Monday, February 25, 2008

Hiding in the Baggage?

Therefore they inquired further of the LORD, “Has the man come here yet?” So the LORD said, “Behold, he is hiding himself by the baggage.”So they ran and took him from there... I Samuel 10.23-24

Saul had been anointed king in chapter 10 and now it was time for the coronation. Problem was, when they went to look for the guy who was to wear the crown, he was nowhere to be found; he was hiding in the baggage.

Hmmm interesting word, but more on that in a minute.

My friends and I have had several intriguing debates over this passage; was Saul simply exhibiting humility? He had, after all, said at the time he was anointed,

“Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then do you speak to me in this way?”

Perhaps his reluctance to step forward indicated a genuine feeling of unworthiness for the task.

Could be. And if that is the conclusion that we are to draw, well, well enough. Certainly it is true that none of us are “worthy” for the slightest responsibility that the Lord entrusts us with, of that we can be assured.

On the other hand…

There were two significant chinks in the armor of Saul’s life, his soul, his heart. One was a disconnection from the God who called him and the second is fear.

I believe that this is the first indication we have of a personal attribute that will haunt Saul for the rest of his life; fear in general, fear of man specifically.

The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted. Prov 29.25

God had chosen Saul, anointed Saul, empowered Saul, etc. God had given Saul a specific job to do, “he will deliver My people from the hand of the Philistines” (9.16). It seems to me to hardly be the time to be hiding.

I so appreciate Paul. He was a man who understood where he came from; where the Lord found him; what he was doing when God called him. In fact it is Paul who wrote:

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service” I Tim 1.12

And yet it is Paul who also wrote:

Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me... Gal 1.1 (also Rom 1.1, I Cor 1.1, II Cor 1.1, Eph 1.1, Col 1.1, I Tim 1.1, II Tim 1.1)

Paul says over and over; I am an apostle, I was given that job and that title by God himself. So, in the authority that God has given me and in obedience to the responsibility I have been entrusted with, I am writing to you. I have a job to do and I am doing it in the strength God himself supplies, in the authority that comes directly from the Lord, for the glory of the One who has entrusted me with this ministry.

No apology, no extraordinary explanation, no excuses, no fear!

What have you been assigned? How about me? Shame on us if we are hiding in the baggage when we ought to be getting on with it.

And let’s not let our baggage keep us from being obedient to what the Lord has called us, anointed us and empowered us to do… whatever that might be. Do I have some hang up, some “history”, anything hanging around in piles; the KJV calls it “stuff”? Is there stuff you are hiding behind, hiding in, being buried by?

Times-a-wastin’! Take your baggage to the airport and leave it there, it will be the last time you see it :), and get to work!

The Lord knew what he was doing when He assigned us the task, He knows how weak we are, how insufficient our abilities, but if He called us, we best be about the Fathers business!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Matter of the Kingdom

Saul’s uncle said, “Please tell me what Samuel said to you.” So Saul said to his uncle, He told us plainly that the donkeys had been found.” But he did not tell him about the matter of the kingdom which Samuel had mentioned. I Samuel 10.15-16

The story of Saul is one of unrealized potential. He was a man who had everything imaginable given to him and yet, when the story reaches its tragic end and we are able to survey the breadth of his life one can only conclude… what a waste.

A waste of opportunity, a waste of gifts, a waste of privilege; Saul’s’ saga is a sad one indeed.

If you recall, Saul had gone on a journey to find his fathers’ lost donkeys. The journey, by God’s providence, brought him to the prophet Samuel who was told by God ahead of time that upon Saul’s arrival he was to anoint him as the first king of Israel.

Saul's potential? Let me remind you of the list:
Vs 9.1 A choice and handsome man, head and shoulders above the rest…literally!
Vs 9.16 He was chosen by God
Vs 9.16 He was given a divine mission
Vs 10.1 He was anointed
Vs 10.6, 9 He was changed into another man
Vs 10.10 The Holy Spirit came upon him
Vs 10.11 He prophesied

That is quite a resume’, I mean the Lord had really set this man up for success! So why did Saul fail so miserably? Why was his reign constantly marred by fear? What did it seem that Saul never possesses a personal relationship to God (which becomes all the more striking in contrast to David once he comes on the scene)?

This fear and that lack of relationship is evident at the very beginning and is revealed in our text.

A harbinger of things to come

Did you see Saul’s response to his father upon return? He told him about the donkeys, but “about the matter of the kingdom” he didn’t say a word. I think it is safe to say that some pretty radical things had happened to Saul on his journey to find the donkeys, but when asked to tell his story… he left out those things that had to do with the kingdom.

He could talk about the weather, about the cities he visited about the scenery he passed through about finally locating the donkey, but about what God had done in his life… not a word. About being anointed king… silence. About prophesying, or a new heart…zilch!

There Saul was in the starting chute, ready to race into the life God had set him up to succeed in and when the gun sounded and the gates flung open, he backed up. The man would not share his testimony.

Doesn’t it really begin there for you and me too? How can I expect to realize my potential in the kingdom if I am unwilling to share what the Lord has done in my life personally? The most radical thing the Lord will ever do in a person’s life is save them. That is the greatest miracle of all; that He “saved a wretch like me”.

We must like Paul be anxious to say, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes”. This is what God did in my life, this is what will do in your life too… let me tell you my story.