Posts Tagged ‘1 Samuel 16:7’

Integrity and Potential

December 1st, 2015

“David walked in integrity of heart and in uprightness.” 1 Kings 9:4 NKJV.

God evaluates a person by their potential.

My thoughts and comments today are about “integrity and potential.”

Contrary to common belief, “What you see is not always what you get.” Our culture is content with style more than substance. People are too easily impressed with much that is superficial rather than substantial. First impressions are usually formed on outward appearance, without the bother of looking further. Buyers are enticed with more that is promised than delivered. Exaggeration seems the rule. Fad and fashion take precedence over utility and durability. The hype of advertising typically exceeds the real worth or quality of the product advertised.

That must never be true of your spiritual life. Be advised; do not demand of others more than you require of yourself. Integrity seems increasingly scarce. Integrity is defined as: “adherence to moral principles, unimpaired, soundness, honesty, unity, wholeness.” In mathematics, an “integer” describes a whole number as distinguished from a fractional number. Integrity is neither defined nor achieved in a single moment or by sporadic conduct; integrity is the sum of one’s Godly aspirations to all that is right before God, alongside uncompromised allegiance to God’s will and faithful adherence to God’s Word.

As I read the Bible, I am intrigued by the concept of integrity, a critical subject about which the Bible has a lot to say. See Proverbs 10:9/Psalm 41:12 NKJV/ Proverbs 11:3/ Psalm 25:21 NIV. Ever wondered how and why God chooses people He anoints and uses extraordinarily? God values character above natural abilities. Our God is purposeful, never whimsical. He is consistent with His own eternal principles, working by design not coincidence.

When God chose David, the youngest of seven sons from the Bethlehem hillsides, His instruction to Samuel was, “Do not consider his appearance or his height . . the Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Sam 16:7 NIV. Jesse and Samuel, David’s father and a prophet there to anoint a new King, did not see in David what God saw in him. They saw what they could see; God saw what only He could know – the Godly potential in, “a heart after God.” Read Acts 13:22-23 NKJV.

“David walked in integrity of heart and in uprightness.” 1 Kings 9:4 NKJV. That is encouraging to those of us who seem less obvious choices, less naturally gifted, with limited natural abilities. God evaluates a person by their potential. Potential never exceeds integrity. God sees possibilities others assume improbable. The Almighty God has everything you lack and will supply everything you need, if you possess a heart that delights in God above all.

Today, I pray for you that your passion for God flows from a heart do all His will.

To be continued . .

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Think Outside the Box

January 30th, 2015

“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV.

Judging others assumes you are correct in your assumptions.

My thoughts and comments today suggest that you “think outside the box.”

EDL Box glassMaybe you have heard the phrase, “Think outside the box.” The phrase comes from our common tendency to design “boxes” – intentionally or unintentionally – into which we assign ourselves or other people. Literally, a box imposes certain limits; it may feel a safe place temporarily but is always a confining space. A “box” contains a person to only what they have been or have been assumed to be. We sometimes even do that to ourselves. Once believed, even a mistaken opinion is difficult to change or ignore. Do not allow others’ opinions to confine you in any kind of “box,” accepting the irrational inevitability of the limits their opinions impose. You are a new creature in Christ.

Even Jesus was misjudged. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?” Read Matthew 13:54-58 NIV. He was that, but so much more. The Apostle Paul was often misunderstood by those he sought to serve. “For some say, ‘[Paul’s] letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.’” 2 Corinthians 10:10 NIV. Paul would not be put into a “box” of others’ opinions. Does your initial opinion of people or situations too quickly become a judgment about them and expectation of them? Judging presumes you know what and why another has acted as they did, and that you are correct in your assumptions.

“Do you look at things according to the outward appearance?” 2 Corinthians 10:7. Appearances are more often misleading than accurate. People, as well as circumstances, are rarely as they first appear. An inaccurate impression possesses the power to either enhance or diminish your initial assumption. An assumption separated from reliable facts results in a faulty interpretation. By outward appearances alone, you will incorrectly evaluate circumstances as either beneficial or detrimental, and react accordingly. Reactions are the fruit of faulty estimations; responses are the product of thoughtful decisions. You cannot live wisely until you learn to distinguish between natural reactions and spiritual responses. Such an obstinate, natural tendency requires a redemptive, spiritual solution.

As always, you can find practical counsel and wisdom in God’s Word. “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 NIV. Avoid a worldly point of view – about yourself and about others. Paul is plainly saying, “Think outside the box.”

Rest your history in God’s redeeming love. Release others’ future into the caring, healing hands of a Savior. Outside the box of your habits, negative feelings, misconceptions, assumptions, labels by others, past hurts and failures, old mistakes, painful memories, bad choices, and sins forgiven but not forgotten, you can be “a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

Think of yourself as the new creation in Christ that you are. You are not what you were; you can be more than you are. Of this truth, I am grateful, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV. Therefore, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” Read Proverbs 4:20-23.

Today, my prayer for you is that you are free to become all that God believes you to be.

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Image and Identity

May 21st, 2014

“The Lord does not see as man sees . . but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NKJV.

Integrity is more important than image.

My thoughts and comments today are about “image and identity.”

Appearances can be deceiving; not everything, nor everyone, will be as they always appear to be. It is said that any person is an amalgam of three identities: “the one others think you to be, the one you believe yourself to be, and the one God knows you to be.” Obviously, the latter is the most accurate and important. Establish your identity in Christ and the Word of God, independent of the opinions of others. Appearances are superficial, only the public face by which you reveal only what you intend to reveal. Inevitably, judgments of one another are largely made by appearances.

You will have expectations of others, as they will of you. Though first impressions are important, we are told, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Sad but true, the graphic design and marketing of a book can be as important to its sales and success as is its content. Similarly, sometimes a person may be more than they appear, sometimes less. Occasionally, you may be disappointed at apparent inconsistencies in yourself or others. Reality does not always correspond with the image another projects or the impressions you form. Jesus said, ”Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” John 7:24 NIV.

That’s why it is important to value integrity, yours and others’ – being the same, at all times in all situations. The prophet Samuel was sent to Bethlehem to anoint a new king from the family of Jesse.  Read 1 Samuel 16:1-13 NKJV. Samuel examined the eldest to the younger – except one was missing, the youngest, David, who was busily tending his father’s sheep. As Samuel surveyed the choices and presumed to anoint the eldest son, Eliab, God spoke, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NKJV. Read that verse again slowly and thoughtfully, “The Lord looks at the heart.” Solomon advised, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Read Proverbs 4:20-23 NKJV. Let your life truly reflect your heart.

Appearances may impress but God searches and knows every heart. Jesse was mistaken for depreciating David, his youngest son. Samuel was mistaken for overly appreciating the age and physical appearance of Eliab, the eldest son. God makes no such mistakes; He looks at the heart to find and affirm what is irreplaceable and invaluable. Integrity is more important than image. Read Psalm 78:70-72/Acts 13:21-23 NKJV.

Jesus’ strong indictment against the proud Pharisees was: “You try to look like upright people outwardly, but inside your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:28 NLT. See Matthew 6:5 NKJV. Paul warned of, “. . those who boast in appearance and not in heart.” 2 Corinthians 5:12 NKJV. Paul then concluded with these words, “No longer, then, do we judge anyone by human standards. Even if at one time we judged Christ according to human standards, we no longer do so. When anyone is joined to Christ, he is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 TEV.

My prayer for you today is that you recognize the difference between image and identity.

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November 15th, 2013

“The Lord searches every heart and understands every motive.”  1 Chronicles 28:9 NIV.

A superficial life is ultimately unsatisfying.

My thoughts and comments today are about “superficiality.”

Often, people give much time and attention to outward appearances while sorely neglecting their inner life. Lives are contentedly occupied with shallow acquaintances while inattentive to meaningful relationships, sadly without knowing or noticing the difference. Content to live on a surface level only, people ignore matters holding greater importance to God and others. Busy, noisy lives may reach a mile wide, while rarely being more than mere inches deep. All of those are symptoms of a life content with externals. God intended your life for so much more. A superficial life is ultimately unsatisfying.

The Pharisees were a proud but shallow bunch, religious people content to live superficially. For that and more, Jesus spoke harshly to them. “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in Heaven.” Read Matthew 6:1/5-6 NIV. They postured more than prayed, more concerned that their prayers were seen by men than that their prayers were heard by God. They were concerned with externals such as religious behaviors that impressed others, without realizing that God concerned Himself with internals, one’s heart, thoughts, intentions, and motives.

God rejoices in sincere righteousness but rejects the superficiality of self-righteousness every time. When Samuel, the prophet, was sent to anoint a new king, God reminded Samuel, “I do not judge as man judges. Man looks at the outward appearance, but I look at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 TEV. To the Pharisees, Jesus said, “Woe to you . . hypocrites. You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” Matthew 23:25-26 NIV. You can imagine how unpopular Jesus was with the Pharisees.

“Serve [God] with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you.” 1 Chronicles 28:9 NIV. You cannot fully know your own heart without God’s involvement. See Jeremiah 17:9-10 NKJV. God does not intrude into your life except by your invitation.

My conclusion is this. As often as is needed to be assured of a pure heart before God, pray sincerely and humbly as did the Psalmist David: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139:23-24 NLT.

God will use your daily time with His Word to examine and cleanse your mind, soul, and spirit. Everyday, hide the Word of God in your heart. “For the Word of God is living and active . . it judges the thoughts and intents of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:12-13 NIV. God’s intention is clear: “That He might sanctify and cleanse [you] with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present [you] to Himself . . that [you] should be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:26-27 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you reject spiritual superficiality in all its forms.

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You’ve Got to Have Heart

April 23rd, 2010

“A cheerful heart is good medicine.” Proverbs 17:22 NIV

“What you carry in your heart affects much more than you imagine.”

My thoughts today are, “you’ve got to have heart.”

Do you know what’s really in your heart? The Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart and examine the mind . .” Jeremiah 17:9-10 NIV. Sounds like we might have quite a problem here. The heart can be a tricky thing. How could you take an inventory of your heart, and why would you do so?

The Bible uses the heart to describe who you really are at your core, and what you are about. Maybe that’s why the Bible finds it important to distinguish that “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV. If that’s where God looks, it would seem wise that occasionally and regularly you took time to look there as well. I find that I need God’s help to really look into my own heart. I have to cry out sincerely with the Psalmist, Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties. And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24 NKJV. Do you know what the cry of God’s heart is? See Deuteronomy 5:29 NKJV.

I knew that the heart would be a major theme of Scripture, but was amazed at the near innumerable times and ways the heart is described in both Old and New Testaments. A quick reading of those occurrences of the word in a Bible Concordance is both enlightening and sobering, and would be time well spent. What you carry in your heart affects much more of everyday life than you might imagine. The Bible describes “the hidden man of the heart . . which is very precious in the sight of God.” 1 Peter 3:4 NKJV. Never allow anything to hide in your heart that you do not want expressed in your life.

At the source of things either good or bad, you will find your heart. See Matthew 12:34-35/15:18-19 NKJV. The heart is the place where love is born and faith resides. Mark 12:30-31 NIV/Romans 10:10-11 NKJV. But that’s also where doubt lodges, before disturbing your thoughts – where desire is birthed, then expressed in behavior – where attitudes are formed that are then evidenced in words and deeds. I think you get the idea.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 NIV. Do you know how God does that? He cleanses and changes your heart by His Word and Spirit. “For the word of God is living and active . . it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart . . through the Holy Spirit who gives us new birth and new life by washing us.” Hebrews 4:12 NIV/Titus 3:5-6 TEV. See Ephesians 5:26-27 NIV.

Here is a practical application that can make your day a better day. A clean heart is the basis for a cheerful heart. “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” Proverbs 17:22 NIV. My grandmother would have described the idea this way, “It’s good for what ails you.” In reading your Bible, have you noticed how many times Jesus began His words by first saying, “Be of good cheer.” That’s a good place to start, whatever the situation or latest news. Choose to live cheerfully, “making music to the Lord in your heart.” Read Ephesians 5:18-20 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that your heart is holy and happy in God.

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