It was an honor to have Dr. Jim Diehl as our guest speaker at our men’s breakfast this morning at Timberline Church. Dr. Diehl is a former pastor of Denver First Church and is Superintendent Emeritus of The Church of the Nazarene. He is still active in ministry and is a great example of continued faithfulness to the Lord. He challenged our men about the importance of living a balanced life between, work, worship, rest and relationships.
BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY… And Samuel told him [Saul], “Although you may think little of yourself, are you not the leader of the tribes of Israel? The Lord has anointed you king of Israel.” 1 Samuel 15:17 NLT
We like Saul of old have to decide how we are going to live our lives as followers of Christ. How we view ourselves, will determine our obedience to the Lord, our effectiveness and our level of joy. As those who are “new creations” in Christ, we have to consistently fight gravitational pull to view ourselves and to take actions based on our natural inclinations instead of by faith living in the new identity and power that Christ makes available to each of us.
The verse above is a rebuke to Saul by the prophet Samuel when Saul failed to completely follow the Lord’s directions to destroy the Amalekites. It is interesting how the prophet tied Saul’s view of himself to his lack of moral courage and leadership. Regardless of Saul’s background, his family of origin, his natural abilities or personality, he was now the King of Israel and he had an obligation to conduct himself according to His God anointed and empowered position.
Having served in elected office, I find myself identifying with Saul. When I served in the State House I recall one of my colleagues commenting how “we are viewed as ‘special’ but we are just regular people.” The challenge of leadership on whatever level is to have humility but also to understand the expectations and responsibilities that come with the job or calling. It has been observed, “the higher the calling, the fewer the choices.”
Consider Saul. When Samuel first met him and announced the Lord had chosen him he said, “But I’m only from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my family is the least important of all the families of that tribe!” (1 Samuel 9:21 NLT) When it came time for Samuel to anointed Saul, he was found hiding.
As Saul was anointed, we read that “he was changed into a different person.” The Lord would provide Saul with the strength, wisdom, and ability needed to be God’s leader if he would trust in the Lord’s anointing and not his human abilities.
But Saul was plagued by his deep-seated insecurities. We see it reflected in his anger. We see it reflected in his “fear of man” and his lack of courage to take a stand and exert strong leadership at the right time.
As Saul was waiting for Samuel to come offer a sacrifice before going to battle he became fearful and impatient. “Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away. So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself.” (1 Samuel 13:8,9 NLT)
In his battle with the Amalekites, he kept the king alive and some of the best livestock to “offer to the Lord. He denied his disobedience and then finally admitted, “Yes, I have sinned. I have disobeyed your instructions and the Lord’s command, for I was afraid of the people and did what they demanded.” (1 Samuel 15:24 NLT)
As I consider our own lives I think of New Testament admonitions such as, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1 NIV)
“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 NLT)
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV)
“Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God…” (2 Corinthians 3:5 ESV)
We can choose to live in our own strength or to live by faith and in the power of God’s Spirit. When we surrender to Christ, His Holy Spirit comes into us and changes us into a new person. We can live by His Spirit, trusting in the Lord’s sufficient grace, knowing He will help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)