God doesn’t expect us to be perfect but He does expect to DESIRE earnestly and pursue His path, His character and His ways. If we do not allow the Holy Spirit to convict us of our wrong actions our hearts will begin to grow hard and more and more ungodly behavior will begin to be acted upon and we will become deaf to the Holy Spirit. “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling.” (Proverbs 16:18) “When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2) “The naive believes everything, But the sensible man considers his steps.  A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, But a fool is arrogant and careless.” (Proverbs 14:15-16)
Let’s go back to our opening scripture for a minute so we can lay a biblical foundation of what the Lord wants us to understand from His Word and how that applies to our lives. The people of Israel had just demanded that they be given a king to rule over them just as all of the heathen nations. Now let’s look at their thought process here for a minute. The Prophet Samuel had been God’s representative to the people and God was their ruler. Samuel was getting old and his two sons were not faithful to God and untrustworthy. “His sons, however, did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after dishonest gain and took bribes and perverted justice.” (1 Samuel 8:3) and they said to him, "Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations." (1 Samuel 8:5) Samuel was greatly upset and prayed to the Lord and the Lord responded. The LORD said to Samuel, "Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.” (1 Samuel 8:7) Samuel then prophesied to the people and told them what the king would require of them and warned them of the consequences of their request. PLEASE READ 1 Samuel 8:10-22. These passages will greatly enlighten you about government structure, and hopefully, give you a new understanding from God’s point of view. You will, hopefully, begin to understand why we are called to obey those in authority but not to look to a government to meet our needs, only God can fulfill our needs. Since this is not the topic of this devotion I do not want to get lost in this very important topic. Maybe God will have us look at it in the coming days.
Before proceeding I hear the Lord wanting to repeat Himself and give each of us a warning. “for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.” Here is His Word I am hearing in my spirit: “I know your heart regardless of your words or actions. I cannot be deceived. I see and know everything, nothing is hidden from My sight. I am giving you an opportunity to repent and turn from your wicked ways. Do not be like the five foolish virgins who deceived themselves into thinking they were My inheritance. They were far from Me even though they looked and tried to imitate My bride; I knew them not! My Son will return soon and ONLY the true believers will be caught up with Him. Repent I say, repent! Return to Me!” (Job 21:27; Ecclesiastes 12:14; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Matthew 25:1-13; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Ezekiel 18:32; Joel 2:12)
We, like the Israelites look to men to lead us and not God. That has been the downfall of the Israelites. Even when God lead them victoriously out of Egypt with riches untold for building the Tent of Meetings/Tabernacle in the Desert, they never trusted God or developed a relationship with Him. They looked to Moses. When God appeared to all of them at Mt. Sinai, what was their reaction? Then they said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die." (Exodus 20:19)
There is one BIG difference I want you to consider in the people’s trust in the prophet Samuel and the people’s trust in the prophets of today. God had clearly called AND appointed AND anointed Samuel. He was serving the priest Eli who was getting old and whose sons also were not following God. God’s presence had not manifested for many years but at the right time God called Samuel and raised him up to be His chosen representative. When God calls and appoints a person as His, He also anoints them to be the vessel of His power. (Notice that God was not speaking in those days and people were discouraged, even Eli had not heard from God for many years. God’s timing is not our timing, it is always perfect.)
Fast forward to today. Everywhere you turn someone has decided they are a prophet or apostle and is always giving a Word from the Lord. The Words are conflicting and all over the place, they do not have the power or anointing that comes from God. Scripture tells us to “test the Spirits”. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1) Go to Scripture, search out what God has spoken, spend time in prayer and listen to hear His voice! All prophetic words today must line up exactly with Scripture, if they do not, if they have a life of their own, it is not of God.
My dear brothers and sisters, I am not a prophet or an apostle sent by man. I would never claim to be. I am simply a bondservant that has been transformed by the blood of Jesus Christ! I have walked the broad path and experienced much destruction in my life but when I finally could no longer deny His drawing I stopped and began to seek Him and the rest is history. He transformed my life! There were many painful times of discipline of learning His ways, along with the blessed times of experiencing His plans for my life. He is my King, my Ruler, my Lord, the One who guides my footsteps. There may be a government authority in the land but he is not God and will not replace God in my life. I will respect and honor the laws of the land and those in authority but God is the Head! This is the difference between the Israelites in our text and those who are truly bondservants of the Almighty God of Israel. This is also the same problem in our society today. Many who say they are believers are looking to our government to make them victorious, give them a good life, bring peace, jobs, education, etc. The ONLY peace and real authority comes from the throne above! The challenge today is for you to take this to the Lord and see where you stand. Are you looking to man...are you, too, looking for a king on earth to solve all your problems? Can you honestly say that God is your King and has rule over you? Are you a bondservant of the Most High?
Are you a disciple? A disciple is a student, not of facts, not of data, not of history, but a lover of the Almighty God of heaven and earth. A disciple is so in love with the One, Jesus Christ, who gave everything, His very life to save you and me, that he will not be satisfied with anything less than a personal intimate relationship with the Lord of lords and the King of kings. He will love to worship because it brings great pleasure to the Lord, not because it is a great tune or catchy words. But the words will be words of adoration and praise for the greatness of our God! A disciple is willing to learn humility, compassion, grace and mercy through the eyes of the all knowing God regardless of the cost. The disciple understands that without God he is nothing, there is nothing of value that he can do or give that can earn him salvation. A disciple seeks the truth, not to follow man’s interpretation. A disciple will realize that all that he has is not really his, it is God’s to use as He wills. The disciple’s life is not his own, it belongs to God and that alone is the blessing that fills him with unspeakable joy! The disciple does not seek recognition, fame, money, power. God, and God alone, is his sufficiency.
How are you doing? What blesses me the most as I consider my life as a disciple is that I will never reach the end, there is always so much more that the Lord has to teach me. There is so much more to life than what this world has to offer. Are you experiencing the Lord’s life?
My dear friends, the time really is getting shorter and shorter for us to be in right standing with the Lord. We would do well to take to heart these words of the Apostle Peter, “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness,  but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:17-18)
I’d like to end our time together today with some words of wisdom from Scripture that, hopefully, will challenge you and draw you to desire His presence more fully in your life. Take the opening Scripture to prayer and be open and honest with the Lord and ask Him to search your heart and reveal what truly is there. King David penned these words, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts;  And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalms 139:23-24) He was known as a man after God’s own heart. I can see why, he desired to see God’s glory in every aspect of his life. The preparation David went through in order to be ready to serve as king was so incredibly difficult. He was stripped of everything that was familiar to him. He lost everything that he had. His life was in such danger that he was hiding in a cave with no way to provide for himself. Yet God provided for him faithfully and was with him through every trial and tribulation. God didn’t miraculously deliver him from his situations but brought him through each one victoriously. Listen to these desperate words of David, “Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; My eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body also.  For my life is spent with sorrow And my years with sighing; My strength has failed because of my iniquity, And my body has wasted away.  Because of all my adversaries, I have become a reproach, Especially to my neighbors, And an object of dread to my acquaintances; Those who see me in the street flee from me.  I am forgotten as a dead man, out of mind; I am like a broken vessel.  For I have heard the slander of many, Terror is on every side; While they took counsel together against me, They schemed to take away my life.  But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD, I say, "You are my God."  My times are in Your hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me.  Make Your face to shine upon Your servant; Save me in Your lovingkindness.” (Psalms 31:9-16) Can you feel his pain, his heartache? Yet, he does not despair!  But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD, I say, "You are my God."  My times are in Your hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me.  Make Your face to shine upon Your servant; Save me in Your lovingkindness.”
I leave you with a few words of wisdom from the Book of Proverbs which are life and breath and essential to a firm foundation based on living a life of faith.
“My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings.  Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart.  For they are life to those who find them And health to all their body.  Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:20-23)
“Watch the path of your feet And all your ways will be established.  Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil.” (Proverbs 4:26-27)
“In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And his children will have refuge.  The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, That one may avoid the snares of death.” (Proverbs 14:26-27)
“Better is a little with the fear of the LORD Than great treasure and turmoil with it.” (Proverbs 15:16)
“All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the LORD weighs the motives.” (Proverbs 16:2)
Thank You! I am overwhelmed again by Your words of wisdom and love. Thank You that You love us so much that You challenge us to truly seek You and to see through Your eyes the real condition of our hearts. For me that can be scary because I know that I am imperfect. Yet You never condemn me, You reveal Your truth so that I can be cleansed of the impurities that still tend to plague me. In repentance I find refreshing fountains of living water that rejuvenate my soul. You continually teach me to keep my eyes on Jesus and to walk by faith and not by sight. You are the lover of my soul! That is too great for me to know You love me. In my human condition I cannot fully understand the entire depth of that love but my desire is to grow more and more into those depths so that I am totally lost in Your presence. You are my joy! You are my strength! Without Your love and steadfastness I would surely stumble! Thank You for continually growing me into the person You would have me to be. I love You with all my heart! All this I pray in the blessed name above all names, the name of Jesus Christ! One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord of all! I proclaim that today to the glory of the Father! Amen.