Obedience is Better
Posted on 08/26/2018 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
Public Prayer Requests:
*** there are no public prayer requests this week ***
Please click one of the offering plates in Second Life or at http://almcyberchurch.org, and give as the Lord leads.
I LOVE TO BE IN YOUR PRESENCE
I love to be in Your presence
With Your people singing praises
I love to stand and rejoice
Lift my hands and raise my voice
You set my feet to dancing
You fill my heart with song
You give me reason to rejoice
TAKE ME IN
Take me past the outer courts
Into the Holy Place
Past the brazen altar
Lord I want to see your face
Pass me by the crowds of people
And the Priests who sing your praise
I hunger and thirst for your righteousness
And it's only found one place
Take me into the holy of holies
Take me in by the blood of the lamb
Take me into the holy of holies
Take the coal, touch my lips, here I am
I LOVE YOU LORD
I love you Lord
and I lift my voice
To worship you
O my soul, rejoice!
Take joy, my King
in what you hear
May it be a sweet, sweet sound
in your ear
*** Choose your connection speed and listen to the audio to hear the introduction. ***
Let's start off today's message by reading from the book of 1st Samuel, chapter 15.
1 Samuel 15:22 (NKJV)
22 So Samuel said: "Has the Lord as great 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."
To obey is better than sacrifice. What does that mean?
Well, let's ponder it for just a moment. Sacrifice is the shedding of innocent blood to pay the price for your sin.
Let's consider that again: Sacrifice is the shedding of innocent blood to pay the price for your sin.
Obedience, on the other hand, is taking responsibility for your own actions, both inside and outside. Obedience is surrender to that which is equally good for everyone. Obedience is partnership with the wisdom, the will, and the Love, of God.
Compare that with slitting an innocent, helpless being's throat and draining their life blood because you were living in rebellion against what is genuinely good, and I'm sure you'll agree there IS no comparison.
To obey is better than sacrifice.
When we think of obedience, we tend to either think of something that, since we believe in it and think we practice it, it makes us feel holy... especially compared to those who do NOT obey. But if obedience is surrender to and partnership with the Nature of God, the ego's definition of obedience could actually be considered DISobedience instead.
For others, "obeying God" feels like drudgery. Like giving up all that is fun; all that to which you look forward after a long week hard at work.
After all, God understands.
But there are only two options:
Obedience, or Hurting others. Obedience, after all, Obedience is surrender to that which is equally good for everyone.
DISobedience, on the other hand, is conscious or unconscious disregard for the genuine good of others.
If it is not, then it is the unconscious belief that God's ways are NOT necessarily better. Maybe YOUR ways are just as good. And that is what the fallen human mind does with regard to obeying God.
It explains things away. It makes excuses. It finds loopholes. It pretends it didn't hear. It pretends there is not the voice of wisdom crying out the truth deep down inside. ANYTHING to entice its self to fulfill its own carnal desires.
"I'm not hurting anyone."
If it's disobedience, then that statement is completely false.
"I'm not hurting anyone besides myself."
If it's disobedience, not only is that statement still completely false, but it is also rooted in dellusion.
Only hurting yourself? You are an inseperable part of the whole, so what you do to yourself, you do to others. And YOU are SOMEONE too. How is hurting YOU any less evil than hurting someone else?
You see, Obedience is partnership with the wisdom, the will, and the Love,
of God. Not partnering with wisdom makes one a fool. And DISobedience is rejection of, rebelling against, and separating yourself from the wisdom, the will, and the Love, of God.
So how can we obey God? Well, He speaks to us through many vessels. Since Jesus claimed to be the Son of God sent to show us the way and to pay the price for our sin, and since He rose from the dead, with no prophet or healer laying hands on Him, but simply the power of God directly fulfilling His own words and the words of the prophets who came before Him, then personally, I trust what He has to say.
His words were recorded carefully by those He personally chose to walk and minister by His side. And in those words, He validated the Old Testament writings. So when I read His words, and the words of the writings to which He referred as "The Scriptures," I can know that I'm being pointed to His nature.
Not in the letter of the Old Testament laws, but in the Spirit those laws symbolize. So when I'm told, "Thou shalt not commit adultery," it's pointing to something much deeper than an outward act. And if I obey the SPIRIT of that law, I will not commit the outward act of adultery.
Of course the same principle applies to all the rest:
No other Gods.
Resting from your own works.
Not bearing false witness.
So The Scriptures are one way we can know the moral and ethical will of God.
Another is by the leading of the Holy Spirit. But this one almost requires a long series of messages all by itself. After all, get 100 people into a room from different denominations and gatherings and persuasions, and it's likely they will have heard 100 different, often conflicting, things from the same "Holy Spirit."
Why the differences? Well the feeling is that those who heard conflicting things must not REALLY be hearing from God. Maybe there is sin hidden in their life. Maybe they aren't really filled with the Holy Spirit. Maybe they aren't really saved. Maybe they just WANT such-and-such to be true, SO MUCH, that they only THINK God is saying that to them.
The ego, the fallen human mind, thinks it can hear from God. But while God speaks on such a wide frequency that even the mind can discern a small fraction of the most spiritually basic principles and directions, God is Spirit. And to hear ANYONE's voice, it helps to dwell where they are, and to not be distracted by sounds that are not coming from His mouth.
Even the Scriptures can be a distraction if the mind believes they point to some place other than where they actually do, and if we believe the mind's belief. So maybe obedience is not adhering to rules and regulations; Maybe TRUE obedience is that inward state of the heart that RESULTS in certain actions, words, and attitudes that we call obedience.
If you are truly dwelling in Love, you will not cheat, steal, gossip, belittle, deceive, divide, or destroy. As the New Testament author wrote, are you dwelling in heavenly places with Christ Jesus right now?
Maybe not five minutes ago, since that time does not exist right now; and maybe not five minutes in the future, since that time is only a fantasy or a fear in the mind; but RIGHT NOW?
Are you dwelling in the temple where the Spirit of God lives, in that heavenly place with the Life which incarnated in Jesus Christ, are you dwelling there RIGHT NOW? That is the ONLY TIME YOU CAN.
And I like to call that place, Presence.
So if you want to ask yourself a simple yet powerful question throughout the day, here's one that has transformed my life, in the form of a statement: Be fully present now.
And as a question, am I fully present now? Or am I lost in the mind? I might be using the mind, but am I lost in it?
Intellectually, you could go around in circles for all eternity and still not answer the question. But you can learn to feel the answer. And the way to do that, is to practice being fully present.
When you worship, and you are completely lost in God's presence, are you analyzing? And you thinking about what happened yesterday? Are you worrying about what might happen tomorrow? Are you lost in who you think you are? Or in how you are better, or worse, than someone else or some other group?
Chances are that you will find you are lost in Love instead. Not as a concept, or an earthly form, but as something that cannot be put into words. It cannot be confined by mental definitions. It connot be expressed in human language. At best, it can only be pointed to. And those who see it will have to let go of the words you use before they can know it for themselves.
To obey is better than sacrifice.
Obedience is dwelling in that place of presence. And by dwelling in the Holy of Holies, the outer acts follow. And if the outer acts are not acts
of obedience, but you THINK you are in the right place on the inside, consider this: If a tree is convinced it is an apple tree, but it keeps producing pine cones, the pine cones, or the outer acts, are irrefutable proof that the tree is fooling itself.
As Jesus said, you will know them by their fruit. Is your fruit good? That is just God, not you. He has just brought you to a place in which the source of that fruit can flow.
Is your fruit bad? That is just You, not God. You are not dwelling in Presence with Him, and the ego is acting as your god instead.
And here's a question: Who are you to judge your own fruit?
If you're trying to build up your self image by labeling your own actions as either good or bad, then how can you be an impartial judge?
Forget about the labels. Just seek Presence. Not yesterday or tomorrow, but always Now. And if you keep, for example, committing adultery, you can know you are not in that place, and you need to Be fully present now.
And we'll talk more about how to do that, or how to be there, Lord willing. But today, let's end by spending some time in silence before God.