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3 steps forward, 2 steps back0504L

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3 steps forward, 2 steps back                                      I Samuel 16:6,7

Pablo Picasso was the Spanish cubist artist who sketched, sculpted, and painted his way into prominence in the early twentieth century.  On the rare occasion, he painted live portraits.  One such instance was his painting of Gertrude Stein, one of America’s foremost authors.

Gertrude Stein was the writer that penned, “A rose is a rose is a rose.”  Our attention is not on her today, but on the encounter she had with Picasso.  During the winter of 1905-06, Gertrude sat for the exceptional portrait to be painted by the master. Ninety times she sat before the canvas.  Ninety times, Picasso grew frustrated.  Finally, in frustration he said, “I can’t see you any longer when I look at you.

He packed up his materials- brushes, paints, and canvases and returned to Spain.  There he continued to work on the portrait.  In the fall, the painting was revealed.

Onlookers were surprised.  Gertrude Stein was a young woman when the master painted her.  Yet, the face staring from the canvas was that of a mature woman with a somber face.

Eventually, a lone voice courageously remarked to Picasso that Gertrude didn’t look like her portrait.  He replied simply, “She will one day.”  Yes, as time passed Gertrude became the image of Picasso’s portrait.

Any artist can paint what is.  Good artists can paint what once was.



Today, we are all partially-completed canvases.  My prayer is that He will use my words as brushes to allow you to see yourself not as you are, not as you were, but as you will be.

It’s graduation season.  I see the similarities between the bright futures of our graduates and every one of us here.  We all have something to look forward to if we believe that what we have went through thus far has prepared us for better things in the future.  Our potential spiritually is far greater than any other area of our life.

There are people that will waste their life, they will make wrong decisions that will affect them forever.

It is not so with God.  I’m talking to people that reached a plateau in God, you successfully completed one level with God, but then something went wrong.  You sit here today wondering if you can ever attain to where you once were – you can go beyond!

I encourage you today, and remind you that wherever you are coming from, you can go on.

If you don’t have any goals, you’ll never reach them.  Some people don’t try to move forward in God because they feel they’ve already blown it.  God sees you as you can be!

In our text we find the prophet Samuel getting a lesson in how God chooses leaders.  God doesn’t see what you see.  Even better, He loves us in spite of what He sees.

Jesse didn’t even consider David, and Samuel already had the new king picked out.

Your past actions do not affect God’s attention on you.  David had already killed the lion and the bear before he was anointed.  That didn’t impress anybody.

A loser without direction, I drifted aimlessly

On the backside of a place called nowhere, forgotten by humanity,

When you talked about potential, you did not refer to me

Or the life I lived just yesterday, before the Lord found me.


He saw not what I was, He saw what I could be

When He reached His hand to where I was, He took a chance on me,

When all He had to hope for was just a possibility,

Still He saw not what I was, He saw what I could be.

Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.

We see the failures, but God sees the finish.

We see the present, but God sees the future!

David, you’re so special; you’re different than me.  If you had gone through what I’ve had to live through,

If you had done what I’ve done, you couldn’t sing a song.  You just have all the right breaks!

Fast forward a few chapters – is this the same David? He’s an adulterer, a murderer, and a hypocrite!

Psalm 51 records his prayer of repentance.

We see God gently dealing with him in spite of his sin and deception.  It’s a good thing to feel remorse, to feel conviction, to feel sorry, and to repent for what you’ve done.  When we draw near to God we become aware of our shortcomings.  He’s not just there to point out the problems, He’s there to help you get through them.

That’s one reason folks move away from God.  They aren’t doing right, and God makes them uncomfortable.

In the dim light of our lives we can deceive ourselves, but when the light of the world illuminates our soul, its so that surgery can be done.

Going back to a day when our Lord walked the dusty paths of life, we find Him near the village of Capernaum.  Along the shores of Galilee Jesus happened upon a young man fishing.  Just what did Jesus see in Simon Peter?

An ambitious, aggressive entrepreneur that owned several boats and had people working for him, he was a good catch.  But the Scripture records some awful things about Peter.  Yes, he was the one that jumped out of the boat to walk on water, yes he was the one that had the revelation of how Jesus was, but he was also the one that tried to cut off the ear of the attacker, and he was the one that denied the Lord.

God made promises to Peter – Luke 16:15-19 that he now doubted were ever true.  But God didn’t!

It’s also in the Word of God that we see ourselves as we can be.

In the beginning, God’s word brought light from darkness.  The proclaimed word does the same.

It is the preached word of God that brings light, life, and liberty.

Witness Ezekiel in his vision of the valley of dry bones – when he preached God moved.

God took the ruins of the past and raised it to the pride of the future.

Rocking- Momentum- go backward to get forward

In historical references to seamanship, we find crews “kedging” on the anchor.  A kedge anchor is used when a ship is grounded or found in turbulent seas.  Sailors will row the kedge anchor as far as they can from the ship in the general direction they wish to move the ship.  They drop the kedge anchor into the sea.  Once the anchor finds purchase on the bottom, the sailors on board winch their way towards the anchor. 

We don’t normally think of moving towards an anchor.  The anchor represents the past.  It holds us back.  Sometimes, however, the anchor is our future.  We move towards it.  In especially turbulent times, we need to pull ourselves into the future with the anchor of past revelation.  The past then becomes the only means into the future.

Ephesians 2 – proof of his grace

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