Father God, I present myself before your magnificent presence and always in submission before your Holy Spirit, and expressing my gratitude for all of the blessings you have bestowed. I thank you for life. I thank you for health. I thank you for family. I thank you for being your child. I just thank you, for being comforted each time I am in distress, knowing that you are always there and are already making a way of escape. I thank you for my pastor and church family, and what they stand for. I thank you for surrounding me with spiritual people. I thank you and pray that I never fall from your grace. I pray this morning, that others are able to experience this same type of happiness. I pray that their homes are in order, and that all is at peace. I pray that their health is not failing. I pray that their minds are clear from all obstruction that would hinder them from worshipping you. I pray oh God, that you be a God to them, like how you are a God to me. I pray a blessing on the reader of this message. I pray a blessing on them, that they will receive it in love, and make the necessary changes to better their lives. I pray that if they do not know Jesus, that they will have an open mind and heart to receive the love that He has displayed by way of taking our place on the cross. Father we love you, we adore you, we honor and give you praise, and we pray this prayer in the matchless name of your son Jesus. Amen.
The actual saying says that you cannot judge a book by its cover. We are all familiar with this. A book may have the most attracting cover, yet when we attempt to read it, it just doesn’t grab us, and we put it down as quickly as we picked it up. Or, when we are forced to read a book, normally when looking at its cover, we would not have been attracted to pick it up, yet once we begin reading it, we may see ourselves hypnotized by the content. The phrase suggests that in order for anyone to make an intelligent assessment regarding anything, a deeper look must be performed, and not a mere glance of the surface.
I am reminded when my wife and I used to watch American Idol. We were really attracted to the responses that people made when they were rejected, or how some of the stranger characters of the nation make it to audition. It became recreation for us. One day in 2003, a scrawny, young white male stood before Simon and Randy (not sure if Paula was there) in an attempt to be the next American Idol. His appearance was not fashionably acceptable in most circles, and he wore glasses which fit the stereotype of a nerd. I remember them asking why he was there, and he said he was going to be the next American Idol. They asked him if he believed it, and he said yes, or at least he will come in second place. My wife and I were like “yeah right.” They asked him what song was he going to sing, and he selected “Always and Forever” by Luther Vandross. At that time, I could not wait to hear him make a fool of himself. Here you have this white, nerdy guy, who seems to have no style, suggests singing a song from one of the best male black R&B singers. I felt I was in for a treat. When this young man opened his mouth, and the sounds that flowed from his vocal cords, pass through the television speakers and into our ears, our mouths could not stay closed. It would have been fitting for one foot to fit in my mouth, while the other kicks my rear end. This young man could sing. We all know him as Clay Aiken.
Has that happened to you before? I am sure it has. What is sad, I did the same thing again and again, later on down the road. One would think I would have learned my lesson. There is a story in the Bible that teaches us regarding this. In the book of 1 Samuel, when King Saul was coming to the end of his reign over Israel, God sent the prophet Samuel to the house of Jesse for Saul’s replacement. The eldest son was brought before Samuel, and the prophet thought that this may be him, but the Lord said otherwise. The bible states “But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1Sa 16:7) Seven sons were brought before the prophet and they were all rejected. When the prophet asked if there is another, Jesse said, there is the youngest who is keeping the sheep. Jesse did what people do now. He was told that a king would be chosen of one of his sons, and he brought all the strapping and handsome sons. That was what his (Jesse) thoughts of a king should be. Men look at flesh, but God looks at the spirit (heart). When David came, immediately God said, "Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!" (1Sa 16:12)
We have to get to a point where we reject our flesh and connect more with the spirit. Time after time, we fail to receive blessing that we’ve petitioned the Lord for, because the deliverer of the blessings does not meet our physical standard. Women pray for a husband, and God sends the man who would love them the way they should be loved and is acceptable to God, but he is refused because he does not look like he belongs in magazines. We are tired of our jobs, because we feel there is more that we can do with our gifts, and an opportunity comes our way, where the salary is a bit lower, but we turn it down, not knowing within 6 months we would be the head person in charge making double than what we are making now. I was used to hearing black preachers and being a member of black churches. My current pastor is white, and preaches better than some black pastors I’ve listened to. If I had judged him and my church family based on racial makeup, my wife and I would be missing out on using the gifts that the Lord blessed us with and making a difference in people’s lives.
Family, flesh and spirit will always be at odds, and when dealing with people and situations, we must allow God to direct us because He will be able to see what we do not see, due to us pacifying the flesh. The next time we see ourselves rejecting someone or a situation based on what is on the surface, take a pause and remember this lesson. Can there be something meaningful, deeper within? Amen.