I think by now you realize that we at the Rock are waiting for God to move. Many would say don’t wait go and just do it. Many follow non-biblical advice by observing sayings like pray like it is all up to God and work like it is all up to you. This is terrible advice. Everything is about God not us. Yes we have been called to go but we are also told to wait for the Spirit so that we know what to do and are empowered to do it. God has a plan for us so in order to go we need to know the plan. When we are sent like in Luke 10 or Mark 16 great power follows those who believe. “20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” This only happens when the power of the Spirit is with us. You can’t fake this. If it was happening the church would look more like the gospel of Jesus Christ. Since it is not happening we have to ask why instead of like so many who just come up with new doctrines that explain away the lack of power.
Saul gives us the answer to why this power is not flowing. It really is quite simple as is the solution. The solution is total obedience. This is the answer to our problems in the church. Total obedience to God’s word is lacking. Many Christians follow the word but not quite. Almost only counts in certain games like horseshoes and tiddlywinks as one person said. I looked at the scoring for Tiddlywinks and I did not know there was a “North American Tiddlywinks Association.” I looked at the rules, which had their own language and I did not know it was so serious. The bottom line is that in both of the games, being close can get you points.
Having said this, obeying God is not a game of tiddlywinks, but a life and death decision to follow wholeheartedly. There is no close is good enough. Jesus himself said in Revelation 3:16 “So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Today I want to look at Saul and show you how “not quite” is deadly. These two examples cost Saul everything. 1 Samuel 10 “The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. 7 Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you. 8 “Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do.” 9 As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day.” He was given a direct command. Later we see the results. 1 Samuel 13:5 “The Philistines assembled to fight Israel, with three thousand chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They went up and camped at Mikmash, east of Beth Aven. 6 When the Israelites saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns. 7 Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear.” This was a test. The enemy was advancing and Saul’s troops were panicking and fleeing. So Saul decided to offer the sacrifice himself instead of waiting for Samuel to arrive. Saul did wait the seven days but not quite. Samuel arrived just as he finished making the offering. Samuel says what have you done? Saul then says, men were scattering and you did not come at the appointed time, so I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering. That was the wrong answer. Saul seemed oblivious to his disobedience. Samuel then answers 1 Samuel 13:13 “You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” Not quite does not work. Yes Saul waited the seven days but no quite. How many Christians will not wait on God. They think they are obedient but they are not because they did not wait for God to act. They decided if God is not going to act in my time frame, then I will.
The second example is found in 1 Samuel 15. Saul is told 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 all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” (Just a side note. Remember that in the New Testament we need to remove defilement, and the evil one is the enemy. For example 1 Corinthians 6 “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men –homosexual acts, 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” and 2 Timothy 3:2 “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. 6They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected.”) Saul then obeys the command but not quite. 13 When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.” Once again Saul is oblivious to his disobedience. But 14 Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?” Saul replies “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.” 19 Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?” 20 “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites 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.” Samuel then said “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying 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.”
Saul lost everything because of his disobedience to God’s word. Nothing has changed in our day. God expects us to obey completely. Not quite does not cut it and will cost greatly. Jesus commissioned us to teach obedience in Matthew 28. Jesus said in Luke 14 “whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Jesus did not mean it was okay if you partially carried it. Sometimes yes sometimes no does not work. Sometimes I am a Christian other times I am of the world. 1 John 2:15 “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. Paul says in Acts 20:27 “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” The same needs to happen today. We cannot just obey the parts of scripture we decide to. There is no such thing as not quite in Christianity. You are either hot or cold, there is no in between. When we pray do you trust God to answer or will you make it happen yourself. Many confuse their efforts with God’s. Will you wait the full seven days so God will tell us and empower us to carry out his plan?