Stuck Week 6: The Question Mark
Hello? I’m still here. Still stuck. You people watch me struggle every week and just laugh. Ugh. Don’t you ever feel like you’re upside down or in the middle? Or in the thick of it? Life can be like that, but how do we get out of it? Maybe it starts with just one good push in the right direction to get unstuck. Turtle out.
Well, good evening to everybody. We are in a series called “Stuck.” At the beginning of every sermon that I do when I’m in a series, I try to go back and remind everybody what the big idea is. I think it’s great to just remind us all what we’re doing. It also helps people who maybe missed a week or two, to bring them back up to speed. And if anybody’s brand new, they don’t feel like they’re out of place. So, it’s a really good thing to do.
The big idea in this particular series, I’ll do a little explanation, again, of what it is. This is the big idea: We’re trying to learn how to get unstuck when we are stuck, so when we get stuck, we don’t stay stuck. What do we mean by that? What I mean by that is that when we go through life, we just find areas that we get stuck in. I mean, it might be a job. If anybody’s ever been stuck in a job, you know what that’s like. It’s like, “Do I start doing a resume? Do I think about this? What do I do?” Or maybe it’s a relationship with somebody. You’re not quite sure where it’s going, how it’s going to end or whatever. Or maybe you’re in counseling and you’re trying to figure out, “Is this thing going to work or not?”
You’re just sort of stuck in those moments. Maybe it’s a decision. It could be a number of things. It could be finances. There are just a number of things it could be. It could be emotions. You’re just sort of stuck in the moment. So, what we’re trying to do in this series is not only look at good, biblical stories, but we’re trying to pull out of those good, biblical stories practical things that help you and me get unstuck in the areas of life when we’re stuck. So, hopefully, also, along the way, we not only learn how to get unstuck, but hopefully we learn some things that help us to keep from being stuck in the first place.
Well, this weekend, I want to talk to you about something that I know as a pastor. I see it regularly. You hear it from people regularly. I think all of us can relate to this. It’s when we’re living life, we’re going through life, and all of a sudden, all these questions start swirling in our heads. If you’re young, it might be, “Am I going to get into that school? Is my GPA going to be okay? Am I going to have friends? Am I going to be popular? Is this going to happen in my life?”
If you’re sort of just going through life, it might be, “Are we going to have children? What’s going to happen with my child? What’s going to happen in my marriage? I’m in counseling. Is that going to work? How is this going to happen?” Maybe, if you’re older, it might be, “Is my heath going to continue to be okay? Am I going to have enough money to make it to the end? Am I going to find love here at the latter part of my life?”
Whatever it may be. “What’s God’s calling? Is He going to come through?” What happens is we’re just sort of going through life, and all of a sudden, all these questions? It’s almost like a tornado starts swirling around us and our minds are just racing. “What if? What if this? What’s going on here?”
It’s like we just can’t even arrest that. I call that living in the question mark. Sometimes we just get stuck living in the question mark. “God, where are You at? Are You going to show up? Are You going to do...”
It’s like our minds are just racing in every way. What happens is when our minds go there, that creates depression in our lives, it creates worry in our lives, it can create anxiety in our lives, doubt and fear and all of those things. So many people live there. Let’s just be honest. Many of us live there at different times in our lives, or at least we know what that’s like to have all of those questions. “Are my kids going to be okay? What’s going to go on with this? Is this job going to work? Is that going to be...”
It’s like we’re just swirling in the question mark of life, and we’re stuck there. Like, “How do I get out of that? How do I get my mind from racing? How do I get my mind out of the gutter?” Answering these questions. Well, the good thing is that there’s always good, biblical stories that help us to deal with real, practical, life situations like this. The story that I’m going to talk about this weekend, I’m really excited about. I think you’re going to have so much fun reading this story with me. We’re going to do a lot of Bible reading. We’ll get out of here about 9:30, so just sit back and have a good time. But we’ve got a lot of Bible to work through. We’re going to go through a story that you may not be that familiar with. Maybe you’ve read it one time or the other, but you might not be that familiar.
As we read it, I think what we’re going to realize is this — and this is what I would like to challenge everybody to do. When you’re reading Scripture, don’t just read Scripture going, “God, what are You speaking to me? God, what’s this person doing? What’s this man of God or this woman of God doing?” What I would like to suggest to you is read yourself into the story. Rather than reading the story, let the story read you. Let it start to speak to you. Let you start to have questions as you go through. What if you were this person? How would you have responded? What would you be thinking? How would you approach this stuff? I think that as we read Scripture that way, it starts to really speak to us more. And the longer I do this, the longer I pastor, the more I realize that I personally think we’re reading Scripture wrong. We’re reading it to try to find transactional truths that we can tell everybody what they’re doing wrong, or tell everybody what they should believe, when in reality, when we open up this book, it’s a mirror. What it does is it reflects our heart to us when we read these stories right.
So, what’s the story we’re going to talk about? Well, the story we’re going to read is out of 1 Samuel 9. It concerns a person in the Old Testament named Saul. What’s important before we read this story is to go back just a little bit because, as you know, the chapters, the divisions and the verses in the Bible are not inspired. Sometimes, they’re not put together the way they should be. So, at the end of 1 Samuel 8, which is really important here in 1 Samuel, God and Samuel the prophet have a conversation where God tells Samuel, “I’m going to anoint a king. We’re going to have a king.”
Samuel’s like, “Whoa, that’s a bad idea.” God’s like, “Yeah, I know it’s a bad idea, but the people have been praying for a king. They want a king like all the other nations, so I’m going to give them a king.” If you’re reading that, you should be going, “Sometimes I pray for things that God gives me that I shouldn’t get.”
Can we say “amen?” Anyway, that’s a whole other sermon and a whole other series at another time, so we’re not going to go there. But I just want you to know that when you read that, because 1 Samuel 8 sort of ends, you’re in 1 Samuel 9, and sometimes you don’t put the two things together, but they are literarily going together. So, we know there’s going to be a king. We know that God’s going to anoint a king. And then we’re told, in 1 Samuel 9:1, that there’s a guy named Kish who has a son named Saul. Not only does he have a son named Saul, but he’s a very well-to-do man. And then we’re going to pick this up here in 1 Samuel 9:2.
“And he had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.”
Why is the writer giving us this? Because in the Old Testament, and during these times, it was a very patriarchal system. In those moments, there were things called the “rights to rule.” The rights to rule were that you needed to come from the right family. He did. His daddy was wealthy. You needed to be good looking. You needed to be a man. You needed to be tall. All of these things. He fits all the criteria for what you would expect for a king to look like — or can appearances be deceiving? See? We should be reading. There’s going to be another king that gets called at another time that doesn’t look anything like it. Nobody, even his own dad is going, “Yeah. Don’t bring him out. Keep him in the closet. He’s definitely not the king.”
But he’s the king. So, we see Saul. He’s handsome and he’s tall. He’s got the right dad, the right family, the right everything. So, you should, if you’re reading this, you should be expecting, “Here we go. He’s going to be the king. This is great. This is what’s going to happen. God’s going to do this.” And then, here’s what the story says:
“Now the donkeys of Kish,”
Like, where do the donkeys come from? The donkeys? What are we doing here?
“Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost.”
Who cares about the donkeys? Let’s get back to the tall guy, the handsome guy, the king. Let’s get back to that.
He says, “So Kish said to Saul his son, ‘Take one of the young men with you, and arise, go and look for the donkeys.’”
Now, I want you to do this. I want you to take the word “arise,” because that is a word of resurrection. I want you to take that and put it in your back pocket. We’re going to pull that back out later on, and you’re going to go, “Whoa.” Just hold it there. It’s all good. So, we’re set up here. We sort of know where we think the story’s going. God and Samuel have this conversation. We’ve got the right guy. And now, we’re looking for donkeys. Like, what’s going on? Where are we going here? Well, let’s continue because the story gets really good.
It says, “And he passed through the hill country of Ephraim and passed through the land of Shalishah, but they did not find them.”
So, this is like three, four, five, six, seven miles they’re walking along. “Why are we looking for the donkeys?” “Well, my dad wants me to look for the donkeys.” “Well, what’s the big deal about the donkeys?” “I don’t know. My dad, he’s a wealthy man. We don’t really need the donkeys, but he wants me to find the donkeys. I’m not quite sure why we’re looking for the donkeys. But man, we’ve just traveled about five miles and no donkeys. So, what are we going to do?”
Well, they passed through the land of Shaalim, but they weren’t there either. You can imagine along the way, “Do you think we’re going to find the donkeys?” “I don’t know if we’re going to find the donkeys.” “Are these donkeys really important to your dad?” “I don’t know.”
Read these. The things about these stories, the way they’re written, they’re not written to just read them and take transactional analysis out of the text, like you’re just pulling little words, what’s propositional truth and all this stuff. They’re written to get you to think. You’re walking along, “Why am I looking for donkeys? I thought we were going to have a king. That’s what I thought was going on,” if you’re reading this, but I’m looking for donkeys.
“Then they passed through the land of Benjamin, but did not find them.”
Now they’re like 25 miles in looking for donkeys, and nobody wants to look for donkeys. Anybody here, like, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” “I want to be a professional donkey-finder. That’s what I want to be.”
No. Nobody wants to do that.
It says, “When they come to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant who was with him, ‘Come, let us go back, lest my father cease to care about the donkeys and become anxious about us.’”
They’re into this thing. They’re in it for a while. Saul says, “You know, I think we need to go back because I think my dad might be worried about us.” Is that true? Does Saul really care about his dad? Do you know for a fact? You should be asking these questions. Do you want to go back because something’s come up that we don’t know yet? Maybe he really does love his dad. Maybe he really wants to go back. But the bottom line is they’ve been out, going all over the place, and they can’t find donkeys. So, I guess they’re going to go home. Right? I mean, that’s sort of like our lives sometimes. We’re out just sort of traipsing around, doing whatever, didn’t find, didn’t find, didn’t find. “Do you know what? Hey, I think I probably ought to go home.”
And then here’s what the text said. This is the servant.
He says, “‘Behold, there is a man of God in this city,’”
Like, how does he know that? How does he know there’s a man of God in the city? We don’t know. All of a sudden, we’re getting ready to go home and see Kish; daddy with no donkeys. We’ve been looking for donkeys. I mean, we have covered a lot of territory looking for donkeys. All of a sudden, I’m getting ready to go home, getting ready to go see dad, and the servant, who’s been around with me, says, “Hey, there’s a man of God in this city.”
“‘He is a man who is held in honor; all that he says comes true. So now let us go there. Perhaps he can tell us the way that we should go.’”
So, are we going to go to the city or are we going to go home? We don’t know. We’ve got to read the story. We’re just sort of walking through life. It sounds a lot like our lives. “I don’t know where I’m going. I’m looking for donkeys. I can’t find donkeys. I think I’m going to go home. Actually, all of a sudden, now somebody pops up, “Hey, why don’t we go do this?” You’re like, “That’s pretty interesting. Maybe we should go see this guy.”
And then we’re told this:
“Then Saul said to his servant, ‘But if we go, what can we bring the man?’”
“We’re not going to get something from God for free.” Man, that could preach right there, but I won’t go there. Anyway.
“‘For the bread in our sacks is gone, and there is no present to bring the man of God. What do we have?’”
So, they’re out of food. Did Saul want to go home to really see his dad, or did he want to go home because he doesn’t have any food? Or maybe a little bit of both? Maybe that’s like our lives. We’re conflicted at times. Maybe we have multiple emotions that run around in our heart because we’re just living right here in the question mark. If you’re in this story, you have no idea what’s going on. This story’s brilliantly written. It just brings you right in. You’re looking for donkeys, can’t find donkeys. Now, all of a sudden, you think you’re going to go see a prophet. You don’t have any money. You don’t have anything. And then, all of a sudden, the servant says to Saul:
“‘Here, I have with me a quarter of a shekel of silver, and I will give it to the man of God to tell us our way.’”
Like, “Dude, where did you get the money? Did you steal it? Did you take it from somebody? Did your dad give it to you? Did you earn it?”
We don’t know. We have no idea. Just all of a sudden, out of nowhere, the guy just has silver? He just knows that there’s a man of God in the city? What’s going on here? This is a crazy story. He says, “I will give it to the man of God to tell us our way.” And then we get this little parenthetical thing. You and I, it doesn’t mean anything to, really, but it meant something to the original readers. This is telling you something.
It says, “(Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he said, ‘Come, let us go to the seer,’ for today’s ‘prophet’ was formerly called a seer.)”
Basically, what he’s saying is, “Hey, I know right now we’re calling this guy that we’re going to go see a seer, but he’s really a prophet. Now that you all who know what a prophet is, because this is written at a later time where the words changed. The reason we’re using the word “seer” is because back when this was actually going down, it was called a seer. So, he just puts that in there for the readers that are reading this.
“And Saul said to his servant, ‘Well said.’”
“You’ve got the money, honey. Let’s go.”
“So they went to the city where the man of God was.”
So, here they are. “We were going to go home. Right? We were looking for donkeys. We’ve gone 25 miles, all over the place, and we were going to find the donkeys. We didn’t find the donkeys. We looked for the donkeys. What do you think your dad’s going to think?” “I don’t know, but I think we ought to go home.” “Why are we going home?” “Well, I sort of think my dad might be missing us. But, you know, we don’t have any food, so maybe it’s a good thing.” “Oh, by the way, there’s actually a man of God in the city.” “Really? Okay. Didn’t know that. How are we going to pay him?” “Well, I’ve actually got some money.” “Okay. Are we going to go to the city or are we going to go home? What are we going to do?”
“As they went up to the hill to the city, they met young women coming out to draw water and said to them, ‘Is the seer here?’”
Okay. So, they’re on their way to the city now. They were looking for donkeys. They’re not looking for donkeys anymore. Now they’re looking for a seer. They’ve found money that the servant has. The servant just happened to know that the seer was in town. Now, as they’re going to the city to pay the seer to figure out what’s going on, some women come out to draw water at the well. Well, if you know the Old Testament very well, when women come to draw water at the well, that’s where the patriarchs find their wives. So, are we going to find a wife here? What are we going to find? We don’t know. What’s going on here? We’re just living. You’re like, “Man, this story is all over the place, just like our lives.”
It’s all over the place.
They said, “‘Is the seer here?’”
They’ve just come out and these women just happened to show up out of nowhere. They’re just showing up.
“‘Is the seer here?’ They answered, ‘He is; behold, he is just ahead of you. Hurry. He has come just now to the city,’”
So, the seer — it’s just like, “Bingo. You’re looking for the seer that you really weren’t looking for because you were going to go home because you were out of food and you thought your dad, because you hadn’t found the donkeys.” And now, these women have come out and said there’s a seer, and by the way, you hit the jackpot. He just showed up right now because they have a sacrifice that they’re going to offer up to God on the high place.
Coincidence? What’s going on here? I mean, if you were reading this story, you have no idea what’s going on. Much like our lives, right?
“‘As soon as you enter the town you will find him,’”
How do they know that? How do they know that? Where is this coming from?
“‘Before he goes up to the high place to eat. For the people will not eat till he comes, since he must bless the sacrifice.’”
This guy’s got to bless the sacrifice or it doesn’t work.
“‘Now go up, for you will meet him immediately.’”
Immediately? How do they know that? “We were looking for donkeys and we couldn’t find them, and I decided I’m going to go home because I think my dad misses me, but we’re also out of food. And Dude...” — we don’t know his name. That’s Hebrew for “servant.”
“Dude has some money and knows there’s a prophet in town, so I think, ‘Well, I think I’ll go there. That sounds reasonable.’” Saul’s making all these choices. God’s not pulling him like a puppet. He’s making these choices. He’s doing what he’s doing. But he has no idea where he’s going. We have no idea where this is going. We’re just living in the question mark, much like our lives.
“So they went up to the city. As they were entering the city, they saw Samuel...”
Oh. We didn’t know who the seer or the prophet was. The story has sort of lengthened this out. It brought the tension. Well, now, it’s Samuel. The guy that spoke to God that God said He was going to put a king in. Samuel said that’s a bad idea, God said, “I agree, but we’re going to give them a king anyway.”
Samuel comes walking towards him on his way up to the high place. They don’t know this is Samuel. They have no idea who he is. But, really? Seriously? Samuel just shows up? What is going on here? This is crazy. All of these things. In our lives, things are crazy. We thought we were doing it this way, now we’re going this way, now we’re doing this and now we’re doing this and now we’re doing this. And just now in the story, we start to get some shaping here.
It says, “Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to Samuel...”
Hold on now. God’s involved now. So, we’ve got everybody running around and doing all their stuff, but somehow God’s involved in this. He’s involved in your life, too, even when you’re running around, questioning and don’t know what’s going on. Just, sometimes, we don’t pay attention.
“Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to Samuel: ‘Tomorrow about this time...’” — it’s this time right now. It was yesterday He told him this, but right now is the time — “‘...I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have seen my people, because their cry has come to me.’”
“I’m going to deliver my people because I’ve heard their cry.” Man, that sounds familiar. Doesn’t that sound like Charlton Heston, the Exodus and Moses and all that good stuff? Yes. It is. God says, “I’ve heard my people. Tell Samuel this.” He says, “Samuel, this is what I’m going to do.”
“When Samuel saw Saul,”
Samuel doesn’t know who Saul is. He just sees him. They’re coming up. They’ve just talk to the girls that they don’t know who they are. Did they miss an opportunity? Was that a wife? Maybe not. Who knows? We don’t know. This is the story. This is the way it’s going. All of a sudden, Samuel sees Saul.
“The Lord told him...”
God speaks to Samuel right there on the spot.
“‘Here is the man of whom I spoke to you! He it is who shall restrain my people.’”
That’s important. God says, “Hey, listen, my people are really trying to become like all the other nations, so I’m going to raise up a leader to help deliver them, but it’ll also keep them from doing everything that they need to do.”
See, this is what God can do. God can raise up good leaders, and He can raise up bad leaders. He can raise up whoever He wants to raise up to do the things that He does, but we still respond to the things that He does in our lives. Saul, obviously, is going to respond to God in a bad way. David’s going to ultimately be anointed king, and he’s going to respond to God in a good way. But the fact of the matter is it’s like, “Whoa. This is crazy, man. You’ve got Saul doing all these things, like my life, like our lives, just sort of running around not knowing much, doing this, doing that, doing this. I don’t know what’s going on. Why did this happen to me? Why did this go on? Why did they do this?”
All this stuff, but we see that God’s sort of also superintending over all of these things. And then it’s funny.
It says, “Then Saul approach Samuel in the gate and said, ‘Tell me where is the house of the seer?’”
“Hey, do you know where the seer’s at?” Do you see the humor here? This is funny. Of all the people that he walked into, he walked into the seer himself. What are the chances that that would happen? But it’s funny because he could’ve asked anybody in the town. He just walks up to the right person and says, “Hey, do you know where the seer is?”
“Samuel answered Saul, ‘I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place,’”
This is great. Samuel’s telling Saul something to do, Saul doesn’t even know who he is. But he knows he’s a prophet, and he honors him and he goes.
“‘For today you shall eat with me, and in the morning I will let you go and will tell you all that is on your mind.’”
“I’m going to tell you everything that’s on your mind.” Now, listen. Listen.
“‘As for your donkeys...’”
Ah. The donkeys. Aren’t you glad they came back? Yes. The donkeys.
“‘As for the donkeys that were lost three days ago, do not set your mind on them, for they have been found.’”
Man, on the third day they were found. Arise. See? There’s somebody writing this stuff that wasn’t the guy that was writing this. They wouldn’t have known about Jesus. They wouldn’t have known about three days. They wouldn’t have known about resurrection. They wouldn’t have known anything. And he’s anointed king on the third day as well, as we’re going to see in just a second. Pretty cool stuff. You’ve got to read your Bible. It’s really cool. It’s a good book. Anyways.
He goes on and says, “‘And for whom is all that is desirable in Israel? Is it not for you and for all your father’s house?’”
“Are you not the one that God’s going to use?”
It says, “Then Samuel took a flash of oil and poured it on his head and kissed him and said, ‘Has not the Lord anointed you to be prince over his people Israel?’”
What a great story. I mean, what a great story. Man, there’s so much going on. So, let’s stop here because now what we need to do is we need to get practical. I want to give you some things to think about, to pray about, to talk to God about, but also things that you and I can remember when we are stuck. You know? We’re just out doing stuff, we don’t know why this is going on, why’d you meet that person, why’d this happen to me and what’s going on here? All of this stuff. We’re just like swirling. We’re just stuck in the “why.” Here are some things to remember.
First, never underestimate the hand of providence in our life. Don’t do it. See, we’re sort of trained as people that life just sort of happens, it’s no big deal and everything else. We sort of forget that a bird doesn’t even fall to the ground apart from the Father’s will. We’re like, “Hold on. So, how does that work? If God’s in control and all things work after the counsel of His own will, and yet Saul is bouncing around, doing all of this stuff and he’s free, here’s the answer, as your pastor: I don’t know how it works. I don’t know how it works. I just know that it’s true. I know that the danger is to go to one extreme or the other. If you go to God is a puppet master, then there’s no choice that we would be guilty of. If you go to the extreme of choice, that God has no idea what He’s doing and He’s constantly running after us and trying to figure out what’s going on, with a dust broom, cleaning up all of the things that we’re doing, that doesn’t work either. What I’m saying is don’t underestimate the hand of providence in our life.
God’s sovereignty in our lives shouldn’t scare us. It actually should make us secure that God knows what He’s doing even when we don’t. God’s hand is in our lives. Here’s the truth that I want you to see. Many times, it’s in chasing donkeys that we find our destiny. See, we just think we’re just out doing whatever. I’m going to take some sheep, go over to Midian and just hang out, Moses said. God met him at a burning bush. See, just doing the normal thing, just chasing donkeys. You know? Nobody wants to chase donkeys. Anybody want to chase donkeys? We have dogs at our house. I don’t know why — I would never do this, but for whatever reason, they get taken to the groomers and they get shaved down to nothing. They should look like Chewbacca, but instead, now they’re like nothing. They’re just a little bit of hair and skin. When they’re like that, they can fit through the fence. When they have the hair, they can’t fit through the fence. Okay?
So, now they can fit through the fence. When one of the dogs goes through the fence, if you go around the house and go, “Hey, we need to go chase the dogs,” the kids are like, “I need to go to the bathroom. I need to study for my college entrance exam.”
It’s like, “You’re four years old. Come on. Go find the dog.” You know? Nobody wants to chase donkeys. We all want to feel like we know where we’re going. But see, it’s in chasing donkeys, just the day-to-day stuff that God finds — what may seem to be a mundane task can lead to a divine assignment. Saul wasn’t looking. You know? Divine callings are most often found when we aren’t looking for them.
You know, as a professor, I get that all the time. Just chill out. I’m telling you when you’re not looking for it, that’s when it’ll come. Nobody wants to hear that because we’re all told — everybody’s told in America, “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me. I’ve got to make it happen. I’ve got to do all this stuff.”
No. It’s in the mundane. When you’re in the “why,” you can understand, “Hey, do you know what? I’m not going to know all the answers sometimes. I’m not going to know why. I don’t know why I’m looking for a donkey. I don’t know why the servant had money. I don’t know why this happened. I don’t know why the women showed up. I don’t know why we weren’t there. I don’t understand some of this stuff.”
The longer you move away from the “why,” the more you start seeing God’s hand in your life. God wants us to trust Him. Many times, we live in the “why” because God just wants us to trust Him. It’s in the mundane. It’s in the normal. It’s in going to the well in the middle of the day, when you want to get away from everybody, that you find Jesus. It’s just in the mundane.
Second thing: A life of honor — and this is something that doesn’t get taught a lot in church, but it’s true. A life of honor ultimately will lead us to the answer or the answers to our most pressing questions. See, we’re always looking for the answer. Okay? But God has ordained the question mark life, all the questions going on in your head, to help you and me understand we can’t do it on our own. We’re not going to get all the answers. How do we get answers?
Well, first of all, his daddy told him to go find donkeys. What did he do? He honored his dad. He honored an authority figure in his life. When we come here to Samuel, he says, “Go up before me to the high place. That’s what I want you to do. I want you to go up to the high place.” Well, why is he going to listen to Samuel? Because he’s a prophet and he honors him. See, it’s in serving and listening to others that we find our purpose. We think we find our purpose on our own. We find our purpose in serving and listening to others.
Do you have somebody in your life — this is a real pointed question. You don’t have to do the divine elbow to your friend or your wife and say, “Did you hear that?” No. This is for you. This is for me. Do you have anybody in your life that if they told you, “You’re on the wrong path, you’re doing the wrong thing, this is not right,” that you would go, immediately, “I’m on the wrong path. I’m doing the wrong thing. I honor you.”
Probably not. Most of us don’t. I can tell you there are people in my life that if they said to me, “Chip, that is the wrong path,” my antennas would go up and I would go, “That’s probably a wrong path,” because I’ve realized that God uses other people in my life. See, that’s what He does. He may come to Mary and tell her she’s going to have Jesus, but He’s going to go to Joseph to confirm it. He may call Saul as the apostle, but he’s going to send Ananias to make sure he understands. That’s exactly what’s going on.
So often, we think that we can do it. The reason we live in the question mark is because maybe, just maybe, God is trying to get you and I to understand how important having other people, and honoring other people in our lives are, and so often we don’t want to do that. We pulled away. We like to shop online. We don’t want to get around people. We don’t want people to know our junk, our funk and all that stuff.
Third thing: Becoming all God desires us to be will cost us something. It’s not free to serve Jesus and to do ministry. We see that here in the text. He says, “What are we going to bring the man? What are we going to do here? We don’t have anything to give him.”
He’s like, “Don’t worry, man. I’ve got some money here. I’ve got something to give him.”
See? The understand. They understand that finding purpose and finding ministry, it costs. It maybe doesn’t cost money. It may, but it costs something. It might cost emotion. It might cost pain. It might cost your life at some point. But it costs. When you’re in the “why,” and it’s zapping you and costing you, God’s wanting to remind you, “Hey, if you’re going to do this thing, you’re really going to have destiny, there’s going to be a cost to it.”
Fourth, we need others. I say this at communion. I say this at almost every sermon I preach. I cannot stress how much and how important it is to have other people in your life. I just cannot stress it. And most of us try to find people in our lives that will tell us the things that we want to hear. We find people that just tell us the good things, tickle our ears and tell us what we want to hear. Find somebody in your life that will tell you something you don’t want to hear. Find somebody that will tell you something that you believe is godly and honest, and listen to that because we need others.
See, Saul listened to Kish, but here, the day before Saul came, the Lord revealed to Samuel — this is for somebody in every five services, I can tell you this. The day before Saul came, the Lord revealed to Samuel, “Tomorrow, about this time, I’m going to send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over my people Israel.”
Write this down, please. Our calling and anointing is never self-generated. Others must confirm it. Just hear your pastor here. Just hear me on this one. I’m telling you. If God speaks it to somebody to do this, He’s going to confirm it with something else. And don’t find people that will tickle your ears to confirm it. Find people that love you enough to tell you what is true because it’s in the “why” that forces us. It’s like, “Man, I want to know what I’m going to do. I’ve got to get an answer. I’ve just got to know.”
God’s going, “Okay. The reason I’ve got you here is so that you can watch for my hand of providence and trust me. So that you can understand how important other people are. So that you can understand the way I work. It’s going to cost.”
The last thing, and this is something — please listen to this. This is so profound. To help people reach their divine destiny, we must first answer their most pressing needs. This is something the Church, for 2,000 years, has not done very well. We’ve said, “We’ve got to get them to Jesus. We’ve got to get them. Heaven and hell, baby. Turn or burn. Eat the bread of life or you’re toast. Get right or get left.”
You know? Whatever we do. All the things that we say. I want you to see this here. God has called Samuel to anoint Saul as king. What’s the principle of this story? We need to get the king anointed. That’s the destiny of Saul. But what does Samuel say first? He says, “Hey, your donkeys that were lost? They’ve been found.” That was the most pressing need. Saul wasn’t looking for ministry. He wasn’t looking to be a king. He was looking for donkeys. If Samuel would’ve said, “You’re going to be a king,” he would’ve missed it because what was most pressing to Saul was donkeys.
See, people out there in the world, they don’t really want to hear about your Jesus until they know you care about them. The reason God allows us to live in the question mark is to remind us how desperate we are for an answer, so that when we get in front of other people, we’ll make sure that we address their questions first, and then allow them to know who Jesus is. Because, see, he says, “As for your donkeys, they’ve been found.” And then he says, “And for whom is all that is desirable in Israel? Is it not for you and for all your father’s house?”
And he anoints Saul. See? He met his pressing need first, then he spoke destiny to him. See? God puts us in these situations that we feel uncomfortable and there’s swirling and worries and all these things, and doubt, but they’re there to expose to you and I a lot of things. If we will embrace them for what they are, we can get unstuck from those stuck situations and we can become the things that God has called you and I to be.
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for the richness of these stories. These stories are just so incredible. God, if anything, I pray that people will just go, “Man, I want to get home and read my Bible. I want to know Jesus. I want to know His Word.” God, if we just accomplish that here at Grace, we’ll be doing some great things. But Lord, these stories are rich.
God, I pray, because there’s so much here to chew on, I know there’s something here for everybody. It’s like a buffet. There’s so much here in this passage for everybody. God, I just pray that You would speak to us the things that we need to hear. I pray that You would read our mail. Instead of us reading Scripture, I pray that Scripture would read us, and that we would allow it to read us, and we would allow You to pierce into our hearts, Lord, and to help us in these areas that we are living in a question mark that we do. We do sometimes don’t even know why things are going on, the way things happen and all this stuff. But Lord, we believe that somewhere deep down inside You are a God of providence. We can trust You. We need others. It’s going to cost us something.
Lord, You remind us, when we’re living in the “why,” how important it is for us to get some answers to what’s going on as we meander through life. Help us to remember that when we minister to others, that they’re going through things as well, and they need those answers first. That’s why You fed the people first. That’s why You met the woman at the well and talked about marriage. That’s why You do the things that You do. You meet us where we are. That’s why the early Church sold the things and distributed to people as had need. As they met their needs, then they had favor with the people, and then You added to the Church daily those who would be saved.
Lord, help us to chew on this, digest it, pray over it, talk over it, and help it, Lord, to read our mail so that we can become the people and the church that You want us to be.
So Lord, I pray that as we walk out of here this evening that You would continue to lead, guide and direct us, I pray that You would watch over us and protect us, I pray that You’d bring us back safely to when we meet again. And I pray, Lord Jesus, that You would help us to stay focused on being what You have called us to be. That is a church that reaches the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ. Lord, we love You, we thank You and we praise You. In Jesus’ name, and everybody said, “Amen.”
Give the Lord a big hand clap. Tell Him you love Him. God bless everybody. See you soon.