So, it's back into the Old Testament I went this morning. I would like to have a better understanding of the ways of God's chosen people, would like to know the little stories that occur in between all of the familiar ones. So I started in 1 Samuel, which begins at the end of the period of Judges.
The Israelites still want a king, they don't want to have God as their leader, or, I think, a priest/judge whom God has called as their leader. They want more than a king, I think. They want a Royal Line. They want to know who will be coming next. They want to be like other people. (1 Samuel 8:1-5) So Samuel is kind of the last judge. It grieves him that the people keep telling him to ask God for a king, and God finally tells Samuel not to take it personally, that this is not a rejection of Samuel, but of God Himself, and to go ahead and give them a king. Warn them of all it will mean, God says, and tell them how a king will treat them. And so God appoints Saul as the first King of Israel.
There's a swearing-in of sorts for Saul, and then Samuel makes his final address to the people of Israel, where he reminds them of all the great things the LORD had done for them and their ancestors. (1 Samuel 12) He tells them God is giving them what they've asked for, but that obeying His commands still needs to be their way of life. And just to kind of add an exclamation point to it, Samuel asks God to bring rains and thunder to show them how wrong they were to ask for a king. Well, that freaks them all out. They are afraid, and crying out for their lives.
Our messages at church yesterday (for both the adults and for Lars in the junior high service) were about living a God-centered life. About what we need to do to tap into the supernatural power of God, have access to it daily. And for Lars, it was about what it looks like to be a lukewarm Christian, and how displeasing that it to Christ. I want to be God-centered. All the time, everyday, all day. Until I get distracted by, well, it can be anything. And then I get discouraged.
I think God drew me to the following passage this morning, as an encouragement:
"Don’t be afraid,” Samuel reassured them. “You have certainly done wrong, but make sure now that you worship the Lord with all your heart, and don’t turn your back on him. Don’t go back to worshiping worthless idols that cannot help or rescue you—they are totally useless! The Lord will not abandon his people, because that would dishonor his great name. For it has pleased the Lord to make you his very own people.
“As for me, I will certainly not sin against the Lord by ending my prayers for you. And I will continue to teach you what is good and right. But be sure to fear the Lord and faithfully serve him. Think of all the wonderful things he has done for you. But if you continue to sin, you and your king will be swept away.”
So, yes, I will not always get it right. I will need to adjust my focus, and readjust it. I will ask for the wrong things. God says to keep on keeping on. Love Him and obey Him with everything I've got. It pleases Him to call us His children. And the real key to keeping on? Thinking of all the wonderful things He has done for us.