Tuesday, May 17, 2011

with all your heart

And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, "If you are returning to the LORD with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines." So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the LORD only.
1 Samuel 7:3-4

The call to renewal that is issued by Samuel gets to the root problem with the people of Israel. They were not wholeheartedly interested in worshiping the Lord. They had hedged their bets, spiritually speaking, by mixing in elements of pagan worship in their lives. Samuel's call is a call to a pure worship of Yahweh again. Their worship and service to God would be rewarded by the covenant blessings if they would remove foreign gods from among them.

The ministry of Samuel was unique in Israel's history. He is the last of the real "judges" of Israel (see the end of the this chapter, 1 Samuel 7:15-17, where his leadership is described). He is also a priest and spiritual leader for the nation. As such, he stands in a unique place to call Israel toward repentance and to a return to following the dictates of the Law. He is perspective of just how the spiritual malaise had hurt the nation. And his ministry was effective.

The people repented of their worship of idols. They put away the outside spiritual culture they had absorbed from the Philistines. When they quit worshiping the gods of the Philistines, God delivered them from the domination of the Philistines. The false idols were dominating their lives and bringing their misery. That is the sad outcome of idolatry. It destroys us by what we think will make us happy.

God still rewards wholehearted devotion to Him. The questions becomes this: Am I willing to let Him call me away from the worship of what is an idol, so that in my wholehearted worship of God I can know His blessing? That is always the challenge, but it is also the lifestyle of more reward than I can begin to describe.

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

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