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Fourth Sunday in Lent: 1 Samuel 16:1-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41

Don’t settle for “second-best”.
‘Samuel did what the Lord commanded’ (1 Samuel 16:4). Real obedience comes from ‘the heart’. It is more than just ‘keeping up appearances’ (1 Samuel 16:7). ‘The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart’- This is something we must never forget!’
‘It’s the presence of Your Spirit, Lord, we need’ (Songs of Fellowship, 256) - This is the lesson we must learn from the stories of Saul and David. The great difference between the two men is summed up in 1 Samuel 16:13-14: ‘the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David... the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul’.
David exerted a good influence upon Saul (1 Samuel 16:23). Sadly, however, Saul’s best days were behind him. He was only a shadow of what he could have become if he had chosen to become ‘a man after God’s own heart’ (1 Samuel 16:13-14).
Don’t settle for second best when you can have God’s very best!

Jesus Christ is God’s very best.
Jesus Christ has ‘tasted death for everyone’ (Hebrews 2:9). Now, through Him, salvation is proclaimed to ‘the congregation’, to ‘the ends of the earth’ to ‘future generations’ (Psalm 22:22, 27, 30). Jesus Christ, ‘the same yesterday, today and for ever’, proclaims salvation to the great ‘congregation’, drawn from ‘every tribe and language and people and nation’ (Hebrews 13:8; 2:12; Revelation 5:9).
Jesus Christ has passed ‘through the valley of the shadow of death’ for us (Psalm 23:4). Now, we rejoice in Him, our Shepherd of love - (a) the Good Shepherd who died for us (John 10:11); (b) the Great Shepherd who was raised for us (Hebrews 13:20-21); (c) The Chief Shepherd who is coming again for us (1 Peter 5:4). He restores us. He keeps us from ’straying like sheep’. He leads us ‘in paths of righteousness’ (Psalm 23:3; 1 Peter 2:25).
For God’s people, there is a glorious eternal destiny: ‘I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever’ (Psalm 23:6). We ‘receive this blessing from the Lord,...the God of our salvation’ (Psalm 24:5).
There is only one answer to the question, ‘Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? - Jesus Christ ‘shall stand in His holy place’. No one else has ‘clean hands and a pure heart’- no one else but Jesus. He is the One who receives ‘blessing’ from the Lord - and He gives it to us (Psalm 24:3-5)!
How do we receive His blessing? - We must open our hearts ‘that the King of glory may come in’ (Psalm 24:7, 9). How can ‘the Lord, strong and mighty’ live in me? How can I receive His resurrection power? Jesus says, ‘I stand at the door and knock, if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in’ (Psalm 24:8; Ephesians 1:19-20; Revelation 3:20).

Make a new beginning with Christ.
God wants us to ‘grow up in every way into Christ’ (Ephesians 4:15). We are to ‘walk in love’ (Ephesians 5:2). We are to live a life which is ‘pleasing to the Lord’ (Ephesians 5:10).
It is so easy for us to settle for something less than God’s very best. We settle down into a state of spiritual complacency.
What does God have to say about this? - ‘Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God’ (Ephesians 4:30).
He gives us His wake-up call: ‘Awake, O sleeper…’ (Ephesians 5:14). God says to us, ‘Awake, awake, put on your strength… Shake yourself from the dust, arise’ (Isaiah 52:1-2).
Have you become ‘lukewarm’? - ‘Be zealous and repent’.
Christ says, ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him’ (Revelation 3:16, 19-20).
What will you say to Him? - ‘Come into my heart, Lord Jesus. Come in today. Come in to stay’.

Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.
Empowered by God, Jesus gives sight to the blind man (John 9:3, 6-7).
‘The Pharisees’ hear the man’s testimony (John 9:15). ‘Some of’ them reject the Lord (John 9:16, 24). There will always be those who refuse to believe in the saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ. They will pour scorn on those who have come to know the Lord.
The man gives his testimony: ‘One thing I know... I was blind, now I see’ (John 9:25). The Pharisees continue to fire questions at him (John 9:26).
He puts the most challenging question to them: ‘Do you too want to become His disciples?’ (John 9:27).
They hurl insults at him (John 9:28).
Fools attack what they don’t understand. The more they rage, the more they show their folly.
We say, ‘Lord, I believe’, and our spiritual ‘eyes’ are opened (John 9:38; 2 Corinthians 4:6).
Don’t be ‘blind’, despising the believer and the Saviour (John 9:39-40; 2 Corinthians 4:4).

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