Monday, June 15, 2015

We walk by faith

1 Samuel 15: 34 – 16: 13, OT page 259-260 Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord was sorry that he had made Saul king over Israel. The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.” Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” He said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. When they came he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.” But 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 hart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” Samuel 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.” He 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.” Then Samuel took the horn of the 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. Sermon People have expectations. We all do, it’s just a part of living life, so based on experience – based on what we remember from the past or from TV or the stories that we know – we form these expectations that are either re-enforced or called into question by reality. People have expectations about their doctors. I read in a magazine once that doctors should always be mindful of their appearance, and especially they should always wear socks; no one expects much out of a doctor who doesn’t wear socks. People have expectations of children. Some of these expectations of children are too high and kids never get permission to be kids from those adults who keep these strict expectations, but some expectations are too low and so some children learn to run around like Labrador retrievers let off the leash for the very first time – they chew and slobber all over everything in sight. And people have expectations of pastors. Someone will ask me what I do for a living and it’s hard to judge how they’ll react when I tell them, but at least 50% of the time the reaction is the same: “Aren’t you a little young to be a pastor?” Someday people won’t react that way anymore and I’ll miss it, but the reaction is a good illustration of human expectations – in your mind’s eye is the image of a doctor, a child, a pastor – and the doctors, children, and pastors you come across in your lifetime either re-enforce that image or call it into question – so you learn to adapt to reality, though that’s not the case with everybody. For some people the picture in their minds eye, the created expectation is confused with reality, and so some who will rise to greatness are passed over or pushed aside in favor of the one who looks like he will rise to greatness according to a set of preconceived notions – for our world is so mindful of the physical that it forgets about the divine. That’s why as the prophet Samuel goes to the house of Jesse looking for a new king of Israel, the Lord warns Samuel saying, “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.” You’ve heard stories about mortals judging based on appearance. Steve Jobs was trying to get his start in computers, so as a young man he called around and asked for help from some who had already established themselves in the field. He called on a friend of my mother and father in-law years ago and asked him if he’d like to be a partner in this new company he was starting called Apple Computers. Young Steve Jobs didn’t look like much then, not in the eyes of the world anyway, so this friend of my in-laws, he passed on the deal and has been regretting it ever since. You know stories like this one – and these kind of stories teach all of us an important lesson – be mindful of your expectations. Be mindful of times when you judge by appearance. You are looking for little clues and making judgements based on certain factors but your judgements may mislead you – so the Lord warns Samuel not to choose the son of Jesse who looks the most like a king, the one who looks the part is not necessarily the one who should play it, so while Jesse first brings out the oldest son, the oldest son is rejected. In fact, all the oldest sons are rejected – not one of them is the right one – the right one is the one who is so young that Jesse didn’t even bother calling him in from keeping the sheep. I can imagine him out there. I’m sure you can too, as pictures of young king David have been displayed on the walls of Sunday School Classrooms for generations. He’s out there picking flowers and counting the number of petals on the dandelions. His older brothers were busy practicing with their swords, preparing themselves to do battle with the Philistines or whoever else, and what’s David doing? “She loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not.” Eliab and Abinadab ask for a new spear and a new shield for their birthday – but what does David ask for? A harp. It’s true – you know who he is. Out of all of these sons of Jesse, he looks so unlike a king that no one sends for him when the prophet Samuel comes to town. At first, when the neighbors saw him approaching, they thought surely Samuel was bringing some bad news, surely he was coming to town bringing with him divine wrath or governmental taxation, but instead the prophet is coming to town to make a sacrifice he says, so Jesse and his sons go with him, but not one even thinks to call David in from the fields. Do you know what that’s like? Some are invited right away, some are an afterthought so the invitation comes a little later, but then there are a few who aren’t even an afterthought, who aren’t considered at all. Now that is a hard thing. I remember in high school there was this girl I liked. She called me and told me that her father was having a party and at those words I immediately assumed one thing, but then she continued, “My father is having this party and he needs some people to help clean up after, do you think you could help him out?” Some people. Some people get invited as guests. Some people get asked to clean up after the guests – and in the eyes of Jesse and Samuel, in the eyes of the world – there were some sons who looked like king material but there was one who no one even bothered to call in from the field and do you know which one would rise to become the greatest king of Israel? There are some, there are some who everyone always knew would make something great of themselves. They always had the right clothes, the right hair, drove the right car. The newspaper would drop by the school during lunch wanting to take a picture for some special article and the teachers would hand-pick a few of the schools finest students for the picture, call them out from the lunch tables and leave others behind, but don’t you remember the fairy tales? Prince Charming comes to the house looking for his bride – so the step mother tries to clean up her daughters the best she can. Parades them through the formal living room, has one of them play the piano for just a little while, only to find that the one he wants to marry is Cinderella who no one even bothered to call up from the basement. We live in a world where appearance is everything. Where first impressions count. Some are chosen and some are rejected based on how they look – but “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Today we will celebrate communion once again, and we are invited by the one known to the New Testament as the stone that the builders rejected who has become the cornerstone of our faith. Not only was he left out in the field when the prophet came to choose a new king, he was crucified as a criminal. Called an enemy of the state and a heretic by the religious, but we gather around his table today because we know that God does not see as mortals see – and we – we walk by faith and not by sight. Take and eat this bread, drink from his cup – and know that the ways of the world are not the ways of God – for the one who was rejected by the world is the grounds of our salvation. “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away; see everything has become new.” Amen.

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