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Today’s slice of the bread of life, the Word of God, is from 1 Samuel 15:22:
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.
The title of today’s message is Hope in a Coming Storm. But first: in our daily walk with God, we’re becoming painfully aware of how often we use our own definitions instead of God’s. For instance, is our understanding of obedience the same as His? Do we carry out God’s commands as given, or do we modify his word to suit our preferences?
King Saul blatantly disobeyed God’s instructions, then told Samuel the priest, “I have performed the commandment of the Lord”(1 Samuel 15:13). When Samuel challenged him, Saul declared his innocence (v.20). God saw it differently, and removed Saul from the throne of Israel because of his willful disobedience (v.23).
When we identify ourselves as a citizen of God’s kingdom, we must follow his definitions without tailoring them to suit our own ideas – that’s obedience.
Listen to a poem by Anonymous, who, it seems, has written many poems:
Let your days be mine to order; where I lead, obedient be. Let your own desires be nothing; only seek to follow me.
In other words, true obedience is on God’s terms, not ours. Why am I addressing a coming storm this morning? Because I believe right now we are experiencing the calm prior to the greatest storm America has ever witnessed! We as a Christian nation are too lax.
A number of years ago, the U.S. Secret Service observed that a high-ranking government official was the “least protected” of the cabinet members. So, four glass security doors were installed in the official’s office, at the cost of $58,000. They were in addition to a pair of huge, thick wooden doors that were impossible to break down. Later, when the person who monitors spending checked the results, he noted that the new security doors were “always open and unguarded,” so their security value was zero! So have the church doors been left open.
We have enjoyed many years of peace and prosperity at God’s hand. Friends, God has judged past societies for lesser sins than America has committed. Let’s examine:
- killing of children by abortion
- 5o million smoking pot, and more on crack cocaine
- teenage crime is the highest in the free world
- we spend more money on dog food than on foreign missions
- glorification of homosexuality and lesbianism
- entertainment industry flaunting sex to sell products
- kicking God out of our schools
- highest rate of illegitimate pregnancies
- robbing our youth of moral standards
- taking His name out of the country’s pledge of allegiance
God destroyed Noah’s generation, as well as Sodom and Gomorrah, for less than these sins. Also, think about this: Jesus’s day was very similar to ours – peace, calm, prosperity ruled the day. Yet Jesus described them as a generation of vipers, priests who robbed widows, scoffers, blasphemers, adulterers, child offenders, a corrupt church of money changers, false accusers, hypocrites fornicators, and corrupt children. And, He warned, you’re about to be surrounded by enemy armies. Now, prepare your hearts – because there is a storm coming! Did this prophecy come about? Did the Israelites not make bricks of mud and straw as slaves for the Egyptians…