Obey | Discipleship Prayer Day 25

Teach me...to listen to and obey Your Word more and more

Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

― 1 Samuel 15:22

These words from Samuel, speaking to Saul following the destruction of the Amalekites, bring to mind the lyrics of Keith Green’s “To Obey is Better than Sacrifice.”

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To obey is better than sacrifice
I don't need your money
I want your life1

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I will surely bless you…through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”  

― Genesis 22:17-18

Yahweh’s promise of blessing to Abraham is probably familiar to you. It’s repeated several times through Genesis and beyond. In Genesis 22, however, the repeated promise of blessing seems especially powerful, as it came on the heels of Abraham demonstrating his unquenchable obedience by nearly sacrificing the promised son through whom this blessing was to come!

It’s a powerful story of a man’s complete faithfulness and devotion to God. In ancient times, a son was among the most valuable things a man could have in his possession. A willingness to sacrifice his only son, for whom he and Sarah had been waiting a lifetime to conceive, was not only a spiritual issue for Abraham, but demonstrated

a willingness to sacrifice everything – his family, his reputation, his descendants, his wealth, and the very blessing that God had provided.

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To obey is better than sacrifice
I want more than Sunday and Wednesday nights

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Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.

Impress them on your children.

Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.

Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

― Deuteronomy 6:4-9

In Hebrew, sama (hear) means to both “listen” and “obey.”  In the New Testament James expresses this succinctly -- Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says (James 1:22).  

In the Shema (Deut 6:4-5, prayed daily by faithful Jews worldwide), the call to love the LORD is not followed by instructions for proper worship and sacrifice.

The focus is on actions – impress, talk, tie, write – that train and disciple others to understand and obey all that God has commanded.

These actions are not reserved only for scheduled times of worship, but are to take place while sitting at home, traveling, morning and evening. We are to create visible reminders on our hands (with which we work), our foreheads (with which we think), and on the doorframes and gates of the homes and cities where we live.

In other words –

everywhere we go, in everything we do, all the time, and with everyone.

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To obey is better than sacrifice
I want hearts of fire
Not your prayers of ice

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We know that we have come to know [God] if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus lived.

― 1 John 2:3-6

Have you ever met someone who faithfully sacrificed their time to attend church and other church events, but who displayed little evidence of a Christlike life, or even growth in Christlikeness?

I have. I’ve also questioned myself at times as to whether I am a “sacrifice-only” kind of person, or whether my sacrifice is grounded in…

…living, active, agape-centered, continually-growing-in-Christlikeness kind of obedience….living as Jesus lived.

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See full lyrics at https://www.lyrics.com/lyric/1375469/Keith+Green/To+Obey+Is+Better+Than+Sacrifice