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
God is King. That is a simple and universal truth. But, it is a truth that we often struggle actually living in. We often struggle accepting it and submitting to God as King. It isn’t a new struggle, it is one that has been going on since the very beginning. I believe it all started in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve.
When God first created He was King. Adam and Eve started off by living in His perfect and good Kingdom. But, as temptation came to them, they stepped out from that Kingdom and ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Then, through Abraham, God gave humanity another chance to live in His good Kingdom and called out a people (The Israelites) to be His people. They rejected that, stepped out from under it and asked for a human King.
Every time people have rejected God as King they have gone looking for someone else to be their king. It isn’t even that they don’t want a king, they just don’t want God to be it. So, they run somewhere else looking for what only God can provide. We run to other “kings” in hope that they will give us safety, security, healing, and redemption in the way we want it. But, they always fail to give us what we need and rarely give us what we want.
Just like the Israelites, we eventually come to our senses, and turn back to God. It is then that we realize though we rejected Him, He never rejected us. He sent Jesus here to give us yet another chance to be a part of His Kingdom. To, once again, gather a people to Himself. What will be your choice? To reject God only to be let down by someone else or accept Him and live in the goodness only He can provide?
He said to me, “O Daniel, man of high esteem…
Paul challenges us in Philippians 4 to dwell on whatever is of good repute. Good repute means having a solid reputation. We want to spend our time dwelling on and aligning ourselves with those who have a solid reputation, those who are spoken well of and speak well. We know today that our reputation is impacted not just by our actions but also by our words. So, being of good repute has a lot to do with what we say and how we say it. If we can find a way to live with good repute we will live in greater victory and with greater influence.
Daniel was a man who lived in such a way. He was actually a Jew who was being held in captivity to the Babylonians. But, because he was of such good repute he made his way to the top and was almost put in charge of the entire kingdom. Talk about great influence and great victory, even in a land that was not his own!
Daniel was able to accomplish this without compromising his relationship with God. That is the first step to living in good repute, to not waiver in our faith. He made a decision to not allow anything or anyone to defile him and the way he went about making that decision earned him a tremendous amount of respect. We can remain faithful to God, even in defiance of the rest, and still maintain our respect.
Daniel did it by showing respect. He spoke respectfully. He lived respectfully. He even showed compassion for those who had taken his people into captivity. Daniel was an authentic follower of God, which is ultimately led to his great reputation. If we want to have great reputations today and be people of great influence then we first have to make a decision – are we fully surrendered to God? Are we willing to live for Him no matter what the rest are doing? That is where good repute begins.
For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, How blessed is the man who trusts in You!
Have you ever experienced that feeling of lose when you finally realized what you had, but it was too late, and now it’ gone? I am sure we have all been there. That is where this Psalm is coming from. It is attributed to the sons of Korah. Korah was a man/family that had been entrusted with caring for the things of the Tabernacle. Think of them as the custodians. It isn’t a very glorifying job, but still a necessary job and one that everyone appreciates but they don’t say much until it isn’t done right. Well, Korah grew disgruntled with his job, wanted another one, rebelled, and was destroyed. Only his sons survived and they became the custodians. They, however, recognized the loveliness of their position and celebrated it – how blessed to be on the door step of the house of God!!
In this life we have to be careful to not miss the good God has given us because we get too focused on the good God gave someone else. Paul tells us in Philippians to dwell on whatever is lovely. It is a good challenge for us. Dwell on your lovely – not someone else’s. That lovely you dwell on should be what ever stirs up a love for God in your heart and a love for others in your life. If what you find yourself dwelling on is stirring up an attitude of resentment, contempt, or envy then that thing for you is not lovely.
God has given you lovely things and lovely people to dwell on. Those things will draw you closer to Him, not pull you further away. Find those lovely things and people – cling to them. Better to spend a day with them than a thousand somewhere else.
Jesus gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
One of the things Paul tells us to dwell on is purity. To be pure means to be undefiled, to not be contaminated with anything. To be a pure person means to not be mixed up with anything that corrupts the soul. It is a pretty tall order, especially in the world we live today. It is a lot easier for us to settle for the impure than to search for, or strive after, the pure. If we aren’t careful we end up settling for something less than what God has promised us.
When God created He called it good. His creation was pure. That is what He is at work redeeming us to. He isn’t redeeming us to something less than perfect or less than good. He is a holy God who demands that we too be holy (Lev. 19:2). At first we might want to push back and say that is too high of a standard, there is no way we can ever live up to that, or feel as if it is an unrealistic expectation. But, would God demand something of us that was impossible for us to achieve?
Well, in our own strength, it is impossible. That is why God sent Jesus – to purify us. When we settle for anything less than pure we are ignoring the work Jesus accomplished on the cross. It is possible for us to live a life free from slavery to sin. It is possible for us to live a life of integrity. It is possible for us to live a life completely sold out to God. It’s possible because of Jesus. So, don’t settle for anything less than what God has promised. Strive and search for the purity God has for you.
Pastor Matt Huff leads Portland Central Nazarene Church. He loves being in ministry and seeing lives transformed by the power of Christ.