Throw Some Water On It

•June 10, 2013 • 2 Comments

Drunk on Grace

•March 27, 2013 • 5 Comments

Ephesians 2:1-5 1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

This passage is so rich. So deep. So life altering. The picture painted, a people being ushered from death to life, held only by the hand of GRACE. Not just regular grace, GOD’S grace. But, I’ve said too much already, for this is not even what I’m commissioned to tell you today. Three words in this passage are preaching to me right now, or five, depending on which version you prefer. I prefer them in the amplified version, but it’s all the same.

“Among these we as well as you once lived and conducted ourselves in the passions of our flesh…” Ephesians 2:3 amp

Can you see them? The 5 words? Probably not, and that’s kind of the point. As the great Apostle Paul reminds the people of how wretched and desperately in need of saving grace they were, he says these 5 words that I want to better incorporate into the vocabulary of my life: “We as well as you“. It almost gets lost in the movement of the conversation, but it’s there and it matters so much. A hero of the faith, a man that wrote a huge portion of scripture, says, I am not any better than you, no more deserving, no less depraved. We are all drunk on grace

In the presence of every person, whether a fellow believer or the one we see as the most despicable sinner of them all, may everything we exude scream “WE as well as you”. May we never, ever forget who we were and who we could’ve been had the grace of God not intervened.

I spent 9 years doing intense inner city ministry in the Bronx. I can’t tell you how many times I looked into the eyes of addicts, prostitutes, fatherless youth, abused, homeless, violent people who asked me in every kind of way, “How is it that I feel like you’re just like me? You don’t look down on us, it feels like you’re one of us”. My answer? I just understand that the only thing that separates me from you is one act of grace. Had I faced what you’ve faced in life I might have a needle hanging out of my arm right now.

No matter your platform, you never are reaching down to reach someone, you are always reaching across. Nobody is beneath you. We all stand on level ground and the God of Grace extends his arm just as much to reach every single one of us. The only thing that separates us from anyone is one act of grace. May we never extract ourselves from that picture. WE as well as you.

Take. Courage. Daughter.

•January 12, 2013 • 10 Comments

Her story is told in 3 of the 4 Gospels, but neither Matthew, Mark or Luke thought her name was worth mentioning. Each author tells the story nearly the same; the meat of the story is identical, with each writer recalling different details. In all three accounts, this woman was introduced not by her name, but rather, by her issue. She was a woman with an issue of blood. For 12 years, this issue had haunted her.

This kind of introduction is not unique to her though. Throughout scripture, there are many times when those being healed by Jesus aren’t named by anything more than their issue. Diseased. Possessed. Adulterous. Leper. Lame. Deaf, dumb and blind. Maybe you know what it is to walk through life identified by only your issue. What you’ve done. What’s been done to you. The thing that haunts you. Alienates you. The first thing people see or think when you walk into a room. Here’s the thing, these men and women, their names don’t actually need to be known. After all, these stories aren’t really about the sickness and suffering of the people, but about the healing power of Jesus. It’s not their story…it’s His. By the way, the same is true for your life

All three authors identify the woman’s issue, but Mark & Luke let us in on another detail that helps us to understand the fulness of the story. Both Gospels point out that she was not only suffering for twelve years, but she’d already spent every last cent on doctors who failed to help. They’d actually made her worse. Mark & Luke want us to know that she was not only suffering, but she was also spent. Suffering and spent. Nothing left to give. The recipe for absolute desperation. In addition to all this, they continue to paint the picture, leaving us with a vivid vision of her, overcome with fear and shaken down to her core

“But the woman, knowing what had been done for her, though alarmed and frightened and trembling, fell down before him…” Mark 5:33 AMP

Frightened and trembling? Yes, scared out of her mind. You see, this “issue” of blood deemed her “unclean” in this day. By law, she was not even allowed to be in public. The penalty for such an act was beyond severe. She’d already lost everything trying to find healing, now she could lose her life. Miraculous things happen when people who the world says have nothing to give, decide to live like they’ve got nothing to lose! What this woman was doing, we call risky business, but that’s not what Jesus called it. Jesus turned and called it “faith”. He utters two sentences that change absolutely everything

…Take courage, daughter! Your faith has made you well… Matthew 9:22 AMP

Take. Courage. Daughter. Exclamation point! Every, single word…life changing.

Take courage. What you have is fear, but what I have is courage. Here, take it. Exclamation point! What you come to Jesus with is never enough, but you come away with is more than enough. If you take it. Take…courage. Leave fear.

Take courage…Daughter. Finally, a name. A name that adds value and dignity. All three authors recall that Jesus called this desperate & dying woman “daughter”. Reminding us that Jesus sees in us what no one else does. Suffering. Spent. Scared. Those are all the words that the Apostles used to describe her. Words they saw as being attached to her. We all have those words…words that the world attaches to us, or worse, we attach to ourselves. Angry. Loose. Barren. Battered. Bitter. Broke. Breaking. Broken. Single. Scared. Scarred. Stained. Depressed. Not worthy. Not beautiful. Not whole. Not enough. Inadequate, overwhelmed, unqualified, unwanted. And over every voice, every name, comes one name that strips the rest of their power. DAUGHTER. All these other words are adjectives, and if you passed English you know that adjectives are words that describe, but NOT words that define. They are words added to a noun in order to describe it. Adjectives are added and they can be taken away, exchanged, removed or replaced. But, Daughter? That’s not an adjective, it’s a noun. Daughter is a noun. A person. Daughter doesn’t describe, it defines. She is not her issue and neither are you. You are not an adjective. You are a noun. A person with a soul and an identity. You are daughter. You are a son. The men of God didn’t give her a name, but Jesus did. Jesus does. And when you finally decide that you are what He says you are, you will never be the same. You will take courage and leave fear. You will finally…finally…be healed. Your faith will make you whole.

Pilate, Passion and Power

•December 12, 2012 • 2 Comments

Judas, the betrayer, is now dead. Hanging from a tree in a field of blood. Violence is in the air. Jesus is in Pilate’s chamber. The roar of the crowd grows and grows and grows. “Give us Barabbas!” Relentless voices ringing in Pilate’s ear, but the decision is not the crowds to make. This decision is placed squarely on Pilate’s shoulders. “Give us Barabbas!” He offered to release Jesus and crucify the criminal, but they only wanted to see one man die that day. Their voices were loud. Their passion unmatched. They would not be satisfied until the body of Jesus was ripped into pieces. Not until his spine bursted through his skin. Until he was humiliated, horrified and hung like an animal. Like a lamb, slaughtered.

And then, suddenly, over the sea of angry voices, came the whisper of a woman; the wife of Pilate wanted a word. “Please, have nothing to do with killing that innocent man. Leave him alone! I had a terrible nightmare about him last night”. With that, he returns to his judgement seat. Here, the words of his wife are drowned out by a sea of screaming voices. They’ve got numbers on their side, but only Pilate has the power to decide. And, then, a quiet question comes.

Matt 27:22 Pilate said to them, Then what shall I do with Jesus Who is called Christ?

No! Why are you asking them, Pilate?! The power is yours! Don’t be afraid of them! You know the truth. Why won’t you fight for it? Please fight for him!

23 They all replied, Let Him be crucified! And he said, Why? What has He done that is evil? But they shouted all the louder, Let Him be crucified! 24 So when Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but rather that a riot was about to break out, he took water and washed his hands in the presence of the crowd, saying, I am not guilty of nor responsible for this [c]righteous Man’s blood; see to it yourselves. 25 And all the people answered, Let His blood be on us and on our children! 26 So he set free for them Barabbas; and he [had] Jesus whipped, and delivered Him up to be crucified.

You had a chance, Pilate. A moment. An opportunity. The ball was in your court, only this wasn’t a game. Jesus will die now. His mother will watch the battering of his body. Her heart will break violently. So will his. Tears. Blood. Agony. This day will be gruesome. This day will never be forgotten. What you’ve done will be told to your children’s children. This is your legacy. The story of power without passion. You knew the truth, you had the power, but there was no passion. It was the passion of the crowd versus the passion of the Christ. Where was yours? You were a leader, but you followed.

I watch the water running off of your hands and dripping like blood back into the bowl. I see you. I hear you. “I’m not guilty of this righteous Man’s blood”. You’re right about one thing, this man was righteous. Faultless. Beautiful. But, you’re wrong on one count. You don’t get to pronounce yourself “not guilty”. You’re not that powerful, Pilate. You wasted the power that you had. This verdict is not yours. You are guilty. As guilty as the crowd you feared more than God. And, by the way, you can’t wash away guilt with water, you need blood.

That day was much like today. The voices of the enemies of God seemed to outnumber the cries of God’s friends. In that moment of pressure, Pilate forgot what we forget: that numbers and noise don’t equal power, the truth does. It’s true, that day, one man who knew the truth, had more power than an entire throng. What he was missing was passion.

Today, many who know the Truth remain quiet. The passion of the world has silenced them. Fearing man more than God, they forfeit their power and pronounce themselves “not guilty”. I didn’t crucify Jesus, I just let them! I didn’t hurt God’s heart, I just sat silently while the world did. I didn’t write the law, I just voted for the guy who supports it. I’m not prejudice, I just prefer to go to a church where everyone looks more like me. I’m a believer, just don’t ask me to stand and fight against the majority for what I believe.

The greatest enemy of God is not the world, it is the apathy and indifference of his people. It is not just the angry voices, but the ones left unheard. Silent, quiet, passionless Christians. It’s not only the ones that condemn Jesus that crucify him, but the ones who won’t risk anything to stop it.

This is not just the story of Pilate, it is the story of passion and power. The passion of the crowd. The passion of the Christ. And the power that a man relinquished because his greatest passion, was his own life. He protected the comfort and kingdom of his life at the expense of the Kingdom of God. I only wonder if, in my lifetime, I have done anything more than just this. What have I risked? What have I relinquished? What passion? What power? Is my name really Pilate? I do not get to pronounce myself “not guilty”. I cannot wash my hands with water, I still need blood.

The Real Price of Blood

•December 11, 2012 • 7 Comments

I know, I know…this next devotional has taken me far too long. It’s true. I apologize. Genius that I am, I somehow managed to sprain my right pointer finger which left my fingers taped together. I’m a pretty decent writer, but I do need my right hand and there were no angels available to do my typing.

While I’ve not been writing, I have been on the road preaching and I’ve certainly been studying and soaking in God’s Word. Last week, I was trying to finish up the book of Matthew and I got so close; I was one chapter from being done when when suddenly chapter 27 jumped me. It beat me up pretty bad and I’ve been recovering ever since. So, over the next few days, I want to share with you some of the things from Matthew 27 that have both challenged and encouraged me a great deal. Rather than try to fit it all in one devotional, I’ll split it three ways and give it to you over the course of the week.

When we jump on the scene at verse 1, Judas has already betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver after going to the chief priests and asking “what are you willing to give me if I hand him over?” (26:15) That right there will preach all by itself, but I should stay focused. Jesus now stands betrayed and bound, being led away to Pilate. As Judas watches this, he begins to feel the weight of what he’s done and is overcome with guilt. I imagine that things sort of went in to slow motion as he watched through fearful eyes, but not slow enough to stop. Racing back to the Chief Priests (the religious leaders) as fast as his palpitating heart would allow , he throws the 30 pieces of silver at their feet screaming “I’ve sinned in betraying innocent blood!”. Oh Judas…yes, yes you have…but, it’s already done.

To be honest, it doesn’t surprise me that a man like Judas would now be driven to suicide. It doesn’t even surprise me that he would be willing to give up everything he’d exchanged Jesus for. What absolutely shocks me beyond my ability to communicate is that these dirty dudes wouldn’t take the money back.

But the chief priests, picking up the pieces of silver, said, It is not legal to put these in the [consecrated] treasury, for it is the price of blood. (Matthew 27:6 AMP)

Let me get this straight, you could pay a man to deliver the Son of God to be murdered, but you couldn’t do something as terrible as put that money back? You could give it, but can’t take it back? The price of blood? What about the shedding of royal, righteous blood? Baffling!

I don’t know why this surprises me though, because religion does this all the time; it majors on minors. Religion majors on rules and regulations but minors in motives and rotting hearts. It heaps a burden on the shoulders of men that, apart from Christ, they can never bear. It is a list of do’s and don’ts that on their own merit mean nothing. DO use sacred treasure to condemn an innocent man, but DON’T put blood money into the account…there’s a rule about that. I guess there was a rule about money when it was “the price of blood” but what about the blood of the man they nailed to a tree? What was the price of that blood? Legalism at it’s best.

That day, religion and Jesus were enemies. That day, religion condemned to death while Jesus died for life. 2000 years later, things haven’t changed much. Religion still condemns. Jesus still forgives and sets free. Religion still kills while Christ resurrects.

You have to be so careful with religion. Let me be clear, I’m not referring to Christianity or the local church. I adore the local church and believe in it with all that I am. I’m referring to a legalistic way of life that masks itself as spiritual by using God’s laws, but severing them from His heart. It tells you that what matters is a bunch of little tasks you check off the list at the end of the day. DO read, pray, go to church, give, be kind etc. DON’T break the commandments.

The next time you find yourself condemning or feeling condemned, I pray your remember what I’m about to say. Beneath that “checklist” is paper. That paper comes from a tree…a tree that God grew. The same way He grew the tree that his Son would die on. In a way, Jesus died on a checklist. A list filled with do’s and don’ts that we could never live up to. That checklist would’ve killed us if it hadn’t killed him first. Thank God that checklist is now soaking in sacred, saving blood. Jesus already marked every box. Your works can neither erase nor replace that permanent red. It’s already finished. And that, my friends, was the real price of blood.

Hope Floats; 6 Reasons Why Jesus Doesn’t Want To Be Your President

•November 9, 2012 • 15 Comments

Please forgive me, the last couple of weeks have been pretty wild for me which is why it has been so long since my last blog. I think I have a pretty stellar excuse though.

If you haven’t heard, (I don’t know, maybe you’re Amish) New York City along with the entire North East, just got hit hard. Really hard. Hurricane Sandy was a bully and she robbed many of everything. Although I live in one of the most vulnerable areas, I was very fortunate to live in a high rise. Unlike many who lost their homes and even their lives, all I lost was power and running water. After over a week in the cold and walking up and down 16 flights without being able to take a shower, I left town (Smelling some type of way) I will probably speak more in depth about the hurricane and it’s devastation at a later time, but for now, I will just say this…I didn’t get to vote. This was pretty upsetting for me, but there was no getting around it.

Unlike me, on Tuesday, millions of people exercised their right to vote. On the other hand…some other folks decided they would stand in line for hours in order to get a ballot, but rather than to vote for a Presidential candidate they would handwrite “Jesus for President”. Not kidding. Reportedly, 1.5 million human beings intended to vote for Jesus. Probably why the lines were so long. Here’s the problem: He’s wasn’t running. Here’s the other problem: Jesus doesn’t want to be your president. Nope. Not even a little bit. I know this bothers some, but let me get this straight…you want to demote Jesus? You want to restrict him to governing a Country that He created? Maybe you missed the part where He walks on water. No matter who any of us hoped and prayed would win this election, they can’t bring this nation hope any more than they can walk on water. In other words, no matter who you voted for, your vote don’t float. Only Hope floats. The only, only, ONLY hope for this nation is in Christ and He does not want to be your President. Here are a few of my top reasons why:

1. Presidents have advisors that give them counsel. Jesus can be neither counseled nor advised. No one in heaven or earth is qualified for that job. Jesus: “Your opinion? Aint nobody got time for that”. The prophet Isaiah records these words (you should read the whole chapter):

Isaiah 40 13Who has understood the mind of the Lord, or instructed him as his counselor?14Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding? 15Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales;he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust d

2. Presidents must be citizens of this Country. Jesus is not even a citizen of EARTH. He is a citizen of Heaven. Remember what they put President Obama through when he wouldn’t provide his Birth Certificate? Imagine that times like a million. Donald Trump would be DONE!

Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ…

3. Presidents are supposed to compromise and work with people on the other side. The entire life of Jesus is proof that this would be impossible. Jesus was a straight shooter. He never pandered to the Pharisees or any other special interest group. His campaign slogan would’ve been something like “Let God be true and every man a liar” or in modern terms, “I’m always right. If you ever say I’m not, you’re a liar and you’re going to hell”. Try getting a bill passed in Congress on those terms. Jesus had a clear agenda and if you even hinted that you weren’t on the same page, you might just get called satan. Ask Peter. Words like “Get behind me” could pose a campaign problem for President Jesus.

4. A President of the United States has no jurisdiction over the President of any other Nation. His power has limits and boundaries. Jesus, on the other hand, must be sovereign over all. No exceptions. Psalms 62:11 says that power belongs to God. All of it. I Tim 6 says He is “the only Sovereign Ruler, the King of Kings and The Lord of Lords.” Let me break it down, He can’t be President because He is busy being the President of Presidents. Yes, He even rules over Queen Elizabeth.

5. If you could vote Jesus in or out, He wouldn’t be God. And, term limits? Riiight. When it comes to what God will be or will do, you don’t get a vote. You never have and you never will. You are a person. He is God. Get your theology together.

And He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His Kingdom there shall be no end. Luke 1:33

6. Jesus’s approval rating would be in single digits at all times. No premarital sex. No divorce. No abortions. No gay marriage. No able-bodied people collecting a check without having a job. No temples worshipping any other god. Oh, and everybody pays taxes. Everybody! Lazy people have to work and rich people have to share. Do you see what I’m saying? That’s just it, Jesus never desired man’s approval and consequently, He never got it. He lived and died without the approval of man. And the Father smiled. “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.

I could go on and on with this list, but I think you can finish it for yourself. And in the end I think you’ll realize the harsh truth that even you…holy as you are…wouldn’t want Jesus as your President. That vote would demand more than you’re willing to give up.

When Israel demanded a King, God gave them what they asked for and they payed a high price for their King Saul. (Quite a fearful thought) After God gave them what they wanted, He gave them what He wanted. When God wanted a King for Israel, He didn’t send Jesus, He sent David. He wasn’t running for King any more than He’s running for President. When we needed a Savior, THEN God sent his Son. When it comes to ruling one Country, that will never happen. Legitimate, lasting hope and change only come by blood and that blood has already come.

The bottom line is that no President (past, present or future) will ever be more than a man. They’ll never walk on water or solve our real problems. They’ll never bring us peace or hope. They’ll never supply our real needs. No politician is worthy of our hope. No mortal man will ever fix us. We can’t be fixed by a man, only by a Lamb and Mary had one. He wasn’t little either. Whether you read it in Luke or Isaiah, the following words are the hope of not just America, but the hope of the entire World.

Isaiah 9: 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.

I’m sorry, Jesus can’t be your President…He is busy being GOD.

The Sin of Religion (I Sam 13-15)

•October 23, 2012 • 7 Comments

Once upon a time, way back in the day (I Samuel 9), there was a handsome young man named Saul who was sent out on a search for his daddy’s donkeys. Seriously. Life-changing stuff. Anyway, he’s out looking for the lost donkeys, but these bad boys are just nowhere to be found, so he wanders into the land of the great Prophet Samuel in hopes that he may be able to help point him in the right direction. At this point, Saul hasn’t got the slightest clue that on this random day, he is being setup by the Living God. In the middle of the road, Samuel appears, grabs him up and next thing you know, a vial of oil is being poured on the young Saul’s head. Pretty sure this has nothing to do with donkeys.

In this strange and unexpected conversation, Samuel tells Saul not to worry about any donkeys because, number one, they’ve been found, and number two, God has chosen him to be the next King. Blank stare. Saul and everyone else knew that he was the least qualified to do any such thing. King?! Dude, I could’t even find donkeys! Saul was in shock and so were the people, but God had done it for reasons He need not explain.

Rewind. Before this crazy encounter, the people of Israel had cried out in contempt of God and demanded a King. God declared that by this outrageous request, the people had rejected Him, so He decided to give them what they wanted even though it was not what He wanted. When you know that and then fast forward to where we left off, you see that Saul being anointed King is not as great of a thing as it would’ve seemed. He is God’s angry response to a rebellious people’s request. Awesome.

Fast Forward to chapter 13. The new King Saul and his men are under attack and hiding. Saul’s specific instructions are to wait there for 7 days, then God would send the Prophet Samuel to tell him what to do. 6 days pass and they don’t move an inch, but then day 7 rolls around. It’s early in the day, but Samuel hasn’t arrived. Fear takes over Saul at this point, so he decides to take matters into his own hands, because God’s plan clearly isn’t working. Instead of waiting, he offers a burnt sacrifice to God in hopes that He will speak instead of the tardy Prophet. Here’s the problem, it was still day 7 and in actuality, Samuel was right around the corner. Saul obeyed God for 6 days, but 6 out of 7 is not enough. As far as God is concerned, partial obedience is still disobedience and it costs you just as much. This one act cost Saul the Kingdom.

If you’re into religion and counting your works, 6 out of 7 comes out to a pretty decent grade, definitely a passing one. But, when God looks upon men, He isn’t counting works, He is weighing hearts. Religion is a numbers game, but serving Christ is a much weightier matter. No matter how you do the math, next to a Holy God, you will never add up. Not without blood. Not without sacrifice. And, no, yours doesn’t work.

Why am I all of the sudden talking about religion? I’m glad you asked. Let me explain.

Right after this disobedience, in I Sam 13:13, God declares that He will rip the Kingdom from Saul’s hands and place it in the hands of a man who is after His heart. Even though God has made this decision, the time has not come for him to act. In ch 15, Saul fails another test in a similar manner. God has commanded him to kill ALL of the Amalakites AND ALL of the animals. Instead, Saul decides to kill almost all of them and to spare the very best of the animals in order to offer them as a sacrifice to God. Once again, Saul wants to offer God two things: partial obedience and a burnt offering.

When you look at Saul next to David, the man God removed and the man He chose to replace him, there is something astounding to be seen. If you’re familiar with the story, you know that David was unquestionably a hot mess. He committed adultery and then married the woman after he had her husband killed! That’s just a snapshot. Saul on the other hand, lost his Kingdom & his life essentially for two sins: not waiting for Samuel and keeping some livestock and a King alive. What? David, the murdering adulterer is “a man after God’s heart” and Saul is stripped of everything for this? What blows my mind is this, both times that Saul angers God, he is doing something that looks very spiritual. The first time, he offers God a sacrifice and the second time, he says he’s kept the best animals alive to offer to God…another sacrifice. Looking from eyes of flesh, Saul looks super spiritual, but God sees through different eyes.

This, I believe, is the sin God hates: the sin of religion. Religion says that David has no business being God’s man because he is too flawed, but the GOD of Religion says his contrite heart is worth more to me than his works. Religion puts Saul in a green room & David in a padded room, but the GOD of religion moves in, remodels and rests with the regrets of a rejected young sinner. Religion puts Saul on a Christian conference tour with a book deal and makes David an outcast with no access granted while the GOD of religion says I reject your man-fearing wanna-be Christian celebrity VIP and I choose instead the stained shepherd boy . See, the thing about David was, nobody on earth could beat him in a repenting contest. Hands down, nobody could hang with the kid. Saul on the other hand, always had an excuse and always felt like he could bargain with God by bringing his religious chips to the table. “But, look what I did do!”. What he didn’t do is man up. Never. He always felt like God owed him. Religious people always do. David, on the other hand, knew he owed God everything. Saul lived and died for the applause of man while David desperately desired the applause of Heaven.

When we first found Saul he was the humble young man that told the prophet he wasn’t fit to be a King, but somewhere along the way he has forgotten that he never deserved to be where he is and he’s not owed a thing. That’s how religion robs disciples; it robs them of their memory. Religious people never remember where they were when Jesus found them. They always forget they are debtors for life. Religion rejects graces and relies on rituals and moralistic living that are absent of utter dependency upon Christ. Religion tells Jesus, “I don’t need you or your blood”.

Looking from the outside in, Saul’s sacrifices seem to be very holy acts yet God refuses them. He won’t have that mess in his presence. There’s a lot of folks doing stuff that looks so spiritual it makes you feel like what you have to offer God isn’t enough, but don’t get it twisted…there are many people like Saul who God has already rejected, but not yet removed. Long before Saul was removed, God had already rejected him and chosen his replacement. Why? Every time God sees a sacrifice, a good deed, a spiritual act…he sees it beside a bare heart, a naked motive. There is no hiding a heart from Him. We see man from the outside in, but God sees from the inside out. Religion didn’t choose David, the GOD of religion did…with no regrets. However dirty your hands may be from sin, religion can’t wash them clean, but the GOD of religion can. And this is the great irony of the Gospel; that which in the natural stains, in the Spirit removes every stain. There is no Gospel without blood.

I Samuel 15 (The Message)

17 And Samuel told him. “When you started out in this, you were nothing—and you knew it.

22-23 Then Samuel said, Do you think all God wants are sacrifices—empty rituals just for show?He wants you to listen to him! Plain listening is the thing,not staging a lavish religious production. Not doing what God tells you is far worse than fooling around in the occult. Getting self-important around God is far worse than making deals with your dead ancestors. Because you said No to God’s command, he says No to your kingship.