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Faithlife

Samuel: God's Heroes Have Heart!

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I love VBS. I love it when the church has the opportunity to minister to so many families. We also get the opportunity to work alongside of people from other churches. I’m talking about the youth that help - not just youth from HUMC, but I’m meeting youth from other churches. VBS can be exhausting, so that youth energy is needed. When I saw the theme of this one I knew I was going to love it. I’ve never been to a comic book convention. I’ve never got to dress up like batman or captain america. I started planning last week’s wardrobe at least a month in advance. This year I got to wear a cape and a cowl. A pastor who wears such things to church could be deemed unfit for the ministry, but this year I had the perfect excuse: our theme was Hero Central. On Monday we learned that God’s heroes have heart. Tuesday: God’s heroes have courage. Wednesday: God’s heroes have wisdom. Thursday: God’s heroes have hope. Friday: God’s heroes have power.
This morning we look at the first characteristic of God’s heroes: God’s Heroes have heart. This is the first thing God looks for when he’s choosing his servants for breathtaking mission. I think the first thing we need to realize is that God calls us for ministry, not the other way around. The people you see in the red shirts were not just volunteers who decided to take time out of their busy schedules to help with a program: they were people who answered God’s call. When God chooses people for exciting ministry, God does so using his criteria, his qualifications, not ours. He looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:1–13 NIV
The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.” The Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.” Samuel did what the Lord said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?” Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. 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 people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.” Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.
Today’s story is about King David: several weeks ago I preached about King Saul, Israel’s first king. People had high expectations of him, and were terribly disappointed. But
God’s choice of David to be king comes during depressing times.
1 Samuel 16:1 NIV
The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”
Why are superheroes popular? Entertain. Emotional connections - don’t kill off the character. Give hope. Inspire in dark times.
Why are superheroes popular? So entertaining. Why are convention centers packed full of role playing superhero fans? There are a lot of reasons, but one reason is that fans build strong emotional connections with superheroes, just like they do other characters in books, movies or television - (on NPR I heard about a study that demonstrated that tv viewers develop emotional connections with TV characters similar to the emotional connections they develop with actual people - tv is your friend); don’t kill off the character. The only thing more popular than killing off a popular superhero is to have him turn to evil. It’s interesting to watch how the comic book fanbase gets really upset when this happens.
It’s happened to so many of our heroes, including Superman. (Truth, Justice and the American way - he takes a dark turn in some stories)
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King Saul was a hero who had taken a dark turn. He was the first king of Israel. He was hailed as God’s hero. He was a great rags to riches story. God raised him up from the lowest of circumstances and made him king and gave him success. Physically, he looked the part - we read that he literally stood head and shoulders above the rest.
But he had more faith in his own powers, disobeyed God and faced severe consequences for his choices. His life went into a downward spiral until he died. He spent his later years chasing down David, who would be his replacement. While doing that, he also losing battles to his enemies. He is killed in battle and his body is publically desecrated.
God’s chosen hero had fallen in a big way. We read here that the prophet Samuel was really depressed over this. But God chooses a new hero, and there is
That’s what heroes do: They give hope. They inspire in dark times.
God’s hero brings hope in dark times.
1 Samuel 16:6–7 NIV
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 people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Some of our favorite superheroes are the ones who come from humble beginnings. A normal person gets too much radiation or gets injected with a super serum suddenly goes from weakling to being very strong. But for all superheroes, their abilities are easy to see and make them obvious candidates to be victorious warriors and the saviors of humanity.
Ever notice the conceptual drawings of superheroes? Ever notice their bizarre physique? How overly enhanced their muscles are? There’s no such thing as a scrawny superhero, or an overweight superhero. If an athlete looked like these, we would demand a blood test. David’s brothers have the physique of a hero. Samuel notices this, but God tells him to ignore the obvious indicators of a hero. Samuel’s looking at the wrong thing.
Ever notice the conceptual drawings of superheroes? Ever notice how perfect they look? How overly enhanced their muscles are? There’s no such thing as a scrawny superhero, or an overweight superhero. If an athlete looked like these, we would demand a blood test.
This is God’s wisdom. We can be superficial and miss what really matters. (blind date; dr. w/ burn victim daughter) We lack God’s wisdom. We don’t make choices like God does, because God takes a deeper look at our hearts. Which means, we will often be surprised by God’s choice.
How is this wise? We can be superficial and miss what really matters. (blind date - first thing we ask? great personality!)
1 Samuel 16:8–12 NIV
Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.” Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”
Samuel looks at all of Samuel’s sons - they all look good but they do not match God’s criteria. God looks at the heart. Remember who the real hero is in the biblical stories? God. The main characters do not usually meet our expectations of a hero. They aren’t always the smartest. They aren’t always the strongest. They aren’t wealthy or popular. God’s heroes have every excuse to bow out, to tell God no.
Not so here. (David’s brothers obvious, David not.)
Remember who the real hero is in the biblical stories? God. The main characters do not usually meet our expectations of a hero.
“I’m no good with children, so I can’t help with that.” “I’m not a leader, so I can’t do that.” “I’m really busy, so I don’t have time for that.” When God calls us to ministry, these are not good reasons. When God calls us he looks at the heart, not at our resume. If we choose not to go into a ministry, our reason should be, “God isn’t calling me to that right now.”
There is surprise in God’s choice. God calls us to ministry that we don’t expect. God calls David, not because of his abilities, but because of his heart, and this surprised a lot of people.
1 Samuel 16:13 NIV
So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.
If you have the heart, God gives you the power. God does not call the qualified, God qualifies the called.
The Spirit of the Lord powerfully comes upon David - this is not just a delightfully warm fuzzy experience, a spiritual lift, something to get us through a tough week. It’s much more than that. No sooner does God’s spirit touch David than he is thrown into the fire. He will be hunted, betrayed, trapped and chased. He will be hiding in caves, living in exile, driven to the edge.
When God calls us to ministry, he gives us his Spirit. And when the Spirit of the Lord comes, he brings power, but he also brings trouble.
We read the same of Jesus: he was baptized by John the Baptist; he comes out of the water and the Spirit comes down upon him, a voice from heaven, giving Jesus a voice of approval and says “This is my Son, whom I love. The next story we read about Jesus is his spending 40 days in the wilderness - the Spirit sends him out there.
Superheroes have different powers (flying, strength, heat vision, control the weather, control minds), but one thing they all have in common is something they don’t have: quiet, comfortable lives. Their lives are miserable - constantly battling villains, each one worse than the one before. As Stan Lee, the creator of many of our comic book heroes wrote, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
For Christians we could say, “With God’s power comes great opportunity.”
God chooses us and uses us where we are needed the most: He uses us to bring hope. When he chooses us he will turn a few heads because outwardly we may not meet certain qualifications. But God qualifies us with his power. But before God does any of this, he first looks at our heart.
When the Spirit of the Lord comes down, he brings power and trouble with him.
We will be pressed....
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