This morning I was lead back to 1 Samuel 12. This chapter tells of Saul’s coronation. The focus is not on Saul, but on God’s relationship with His chosen people. Up to now, the people had heard Samuel tell them they have rejected God by demanding a king, but for the most part, Samuel’s words fell on deaf ears. Now, since he had them all gathered together for the coronation, he had a captive audience and not only told them, but showed them a miraculous demonstration of God’s power. After this, Israel confessed their sin:
1 Samuel 12:19
And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of asking a king for ourselves.”
Finally, Israel sees the error of their ways and offers a confession. It is a shame it took a miracle, a demonstration of God’s power, to get them to this point. Wait, maybe I should re-phrase that. Finally, I see the error of MY ways and offer a confession. It is a shame it, too often, takes a knock over MY head to see the error of MY ways and offer a confession before my Lord, my Heavenly Father. When we confess, God has the chance to demonstrate His amazing grace in an even bigger way than it took to get us to the point of confession. There is also a condition that must be followed. The condition is that we serve the Lord with all our heart. Look at Samuel’s response to Israel’s confession.
1 Samuel 12:20-24
20 Then Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. 21 And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. 22 For the Lord will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you His people. 23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way. 24 Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. 25 But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”
Look at God’s grace. He never says, “get yourself cleaned up, then come see me.” His response is always, “Come, just as you are. We’ll work on it together from here.” But, you can’t stop there. He also insists that we turn from our wickedness (repent). He can’t clean us up if we keep covering ourselves in muck. Does He want us to repent for His sake? Yes! Does He want us to repent for our sake? Yes! He created us to be in communion with Him and we can never be complete without His communion. If we fail to repent, is His Glory diminished in any way? Of course not. If we repent and He is able to make us new creatures in Him, is His glory increased? Not in His Being as God. On the other hand, His glory in us is manifested through His grace and His glory in us is increased.
I am blown away by God’s love in this passage. While He says He will not abandon us for His name’s sake, his primary reason for encouraging us to serve Him with all our heart is so that we will not chase after other things to fill our lives that bring neither profit nor deliverance to us. (In fact, they do the opposite.. They come at a cost and bring bondage.) Again, verse 21 says this:
1 Samuel 12:21
And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing.
How do we serve God with all our heart? One of my answers is (I tell my youth in Ground Zero this) to practice the presence of God in everything we do, with every breath we take. If we are always aware that he is present with us ALWAYS, how can we help but serve him with all we have and are. Yes, it is difficult. That is why I say, PRACTICE His presence. He is always here. He never leaves, nor forsakes us. And if He never leaves, nor forsakes us, it us us who need to realize His position. The more we practice His presence, the more we will realize His work in our lives. And the more we realize His work in our lives, our heart (strength, mind, and soul) cannot help but love and serve completely.
Adonai, You are holy, God, worthy of all that we have to give, completely. Thank You for your patient love that continually says, “I will not forsake you for My name’s sake.”. Thank You for demanding that we repent so You can cleanse us through the blood of Jesus and Your glory can shine in us. Lord, help us see Your manifest presence in our lives so we can know your presence and love and serve You with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
In Jesus Name.