A Date with the King

Sermons
Music
Blog

Welcome to the 14th of February – one of the most pressure-filled days of the calendar year. The shopping catastrophe that is Christmas, the overbearing attention that fills your birthday, and the anticlimactic New Year’s Eve don’t come close to the absurd demands we put on ourselves for that most hallowed of all romantic days of the year.

Valentine’s Day.

Couples better not forget it and must ensure they top previous years’ efforts, while singles run to their bedrooms, crank up the country music, and scrawl their hopes, fears, and dreams into brightly coloured journals in the hope that “Next year will be different!”

Forget the idea of the commercialisation of Valentine’s Day - the real horror is the unyielding weight of expectation that descends, only to abruptly collapse under the strain.

If only there was some way we could refocus our attention elsewhere – away from where we’ll celebrate, how much we’ll spend, what we’ll do, and how we will look.

If only there was someone who looked in to our hearts, and found us cringing under the spotlight of life’s expectations.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

Oh what blessed relief – what joyous surrender is the reminder that none of it matters. That beyond the superficial and transient nature of a single day set aside for “romance” there is a God who has lovingly cultivated a relationship for us where we can sink into the promise that we are loved, beyond measure, beyond our expectation, and most definitely beyond what we deserve.

Loved so much, in fact, that “God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” (Romans 5:8)

Christ’s death on the cross saves us from an eternity apart from our creator. A separation we brought on by our rebellion and idolatry. In Christ, God lived the life we could not live (the life without sin) and died the death we should have died (the death for sin).

But God did not only display His almighty love and sovereign control with the coming of His Son. The Old Testament is bursting with examples of God’s love intervening to work His mighty purpose in the lives of ordinary, nay, downright sinful human beings.

It may not look it on the surface, but the story of Esther is a perfect example of God taking the mistakes and failings of people who are prone to wander, and redeeming them all for His will. Mordecai and Esther purposefully hid her Jewish roots to increase her chances of survival in the harem of King Xerxes.

Instead of  honouring the values that marked the people of God Esther entered into 12 months of beauty treatment to create the perfect doll for Xerxes, which all came down to one sensual night with the king. While we cannot know for certain the thoughts and motivations behind her actions, one cannot help but imagine the strain that weighed on Esther’s mind over this period – the anxiety that must have welled up within her, the thoughts that drove her every day. Thoughts that ring eerily true for us today.

Eat perfect.

Look perfect.

Be perfect.

Have you ever felt that strain? Have you ever looked back over your actions to see your path slowly, but steadily, separate from the path God had set out for you? Hindsight is a wonderful thing, if we are willing to learn from it, but it can also be painful. What pain is experienced when we wander? What pain do we bring upon ourselves when we focus our lives, our every facet, on the outward appearance seen by the many, those who lust after the “perfect”, and which is only a small part of what God sees when He looks for us.

Xerxes was captivated by Esther – her beauty apparently so ensnaring that not only did he make her his wife, but immediately elevated her to queen. Heaven forfend that she had a lousy personality, or she may very well have joined Vashti in her exile.

Today’s reality is distressingly vulgar – the world defines beauty by external standards. We spend our lives choosing the right filter for our photos, the right status update to ensure our public identity is clear – hipster, nerd, beauty, go-getter, etc. We ignore the ever-present love of God in favour of our own self-image.

Qualities that matter – that are not only important in our own lives to God, but qualities that are the bedrock of interpersonal human relationships – are dismissed; character, Godliness, faithfulness, the fruits of the Spirit, all dropped by the wayside in favour of physical appearance alone.

So how can this Valentine’s Day be different?

Instead of letting the pressures of striving for human and physical perfection, instead of dismissing God and holding on to the fleeting immaterial, instead of a day representative of a thin veneer of outer beauty to the detriment of inner growth, why not use today to start stepping out with the Lord.

Again then, how can this Valentine’s Day be different?

Start focusing on inner beauty. Redirect your attention to growing your own heart, rather than the superficial and short-lived outer beauty. Instead of days and moneys spent on the outside redirect your time towards God – by praying, reading the Bible, getting into relationship and community with gospel-minded friends, and serving others. In this way we build up our relationship with God, encounter and deepen the love relationship that awaits us, and cultivate a spirit that serves others around us better.

More than ourselves, however, focus on the inner beauty of others. When we focus on one’s physical appearance, we automatically overlook the majority of people around us. But if a relationship is to succeed, beyond the first blush of romance, you want a person of character, godliness, maturity, wisdom, prayer, joy, and hope. A man or woman of God, vibrant in spirit and humble in attitude.

So this Valentine’s Day, whether you are single or in relationship, take some time to look at the beauty that really matters. Step into relationship with God, and seek what he looks for, look for the heart. 

By Guy Mason With Joshua S Hill

Author: Guy Mason
Published: 14 Feb 2014


Latest Posts:

  • Join the Team – Generations Pastor (Melbourne)

    Join the Team –…

  • Join the Team – Women’s Ministry Director (Melbourne)

    Join the Team –…

  • Join the Team – Training Director (Melbourne)

    Join the Team –…

  • Join the Team – City Kids Coordinator (West)

    Join the Team –…

  • Join the Team – City on a Hill Melbourne

    Join the Team –…

  • Join the Team – Services Director (West)

    Join the Team –…

  • Key Themes: Suffering

    Key Themes: Suffering

  • Key Themes: Poverty & Wealth

    Key Themes: Poverty…

  • Key Themes: Now & Tomorrow

    Key Themes: Now &…

  • Key Themes: Wisdom

    Key Themes: Wisdom

  • Key Themes: Faith & Works

    Key Themes: Faith…

  • Opportunity to Serve – Communications Coordinator Melbourne

    Opportunity to Serve…

  • Fasting: A Brief Introduction

    Fasting: A Brief…

  • Unlocking a New Room

    Unlocking a New Room

  • Join the Team – Many Rooms Kitchen Coordinator

    Join the Team –…

  • Opportunity to Serve – City Kids Team Leader

    Opportunity to Serve…

  • On Mission with Milene Tan

    On Mission with Milene…

  • On Mission with Kenneth Webb

    On Mission with Kenneth…

  • On Mission with Debbie Bognar

    On Mission with Debbie…

  • The Structure of Proverbs

    The Structure of…

  • City on a Hill Church Planting Fund

    City on a Hill Church…

  • His Story Our Story – Recap

    His Story Our Story…

  • 3 Tips for Reading Proverbs

    3 Tips for Reading…

  • Join the Team – Research Coordinator

    Join the Team –…

  • Why should we trust the Bible if it gets the origin of life so wrong? – Part III

    Why should we trust…

  • Why should we trust the Bible if it gets the origin of life so wrong? – Part II

    Why should we trust…

  • Why should we trust the Bible if it gets the origin of life so wrong? – Part I

    Why should we trust…

  • Tacos of Grace

    Tacos of Grace

  • City News September

    City News September

  • City News August

    City News August

  • Join the Team – Operations Director

    Join the Team –…

  • Welcome Dave Miers

    Welcome Dave Miers

  • City News July

    City News July

  • On Mission with Paul Distefano

    On Mission with Paul…

  • On Mission with Steve Murray

    On Mission with Steve…

  • On Mission with Rick Jordan

    On Mission with Rick…

  • Welcome Leighton Cantrill

    Welcome Leighton…

  • The Lost Art of Sorrow

    The Lost Art of Sorrow

  • Interview With Sam Wright, Pastor of Redemption Church

    Interview With Sam…

  • The Reality of Suffering and Evil

    The Reality of Suffering…

  • Join the Team – Accounts Coordinator

    Join the Team –…

  • The Attentive Life - Book Review

    The Attentive Life…

  • A Date with the King

    A Date with the King

  • Trusting the Grand Weaver

    Trusting the Grand…

  • City News February

    City News February

  • Songs of Summer II

    Songs of Summer II

  • City News January

    City News January

  • Generous – Quarterly Update

    Generous – Quarterly…

  • City News December

    City News December

  • Join the Team – Community Director

    Join the Team –…

  • Engage 2014

    Engage 2014

  • Planting with PlantED

    Planting with PlantED

  • Join the Team – Video Coordinator

    Join the Team –…

  • Introduction to Promises

    Introduction to Promises

  • Join the Team – XD-Ops

    Join the Team –…

  • City News November

    City News November

  • His Story Our Story – Photo Journal

    His Story Our Story…

  • Kirsty’s Story

    Kirsty’s Story

  • Pete’s Story

    Pete’s Story

  • Amy’s Story

    Amy’s Story

  • Surviving Same Sex Attraction as a Christian

    Surviving Same Sex…

  • Generous Campaign

    Generous Campaign

  • Why Bother With Predestination?

    Why Bother With Predestination?

  • City News October

    City News October

  • This Is (True) Greatness

    This Is (True) Greatness

  • The Call to Mission

    The Call to Mission

  • What About the Warnings?

    What About the Warnings?

  • The Peril of Porn

    The Peril of Porn

  • Dating For The Glory Of God

    Dating For The Glory…

  • City News September 2013

    City News September…

  • Adoption: The Gospel Made Visible

    Adoption: The Gospel…

  • You Knit Me Together

    You Knit Me Together

  • Working For God

    Working For God

  • Australia – The Results Are In

    Australia – The…

  • Thorn in the Flesh

    Thorn in the Flesh

  • Tough Questions

    Tough Questions

  • Good Grief

    Good Grief

  • An Honourable Office

    An Honourable Office

  • City News July 2013

    City News July 2013

  • Faith and Work

    Faith and Work

  • We Are Family

    We Are Family

  • WWJD: Responding To Begging

    WWJD: Responding…

  • Work. Rest. Play - Part II

    Work. Rest. Play…

  • City News - May

    City News - May

  • Salvation Happens To Us, Not By Us

    Salvation Happens…

  • Doves & Snakes

    Doves & Snakes

  • Planting & Pregnancy

    Planting & Pregnancy

  • Lest We Forget

    Lest We Forget

  • Introduction to 1 Peter

    Introduction to 1…

  • Easter 2013 – Photo Journal

    Easter 2013 – Photo…

  • More Than Gold

    More Than Gold

  • Join The Team – Music Director

    Join The Team –…

  • Jessica’s Story

    Jessica’s Story

  • Changes

    Changes

  • Andy’s Story

    Andy’s Story

  • Work. Rest. Play - Part I

    Work. Rest. Play…

  • Join The Team – Biblical Living Pastor

    Join The Team –…

  • Eat, Drink & Be Merry Melbourne!

    Eat, Drink &…

  • City News – March

    City News – March

  • The Affections of Our Hearts & The Idols We Worship II

    The Affections of…