Living with Mercy

mercy-grace

 

Well friends, I decided to go ahead and finish up 1 Samuel, which takes you up to the death of King Saul. What hit me in this reading was the fact that David consistently spared Saul’s life. David claims that no one is worthy of killing God’s anointed, but it is still astonishing.

If you don’t remember, Saul made several attempts on David’s life after becoming jealous of him. It got to the point that David had to escape to the wilderness and hide. Saul then pursued and hunted David. He got called away a few times to defend Israel from opposing armies, but Saul’s focus was on finding and killing David. Two times are recorded that David could have killed Saul. The first, Saul went to a cave to relive himself, but David was in that cave. David snuck up behind him and cut a small part of his robe. After leaving the cave, David shouted out to him, “Look my father, at what I have in my hand. It is a piece of the hem of your robe! I cut if off, but I didn’t kill you. This proves that I am not trying to harm you and that I have not sinned against you, even though you have been hunting for me to kill me.” (1 Samuel 24:11 NLT)

The second time, David snuck into Saul’s camp while they were sleeping. He took the spear and water jug that Saul was keeping near his head. After leaving and waking up the camp David shouts to Saul, “The Lord gives his own reward for doing good and for being loyal, and I refused to kill you even when the Lord placed you in my power, for you are the Lord’s anointed one. Now may the Lord value my life, even as I have valued yours today. May he rescue me from all my troubles.” (26:23-24 NLT)

On two occasions, David could have killed the man that was causing him so much trouble. Despite being told by his friends to kill Saul and end it, David took a higher path. He knew that God is a good judge. He even wrote it, “God is a just judge” (Psalm 7:11 NKJV). Other translations say “righteous” (NASB, NIV), “honest” (NLT), and the Message says “Nobody get by with anything, God is already in action”.

So with such a judge in place, why would we take it upon ourselves to judge and punish others. God alone has that power and authority. David shows Saul countless means of mercy, because he knew that ultimately God would punish Saul for what he had done.

As Christians we must live by David’s example (especially if we are to be men after God’s own heart). Even Jesus while on earth showed us that it is not our place to judge others, but to extend God’s mercy to them.

Today there are many people that could use that mercy. People who have been hated on by many people (some of them in God’s name). What Jesus came to show us is that we are all sinners and deserve punishment. However, Christ died our death so that we may have eternal life. With that life, it is our duty to spread His love and mercy to all. I think on this segment in becoming the Heart Man, I must be more aware of when I judge others and instead show them mercy. In time God will take care of them, it is not my place.

When Emotions Get The Best of You

why-didnt-david-kill-king-saul-when-he-had-the-opportunity-21330786

Man, 1 Samuel was definitely a good choice to start this blog with! So many life lessons!!!!!!!

In my reading today Saul becomes jealous of David. If you don’t remember, Saul is the king of Israel and after disobeying God, God decided to make a new king. This new king was found in David, a simple shepherd boy from Bethlehem. David then is brought to Saul’s court as a musician, to help sooth the king’s trouble spirit. David then finds favor with Saul and becomes his armor bearer. Then David threw a rock at a giant’s head and saved all of Israel!!!! Now Israel has seen many victories over the Philistines under the leadership of David.

After a particular battle, both David and Saul return and the people celebrate shouting “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!” (1 Samuel 18:7 NLT) This planted the seed in Saul’s mind that the people preferred David over him. Saul then begins a series of attempts to take David’s life. These ranges from things as obvious as lunging a spear at him, to covertly sending him against a Philistine army (this was to be the price David had to pay to marry Michal). His actions are so out-of-place that his son calls him out saying, “He’s never done anything to harm you. He has always helped you in any way he could. Have you forgotten about the time he risked his life to kill the Philistine giant and how the Lord brought a great victory to all Israel as a result? You were certainly happy about it then. Why should you murder and innocent man like David? There is no reason at all!” (19:4-5 NLT) Then again Jonathan (Saul’s son) refused to eat with his father at a festival because he was ashamed of his father’s actions against David (20:34).

So what does this mean for us today? Being a man after God’s own heart means that we must keep our emotions in check. If you notice from the story, Saul gets angry and jealous and acts out, but David remains cool and content and continues doing his job as if nothing had happened. I’m sure I’d better pretty heated after one failed attempt on my life, let alone the amount David endured.

Saul’s anger and jealousy turned away all of the people that mattered to him. Do we want to have the same fate? In today’s world we are encouraged to express our feelings in any way that we want. While I disagree, I would also like to say that you should still express your emotions, but to God. Jesus said “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NASB) God wants to know our pain and troubles. He wants us to find our peace, and it is only in Him that our souls will find it. So talk to God about your distress. Don’t take it out on someone, even though its our first inclination. God wants us to maintain our relationships, not destroy them through fits of rage.

So be in prayer with the Lord today, and ask for His peace. Especially if there is something bothering you. He may show you a better and healthier way to deal with your pain.

What Your Heart Looks Like

David being anointed in the Bible miniseries
David being anointed in the Bible miniseries

Continuing on with reading in 1 Samuel, we have finally come to David, the man I intended to begin this blog with. But the Lord clearly had other plans since I began with Saul.

Up to this point we have seen Israel gain a king, and we’ve seen that king rise and fall. God then decided to make a new king, “a man after [God’s] own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14 NLT). But we have yet to see who this new king is. It wasn’t until after Saul disobeyed God over the Amalekites that Samuel was sent to anoint a new king.

Samuel is sent (by God) to the town of Bethlehem to meet with a man named Jesse and his sons, in order to anoint one as king. (Now Jesse is the grandson of Boaz and Ruth. This isn’t important to the story, but I like to see how biblical characters are related!) Jesse brings along 7 of his sons. Yet God tells Samuel “People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord look at the heart.” (16:7b NLT) Upon seeing these 7 sons, God does not chose any other them. Which leads Samuel to ask if there are more sons, to which Jesse replies that there is one more. Upon meeting David, God tells Samuel to anoint him.

This decision of God’s is based solely on David’s character, not his outward appearance. So what does that mean to us? As the Psalmist writes “O Lord, You have searched me and known me.” “You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.” (Psalm 139:1,3 NASB) This says to me that God knows us better than we may even know ourselves (definitely more than another person can).

This means we cannot hide things from God. Just because we maybe alone does not give us permission to act in an un-Christian way. We must be Christian all the time, otherwise our hearts do not truly belong to God, and He knows it. I am reminded of a scene from the movie Left Behind. After the Rapture happens, an associate pastor is left behind. The scene shows him praying to God, lamenting that he knows what has happened but God’s gaze pierced into his heart to know the truth. From that point on wards the pastor is a changed man.

God wants us to be that changed man. Not because something terrible has happened, but because we chose to be. God wants us men to be searching for His will for our lives, so we can lead our families and the Church according to Him. This change, this task, is most certainly the first step in becoming a man after God’s own heart.

So I encourage you today to think about your own life and walk with the Lord. If you have to make changes, than do it today! God desires to be close to you, and our souls are searching to be close to Him. So look for that time, and just have a conversation with God today.

When You Turn from God

King Saul from The Bible miniseries
King Saul from The Bible miniseries

I continued to read 1 Samuel today and came to another point that I felt followed my last post pretty well.

What happens when we turn away from or disobey God?

The answer seems pretty simple, “bad stuff”. However it’s more than that. In my reading, the newly appointed King Saul leads his people through many glorious battles. God then commands that he go and destroy all of the Amalekites. And boy He meant all, “… put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” (1 Samuel 15:3 NASB) Yet when the time came Saul spared King Agag and kept the best of all the animals. God then feels remorse for making Saul king of His people. Samuel tells Saul “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to your neighbor, who is better than you.” (15:28 NASB)

Wow! Those must have been some hard words to hear. It’s the same as when your boss doesn’t like the way you are doing a project and gives it to one of you co-workers. Yet when we choose to disobey God, He reacts. Look back to the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. When they disobeyed God, He cast them from Eden, cursed the ground, made child-bearing more painful, etc. God is not a fan of sin, simply because it makes us “me-focused” and not “God-focused”. That’s the nature of sin my friends, to only be “me me me” and to shy away from God. Yet God created us to be in fellowship with Him.

Thank God He sent His son, Jesus Christ. Because of his sacrificial death everyone, including you, can rejoin God in fellowship. Yes we still sin, that’s a part of humanity. But God wants us to continue to fight the temptation to sin. That’s the mark of our Christian lifestyle, “Hi, my name is Preston, and I’m a sinner. Now through Jesus Christ, I am getting better!”

As leaders though, we become doubly accountable. Not only do we have to monitor our own walks with Christ, but we must be certain not to lead people astray. God has given us our influence, and we must guard it carefully.

I encourage you whether you are a leader or not, consult God before you make decisions, and listen to what He says. This is probably the biggest lesson that we can learn from Saul’s life. Once he was lowly, then he became King, then he turned from the Lord and everything was taken from him.

Qualifies the Called (The First Post!!!!)

leadership

Well friends! I’m not starting this journey on becoming “The Heart Man”.

I figured in order to prepare for this blog I would start reading the story of the man I take this blog’s name from, King David. So I started reading 1 Samuel, and wouldn’t you know it, I came across something to discuss before I even got to David.

You see at the start of the book Israel is without a king. It’s not because their previous king had died or anything, they just simply didn’t have one. Instead they were lead by God through His prophets. Eventually the people of Israel decided they needed a king, “… just like all the other nations have.” (1 Samuel 8:5 NLT) So after consulting God, Samuel anoints for them a king, a man named Saul from the tribe of Benjamin. At first Saul is astonished that God would choose him, “But I’m only from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my family is the least important of all the families of that tribe! Why are you talking like this to me?” (9:21 NLT)

God calls His leaders despite what we think our qualifications are. I once heard it put this way, “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” When leaders are called, we often first say “No, not me!” Moses certainly did at the burning bush. So looking at my own call to be the leader that I am, I realize that I reacted similarly. But through the grace of God I have become more “qualified” in my leadership roles.

My encouragement to any readers out there is that if you feel called, pray and practice! When I became a worship leader, I definitely had no business singing, playing guitar or piano. But I have gotten better with work, and am now more confident in fulfilling my call. So I encourage you to keep going, it all gets betters (and the butterflies in your stomach go away a little more each time).