* Don’t judge others by appearances alone
Saul was tall and handsome; he was an impressive-looking man. Samuel may have been trying to find someone who looked like Saul to be Israel’s next king, but God warned him against judging by appearance alone. When people judge by outward appearance, they may overlook quality individuals who lack the particular physical qualities society currently admires. Appearance doesn’t reveal what people are really like or what their true value is.
Fortunately, God judges by faith and character, not appearances. And because only God can see on the inside, only he can accurately judge people. Most people spend hours each week maintaining their outward appearance; they should do even more to develop their inner character. While everyone can see your face, only you and God know what your heart really looks like. What steps are you taking to improve your heart’s attitude? (NLT)
1 Samuel 16:7 – But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t make decisions the way you do! People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at a person’s thoughts and intentions.”
* Lying to make yourself look good
When you want to please or impress someone, it is tempting to lie to make yourself look good. Ahab’s 400 prophets did just that, telling Ahab only what he wanted to hear. They were then rewarded for making Ahab happy. Micaiah, however, told the truth and got arrested. Obeying God doesn’t always protect us from evil consequences. Obedience may, in fact, provoke them. But it is better to suffer from man’s displeasure than from God’s wrath (Matthew 10:281). If you are ridiculed for being honest, remember that this can be a sign that you are indeed doing what is right in God’s eyes (Matthew 5:10-122; Romans 8:17, 35-393). (NLT)
2 Chronicles 18:5-16 – So King Ahab summoned his prophets, four hundred of them, and asked them, “Should we go to war against Ramoth-gilead or not?” They all replied, “Go ahead, for God will give you a great victory!”
But Jehoshaphat asked, “Isn’t there a prophet of the Lord around, too? I would like to ask hin the same question.” King Ahab replied, “There is still one prophet of the Lord, but I hate him. He never prophesies anything but bad news for me! His name is Micaiah son of Imlah.” “You shouldn’t talk like that,” Jehoshaphat said. “Let’s hear what he has to say.”
So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, “Quick! Go and get Micaiah son of Imlah.”
King Ahab of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah, dressed in their royal robes, were sitting on thrones at the threshing floor near the gate of Samaria. All of Ahab’s prophets were prophesying there in front of them. One of them, Zedekiah son of Kenaanah, made some iron horns and proclaimed, “This is what the Lord says: With these horns you will gore the Arameans to death!”
All the other prophets agreed. “Yes,” they said, “go up to Ramoth-gilead and be victorious. The Lord will give you a glorious victory!”
Meanwhile, the messenger who went to get Micaiah said to him, “Look, all the prophets are promising victory for the king. Be sure that you agree with them and promise success.”
But Micaiah replied, “As surely as the Lord lives, I will say only what my God tells me to say.”
When Micaiah arrived before the king, Ahab asked him, “Micaiah, should we go to war against Ramoth-gilead or not?” And Micaiah replied, “Go right ahead! It will be a glorious victory!”
But the king replied sharply, “How many times must I demand that you speak only the truth when you speak for the Lord?” So Micaiah told him, “In a vision I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep without a shepherd. And the Lord said, ‘Their master has been killed. Send them home in peace.’”
* Pharisees’ concern about appearances
The Pharisees constantly tried to trap Jesus, and they thought his association with these “lowlifes” was the perfect opportunity. They were more concerned with their own appearance of holiness than with helping people, with criticism than encouragement, with outward respectability than practical help. But God is concerned for all people, including the sinful and hurting ones. The Christian life is not a popularity contest! Following Jesus’ example, we should share the Good News with the poor, immoral, lonely, and outcast, not just the rich, moral, popular, and powerful. (NLT)
Matthew 9:11-12 – The Pharisees were indignant. “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?” they asked his disciples.
When he heard this, Jesus replied, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.”
* Outer appearances versus inner appearances
Saul made another foolish statement, this time because he was more concerned about saving face than being right. To spare Jonathan’s life would require him to admit he had ac ted foolishly, an embarrassment for a king. Saul was really more interested in protecting his image than in enforcing his vow. Fortunately, the people came to Jonathan’s rescue. Don’t be like Saul. Admit your mistakes, and show that you are more interested in doing what is right than in looking good. (NLT)
1 Samuel 14:44-45 – “Yes, Jonathan,” Saul said, “you must die! May God strike me dead if you are not executed for this.”
But the people broke in and said to Saul, “Should Jonathan, who saved Israel today, die? Far from it! As surely as the Lord lives, not one hair on his head will be touched, for he has been used of God to do a mighty miracle today.” So the people rescued Jonathan, and he was not put to death.
* We work hard to keep our outward appearance attractive, but what is deep down in our heart (where others can’t see) is more important to God. What are you like inside? When people become Christians, God makes them different on the inside. He will continue the process of change inside them if they only ask. God wants us to have healthy thoughts and motives, not just healthy bodies. (NLT)
Matthew 15:16-20 – “Don’t you understand?” Jesus asked him. “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes out of the body. But evil words come from an evil heart and defile the person who says them. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all other sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands could never defile you and make you unacceptable to God!”
1 Matthew 10:28 – [Jesus said] “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill you. They can only kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
2 Jesus said to rejoice when we’re persecuted for our faith. Persecution can be good because (1) it takes our eyes off earthly rewards, (2) it strips away superficial belief, (3) it strengthens the faith of those who endure, and (4) our attitude through it serves as an example to others who follow. We can be comforted knowing that God’s greatest prophets were persecuted (Elijah, Jeremiah, Daniel). The fact that we are being persecuted proves that we have been faithful; faithless people would be unnoticed. In the future God will reward the faithful by receiving them into his eternal Kingdom, where there is no more persecution. (NLT)
Matthew 5:10-12 – [Jesus said] “God blesses those who are persecuted because they live for God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
“God blesses you when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted, too.”
3 Romans 8:17, 35-39 – And since we are his children, we will share his treasures—for everything God gives to his Son, Christ, is ours, too. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? (Even the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
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