Last November, after speaking at our weekend service for the second time, I asked the Lord what He thought of the message. His reply astounded me – what pleased Him most was not so much the message itself, but what happened the night before the service – the diligence in working through the message and the posture of desperation for His Presence in the service.
And the Holy Spirit said these three words to me that forever marked and changed my life – “Remember this day!” I immediately knew what He was referring to. It was a loving warning from my Confidant to keep this posture in my heart for the rest of my life, so that I’ll not be complacent when it comes to the things of God as I get more fluent in what I do, be it delivering God’s Word or carrying out assignments that bear His Name, regardless of its size or magnitude.
To ‘prepare like it’s my first time speaking and preach as if it’s my last sermon!’ Don’t shortchange the people by having a flippant attitude – re-present Him well.
On a similar note, I want to draw two lessons from two stories in the Bible of two Kings of Israel – Saul and David – who responded very differently to God when they sinned against Him.
1. Never Forget How You Started
In 1 Samuel 15, King Saul was instructed by God to completely destroy the Amalekites and all that they had. Instead, he spared their king and kept their best livestock with the excuse of wanting to sacrifice these to God.
Saul probably thought that, as he was king, he could do whatever he deemed fit. He even set up a monument to himself (v 12) and would rather please man than God. This act of disobedience grieved the Lord deeply.
Saul forgot how he started (v 17) and allowed pride to consume him. This mentality can happen to anyone in a position of influence, power, or leadership. God wants us to fully depend on Him because He knows what’s best for us at every juncture of our lives. It’s a serious warning for all of us. God linked disobedience with rebellion against Him, and stubbornness is likened to iniquity and idolatry (v 23).
Even to the end, there was no genuine repentance from Saul as he was still concerned about his standing and reputation before the people – “I have sinned; yet honour me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel…” (v30). He didn’t really care about God’s Name and honour. Saul had no regard for God.
2. Always Think About How God Feels First
On the other hand, when confronted by Nathan the prophet regarding the sin of adultery and murder, David didn’t defend himself or explain his way out like Saul. His first thought was about God – “I have sinned against the Lord.” (2 Sam 12:13)
David was convicted and broken because he had tarnished God’s Name and reputation. He had let God down. He was more concerned about God’s honour than his own. As king, David could have reacted and ‘silenced’ Nathan the prophet who confronted him. Instead, he chose to repent and respond to God. And, out of that posture of repentance, David penned Psalm 51 which is known as a Prayer of Repentance, where he acknowledged again in verse 4, “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight.”
When you’ve messed up – which we all do at some point in life – don’t try to quickly resolve with your own clever ideas. Go to God and find out how He feels about it first! Align yourself to Him and He’ll show you what you need to do next. We’re chosen to ‘re-present’ Jesus on earth – we are made in His image. Are you representing Him correctly and accurately to the people around you and whom you’re leading? Don’t be a Saul. Be a David! All heart for God.
Praying that, as you celebrate this Chinese New Year with family and friends, may the Lord grant you many open doors into the hearts of people and touch them with His love. It’ll be a fruitful and amazing time!
May all that we do in Cornerstone put a smile on our Heavenly Father’s face : )
Pastor Kevin Koh