Archive for July 18th, 2016

from JO’s sermon tonight:

sometimes, we’re doing the right thing, but it doesn’t seem like it’s making a difference. we’re being our best, honoring God, but we’re not making much progress, not getting good breaks, our dreams aren’t coming to pass; it seems like we’re being overlooked. it’s easy to get discouraged, think God must’ve forgotten about us, especially when we see other people are being blessed, promoted, meeting the right person. thoughts tell us, “it’s because they’re more talented, attractive, come from an influential family. just accept where you are.” these thoughts try to make us feel insignificant, push us down, so we’ll settle for mediocrity.

this is what happened to David in the scripture. he was the youngest son of a man named Jesse; he had 7 older brothers. as a teenager, he got stuck out in the shepherd’s fields, taking care of his father’s sheep. he spent his days feeding the animals, cleaning up their mess, protecting them from harm; it was boring, lonely. his brothers were in the military, where it was exciting, prestigious. they wore a uniform each day, had respect and honor; when they passed by, people admired them. nobody thought of David; nobody celebrated him. in their eyes, what he was doing was insignificant; they discounted him, thought, “oh, that’s just David. he’s the youngest, he’s small, he’s not talented, he’ll never do anything great.”

they looked on the outside; what they couldn’t see was what was on the inside. David had a heart after God; he didn’t complain, slack off because nobody was watching, he didn’t get bitter, go around with a chip on his shoulder, he was his best right where he was. in the natural, it didn’t look like he would ever get out of the shepherd’s fields and do something significant. every circumstance said that he was stuck: his brothers looked down on him, his father didn’t believe in him, all the odds were against him. but one day, God told the prophet Samuel:

1 Samuel 16:1-11 (NIV)

16 … Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” … 6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”

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 people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”… 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”

he discounted David, saw him as insignificant, didn’t even bother inviting him in. but just because people leave you out, that doesn’t mean that God leaves you out. people may overlook you, judge you by the outside, your height, weight, skin color; God looks on the inside. the good news is, God has the final say; promotion doesn’t come from people, it comes from the Lord. people may bypass you, they may not give you the time of day, but they cannot stop what God has ordained for you. if you’ll keep being faithful, honoring God, He’ll take you from the background to the foreground. people may try to push you down; God will lift you up. they may try to hold you back; God will thrust you forward. people don’t determine your destiny; God does.

when Samuel heard that Jesse had another son:

1 Samuel 16:11 (NIV)

11 … Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”

12 So he sent for him…

I can imagine, David sees this man way off in the distance, coming toward him full-speed; David thinks, “is something wrong, is there an emergency?” the messenger shows up and says, “David, your father needs you immediately; come with me.” they take off running together back to the house. when David arrived:

1 Samuel 16:12 (NIV)

12 … had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.

Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”

all those years David spent out in the shepherd’s fields, he felt ignored, insignificant, looked down on. his family discounted him, didn’t give him any credit. it looked like that would be his destiny, but in one moment everything changed. what happened? he got called into the house. people ignored him; God said, “I have My eye on David.” people discounted him; God saw his potential. they looked on the outside; God looked at his heart. He saw David doing the right thing when the wrong thing was happening. He saw him being faithful even when it looked like he wasn’t going anywhere.

you too may feel like you’re being overlooked, left out; the people that should be for you, cheering you on, are doing just the opposite, discounting you, trying to push you down. don’t worry; your time is coming.  God is watching you; He sees your faithfulness, dedication, integrity. like David, you’re about to be called into the house, see doors open that you could never open, see vindication, where God honors you in front of people that are trying to make you look bad. you’re going to see new levels of influence, where people that once disrespected you, didn’t give you the time of day, now they look up to you, admire you, ask you for advice. 

David was just minding his own business this day; as far as he was concerned, it was just another day at work, nothing special, taking care of sheep, keeping them from wild animals. suddenly, his whole life changed; it happened unexpectedly. you may think it’s just another ordinary day, going to work, coming home; you don’t know what God is up to. you never know when that messenger is going to show up saying that you’re needed in the house. you didn’t see it coming, you weren’t expecting it, but suddenly, you meet the right person, the medical report says cancer-free, you get that break that thrusts you to the next level; you were called into the house. 

what’s interesting is, David wasn’t dreaming about becoming a king, praying that one day he would lead a nation. he never thought he would defeat that giant, and become an overnight national hero. he was a shepherd boy, from a low-income family;  that influence, that kind of favor, never entered his mind. what God has in store for you is much bigger than you’ve imagined. we pray for things that seem reasonable to us. we ask for healing, protection, to meet the right people; that’s all good, but God has blessings that you’ve never asked for. if He showed you all that was in your future, it would boggle your mind. if you’ll do like David, and be your best where you are, you won’t have to chase promotion, promotion will chase you. you won’t have to go after blessings, blessings will come after you. when you keep God first place, the scripture says:

Deuteronomy 28:2 (NRSV)

2 all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the Lord your God

one of the keys is to stay faithful where you are. Don’t wait until you get out of the shepherd’s fields, and then you’re going to be your best, when you get a more significant position, then you’re going to give it your all; you have to be excellent at the level you’re on right now.  pass the test in the small areas. if David would’ve slacked off, done a half-hearted job, he wouldn’t have been called into the house.  if you’re not excellent on your level, then you won’t see promotion and increase. if you’ll be faithful where you are, then when it’s your time to be called, promoted, healed, vindicated, all the forces of darkness will not be able to hold you back.

many of you have been faithful, done the right thing when it was hard. you haven’t listened to the negative voices trying to discourage you, but nothing has happened; you’re still in the shepherd’s fields, doesn’t look like you’ll ever get the break you need, get well, meet the right person. you may feel overlooked, but God is saying, “I haven’t forgotten about you. Samuel is on the way; you’re about to be called into the house. I’m about to do what medicine can’t do, restore with the enemy’s trying to steal, take you where you could not go on your own.”  

now do your part; keep being excellent where you are.  if God can’t trust you to be faithful in the wilderness, how can He trust you to be faithful in the promised land? those things that are not changing: people dismissing you, those times where you feel like you’re doing something insignificant, those are times of testing, proving, where you have to show God what you’re made of. that’s when your character is developed. 

it’s easy to slack off, “this doesn’t matter, it’s insignificant, nobody is watching,” but you have to pass small tests before God will release big things. if you’re not excellent on the level you’re on, you won’t get to the next level. you may not like where you are, you know you have more in you, it’s taking longer than you thought, but God knows what he’s doing. He’s closely watching you; if you’ll keep passing the test, staying faithful where you are, it’s just a matter of time before you see that messenger show up suddenly, unexpectedly.  it seems like another ordinary day, but the right person sees you, and your whole world changes. like with David, somebody that he didn’t even know, the prophet Samuel, came looking for him.

God knows how to get you to where you’re supposed to be. He’s already lined up your Samuels, who will search you out to be good to you. you say, “I’d love to believe this, it sounds good, but you don’t know my situation; I don’t come from a prominent family”; neither did David. “I don’t know anyone influential that can give me a good break, open a door”; neither did David. “I don’t have a good position. I’m doing something that seems insignificant”; so was David. if you see what you’re doing as not important, not significant, most likely you won’t do it with excellence. what makes it incredibly important is the fact that that’s where God has you now. you’re not there by accident; it holds the key to you rising higher. Samuel won’t come looking if there’s not excellence where you are. you don’t have to do it better than somebody else, just do it to the best of your ability, knowing that you’re not working unto people, you’re working unto God. 

God knows how to vindicate you. if somebody’s trying to hold you down, don’t worry, God can go over them, go around them, move them out of the way.  bottom line;  God will get you to where you’re supposed to be.

David’s own family didn’t believe in him. his father thought he was not tall enough, talented enough, smart enough. the good news is, when God is ready to call you, He doesn’t go check with your family; He doesn’t go ask your cousin, “do you think they have what it takes?” He doesn’t consult with your boss if it’s time to promote you. God doesn’t need people’s approval to do what He wants to do in your life. if people don’t believe in you, that’s ok; the God Who created the universe, the One who matters, He does. your family may not encourage you, but you can encourage yourself. people may not celebrate you; learn to celebrate yourself.

when you get called into the house, you don’t know where God is going to take you. but sometimes, when we see a person on the inside, in other words they’re blessed, prosperous, influential, we think, “that will never be me; I don’t have the talent like him, the connections, the good looks”; none of that matters to God. when you have a heart to know Him, when you’re your best right where you are, one touch of God’s favor can take you from the outside to the inside. you may not realize it, but you already have royal blood flowing through your veins. you’re wearing a crown of favor. God breathed his life into you; He didn’t create you to stay on the outside, to live in the shepherd’s fields. sure, there are seasons that we go through, tests we must pass, but don’t let that become permanent in your thinking; God has already lined up the Samuels to come push you into your destiny. you may be on the outside, but get ready; God’s going to bring you to the inside. 

God doesn’t want us to go through life just celebrating others; He wants you to be celebrated. sometimes, thoughts will tell you, “you belong on the outside; that blessed life, that prosperous, abundant life, that’s not for you, that’s for those people that are more talented, that have more beauty.” don’t believe those lies. you didn’t get left out. you weren’t shortchanged. God put greatness in you. there are gifts and talents that you’ve not yet tapped into. there are new levels in your future.

keep being faithful. like with David, your time is coming; you’re going to be called into the house. The good news is, God has your number; He has the healing that belongs to you, He has the baby with your name on it. you may be on the outside, but God’s about to bring you to the inside. you’re going to look up and say, “I feel better now than I’ve felt in years.” you’re not going to just be celebrating and admiring others, you’re going to be celebrated. there are blessings in your future that you never asked for or thought about. you may not see how it can happen, you feel like you’re stuck, you’re in the shepherd’s fields, but God has not forgotten about you. if you’ll keep being your best where you are, you’re about to be called into the house; new doors are going to open, the right people will show up, problems turn around, the fullness of your destiny.

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