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Outward vs. Inward: A matter of heart

One Year Bible Reading Plan and Devotional

Today’s Bible Reading: April 14

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1 Samuel 15-16

Luke 14:25-35

Outward vs. Inward: A matter of heart

How many times do we have this certain “mold” or image of a person that God would call to a task and if the person doesn’t fit the mold, then certainly God didn’t call them? Likewise, we have certain tasks that we create in our minds a certain image about what that task looks like. When the person and the task doesn’t match, we instantly think the person can’t be called to that task. Let me remind you about this story in 1 Samuel 16 where we find that outward appearances don’t matter at all because it’s the heart that God examines. In this chapter of scripture we find that outward has nothing to do with it. It’s an inward matter of heart that God looks for.

Maybe its yourself and you’ve felt God tugging on your heart to do something but because of something in your past, you’ve convinced yourself that God wouldn’t call you to do that task. Maybe its someone you know who feels called but because you know them well and know what they’ve been through in the past you can’t believe God could ever use them.

Saul had the outward appearance, but not the inward heart

When God told Samuel to anoint Saul as King, we find in 1 Samuel 10:23 that when Saul stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward. When you think about a king, you probably envision someone tall and strong. Someone with the physique of carrying out the duties of king. Someone capable of defending your nation. Saul had the appearance. But from the beginning, his heart was not in the task, nor was it obedient toward God’s instructions.

Saul’s disobedient heart

At this point, God instructs Saul (through Samuel) to wipe out Amalek. He was given very detailed instructions – no one or nothing was to be left alive. Saul takes his army and wipes them out, but he keeps the king alive and they keep all the best, of the sheep and oxen. As a result God reject Saul as king. God then tells Samuel to go Bethlehem to the family of Jesse and anoint a new king.

Anointing a new king with a right heart

When Samuel arrives at Jesse’s home, he has Jesse bring all his sons in and Samuel waits for God to point out the one he is to anoint. One by one, seven of Jesse’s sons are presented to Samuel – but none of them are God’s choice. In fact as the first son is present, Samuel says to himself, “Certainly the Lord’s anointed one is here before Him.” But God was quick to tell Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the Lord sees. for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.”

God looks for a heart that is in tune with His

When God looks for a person to do a task – he’s not looking for the best looking, or the best fit, or the best dressed, or the best speaker. He’s looking for the heart that is “in tune” with His. In fact, after all seven of Jesse’s son were presented to Samuel, Samuel says to Jesse, “Are these all your sons?” Jesse’s response was “There is still the youngest,” he answered, “but right now he’s tending the sheep.” God chose the youngest, most unlikely of Jesse’s sons to be anointed as king in Saul’s place.

So before you judge yourself or anyone else as to whether or not God has called you or them, remember that God doesn’t look at the outward appearance. He doesn’t’ look at what’s in the past (especially after the past has been covered with forgiveness). What God looks at is the heart of a person and is that heart in tune with His.

Past mistakes are training grounds that develop the inward heart for the task

If you are hung up on your own past or someone else’s past remember that God often uses those trials to grow us into what He wants us to be. He can use the things others have done to us for our good and his glory. If you doubt that, just look at Joseph. Joseph’s own brothers sold him into slavery, but God used that to save the family from a severe famine that would occur some years later. 

He can use the mistakes we’ve made to train us and equip us for the mission He has in store for us. Jonah is a good example of this. He tried to run away from God’s calling and ended up in the belly of a big fish for three days before surrendering to God’s will. But God didn’t disqualify him from the task. Instead we find that Jonah goes to Nineveh and preaches and the nation of Nineveh is saved from God’s judgment.

God likes to use the unlikely people with the right heart

God likes to use people who are willing to be used and who are people that typically would not be seen as the kind of person one expects God to choose. Why? Because then God gets the glory for the work He does through that life. The Bible is full of examples of such people. Look at this list:

  • Abraham was too old
  • Isaac was a daydreamer
  • Jacob was a liar and deceiver
  • Joseph was abused
  • Moses was a murderer and had a stuttering problem
  • Gideon was afraid
  • Rahab was a prostitute
  • Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
  • David had an affair and was a murderer
  • Elijah was suicidal
  • Jonah ran from God
  • Naomi was a widow
  • Ruth was a foreigner
  • Job went bankrupt
  • Mary was a teenager and a virgin
  • Peter denied Christ (3 times!)
  • The Disciples fell asleep while praying
  • Martha worried about everything
  • The Samaritan woman was divorced (more than once)
  • Zacchaeus was too small
  • Paul was too religious
  • Timothy had an ulcer…
  • AND…Lazarus was dead!

The commonality is a right heart

So what is did all these people have in common that made them people God used to accomplish his plan? A heart that is humble, obedient, and willing. Today, He’s still looking for the heart that is burdened for the lost. He’s looking for the heart that loves without discrimination or judgement. He looking for heart that is willing to serve others. He’s looking for a heart sold out to Him no matter the cost. Don’t discount the unlikely people – even if that unlikely person is you — those are the people God tends to use most.

Father, give us eyes to see as you see. Help us to break the “mold” we have set for the type of person you call to serve you and help us to remember that its the heart that matters. 

#ReadYourBible #1Samuel #Luke #amatteroftheheart

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