What We Need

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Today’s post took me awhile to read into, sorry its so late.

Any who, I finished reading 2 Samuel today. I was reading, trying to look for another trait of David’s to talk about. However nothing was coming up that I hadn’t already talked about. Then it came to me. A trait that brings it all together!

From where we left off in the story, a war breaks out between Israel and the Ammonites. During this war, David fell for a married woman, who became pregnant. He then had her husband killed in battle, after several attempts to hide what they had done. Their son dies as punishment for what David had done. Then David’s children start being all dramatic with each other (including a rape) which climaxes to Absalom rebelling against David. Absalom devised a secret plan to overthrow his father and become king. Once David hears of this, him and his family leave Jerusalem in order to survive the rebellion. The whole ordeal builds up to Absalom’s gruesome death (2 Samuel 18:14). David then begins to mourn the loss of his son, until he decides it is time to return to Jerusalem.

This is where we find the final trait of the Heart Man, forgiveness. In chapter 19, verses 18-43 are filled with instances of people asking David for forgiveness. But its not the same forgiveness when children accidentally spill you drink and they say “sorry”. Rather this is an example of God’s forgiveness. Everyone that asks David for forgiveness receives it, and is welcomed back to Israel.

True forgiveness is something that we don’t see anymore in today’s world. Most of the time we see “I’ll forgive you when you do ‘this’ for me.” That’s not the way God is, its not the way David was, and its not the way Jesus taught us to be. When Peter asked Jesus about forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35), Jesus told a parable about a master and his servant. The servant owed his master 10,000 talents (that’s roughly 750,000 pounds of gold or silver!) but the master chose to forgive him completely.

That’s how forgiveness works in God’s world, you ask for it and its yours! You will still have to face the consequences of your actions, but God is no longer holding it against you. So this is how we should be with each other. In the Lord’s Prayer is the phrase “And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” This means that God will forgive as we forgive, but also that we must forgive how He forgives. This is hard, because as broken, sinful creatures we want to hold on to grudges and hurt the people who hurt us. I think Matthew West summed it up very well in his song Forgiveness, “Show me how to do the impossible”.

A little bit of forgiveness can change you and the world. Most likely, you are the only one who remembers what has happened, so just forgive and be done with it. As a Heart Man, I know I have to work on forgiveness. I know its not easy, but I encourage you to work on it as well.

Another song about forgiveness

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Having a Thankful Heart

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Today’s reading is 2 Samuel 7.

In this chapter of 2 Samuel, David realizes that he lives in an elaborate palace and the Ark of the Covenant is in a tent. His wish is to build God a much more prestigious dwelling place that he has. David consults the prophet Nathan, who took over after Samuel’s death, about his plan. Nathan tells him to go ahead and plan. God then delivers a message to Nathan, who in turn gives it to David. Nathan’s vision reveals that David will not be the one to build the temple, even though he will plan it. God also promises to make a “dynasty of kings” (7:11 NLT) from David. Then also promises to rise up one of David’s descendants to be His son (Jesus Christ anybody?!?!?!?!?!). David’s reaction is to offer up a prayer of thanksgiving, thanking God for His promise.

How often do you give God thanks? Only at church during the “thanksgiving” section? Never? At every meal? Sometimes we aren’t even giving God thanks when we are giving Him thanks. Some of our thanksgiving practices have become rote, and people don’t realize what they are saying. For instance take the Doxology:

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above, you heavenly hosts
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
Amen”

This chorus is filled with thanking God for everything for all His blessings. Thanking God is important, because if we do not give God the glory, than we sin. Remember the second time Moses struck a rock to bring out water for the Israelites (Numbers 20:1-13)? Since Moses did not glorify God, he was unable to enter the promised land.

But what about the times when God doesn’t bless us. I think of a scene from the movie Facing the Giants. When the coach decides that his football team is going to play football for God he gives them a simple mantra “When we win, we praise Him; When we lose, we praise Him!” I think that this has an equal meaning in all our lives, because honestly, we are all dust until God gives us the breath of life. So it is because of God we even have a life that times of trouble can happen in. So we give thanks for life and remember Psalm 23 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me;…” (Psalm 23:4a NASB).

So I encourage you to remember to give God thanks everyday. Its especially hard during the times of trouble, but it is still important. It is also important to remember who gave you blessings. So thank God for the good times. David had a thankful heart, and remembered to give thanks when necessary, so this is something that we must learn on our way to becoming a Heart Man.

Undignified

I will dance
I will sing
To be mad
For my King
Nothing Lord is hindering
This passion in my soul!

Today I only read one chapter before I found today’s post! I think that’s pretty awesome. Today comes from 2 Samuel 6. Here David decides that it is time to move the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. If you don’t remember, the Philistines had captured the Ark. After a plague struck them, they mounted it on a cart pulled by oxen, and set it on its way back to Israel. The Ark finally found rest at the home of Abinadab.

While trying to move the Ark to Jerusalem, the cart broke and the Ark began to fall. One of the priests, Uzzah, attempted to steady the cart, but because he touched the Ark, he died. David then left it in the care of another man, Obed-edom. After hearing the blessing Obed-edom received, David decided to try again. When the Ark made it to Jerusalem, David led the way through the city leading everyone in celebration; with dancing, and singing, and feasting!

Michal, David’s first wife, looked out at the crowd and saw David. When he came home to bless his family she said to him, “How distinguished the king of Israel looked today, shamelessly exposing himself to the servant girls like any vulgar person might do!” (6:20 NLT) To which David responded, “I was dancing before the Lord, who chose me above your father and all his family! He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the Lord, so I celebrate before the lord. Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes! But those servant girls you mentioned will indeed think I am distinguished!” (6:21-22 NLT)

And I will become
Even more undignified than this
Some may say its foolishness

How many times in worship to we look to see what others are doing? If others are being “undignified” don’t we respond “Wow! Didn’t know you went to that kind of church.” or say “I’m not gonna do it if no one else will.” As a worship leader, one of the hardest things I see for people is loosening up. This is what we come across pretty regularly:

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So why don’t we worship like we are meant to? I think its because people don’t realize what they worship anymore. We’ve been doing basically the same thing for 2000 years, so people seem to have lost sight of how wondrous our God is. Our God created everything (including some spectacular cosmic sights!) and out of all creation He cares deeply about each and every person. He came and died in order to save us from our sin (which was our choice in the first place). If He did that for us, how should we respond?

Like this?
Like this?

 

or this?
or this?

By the way, the italicized words above are lyrics from a song called Undignified written by Matt Redman and made popular by David Crowder* Band. Have a listen below!

 

 

Consultation

prayer-warrior

When David was first anointed king, he only became king over Judah. Then it seems like war broke out at every turn along the way. Finally Saul’s son Ishbosheth (the current king of Israel) was killed. This ultimately led to David becoming king over all of Israel. The wars continued after this, leading to David to take the city of Jerusalem. Finally, David’s main enemies, the Philistines, decide to attack as well. When David first hears about this attack, he prays “Should I go out to fight the Philistines? Will You hand them over to me?” (2 Samuel 5:19 NLT) God responded with yes and David was victorious over them. Soon after, the Philistines attacked again; once again David prayed to ask if he should attack. God gives the Philistines over to David, and he conquers them.

Notice what David did? If you don’t remember, during king Saul’s reign the Philistines were the main enemy of the Israelites. David was assigned to kill 100 Philistines for Michal to become his wife! That doesn’t sound like anything but a pretty big hatred for each other. So David is being attacked by the biggest enemy his people have known (so far) and what does he do? He prays for direction. He goes to seek God first. I’m sure David’s reaction was similar to Arturo Mendez’s reaction in the movie Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy, “Tonight’s top story: the sewers run red with Burgandy’s blood”.

This means for us today that we need to consult God first. Before we make any decisions! Let me say that again. BEFORE we make any decisions! I’ll be the first to admit that I fail at this. It’s all to easy for us to make decisions then say “How was that God?” Instead we should consult the Lord. You see friends, God’s Will will always be carried out, no matter what. When we spend the time in prayer to consult him over our decisions can either “insure” our success or prevent us from tons of heartache. I’ve noticed when I make decisions first, ask God later, my life tends to get more difficult. And I mean LOTS more difficult. Yet spending time with the Lord (both in prayer and reading Scripture) helps us to be more in tune with His will. And when we’re more in tune with God, the better at making decisions we become.

So friends I encourage you today to begin spending time in prayer with God. That’s what the original Heart Man did. So in our journey to figure out how to be after God’s own heart, why wouldn’t we spend time in prayer? God wants to know our hearts, and for us to know His. So get to know you Father. Trust me, you’ll feel tons better!

Following Authority

 

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So today we continue to take a look at the life of King David, but today we start in 2 Samuel! I thought I would have to read a little bit for today’s post, but honestly it didn’t take me long at all.

2 Samuel opens with King David just after Saul’s death. He is unaware of what has happened, but an Amalekite comes to him covered in ash and mourning. When asked what has happened, the Amalekite tells David that Saul and Jonathan both died in battle. David’s immediate reaction is mourning. I find this very curious because of the life David has been forced to live since Saul was hunting after him. Honestly, I’m aware that the idea of a king is foreign to me since I am an American and we haven’t had a king in 237 years. Yet still, his reaction is interesting to me.

Not only is David mourning the death of the king, but also family. If you remember, David’s first wife is Saul’s daughter. Jonathan is not only David’s brother-in-law, but also his best friend. So David gets hit pretty hard from the news of these deaths.

What does this mean for us today you may be asking?

At first glace I would say nothing, but the thought that struck me was about the death of the king. For David, he had gave his allegiance to his king no matter what. This even applies to the fact that David is hiding from Saul for his life. It’s this allegiance that makes me say that a point to becoming the Heart Man is to submit to the authorities over you. Jesus spoke to this many times, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Mark 12:17 NASB) “You would have no authority over me, unless it had been given you from above;…” (John 19:11 NASB). Even the entire 13th chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans is about being subjects of the government.

I have heard many times people complaining about the things our government is doing, and who is the President, or even insulting the intelligence of the President. To be after God’s own heart we must realize that God has placed these people into positions of authority for a reason. I believe that the worst case of “political warfare” was during this last election season. It was so bad that I feel that people stop paying attention just to get away from it all (I know my wife did).

I guess what I’m trying to say is, that as Christians we should be supportive of our government, not to demean it and call people names (that’s not even Christian practice in the first place!). Please don’t read this wrong, I’m not saying that we have to support everything Obama says, and I’m not saying that I wish Romney had won. What I’m saying is that the right people are in power because God allowed them to be. We are to be supportive of our government until it begins to directly oppose biblical law. If you have trouble remembering what that is I would direct you to look up Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:7-21.

Now I know that this might cause some controversy because of some recent events. This post isn’t meant to profess one side or the other. What I’m trying to stress is that claiming anything negatively of people who have authority over you is not very Christian. I’m sorry if this brings up any concerns for you, but I’m trying my hardest not to be controversial. This blog is meant to glorify God, not to be a battlefield over current events!

So my encouragement to you is to think about what you say about your authority figures. I talked a lot about government, but this could easily apply to your boss, teacher, or any other type of authority. As Christians we should pray for the people with authority over us, just as we should pray for those who we have authority over. So think about the way you act and talk about authority. Because ultimately the way you view and act towards authority is the way to feel and act towards God. We must give him honor, so authority must be honored as well.

Living with Mercy

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Well friends, I decided to go ahead and finish up 1 Samuel, which takes you up to the death of King Saul. What hit me in this reading was the fact that David consistently spared Saul’s life. David claims that no one is worthy of killing God’s anointed, but it is still astonishing.

If you don’t remember, Saul made several attempts on David’s life after becoming jealous of him. It got to the point that David had to escape to the wilderness and hide. Saul then pursued and hunted David. He got called away a few times to defend Israel from opposing armies, but Saul’s focus was on finding and killing David. Two times are recorded that David could have killed Saul. The first, Saul went to a cave to relive himself, but David was in that cave. David snuck up behind him and cut a small part of his robe. After leaving the cave, David shouted out to him, “Look my father, at what I have in my hand. It is a piece of the hem of your robe! I cut if off, but I didn’t kill you. This proves that I am not trying to harm you and that I have not sinned against you, even though you have been hunting for me to kill me.” (1 Samuel 24:11 NLT)

The second time, David snuck into Saul’s camp while they were sleeping. He took the spear and water jug that Saul was keeping near his head. After leaving and waking up the camp David shouts to Saul, “The Lord gives his own reward for doing good and for being loyal, and I refused to kill you even when the Lord placed you in my power, for you are the Lord’s anointed one. Now may the Lord value my life, even as I have valued yours today. May he rescue me from all my troubles.” (26:23-24 NLT)

On two occasions, David could have killed the man that was causing him so much trouble. Despite being told by his friends to kill Saul and end it, David took a higher path. He knew that God is a good judge. He even wrote it, “God is a just judge” (Psalm 7:11 NKJV). Other translations say “righteous” (NASB, NIV), “honest” (NLT), and the Message says “Nobody get by with anything, God is already in action”.

So with such a judge in place, why would we take it upon ourselves to judge and punish others. God alone has that power and authority. David shows Saul countless means of mercy, because he knew that ultimately God would punish Saul for what he had done.

As Christians we must live by David’s example (especially if we are to be men after God’s own heart). Even Jesus while on earth showed us that it is not our place to judge others, but to extend God’s mercy to them.

Today there are many people that could use that mercy. People who have been hated on by many people (some of them in God’s name). What Jesus came to show us is that we are all sinners and deserve punishment. However, Christ died our death so that we may have eternal life. With that life, it is our duty to spread His love and mercy to all. I think on this segment in becoming the Heart Man, I must be more aware of when I judge others and instead show them mercy. In time God will take care of them, it is not my place.

When Emotions Get The Best of You

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Man, 1 Samuel was definitely a good choice to start this blog with! So many life lessons!!!!!!!

In my reading today Saul becomes jealous of David. If you don’t remember, Saul is the king of Israel and after disobeying God, God decided to make a new king. This new king was found in David, a simple shepherd boy from Bethlehem. David then is brought to Saul’s court as a musician, to help sooth the king’s trouble spirit. David then finds favor with Saul and becomes his armor bearer. Then David threw a rock at a giant’s head and saved all of Israel!!!! Now Israel has seen many victories over the Philistines under the leadership of David.

After a particular battle, both David and Saul return and the people celebrate shouting “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!” (1 Samuel 18:7 NLT) This planted the seed in Saul’s mind that the people preferred David over him. Saul then begins a series of attempts to take David’s life. These ranges from things as obvious as lunging a spear at him, to covertly sending him against a Philistine army (this was to be the price David had to pay to marry Michal). His actions are so out-of-place that his son calls him out saying, “He’s never done anything to harm you. He has always helped you in any way he could. Have you forgotten about the time he risked his life to kill the Philistine giant and how the Lord brought a great victory to all Israel as a result? You were certainly happy about it then. Why should you murder and innocent man like David? There is no reason at all!” (19:4-5 NLT) Then again Jonathan (Saul’s son) refused to eat with his father at a festival because he was ashamed of his father’s actions against David (20:34).

So what does this mean for us today? Being a man after God’s own heart means that we must keep our emotions in check. If you notice from the story, Saul gets angry and jealous and acts out, but David remains cool and content and continues doing his job as if nothing had happened. I’m sure I’d better pretty heated after one failed attempt on my life, let alone the amount David endured.

Saul’s anger and jealousy turned away all of the people that mattered to him. Do we want to have the same fate? In today’s world we are encouraged to express our feelings in any way that we want. While I disagree, I would also like to say that you should still express your emotions, but to God. Jesus said “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NASB) God wants to know our pain and troubles. He wants us to find our peace, and it is only in Him that our souls will find it. So talk to God about your distress. Don’t take it out on someone, even though its our first inclination. God wants us to maintain our relationships, not destroy them through fits of rage.

So be in prayer with the Lord today, and ask for His peace. Especially if there is something bothering you. He may show you a better and healthier way to deal with your pain.

What Your Heart Looks Like

David being anointed in the Bible miniseries
David being anointed in the Bible miniseries

Continuing on with reading in 1 Samuel, we have finally come to David, the man I intended to begin this blog with. But the Lord clearly had other plans since I began with Saul.

Up to this point we have seen Israel gain a king, and we’ve seen that king rise and fall. God then decided to make a new king, “a man after [God’s] own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14 NLT). But we have yet to see who this new king is. It wasn’t until after Saul disobeyed God over the Amalekites that Samuel was sent to anoint a new king.

Samuel is sent (by God) to the town of Bethlehem to meet with a man named Jesse and his sons, in order to anoint one as king. (Now Jesse is the grandson of Boaz and Ruth. This isn’t important to the story, but I like to see how biblical characters are related!) Jesse brings along 7 of his sons. Yet God tells Samuel “People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord look at the heart.” (16:7b NLT) Upon seeing these 7 sons, God does not chose any other them. Which leads Samuel to ask if there are more sons, to which Jesse replies that there is one more. Upon meeting David, God tells Samuel to anoint him.

This decision of God’s is based solely on David’s character, not his outward appearance. So what does that mean to us? As the Psalmist writes “O Lord, You have searched me and known me.” “You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.” (Psalm 139:1,3 NASB) This says to me that God knows us better than we may even know ourselves (definitely more than another person can).

This means we cannot hide things from God. Just because we maybe alone does not give us permission to act in an un-Christian way. We must be Christian all the time, otherwise our hearts do not truly belong to God, and He knows it. I am reminded of a scene from the movie Left Behind. After the Rapture happens, an associate pastor is left behind. The scene shows him praying to God, lamenting that he knows what has happened but God’s gaze pierced into his heart to know the truth. From that point on wards the pastor is a changed man.

God wants us to be that changed man. Not because something terrible has happened, but because we chose to be. God wants us men to be searching for His will for our lives, so we can lead our families and the Church according to Him. This change, this task, is most certainly the first step in becoming a man after God’s own heart.

So I encourage you today to think about your own life and walk with the Lord. If you have to make changes, than do it today! God desires to be close to you, and our souls are searching to be close to Him. So look for that time, and just have a conversation with God today.