God’s Ordained Authority

  • November 13, 2019
Wednesday 13

1 Samuel 15:1-23

God has our best interests in mind. His plans for each believer are meant to bring fullness of life. Yet He didn’t create us to be robots, programmed to blindly follow Him. No, the Lord grants us the choice of whether to obey Him. Our human nature tends to choose a self-centered path that turns away from God’s authority. But in doing so, we miss His best for us.

Consider the life of Saul. God chose this man to be king and provided guidelines for him to follow. Though Saul knew the Lord’s instructions, he chose to do things his own way. At times his sin was unquestionably deliberate, such as his attempt to kill David out of jealousy. At other times, however, his rebellion seemed less clear-cut. For example, despite God’s order to “utterly destroy” the Amalekites and their animals, Saul spared the best of the herd, with the justification that he intended “to sacrifice [them] to the Lord” (1 Sam. 15:3, 15:21).

The choice to disobey cost Saul the throne and eventually led to his destruction. He chose the road that he thought was best, but as we know now, the end result wasn’t worth it. We can learn from his mistakes. Partial obedience is actually disobedience. And any disobedience falls in the category of rebellion, which is sin.

Though our circumstances are different from Saul’s, we face the same types of choices each day. We’re just as vulnerable to the lure of temptation. But if we choose to live God’s way, the Holy Spirit will help us follow His lead and listen for His voice. And there we will find fullness of life.

Bible in One Year: Acts 10-11

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1 Then Samuel said to Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint you as king over His people, over Israel; now therefore, listen to the words of the LORD.

2 Thus says the LORD of hosts, `I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he set himself against him on the way while he was coming up from Egypt.

3 Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.'"

4 Then Saul summoned the people and numbered them in Telaim, 200,000 foot soldiers and 10,000 men of Judah.

5 Saul came to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the valley.

6 Saul said to the Kenites, Go, depart, go down from among the Amalekites, so that I do not destroy you with them; for you showed kindness to all the sons of Israel when they came up from Egypt." So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites.

7 So Saul defeated the Amalekites, from Havilah as you go to Shur, which is east of Egypt.

8 He captured Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.

9 But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were not willing to destroy them utterly; but everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.

10 Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel, saying,

11 I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following Me and has not carried out My commands." And Samuel was distressed and cried out to the LORD all night.

12 Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul; and it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself, then turned and proceeded on down to Gilgal."

13 Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, Blessed are you of the LORD! I have carried out the command of the LORD."

14 But Samuel said, What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?"

15 Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen, to sacrifice to the LORD your God; but the rest we have utterly destroyed."

16 Then Samuel said to Saul, Wait, and let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night." And he said to him, Speak!"

17 Samuel said, Is it not true, though you were little in your own eyes, you were made the head of the tribes of Israel? And the LORD anointed you king over Israel,

18 and the LORD sent you on a mission, and said, `Go and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are exterminated.'

19 Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD, but rushed upon the spoil and did what was evil in the sight of the LORD?"

20 Then Saul said to Samuel, I did obey the voice of the LORD, and went on the mission on which the LORD sent me, and have brought back Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.

21 But the people took some of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the choicest of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the LORD your God at Gilgal."

22 Samuel said, Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.

23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king."

3 Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.'"

21 But the people took some of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the choicest of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the LORD your God at Gilgal."

1 Now there was a man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort,

2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually.

3 About the ninth hour of the day he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had just come in and said to him, Cornelius!"

4 And fixing his gaze on him and being much alarmed, he said, What is it, Lord?" And he said to him, Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God.

5 Now dispatch some men to Joppa and send for a man named Simon, who is also called Peter;

6 he is staying with a tanner named Simon, whose house is by the sea."

7 When the angel who was speaking to him had left, he summoned two of his servants and a devout soldier of those who were his personal attendants,

8 and after he had explained everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.

9 On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray.

10 But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance;

11 and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground,

12 and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air.

13 A voice came to him, Get up, Peter, kill and eat!"

14 But Peter said, By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean."

15 Again a voice came to him a second time, What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy."

16 This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky.

17 Now while Peter was greatly perplexed in mind as to what the vision which he had seen might be, behold, the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions for Simon's house, appeared at the gate;

18 and calling out, they were asking whether Simon, who was also called Peter, was staying there.

19 While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, Behold, three men are looking for you.

20 But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself."

21 Peter went down to the men and said, Behold, I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for which you have come?"

22 They said, Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well spoken of by the entire nation of the Jews, was divinely directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and hear a message from you."

23 So he invited them in and gave them lodging. And on the next day he got up and went away with them, and some of the brethren from Joppa accompanied him.

24 On the following day he entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends.

25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him.

26 But Peter raised him up, saying, Stand up; I too am just a man."

27 As he talked with him, he entered and found many people assembled.

28 And he said to them, You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.

29 That is why I came without even raising any objection when I was sent for. So I ask for what reason you have sent for me."

30 Cornelius said, Four days ago to this hour, I was praying in my house during the ninth hour; and behold, a man stood before me in shining garments,

31 and he said, `Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God.

32 Therefore send to Joppa and invite Simon, who is also called Peter, to come to you; he is staying at the house of Simon the tanner by the sea.'

33 So I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. Now then, we are all here present before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord."

34 Opening his mouth, Peter said: I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,

35 but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.

36 The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)--

37 you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed.

38 You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

39 We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross.

40 God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible,

41 not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.

42 And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead.

43 Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins."

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message.

45 All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.

46 For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered,

47 Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?"

48 And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days.

1 Now the apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.

2 And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those who were circumcised took issue with him,

3 saying, You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them."

4 But Peter began speaking and proceeded to explain to them in orderly sequence, saying,

5 I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, an object coming down like a great sheet lowered by four corners from the sky; and it came right down to me,

6 and when I had fixed my gaze on it and was observing it I saw the four-footed animals of the earth and the wild beasts and the crawling creatures and the birds of the air.

7 I also heard a voice saying to me, `Get up, Peter; kill and eat.'

8 But I said, `By no means, Lord, for nothing unholy or unclean has ever entered my mouth.'

9 But a voice from heaven answered a second time, `What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.'

10 This happened three times, and everything was drawn back up into the sky.

11 And behold, at that moment three men appeared at the house in which we were staying, having been sent to me from Caesarea.

12 The Spirit told me to go with them without misgivings. These six brethren also went with me and we entered the man's house.

13 And he reported to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, and saying, `Send to Joppa and have Simon, who is also called Peter, brought here;

14 and he will speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household.'

15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning.

16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, `John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'

17 Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way?"

18 When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life."

19 So then those who were scattered because of the persecution that occurred in connection with Stephen made their way to Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews alone.

20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus.

21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord.

22 The news about them reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch.

23 Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord;

24 for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord.

25 And he left for Tarsus to look for Saul;

26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

27 Now at this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch.

28 One of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius.

29 And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren living in Judea.

30 And this they did, sending it in charge of Barnabas and Saul to the elders.

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Publish Date December 15, 2019
The Priority Struggle

When Jesus is our top priority, we don't restrict Him from certain areas of our life.

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