Why Standing Stones?

Why Standing Stones?

In ancient Israel, people stood stones on their end to commemorate a powerful move of God in their lives. It was a memorial to something God spoke or revealed or did. Often these standing stones became reference points in their lives. Today, we can find reference points in the written Word of God. Any scripture or sermon can speak something powerful into our lives, or reveal something of the nature of God. In this blog I offer, what can become a reference point for Christians, taken from God's ancient word and applied to today's world.

Monday, May 23, 2016

God is Sovereign

Recently, I posted about faith, [Pray in Faith January 20, 2016; Faith is Action February 2, 2016], it seems that some people have come to the conclusion that, “If I have faith then God will, without fail do whatever I ask.” I want you to know, ttough, that it isn’t always like that. God is God – He’s sovereign.  God may not always respond to what we ask in the way that we want.  Today, I want to post on God’s sovereignty:

Daniel 3:15-18 (NKJV)
3:15 Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?" 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up."

The Faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

This is a pretty familiar portion of scripture, but let me fill in what’s happening here.  This takes place after Israel has fallen to Babylon.  The best of the young people have been taken there to serve King Nebuchadnezzar and to work in his government.  Among those taken were Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 

Nebuchadnezzar gets the idea that he’s a god, so he builds a huge golden statue of himself, and he commands that when the music is played that everyone will bow down and worship his statue.  So, the music is played and everyone bows down.  As you look over the people everyone is bowing; everyone...but these three men.

They are brought before the king and he gives them a second chance.  “I’m going to play the music again, and this time you better bow down.”  The music plays again and everyone except Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego bow again.

The king confronts them:  “Let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the golden image you have set up.”
They’re standing firm in their faith in God.  They’ve been taken to Babylon – But they haven’t lost faith in God.  This isn’t the first time they’ve defied the king. 

When they first arrived in Babylon they were separated apart from others and given delicacies from the king’s table to eat, but Daniel and the three didn’t want to violate God’s commands, regarding food and what could not be eaten.  They stood firm and refused the delicacies.

So, they were faithful men.  In times of trouble they would pray to God and remained in God’s will rather than adjusting to Babylon’s culture, and because of their faith, God helped them and blessed them.  He helped them to stay within His food requirements.  

Another time He gave Daniel the answer to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.  He answered their prayers in that matter; saving their lives.  They have been faithful, prayed in faith, and God has given them the answer to their prayers.  All of that goes with what I said in those other posts.  I preached that if we had faith God would move on our behalf, and we can see from His response to these men that that’s true.  God will respond to our faith.  Our faith is a catalyst to God’s response:

Matthew 21:21-22 (NKJV)
21:21 So Jesus answered and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' it will be done. 22 And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."

If you have faith and do not doubt… whatever you ask in prayer, believing you will receive.  This is a promise…BUT, dies that mean that God will give us anything we ask?  There’s a clue to the answer of that question in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s response to the king.  Look at this in our text:

Daniel 3:17-18 (NKJV)
3:17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up."

They said, “our God whom we serve is able to deliver us, but if not… But if not?  What happened to that promise?  If you pray without doubting you will receive.  This says that God may or may not grant your petition:  It’s up to God.  God is the one who decides whether or not He’ll bless.

God Will Bless Whom He Will Bless

This is because God is a sovereign God.  That word sovereign means one who holds supreme power.   So, God has the power to make a decision about your prayer.  We’ve seen that Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego had faith.  Their prayers were prayed in faith, but they left open the possibility that God may not deliver them.

Exodus 33:19 (NKJV)
33:19 Then He said, "I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."

This is God’s statement on His sovereignty.  I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious.  God’s saying, "I’m going to do what I’m going to do."  It’s totally up to God – God gets to decide.

When we come to God, we bring our needs and our wants, but we should never lose sight of which one of us is God.  We can complain, “I went to God in faith.” – “I showed God my need.” – God should have given me what I wanted!” – Except God is God not you.  You’re not God.  This may come as a shock to some, but it’s JESUS Christ not Santa Christ.

So why wouldn’t God give you what you’re asking?  There’s a number of reasons why God would withhold your desire.  The first is That what you’re asking isn’t God’s will.

Job 23:13-14 (AMP)
23:13 But He is unchangeable, and who can turn Him? And what He wants to do, that He does. 14 For He performs [that which He has] planned for me, and of many such matters He is mindful.

God has a plan for your life.  There is a specific plan.  God has a method and a destiny for your life.  We can ask God for something and not get it because it goes against God’s plan for your life.

I’ve known people who have asked God for a husband or a wife and still remain unmarried.  Sometimes, they’re asking for a specific person, that may not be the person that God has in mind, for what He has planned for THEM, so it goes against God’s will for their lives.  We don’t always know what God is trying to do.

The second reason is that what you’re asking may destroy your destiny.  That thing you’ve asked for may be the thing that pulls you out of God’s will.  I’ve known people that have gone out and taken jobs that took them away from church and right our of God’s will.  The problem is that not everything we think we want is the best thing for us.

God knows His plan for you.  God also knows what’s best for you and for seeing His plan through.  We don’t always even know what God is trying to do in us.  God may be trying to work something out of us, cause us to see something differently, or to behave in a different way, and what you’re praying for may derail that.  God doesn’t think like us.

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV)
55:8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. 9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

We’re limited by our senses.  We don’t know what’s in the future.  We don’t understand how things are interconnected.  We don’t always see the cause and effect of what we’re asking.  But God does; He does know all of these answers and God wants only good things for us.  God isn’t going to give us something that’s going to damage us.  It all comes down to trusting God.

Can you Trust God to Know What's Best?

Can you trust God to know what’s best for you?  Do you believe that God is always a good God?  I’ve heard people say, “I’m losing faith in God because He’s not giving me what I’m praying for.”  Prayer isn’t a way of getting what we want, but the way to become what God wants us to be.

Do you really want the best that God has for you?  I sometimes think we say that we want all that God has for us, but then we short-circuit God’s plans for us, by demanding that God give us what we want.

We have to be able to trust that God really has our best interest at heart; that He has plans for us and that those plans are the best thing for us.

One thing that I see happening is that people are getting angry at God when they don’t get what they want, but God isn’t a genie in a bottle that’s bound to give us our wishes.  God gives according to HIS wishes.  It’s a misconception to think that God exists to serve us.  God created us to worship Him.  We exist to serve God.  God is gracious.  God is loving.  God gives us the things that are best for us.  We don’t always know what’s best for us, but God does, because God CAN see the future.  He does know how things interconnect.  He can see cause and effect.

So, let’s go back to our text for another moment.  Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego tell Nebuchadnezzar something that’s a really important lesson for us in verse 18 of our text:

Daniel 3:18 (AMP)
3:18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up!

Basically, what they’re saying is, “We believe that God will give us what we ask, but if He doesn’t we’re going to serve God anyway.”  Even if God chooses not to deliver them they’re going to serve God anyway.

It’s so discouraging to see people fall out of the will of God and out of the blessing of serving God, because God was doing something different than they wanted God to do.  I’ve seen it happen so often recently.  People are allowing Satan to lie to them, and He’s ripping them off.  The devil’s a liar.

So, we pray in faith believing that we’ll receive.  We pray with the expectation that God will move.  We take the action of our faith, to see it happen, but when it doesn’t, does it mean that God doesn’t care?  It may mean that God cares enough not to give you everything you ask.  I don’t give my kids everything they ask for because I know that some of those things aren’t good for them.  God is the same way, so another part of faith is having the faith to trust that God is doing what’s best for you in His answer to your prayer.

When we’re praying it’s best to remember which one of us is God.

Believe it or not – You are NOT God.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Pentecost, the Beginning of the Harvest

Yesterday was Pentecost, the day that the Holy Spirit fell in Acts 2.  Today, I want to post on Pentecost and what it means to us.  I think you’ll find it interesting.

Acts 2:38-39 (NKJV)
2:38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."

The Crucifixion Timeline and the Holy Spirit

First, I want you to follow the timeline that directly precedes the Day of Pentecost.

1.        Jesus was crucified on the Day of Preparation.  This is the day when the lambs were prepared for Passover.  They were sacrificed by the priests in the temple until three o’clock and then they blew the shofar to announce the end of the sacrifices.  Jesus died at what the Bible called the ninth hour – three o’clock.  So, picture this Jesus cries out, “It is finished” and then the shofar is sounded, signifying the end of the sacrifices.  When Jesus died it was the last sacrifice in the Temple.
2.        The next day was Passover – The commemoration of the death of the first-born in Egypt.  The angel passed over the home where the Jews had killed their lamb the night before.  It was a day of deliverance from death.  Jesus died and His death causes the death from sin to “pass over” us. 
3.        Jesus rose on the third day – The Day of First Fruits.  This is the beginning of the Barley harvest.  It was like a precursor to the Wheat harvest, in fact, the timing of the Wheat harvest was measured as seven weeks from the Festival of First Fruits.  Jesus was the first to rise from the dead, he shows us the way.  He shows us the promise of the resurrection.  His resurrection is the precursor to ours.  In fact, Paul called Him the First fruit:

1 Corinthians 15:22-23 (NKJV)
15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.

4.        Pentecost is fifty days after this feast.  Pentecost is the Greek Name, it comes from the New Testament, but in Hebrew it’s called the Festival of Weeks, because it’s seven weeks after the Festival of First Fruits.

Jesus rose from the dead and was on earth for forty days afterward.  On the fortieth day as He was about to ascend into Heaven, He told the disciples to wait for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:4-5 (NKJV)
1:4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which," He said, "you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."

So this day, Pentecost was a feast day – The Festival of Weeks – It was a celebration and a day of thanks to God for the wheat harvest that was about to begin.  First Fruits was the beginning of the Barley harvest and Weeks was the beginning of the wheat harvest.  It was seven weeks after First Fruits.

You can see from timeline how all of this ties together with other references in the Bible:  How Jesus’ death and resurrection was foreshadowed by the festivals and rituals of he Old Testament, and Jewish life.  If the Jews had seen Jesus’ death and resurrection through this prism of foreshadow and prophecy, His death and resurrection would have held some significance for them.

Now, let’s look at the events of the Day of Pentecost:

Acts 2:1-4 (NKJV)
2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

We know this as the day and the moment that the Holy Spirit landed on the disciples.  I want to get into greater detail about what’s happening at this time:

Pentecost was a day of prayer and celebration.  People had the day off; they met to pray and thank God for the upcoming harvest.  Acts 2:1 tells us the disciples were all together in one accord.  They were there to pray and celebrate the feast day.  Remember, they continued to be involved in the temple.

While they are there they hear a sound like a mighty rushing wind.  The word translated from Hebrew as wind can also be translated as Spirit, and as breath.  Look at the Book of Genesis, when God created Adam:

Genesis 2:7 (NKJV)
2:7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

So here is the word “breath.”  The word translated as breath is defined in the Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionary as “a puff, that is, wind” It can also be translated as breath, inspiration, soul and spirit.

So, this sound like a “might rushing wind” signifies the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit entered into the place where they were and filled the house.  Then, fire appears and sits on each one of them.  In the temple there was a fire that was always burning.  That fire signified the presence of God.  On this day the presence of God sat on each one of them and it symbolized that now they each contained the presence of God

So think about this for a moment:  The Holy Spirit came upon them and God dwelt in them.  They were immersed (baptized) in the Spirit of God.  They became a temple of His Spirit.  They began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit moved them.  It was loud, too.  People in the street heard the noise; it was loud enough to attract three thousand people.  It must have been pretty loud.

What Happened After

Now, remember that this day was the day of a great festival – The Festival of Weeks.  This was a pilgrimage festival.  That means that devout Jewish believers came from all over the world to Jerusalem; to the temple to participate in this festival.  There were a lot of visitors in Jerusalem that day:

Acts 2:5 (NKJV)
2:5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.

Those visitors heard the disciples, speaking in tongues.  They heard this noise but they understood it in their own language.

Acts 2:6 (NKJV)
2:6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.

They gathered around – They wanted to see what was going on.  They heard the noise and thought the disciples were drunk, but Peter stood up and began to preach a message.  He reminds the of Joel’s prophecy, (I’ll cover this in detail later.)  He tells them how they crucified their Messiah.  He brings it all out into the open and look at the result.

Acts 2:37-38 (NKJV)
2:37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" 38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The conviction of the Holy Spirit fell on these men.  They recognized their guilt and sin.  They were frightened of the Wrath of God, “Men and Brethren what shall we do?”  They cried out in fear, “How can we fix this?  How can we make this up to God?”  Peter tells them to repent…and they did:

Acts 2:40-41 (NKJV)
2:40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation." 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

Three thousand men received Jesus – The first harvest of the early church.  The beginning of the harvest of Jesus’ church and it took place on Pentecost, the day set aside by the Jews to mark the beginning of the wheat harvest.

Let’s look briefly at the timeline again with what we’ve learned.

1.        Jesus was crucified on the Day of Preparation, when the lambs were killed for the Passover.  He died at three o’clock at the moment when the sacrifices stop. He was the last sacrifice at the temple in Jerusalem.
2.        Jesus resurrected on the festival of first fruits.  He was the first to experience the resurrection and eternal life.  He shows us the way.
3.        The Holy Spirit fell on the day of Pentecost.  The Feast that marks the beginning of the harvest season.  He came upon the disciples like wind (spirit) and fire (presence of God) and the harvest began for the church of Jesus Christ. Now, I want to show you one more thing.

This is Available to Us Today

During Peter’s sermon he reminded them of the following prophecy in the book of Joel:

Acts 2:17-18 (NKJV)
2:17 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.

This is the way that Peter spoke Joel’s words.  Peter was saying that in the last days these things would happen.  “In the last days,” refers to the time from Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension until the time Jesus returns.  Another way he could have said it is, “From now on…”  Peter even clarifies this idea in Acts 2:39:

Acts 2:39 (NKJV)
2:39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."

In verse 2:38 he told the men 1) repent, 2) be baptized and 3) receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  He continues:

For this promise is to you – Those who were there hearing his words
And to your Children – The next generation
And to all who are afar off – He’s talking generationally.  He’s talking about all of those who will come in later generations.  For many generations to come would be another way to say it.
As many as he Lord will call – We are called.  Remember Jesus said, “You have not chosen me – I have chosen you.”  We are called  - We are as many as the Lord will call. 

These things that happened on Pentecost are available to us today.  We can still speak in tongues, as the Spirit give utterance.  We can see visions.  We can dream dreams.  Young men and women can prophesy.  These things still happen to day and there are other things, too.  Peter became bold.  He boldly spoke the Word of God and brought conviction.  He and John went to the temple and saw a lame man healed.  People brought out their sick, lame and demon possessed to the street so that Peter’s shadow could fall on them and they’d be healed.  These things are manifestations of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  These can happen because of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Look at what Jesus said:

John 14:12 (NKJV)
14:12 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.

If we believe in Him we can receive the Holy Spirit and we will do greater things.

The Holy Spirit and His power came with a purpose.  That purpose is the harvest.  That’s why it happened the day that it did.  That harvest is still taking place – We need the Holy Spirit.

The Bible says this promise is for us, but I know some people that have prayed to receive the Holy Spirit many times and still have not received it.  This promise is for us – It’s a PROMISE. God keeps promises.  It’s like any gift, though, you have to receive.  It isn’t a gift until you receive it.  If you are one of these I want you to think about it – What is the impediment to receiving the Holy Spirit in you?  What stops you?  It has to be something in you, God has given it.  Is it hidden sin, fear, unbelief – try to identify it and overcome it.  Repent, then pray again, and continue until it happens.  It’s a promise.  It’s a promise for all who believe.

Monday, May 2, 2016

A Tale of Two Kings

Do you know that God sees things in a different way than we do?  We look at the outward but God sees at the heart. Let me show you the difference between how we see a person and how God sees them. 

God has sent Samuel to anoint the next King of Israel and He has chosen one of the sons of Jesse the Bethlehemite, but He didn’t tell Samuel which one.  So, Samuel has Jesse bring his sons, David’s brothers, in one at a time. 

So here’s Eliab, David’s oldest brother:

1 Samuel 16:6-7 (NKJV)
16:6 So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, "Surely the Lord's anointed is before Him." 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

Samuel is looking at Eliab and from Samuel;’s perspective Eliab is kingly.  He’s convinced that God wants him to anoint Eliab king, but God says, “The Lord doesn’t see as man sees.”  God doesn’t look at our looks, and our height, or any of the things we look at.  He says, “God looks at the heart.”

Today, I want to contrast two kings:  The first two kings of Israel.  I want to show you what God is looking for and how we miss those things because of our limited vision.

1 Samuel 8:1-5 (NKJV)
8:1 Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice. 4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, 5 and said to him, "Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations."

God’s Plan for Israel

Let me start today, with the back story on this scripture.  God led His people out of Egypt.  That took place centuries before our text and from the time they came out God had a plan for ruling His people.  He used judges for five hundred ten years – Leaders who judged based on God’s commands.  This way God was ruling His people.  That was always God’s intention – To rule His people.

Genesis 17:8 (NKJV)
17:8 Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God."

God’s telling Abraham that this is His plan when He brings the people into the Promised Land, and for the first five hundred years after they left Egypt that’s exactly how it was. 

God was in charge and He chose those who would speak for Him to be judges over His people.  Moses, Joshua, Gideon, even Samuel, they led Hid people in war4 and peace.  They were responsive to God’s will, but there were problems, as well.  Eli was a judge over Israel but His sons who were priests were not living integrally.  They were perverted and dishonest.  They robbed the people of their offerings and their blessings.  They slept with women in the tabernacle.

1 Samuel 2:22-24 (NKJV)
2:22 Now Eli was very old; and he heard everything his sons did to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 23 So he said to them, "Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all the people. 24 No, my sons! For it is not a good report that I hear. You make the Lord's people transgress.

One of these two would have been made judge after Eli, but God short-circuited that.  God had already chosen someone to follow after Eli.  That was Samuel and you can see in First Samuel how God placed him into Eli’s household.  You can see that even as a child Samuel was responsive to God’s call:

1 Samuel 3:10-14 (NKJV)
3:10 Now the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel answered, "Speak, for Your servant hears." 11 Then the Lord said to Samuel: "Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. 12 In that day I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them. 14 And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever."

At the time Samuel was a child.  But God has set him in place to be the next judge of Israel.  In fact, he would be the last judge of Israel, because there would come a time when the people would demand for themselves a king like other nations.

It’s always interesting that people have never changed.  We’re not always content to let God call the shots in our lives.  Even as Christians we want to be like everyone else.  God calls us to be a peculiar people.  That word peculiar means distinct or different from everyone else – separate from other people, bit we’re uncomfortable with that.  We want to be accepted by people.

We’re also unwilling to completely trust God with our lives.  This is what’s happening in Israel at this time in our text.  If the people are living under judges they must completely trust God, even when it seems like God isn’t paying attention.

Imagine what it would have been like to watch Eli’s sons, knowing what they’re capable of and knowing also that they’ll be your next leaders.

Samuel as judge was righteous and God-fearing but he also had sons who were not.  They were thieves and extortionists – Look at the text:  Samuel’s sons did not walk in Samuel’s ways. They stole; they took bribes; they perverted justice, and they were next in line to judge Israel.  They problem maws that, even though Israel left Egypt behind they never left sin behind.  The people were fed up and demanded a king.

The People’s King

So God gave them a king – I want you to see his description:

1 Samuel 10:23-24 (NKJV)
10:23 So they ran and brought him from there; and when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward. 24 And Samuel said to all the people, "Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen, that there is no one like him among all the people?" So all the people shouted and said, "Long live the king!"

Saul was tall and handsome – He looked like a king.  The people would have chosen a man like him for king themselves.  God gave them the kind of king theywere looking for.  People have a tendency to look for someone they see as kingly.  We do this in elections – Does He/she look presidential?  Can I see this person as the leader of our country?  Saul looked like a king – So the people were satisfied, but Samuel had tried to warn them, about what it would be like tio be under a human king.

Samuel did warn them:

1 Samuel 8:11-18 (NKJV)
8:11 And he said, "This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. 12 He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. 14 And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. 16 And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. 18 And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day."

The people were convinced that was what they wanted.  Saul did all of these things – and these were things that the judges had never done.

The final thing about Saul is that he was disobedient.  He became “full of himself.”  He rose up in pride.  Samuel, as he told Saul that God would take the kingdom from him even said to him, “When you were little in your own eyes.”  We look at people and see the outward things; the things they present, their looks and countenance, but we don’t always see their heart.

So, I want to contrast Saul with David.  David was a man after God’s own heart.  David was the man that God would choose for His people.

1 Samuel 16:1 (NKJV)
16:1 Now the Lord said to Samuel, "How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons."

God said I have provided MYSELF a king.  David is the kind of man that God would have chosen to lead His people.  God even called him, “A Man after my own heart.”  Remember God warned Samuel that He doesn’t see what we see, He looks at the heart.  He sees what’s hidden there.  He see character and integrity.  He looks for humility. 

So, this time God chose the youngest – a shepherd.  He’s not the one that Samuel would have chosen, but the one with a shepherd’s heart.  This is the kind of man that God would choose to lead the people. 

Was David perfect?  Not by any means.  He committed adultery.  He murdered the woman’s husband.  He sinned I big ways, but what makes David a man after God’s own heart is that he was humble enough to repent – to recognize when he was wrong and correct it.  God chose David to rule His people and David was the greatest king of Israel

So, What’s the Point

God sees in a way that you and I can’t.  Sometimes, we can see a bit of someone’s character but only God really knows what’s in a person’s heart.  So, I wonder sometimes, why do we block God’s wisdom from our relationships?  Why don’t we trust God enough to let Him help us in our relationships? 

We make judgments by our standards:  “My wife must be beautiful.”
“My husband has to be rich AND good-looking.”  We don’t always look for the right things in a person.  “She’s so beautiful – she couldn’t possibly be mean as a snake.”  “He seems like such a nice guy – He couldn’t be a liar and a cheater.”  God knows!  He cans see past the straight teeth and beautiful smile.  He can see the ugliness of the heart.

I've seen so many people choose their spouses on the wrong things; so many that have made mistakes in judgment because they relied on their own feelings and judgments.  I've known people that have married people that have taken them out of the will of God.  These are people who had a desire to do something for God but made a wrong choice in marriage.  The sad part is that they never consulted God on that decision.  God knows, He sees the heart.  Why trust your emotions when you can have the wisdom of God to help you.

In the Book of Genesis – God is creating marriage and He creates a woman for Adam out of his own body.  She’s a part of him – She’s made up of the same things and the Bible says that God brought the woman to Adam.  God knew what Adam needed.  He could see his heart.  He could see that it wasn’t good for him to be alone and he brought the best person for Adam.

Too often I see people leaving God out of their relationships.  Pray; ask God if that person is right for you.  We need to let God be part of the process in our decision-making.  He knows what’s best for us.  Israel endured Saul, because they didn’t trust God’s decisions on how to best lead them.  Israel triumphed under David because God chose for them.