I want to tell you a story. And like all good stories, this one involves some donkeys.
There was a really wealthy guy whose donkeys wandered off. So he says to his son Saul, “Hey take a servant and go find my donkeys.” After searching for a bit, Saul and the servant can't find the donkeys anywhere, so one of them has this genius idea; let's go ask the prophet where the donkeys are.
So they head into town and the first guy they meet is the prophet Samuel, only they don't know that it's him. They ask Samuel, "Hey do you know where the prophet lives?" and the first thing Samuel says is, "I'm the prophet, and the donkeys you are looking for have been found, now go up to the worship house, we'll eat and in the morning I'll tell you the secrets of your heart. P.S. the hope of all of Israel lies in you".
How's that for random? What are the odds? You are looking for the prophet, you "accidentally" find him and he tells you the answer to the question you haven't even asked yet. And on top of that, not only does he invite you for dinner but he gives you this incredible prophetic word: you are the chosen one to rescue Israel. Boom!
Now pay close attention to Saul's response:
“But I’m only from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my family is the least important of all the families of that tribe! Why are you talking like this to me?” - 1Sam. 9:21
He's pretty much responding like you and I would if a prophet called us out and told us we were going to be the next President of the United States. But the prophet is smart; rather than providing an explanation, he offers a demonstration. He takes him to dinner.
Then Samuel brought Saul and his servant into the hall and placed them at the head of the table, honoring them above the thirty special guests. Samuel then instructed the cook to bring Saul the finest cut of meat, the piece that had been set aside for the guest of honor. So the cook brought in the meat and placed it before Saul. “Go ahead and eat it,” Samuel said. “I was saving it for you even before I invited these others!” So Saul ate with Samuel that day. - 1Sam. 9:22-24
This is a very big deal. The prophet of God has put on a feast of honor and guess who is seated in the special place of honor? Saul is. The prophet is saying, "I - speaking on behalf of God - am telling you the truth. Get used to honor because it's the destiny of your life."
As if that's not enough, the next morning Samuel anoints Saul and tells him very plainly, "Look you are going to be king." Samuel then gives ten different signs that will happen to confirm the prophetic word. In no uncertain terms he is basically saying, "Dude - I know this is hard to understand, but this is the real deal, you are going to be king."
That same day all ten of those signs were fulfilled.
Now pay close attention to what happens when Saul returns home. His uncle is all, "Where have you been? Where are the donkeys? Is everything okay?" and Saul says this:
“We were looking for the donkeys, but we couldn’t find them. So we went to Samuel to ask him where they were.”
“Oh? And what did he say?” his uncle asked.
“He told us that the donkeys had already been found,” Saul replied. But Saul didn’t tell his uncle what Samuel said about the kingdom. - 1Sam. 10:13-16
Wait, what now? Did you catch that part? Saul didn't tell his uncle what Samuel said about the kingdom. I mean, no big deal, he just got the most amazing prophetic word of his life but he said nothing. Now don't get me wrong, sometimes not saying anything and just processing is the right course of action. Perhaps he needed a few days to let it all sink in, but I don't think that's the case here.
Why didn’t Saul say anything about the incredible things that had just happened? He’s just had the most spectacular encounter with a prophet of God, had ten amazing signs fulfilled and probably the most incredible prophetic words ever - king over Israel - and all he tells his uncle about is the donkeys? What’s going on here?
I think at the root of this issue is a heart that doesn’t believe God. And that's a problem.
Some time later, Samuel calls all the people of Israel together so that he can announce to the people who the King of Israel is going to be. He does it in a peculiar fashion. Samuel draws lots out; first the tribes; next the families are drawn by lot and finally a son is chosen from the family. In each case it is Saul's tribe, Saul's family and then Saul himself. This is all before the whole nation. Saul's destiny is now public knowledge.
On what should be the most incredible day of Saul's life he is no where to be found. No one knows where he is, so the prophet asks God, "Where is Saul?" and the Lord replies, "Pssst, he's hiding. In the luggage."
It's incredible! Despite this call, despite the signs that confirm the call, despite having the call confirmed before the whole nation, Saul is found hiding from his destiny.
You can go on and read about Saul and his Kingdom but I'll skip to the end: it doesn’t go so well... and it’s all rooted in the actions and heart attitude we see demonstrated here. He didn't agree with God about who he was. And because he didn't see himself the way God saw him, he didn’t accept his call and he missed the destiny the Lord had prepared for him.
Later in his life we read a very interesting thing. The Lord gave Saul a very clear instruction and yet Saul didn't do it. When the Lord confronts Saul, through the prophet Samuel, he says this:
And Samuel told him, “Although you may think little of yourself, are you not the leader of the tribes of Israel? The LORD has anointed you king of Israel. And the LORD sent you on a mission and told you, ‘Go and completely destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, until they are all dead.’ Why haven’t you obeyed the LORD? Why did you rush for the plunder and do what was evil in the LORD’s sight?” - 1Sam. 15:16-19
Did you read that?
"Although you may think little of yourself, are you not the leader of the tribes of Israel?"
Saul thought little of himself... he never embraced who God said he was. As a result he wasn’t thinking or acting like a leader. He wasn’t behaving like a king. The pattern of hiding from his destiny that began right at the start is still present and will later become his downfall. If you do not come into alignment with who God says you are, you will not reach your destiny. If you do not believe what God has said about you, every other person you meet will be a threat to your identity (as we see later when Saul meets David).
Again it’s not what you think - it’s what God thinks... and you have to align your thinking with him.
Let's switch gears for a second, and move over to the New Testament and read about another Saul. While our first Saul started out well and ended terribly, this Saul starts out terribly but ends well.
When we meet him in Acts 9, we read that he was eager to kill all the Christians and was uttering threats with every breath. Nice guy huh? He's on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians and most likely torture and kill them. While on the journey he falls to the ground because of a bright light from heaven and the audible of voice of God. He is then struck blind.
After this incredible encounter, he continues on his way to Damascus, led by the hand by his traveling companions. Meanwhile, in another part of the city, a guy by the name of Ananias has a vision and the Lord speaks to him audibly:
“Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.” - Acts 9:11-12
Naturally Ananias isn't too excited about his new mission. The news of Saul has reached him and he converses with the Lord about this.
But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.” - Acts 9:15-16
So the Lord gives Ananias this incredible prophetic word for Saul, that's he's going to use this terrorist as an instrument to expand the Kingdom of God to the rest of the world, to kings and to the nation of Israel. So Ananias does what the Lord says; off he goes and find Saul, lays hands on him and in accordance with the vision, the Lord restores Saul's sight.
How's that for an experience? You are struck to the ground, blinded by light, hear the audible voice of God and then someone comes and heals you (directed by God himself) and gives you an incredible prophetic word about standing before kings! Outrageous. But in contrast to the Saul we read about earlier, there is no hiding with this Saul. On the contrary, it says that Saul took the word of the Lord seriously:
... immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is indeed the Son of God!” - Acts 9:20
Saul immediately fulfilled the word. Saul believed God. He believed God about his call and about his destiny. That belief changed Saul's identity. Further, as his agreement with this new identity grew, so did his anointing:
All who heard him were amazed. “Isn’t this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem?” they asked. “And didn’t he come here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests?”
Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn’t refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. - Acts 9:21-22
With a new identity came a new name. Saul became Paul and then went on to write major portions of the New Testament. And in his writing, it's very clear that Paul knew who God said he was and what he was called to. Simply read the opening line of many of his letters. Here's a few that illustrate what I am pointing at:
This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News. - Rom. 1:1
This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. - 1Cor. 1:1
This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. - 2Cor. 1:1
This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead. - Gal. 1:1
This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. - Eph. 1:1
This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus... - Col. 1:1
This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to proclaim faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives. - Titus 1:1
After reading his letters, you could ask, "Paul, why do you teach with such authority?" To which he would simply reply, "Because I have been sent."
Both Sauls had incredible destinies. Both Sauls had incredible encounters with God. Both Sauls were told who they were... but only one of them believed God.
Graham Cooke is one of my favorite teachers, I remember when he was here at Grace Center a few years ago. He was teaching about identity and said this line, "God meets us with who we are, and we meet him with who we are not". That struck a chord with me, because unfortunately, that's been my default reaction. Our first response is to say no.
Not believing who you are in God is very common - it’s alarming to hear you have a destiny. But read the scriptures and you'll find you are in the company of great men and women. Moses argued with God five times about his call, Sarai laughed upon hearing her contribution to world history, Gideon was alarmed that God called him a mighty warrior, Jeremiah, upon being told he was a prophet to the nations responded that he was just a boy and didn't even know how to talk!
My wife AJ was a suicidal, anorexic, insecure, bundle of despair who was filled with hopelessness. Yet time after time, prophets would call her out as a speaker of truth to all nations. She didn’t see any evidence of those words being true for eight years. Yet slowly but surely, she aligned her thinking with God and chose to believe she was who he said she was. Having spent the last ten years traveling to many nations around the world and touching the lives of thousands of people, she can now see what God was pointing at!
Let me be clear: not believing the call of God on your life is common - but continuing to disbelieve God is sin. You are calling him a liar. You will not be who you are meant to be until you agree with God about who you are. In every transition of my life, as God reveals more of my destiny I have worked hard to overcome this. It's not easy, and in the past it's taken years, more recently months and most recently days to agree with God. One day, the Lord said to me, "Alyn, if you don’t know who you are, you will rob people of the greatness I've put inside you."
Imagine the greatest songwriters of our time, thinking they couldn’t write songs. Consider the greatest authors of our time living in denial or the greatest film makers thinking, "Nobody would want to see my movies...". It would be an empty world we live in if we were devoid of song, literature and the arts.
God does not have an identity crisis. Neither should we. The reason you have to come into your destiny is because you are not already in it. Yet that's a basic step that so many of us miss. Transitioning into your destiny always starts with agreement with God. Ask God who you are and what you're called to. It's not enough that we know, we have to believe.
Jesus said, “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.” If you do not agree with what God has said about you, you will be spending your time divided. You have to find out what he says about you, you have to agree with those words and then you have to live according to those words. If you don’t, you'll be like the Israelites. You will go around and around in the desert for forty years never reaching your inheritance.
So here's some next steps:
- Still yourself. Quiet yourself down.
- Review your prophetic words.
- Ask God, “What is my destiny?”
- Think, speak and behave accordingly.
- Arrest all contrary thoughts.
Seriously, don't delay. Set aside some time this week and be with God. Grab your journal and still yourself. Peace is the potting soil of revelation. In the hustle and bustle of our lives, we've lost the art of stillness..
Secondly, go study the prophecies you have been given. It's important that you see your life as God sees it. Go dig them out, write them out, read them, pray them back to God. If you don't have any prophetic words, ask God for some.
While you're at it, ask God a very deliberate question, "What is my destiny? What have you called me to?" He loves to answer questions like that! Remind yourself that it's his good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
The fourth step is the hardest. You have to believe it. You have to live as though it's true. You have to train your self to think, behave and act like someone who lives in your destiny. You have to get comfortable living at the level of your calling.
And then lastly, you really do have to arrest any thoughts that are contrary to your destiny. I can't afford to have any thoughts about myself that aren't God's thoughts. God doesn't have negative thoughts towards you. So if you are thinking negative thoughts about yourself, stop it.
Your destiny and your life is too exciting not to live well. Align yourself with God, let him excite you about what's to come and believe him. Both Sauls would agree with me.
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