Prejudice

1 Sam 16:6-7   And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD’S anointed is before him. But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

Have you ever considered that sometimes our evaluations of people are extremely superficial, prejudicial, and unfair? You know the routine. A family walks into church. They are wearing nice clothes. The children are well dressed. They pulled into the parking lot in a nice car. Instantly you make up your mind. These people are well off. You walk up to them putting on your best airs about you to make an impression. You are thinking, “These are quality people; we need to keep them.”

Why? Why would we do this? Why would we look exclusively at all the externals and change our behavior? We must realize that, yes, they may have their externals in order, but that must not be the single determining factor in our treatment and expectations of people.

Consider Samuel. In his search for the new man to be anointed king, the first man he encountered, he sized him up solely on the externals. “Oh, look at this one. He is tall. He carries himself so well. Look at the way he handles himself!” Yes, all extremely superficial, prejudicial and unfair. Verse 7 to me is like God snapping His fingers at Samuel and saying, “Don’t get swept up by the externals of people.” 

We too do this today. We accept and reject people based solely on their externals. Why not go back to accepting and rejecting people the way God would. He determines the quality and sincerity of person by his heart.

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Finishing the Assignment

1 Samuel 15:3, 9, 15 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.  Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all  that was  good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing  that was  vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly. And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD

Have you ever told a child exactly what you wanted him to do? You spell out for him the details of the assignment. You have him repeat back what you want him to do. You may even write it down for him to check off when it is completed. 

However, when you return, you discover that it was not done as you had required. Have you ever experienced this shock?

The child given the assignment then begins to offer creative reasons for his not completing it the way you instructed. You stand in utter amazement as you hear the weak and lame excuses for the rebellion or laziness. You wonder what happened between your command and his attempt to complete the command.  

Samuel gave Saul a “Things to do” list from God. It was clear. Destroy the enemy and his possessions. “Spare them not” was His direct command. However, when God sent His man to check on the progress of His “Things to do” list, he found that part of the command was followed but not all of it. Saul proudly proclaimed his interpretation of the command. He even stated he had done what God said and in his heart, he believed he had improved upon it. This was not acceptable to God. Saul paid dearly for his error in not following God’s command.  

However, before we jump on the “Anti-Saul” bandwagon, consider this. We have been commanded to evangelize the world, yet look at our interpretations of it in missions today. We have been commanded to preach the Word, yet look at our modern interpretations of it in our preaching today. We have been commanded to live holily and righteously, yet look at our standards and convictions in dress and disposition.   

Our day of reckoning is coming. We will face God and give account for how we fulfilled His commands. How are you coming on His “Things to do” list?  

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Two Different Animals

1 Samuel 9:3 And the asses of Kish Saul’s father were lost. And Kish said to Saul his son, Take now one of the servants with thee, and arise, go seek the asses.

1 Chronicles 17:7 Now therefore thus shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, even from following the sheep, that thou shouldest be ruler over my people Israel:

Here are two verses about two leaders. One who would follow the other in ministry. You instantly think of their similarities. They both were from simple families. A quiet lowly existence was theirs until the man of God showed up with a bottle of oil to anoint and a message from God. These young men who would be leaders both had their beginning in agriculture. Were they the Future Farmers of Israel? They were to be future farmers but guiding and leading God’s people. 

Yet these verses create their own contrast, do they not? Consider the animals David and Saul worked with. Saul – Keeper of the Donkeys. David – Keeper of Sheep. What we do growing up affects our philosophy in life later. For some, it is a positive change and yet for others, it is negative. No, all futures are not imprisoned by the deeds and duties of a youth. But they do have an impact. 

Sheep and Donkeys -  they are two totally different animals. You raise them differently. Neither is smart. However, where sheep are stupid, donkeys are stubborn. One requires a hard heart; the other, a gentle heart. One demands a hand that will beat; the other, a hand that will guide. 

Consider what happened to David and Saul’s ministries. You can see where their formative years in the school of leadership in the pastures could have influenced how they led God’s people. 

Yet the message rings clearest in my mind when I consider this last thought. God had to give Saul “another heart.” Yet David was a man “after God’s own heart.” 

Take heed; the influences of our yesterdays tend to affect our tomorrows. 

Remember When?

1 Samuel 15:17-19 And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel? And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD

Have you ever known someone who made it to the “big time” and forgot his old friends, neighborhood, and even his upbringing? You know the routine. Your “Old Friend” strikes it good and forgets anything that may drag him back to the reality of his former relationships and routine. You almost wish you could see him and say, “Remember when?”

Samuel is God’s man and messenger. Samuel has a “Remember when?” message from God for Saul. Saul had made the “big time.” God had taken him from just a simple farmer and made him into a leader of his people. Yet Saul had begun to think that this newly found fame and fortune had been obtained on his own and without divine intervention. 

Samuel asks him a multipart question. The question reveals God’s view of this man. The questions are designed to deflate the super ego of this man intoxicated on the drink of pride. Clearly the verses reveal God’s dissatisfaction with Saul. The most telling part of the question is when God asks him to remember when he was little in his own sight.

God forced Saul to consider there was a day when he viewed himself as he really was: a farmer called by God to be a leader. God forced him to see that Saul saw himself now as big. “Too Big” to obey God’s rules. “Too Big” for God’s righteousness. “Too Big” for God routine. 

How do you see yourself? It takes great discipline, surrender, and yielding to remain little in our own eyes. Fight the temptation to think that the blessings of God come because you are so wonderful. God’s blessings come because He is so wonderful. The only thing our goodness has ever merited was filthy rags and Hell. Strive to remain little in your own eyes!

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His Peculiar Treasure

Exodus 19:5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:

As children, my siblings and I needed frequent reminders of the importance of obedience. Many times, we knew what to do. We even knew when to do it. Yet we would choose a path that was not always best. 

Our parents wanted us to listen to them when they spoke. They wanted us to follow everything they asked us to do. They expected we would live the way they asked us to live. Our obedience strengthened our relationship with our parents. Our value as their obedient children increased.

Our focus verse today paints a picture in which we see the Father of Israel and a son named Moses. The Father’s words to his son are clear. Moses heard he was to obey God’s voice and keep my covenant. His obedience brought a result in his relationship with God. God told him, “When you do these things, you will be a peculiar treasure to Me.”

The expression peculiar treasure explains God’s high view of obedience. The word peculiar is also translated in other places in the Old Testament. It is see in English as proper, special, and as jewels. God’s high value on obedience should change my value on obedience. 

If you are a child of God, you must remember God is your Father. God desires obedience as do our earthly parents. He wants us to listen to Him when He speaks. He wants us to obey what He says. He wants us to live according to His ways.

The very thought that I could be perceived as a special treasure, a proper person, and a jewel to God makes me want to do what He asks. 

Will you be a peculiar treasure to Him today?

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His Word in my Heart

Deuteronomy 6:6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart.

I can remember as a boy, I owned a toy box. Inside this toy box were treasures to be rediscovered on any given day when the whims of exploration swept across my young mind. On those days of exploration, I would discover Legos, GI Joe men and their uniforms, puzzle pieces, binoculars and much more. 

Each one had a way of evoking memories of the day I received them. I would then strive to recapture that same emotion in my playing with them again. My toy box was really a box of treasures. I knew I had these toys but I just had not been using them for a while. 

The Lord gave Moses His words. They were His statutes, laws, and commandments. Moses told them, “...these words shall be in your heart.” 

Consider this precious truth: His word in our heart. What a precious treasure to explore! His word is a lamp to our feet. His word is light to our paths. His word in our heart is the barrier between sin and us. Oh, that we would take the time to explore His word and deposit them in the treasure box of our hearts.

When last did you have a day of exploration in his word?

 

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All Things Beautiful

Ecclesiastes 3:11  He hath made everything beautiful in his time: also, he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end

Last week, I walked over to my neighbor’s house and viewed his rose garden. He was out of town and I wanted to send him a few pictures. I noted the beauty of this one bush and its white blossoms. 

I remember when he brought these bushes home and planted them. I recall the green leaves and thorns. I remember what they looked like this past winter: so bleak and even dead looking. I recall his trimming them as winter approached.

However, given the weather and the hand of God, the roses are radiant and glorious. It is amazing what happens when the seasons change and the clock of God moves. 

If dead wood and thorns can radiate this beauty in His time, how beautiful will you and I be in His time? Don’t concern yourself with how you look today! God has your beautiful moment in the works; it is in His time.

Who Lights Your Candle?

Psalms 18:28 For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.

The unlit room contained darkness you could feel. The oppressiveness of the darkness could hardly be described. It was as if you were crippled by its presence. Fear laid hold on the occupants of this darkness. 

Suddenly, a sound of a match against an abrasive surface was heard! In a brief moment, a candle’s flame chased away the darkness. Darkness’ chains dropped and liberty was found in the candle’s warm glow. The one who lit the candle was embraced and thanked for his effort. His light brought liberty and showed the way out of darkness.

In life, we have moments of crippling fear while in a place of darkness. We long for the liberty of light and specific direction out of the place we are held. 

In my studying the Word of God this morning, I came across this verse. It struck me as I read it. When faced with the uncertainty that is bred in darkness, realize this truth. The believer is never alone in this darkness. God will light your candle! He will turn darkness into light.  God alone has the direction and liberty we need.

Has darkness seized you for the moment? Do you long for light? Who lights your candle? Any attempt to light our own candle will lead to frustration. Ask God to light your candle and point the way out of this chamber to where He needs you.

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