1 Samuel 15:22
And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
The verse above is a record of the conversation between the prophet Samuel, and king Saul. God had given Saul very distinct instructions on what he should do with the Amalekites, but he failed to carry out his duties as the king. He did part of what God had ask him, but refused to do everything God had requested. When Samuel confronted Saul he made an excuse for his disobedience and promised to make a sacrifice to the Lord. Samuel's response was, it is better to obey God than sacrifice. God would rather you obey him than worship him through sacrifices.
If you read the Bible you will soon learn, you cannot worship unless you are obedient. God has a specific way He has chosen to be worshipped; so if you disobey, the sacrifice is in vain. I recently learned this lesson; I noticed in my prayers, announcements, and conversations that I was continuously repeated a statement; "we are going to have a good time at church today", "come to church with us you will love it", "Lord meet with us today and bless us at church". I don't know if you see it or not, but everything I said was about me not the Lord. Was I only serving the Lord for myself? What if we didn't have a good time? Would I still come to church? Even while I was doing the right thing I had a selfish motive attached to it.
Obviously, I asked myself, how can I overcome this? The answer didn't come right away, but it did come, and it's one word, obedience. I serve God, because He said to, I worship because He said to, I give because He said to! It's the only way to remove "me" from the equation. What if I didn't feel like going to church because the amusement park, or lake was more fun, how can I make the right decision everytime? By obeying God and doing the right thing.
As a preacher I'm commanded to preach when I feel like it and when I don't. Can you imagine you get dressed and show up at church on Sunday and the pastor, song leader, and Sunday school teachers aren't there because they didn't feel like fulfilling their duties? Don't laugh! This happens every Sunday in churches across the nation. When I serve based on my feelings I'm doing it for me, but when I serve out of obedience I'm doing it for the Lord. Guess which one pleases Him?
Obedience is the only way, It's the purest form of service, or worship, we will ever experience because it's all about Him not me. That's why God chose Saul's obedience over his sacrifice.
Pastor Ken Smith