The Lord of your life or your cosmic butler?

by Scott Vance on January 06, 2022

1 Samuel 4:1-10
1 And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out to battle against the Philistines. They encamped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines encamped at Aphek. 2 The Philistines drew up in line against Israel, and when the battle spread, Israel was defeated before the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men on the field of battle. 3 And when the people came to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD here from Shiloh, that it may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies.” 4 So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. 5 As soon as the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel gave a mighty shout, so that the earth resounded. 6 And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shouting, they said, “What does this great shouting in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” And when they learned that the ark of the LORD had come to the camp, 7 the Philistines were afraid, for they said, “A god has come into the camp.” And they said, “Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. 8 Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with every sort of plague in the wilderness. 9 Take courage, and be men, O Philistines, lest you become slaves to the Hebrews as they have been to you; be men and fight.” 10 So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and they fled, every man to his home. And there was a very great slaughter, for thirty thousand foot soldiers of Israel fell. 11 And the ark of God was captured, and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.
This is not one of the brighter moments in the history of the people of God.  Whenever you read a narrative passage like this, you should ask the question, why am I being told this story?  Remember, at that time there was no paper making writings difficult to produce and maintain.  So, if they wrote something down, it was because it was very important, and this is no exception as it reveals something about the people and their relationship (or lack thereof) with the Lord.
The key for the passage is in verses 3-4.  Consider how the people are treating GodSome of the people no longer view God as their king.  God is someone or something that they summon to do what they want.  There is no holy fear here, no relationship with the Lord.  The people of God have relegated the Lord and moved Him from the center of their hearts to a much different place.
They see that the Lord has defeated them, and they think that the ark is some sort of sacred talisman that will grant them victory over their enemies.  Notice in verse 3 that they want the ark of the covenant among them that it may save them from their enemies.  The people have completely forgotten to honor and glorify the Lord as their king.
If we’re being candid and vulnerable with ourselves, I think we must admit that the Lordship of God over our lives is something we often struggle to understand.  Too often God the Father, Jesus, and the Spirit become entities which we expect to act for us and impart something to us.  We may see this when we think we should get something out of worship, reading, the music, the retreat, the Bible study, the mission trip.  Do you see the problem here? 
Please understand that I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have an expectation that the Lord is going to do something when we come to worship, our times of solitude, or a ministry event, but that expectation should never result in us feeling that the Lord is obligated to us in some way.
If our expectation is to get and receive based on our own agendas, our hearts are not centered on Christ.  This sort of expectation reveals a heart still centered on a selfish love of what God can do for us and an immature relationship with Him.  In effect, treating God as an object to meet our expectations rather than being in relationship with Him.  The kind of thinking that obligates the Lord to us, reveals that something else is an idol in our hearts which we have allowed to take the place of Jesus.
We must have the greater expectation that as we are in the very presence of Jesus, that we have the tremendous opportunity to center our lives on Him and trust in His will for us.  God is bigger, much bigger.  He won’t settle for anything less than being the center of our lives and He has greater things in store for us than all we can ask for or imagine. 
What about you?  How would you describe your relationship with God the Father at this point?  Is He the center of your life or have you let something else become the object of your worship and affection (Even a good thing can become a god if you let it)?  Do you think God owes you something or do you humbly submit to His will, plans, and purpose for your life?
God bless you as you wrestle with these thoughts today.
Know that you are constantly in my prayers!


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