SEEKING GOD FAITHFULLY-
A LOOK AT THE LIFE OF DAVID
"How To Be Ready When God Calls You
For Something Special"
1 Samuel 16:1-13
There have been a number of times in my own life where I have said to God, "Whatever it is you want to do with my life, God, I am yours. Use me as you will."
I remember praying this as a senior in high school when the challenge to go to Bible College and prepare for the ministry was presented to me. I remember praying this as I neared graduation from Kentucky Christian College. I remember praying this after my ministry ended in Ohio in 1996, not sure where I would be headed next. And then came the call to come to New York and minister here. Today marks the start of my fifth year as your pastor.
No doubt many of you have had similar experiences. You’ve also said to God, "God, I want to do something significant with my life, something that makes a difference."
One thing I have learned is this: God calls people to do something special for him who are ready to do something special for him. Many of us want to do something special for God, we just aren’t prepared.
What can you do to be ready when God calls you for something special?
In order to answer the question I’ve posed, I would like to take you to a portion of the life story of a young man who was called to do something for God that was very special - so special that it blessed the whole world. I refer to David, and the portion of his life I want you to see is found in I Samuel 16:1-13.
As mentioned last week, Saul was the king of Israel. He was not a man of God, and was not the choice of God to lead the people. The people of Israel were paying a dear price because of Saul.
God determined that Saul, the people’s choice, must be replaced. Sort of like when a sports team isn’t going well and the owner determines that the manager or coach needs to be replaced.
God’s word to Saul through Samuel the prophet was final: "The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today, and has given it to your neighbor who is better than you." (I Samuel 15:28).
David, a young shepherd boy of Bethlehem, the son of Jesse was that neighbor who would be the next king.
Read 1 Sam 16:1-13
Keep in mind that Saul was never God’s choice in the first place. It was Israel who demanded a king so they could be like the nations around them. Saul was man’s choice, not God’s choice.
David, though, was chosen by God not by men. As a matter of fact, as this account unfolds, you are going to see that man would never have chosen David. David was a nobody in man’s eyes. He didn’t even impress Samuel! David was God’s choice and was used in many ways by God
What can you do to be ready when God calls you for something special?
YOU MUST DETERMINE TO BE GOD’S CHOICE, NOT MAN’S CHOICE
Recently, many of us have been in tune with Survivor II. On Thursday, the original 16 gathered to choose the one person who would win the million dollars. If you watched the show, especially toward the end, there was a lot of strategizing and jockeying by the players to put themself in the best position to be chosen by the rest of the group to win the million dollars.
Most of us are much more concerned with impressing other people than we are with pleasing God. Determining to be God’s choice is a whole different ball game than trying to be man’s choice.
When we determine that we want to be man’s choice, we will do things that please and impress others. When we determine to be God’s choice, then we will set our hearts on pleasing God.
If you are looking for others to choose you and notice you and promote you, you are going to do things that please men and ignore things that please God. You’re going to be competitive with others. You’re going to at times be jealous when it seems that others are being used and you are not, that others are promoted over you.
But when you determine to be God’s choice, then you are able to wait on the Lord with peace until God opens up the doors of ministry that you have your heart set on.
A person who wants to be God’s choice won’t try to open up doors on their own. They are content with waiting on God, and only going through the doors that God opens up for them.
In the church I pastored in Ohio, we had a man who determined he wanted to be an elder. He let his desire be known. But he wasn’t ready to serve in that position either spiritually or emotionally. It took all I had to convince this man to just concentrate on developing himself spiritually and when God determined that it was time for him to serve in that capacity, God would call him to do so through others.
I do believe that in most cases, God calls us to serve through others. One of the ways we can almost always tell if God is calling a person or not to a particular area of service is if they are promoting themselves to serve in that area. If that is the case, I become skeptical. But when a group of spiritual and Godly people determine together that someone is qualified for a ministry position and they decide to approach that person, that is an almost sure sign that the call is coming from God.
David did not go out seeking to be the king of Israel. The call came to him. Don’t go out seeking positions of leadership and influence. If God wants you in those positions, he will open the door for you.
When I first heard that the pastor previous to me here at NCC was leaving, I just about had to tie my hands behind my back to not make a few phone calls and promote myself for the position. But I determined that if God wanted me here, he would place my name before those who would be making the decision concerning the next pastor. I would wait for them to contact me, if that was what was supposed to happen.
What I am saying is this: Determine that if you are going to be used by God it will be by His choice. It is Him you must please.
PUT YOUR EFFORT INTO THE THINGS GOD LOOKS AT.
1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."
I remember when I first laid eyes on Suzy. It was the first weekend of school during my sophomore year at KCC. I was sitting on a bench talking to my roommate and I noticed Suzy walking toward us. She was laughing and smiling. And then she walked past me and I continued to watch her as she walked away. I about got a stiff neck as I watched her walk away. You can guess what I was looking at. Boy she had some mighty fine ankles.
Because we know that man looks at the outward appearance, we spend much more effort taking care of the things man looks at. Yet all the while, neglecting the things God looks at.
Just prior to this verse that is well known to many of you, Samuel noticed Jesse’s son, Eliab, and thought to himself, "surely this must God’s choice for the next King of Israel."
Eliab looked like the type you’d normally choose for a king. No doubt he was tall and impressive. We know from reading on in the story that he was a qualified soldier and army man.
But what Samuel didn’t see what the character of Eliab. He didn’t see, as we learn from the seventeenth chapter, that Eliab was critical and negative and looked down on people. Samuel was enamored by the externals, as most of us are.
Then Jesse marched six more of his sons past Samuel and it turns out that none of them were God’s choice.
Chuck Swindoll calls this episode the "parade of possibiles."
If I could change one this about myself, I wish I could see people as God sees them, not by face, but by heart.
Verse seven is God’s principle of choice, and it is the reason why God said no to the first seven of Jesse’s sons. They looked good on the outside but lacked on the inside.
Samuel finally asks Jesse "Are these all the sons you have?" "There is still the youngest," Jesse answered, "but he is tending the sheep." Samuel said, "Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives." (16:11)
1 Samuel 16:12 So Jesse sent for him. He had a healthy complexion, attractive eyes, and a handsome appearance. The Lord said, "Go ahead, anoint him. He is the one."
Now at first reading we may say, well he was chosen by his outward appearance. He was pleasant to look at, a good looking fellow. But remember and keep in mind that back in chapter 13, God clearly stated that he was seeking a man after my heart. Though David was a good looking young man, it was his heart that caught the attention of God.
Remember, you want to concentrate on being God’s choice. He is the one you need to please. God is looking for people who have right hearts before Him.
2 Chron. 16:9 The Lord’s eyes scan the whole world to find those whose hearts are committed to him.
God didn’t find hearts committed to him in the first seven sons. He only found that in David, and that was why he was God’s choice.
If you want to be used by God for something special, then take an inward spiritual inventory. In your heart of hearts, whom do you serve? When sin finds its way into your life, do you grieve or do you harbor it? Do you hate it or do you love it? Are you genuinely interesting in promoting God’s cause or is it really your own cause that you want to promote. These are some of the issues that God looks at as he looks at our hearts. David was "a man after God’s own heart." That was the stated conclusion after God’s inventory of his life. Would that be your’s and mine as well?
RENEW YOUR FAITHFULNESS TO THE TASKS YOU HAVE NOW.
It’s pretty interesting that when Samuel the prophet invited Jesse to this event, Jesse brings all of his sons, except David. Apparently, Jesse was so sure that there was no way under heaven that David would be the choice, so he leaves David behind, tending sheep.
While Dad is parading his older brothers past Samuel, as Samuel attempts to determine who God’s choice for the next king of Israel will be, David was with the sheep! He was back home faithfully doing his job! And by the way, that was the job that was always done by the servants or the women or the youngsters. In other words, it was a menial task in that culture.
There is a principle illustrated here that appears elsewhere in Scripture as well. It is very important to understand if you are looking to be used by God for something special. When God is looking for someone to do something special, he looks for one who is faithful to what he is currently doing.
In the NT book of Matthew, the faithful servants in the parable of the talents were told, "Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things."
If you have a task you are doing right now for the Lord that seems unimportant or unnoticed, and you would like to be used for something greater, the pathway to that greater task is to redouble your effort with what you are doing now.
God reached out and took David right out of the sheep pens of his father where he was faithfully doing what he was charged to do. He can do the same with you if you are faithful.
When I was in Bible College...our missions teacher was Mr. G...he taught missions and he used to say, "if you are not witnessing for Christ here in the States, you won’t when you get on the mission field."
It isn’t for another 10-15 years before David actually takes the throne after being chosen by God. For part of that time he is serving in Saul’s administration. But for most of the next 10-15 years, you know where we find David?
David went back home to his father’s sheep! He went back to work! That is where he would remain until God called him to his actual service many years later! Check out these next few chapters.
David was God’s choice because he was faithful to the task he presently was involved in.
ACCEPT GOD’S TIMETABLE, DON’T INSIST ON YOUR OWN.
That is so hard to do sometimes! Especially when we are brimming with enthusiasm for something. But it’s God’s way. He has a timetable. It is seen here in the life of David.
But the principle is stated in words in II Peter 5:6 - "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time."
The "proper time" is his time, not your time or my time. God is in control. He is working out his plan. If you want to be used by Him you must get into step with Him.
Remember what happened when Moses set out to deliver Israel on his own timetable? Yeah, it blew up in his face, didn’t it? And it wasn’t until 40 years later that God’s time was right.
Now, I am not suggesting here that you sit back and do nothing to further God’s will, saying "I’m waiting on God’s timing." You must keep striving to advance His kingdom. That’s the faithfulness I referred to earlier. When it doesn’t work out like you expected though, don’t try to force the issue by resorting to the methods and timing of the flesh.
If God wanted David to be King immediately, He was certainly capable of making it happen. Saul would have been out of there and David in there so fast it would make your head spin!
If God wants you to do something special for Him, He certainly has the power to make it happen. You should never resort to forcing a situation by using methods of the flesh.
Wait on God’s timing, wait on his call.
Tony Campolo, A Baptist minister, was invited to speak at a college in Valley Forge Penn. He drove to the college and before he spoke several men took him in the back room and began to pray for him, that God would use his speech.
While these men were praying, one man, just off the cuff began praying "And Lord, about Burt Harris. Lord, Burt Harris needs you really badly. Because he lives in that trailer down the street and he is considering leaving his wife and family. And Lord if you could just get through to Burt Harris...that would be great." and then went on with his prayer.
Campolo thought, "that is strange that he should pray that here." He went out and he spoke and finished his message and then he got in his car and was driving home. And he picked up a hitch hiker. He said he knew that he wasn’t supposed to pick up hitch hikers, but he thought, ’being a preacher, anytime I can get a captive audience, I’ll take advantage of it."
So he gets this guy in the car and he is talking to him and he says, "By the way, what is your name?" and the man said, "Burt Harris". Campolo stopped the car, turned it around and immediately headed the opposite direction. The man looked at him and said, "What are you doing?" Campolo said, "I am taking you back to your wife and family whom you are trying to leave."
The man went white! He never said another word, he sat there speechless and Campolo drove him straight up to this guys trailer. And the guy says, "How do you know where I live?" Campolo said, "God told me." (in a way He really had.)
Campolo said "I took this guy inside his home and the family and marriage was restored and God did an exciting thing."
Now you say, "How come God doesn’t ever do that to me?" "How come I don’t have those kind of exciting experiences?"
And Campolo would tell you, "If you would make your life available, God would wear you out."
I think that when we get to heaven you will be amazed at the people that God uses.
Folks, the longer I am a Christian, the more I realize that God does not need super stars.
He doesn’t. He simply needs ordinary people who say, "I will be used by God."
Look at the disciples. A bunch of losers.
They weren’t even good fishermen. Every time Jesus would go to them they were MENDING THEIR NETS.
They couldn’t even keep their nets in good shape! Stop focusing on what you can’t do. Let God decide what you can’t do. You just be available.
How encouraging!!! It proves that God uses ordinary people.
I don’t care how many times you have blown it, God can and will still use your life. I don’t care what mistakes you have made, or how many times you have fallen flat on your face......You are not a failure just to fall, you are a failure when you refuse to get back up!
Maybe you have had a divorce, or a moral problem, or a bad habit that you couldn’t kick, maybe you are still dealing with it...
I don’t care what your hang up is, everybody sitting here has a least one! But that does not disqualify you from being used by God. If God only used perfect people, who would get used? God uses ordinary people who are ready to be used by him.