Last Words, Last Warning

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself….Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you…” 1 Samuel 12:20-22,24 ESV

Final words, the last words of a leader to a people are important. A month a ago I was in Atlanta when Don Munn, my son-in-law’s father delivered his final message as the Senior Pastor of the church he had served for 32 years. As I sat in the congregation, I was eager to hear what he would share. Don delivered a powerful and encouraging message about the faithfulness of the Lord. It was so fitting and seemed to be just the right message for the congregation as they moved into the future under new leadership.

Samuel the prophet as facing the time for the end of his ministry. Instead of a prophet/Priest being the leader of God’s people, it would be a King. A King the people had demanded and God allowed, even though it wasn’t the Lord’s “Plan A.”

Because of this situation these words are more than “just another sermon.” It was the prophets final charge and call to God’s people. Samuel begins by “clearing the air” on his integrity. His sons like those of Eli the priest had not been faithful to the Lord, but Samuel made it clear that his life had been one of integrity. In response to the questions of Samuel the people confirm, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man’s hand.” (1 Samuel 12:4 ESV)

Samuel rehearses the history of God’s people and some of the last 400 years of the judges of Israel. While they had not been faith, God had been faithful. While they sinned by asking for a king, God would not abandon them. Their new king and the people were to commit to following the Lord. If they did the Lord would be with them and bless them. If they sinned, “their sin would find them out” and they would eventually experience the consequences of their persistent rebellion.

Samuel’s word thousands of years ago, echo down to Christ followers today. “Serve the Lord with all your heart….Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you…”

Samuel’s warning was, “…do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver…” You will find that regardless of how much “in vogue” something is, how appealing it is to “follow the crowd” or the ways of modern culture, when all is said and done they are found to be empty; of no profit and fail to bring any true satisfaction.

Through the ages people have found themselves learning and re-learning the truth of Samuel’s words. The great assurance we have is, “The Lord will not forsake His people.” Just as the Lord brought the Children of Israel into a special relationship with Himself, those who enter into a personal relationship with Christ can be confident of the fulfillment of the words of Paul, “….he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

Prayer for today…. Lord keep us from that which is empty, shallow and of no profit. Help us to see that true satisfaction, purpose and fulfillment comes from serving You with all of our heart. Thank you for Your steadfast love is beyond our comprehension and assures us of Your constant work in our lives.