Rev Dr Edgar Mayer; Living Grace Toowoomba Church; Message: 1 Samuel; Date: 2 June 2013

For more sermons and other writings check the following homepage: www.livinggracetoowoomba.org

 

 

A Tale of Two Kings

 

What is the number one key to receive anything from God? If you are here this morning and you want something from God – you want God to mature you – heal you – give you wisdom – open a door for you – what needs to happen? Listen to one Bible verse – (in itself a quote of another Bible verse) – that encapsulates the heart of our relationship with God:

 

James 4:6: But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.”

 

As you are sitting here, what is your attitude toward God and other people?

 

Francis Frangipane: The Land Beneath Our Feet: As a speaker in citywide and regional conferences, I am often asked to unmask the ‘spiritual power’ opposing the body of Christ in the conference region. City leaders and intercessors have even asked if I knew the ‘name’ of the principle spirit that is resisting the church in their area. ‘Do you want to know the name of the most powerful spirit opposing most Christians?’ I ask. Eager faces respond affirmatively. ‘It’s Yahweh.’ My questioners, who suddenly look like a tree full of owls, are always bewildered by my answer. They are sure I misunderstood the question. Then, I explain. I remind them that, according to the Scriptures, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble’ (James 4:6) …

 

God hates the proud – he hates them – and he opposes them – even Christians. However, he freely gives to those that are humble. He lavishes grace on the lowly. This is what God is like. In case we are not clear about the meaning of the words, here are some helpful definitions:

 

Pride: “a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of one’s close associates, or [a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived] from [having] qualities or possessions that are widely admired” (Oxford Dictionaries)

 

Humility: “the quality of having a modest or low view of one’s importance” (Oxford Dictionaries)

 

If you want to be a high achiever before God (a proud Christian dynamo), then the Christian faith is not for you because Jesus pricked the bubble of any human pride by saying: “...without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

 

1 Corinthians 4:7: ... What do you have that you did not receive? [E.g.: prosperity, wisdom, spiritual power, great leadership, etc.] And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

 

This may sound like bad news – stern warnings about personal insufficiencies – depressing thoughts about our own efforts never being good enough – but it is the opposite. Your life does not have to be built on your own achievements which will always be lacking – (even the most proud person would concede that) – but on God’s who is always perfect. You will have certainty about your salvation – there will be an assurance of God’s love – because none of these blessings are merited by you. They are freely bestowed upon you – not because you deserve them – not because you are anybody – but they are given to you on account of God and who he is – his love and glory:

 

Romans 3:22: There is no difference between the human races [original: Jew and Gentile], for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith ... Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded ... For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from any human achievements in keeping God’s commandments [original: apart from the works of the law].

 

Ephesians 2:4-9: But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved ... it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works [not by any human achievement], so that no one can boast.

 

There can be no proud boasting before God. How can anyone be smug in the Christian faith when God saved us by having his Son Jesus Christ suffer and die on a cross for us? [How can I boast next to his suffering?] All glory belongs to him:

 

Galatians 1:4-5: Jesus died for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. That is why all glory belongs to God through all the ages of eternity. Amen.

 

Philippians 2:8-11: ... Jesus humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

I come back to the opening Bible verse: God opposes the proud but shows favour – (gives grace) – to the humble” (James 4:6). If this is true, how can you be humble and remain humble? Just speaking for myself – I have to say that pride seems to come much easier to me than humility. This is a problem. How can I be humble and remain humble so that the favour of God remains on me? We may learn from the story of two kings – Saul and David – the first two kings of God’s people.

Saul was an imposing figure – a head taller than anyone else – but when God chose him to be king and all the people were ready to crown him, he ran away and was hiding among the luggage. On the day of his coronation, Saul was humble which was a good start:

 

1 Samuel 10:20-24: So Samuel [the prophet leader] brought all the tribes of Israel before the Lord, and the tribe of Benjamin was chosen by lot. Then he brought each family of the tribe of Benjamin before the Lord, and the family of the Matrites was chosen. And finally Saul son of Kish was chosen from among them. But when they looked for him, he had disappeared! So they asked the Lord, “Where is he?”

And the Lord replied, “He is hiding among the baggage.” So they found him and brought him out, and he stood head and shoulders above anyone else. Then Samuel said to all the people, “This is the man the Lord has chosen as your king. No one in all Israel is like him!”

And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

 

Only days earlier, Saul had a private meeting with Samuel where Saul was again humble – speaking words of humility:

 

1 Samuel 19:19-21: “I am the seer,” Samuel replied. “Go up ahead of me to the high place, for today you are to eat with me, and in the morning I will send you on your way and will tell you all that is in your heart. As for the donkeys you lost three days ago, do not worry about them; they have been found. And to whom is all the desire of Israel turned, if not to you and your whole family line?”

Saul answered, “But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me?”

 

Apparently, there had been dreams – aspirations – of greatness in Saul’s heart. Samuel knew them and declared them to Saul. (There is nothing wrong with aiming high in God.) Yet, Saul was humble and God showed him much favour:

 

1 Samuel 10:1: Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the Lord anointed you ruler over his inheritance?”

 

1 Samuel 10:9: As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day.

 

Promotion came extremely fast for Saul. He went from nobody (from a son of the smallest clan of the smallest tribe) to king almost overnight. When he first met Samuel, he was looking for the lost donkeys of his father – hardly the occupation of a hero.

However, Saul’s swift promotion was met by equally swift success. When enemies invaded the land and Saul heard the lament of his people, he acted like a king on whom God’s Spirit and favour rested:

 

1 Samuel 11:6: When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger.

 

1 Samuel 11:11: The next day Saul separated his men into three divisions; during the last watch of the night they broke into the camp of the Ammonites and slaughtered them until the heat of the day. Those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.

 

Immediate success – immediate breakthrough – cemented Saul’s standing as king before all people – even among former critics:

 

1 Samuel 11:15: So all the people went to Gilgal and made [confirmed] Saul king in the presence of the Lord ...

 

Yet – before long – chinks began to show in Saul’s character. Under pressure, he disobeyed God. The Philistine army that was opposing him had superior firepower and superior manpower so that his own army wasquaking with fear” (1 Samuel 13:7) with others hidingin caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns” (1 Samuel 13:6). Saul waited for Samuel to make an offering to God and inquire of him about the battle with the Philistines but Samuel did not come. Finally, Saul stepped in, slaughtered some animals and made the offering himself. This made strategic sense to him because it might calm down his men but it was also breaking the commandment which he had previously received. He assumed a role that was not his and relinquished his trust in God for a religious ceremony which, he thought, would serve his purposes.

Most of us would be lenient with Saul. Who makes all the right moves under pressure? The battle was close; his army was fearful and the odds of survival were slim. Maybe Saul – (maybe we) – could be excused except that his behaviour did not subsequently improve but grew worse.

Some time later, Samuel gave Saul the mandate to attack the Amalekites and punish them for what they did in the past. Saul was to destroy them and all of their possessions – including all life-stock. However, Saul again disobeyed God and only destroyed what was weak and worthless (1 Samuel 15:9). This did not seem to matter to him. He was pumped. What glorious victory he had won and he celebrated his triumph by setting up a monument in his own honour – before he thought about worshipping God – but God was not pleased:

 

1 Samuel 15:10-23: Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the Lord all that night.

Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honour and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.”

When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.” But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?” Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”

“Enough!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.” “Tell me,” Saul replied.

Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out.’ Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?”

“But I did obey the Lord,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.”

But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”

 

What did God bemoan and deplore? Once, Saul was small in his own eyes – (he thought of himself as being insignificant and this is what made him humble) – but now – as the anointed king – with a few victories under his belt – he had become a big shot in his own eyes – with enough confidence to defy even God. What began in humility – a willingness to submit to God – ended up in pride – in monuments to himself – in following his own counsel and self-importance rather than God’s instructions – which (in time) made God his enemy and this is what God said to him: “Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”

Saul did not believe that this would or could happen – that he (the great king) could fall from grace – and – for the rest of his life – he would fight God – defend and hang on to his kingship – even though he (and everyone else) knew whom God had designated as his successor (1 Samuel 23:17; 20:31; 24:20). How can anyone be so stubborn in their pride? What went so wrong with Saul? There are some practical answers which may be a warning to us this morning.

Saul began with humility but his humility was born out of shame – not character. He looked imposing – (a head taller than anyone else) – but he had low self-esteem – (being from an insignificant family among the smallest tribe). Low self-esteem is not a good source of humility because what happens when God makes you king and grants you some victories. What happens when people praise you? You may think that this is going to heal your low self-esteem – cover your shame. You learn to depend on the praise of other people for your sense of self-worth and – for a while – this may seem to work. Only the praise of other people is fickle – you cannot always please everyone (and if people sense that you are desperate for their praise they begin to manipulate you) – and you will struggle when someone comes along that is going to be more popular than you. Can your fragile sense of self-worth handle the praise of others? Saul was a disaster as a king and leader for that very reason. His humility was born out of shame – not character. He needed the praise of everyone to feel good about himself which meant that his leadership could not tolerate the rise of the next generation – other leaders – surpassing greatness:

 

1 Samuel 18:6-11: When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with timbrels and lyres. As they danced, they sang: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.”

Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David.

The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully on Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice.

 

1 Samuel 24:11-17: “See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. See that there is nothing in my hand to indicate that I am guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you.

Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Who are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea? May the Lord be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.”

When David finished saying this, Saul asked, “Is that your voice, David my son?” And he wept aloud. “You are more righteous than I,” he said. “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly.”

 

I have seen this happen in church many a time. Shy people – seemingly humble people – people that have a low view of themselves – are encouraged to serve in a leadership role (e.g.: homegroup leader, sport’s captain, church elder) and – at first – they resist the call – (“I cannot do it.” “I am not gifted.”) – but then success comes. The dangerous time comes. The test comes. Will they remain humble or will the people that once were small in their own eyes become big in their own eyes – too big to listen to anyone else? Will they protect their turf because this is what seems to give them self-worth and praise from others?

 

Sometimes there is behaviour that looks humble but is also pride. A few years ago, we had one person that would preach occasionally at Living Grace and after every sermon she would remonstrate with herself: “I should have said this. This was not good enough. Did the people understand this illustration? Was my voice clear?” Finally, I said: “Stop it.” This was not humble but prideful because all of this fretting and worrying was about self – not God or the people. Pray and do the best you can – don’t be lazy – then, trust God with the outcome. Let him worry about the results. You are not in charge and it is not about you.

 

Please, do not go down this road. We need leaders rising up in our midst and we need leaders who will remain humble in success. There is no need to fail like Saul. What Saul never learned is that true humility is not born in shame but grace. Yes – before God – when we first come to him – none of us without sin or shame – but we are not overcoming sin and shame with the pride of our own achievements. Instead, we become whole – come to enjoy healthy self-esteem – through grace – the saving achievements of God who has saved us and loves us still and empowers us for life. He alone is worthy of all praise – always – because we cannot do anything without him. We learn to take pride in him – not us; therefore remain humble – knowing better than to get in the way of God’s glory and grace. His love is better than any monuments.

Do you agree? Yes – we do but still – let’s be honest – there is this need in us to be someone. We want recognition. Maybe God does not need all of the glory and a little glory could come to us. In the church, we are people who still compete with one another, become jealous of one another and protect our turf.

How can this be fixed? Look who came after Saul – David, the second king of God’s people. David was not unlike Saul. There was an air of insignificance about him.

When God sent the prophet Samuel to anoint a successor to Saul, he came to the house of Jesse and asked him to present his sons to him. Jesse lined up seven sons before Samuel but none of these seven sons were chosen to be king by God. It must have been confusing for Samuel that God rejected each of these seven sons before him when God had said earlier that the next king would be one of Jesse’s sons. What happened was that Jesse did not bother to present his youngest son – David – to Samuel. The youngest boy was away much – with the sheep – and his father did not think that much of him – certainly failed to see a future king in him.

There was an air of insignificance also about David. Yet, God had chosen him and – like Saul – David seemed to have some ambition in him. There was the self-confidence of youth with an eye for greatness. He was too young to fight in the army (like the three oldest brothers) but when the king put up a reward for anyone that would kill the champion (Goliath) of the opposing army, David was very interested in the reward and confident that he could be God’s champion for victory:

 

1 Samuel 17:25-31: Now the Israelites had been saying, “Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.”

David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.”

When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”

“Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” 30 He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. 31 What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him.

 

1 Samuel 17:33-37: Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”

 

David loved God and loved to worship him but – I have the strong suspicion – that his interest in the reward and cocky attitude – (despite his heart for God) – displayed a fair measure of (youthful) self-interest – pride, not humility. Who doesn’t want to be a war hero? Who doesn’t want to marry the king’s own daughter?

David succeeded on all levels. He defeated Goliath, married the king’s daughter, befriended the king’s son, became the object of many praise songs and lived in the king’s palace. Like Saul – David experienced swift promotion – from boy to royalty – and swift success – instant defeat of Goliath and the Philistine army. Yet – in his case – God spent a little more time on humbling the man. There was an air of insignificance about David because his dad did not promote him much but this air of insignificance was not enough to make David truly humble – not when his successes were so spectacular. Therefore, God disciplined him with years of hardship where he would learn to depend on God alone – not himself – and therefore give glory to God alone – not himself.

 

David had to run for his life because the king, his father-in-law, became jealous of his growing fame and divine favour. Living in caves and desolate places, he was separated from his wife and then learned that the king, her father, had given her into marriage again to another man. This was not right and not fair. David was innocent.

At one time, David was so desperate that he sought refuge in the very hometown of Goliath, the giant whom he had killed in battle. There, he was forced to feign insanity with spit dribbling down his beard. The years on the run were hard (see 1 Sam. 21:10-13).

At another time, he returned to his place of refuge, only to find every home burned and destroyed. Then he discovered that the enemy raiders had also stolen his two wives and the families of his men. The circumstances could not get any worse and the suffering continued.

However, this furnace of testing trials served a purpose and formed David’s character for kingship. Instead of turning against God and giving in to bitterness, he drew closer to God in humility and learned ongoing encouragement in worship and praise. He was getting ready to lead a nation through adversity (see 1 Sam. 30:4-6).

The years of hardship made David draw closer to God. He did not grow bitter; and remarkably, he also retained a soft heart toward the king, his father-in-law, who was the agent of all injustice and persecution. David was getting ready to reign with a pure heart. Twice David seemed to have the good fortune of having the king at his mercy, but twice David refrained from killing him. He accepted that it was God who was demoting and promoting leaders (see 1 Sam. 26:9-11).

David passed the tests of leadership. He would not take matters into his own hands; he would remain obedient to God in all circumstances. In the end, David mourned, wept, and fasted when Saul did not survive a battle against the Philistines. He mourned his persecutor, and thus confirmed that he was a man after God’s own heart (see 1 Sam. 13:14). Kingship would be his. The fiery trials would have an end, and the anointing on him would manifest in his reign with authority.

 

What is the lesson here for us? Given the choice – we would want the swift promotion and swift success of Saul without the trials of David. Given the choice – we want the breakthrough now, the healing now, revival now, business success now, everything now and not after years of having nothing, living in the wilderness, being on the run from enemies and suffering one injustice after another. Yet most of us – if not all of us – could not handle the success without becoming proud. [If God had made a successful pastor in revival ten years ago, I think that I would have become insufferable – full of advice for everyone else, writing know-it-all books and tending my inflated ego.] Therefore, let’s not despise the day of small beginnings and the discipline of the Lord:

 

Hebrews 12:5-12: And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

 

R. T. Kendall: The Anointing, London: Hodder & Stoughton 1998, p71-74: ... Spurgeon said, “If I knew I had twenty-five years left to live, I’d spend twenty of it in preparation.” Most people today spurn further preparation; they think they are ready now.

In early 1956 I felt that God gave me a fresh message to preach. I saw things in scripture that I had not heard preached anywhere. I saw teaching and doctrine and insight that I thought had been revealed to nobody but the Apostle Paul! I foolishly left college since I felt I had no more to learn there. I also was convinced that the Second Coming of Jesus was so near that I was wasting my time with further preparation.

In the summer of 1956 Billy Ball, a friend of mine, and I felt led to have an evangelistic meeting in a big tent. Two businessmen put up $2,000 to buy the tent. It seated a thousand. We erected a big sign near the tent on a highway in Ohio across the river from Ashland, Kentucky: TRI-STATE EVANGELISTIC CAMPAIGN. We got on the radio to advertise the mission. We purchased a thousand folding chairs. There was plenty of parking space near the tent. On the first night fifteen people arrived! We preached night after night, alternating the ministerial responsibility, the sermons lasting a good hour each time. We managed for three or four weeks. The maximum attendance on any one night was around twenty-five. More listened from their cars out of curiosity than came into the tent. It was a humiliating fiasco.

My dad was distraught that his only son, named after his favourite preacher Dr R T Williams, had come to this. A year before, my grandmother had bought a new 1955 Chevrolet and gave it to me, as I was the first Kendall in the family to be a preacher. That summer she took the car back. Dad begged for proof I was in God’s will – with my strange new doctrine (to him) and the apparent lack of God’s approval on my life at the time.

I assured him God was going to use me – powerfully and internationally! I had been given visions from the Lord that showed me clearly that I would see great revival. Dad had one question: when? I replied with absolute confidence: within one year. He asked me to write it down so he could have it to show me one year later! I wrote it down. One year later I was selling Stroll-o-chairs, a portable assortment of baby equipment that I sold to parents of newly born babies. I had no opportunities to preach. With a measure of success in making money I became interested in material things. I decided I would learn to fly. I bought a Cessna aeroplane and a new car – a 1958 Ford Edsel. I bought a new stereo and expensive clothes. I was also several thousand dollars in debt. With such a promising beginning two years before but now having to stay in secular work to pay my bills, one could say that tomorrow’s man became yesterday’s man in record time. It would be a long, long time before I would be in solid preaching ministry.

So when I came to Westminster Chapel twenty years later, with university degrees under my belt, I thought, “Now I’m ready.” I think also that my Heavenly Father looked down from Heaven and said, “Really?” Little did I know that I was at the beginning of a ministry that would be heart-breaking year after year, preaching to three or four hundred in an auditorium that was built to seat two thousand. But at least it did my dad proud, since I occupied G Campbell Morgan’s old pulpit. Now I certainly do not want to underestimate the hope that God has used me over the past twenty-one years. But if I were honest I’d have to say it has been largely preparation.

Dr Lloyd-Jones once said to me, “The worst thing that can happen to a man is to succeed before he is ready.” ... that statement was probably the most powerful word he ever gave me ...

One reason I took myself so seriously back in 1956 was that I received visions that indicated I would be used of God. I assumed these visions would be fulfilled soon. They weren’t. But because I had them and believed they were truly from the Holy Spirit I assumed I was special. I became arrogant. I was not unlike Joseph, who not only strutted around in his coat of many colours but flaunted his prophetic dreams to his brothers. Those dreams were from God. There was nothing wrong with Joseph’s gift but there was a lot wrong with Joseph. God had earmarked Joseph for a wonderful ministry down the road, but he also earmarked Joseph for a long era of preparation and being refined. Because Joseph was not ready. I was not ready. If you put me under a lie detector today I would have to admit I’m still not sure I’m ready for the anointing I pray for. I am still being dealt with. Like peeling the layers of an onion, so I see so much about myself that is not right.

I am so thankful God is still peeling away those layers of arrogance and presumption. I’d rather not be greatly used at all than be given a greater anointing that I would abuse ...

 

God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.” This is good news because God’s favour does not depend on our human achievements. The more we arenothing”, the better it will be. There is no pressure on us to earn approval or love or status or positions. We simply submit to God and let him worry about the outcome of our lives. We are always precious in his sight. This is good news which is worth protecting. Therefore, accept anything that humbles you – anything that breaks down your pride and brings you back to surrendering to God. Be careful when promotion comes and success. God doesn’t need you to do anything great in your own strength. You don’t need this for yourself. God shows favour to the humble and only to the humble. Be humble. Amen.