Today’s Scripture Selection: First Samuel 15:22

“But Samuel replied: ‘Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD?  To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.’”

Use the word “obedience” in conversation, and it’s likely that someone will think you are talking about your pet dog; or maybe the latest theories in child-rearing.

But it has a far more profound meaning and history than that.

It has always been on the hearts and minds of God’s people to consider what it means to be truly “obedient” to Him.

Samuel put it in terms of how mere religious ritual can’t compare to heartfelt obedience – no matter how regularly we do it.

And, for many years, people have gotten that wrong.

They think that as long as they meet the “letter of the law” that’s good enough – without considering if they are meeting the “spirit” of the law.

I remember hearing of one young woman – a Roman Catholic by faith – who did pretty much anything she wanted Monday through Friday, figuring that a “good confession” on Saturday would sort of square things up with God.

I can’t imagine that her priest thought that was a good way to live out her faith.

But many of us do something similar.

We go through the motions of doing all the “right” things – even giving “sacrificially” – but we still, somehow, fall short of the mark.  That is – we fail at really faithfully, happily, sacrificially obeying God.

It’s not religion God cares about – it’s relationship.

So, how about if we all do some real soul searching this week.  Maybe we can find some ways to really do what God wants us to do – starting with having a prayerful conversation with Him that begins, “Lord, show me your will for my life.”

That’s always a good place to start.

Prayer: Lord, show me your will, that I may obey it.  AMEN.


By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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