Aug28MonAugust 28, 2023
With All your heart
"Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. (NKJ 1 Samuel 12:24)
Hello Saints of the Most High,
There is a sad scene in the book of 1st Samuel chapter 8. It is encapsulated in the words of Yahweh to the prophet Samuel, “they have rejected me as their king” (1Samuel 8:7). Since the deliverance of the Israelites out of Egypt, God had been gathering a people for His namesake – nurturing, caring for, providing and protecting this group of slaves He had redeemed from the Egyptians. He has been leading them into the promised land, promising to be their God and sustainer. He has wowed them with miracle after miracle and deliverance after deliverance. God has proved Himself trustworthy and faithful. All through the time of the judges, he has heard their cries for help and rescued them by raising up a judge to deliver them from their oppressors. This people He has gathered has continually disobeyed Him and turned to worship other gods. Yahweh has continually been merciful and gracious, and freed His people from their own sins and consequences. By the time of Samuel, God had provided a prophet to judge them, one who was righteous and true, and could act as intermediary between God and His people. But the Israelites eyes have always been comparing themselves to other nations. And as Samuel is aging and getting weak, not even able to manage his own sons, the Israelites see their opportunity to plead their case – “appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations” (1Sam. 8:5). ‘We want what the other people have’, essentially saying, ‘we’re tired of Yahweh leading us in His way…we want our way!’ God gives them the desire of their heart in giving them Saul, a king after the flesh, more handsome and taller than anyone else (1Sam. 9:2). Saul turns out to be a dud of a king, disobedient and eventually crazed, as the story unfolds in 1st Samuel (1Sam 13:13-14). God, in His mercy, still intervenes for His people rescuing them from their adversaries. In 1Samuel 16, Saul is rejected by God, and God chooses David, a man after God’s heart.
In 1Samuel 12, Samuel sees that his time as judge is short for he is aging, so he assembles all Israel, and reminds them that now they have a king like the other nations, but that they still need to fear and serve the Lord. Twice Samuel states, even though they have a king, “serve the Lord with all your heart” (1Sam 12:20, 24). I encourage you to read chapter 12, because the Israelites story is our story. We are the people of God who have been rescued from the evil taskmasters - sin and the devil. Sometimes we are prone to wander, and pledge allegiance to something or someone other than God. Most of the time, we want to be our own king and master of our own destiny. What does it mean to “serve the Lord with all your heart”? Verse 20 states, “do not turn aside from following the Lord”. To follow means, stay close to Him. Don’t go wandering your own way, to the left or right, led by enticing things on the path. Keep your eyes on the Lord who you are following. Like a child in the mall who is walking behind its parent – the moment the child is attracted by some enticement and decides to follow the temptation rather than the parent, a myriad of potential harmful consequences are about to unfold. Jesus called us to follow Him, and no other. Verse 24 tells us to “fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully (in truth)”. To fear Him is to respect Him and be in awe of who He is and all He has done – it is an attitude of worship. Out of that reverential awe and respect, there is a desire to serve Him, for He is worthy, “for consider what great things He has done for you”. The “heart” in Hebrew encompasses your whole inner being – your mind, will, and soul – “let all that is within me bless His Holy name” (Psalm 103:1). In order to serve the Lord like that, we need to love the Lord: "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:5). When we truly love the Lord with all that we are, then we will want to serve Him: “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?” (Deut. 10:12-13). Lest we think this is only Old Testament teaching, consider the words of Jesus, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). To Keep His commandments is to serve Him and do what He says, that is to make Him King of our lives. As Paul writes, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Col 3:23-24).
Is our heart divided? Is there another king we are serving? What part of our being is not yet ruled by Christ? How often do we do our own thing and ignore what the Lord requires of us? Does the Lord have ALL of my heart? Friends, let’s take some time this week to self-examine ourselves and allow Holy Spirit to show us where our heart is not wholly His. Is Jesus still our first love or have we an idol propped up beside Him? Have we been lured off the narrow road of following Jesus, and enticed by one of the many temptations along the path? If you want to go deeper, and see more of the Lord and His works, it is time to throw off the hindrances and distractions, and choose to love and serve the Lord with our whole being.
Have a fruitful week!