The Trusting Heart

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. [Psalm 23:1 NLT]

I love this psalm. I gave a Sunday morning talk about it a few years ago. The word 'trust' seems to bleed through every word in Psalm 23. It reminds me of Tony Snow. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2005 and died in 2008. Here are the words that he wrote about the experience in 2007.
Picture yourself in a hospital bed. The fog of anesthesia has begun to wear away. A doctor stands at your feet; a loved one holds your hand at the side. "It's cancer," the healer announces. The natural reaction is to turn to God and ask him to serve as a cosmic Santa. "Dear God, make it all go away. Make everything simpler." But another voice whispers: "You have been called." -Christianity Today, July 2007
We have been called to trust the Lord with all of our hearts. When cancer strikes our bodies. When people let us down. When life is out of control and simply does not make sense we are called to trust in our Shepherd. In truth we need trust God with our heart only when our brain is not in control.

Dear Shepherd of our souls. Our lives are in your hands. Help us to trust in you.

... this devotion is part of a series about King David.

The Transparent Heart

My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? ... O my God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not answer; and at night, but I have no rest. [Psalm 22:1-2 MEV]

I think that this prayer is filled with theological misunderstanding. Yet I love this prayer because it is so real. So raw. Who cannot relate to praying such a prayer? Who has not felt forsaken in times of trouble. Jesus echoed this sentiment from the cross. Feeling forsaken is a part of being human.

This kind of transparent prayer is why I love David so much. He was certainly an ordinary man with human frailties. Yet his transparency was so extraordinary. In this psalm he gives us a healthy model of prayer as he lays out his frustrations before the Lord. And God meets him right where he is.

Such is the place where we are able to meet God. A healthy heart does not stifle our inner cries for merciful justice. A healthy heart is transparent with God, ourselves and others about how we are feeling. A healthy heart know that it is not forsaken but is unafraid to embrace feeling of forsakenness.

Help us Lord to not to bury our disappointments. Our frustrations. Our feelings of being forsaken.

... this devotion is part of a series about King David.

The Passionate Heart

May He grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your counsel! [Psalm 20:4 NASB]

Have you ever heard this verse used to teach about how followers of Christ need to develop the desires of God's heart? I have and wonder if that teaching is a bit too narrow. As I read this verse the words passion and purpose come to my mind. One translation even uses purpose instead of counsel.

Passion is a difficult word for some of us because we see it as something descriptive of youthful and worldly emotions. The idea of God wanting us to be passionate is a bit out of our comfort zone. Especially if our deepest passions have been buried under the weight of worldly cares for many years. On the flipside there are those who have a narrow view of what it means to be passionate for Jesus.

In light of this, I submit to you that that your new heart is unique. One of a kind. Your passionate heart is filled with counsel and purpose unique to you. Listening to the still small voice of your passionate heart will bring you to a place of blessing that will fulfill you in ways unique to who God made you to be.

Thank you Lord for giving a new heart that is unique in all of the world.

... this devotion is part of a series about King David.

The Joyous Heart

The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. [Psalm 19:8 NIV]

Years ago a teacher taught me that happiness is based on happenings but joy is something you have regardless of what is happening. That still works for me. But I do want to be happy and do understand that it is not an either/or proposition. Sometimes a joyous heart creates happiness.

Solomon told us in the proverbs that a joyful heart is good medicine. Nehemiah told us that the joy of the Lord is our strength. A joyous heart matters. Knowing the Lord gives a joy to the heart that will create an inner strength in us that will help us in hard times. Heal us when we are emotionally exhausted.

In contrast to happiness, joy creates. Happiness is merely a reaction. Joy is a source of energy. A force that moves and activates. It is active and not passive. It is why Solomon tells us to guard our hearts. Living from our heart means to live from a place of joy. A heart that is filled with God and with his joy.

Praise you Father. We rejoice in you. In your precepts. And in your love.

... this devotion is part of a series about King David.

The Speaking Heart

They close up their callous hearts, and their mouths speak with arrogance. [Psalm 17:10 NIV]

This verse points out the connection between the heart and the tongue. Jesus put it this way:
"A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of."
What we say is a reflection of the condition of our heart. In this verse David points to the connection between arrogant speech and a hardened heart. I can relate to that. Before the Lord gave me a new heart I was cynical and unbelieving. I really did not have wellspring of grace filled humility to draw upon.

Yet even the new and regenerated heart needs to be strengthened to be heard. It is so easy to allow old patterns of behavior and speech to creep in and shut down the still small voice of the new heart. Yet with practice and discipline we can train ourselves to speak from our heart and not our head.

Help us Lord to speak the words and thoughts that you have placed in our hearts.

... this devotion is part of a series about King David.

The Smart Heart

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. [Psalm 16:7 NIV]

It is sometimes difficult for people raised in America to embrace the idea that the heart is smarter than the mind. The whole of our educational system focuses on mental abilities like memorization and logic. To be sure, these abilities are a useful tool in life. Yet they are problematic when they are in control.

Our lives were never meant to be controlled by our brains. Think about it. Who has ever used their brain to select a spouse? Or who rejects ideas they are passionate about for things that are logical? And how does the brain factor into things that transcend logic and reason? Things like love and sacrifice.

I suggest to you that the heart is the driving force of human existence. And the new heart, the born again heart, encompasses a wisdom that cannot be understood by human logic. It is why we must train ourselves to regularly connect with our heart. The new heart is smart. God made it that way.

We praise you Lord for the heavenly counsel that we find in our new hearts.

... this devotion is part of a series about King David.

The Good Heart

O my soul, you have said to the Lord,
“You are my Lord, my goodness is nothing apart from You.” [Psalm 16:2 NKJV]

Preston Gillham, teaching about the new and regenerated heart, writes:

"No longer do we have hearts that are rebellious and desperately wicked, as Jeremiah preached to his [Old Testament] generation. Rather, as Ezekiel prophesied would be the case when Christ came, the laws of God are now written on our hearts. Our hearts are no longer hardened to God but are soft and pliable."

Years ago Preston's words transformed the way that understood the leadership of the Holy Spirit. No longer did seek guidance from without but began to connect with the still small voice of my inner being. My life transitioned, and is transitioning, from one that relied on my own understanding to one of trust.

And that is really the issue. If we believe that, at our core, we are desperately wicked, we will be afraid to listen to that voice that quietly speaks to us from that inner place. The believers heart, or soul or innermost being, is the new immortal creation. It is good. It is the place where we trust God.

Help us Lord to live from the good heart that you created in us.

... this devotion is part of a series about King David.