Preach / 630 TRINITY / 10th Feb 19
Continuing our series on Vocation. This time we are looking at David’s calling and thinking about being captivated by the purpose given to us by God.
Let’s start by watching a short video..
How many of you have ever been to a job interview?
How many had car crash interviews?
How many of you feel like you have not been your best self in interviews?
I think I’ve had a few.
I think for me it’s because, I am a planner, I like to research and write. So interviews are not my favourite, because I’m much better when I have planned what I want to say – bit like a sermon really 😉
The thing about when God calls us to do something, is that he sees what is in our heart rather than the outward appearance.
Imagine what a job interview with God might be like – like maybe he wouldn’t even ask any questions because he’d already know the answers! He knows what job/ or calling we are going to be best suited in.
This is a bit like what we see with David’s story today. And we’re going to look at 3 things from David’s story:
Trusting (in God’s promise)
God sends out Samuel the Prophet to find the next king of Israel and so Samuel is a bit like the HR guy scouting out the right person for the job. He knows God has chosen one of Jesse’s sons, so that’s his short list if you like and he’s off to check out Jesse’s sons CVs. And though he knows who to check out, he looks at these candidates with his owneyes, the eyes of one seeing what he thinks a king shouldbe like, not with God’s eyes.
So first up he sees Eliab.
Now Eliab must have been, for want of a better word, pretty buff. I was trying to think of an example to compare him to (which was a fun distraction) but the best I could come up with was probably Prince Harry as a good example – possible future king, been in the army, strong, tall, has presence.
And how do we know Eliab was like this?
Well, because God specifically says to Samuel, don’tlook at his appearance or height –
the typical characteristics of a king at that time being obviously tall and strong – able to lead an army. And we can see that when Saul was anointed King earlier, the writer specifically tells us that Saul was a head taller than anyone else. (1 Sam 1:9).
So the fact God points this out to Samuel is because he knows how Samuel would choose a king – based on human assumptions.
And indeed we read here that Samuel did indeed judge him on his appearance, and thought of Eliab:
“Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”
Butthe Lord corrects Samuel, reminding him: peoplelook at outward appearance but God doesn’t. God sees what counts, what is in the heart(v7).
And then Samuel goes through each of these other job candidates, all of Jesse’s sons, except for the youngest one. Each one comes before Samuel, has their metaphorical job interview but each time God says no, it’s not this one.
Finally they wait for David, the youngest son (and therefore the most unlikely candidate for the role) to return from the fields where he was tending the sheep.
Now if we go back to the idea of what a king looked like, the NRSV says of David:
Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome,
Less Prince Harry, more Hugh Grant maybe?
So, not obviously strong and tall. Beautiful eyes and being handsome were not going to make him a good strong rugged army leader.
Perhaps a bit like the eccentric in our video – looking extremely unlikely to be the right person for the job.
Not an obvious choice to be king.
Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”
And so Samuel anoints David to be the king:
The youngest son, a good looking shepherd boy.
But he IS the one who God has called and anointed for this role and that is more important than anything else.
When God calls someone, even the most unlikely of candidates, God knows exactly what why that choice is the right one. And God has the power to shape that person to the role or place they are called to – God equips us to what God has called us to.
It’s one of the key things we see with David.
That when God calls him to be King, he doesn’t come in the ready-made king mould. He’s a boy, a shepherd, he doesn’t even look like a king.
But what we see is that, in the moment he is anointed and his calling is made apparent – – from that day God’s spirit is within him for the purpose of his calling
We read – in v 13 – the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him.
And in that God equips him to step into that role.
But that actually takes some time.
David doesn’t immediately become king, in fact years go by before he becomes King of Judah and infact Israel, and a lot happens in the intervening years.
Now we don’t know the definite chronologically of what happened next, but we know that for some years David was musician to King Saul, that he fought in Saul’s army, then becoming a leader in the army.
During that time Saul becomes jealous of David and he becomes an enemy, he tries to kill him many times. David escapes – with grace, humility and courage, refusing to kill Saul even when he has the opportunity. Because he knows that Saul was anointed king before him, he knows he is God’s chosen so he won’t step in until the right time.
And it’s only after all this time and experience that David becomes king finally. So what was all that about? All that time, waiting, wondering perhaps? All that time spent escaping from the murderous Saul?
Perhaps it was a deliberate time of equipping, preparing him and developing in him the skills to be both a good and Godly king?
In fact he might not have looked like a king when he started but he would have done by the time he finished all that! Fighting in the army, gaining strength, learning the rules, learning strategy as an army leader, learning to lead, how to manage people,
And we know that, despite a few mistakes, actually David was a good king, focussed on God and leading fairly.
Often it’s the same for us, God calls us to something we feel utterly incapable of doing, unworthy of, ill equipped for.
butGod equips us as we go.
We don’t need to be buff leaders already because God will give us the muscle we need – spiritual muscle that is.
When I first felt that call to ministry, I’d only been a Christian for a month. A month! There was no way I was anywhere near ready to be a minister, I was hardly even a Christian, but God equipped me as I went along and continues to do so
I was talking to J this week, who spent some years in Rwanda as a missionary. I asked him about why he felt called to go out to Rwanda. He was sharing that for him there was a lot of preparation before he felt that initial call. By the time he had felt God calling him to go out to Rwanda longer term, he had done 8 or 9 short term trips already. He had got to know the locals, the way things worked, what his role was.
God was equipping him for what he was going to be called to.
So that when Jonathan felt that call to go, although it took a while to accept it, he knew that God had already been in some way equipping him for what lay ahead.
Sometimes it can be only in the stepping into a calling or a role, that God equips us.
A friend used to say to me, when you ask God for something in prayer, God doesn’t just give it to you, he gives you an opportunity to learn that thing. So if I pray for patience – which I do a lot – God doesn’t just zap me so that I am instantly more patient, but might give me opportunities to learn to be patient and to demonstrate patience.
TBH God’s probably sick of giving me opportunities. Not got that one yet!
Same with a calling, God won’t just send us somewhere or to dosomething without that equipping, without the opportunity to learn what we need,
and that might be before we go or aswe go, as we step into the calling…
Perhaps you have sensed a calling to something that you feel is so beyond you, that you can’t possibly step into, is way too big.
But the thing to remember is whatyou are feeling called to, what is the sense in your heart of what God is calling you to do? Whether for a season, a moment, or a role. And then explore that. Ignore the feelings of inadequacy, uncertainty, I can’t possibly… explore the calling itself.
Waiting and trusting //
And that can take time. Often God gives us a sense of a calling, to but like David it can take time to step into it, or to see it become a reality.
And that can be for different reasons.
I love in our video how we see the ‘over achiever’ and the ‘embellisher’ who constantly big themselves up, over exaggerating about what they can do or have done. And sometimes we can see others do amazing things for God and feel a bit in awe, like God can’t possibly be calling me to do that – look at that amazing person over there doing that amazing thing, and they are doing it so well, Icouldn’t possibly.
I don’t think many of us stand before God and say in all confidence.
‘Ok God whatever you are looking for, you just found it’
More likely we’ll run in the opposite direction!
Perhaps we don’t believe in ourselves enough and comparison with others can draw us away from God’s plan for us.
But we don’t need to embellish on who we are, or what God has called us to – God calls us as we are, he knows who we are.
Some of you might have beard of Bob Goff. Bob Goff was a lawyer who ended up working for reconciliation in places like Uganda. He is driven by a desire to help others unlock their potential to love and be lovedgreater. He runs a framework called ‘Dream big’ helping people to realise their dreams. He is also a Christian.
I love this quote from him:
We need to be capitated by God’s purpose for us. If you sense God calling you to something, let it captivate you. Until nothing can distract you from it. And sometimes we really need to hang on to that sense of calling when life and circumstance want to draw us away from it.
Easier said than done. But the bottom line is in knowing whocalls us and who we are in him.In Jesus.
David knew that God had called him, had a purpose for him, he loved him, knew he was loved by God and he wanted to serve God. In fact Paul refers to David in Acts 13 as a man after God’s heart…
22 God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’
We can see David’s love of God in Psalm 119:
for I delight in your commandsbecause I love them.
48 I reach out for your commands, which I love,that I may meditate on your decrees.
And in Ps 26 we see he has tried to live a life worthy of God:
Vindicate me, Lord,for I have led a blameless life;
I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered.
2 Test me, Lord, and try me,examine my heart and my mind;
3 for I have always been mindful of your unfailing loveand have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
He has tried to stayed focus on God and wanting to be led by God.
If we hang on to trusting and knowing that Jesus is guiding usin all things
thenwe can hang on to and step into all that he has called us to.
If we let Jesusoverwhelm us, allow ourselves to be captivated by him and his purpose for us, we won’t get distracted – by comparison or by anything else….
I was also talking to C this week who was telling me that she and T felt a calling to be parents. They knew God was calling them to that, but that was not a simple calling or a simple journey of equipping. As they went through years of not conceiving and then IVF. The pain and disappointment in that could have caused them to question whether they had heard from God, but they continued to fix their eyes on Jesus, and to seek him for what they felt called to.
They waited for 10 years, but that sense of calling just grew stronger. C describes that as a time of refining, preparing.
And then when God’s timing was perfect they realised that God’s calling was for them to be parents, but not as they had originally foreseen it but in adopting. And then the adoption process went super fast, in just one year – and once they were approved, a little boy came to be with just them a few days later. C says she knew that in bringing them their son, God’s calling was both fulfilled, but also just beginning as they now live out that calling as parents, leaning on God and being led by God in every step of that journey, partnering with God.
But they had to hold on to that sense of calling and keep seeking Jesus for it.
Sometimes we might find we feel a call to something but it seems to be taking forever to come about. We might feel really strongly that God has called us to a particular thing or place and yet it doesn’t seem to be happening, or there are lots of hurdles in the way.
J was sharing that he sold his house before going out to Rwanda and twicethe sale fell through at the very last minute and he started to wonder whether he had heard God right or whether this was really what he was being called to.
It can be really hardto hold on to what we feel called to at times like these. Especially as for many of us it takes some time to accept what we are being called to
So we need to constantly refocus on Jesus.
We have to know that Jesus knows us, loves us, has the best and perfect plan for each of us and in that we can trust in him for whatever he is leading us into, hang on to the truth when circumstances show us a different view.
Paraphrasing Bob Goff…
We actually need to be captivated by Jesus and then by what he calls us to.
Have you ever been in the presence of Jesus, and felt the overwhelming strength of his love for you?
Have you seen – metaphorically or actually – the love and compassion in his eyes for you.
When you’ve felt unworthy, when you’ve done something wrong, when you’ve felt less than holy, have you felt his arms around you? Not judging, not punishing, just drawing you into his loving embrace?
Have you felt the power of his unconditional forgiveness?
Have you wept at the suffering he went through on the cross, and known that he did it for you?
How can we not be captivated by him?
And when we are… trust and waiting and preparation and following, just become a completely natural response…
So why not let Jesus captivate you tonight…