Lord's Eyes

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You’re probably familiar with the phrase, “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. For those who aren’t, it means that a person’s outward appearance may not accurately reflect who they really are. So, we shouldn’t make blanket assumptions based only on visual cues. I don’t know about you, but I’m guilty of doing this quite often. If someone is well-dress, well-groomed, and wearing glasses, I assume that person is intelligent. If someone is well-muscled and tall, I assume they are into sports. And if someone is unusually attractive, I assume they are popular. Most of us make snap judgments based on the appearance of others. Sometimes we are right and many times we are wrong. Samuel made that mistake when considering who God might anoint as the next king. After king Saul was rejected, God sent the prophet, Samuel, to the house of Jesse. God had in mind one of his sons to be the next king. Then it says in first Samuel, chapter 16, verses 6 and 7:

“When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.’ 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 man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’”

Saul looked like he would be a great leader. The Bible described him as, “an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites - a head taller than any of the others.” He looked impressive. But only a few chapters later God rejected him as king because of his disobedience. David, who God chose to replace Saul, is later described as a man after God’s heart. He didn’t look as impressive as Saul, but as it says in first Samuel, “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” If we are to reflect the character of God, we should look at the heart as well. It may take us a little longer than it takes God to discern the heart of a person, but the Bible teaches us that we can judge a person by their fruit. We will know where a person’s heart is if we listen to what comes out of their mouth and examine what kind of fruit they are bearing - or what kind of results are born from their actions. So I encourage you not to judge a book by it’s cover. Give everyone a chance to show you what is in their heart. It might surprise you who God may use to do great things.  

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David is described, in first Samuel, as a ruddy young man with a fine appearance and handsome features. Though these are nice attributes, they aren’t necessarily features one might associate with a great king. But David proved to be a great king in the eyes of his people and in the eyes of God. Why? Because, “the Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” How is your heart today? What kind of fruit are you producing? Are you producing any fruit at all? God doesn’t really care if you are impressive to men. What gets God’s attention is your heart. Let us all pursue getting God’s attention like David did. Let us all be people after God’s own heart.

Revere Him

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For many of us, our days can become quite repetitious. One day can blend into another, and time can get away from us. Our lives can become one long to-do-list as we focus on the tasks of the day, but forget about the Lord of our life. I want to challenge and encourage you with the words David wrote in one of his psalms. He wrote this to encourage the Israelites to keep their attention on God, but it applies to us gentiles as well. In Psalm, chapter 22, verse 23, it says: 

“You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!”

Fear him, praise him, honor him and revere him. We need to remember God by making him central in our life. That means involving him in every area of our life. We need to reverently fear him, remembering that he is not only our friend, but he is also our master. He is God, and he has the power to destroy both our body and our soul. We must also praise him, not only for who he is, but also for what he has done. We should not be like the nine leapers who were healed and did not come back to praise Jesus. We should be like the one who came back and praised him for his deliverance. We need to honor him, understanding that we serve a Holy God, one who is almighty and whose name is higher than any other name; the God who says there is none besides him and who created us and everything we know. And we must always revere him. Our knee, as well as our hearts, should be forever bowed before him in awe and submission. Our days should never be absent of God. From when you wake up in the morning to when you go to bed at night, I hope that your thoughts are on the God of all creation and the savior of your soul.

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The worries and responsibilities of life make it easy for us to take our eyes off of the reason for life. God is that reason. Nothing matters without him. We are prone to take him for granted. We are prone to taking our eyes off of him. And if we aren’t careful, we are prone to wander away from him. One way to avoid these traps is to remind ourselves, every day, of our need for God by fearing him, praising him, honoring him and revering him. Let us reflect the heart of David; a man after God’s heart. Let us proactively fix our eyes, and our hearts, on God from when we wake to when we go to sleep. After all, the Bible commands us to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. That is an all encompassing love.

The Lord Works

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Are you one who believes in fate or do you believe in coincidence? Do you view the world as a series of random events that chaotically intersect, sometimes producing positive outcomes and sometimes negative? Or do you believe that things happen for a reason; that events, even some that seem small, are part of a master plan? If you are a believer and have witnessed God’s hand at work, I hope you believe that he is in control, that he has a plan, and that he works everything out for his purposes and for his ends. I sometimes view the world as a complex chess board where God moves pieces around for his good. He places the right pieces in the right places at the right times to produce the right results. You may have heard the term, “divine appointments”, referring to the notion that God can arrange for you or I to connect with specific person at a specific time for his purposes. I believe in divine appointments. I believe that God has a master plan. And I believe that we can all play a part. Proverbs, chapter 16, verse 4, says:

“The Lord works out everything for his own ends - even the wicked for a day of disaster.”

This verse implies that God is at work in our lives advancing our destiny for his own ends. He may have had a hand in your career path. He may have played a role in your relationship path. He may have even placed someone in your life at just the right time to lead you to himself. Proverbs says that the Lord works out everything for his own ends. It even offers and example by saying that he even works out the the day of disaster for the wicked. I’ve often prayed for divine appointments in my life, especially when I go on mission trips. I know of several who have prayed for God to bring them their future mate. You may have prayed for God’s hand to arrange a situation in your life. Proverbs reminds us that God is in the background working things out in ways we cannot see. He is moving pieces around and arranging connections that would confound the most masterful of chess players. Our job is to listen to, and obey, the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Who knows, God may use you to help someone in need, change the trajectory of someone’s life, or even lead someone to Christ. Are you ready to be on the same page as the Holy Spirit? I hope the answer is “yes”.

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“The Lord works out everything for his own ends - even the wicked for a day of disaster.” Timing is everything, and with God everything works out at just the right time and in just the right way. If we are not willing to walk in step the Holy Spirit; if we are not willing to follow his plan in his way, God will choose someone who is. I pray that you and I will pray with expectation that God will use us for his ends; that we will play a role in his master plan. After all, the Bible tells us that he made us for his purposes. It would be better for us if we didn’t resist, but would be on the same page as God. I encourage you to make that declaration today. I encourage you to seek God’s plan for your life and to be used for his purposes without resistance.

Good of Others

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Jesus modeled so many things for us in the gospels. In essence, he showed us how to live. He showed us what it looks like to be perfect in God’s sight. Not only is Jesus the Son of God, but he is the only man who ever lived, and ever will live, who was without sin. So every word he spoke, and every action he performed should be examined as a model for how we are to live in this world. He taught us how to pray, how to obey, how to trust the Father and how to serve our fellow man. None of these things are effective without faith or without the aid of the Holy Spirit. But serving our fellow man brings with it an added level of difficulty because there are so many variables to consider when it comes to our flawed nature. For example, as a species we are quite selfish, which means that our flesh always wants to put ourselves first. And as believers we can become quite self-righteous, which can be a stumbling block to those considering the faith. But Jesus taught us to behave differently. He taught us that there are times when we should alter our normal pattern of behavior for the good of others. And Paul reinforced that notion in his letter to the Corinthians in first Corinthians, chapter 10, verse 24, which says:

“Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.”

At first blush, this verse may sound a bit extreme. Are we really called to stop seeking that which is good for us and solely pursue that which is good for others? No. That isn’t what Paul is saying. At the time Paul writes this, he is in the process of explaining to the Corinthians that we shouldn’t allow our religious rights, freedoms, and behaviors to cause others to stumble. We need to consider how we behave around unbelievers, seekers and new believers as to not leave a negative impact on them by doing, or not doing, things that are not sinful, but might be solely religious in nature. Later in this chapter, Paul uses the example of an unbeliever inviting a believer to a meal. That believer should eat whatever is provided without raising any objections even if he would normally choose not to eat it out of religious conviction. In doing so, not only is he not sinning, but he is not seeking his own good, but the good of the one who invited him to a meal. In the same way, we are to temper our religiousness if it might have a negative effect on the one we are trying to reach. Jesus ate with sinners, Paul made himself like those he was trying to reach, and we should temper our legalism for the good of others. 

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“Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” I encourage you to put your religiosity on the shelf when dealing with those who are unbelievers, seekers or new believers. Don’t use Christian lingo that they don’t understand. Don’t turn your nose up at them when they have a beer or wine with dinner even if you don’t drink. If you are with someone who doesn’t drink but you normally have a glass of wine with your meal, choose not to order wine in their presence. Learn to overlook a religious offense if it is done in ignorance. If what you encounter is not sinful, or counter to God’s laws or his character, let it go for the good of others. And if your normal religious behavior may cause someone to stumble, abstain from that behavior while in their presence. I encourage you to be ready to lay aside your own good for the good of others. In doing so you will be practicing this mandate and reflecting the character of Jesus.

Evil For Good

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I can remember a time when identifying as a Christian was a good thing. Even those who weren’t willing to believe in the faith understood that the values brought about by Christianity were those that most anyone would want to emulate. Parents would send their kids to church even if they didn’t go themselves because Christian values were prized as moralistically good. But things have changed. The rules have been rewritten. What was once considered good is now vilified, and what was once moralistically wrong is now celebrated. In Isaiah we find a warning for those who have chosen to conform to this ideology by ignoring the truth and becoming wise in their own eyes. It says in chapter 5, verses 20 and 21:

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” 

If someone where to try to convince you that the sky was green, even though you could clearly see that it was blue, by their sheer conviction alone, they would not be proven right. Likewise, if someone where to convince themselves that the values and mandates God set in place were wrong, that wouldn’t make it true. Why, then, do we, as humans, convince ourselves of obvious falsehoods? I believe that Satan is behind this deception. 1 Peter reminds us that the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. And Isaiah says, “woe to those” who fall prey to him by taking the bait and calling evil good and good evil; who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight. The devil is crafty. He doesn’t always boldly entice us with things that are clearly sin. He may choose to be more subtle. He may come as an angel of light, convincing us that bad things are actually good. For those who do not know God, Satan can slowly manipulate and convince them of this lie. But for those of us who know God, this tactic should neither come as a surprise, nor should it be effective. So I encourage you not to fall into this deception. For those of us who understand that the Bible is Holy, objective truth, any change in our culture should not alter our spiritual compass.

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The evil one has put into motion plans that we can’t see with our eyes, but we can see their results in our news, our culture and in those around us. Believers should recognize his hand at work in the minds and hearts of those who don’t believe, and believers who have been deceived. I pray that you and I heed Isaiah’s warning. We should never find ourselves compromising the truth, even if doing so may save our job, our relationships or our comfort. And we should never call evil good or good evil, even if we are persuaded to believe the world’s moral compass over God’s holy word. The Bible has not changed since it was pinned, and it will never change until the return of our Lord. What was true in Jesus’ day is still true today. If we lose sight of that, we will find ourselves operating in the flesh and walking out of step with the Holy Spirit. We will become wise in our own eyes and clever in our own sight.