John Gunn - I Maroota, Australia - 2002

Mark 12:11, "This is the Lord's doing and it is marvellous in our eyes." We never want to see the day come when we didn't feel this.  Herod wanted to see a miracle but didn't want to be a miracle.  What is a miracle?  It is change - not partial, or proportionate, but complete.  The first miracle in the Old Testament was in Genesis 1.  What was without form, God gave form, what was barren was made useful, darkness was turned into light.  The first miracle in the New Testament was when Jesus turned the water into wine. A complete, clear, definite change.   Men say that Genesis is the result of an explosion.  The creation of God is beautiful, orderly. Men don't practice what they preach.  If so, when a house was untidy or your desk was untidy, make an explosion and all would be in order. Not so, explosion makes disorder.

Job 6:7, "The things that my soul refused to touch are as my sorrowful meat."  Things in the past that Job had no appetite for, now they were the very things he desired.  Isaiah 11:6-7, animals living together because of a change of nature. Where there is a change of nature, there will always be a change of appetite. In the north of Chile in the desert - the driest place in the world, not even a cactus will grow there.  Workers were visiting homes and a Catholic lady, who was head of the woman's guild in the Catholic church, showed interest.  It was near convention time and the workers tried to explain that they would be leaving to go to the convention in the South of Chile. She was keen to go also and invited herself.  The trip was 30 hours on one bus to San Diego and 12 hours on another bus.  She left before the convention was finished and complained about the cold, the beds, the food, the babies that cried in the night.  The next year when the list came out, I was to be in that area and I held out little hope for her.  We visited her and she defended the Catholic religion and asked questions of us and we felt she was just picking our brains!  One verse she asked us to explain one time, we later found out that the Priest had given it to her to study at the Woman's guild meeting!  She asked us once, "What do I need to do to be part of your group?"  She continued to come to meetings for several weeks and we noticed her going grey very quickly!  Then one day, she said, "Do you remember when I asked you that question, 'What do I need to do to be part of your group?'  Well, now I know."  She had apparently stopped going to Church for 6 weeks until the Priest got after her.  So, she went back to one service and she said, "I saw it as it is - just one big show.  How is it I've been deceived all this time?"  "This is the Lord's doing and it is marvellous in our eyes."  After a full year, she went again to convention. Her only complaint this time was, "Why can't convention be longer?!"  "This is the Lord's doing."  The miracle of convention is change.  Not superficial, but within the heart.  When Hannah went to convention, there was a noticeable change within and a visible change without.  If there is only a visible change, it is just very superficial.

I Peter 3:3-4, "Whose adorning let it not be the outward adorning, but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible.."  It is only in the heart that anything incorruptible can be accomplished.  The beauty the Lord works in the heart, the change there, a frail body can't take from us.  The knowledge and understanding God gives in the mind, a frail mind can't take from us.  David was a man after God's own heart.  God chose David because of the heart that was in him.  God refused Eliab because of the heart that was within him.  Samuel thought Eliab was the Lord's anointed but God had chosen David and Samuel almost fell because of the things that impress us.  Eliab impressed him.  I Corinthians 13 tells us of five things that would impress and we could have them and be nothing and do nothing and have nothing of eternal worth.  Psalms 103:11, "For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him."  The distance between human love and divine love is just as far.  Song of Solomon 8:7, "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it."  Romans 8, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?"  Eloquent oratory is like music - it will stir our emotions, but what is it that feeds us?  It is the love of God.  We shouldn't fear lack of understanding but we should be fearing the lack of the love of God.  Not all steps ever count for eternity but steps taken by faith and in the love of God.  The only sacrifice that means anything to God is sacrifice with love behind it.  If we have love in our hearts, then love will obey.  It only takes a moment to die as a martyr but it takes the love of God to live a dying life.  This is the only life acceptable to God. The fruit of the Spirit is love.  This fruit has 15 definite true qualities.  True contentment, no envy and no jealousy.  If we are filled with the love of God, we will not be discontented.  Godliness can only be glorified by humility.  Self is an easy thing to adore but the hardest thing to sacrifice. We can't give to others what we don't have ourselves.  David's life was in tune with the love of God.  Psalms 33:1, "Praise is comely for the upright."  It is possible to express things with our lips that we don't feel in our hearts.  We could have no harmony between words on our lips and our hearts.  Ananais and Sapphira - they were sacrificing but deceit in their hearts. Judas' expression on his lips was opposite to what was in his heart.  Exodus 32, Aaron made a golden calf.  How could a lump of gold lead them?  We could express on our lips that God was guiding but choose for ourselves.  I Samuel 17, Jesse's three sons had gone to battle - fighting for the cause of Israel.  Jesse wasn't sitting feeling sorry for himself, but he was making bread and cheese and sending it with yet another son to the battle.  We can think of fathers today strengthening those in the front ranks of the battle.  Eliab said, "I know thy pride and the naughtiness of thine heart."  He thought he knew David's heart but he didn't know his own.  Never let us think we know another's heart.  Our courage is tested most when facing up to ourselves, not facing up to external enemies.  David said, "All the earth may know that there is a God in Israel."  Joseph said, "God will give Pharoah an answer of peace."  Jesus said, "My doctrine is not Mine but His that sent Me." - a selfless heart.

David also took the staff in his hand, not only the stones.  Goliath saw it only as a stick but it was the staff of faith that David had.  A person with a walking stick is making a declaration, "I'm no longer able to walk alone."  We also need to make this declaration - we are not able - we need to lean on God.  Goliath had a man going ahead of him carrying his shield for him.  No man can carry our shield for us, it is not something we grab when the enemy comes.  We need to carry it every day.  It begins with the seed of faith.  David was willing to take the blame for something that was not his fault.  Blame has no honour.  When there is honour, everyone wants to share in it. It is not easy to take the blame when it is our fault, much less when it is not our fault. To be misunderstood, misjudged, falsely accused – how we face up to these situations reveals what is in us.  Praise affected David and Saul in two totally different ways.  All victory belongs to God.  Defeats are ours.  I Samuel 24:4, "Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul's robe privily."  Afterward, David's heart smote him.  David's heart was sensitive.  He didn't touch Saul's flesh or put a scratch on him and yet his heart smote him.  Have a heart that is sensitive to little things.  It is like taking care of the "pence" and the "pounds" will take care of themselves.  A good conscience is a conscience towards God of what is right and wrong.  David was surrounded by men that day that encouraged him to do the wrong thing.  I Samuel 24:4, "And the men of David said unto him, 'Behold the day of which the Lord said unto thee, 'Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand.''"  Sometimes we tend to read between the lines and imagine God is working when He is not, that is very dangerous.  God never delivered Saul into the hand of David to slay him.  We need to be sensitive to the Spirit's teaching.  David was humble enough to listen to Abigail.  It is not enough to listen only but salvation lies in changing.  David divided equally the spoils with those that stayed and those that had gone to battle.  He had a heart with fairness that respected each one in their place, I Samuel 30:24.

II Samuel 12:5-7, when Nathan spoke to David, David had the right attitude towards sin.  We need to have the right attitude towards sin in our lives and not only in the lives of others.  It is easy to have the right attitude towards sin when we see it in the lives of others.  Everything is tolerated in the world today - no right or wrong.  It is not so in the Kingdom of God.  We see in Revelation the Church at Thyatira that they were tolerating what God hated. We need to hate sin and love the sinner.  Keep our heart with all diligence.