I sat down a few minutes ago to read my Bible and spend some time with God. I’m currently reading John and 1 Samuel, alternating days. Today was a 1 Samuel day and I sat down maybe not quite as excited as I should have been. Typically I find myself “getting more” from New Testament books, such as Ephesians or James. Recently, though, I’ve been praying that God reveal Himself to me throughout all of His Word. So I sat down, and by verse 3, God was pounding on my heart.
Samuel told them, If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, get rid of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths (a Canaanite goddess) that are among you, dedicate yourselves to the Lord, and worship only Him. Then He will rescue you from the hand of the Philistines.
Verse 2 says that the whole house of Israel began to seek the Lord, and Samuel’s response was that they had a few things to do!
They needed to:
- Get rid of the foreign gods
- Dedicate themselves to the Lord
- Worship the Lord only
Verse 4 says that they did just that.
A few verses down the Israelites find themselves under threat of the Philistines, so they cried out to Samuel to cry out to God on their behalf. He did, and the Lord answered. After the Philistines fled, Samuel set up a stone, naming it Ebenezer (Stone of Help).
After I finished reading and taking notes, I was rolling this passage around in my head. Samuel had basically told the Israelites to
- Remove the things from their lives that were coming between them and God
- Set themselves apart for God’s use
- Make the Lord their first priority
Then, when there were no things competing for the space between the Israelites and God, He answered Samuel’s prayer. I sat there thinking, “Man, this is good stuff! I need to blog about this!” I then sat at the computer and typed the first few words and thought, “Wait. What is between God and I right now? I can’t sit down and talk about how wonderful and applicable this piece of Scripture is whilst ignoring it in my own life.”
So I did some self-exploration and asked God what my “gods” were; what had I been putting before Him lately, because I knew that I was not where I needed to be. I got three phrases: sleep, laziness, and people-pleasing.
Sleep, I got. I often choose to sleep in, thus forcing something to be at the sidelines – and they tell me I’m not supposed to wear pajamas to school so spending time with God often gets neglected.
Laziness. I got that one too. I don’t know why it often seems like so much work to read my Bible or pray when scrolling through Facebook is all too easy.
People-pleasing. This one took me a minute. It’s not like I’m selling drugs to please people; however, I do tend to strive to make everyone happy all the time. I cannot stand when people are upset or mad at me – or if I even think they are. So I often find myself saying “yes” to things when I’m running myself ragged. I haven’t been resting in God at all recently if I’m to be honest. I people-please and then I stress myself out to the point of exhaustion and tears.
Now, the Israelites did what Samuel told them to do, but we know the Israelites have a track record for resorting back to their own ways. We are no different. I know that if I don’t continually work at my relationship with God, if I don’t continually take my gods off the shelf, I’ll be right back where I was. This blog post is essentially my Ebenezer, a stone of remembrance for taking my gods off the shelf today and to remember to keep them that way.