04/13/22 Surprise

READING: 1 Samuel 15:1-17:31

Sometimes the Lord catches us by surprise—often because our thinking is simply not His thinking. We think we have it all figured out, and He reminds us otherwise. His plans are not always ours. 

For example, many believers today equate their Christianity with activity; that is, they evaluate the depth of their faith by the level of their work in the church. They attend. They give. They serve. They’ve been faithful for a long time. Surely that description indicates they are committed followers of Jesus, living in surrender. That may not always be the case, though. They may be doing what believers are “supposed” to do publicly while they fail to follow God in obedience privately. Religious ritual in the church, not real relationship with God, marks their lives. To that situation, the words of Samuel to Saul in today’s reading speak forcefully: “Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams” (1 Sam 15:22). To the surprise of some, religious ritual means nothing apart from a heart of obedience. 

Likewise, the world often looks to externals (e.g., ability, skill, experience) to determine who should lead, but God operates differently. The externals matter, but God looks at potential leaders more deeply—as Samuel’s response regarding Eliab as the possible next king of Israel indicates: “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam 16:7). When God looks from that direction, He at times directs us to leaders who surprise us because they don’t always seem the most logical choice on the outside. They are the right ones, however . . . 

. . . because God is always right, even when He surprises us.

PERSONAL REFLECTION: When was the last time the Lord just surprised you?

TODAY’S PRAYER: “Lord, help me to trust You when Your ways are not my ways.”

TOMORROW’S READING: 1 Samuel 17:32-19:17, Psalm 59, 1 Samuel 19:18-24

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