Saturday, August 25th, 2012
Finding Favor (Part 3: Sacrifice And Service)
Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God.
Deuteronomy 28:1-2 (NKJV)
But Samuel ministered before the Lord, even as a child... and the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the Lord and men.
1 Samuel 2:18,26 (NKJV)
God's favor is conditional. The big condition is our behavior. In vivid detail God lists our right behaviors with their subsequent rewards--and our wrong behaviors with their subsequent punishments.
Deuteronomy 28 is a delightful and frightening recap of God's blessings and curses.
The prophet Samuel is a star of the Old Testament. The books of First and Second Samuel reveal him as a feared and cherished leader of Israel. 1 Samuel begins with his parents--specifically highlighting his mother, Hannah, who set the pace of his life.
Hannah's story started in sadness. She was barren and desperate for a child. She was loved by her husband, taunted by a rival, and misunderstood by her priest.
Her prayer to God was this one: 'O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life' (1 Samuel 1:11). So He did and so she did--in the receiving and sacrifice of Samuel.
Samuel continued in his mother's pattern of sacrifice and service to God, and both enjoyed His favor. They followed God's recipe for success: Sacrifice your personal desires to serve Him, and He gives back to you the desires of your heart--in greater abundance than you imagined.
Jesus simplified the rules, but the reward for good behavior is the same: favor. 'Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom' (Luke 12:32). Read Jesus' short version of the rules:
'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,' and 'your neighbor as yourself' ' (Luke 10:27). 'By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another' (John 13:35).
How can we show this love? Sacrifice and service. In so doing, expect the unexpected: great favor from God.
To Be Continued...
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Finding Favor series.