of First Samuel, we see a clear example of Saul trying to substitute religion for an obedient right relationship with God. The consequences were devastating and terrible and we need to learn from Saul s bad choices and discover from God s Word how we can make good choices and have a right relationship with God.

2 Page 2 of 9 TS The first thing we need to see is *1. Disobedience brings devastating consequences. Saul was no slouch. He was not a derelict. The world would call him a success because of all his military victories. But there was something missing that was far more important. While he was a great military leader, he was a failure in the most important area of life, his relationship with God. This passage that we are about to read gives clear evidence of that fact. *Look at 1 Samuel 15:1 Samuel said to Saul, "I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord. 2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. *3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.' NIV Let s pause and think about this command of God to totally destroy the Amalekite people. It is one of the most difficult passages in the Bible for us to understand. First of all,we need to keep in mind what the Bible tells us about God s character. *Look at Deuteronomy 32:4 He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he. NIV

3 Page 3 of 9 God is a righteous and just judge and all his judgments are right. It was because of the great sin of the people of the land of Canna that God executed judgment against them. God chose the Israelites in a unique way to carry out his judgment. It was not initiated by them, but was carried out in response to a direct revelation from God through prophets of God like Samuel. This was a unique judgment of God and does not serve a precedent for genocide by any army today. We need to remember * Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:14 NIV) I think we can rest in the fact that in heaven God will take care of those innocent children who fell under his judgment because of their parent s sin; just as He did in the case of the first child of David and Bathsheba who died because of their sin. I know that doesn t answer all the questions that someone may have, but hopefully it points us in the right direction. Now back to Saul, and the clear and specific command that God gave him. With this command and others like it, Saul does his partial obedience thing. Saul had a habit of picking and choosing which of God s commands he wanted to obey. So he chooses not to kill the king and some of the cattle. *Look at 1 Samuel 15:10 Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 "I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has

4 Page 4 of 9 turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions." Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the Lord all that night. NIV Saul s disobedience broke God s heart so He sends Samuel to confront Saul. *1 Samuel 15:13 When Samuel reached him, Saul said, "The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord's instructions." The first thing that Saul does is lie, a common practice when people get caught disobeying God. It didn t work then and it doesn t work now because God sees everything. *1 Samuel 15:14 But Samuel said, "What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?" *15 Saul 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." Samuel can t stand Saul s lying and excuses or his partial obedience. *1 Samuel 15:16 "Stop!" Samuel said to Saul. "Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night." "Tell me," Saul replied. 17 Samuel said, "Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. *18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, 'Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.' 19 Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?" NIV Now that Saul has been caught in his sin, he still tries to lie, justify his sin, and blame others. *1 Samuel 15:20 "But I did obey the Lord," Saul said. "I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites

5 Page 5 of 9 and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal." NIV Samuel makes it clear that God did not want religious rituals but radical obedience. *1 Samuel 15:22 But 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. *23 For 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." NIV Choosing what parts of God s Word you will obey and ignoring the rest is as evil as idolatry and divination and it has terrible consequences. Saul never seems to grasp the concept of a living God who loved him, desired only what was best for him, watched over him, and wanted a relationship with him. So, Saul misses out on the best thing in life. Like Saul, few people today have any concept at all of a God who relates to people on a personal basis. Many want to keep their distance from God so they can keep living life their way rather than submitting to God completely. Many people practice a form of religious paganism while claiming to be Christians. It goes something like this. Do whatever you want to. Sin all you want to but just do some kind of religious penitence after you are finished. ILL This is the roots of Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. You sin all you want to then you give it all up for Lent. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. That's why the enormous party in New Orleans ends

6 Page 6 of 9 abruptly at midnight on Tuesday, with battalions of street sweepers pushing the crowds out of the French Quarter towards home. But disobedience always brings devastating consequences. *Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. NIV TS So disobedience damages our relationship with God and *2. Pride pushes God away. *Look at 1 Samuel 15:12 Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, "Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor NIV Saul had fallen prey to the lure of power and pride. He didn t consider the fact that God was the one who had blessed him with his position as king. He thought he deserved his power and his position. That is why he becomes so angry with David and felt so threatened by him. Because of his pride, he even lashed out and tried to kill David over and over again even though David loved Saul and was faithful to him all of his life. That is what pride does to you. Saul s pride left him no room in his heart for God. *Psalms 10:4 In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. NIV That may help explain why three times in this chapter, Saul uses the phrase LORD your God. He doesn t say my God or our God. You see it in verses 15, 21, & 30.

7 Do you see yourself as a self-made person or do you see everything you have accomplished and everything you have as coming from God? Page 7 of 9 Do you have an attitude of gratitude or has pride pushed God out of your heart? You and I cannot have a right relationship with God if there is pride in our heart. It leaves no room for God TS that brings us to.. *3. A heart for God changes everything. *Look at 1 Samuel 13:14 the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart NIV What does it mean to have a heart for God? This is what Jesus said. *Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30 NIV) More than anything else in the world the person that loves God wants to please Him. *Look at what Jesus said in John 14:15 "If you love me, you will obey what I command. NIV The person that loves God with all their heart doesn t pick and choose which of the commands of God he will obey. Partial obedience is still disobedience and rebellion. So he meditates on the Word of God day and night so that he may be careful to obey all of it. You may be thinking at this point; everyone sins. The Bible tells us that is true.

8 Page 8 of 9 1 John 1:8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. NIV So what is the difference between the person that has a heart for God and the one that doesn t? In one word, it s attitude. When the person that doesn t have a heart for God sins, it s no big deal to him. He acts like Saul did. He covers it up. When he is caught, he lies, he blames others, and he makes excuses. When he makes decisions, it s more important to him to do what he wants to do rather that what God s wants him to do. When the person that has a heart for God sins, he has a totally different attitude. He seeks to do what is pleasing to God in every situation and when he does sin he is heartbroken over it because he has hurt the one he loves. He confesses his sin to God, agrees with God and sees his sin as destructive and wrong. He turns away from his sin seeking to please God wholeheartedly. How do we develop a heart for God? It begins by meditating on the Scripture that tells us how much God loves us. *Paul said, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 NIV) *John said, This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10 NIV) John and Paul had a heart for God because they understood how much God loved them. When we realize how much God loves us and how much he sacrificed for us, our love for him begins to grow. That s the beginning of a real relationship with God.

9 Invitation: Page 9 of 9 *Do you have a real relationship with God? Have you asked Jesus, the one who died for all your sins, to be your Savior? Do it now! What is your attitude toward sin? What is your attitude toward obedience to God and His word? Is partial obedience good enough for you or do you want to please God more than anything? Do you love people that are far from Christ and do you do all that you can to reach them? If you love God, you will love those that Jesus died for. Do you have something you need to confess?

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