A Matter of the Heart

Several of today’s texts center in on the notion of God choosing someone unlikely to fulfill His task.  I was taken by 1 Samuel 16: 6-13:

6 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.’ 7But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’ 8Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, ‘Neither has the Lord chosen this one.’ 9Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, ‘Neither has the Lord chosen this one.’ 10Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, ‘The Lord has not chosen any of these.’ 11Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Are all your sons here?’ And he said, ‘There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.’ And Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.’ 12He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, ‘Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.’ 13Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.

dura_synagogue_wc3_david_anointed_by_samuel1323376831829In this passage, God is leading Samuel to anoint the next king of Israel.  Because of Saul’s unfaithfulness, there was a need for a new king. Samuel was being led by the spirit to go and find the next leader.  And is led to Bethlehem.  Led to Jesse and to his sons.

And now he has to listen to God to discern who would be the one to be king.

But look what God tells him before all this starts – do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.

It doesn’t matter how they look, how tall or strong or powerful they are.  What matters is this.  Where is their heart?  Becuase it is is the heart that in the end determines the actions.

If the heart is with God, the actions will be.

God doesn’t judge by what is outside, He judges by what is inside.

Because what is on the inside determines everything.  My favorite football players have always been the little guys.  The small, fast players, that have no business being out there with they giants.  You can measure height and speed and strength. But you can’t measure heart.  There are these plays that may not “look” like they will be great.

But you can’t judge the heart.

You may not feel like you can do great things for God. There may be too many things, in your mind, standing in your way.  You may not look the part.

That doesn’t matter.  Where is your heart?  Where is your desire?  Where is your dream?  If God has called you to it, if God has placed it upon you, you can do it.  His approval is the approval that you need.

So today, let’s know that if God has called us, that’s all that matters.  It’s a matter of the heart.  And let’s be careful how we judge others.  Let’s not make the same mistake of looking only at the outside; let’s remember what really counts, the heart.

As your heart goes, so goes your life.  If your heart is His, then you can do whatever it is that God is calling you to!

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(One of) The Most Misunderstood Verses in the Bible

Our Wednesday Night bible study at Asbury is one of the highlights of my week.  It’s always a fun time of conversation about scripture, life, and what God is teaching us.  We laugh, ask questions, and try to dig deep into God’s Word.

And, as I am prone to do, I will usually chase a rabbit or two.  We are finishing up Galatians, and last night, we took a sidebar conversation into what I said was one of the most misunderstood verses in the bible – Don’t judge lest ye be judged yourself.  We had some good conversation about it, and today, I wanted to share a little bit about this verse.  It can be found in Matthew 7:1-5:

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.  Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

plankeyeNow, notice what I did first.  I didn’t just include that verse, but I included the verses after it, and I could have included the verses in front of it.  One of the most important things we can do when we read the bible is to understand context.  What is happening before the verse, what is happening after the verse.  You don’t just want to look at one passage but look what’s happening around it, to get the full picture.

Jesus said, don’t judge, so you won’t be judged.  How we judge others will be how we are judged ourselves.  Then look at what happens.  Your neighbor as a speck (a small thing), while you have a log (a large thing).  Take the log out of your eye.  Why?  So you can help your neighbor take the speck out of their eye.

I think this passage teaches at least two things – humility.  We are no better than anyone that we may want to “judge.”  We are human.  We have made mistakes.  We have failed, we have major things that we have done. We need to always understand that as Christians, we are not better than anyone else.  We are simply sinners saved by grace.  We have to approach everything with humility. That’s the only way that we can make a difference, the only way that we can help others.

Understand your weakness and sin, own it, and when you do that, you will really be able to help others with their weakness and sin.

We have to understand and live out humility in everything.

The second thing is this – the point of “judgement” is heal others. To help others.  We are never to judge. We are to help.  If someone you love is doing something wrong, you job is not to beat them up, but to help them come to healing.  To restore them. To love them.  To help them to be complete.  You never want to beat them up. But you do, through love, want to help others (just as you would want them to help you) come to a healthy and whole place in their life.

And sin, in the end is destructive.  Destructive to our walk with God, and our walk with each other. That’s why our log, and their speck, must both be removed, so what we can walk in peace with God and each other.  Sin destroys, and God desires healing and wholeness for all of us.

That’s point here.  Not judgement. But healing. Forgiveness.  Restoration.  So, yes, help your neighbor with their speck.  But first, humbly look for the log in your own eye. And then, let every action, every word, every thought you take for them by about what is best for them, and be about loving them, as Jesus loved them.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

What Matters is Jesus

One of the struggles for the church when Paul was evangelizing and starting churches was this – how much of the old life and the old tradition should they hold to?  Many of the new believers had come out of the Jewish tradition, while many of the newest believers were Gentiles (non-Jews). So, the question emerged, what should all Christians do?

Should they hold to the traditions of their ancestors and keep the laws about what to eat and what to drink?  Should they hold onto the old?

Or, should they break away completely?  Should they start over and walk away from the old traditions of the past? What are they to do?

Listen to how Paul writes about this in Romans 14: 17-21:

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.

cu_jesus_kidsPaul tells us this – what you eat or not eat, that’s not important.  What matters is Jesus and the Holy Spirit. What matters is being lead by the spirit, walking with the spirit, living by the spirit.

Not if you eat clean or unclean, if you wash or don’t wash.

It’s Jesus.

Now, Paul would say that if you choose to eat only certain foods, that’s fine.  Just don’t judge others (who love Jesus) that don’t have the same conviction as you.  If they love Jesus, that’s what matters.

So is it today.  Just because there is something in your life that you feel like is the most important thing in all the world, and someone else doesn’t share that same passion, or doesn’t agree with you, or doesn’t go to the right church, or listen to the right music, or do the “right” thing, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t Christian.

Point folks to Jesus today, not to your traditions or the things that are you preference. Do what you need to do for you faith. But don’t mistake the way that you live your faith out for your faith.

Love others.  Love Jesus.  Point to Jesus.  Live for Him.

And let God take care of the rest!

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

Who Do We Write Off?

It can be easy to miss what God is doing. It can be very easy.

We can be distracted by the circumstances of life. We can be distracted by sin. We can be distracted by the stuff in our lives. We can be distracted by the stuff in others.

We can judge others too quickly. We can judge ourselves too quickly.

We can just not pay attention to the stuff of God sometimes.

And when we aren’t attuned to God, it can be so easy to miss what He wanting to do.

Listen to what happened in John 1: 45-49:

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. Nathanael said to him, Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Philip said to him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit! Nathanael said to him, How do you know me? Jesus answered him, Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you. Nathanael answered him, Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!

We see here that Nathanael almost missed Jesus Christ, even after Phillip pointed Jesus out to him. Why?

Because Nathanael, he just knew that nothing good could come out of Nazareth. Nothing. Nothing good could come from that.

So, he almost wrote off Jesus. He almost missed what God was going to do with his life, because surly nothing good could come from Nazareth.

Nothing.

He almost wrote Jesus off, because he already had him mind made up.

Today, be careful. Who do we write off? Who do we prejudge?

How can miss what God wants to do in our lives?

Today, be attuned to the stuff of God. Pray. Listen. Watch. Be gracious. Love.

Look for Jesus in the small things. Look for Jesus in the big things.

Today, if we look, we will see God in our midst. May we not quickly write off what God wants to do.

And may we be faithful in all things!

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

Who Are You Misjudging?

Who is the person that you think to yourself, there’s no way God can use them!

There is no way that God can possible use that person.  Look who they are!  Look where they are from!  Surely they are not usable by God.

Who is that person for you?  Where is that place for you?

Listen to what some folks said this morning about Jesus in John 7:

They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Search the Scriptures and see for yourself—no prophet ever comes from Galilee!”

Galilee was from the northern part of Israel. And while it was, and is in my opinion, the most beautiful part of Israel, it is not the most “prestigious.”  A prophet is supposed to come from Jerusalem, the political and spiritual capital of Israel.

Or a prophet is supposed to come from Bethlehem, the place where King David was from. That’s where a prophet was supposed to come from!

And this Jesus, was from Galilee, they knew that!  But did they?

See, they thought that Jesus from Galilee because that’s where He did  most of His ministry from and where His family moved to.  But, we know the rest of the story.  We know that He was actually born in Bethlehem where a the Messiah was supposed to be born.

See, the didn’t know the whole story. They they thought they did. And because of that, along with other reasons, they missed what God was doing.

They misjudged Jesus. They thought that, based off their limited knowledge, God couldn’t use Him.

Today, who are you misjudging?  Who have you already made up your mind about, without knowing the entire story? Who have you, and I, have we prejudged? Who have we already formed an opinion on, that may not be the entire the story?

God may want to speak to us through that person.  If our opinion is already formed, though, we may not be able to listen.  We need to be able to listen to all the ways that God wants to speak to us today.

Who have we misjudged?

They misjudged Jesus without knowing the truth.  Today, may we make not make that same mistake.  May we love, listen, and follow God. And may we be open to all the ways that God will speak. Today, and always.