Blogger’s Note: Today’s entry is the last one in Pastor Chuck Swindoll’s book, Great Days with the Great Lives. I cannot explain why there does not appear to be 365 days of devotionals in the book. However, because of this publishing glitch, I’m going to have to let God lead me to two more devotional subjects to close out 2009 because I don’t want to begin my 2010 devotional project (about which I’ll explain in January) until the first day in January. However, today’s entry is one with which I believe we can all identify and from which we can relearn, repent, and be renewed.
Passage for Study: 1st Samuel 15 … 1st Samuel 15 linked for study …
My Journal for Today: If you’re following me here, BE SURE to go back and read through the entire true story in 1st Samuel 15 BEFORE you read the remainder of what I’m about to write in my journal entry for today; and see if you aren’t personally convicted by Saul’s sin and his RATIONALIZATION of the sinful choices he made.
So, … I’m assuming that you’ve followed my instructions and have read the entire chapter in question BEFORE reading this. If you did not, though I’m certainly not God, Who commanded Saul in very specific language what to do after God allowed him to defeat the Amalekites, I wonder how you’re rationalizing the shortcut you have made in reading on without following through with my humble request to read the entire chapter BEFORE reading on to this point. If you did go back and read the entire chapter, as I instructed, “Way to go!” And I thank you for respecting my wishes.
But I am Bill Berry, not God! And if you rationalized your choice to read on, ignoring my request to go back and read ALL of Chapter 15, … well, you’re not going to have to deal with God in this matter – that is, unless God also was leading you to follow my instructions and you had the temerity to ignore God’s will as well as mine. But we all have likely done what Saul did in this story, haven’t we? A lot of the time in life, we clearly know what is right and wrong; and we go ahead anyway and make wrong choices, don’t we? And then we rationalize those is some selfish way, trying to convince ourselves that what we did is somehow okay in God’s eyes. And I believe this pattern of “situational ethics,” which leads to rationalization, is becoming an epidemic in the world today.
I’ve heard it said, “To RATIONALIZE is to perpetuate “RATIONAL LIES.” And that’s exactly what Saul tried to do, … did he not? But Samuel wouldn’t let Saul get away with those pathetic and selfish attempts to hold out on God. And I hope you noticed that God reached an end to His patience and mercy with regard to Saul’s sin and his rationalization. And even though Saul weakly tried to ask for God’s forgiveness, God was so grieved over this egregious act and cover-up that the Lord moved to replace him with David as King.
My friend, it is true that God is a God of second, third, or fourth chances; and His mercy is new everyday [see Lam. 3: 22, 23]; but apparently God did not see true repentance in the attempts at forgiveness Saul tried to make before God; because the Lord turned away from Saul. We Christians, now that Christ has died for our sins and has become our Redeemer, have the promise that God will never forsake a true believer [see Heb. 13: 5] and that true repentance will always lead to cleansing from sin [see 1st John 1: 9]. That’s why I believe that being omniscient, God saw through Saul’s anemic attempt at rationalized forgiveness, knowing that Saul was incapable of true repentance.
My dear one, I don’t know just what God sees in my heart; but I do know that He will turn away from my rationalized attempts to be forgiven if my heart is not truly repentant. Repentance requires action decisions to turn away and walk away from sin and to seek and pursue righteousness. Only when we are straight up with God and we reject the RATIONAL LIES, which our sin-ridden heart (see Jer. 17: 9) will want to perpetuate, can we truly and humbly repent and receive the cleansing and enabling grace which is promised by 2nd Cor. 12: 9. Only then will we, with vulnerability and honesty, turn to God and away from our sin nature.
I pray for us in that regard …
My Prayer for Today: Lord, help us – HELP ME – to reject rationalization and to humbly seek to be real and honest before Your throne of grace, knowing that obedience and humility are the keys to Your enabling grace which allows us to overcome our sinfulness in Your Name and for Your glory. Amen