God’s Grace Revealed

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:19

The account of Elijah and the widow of Zarepath in 1 Kings 17:13-14:

13 And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. 14 For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth.”

After Elijah had eaten, the widow and her son would eat. Isn’t it wonderful that God puts us so close to Him? Immediately after God, man follows in importance. God does not place cows, or horses and, most certainly, not dogs or cats, in second place! No, He places man.

Writing to the Philippians in Philippians chapter 4, the Apostle Paul follows the same pattern that we see with Elijah and the widow of Zarepath. After telling them about the importance of their offering to God, he then tells them,

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:19)

When it comes to importance, there is nothing that can supersede God; certainly not us with our well-documented failings and shortcomings! The Bible says of God:

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (Jam. 1:17)

He alone is perfect in holiness. That is an attribute that no creature can lay even the shadow of a claim to. Why should God not be first in everything? In the world, men are put first because of the qualities they possess. In the Spirit, God has that peculiar attribute that puts Him first above everything else.

And yet… God has gone even further than we could ask or think. In giving His Son Jesus Christ for our sins, He has of His own will put us ahead of Himself! That is unimaginable, but it is true. It is in this difficult-to-comprehend line of love that Paul writes the Romans:

1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, 2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. 3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh…” (Rom. 9:1-3)

That is unimaginable love. God has put us first!

It is in this regard that we should count it an immeasurable grace to have God think of us the way He does. We are not worthy of it, yet God regards us. Job had this revelation, for in Job 7:17-18 he says:

17 What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him? 18 And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment?”

Oh, the power and grace in these words! Notice Job understood that God not only magnifies man and has set His heart upon him but, in order for this state of affairs to be manifested, God visits man every morning and tries him! Should we therefore not rejoice when various trials come our way? As the Apostle James says:

“2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” Jam. 1:2-4

That is how God has set His heart on man. He has not set His heart on man so that man can have his fill of money and worldly material things. On the contrary, it is so his soul may prosper.

And that is how we can truly appreciate the grace of God upon our lives.

[Amidst a tangle of assorted greens, a lone sunflower plant provides a graceful contrast]

Image18817

Advertisements

Faith In God, Not Men

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

14 Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.

15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.

16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.

17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.

18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.

19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:10-19

Oh, to be free! You would think that after the Apostle Paul had told the Corinthians that he was often hungry and that he was naked (for lack of clothing), you would think that if the man was in such dire straits, then such would grasp at any ‘aid’ that came his way the way a drowning man clutches at a piece of straw.

Unfortunately, that is the way it is with much of the church today. God’s people, and especially the ministers of the gospel, have been literally enslaved, and hence incapacitated in the Spirit, by their love for money. In the world there are people known as sponsors, financiers, underwriters, godfathers, etc. These are people who bankroll the big and small worldly projects; and they are exalted in the eyes of their benefactors. There is a belief, especially within Pentecostal churches, that the church needs people who will help advance the gospel financially, materially, etc. This has created cartels and groupings in the church, where the moneyed are given a higher status.

Since Paul’s ministry was such a big affair, you would be forgiven to think that he needed such people to advance his ministry. But no. It was not so with the Apostle Paul. In his spirit he was free from the love of money. By extension, he was therefore free from men. Therefore, he could serve God in the Spirit and in truth. The gospel of Jesus Christ, of which Paul was its foremost servant, has never needed men to advance it. Indeed, scripture does not allow for the existence of bankrollers in the church. That is a worldly spirit and it remains in the world. In the church, we have only one financier – God Himself. It is not the rich man who finances the gospel in the church, no: it is God Himself. It is not man who supplies our needs, material, financial or otherwise; it is God who does.

As a matter of fact, the rich man’s place in the church is clearly set out in the Bible.

“9 Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: 10 But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.” (Jam. 1:9-10).

The rich man’s position in church is the lowest.

The singular reason God allows us to give into His Kingdom is so He can have an opportunity to bless us as we exercise our faith. His challenge to us is stated in Acts 20:35:

“… It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

When we accept His challenge, God rejoices in blessing us. He is the total financier.

The Apostle Paul also tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:14:

“Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.”

If a worldly father is mandated to lay up for his children, how much more our heavenly Father?

In church, we are all to become children of God, not some godfather figures in church just because we have money.

What the church needs is faith, not money. And what the church needs is God, not men. The Bible says,

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:19)

Notice the Bible says  God, not men. This realization set Paul so free! He was free to not even put demands on God’s people. He trusted in God to supply his needs; and when the help was not forthcoming, still Paul trusted in God. He knew God had a reason for delaying His help. That was faith!

Paul was free to preach the gospel because he was a slave to only One – God Himself. And he set God’s people free to serve God in total freedom: give as you want, when you want, according to the working of God’s grace in you.

Today, it is the other way round. In fact, most sermons on giving are engineered to bind God’s people, not to set them free. They are geared to compel God’s people to give. This is because there is little faith amongst pastors and they are looking to men, not to God, to supply their needs.

But the revelation of the cross comes to destroy all idol-worshiping in church. Christ is given center-stage once again when the flesh is crucified to the cross, and true faith is restored once again both to the pastor and to the congregation.

[“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”]

Image16246

… Unto Perfect Faith

22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray; and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 And when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.
33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God. Mat. 14:22-33

Jesus told Peter,

“Come.”

As I was reading this portion of scripture, the tears gushed from my eyes. Imagine that! Jesus was perfect God. Jesus never made a senseless statement. Which means He perfectly meant it when He told Peter,

“Come.”

Oh, for faith in our lives! If God had never meant to teach us something from these words, they would never have been written. How many times has God told us, “Come!” and we doubted and hesitated?

There Jesus was, calmly standing, not just on the water, but over the raging waves themselves. He was God, and full of perfect faith. And here, Peter, Jesus’s most intrepid disciple takes a step in that same direction; but he fails to arrive at the goal for lack of faith. Can you imagine how Jesus would have rejoiced had Peter walked all the way to Him? Knowing Jesus’s simplicity, it is not an exaggeration to say He would have danced on the water, for faith pleases God!

Oh, for faith in our lives! How many times has the Lord asked us to take that small step of faith, and we feared and faltered? We doubted.

One of the things that clearly displeased the Lord Jesus Christ when He was here on earth was how faithless his disciples were. He was bothered that they did not have simple faith in God. Over and over we read of Him castigating His followers for their lack of faith.

The Lord has been impressing on my heart, as we begin the new year, that we as His children should become men and women of faith – perfect faith. God is not pleased when our faith is low or imperfect. Indeed, the Bible states unequivocally in Hebrews 11:6

“But without faith it is impossible to please him”.

Here in Hebrews also it reminds us that our elders in the Spirit obtained a good report with God on account of their faith (v.2). In the Old Testament, the Bible does not expressly use the word “faith”; rather it simply says that these men and women pleased the Lord. But here, in Hebrews 11, it tells us that it was through their faith that they pleased God.

So what is faith?

Hebrews 11 again gives us the answer.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. (v.1)

Faith is not doing something. On the contrary, faith is doing something because one has seen the things not seen; they have gotten hold of things hoped for. The Bible does not say, “Now things”… On the contrary, it says,

“Now faith…”

And it does not say, “the substance of things” or “the evidence of things”, no. Rather, it talks of

“things hoped for… things not seen”.

We are not called to just do or have things. Rather, we are called to do and have things by faith. We are called to do and have things that are seen in the Spirit. That is faith. And we are called to live a total life of faith.

That is why the Bible says in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 that we can do a multitude of things but, if we have not love, they all amount to nothing. Love is not just doing things; love is something that is born of faith, the faith of God in us.

The Lord has been impressing upon my heart that we should strive to be men and women of greater faith for the days ahead. When we have faith, no storm of life will over-run us; on the contrary, we will calmly walk over these storms as if they did not exist. And through our faith and love, we will give a powerful testimony of Christ’s life in us.

We can only obtain a good report and we can only please God if we have faith in Him. But much of the time we are like these disciples of Jesus: we believe Him after the fact:

“Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.”

They did so after the fact. But that was not faith.

We are not to receive a good report by worshipping God. We are to get a good report by having faith in Him.

Is Jesus Lord and Christ? Is He Lord over every situation? Is He Lord over every relationship?

That question should get a big “Yes!” from us. Whatever situation we might be passing through, it is a big “Yes!”. That is faith. However rough the patch, however tough the relationship, God is in control and we should release our faith and trust in Him. We ought not to fear or doubt. Rather, we should see Jesus standing on the waves and, by faith, walk to Him.

Even if it means walking over to Him through the valley of death.

That is faith.

[In this iconic performance by Jessy Dixon, the Lord reminds us that He will calm the storm]

 

Don’t Touch That Ark!

 

1 Again, David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand.

2 And David arose, and went with all the people that were with him from Baale of Judah, to bring up from thence the ark of God, whose name is called by the name of the LORD of hosts that dwelleth between the cherubims.

3 And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart.

4 And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab which was at Gibeah, accompanying the ark of God: and Ahio went before the ark.

5 And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals.

6 And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it.

7 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. 2 Sam. 6:1-7

The storms of life have taken a heavy toll on this blog, and I have been able to write only intermittently. In the interim, though, the Lord has been teaching me an incredibly valuable lesson which, interestingly, has given me immense peace in the middle of the storm. The lesson that God has taught me is that He is pleased only when we trust in and depend on His strength alone. And this, probably, is the most important lesson we need to learn in our relationship with God.

But trusting in God also goes with seeing in the Spirit. In all likelihood, what probably saved Ahio was because he “went before the ark”. He therefore did not see what was about to happen with the ark, as Uzzah did. When we see things with our human eyes, we react accordingly – with our human strength, and with our human wisdom; and this displeases the Lord greatly. It displeases God because it has no value in the Spirit and, in effect it goes against God’s purposes.

We can never claim to know how God works until we are fully in the Spirit (But this has a price to it). Sometimes God destroys in order to build. This idea is alien, indeed unacceptable, to us in us in our human state.

It is infinitely better to have a very little of what God has done than to have much of our what comes from own strength or effort. But that requires us to see God’s plan in the Spirit. That is why the Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesian church, that their inner eyes would be opened to see things in the Spirit. When we see things in the Spirit, we will not do anything on our own. On the contrary, we will depend on God’s work in us to bring out the real works of God in us.

That is why, despite all the work that Paul wrought in his ministry, yet he wrote:

“But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (1 Cor. 15:10)

Paul credits all his work to the grace of God. He did nothing on his own. It was the grace of God working in him.

This therefore brings us to the need for an understanding of the revelation of the cross in our lives. In other words, when God opens our inner eyes, we realize that the only work acceptable to God is His work in us! Our work on the outside should be a consequence of His work in us! It is when we have allowed God to work in us that He can allow us to go on and do anything that pleases Him. And, pray, how does God work in us?

God is the Potter. He works in us through the cross.

Most believers think that just because Jesus is being mentioned in a sermon, then that must be the gospel. But no. There are so many gospels being preached and, believe it, it is not Jesus being preached even though His Name is mentioned throughout. The Apostle Paul sets a difference between the gospel of Jesus Christ – the revelation of the cross – and all other ‘gospels’. In his classic rendition in 1 Cor. 1:22-24, he writes:

“22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”

Notice the word “But” there. Cut out everything else and read,

“But we preach Christ crucified”.

What would you rather hear preached? Is it what the early apostles preached, or is it what anybody else is preaching? That is a choice we have to make.

But it is clear from the scriptures that the gospel of the cross is the only gospel for the church. Any other gospel is certainly not for us. The gospel of the cross is the only gospel where the grace of God, not of works of man, is available. Grace comes into our lives when we have crucified the flesh. But as long as we fail to grasp this revelation and therefore fail to crucify our flesh, we cannot preach the right gospel – and we cannot do things right in the Spirit. We will always do that which displeases God.

It’s About Power!

He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him. Ps. 27:14

I am thinking of asking whoever is involved to enter my name in the annals of history as one of the great pioneers of discovery. Actually, probably the greatest of them all. I haven’t read much, and if there is someone who has made this discovery ahead of me, I will gladly let go my claim to the title. But if not, may the record-keeper be kindly informed that I seriously need this recognition.

So, what discovery have I made? What have I pioneered that is so important as to deserve such distinction? It is this: I have made the singular discovery that the greatest desire in man, above any other, is the desire for power. I used to think that the love of material comforts, or the love of money, or the sexual urge were the most powerful forces in man. But no; all these come a distant second to the lust for power.

And you wouldn’t believe it, but I have made this discovery through observing my chickens. I have been raising chickens for the last four years, so I ought to know what I am talking about. It took a while, but through long-term observation, this realization finally dawned upon me. I will, however, divulge the secret of how I made the observation to you for your gift of a couple of million dollars. (Why not; every preacher is asking for these kinds of gifts).

Armed with this knowledge, it has therefore come as no surprise to me to learn that the struggle between God and man (i.e. man in the flesh) is a struggle for power above anything else. The flesh wants to usurp God’s power, God’s position and God’s authority.

Proverbs 27:14, therefore, does not mean that God is prohibiting us from greeting our neighbor aloud early in the morning. As a matter of fact, done in the right spirit, greeting your neighbor cheerily in the morning is one of the best things that you can do. The Bible says a merry heart is good medicine (Prov. 17:22).

But we must dig further to get a proper understanding of this scripture. What the Bible is talking about here is something entirely different. It is talking about pleasing men. You cannot please men and please God at the same time. One has to give way to the other in our lives.

Through even the seemingly innocuous things that we do daily, the flesh is engaged in a never-ending struggle to dethrone God; to dethrone Him from our hearts and from our entire lives. The flesh wants to be noticed, and to be applauded – at the expense of God. Our smiles, our good deeds, when not done in the Spirit, are an extension of our inner pride. Greeting your neighbor aloud in the morning is a very good deed; but if it done so your neighbor can see how good you are, that is putting the flesh ahead of God. It is the flesh usurping God’s position in our hearts – and in the eyes of men.

But God will have none of it. That is why God introduces the cross into our lives. The cross comes, first and foremost, to deal with our pride. This is why our Lord Jesus Christ commanded us not to seek to be seen by men in anything we do, whether it be prayer, fasting, giving, or our piety. We should strive to do things in the hidden inner man, where men do not see and give us acclamation, but where God sees and rewards us. Why? Because when we do things in the sight of God, it is a testimony that we are humbling ourselves before Him, and giving Him His due glory, honor and praise. In other words, we are proclaiming His power. In the same manner, therefore, when we do things to be seen of men, we are making the flesh our god! And God will not share His glory with man. When men praise us, our reward with God is gone.

This is a grave challenge to the flesh. But the flesh needs, not just to be challenged, but to be crucified on the cross. And herein lies the relevance of the Pauline revelation in 1 Cor. 2:2:

“1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

When we do not have that revelation, we shall be doomed to doing obeisance to the flesh instead of God. And this translates into a curse upon our lives.

[A powerful lesson from the chickens]

Image18274

The Thorn For His Grace

7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. 2 Cor. 12:7-10

Many years ago, before I got married, I was the sweetest, kindest human being you could ever meet. My pastor would tell the congregation, “Look at Mwita. You can call him anything, and it doesn’t trouble him one little bit. He is always at perfect peace!” I was a star.

In fact, I was so lovable that, one day, some ladies from our church paid me a visit. Ours was the biggest Pentecostal church in town, and you can visualize the kind of ladies who attend such churches: not simple housewives, but teachers, managers, office workers, etc.

Anyways, they came in a sizable group and they found me in my bachelor quarters. At that time I was working, so I was living in a nice apartment. After the usual greetings and introductions, they brought out their objective. They all expressed their love and affection for me. After which they let slip that the sun waiteth not even for the king, so to speak. The years were moving on and that I should consider moving on to the next stage in my life. Finally, from the folds of their loving hearts they pulled out a name.

I silently considered their proposition. To be honest, it is many years since, and I do not recall exactly how we wound up that conversation. But the fact that I did not marry that girl means that I turned down their proposal. And the fact that I refused certainly has nothing to do with the girl in question: not only was she very beautiful, but she was also considered one of the spiritual pillars among the youth in the church. But I do remember also that at that time I was fully engaged to Christ and, except for my job, I had no other commitment, hobby or interest except Him alone.

Fast-forward to a few years later when I finally did get married – to a different girl. This girl was not from our church, so she did not know me. Unbeknown to her, though, a nightmare was awaiting her. Within a short period of time into our marriage, she was shocked to find that she had married… well, the devil himself.  Even I was surprised by the change that I saw in me. The Bible says we should be transformed to become Christ-like, but this particular transformation occurred the other way round. I changed from being the picture-perfect representation of the Christ-like life that I supposedly was, to something completely different. I discovered I had little patience – and tons of pride. And she was rubbing up against my pride so hard! My wife originates from a tribe where women do not fear men; while I come from one that seeks to put the fear of God in every soul it meets. I wanted her singing my praises all the time; but that was the last thing on her mind. In fact, she had some unflattering thoughts about me which she was not afraid to voice out loud. Having someone by my side who could not be coerced into playing my tune proved to be the biggest trial of my life.

Not too long after our honeymoon ended, we were into fighting, scraping and everything else in between. And, to the utter dismay of my pastor who had spent the better part of his sermons praising my patience and resilience, my wife and I were now regular visitors to his house; and all for the wrong reasons.

Finally, my thorn had arrived, beautifully wrapped and packaged; and hand-delivered by God Himself. It had come to battle with my flesh. And the flesh in this case was my pride.

There is an immeasurable difference between good old human goodness and the grace of God. When we talk about the former, no man is totally bad. Even Hitler must have had some feelings for his wife and children. However, when we talk of God’s grace, it can only be had if we allow that thorn in our flesh. That was exactly what God told Paul, and we can hardly expect God to tell us something different from what He told the apostles. Paul says to the Corinthians, therefore,

“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1)

It has taken me many long years since then to allow God, through my wife, to put His finger on the one spot He wants to deal with in my life, which is my pride. But a time came when I had to choose between whether I wanted to keep my pride or to carry the grace of God in my life. And it is a choice that I am forced to make every day. Sometimes it is difficult to make this choice. But, whatever the case, I certainly have learned my lesson. If I desire to walk with God and carry His grace, I must allow the thorn to be there in my body, permanently.

[God can use anything to bring about the death of the flesh. The death of the flesh brings much grace to our lives. Are we truly dead and buried?]

Image17689

A Humble Heart Above All

6 And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD’S anointed is before him.

7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

8 Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, Neither hath the LORD chosen this.

9 Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And he said, Neither hath the LORD chosen this.

10 Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The LORD hath not chosen these.

11 And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.

12 And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he.

13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah. 1 Sam. 16:6-13

The other day my wife confronted me about something I had done and I owned up immediately. I said, “Yes, what I said was wrong, please forgive me.”

My wife almost fell down with shock. Being a good reader of my wife’s mind, I could see she was thinking that probably the rapture had occurred without her knowledge and that we were now living in the millennium. She is so used to me defending myself whenever I am confronted that what I had just said was simply inconceivable to her in the old world. But on this ocssion she searched my face and she realized it was real.

What she did not know was that when she came at me, I was prepared. I had been reading about David, the man who made ghastly mistakes but was quick to own up. And David’s heart and life had challenged me greatly.

We can hardly claim to know what God knows, even about ourselves. The Apostle Paul tells us:

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Cor. 13:12)

Here Paul is saying that it is only when we get to heaven that we shall know things as God knows them.

That said, it stands to the test that we do not know men’s hearts as God knows them. We need to die more to self to arrive at this point. But many today do not want to know the cross of Christ. That is why today men are so full of empty praises. They love praising the mighty and looking down upon the lowly. But if we truly knew people’s hearts, especially with regard to how God sees them, we wouldn’t be so fast with our praising of some and our despising of others.

When Jesse’s sons began passing in front of Samuel, he looked on the outside. Is that not so much like us? We gauge, judge and categorise people based on what we see on the outside. For this reason, men therefore prepare themselves more on the outside than on the inside because everyone’s attention is on the outside; and, in our natural state, we crave men’s praise more than anything.

The seven sons whom Jesse made to pass before Samuel had better qualifications than David in the natural. They were of a better countenance and stature.

Under the new covenant, we could be better men by all standards; but God is not looking for just any standard. We could be better preachers, but God is not looking for good preachers. We may be great singers, but God is not looking for great singers. We may be men and women who do everything right. But God is not looking for people who do not make mistakes. David made the biggest mistake that any man under the sun could make.

But God is not looking for any of these things. God is looking for a heart. And having the kind of heart that God is looking for is the biggest challenge that any man or woman could face.

So what kind of heart did David have? What kind of heart did he have that set him apart from his brothers? What kind of heart did he have which made God to say to Samuel,

“Arise, anoint him: for this is he.”

The answer is to be found in 2 Samuel chapter 12. The answer lies in David’s attitude when he was confronted. He had sinned, and when he was confronted by God’s servant Nathan, David said simply,

“I have sinned against the LORD.” (v.13)

David did not rise up to defend himself. He did not even try to offer an explanation. In other words, he did not give God any conditions. He owned up fully to his sin.

That is the hardest thing with us. The minute we get confronted, our defense mode kicks in. Even if we admit our guilt, we still try to offer up an explanation. But this attitude of heart is of the flesh, not of the Spirit of God. Even when wrongly accused by men, Jesus did not defend himself.

If you want to know that you have the kind of heart that God desires, it is when you desist from defending yourself. That is the humble heart that God desires us to have. That is the heart of faith.

God is therefore not looking to the many great things that we can do. He is looking for a humble heart, one that can quickly fall down, confess, admit and repent. One that can allow itself to be trampled under. We see all this with David especially in his difficult relationship with King Saul.

We may not have many qualifications in the natural. We may not even be gifted with many gifts in the Spirit. But we can all have a humble heart, and this is what pleases God most.

In the Psalms, King David wrote about the relationship that God has with people who have a humble heart. In Psalms 34:18, he wrote:

“The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”

And in Psalms 51:17, he wrote:

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”

[… for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.]

IMG_0595

Photo courtesy of Carol Lanthier