Pulpit Today Sermons
Robert D. Pace
Jesus said in Revelation 3:21, “he that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in his throne.” That’s an amazing invitation! One day we will actually join the King of the Universe, center stage, and rule with him on his seat of authority.
(Insight) The Lord created billions of galaxies. The magnitude of each galaxy is incomprehensible. Our Milky Way spans 100,000 light years, but many galaxies span 150 million light-years. And God created each galaxy for a specific purpose. The Bible “seems” to indicate that these galaxies have been created for “Overcomers” to rule throughout eternity. (But that’s a teaching for another day.)
While we anticipate that day, God has called Christians to reign today! He has given each Christian a realm of jurisdiction in which they are to exercise authority. Just as earthly monarchs rule the affairs of their kingdom, Christians are called to govern a specific area of life. Maybe you haven’t considered the place of rulership God has assigned to you. But consider that for a moment:
As a parent, God has granted you authority to govern your home.
As a grandparent, God has given you the privilege of watching over the spiritual welfare of all your offspring.
Perhaps you’re a business owner, or a supervisor, school teacher, contractor, or director of a social service or club.
In some way, God has delegated a place of leadership to most everyone here. And he wants you to thrive in that capacity!
(Transition) Today’s message deals with the specific area God has assigned for your governance. As we look into this area, I want to begin by investigating the core of your life. And the core of your life is the heart. Before anyone undertakes the task of influencing others, God first wants you to master the state of your heart
I. Rule Your Heart
You recall the importance of the heart from Proverbs 4:23 when Solomon said, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” The need for keeping our heart clean and devoted to God cannot be overstated. It’s one of the imperatives of the Christian life. If your heart is pure and devoted to God then your actions and reactions will adjust accordingly. Conversely, when a person has a contaminated heart nearly all they do is contaminated:
A corrupted heart means choices are motivated by selfishness and greed.
It means a person’s plans are designed to fulfill their objectives.
And when people live with untamed and undisciplined hearts their treatment of others will be calloused and without the temperament of mercy.
But those with pure hearts seek the pleasure of God and the good of others. And that’s how we are supposed to live.
During this message I’m going to share the story of how God installed Israel’s first king. His name was Saul and God used the prophet Samuel to identify this man and then anoint him as king. In a few moments, I will explain the declaration that Samuel proclaimed over Saul that could have guided him toward a victorious life. Unfortunately, Saul resisted Samuel’s words and God removed him from his place of service. But first, I want you to notice the immediate result that occurred within Saul as he met with Prophet Samuel.
Here they were, face-to-face, spending two days together as Samuel anointed Saul, gave him instructions for his kingly assignment, and then dismissed him. When Saul turned away from the prophet, the Bible says, “God changed Saul’s heart.” That’s important! “God changed Saul’s heart.” Here’s why this is imperative: every person that serves in a position of rulership—especially religious and political leaders—need hearts that have been divinely “touched” by the Spirit of the Lord!
And as this pertains to us, we need to make certain we maintain a humble and submitted heart so we can function properly in our place of rulership. There is nothing more important to rule than the passions, desires, and ambitions of the heart. The reason God has called us to manage our heart is because the Bible says, ‘from the heart all the issues of life emerge.’ One version says it is the “wellspring of life.” Yes, our heart functions like a well.
(Example) Think about the purpose of a well. We have indoor plumbing today, but years ago people depended on wells to provide sustenance and refreshment. When wells are unpolluted and pure they bring refreshment and life to others. But contaminated wells can spread disease and even death. In like manner, the inward spring of our lives can do the same. It can bring life, refreshment, and joy to those around us when it’s pure. When our hearts are filled with love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, and temperance it glorifies God and blesses everyone.
And the Lord shows that we have a moral responsibility to watch over our heart and soul. They must not be left alone to grow with the issues of life or to merely exist, God has called us to give all diligence to the welfare of our heart. That’s because it is the real you! It may be hidden within your chest but it’s always laid bare before God in every decision and choice that’s made.
Very briefly, I want to mention eight ways you should treat your heart:
We must feed the heart with God’s Word so we can produce the right fruit.
We must strengthen our heart so we can remain faithful to Christ.
We must examine our heart to make certain Christ remains at its center.
We must cleanse our heart to keep it free from corrupting affections.
We must soften our heart so we can stay sensitive to the needs of others.
We must protect our heart to keep Satan from influencing its actions.
We must keep our heart rejoicing because the “joy of the Lord is our strength.”
We must fill our heart with faith because faith “is the victory that overcomes the world.”
This is why Solomon said, “Above all things guard the heart, for out of it flow the issues of life.”
(Transition) Let’s move on by investigating the content of Samuel’s prophetic conversation with Saul as he proceeded to anoint Saul as Israel’s first king.
Israel Requests a King
In Deuteronomy 17:14—20, Moses peered into the future and anticipated how Israel would request a king. So, he left Israel with instructions regarding this process. Moses presented about seven qualifications for kingship:
- God alone would sovereignly choose the king.
- He couldn’t be a foreigner; had to be a fellow Israelite.
- He couldn’t multiply horses for himself.
- He couldn’t take many wives.
- He was not to accumulate vast amounts of silver and gold.
- He was to personally copy Moses’ Law, read it throughout his life, and obey it.
- And he must remain humble and not consider himself as being better than others.
But when Israel asked Samuel to find them a king they violated the procedure Moses had outlined. They demanded a king of their own designs. Notice the phraseology Israel used when they approached Samuel for a king. In 1 Samuel 8:19 Israel said: “We want a king over us. (20) Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles” (1 Samuel 8:19—20).
How foolish! The last thing Israel needed was a king like other nations. God had chosen Israel to be the opposite of other nations. Their destiny was to be distinct from and not similar to other nations.
But to top that, they asked for a king that would lead them into battle! Imagine that! God had already identified himself to the Israelites as Jehovah-Nissi—or, “The Lord our Banner.” He had given them permission to invoke the power of this aspect of his name—Jehovah Nissi. And here is what that means: when armies triumphed over their enemies they would hoist banners to proclaim their victory. That’s why Psalm 20:5 says, “May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God.” God had given Israel the privilege of displaying his very name as a testimony that he was the One that fought their battles.
But it didn’t matter that God had parted seas, stopped the sun, and opened the earth to consume his enemies, when Israel requested a king they wanted something far less! The wanted a human to lead them into battle. They wanted a man to pin medals of victory on. They wanted to be like the other nations. And obviously, this was the wrong request!
Folks, God has never blessed his people—OT or NT—because they learned to perfect the ways of the world. He blesses his people because we are distinct from the world!
It’s why the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 6:16—17, “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. [Therefore] Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.”
And then the Apostle Peter said, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). God has translated his people from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light.
How many of you have heard the Greek word ecclesia? When it’s used in the English Bible it’s translated as the word church. But it’s the definition of the word that makes it interesting. It means “called out ones.” The church of Jesus Christ has been called out of the world. Since that’s the case, why should we have any ambition to operate like the world!
(Transition) Now I want to move on and rehearse the story of how Samuel installed Saul as king of Israel. When you study Saul’s life, you understand he was a series of errors. Nevertheless, the Bible records a beautiful narrative of Saul’s installation into kingship. And if soberly consider this story it can guide us into successfully fulfilling the assignments of God.
Saul Chosen as King
The account begins when Saul’s father, Kish, sent him and a servant to locate their runaway donkeys. I’ll begin reading in 1 Samuel 9:14 where Saul and his servant have entered the town of Ramah and they are providentially met by the prophet Samuel.
1 Samuel 9:14—20
They went up to the town, and as they were entering it, there was Samuel, coming toward them on his way up to the high place. 15 Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed this to Samuel: 16 “About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him ruler over my people Israel; he will deliver them from the hand of the Philistines. I have looked on my people, for their cry has reached me.” 17 When Samuel caught sight of Saul, the Lord said to him, “This is the man I spoke to you about; he will govern my people.” 18 Saul approached Samuel in the gateway and asked, “Would you please tell me where the seer’s house is?” 19 “I am the seer,” Samuel replied. “Go up ahead of me to the high place, for today you are to eat with me, and in the morning I will send you on your way and will tell you all that is in your heart. 20 As for the donkeys you lost three days ago, do not worry about them; they have been found. And to whom is all the desire of Israel turned, if not to you and your whole family line?”
But the story doesn’t end here, it continues into the next day when Samuel anoints Saul as king and prepares him for his trip. Look now at 1 Samuel 10:1—11.
1 Samuel 10:1—11
Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the Lord anointed you ruler over his inheritance? (2) When you leave me today, you will meet two men near Rachel’s tomb, at Zelzah on the border of Benjamin. They will say to you, ‘The donkeys you set out to look for have been found. And now your father has stopped thinking about them and is worried about you. He is asking, “What shall I do about my son?” ’ “Then you will go on from there until you reach the great tree of Tabor. Three men going up to worship God at Bethel will meet you there. One will be carrying three young goats, another three loaves of bread, and another a skin of wine. 4 They will greet you and offer you two loaves of bread, which you will accept from them. 5 “After that you will go to Gibeah of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, timbrels, pipes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying. 6 The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. 7 Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you. 8 “Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do.” 9 As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day. 10 When he and his servant arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he joined in their prophesying. 11 When all those who had formerly known him saw him prophesying with the prophets, they asked each other, “What is this that has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?”
Samuel was an amazing prophet! I’ve never known anyone who could prophesy with the pinpoint accuracy of Samuel. The Bible says, “God let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground.” If Samuel said it, it was going to happen! And if you look closely at his prophecy you notice that God gave Saul a surreptitious message within a message that could have enriched his kingship in a marvelous manner. Unfortunately, Saul rejected Samuel’s prophetic counsel. But I don’t want that to happen to you. I want you to embrace and implement Samuel’s “word” so God can bless your place of service.
Three Rules for Rulers
1. First, Samuel pointed out that rulers need peace of mind.
In 1 Samuel 9:20 one of the first things the prophet told Saul was that his father’s donkeys had been located. What was God’s underlying message to Saul here? Samuel was assuring Saul that everything was okay. Even a simple prophecy like this could free Saul from that inner nagging that might suggest Saul had been defeated in his mission. It didn’t matter that his father had sent him to look for a couple of jackasses to God simple missions and assignments are important. Success with menial and simple tasks can often lead to promotion.
But beyond that, the devil knows you can’t suitably reign in life unless the peace of God anchors your soul. You can’t be consumed with worrisome thoughts or they will cloud right thinking. People that deal with significant matters need serenity in their soul.
Is there anyone here that wants to be led by a nervous and anxious leader? Of course not! That’s why people that reign with Christ need clarity of mind and quietness of heart. And it is why Paul said, “let the peace of God guard your heart.”
2. Secondly, Samuel pointed out that rulers need provision.
Look at 1 Samuel 10:4. Samuel tells Saul what will happen when he meets three men on his journey: “They will greet you and offer you two loaves of bread, which you will accept from them.” The underlying message here is nearly self-explanatory. God always gives provision for those on his mission. If you will pray, the Lord will not require you to stand alone, but will have others to help fulfill your assignments.
As Saul and his servant traveled home the Lord knew they would need food. So, he prepared three men with bread and wine to meet their needs. What is God telling us here? He wants you to know that he will always have somebody to cross your path and help meet your needs.
Here is a good rule for every leader: Never try to accomplish your assignments alone. Always invite others to assist you! When you implement this practice you will both achieve more and allow others to gain a sense of fulfillment and joy, too.
It is on the rarest of occasions that God assigns major projects to one person who doesn’t need the assistance of others.
Besides Jesus, there is only person in the Bible that never needed anyone’s help to work miracles. It was not Moses, or Elijah, or Elisha. It was Samson! In fact, every miraculous exploit that Samson performed was done without any other personal assistance. But all the other great heroes in the Bible needed support to work at least one miracle.
Just remember: God will always work in your behalf! Whether it’s through others, through angels, or by the Spirit of God himself God will never fail you! Philippians 4:19 says, “My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
If Godhas chosen you to fulfill an assignment he will also make provision for it. If you don’t have provision for your mission it could mean that your timing is off and you must wait.
(Transition) Let’s look at the third word of instruction Samuel gave to Saul and see how we can apply it to our lives.
3. Samuel pointed out that rulers need divine endowment.
Look at 1 Samuel 10:5—7. “After that you will go to Gibeah of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, timbrels, pipes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying. (6) The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. (7) Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.”
Everything happened to Saul just as Samuel predicted. The Holy Spirit came upon Saul in power and he prophesied. And the lesson we learn from this is simple yet priceless: We must understand that God will assign us to tasks that are beyond our ability to achieve. But this is why the Lord supplied his followers with the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit makes possible the impossible!
That’s why Believers need the prophet’s anointing. And it’s why God led Saul among the prophets. You see, prophets were not like priests who could function by rote and routine. Their duties had been preformatted by Moses in the Law and were predictable. But prophets were different. They had to live completely dependent on the Holy Spirit. Their words and miracles came from outside themselves and they operated with power from another world. They were people that had to stay close to God in prayer and listen to his voice.
This is what Christians need, too. You will need power from another world. You will be confronted with situations that cannot be surmounted unless you are filled with the power of Heaven. And the Holy Spirit will enable you to accomplish things that transcend your humanity.
God has anointed you as a ruler and he intends for you to reign responsibly. You need the peace of God. You need and must be willing to accept the goodness and provisions of others that God leads into your life. And then you must operate under the transcending power of the Holy Spirit so you can accomplish things beyond your power to accomplish.