Recently, I came across a beautiful story of a handicapped boy who was celebrating his ninth birthday. His father and mother held a birthday party in his honor. Many of the family and friends were not sure what to buy the boy as a gift because he was handicapped. So, they gave the little boy money instead. After the party had ended, the parents of the boy told him he could buy whatever he wanted with the money. Without any hesitation, he told them he wanted a puppy. The father carried his son to the local pet store, and the boy was amazed that he had so many puppies from which to choose. Some had spots, some had short tails, and some had a pug nose. But, when the boy made his selection, he chose a puppy that had been born with a deformed leg. The pet store owner asked the boy why he had chosen that particular puppy because it was one he thought he would never be able to sell. The father smiled with pride when he heard the reply of his son, “I chose him because we could understand each other, and I would never have to worry about him running away. And besides, mister, he needed me a whole lot worse than all the others.”
Have you noticed our society is obsessed with being discovered? Reality shows like American Idol, America’s Got Talent, The Bachelor, and Survivor have proven that men and women are willing to do almost anything for a few seconds of fame and fortune. While the secular world keeps searching for “the next big thing,” are we in the spiritual world losing sight of what God looks for in lives He discovers? In 1 Samuel 16, Samuel has been sent of the Lord to the home of Jesse in Bethlehem to find the replacement for King Saul. Of Jesse’s first seven sons, Samuel witnessed masculinity on parade that he was sure made each a valid candidate. They each possessed size, skill, strength, and seasoning, but the Lord did not choose any of them. Samuel asked Jesse if he had any other sons, and they brought in the baby boy David who was tending sheep. Immediately, the Lord said, “…arise, anoint him: for this is he.” No one but the Lord would have suspected him or supported him. When you study the lives of the heroes of faith such as Abraham, Moses, Gideon, and Jephthah, it becomes clear that the Lord has criteria different from ours in His selection of lives to be used. What are the secrets to being discovered by God?
The Lord looks for lives that will conform to His tendencies. When the Lord rejected Saul as king, Samuel proclaims in 1 Samuel 13:14, “…the Lord hath sought Him a man after His own heart…” The word “after” has two descriptive meanings in this verse. First, it means “to follow after.” It is the picture of someone staying close enough to imitate what they observe. The Lord was looking for someone who would see the holiness, honesty, and humility of His heart and desire to pursue it for their own life. The proof of our intimacy with the Lord is not found in quoting scripture or singing songs, but rather is found in our attitude toward sin. When it came to sin, Saul could only blame and regret, but David was broken and repentant. The second meaning of the word “after” is “a position from behind.” Here lies the great secret of what the Lord saw in David’s heart: David knew how to glorify God without getting in the way! David was a highly competitive warrior, but he was also a tender shepherd who knew he could not compete with God! These words are found on the memorial of Lord Lawrence in Westminster Abbey: “He feared man so little, because he feared God so much.” A life that cannot fear God is a life that will never fully know the favor of God.
The Lord looks for lives that will comply with His terms. In 1 Samuel 15, the Lord commanded Saul to “utterly destroy” Amalek. However, Saul had a better idea and “…spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen…and all that was good…” with supposed intentions of offering it to the Lord. Samuel then confronted Saul with these words in verse 22: “…Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice…” Long before Frank Sinatra sang the song, Saul had his own rendition of “My Way.” Stephen Olford said it best: “Ours is not to reason why. Ours is not to make reply. Ours is but to do or die.” Anytime the Lord is left out of the equation, our life is reduced to foolishness, frustration, and failure. Gehazi tried to perform a miracle with Elisha’s staff, but it was powerless in his hands. The seven sons of Sceva tried to cast out a demon, but found themselves cast out of the house. Saul was convinced the only chance David had against Goliath was to wear the king’s awkward and uncomfortable armor. But, imagine how the Lord must have smiled when David was convinced God plus a slingshot was more than enough! Obedience is not simply the mere expression of our faith, but rather it is the evidence of it.
The Lord looks for lives that will carry out His task. In 1 Samuel 16:7, when Samuel was impressed and captivated with David’s brothers, the Lord said, “…man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” With a glance into David’s heart, the Lord saw not only David’s love and character, but also his loyalty and commitment. David was chosen as Saul’s successor because whether he was a shepherd, a soldier, a singer, or a statesman, he completed what he started. Saul spared Agag while David slew Goliath. Saul excused his vows while David executed his vows. Saul forgot the ark of God while David found the ark of God. Saul left every project undone and would never be a finisher. As a result, the consequence of his “putting his hand to the plow and looking back” was severe: “…thy kingdom shall not continue. The true measure of a man’s faith is not determined by his skill or his success, but rather by what it would take to make him quit! Samson had lost his discernment, his defense, and his dignity, but he prayed for strength to finish the Philistines. Jesus was wounded, wearied, and weighed down, but on the He cross cried out, “it is finished.” A true finisher is someone who stays put regardless of the circumstance, the criticism, or the cost.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 that “…God hath chosen the foolish things…the weak things…base (low born) things…things which are despised (useless)…things which are not…that no flesh should glory in His presence.” The devil loves to remind us of our inabilities, lack of talent, and our past failures. However, these verses keep a simple hope alive in our heart: to the devil you may be the runt of the pack, but to the Lord, you might just be the pick of the litter!
Your Most Proud Pastor,
© 2008 Alan Stewart
Alan Stewart: Dr. Alan Stewart has served as Senior Pastor of Rechoboth Baptist since December 1999. He attended The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Moody Bible Institute, Covington Theological Seminary, and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
Prior to pastoring the Tennessee church, Alan was an evangelist for 15 years. He has preached revivals/pastor’s conferences in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. He also preached crusades/conferences in India, Hungary, and conducted a crusade in South Africa in August of 2009. Pastor Alan is married to Jeanne, and they are blessed with two children – Sierra and Seth.