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But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” - 1 Samuel 16:7 (NLT)
I spoke with a pastor friend recently who shared with me the feelings of inferiority he grew up with as a kid. During his school years, my friend was small. To call him “undersized” would have been generous. Compared to most boys his age, he was a twig. As a result, he found himself on the painful end of jokes and insults for years. He was always the last boy picked for teams in gym class. As a result, my friend grew up constantly feeling like he couldn’t measure up, physically and emotionally.
The first time we see David in Scripture, he is standing in a line-up of would-be kings. The prophet, Samuel, was sent to anoint the next king of Israel. Like a captain picking the star player for his kickball team, Samuel singles out the most impressive-looking young man. Tall, dark, handsome, and muscular. Surely this is the next warrior-king!
“Not so fast,” God says. “I’m not looking at the same things you are. What impresses you is of no interest to me. I’m looking much deeper - at the heart.”
God then points to David, the bean-pole. “That’s my man,” He says.
David’s humble beginnings should serve as an encouragement to us. It’s all too easy to lose ourselves in the comparison game. We aren’t as wealthy, successful, beautiful, well-dressed, book-smart, athletic, skinny, confident, charismatic, or photogenic as the people around us, so we feel less-than. We can quickly fall into damaging cycles of self-loathing. It’s worth reminding yourself today that God isn’t really interested in all that. God sees you at a much deeper level. He is looking at your heart.
Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on. - 1 Samuel 16:13 (NLT)
I was rather aimless as a young man. I chose my college not for the programs they offered, but because I had friends there. I became an English major because I didn’t like any of my other classes. I pursued a teaching career because I wasn’t sure what else I could do with an English degree.
Fast forward a few years to the day God placed a call on my heart to give myself fully to the church in pastoral ministry. I was confused and terrified about the implications of this call. I had no experience preaching or leading a church. I wasn’t confident in my theological background. On and on I could go.
But over the next few months and years, a number of people spoke encouragement to me. They identified something I had never seen in myself: anointing. A college professor recalled sensing the presence of the Holy Spirit on me in English class. A former pastor had known the call to ministry was on my life for years before I did. A coworker shared a vision about what God was preparing me for.
I sometimes feel awkward sharing things like that because it seems like I’m tooting my horn. Yet the point is actually quite the opposite: my journey has nothing to do with my own talent or skill and everything to do with the Spirit of God working supernaturally through me.
There is a difference between talent and anointing. A talented musician does not necessarily make a good worship leader. A charismatic speaker isn’t a shoo-in as a preacher. But with the anointing of God, giants fall, armies will flee, and songs are written that will be sung for generations.
One step to discover how God has anointed you is to discover your gifts through service. If you aren’t serving your local campus right now, why not find a place to start today?Share Tweet
The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine! - 1 Samuel 17:37 (NLT)
A few years ago I found myself in a difficult situation. God made it clear that the ministry I had been serving at in a local church for four years was coming to end. It wasn’t my desire or my plan, but it was happening nonetheless.
Those days were filled with confusion, uncertainty, and pain. But one emotion was largely, if not completely, absent: fear. Despite the fact that I had no way of knowing what would happen next, I had a deep sense of peace that God would provide. It helped to recall a scenario four years prior in which God completely orchestrated a massive shift in our lives. We moved from Michigan to Kentucky, our household income was instantly one quarter of what it had been, and we had to begin to form a new life from scratch. Yet in the middle of all that, God provided. We never went hungry, our kids quickly made new friends, and in time my wife and I formed some deep relationships that we hold onto even today.
Remembering God’s presence and provision in the past was extraordinarily helpful when we faced the new challenge. We would be stepping into a new community and a new ministry. That’s all we knew at the time. Be we had seen God provide in the past, and we knew He would do it again.
David saw a gigantic problem in front of him. I’m willing to bet that he didn’t have a plan of attack in place when he signed up to face Goliath on the battlefield. But he also knew that God had always been with him, guiding and protecting. Remembering God’s power and presence in his past gave David the confidence to face the challenge of the present without fear of his future.
Incorporate the practice of “remembering” into your prayer life. Use a journal to write down answers to prayer; use prayer time before meals as an opportunity to remember God’s provision for the day; tell stories to your kids about times you stepped out in faith and saw God respond.Share Tweet
Saul was then afraid of David, for the Lord was with David and had turned away from Saul. - 1 Samuel 18:12 (NLT)
I’ve been watching through the X-Men movie series with my son this summer. One of the primary conflicts that works itself out through the series is the tension between humans and mutants.
A leading figure of the mutant rebellion, Magneto, spends his time recruiting other mutants to his cause. Opposite him stands Professor Charles Xavier, the level-headed leader of the X-Men. In a feeble attempt to win the Professor to his cause, Magneto asks matter-of-factly, “A war is coming, Charles. Are you sure you’re on the right side?”
An unfortunate side effect of any battle is that people who don’t choose the same side suddenly find themselves in different camps. The American Civil War notoriously pitted brother against brother in the fight over the Union. The battle against powers and principalities, as Paul calls it, sometimes does the same. A daughter may choose to follow Jesus and her parents do not. A husband submits his life to Christ but his wife keeps the church at arm’s length. Jesus knew this would be the case. “I have not come for peace but with a sword,” He said. Jesus knew that following Him would often mean sharply dividing a family in two.
David was no stranger to this kind of division. God anointed him as the future king of Israel, which did not sit well with King Saul. The farther Saul drifted from the heart of God, the angrier he became with David’s anointing. His anger eventually turned into a jealous rage and he spent his time and energy trying to smite David from the earth.
When you choose to follow Christ, it’s an all-or-nothing pursuit. Without question, some people in your life will not understand. It’s likely that some friends or family members will even pull away from you. David experienced this, as did Jesus. We can take comfort in that.
One of the best ways to stay strong in your faith when faced with relational tensions is to immerse yourself in Christian community. If you aren’t part of a Southland Group, contact your Groups Pastor and find out how you can be!Share Tweet
What Saul had in mind was that David would be killed in the fight. - 1 Samuel 18:24 (NLT)
Have you ever felt like you’ve been set up to fail?
When I was 18 years old I almost lost 6 kids in the woods. I was leading a hike as a camp counselor, but the cards were stacked against me:
My co-leader was a Venezuelan who spoke very little English.
He also happened to have no shoulders, which made it impossible for him to carry a pack (meaning I had to carry all his weight up the mountain).
We didn’t carry water up the mountain because there was supposed to be a natural spring at the top… but we found it to be dried up.
I ran back down the mountain to start purifying lake water, and Martin was supposed to bring the kids down behind me.
But Martin wasn’t able to keep the kids in line (because of the no-English thing), and half the group ran ahead and out of sight. Martin arrived at the campsite with only half the campers, and I had to run frantically through the woods looking for the lost boys. Fortunately, I found them about a mile down an old jeep trail and they were no worse for the wear… but it could have been bad.
King Saul had his heart set against David. At one point he promised David his daughter’s hand in marriage on the condition that he return with 100 Philistine foreskins. He set David up to fail and assumed he’d perish on the field of battle. But God was with David even against the odds, and David came back with twice the number of promised foreskins. (There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write).
God defies the odds and tips the scales, even when we feel like we’ve been set up to fail. Where do you need God to move in your life? Pray boldly for God’s hand. Contact a Care Pastor if you want prayer support.Share Tweet