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EVEN THOUGH WE MAY SEEM VERY COMMON TO OURSELVES AND OTHERS, WE CAN DO GREAT THINGS BEFORE THE LORD

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

12 JUNE 1994

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

1 Samuel 15:34-35
            16:1-13
Mark 4:26-34

Last week [5 June 1994 sermon] we looked at some aspects of being tuned-in to God and His desire for our lives.

We also talked about those who follow through in doing the will of God, and about those who “do their own thing.”

One of these people who did their own thing was King Saul.

Saul saw himself as mighty before God, but the Lord really saw him as being quite small.

Note what we are told in 1 Samuel 15:34-35, after Saul had done one too many things against the Lord's will.

34. Then Samuel went to Ramah, but Saul went up to his house at Gibeah of Saul.

35. And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death; for Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.

When we know the Lord and His will for our lives, don't we grieve when we see others doing things that are counter to the will of God?

For Mary and me, the most obvious example of this is the way the majority of people seem to have no regard for God's creation, and either are indifferent to, or actually participate in the suffering and death of billions of humans and animals, and the destruction of our environment.

Samuel was the one who anointed Saul as king, and it bothered him greatly that Saul went his own way instead of the Lord's way.

And, as we are told, the Lord also regretted that He had made Saul king.

Now remember that the Lord doesn't make mistakes; so the facts must be that Saul knew in his heart what the Lord desired of him, but he knowingly chose to go his own way.

This is a perfect example of exercising our free will in the wrong way.

This happens when we let our pride get the best of us.

Now, the opposite condition can also be a problem.

If we have little or no self-esteem, we have a tendency to think we can't do anything worthwhile for the Lord our God.

In essence, we go along with the crowd, even when they are doing something that is against the will of God.

And others, looking upon these people and those who just look weak-willed, tend to think that they are incapable of doing anything important.

But this isn't true, which is the main point we are discussing today: Even though we may seem very common to ourselves and others, we can do great things before the Lord.

So, with this thought in mind, let's look at what the Lord instructs Samuel to do next (1 Samuel 16:1-13).

1. Now the Lord said to Samuel, "How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have selected a king for Myself among his sons."

Even a mighty or prominent person for the Lord needs to be pushed at times.

Samuel was grieving over a past that he could not change, and in this state of mind, he was also depressed.

The Lord is here reminding him and us that the correction of our past mistakes can only be made in the future.

2. But Samuel said, "How can I go? When Saul hears of it, he will kill me." And the Lord said, "Take a heifer with you, and say, 'I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.'

From his state of depression, Samuel fears the physical might of Saul, rather than trusting in the Lord for his own strength, which should be greater than that of Saul.

But in His love for Samuel, the Lord gives him an easy way of accomplishing his task, even if He didn't desire a sacrifice..

3. "And you shall invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for Me the one whom I designate to you."

4. So Samuel did what the Lord said, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and said, "Do you come in peace?"

Do you also note the fear of the people?

If they were tuned to God, they would have no fear, but they are obviously not doing the will of God.

They believe that Samuel saw them with their hands in the proverbial "cookie jar" and has come to punish them.

5. And he said, "In peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice."

He also consecrated Jesse and his sons, and invited them to the sacrifice.

Now the stage has been set to anoint the new king whom the Lord has chosen.

But remember that the Lord hadn't previously told Samuel which of Jesse's sons was to be king.

6. Then it came about when they entered, that he looked at Eliab and thought, "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 rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

This is probably one of the most important lessons we are to learn about our evaluation of others.

We have some quick impressions, and they may in fact be correct most of the time, but they are only first impressions and not an in-depth analysis of the person’s character.

8. Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, "Neither has the Lord chosen this one."

9. Next Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, "Neither has the Lord chosen this one."

10. Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, "The Lord has not chosen these."

11. And Samuel said to Jesse, "Are these all the children?" And he said, "There remains yet the youngest, and behold, he is tending the sheep." Then Samuel said to Jesse, "Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here."

12. So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the Lord said, "Arise, anoint him; for this is he."

The Lord chose the youngest, and not the one most mighty in appearance.

The Lord chose the one whose heart was the most steadfast toward God.

13. Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah.

David was like a mustard seed waiting to be planted.

With the Lord's help, Samuel planted him and started the nurturing process.

Now, lest we forget about the spiritual mustard seeds of this world, which seem very insignificant in the beginning but which produce a noteworthy plant, let's look at Mark 4:26-34.

26. And He [Jesus] was saying, "The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil;

27. and goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts up and grows--how, he himself does not know.

Scientifically, we now have knowledge of the physical process that takes place, but we still don't fully understand how this life process began.

It requires faith to believe in the scientific theories that try to explain these things, but this type of faith has us believe that these processes started by chance, and if by chance, there is no hope for a better tomorrow, or even of eternal life.

Thus, in reality, it requires more faith to believe in chance, than it does in God as the creator of all life processes.

For once we come to believe in a God-centered creation, we find our faith also growing, even surpassing the faith of any non-believer in their theories of chance.

And it is in this faith that we come to understand the greater picture and the role God created for us, individually, in it.

It is in this faith and understanding of God that we begin to do great things before the Lord.

We might start off small, but we continue to grow when planted in the nurturing soil of the Lord.

28. "The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head.

29. "But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come."

If one seed is planted and matures, it always produces more seed, and so it should be with us.

So, when like a seed we are planted and allowed to mature in the Lord, then when He harvests us to heaven, that which we produced in life is greater than what the Lord started in us.

30. And He said, "How shall we picture the kingdom of God, or by what parable shall we present it?

31. "It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the soil, though it is smaller than all the seeds that are upon the soil,

32. yet when it is sown, grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large branches; so that the birds of the air can nest under its shade."

Do others find comfort in our presence?

I pray they do, for that is what the Lord desires of us.

And remember what we are told: It is the soil that does the work on the seed; it is the Lord that does the work in us.

All we have to do is be willing to be planted and mature in the Lord, as a seed in the soil.

33. And with many such parables He was speaking the word to them as they were able to hear it;

34. and He did not speak to them without a parable; but He was explaining everything privately to His own disciples.

Why do you think the Lord did this?

More than likely, it was because the disciples were truly interested in growing to their full potential, while the others thought all this to be foolishness.

God didn't put us here upon this earth to be nothings and nobodies.

People who think this way are listening to the lies of the devil.

God put us here to do great things, and you, personally, have been chosen to accomplish them.

And do you know something?

You can do it!

Let us pray!

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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