Saturday, March 5, 2016

"God's Spirit, God's power, God's purpose ..."

Day #66

Scripture Reading:   I Samuel 16 - 20 ...

God does what He is going to do, and it is always right.  If you haven't learned that yet, the sooner you do, the better it will be for you.  Here's why:  God is wiser than you are and all that He does is for His purposes and His purposes are GOOD for those who know Him and love Him.  Believing in God means more than knowing some things about God and accepting them, it means knowing Him and surrendering your life to Him and devoting your life to serving Him.

So what does all of that have to do with David being chosen as King of Israel and his victory over Goliath?  God's Spirit, God's power, God's purpose.  You may remember that God had given His Spirit to Saul in order to change his heart so that he would be empowered to serve God.  But for Saul it was a temporary change.  This, too, was God's purpose.  The people of Israel had asked for a king and God had given them one.  Remember what Saul did when the people gathered to affirm him as king?  He hid!  Saul was tall and rugged and "looked" like a king, but his spirit was weak and self-centered. God gave him His Spirit to empower him to reign as king, yet Saul followed the design of his own sinful heart and disobeyed God and God removed His Spirit from Saul.

We should not think that this means that Saul was a true believer ... that he was born again by the Spirit of God only to fall away.  There are those who are “enlightened” by the Spirit of God, who are influenced by God’s Spirit, who may at times look like they are true believers, who are imposters.  The writer of Hebrews talks about these in Hebrews 6:4-8, and Jesus mentions these in His parable of the sower in Matthew 13.  They look for a time like the “real thing,” but they aren’t!  Those who are born again by the Spirit persevere through trials and continue to seek God, to trust Him and to serve Him.  John writes in I John 2:19:  “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us.  For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us.”

Knowing that Saul was turning away from Him, God orchestrated the circumstances of David's anointing.  David didn't "look" like a king, but "the LORD does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" (16:7).  How uplifting is that?!  This should encourage you when those around you fail to recognize your value or your gifts and abilities.  This world places value on all the wrong things!  This is an important lesson for young people and for people of all ages.  David's heart was in tune with God.  He knew God's character, he loved God, he trusted God and he served God willingly, depending on the LORD for strength, for wisdom and for direction.  God had told Samuel to anoint Saul because God knew that Saul was the king the people wanted.  David was the king GOD wanted!

Saul, now without the Spirit of God, was allowed by God to be overcome by an evil spirit.  When the Scripture says that "an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him" (16:15) and later that "an evil spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul" (18:10), it does not mean that God caused Saul to be evil.  Saul was already evil; God simply did not prevent the evil spirit from influencing Saul and God USED the evil spirit to accomplish His purpose, much as He did when Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus.  God is powerful enough and wise enough to use even evil for His purposes without CAUSING evil.  Evil is evil because it is evil ... whether embodied in an evil spirit, in a sinner, or in a combination of the two.

God's purpose was to anoint a king who would point people to God.  Have you read the Psalms?  David has been called "a man after God's own heart," not because he was perfect, but because he truly had a heart for God.  He slipped, he fell, he repented and he was restored.  But early on, in our text today, David revealed his knowledge of and his commitment to God and his desire to glorify Him.  Isaiah wrote, "Your name and renown, O LORD, is the desire of our hearts!" (26:8).  That was David.  As you read through the Psalms he wrote you hear over and over again his deep love and reverence for God.  David knew that GOD was the true King!!

When he came to the valley where Israel's armies stood in fear before Goliath and the Philistines, David was appalled.  "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?" (17:26).  This was about GOD’s glory!!  His confidence was in the LORD, his God:  "The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine" (17:37).  "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the LORD will hand you over to me" (17:45-46).

What happened between Saul and David, and between David and Jonathan, reveals that the center of life for those who would honor the LORD is God's Spirit, God's power and God's purpose!  To be used of the Lord requires surrender and commitment ... and a commitment to surrender!!  You and I are nothing in and of ourselves.  When we find our strength and purpose and direction from the power and wisdom of the Spirit of God it shows in the victory we have over self and the world because the focus is on GOD.  So many today want God to be all about THEM, rather than making their lives all about God.  It doesn't work that way.  We exist for God, not the other way around.

In His love, God calls us to Himself through faith in His Son Jesus Christ and then, as He did with David, He empowers us by His Spirit to go beyond ourselves, to do things we could not otherwise do ... for HIS glory.  He brings us into HIS purpose and gives our lives meaning as we glorify Him and love Him because He has first loved us.  May your life and mine be used of God to exalt His name and to draw others to Him.

"O LORD, my God, I am humbled that You would choose ME to be part of Your purpose and I thank You for the empowering presence of Your Holy Spirit.  Without You I am nothing, but I can do all You ask of me through Christ, who strengthens me.  Father, let my life-song sing Your praise and Your glory, now and through all eternity!  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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