Advent | Forever King

The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end. -Luke 1:32-33 NIV

What was it like for Mary to hear these words? How could she ever imagine that she would give birth to a king that would reign forever. And what kind of a kingdom would he reign over? Would he be a king who would overthrow Roman rule? Over the next nine months she must have wondered about these words told to her by the angel. And how her mind must have returned to his words when she witnessed the guards nailing her baby boy to the cross. What joy she must have had when she witnessed her son rise from the dead and ascend to rule over a kingdom that will never end.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing Advent series.

The Still Heart

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. [Psalm 46:10-11 NKJV]

The context of this passage is God's deliverance of Israel over the army of Sennacherib. It is reported in 2Kings that 185,000 Assyrian soldiers were killed in their sleep by an angel. Regardless of how one reads the text, there is a sense of awe in the deliverance. God is able to protect us from harm.

Yet, in reality, sometimes bad things happen to us even when we pray for deliverance. It is why the admonition to "be still" can be so challenging in times of trouble. The words remind me again that trusting God is an exercise in letting go of the things that we simply cannot control.

Lord, when trials come our way, help us to let go of our trust in our abilities.

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

Spiritual Disability

You have rejected and humbled us; you no longer go out with our armies.
You made us retreat before the enemy, and our adversaries have plundered us.
You gave us up to be devoured like sheep and have scattered us among the nations.
You sold your people for a pittance, gaining nothing from their sale.
You have made us a reproach to our neighbors, the scorn and derision of those around us.
You have made us a byword among the nations; the peoples shake their heads at us. [Psalm 44:9-14]

With all due respect to David ... he was a great, yet flawed, leader ... these are the words of a spiritually disabled person. One who wrongly sees the disability in their lives as something foisted upon them by God. These do not really understand that the sovereignty of God is in accord with the character of God.

Spiritual disability often occurs when we value the reasonings of our mind more than the those of our hearts. When we choose to troubleshoot our disability rather than trust in the Lord as we experience them. Sometimes the loud voice of our mind can deafen the quiet voice of our heart.

I do not want be spiritually disabled Lord. Open the eyes and ears of my heart that I might sense you today.

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

The Strong Heart

You are the God of my strength [Psalm 43:2 NASB]

Interesting how David writes that the Lord is the God of "my" strength. Other translations render the word strength as stronghold, refuge or safe haven. The sense is that God has given each believer an inner place of strength, a stronghold, to run to in times when assaults come from every angle.

Jesus speaks of how the believer is clothed with power from on high when the Holy Spirit comes. It reminds me of how much power we each have at our disposal. Power to resist temptation. Power to influence our family and friends. Power to love as God loves, from a heart that is spiritually strong.

Thank you Lord for the gift of a strong heart.

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

The Heart is a Spiritual Oasis

I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him? [Psalm 42:2aNLT]

Imagine yourself lost in a desert storm. The wind ceases. Visibility returns. The sun shines brightly. You thirst and take a drink of water from your canteen. You walk. Water becomes scarce. Your canteen runs empty. You are lost. Empty. Thirsty. Then in the distance appears an oasis. Hope arises.

Such is the thirst a believer has as it longs for God to appear. Such is the imagery that David projects as he speaks of thirsting for God. The picture is of a person who has come to the end of living a thirsty life. A person who knows there it something that can satisfy their thirsty heart. Such a one was I.

Jesus tells us that in time of thirst we need look no further than our new heart. He says:
“Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” [John 7:37-38 NLT]
The heart is like a well in an oasis. Spiritual waters, living waters, flow from it and quench our soul. The challenge is sometimes to find our heart in the middle of a desert storm. To endure the winds. Let the sand settle. Calm ourselves. Listen to the voice of our heart, the well that quenches our spiritual thirst.

Come Holy Spiirit. We thirst. We believe. Teach us to tap into the living waters of our heart.

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

The Helping Heart

How blessed is he who considers the helpless; [Psalms 41:1a NASB]

There is an unbiblical cliché out there that indicates that God helps those who help themselves. As with most half truths, there is a part of it that rings true. One has to be open to new ideas. Humble enough to admit they are wrong. And willing to accept help from people and places that seem uncomfortable.

Even so, there is something that seems so wrong about that cliché. Something demeaning and condescending. The 'help themselves' phrase comes across as a cop out as it blames the one needing help and releases the criticizer from responsibility. In reality God only helps them who are helpless.

Helping the helpless embraces such a nobility of heart. It is often not logical. I can always think of reasons not to help. It may sometimes seem foolish. Yet there is something that cries out from out hearts that says yes to those needing "our" help. In truth God normally helps the helpless through us.

Open our eyes Lord that we may see those who need your help. Mobilize us to help the helpless.

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

The Willing Heart

I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart. [Psalm 40:8 NRSV]

It is hard to think of the will of God and not remember the image of Jesus sweating drops of blood in the garden. So often the will of God goes against everything that we want and hope for. In the garden Jesus was confronted with an image of his death and prayed that he would not have to endure such pain. Yet as he prayed he offered up his will to the will of his Father. It is such an inspiring image of what it means to embrace God's will in our heart when our brain is screaming against it.

Asking for God's will to be done sometimes requires a strength of heart similar to that of Jesus in the garden. A surrender of my will to his at a very deep level. One month before my first wife passed away, after praying daily for her healing, I found myself praying and releasing my beautiful bride into the will of God. It was the hardest prayer that I had ever prayed. Maybe that is the way God's will often is. Maybe trust is only trust when it involves an acceptance of extremely difficult circumstances?

Help me Lord to listen to my willing heart. Even when it is really hard to do.

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

The Flowing Heart

For you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see. [Psalm 36:9 NLT]
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. [Proverbs 4:23 NIV]
The Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’ [John 7:38 NLT]
What you say flows from what is in your heart. [Luke 6:45 NLT

These verses speak to me about the importance of keeping my heart strong. They encourage me to feed and nourish that deep part of me that I call my heart. They remind me of how often my head overrules my heart. They motivate me to keep my heart strong through spiritual exercises and disciplines.

In reality, for a believer, the battle for our lives is a battle of strength. The nature of the heart is no longer the issue. The heart is good. Yet the new heart must be given an atmosphere and environment where it can become stronger. The new heart must regularly be fed spiritual food and exercised.

Such a heart will find a way to flow. To speak. To exercise dominion over our minds and bodies. As the heart grows into maturity it will influence every part of us. Love will flow from it. Kindness, faith, hope, compassion, goodness and patience will bubble out of us. Good things happen when the heart flows.

Teach us how to strengthen our hearts Lord. We long to be like Jesus.

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

The Heart given to God

Give yourself to the Lord; trust in him, and he will help you [Psalm 37:5 GNT]

In this psalm David tells us what it means to have a heart given to God. Consider these verses.

Trust in the Lord and do good [v3]
The essence of a trusting heart is a strong desire to do good
Seek your happiness in the Lord [v4]
We are most happy when we serve the Lord and the ones that he loves.
Trust in him, and he will help you [v5]
A heart that is surrendered is a heart that trusts God when we are not in control.
Be patient and wait for the Lord to act [v7]
A patient heart releases control and waits for God to act.
Don't give in to worry or anger [v8]
Worry and anger are reminders of our need to release control and give ourselves to God.
The humble will possess the land. [v11]
A heart given to God is humble. It bows to God at every turn.
Our prayer and our desire Lord is to daily give ourselves to you and to your purposes.

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

The Steadfast Heart

How long, O Lord, will you look on and do nothing? [Psalm 35:17 NLT]

Who has not thought something like this? We often have a visceral reaction to life when trials and struggles are prolonged. We suffer alone. We pray for relief that does not come. We ask for divine rescue and none comes to us. In such times our logical theology is tried and our image of God is tested.

Yet in such times a strength arises in our heart. A power emerges from deep within us and we lay hold of our steadfast heart. We reject our logical theological understandings. We continue to trust God with with all of our beautiful new heart. Faith transcends the pain and turns our suffering into hope.

Lord, in our heart we know that you are working even when our brain cannot understand.

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

The Broken Heart

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. [Psalm 34:18 NIV]

Humiliation simply seems to be a part of our shared humanity. Life is filled with things that break us at a deep level. In some sense this kind of breaking and humbling are the pathways to salvation. A heart that is not broken is one that does not seek the Lord because it has no need of God.

When I think about this I remember that Jesus is the one who binds up the brokenhearted. He is the one who replaces a broken heart with a new heart. The new birth reminds us that, in the midst of brokenness and humiliation, God reveals himself to us as the healer and binder of broken hearts.

Open my eyes Lord to your closeness and your salvation.

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

The Obedient Heart

The Lord watches over those who obey him, those who trust in his constant love. [Psalm 33:18 GNT]

The word obey often has a somewhat negative connotation. It sometimes takes on a meaning of doing something against our will. When a person obeys the speed limit on a highway it can be seen as resisting the urge to speed. One a serious note, I think society is built on the idea of obeying the law.

On a personal level, I have found that my ability to obey the Lord is often contingent on the strength of my heart and it's ability to speak louder than my flesh. When I am tempted, do I obey the dictates of my flesh or of my heart. Have I been doing things that nourish and strengthen my heart or my flesh?

I think that the obedient heart is a heart strengthened by spiritual food and exercise. Such a heart able to overcome the urges of the flesh. Such a heart is convinced of, and trusts in, the constant and faithful love of God. Such a transformed heart is able to transform the path of our journey and our future.

Help us to Lord to establish disciplines that will nourish, exercise and strengthen our hearts.

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

The Singing Heart

Give thanks to the Lord with harps, sing to him with stringed instruments.
Sing a new song to him, play the harp with skill, and shout for joy! [Psalm 33:2-3 GNT]

There is something about music that transcends melodies and lyrics. Music ministers to me like nothing else. Secular and sacred songs have both brought me to tears. The music seems to bypass my head and go right to my my heart. I seem to be transported to deep places as I enter in to the music.

David intimately understood this phenomenon. He was summoned to play the harp whenever King Saul was troubled and tormented. In my own life I have found music to be a freeing influence in times of anxiety and trouble. Cares and worries seem to melt into oblivion as I enter into a song of thanksgiving.

I think that part of the phenomenon is the way that we declare his sovereignty over us when we sing to God in the midst of trouble. We seemingly release joy from our hearts as we, through song, acknowledge our trust in his providence. Joy comes as we sing a new song from our new neart.

Help us Lord to take time in our busy schedules to sing new songs of praise to you.

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

The Blessed Heart

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit. [Psalms 32:1-2 NIV]

There is a lot of misunderstanding around the idea of what it means to be blessed. We have all heard strange assertions about blessings coming in the form of new houses, cars and other big trinkets. Some speak about blessings in such a way that seems to indicate that they are earned by the receiver.

I love the way David speaks about how blessings have nothing to do with performance. There is really no blessed quid pro quo. A blessing, like forgiveness, is a free gift from heaven. A blessing is spiritual in nature and is often at odds with our physical reality. It is why Jesus could call persecution a blessing.

These sort of blessings are difficult to get our heads around because blessings are only understood with the heart. In truth, every other blessing begins when a person receives a new and blessed heart - when their transgressions are forgiven. Such a one has a blessed heart that has absolutely no deceit.

I am humbled by your forgiveness Lord. Thank you for the blessings of forgiveness and a new heart.

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

Thankful for Who You Are

You are a righteous God ... You are my refuge and defense ... You are a faithful God ... You are my God. ... Praise the Lord! How wonderfully he showed his love for me. [Psalm 31:1,2,5,14,21 GNT]

In this season of Thanksgiving, I think that we sometimes forget to give thanks for who God is. I love how David speaks to the character of God in this psalm. There is an intimacy projected in each of these verses. It is as if David had personally experienced each of these divine qualities in his life.

Sometimes people confuse rightness with righteousness. When I consider what it means to be righteous I think about justice and mercy. The Prophet Micah teaches us that a humble walk with God requires us to act justly and love mercy. These two qualities seem to define what it means to be righteous.

The words refuge, defense and faithful speak deeply to me about prayer. I have often come to God in times of deep distress and found spiritual refuge in him. I have sensed him defending me against mental assaults. He has been so faithful to speak comforting and encouraging words to me when I most need it.

You are my God. I give you thanks for who you are and for how you show your love for me.

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

The Thankful Heart

Remember what the Holy One has done, and give him thanks! [Psalm 30:4 GNT]

There is something healing about the giving of thanks. We acknowledge God's goodness when we give thanks to him in the midst of struggle and pain. We seemingly reach back to times of divine blessings when we remember what God has done in our lives. Such memories can be an anchor in the storm.

I can relate to times of pain when all I had was a memory of the goodness of God. There is something about a memory that can cause me to be thankful. When my parents passed on my memories of them caused me to be thankful for their lives. I think that it is helpful to give thanks to God in hard times.

The issue, I believe, is whether we follow the loud dictates of our head and ignore the small voice of our speaking heart. Our minds are somewhat rational and have difficulty giving thanks to God when it does not make sense to do it. Yet the heart has a different perspective because it has a better memory.

We remember what you have done in our lives Lord. And we give thanks.

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

The Aligned Mind

Even when they engage their neighbors in pleasantness, they are scheming against them. [Psalm 28:3]

Can you resonate with what David writes here? Have you ever known a person to say one thing and do something different? Or have you been that person? I have. I can relate to listening more to my duplicitous mind than the still small voice of my heart. I have been embarrassed by such behaviors.

James, in his epistle, tells us that whoever knows what is good to do and does not do it is guilty of sin. The new heart knows the right and honest thing to do. We are double minded when our heart and mind are not in sync. We have integrity when our mind is in alignment with our new heart.

Oprah Winfrey echoes James defining integrity as doing the right thing, knowing that nobody's going to know whether you did it or not. There is a consistency of heart and mind when integrity is present. And for the believer this means that their mind and their actions are aligned with their honest new heart.

Help us Lord to have lives and minds aligned with our hearts.

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

The Courageous Heart

When the armies of the enemy surround me, I will not be afraid. When death calls for me in the midst of war, my soul is confident and unmoved. [Psalm 27:3 NLV]

We all have fears. We have all had times when we have been afraid. When unexpected things happen my mind often plays out worst case scenarios. It is so easy to capitulate to fearful thoughts. It is difficult to be brave when our brains exercises dominance in our lives because courage is not logical.

In reality fear is the product of our mind. Sometimes the fear is very rational. Bad things do happen. Fear can be helpful when it teaches us to stay away from things that will do us harm. Yet sometimes our minds cause us to embrace fear because we are not tuned in to that inner still small voice.

In times of battle it is best to listen to the courageous voice of our heart and not the bellowings of our head. In troubling times our heart can be an immovable anchor for every part of us. In times of strife our new heart is a place of peace. And when death knocks on our door the heart will answer with confident faith.

Lord help us to not be afraid. Teach us to listen to the courageous voice of our new heart.

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

The Tested Heart

Test me and try me, O Lord. Test my mind and my heart. [Psalm 26:2 NLV]

Life is filled with trials that test us. Disappointment. Unemployment. Sickness. Hopelessness. Betrayal. Death. These try our faith like nothing else. These make little sense and sometimes cause us to doubt, with our minds, the goodness and love of God. These sometimes bring unbearable weights to our souls.

Yet in the midst of dark times a beautiful light sometimes emanates from deep within us. I remember one such time when I was taking my nightly walk. It was just a few weeks after my first wife died. It was a dark time. As I walked I became aware of how much God loved me. Darkness was becoming light.

The journey from darkness to light is one of testing. Will the darkness drive dark thoughts? Or will life's testings cause mental darkness to yield to the beautiful light of the heart? My thinking is that the stronger part of us will win out. Will we feed and strengthen or heart or allow dark thoughts to prevail?

Lord, please help the beautiful light of our new heart to prevail in dark times.

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

The Satisfied Heart

Oh keep my soul, and deliver me. Let me not be disappointed, for I take refuge in you. [Psalm 25:20]

Have you ever prayed to be delivered then disappointed when your request was unanswered. Unanswered prayer is a universal experience. David seemed to understand the feeling. John the Baptist experienced it firsthand when Jesus refused to deliver him from the clutches of his jail keepers.

I suggest to you that the source of disappointment is our brain. The feeling emanates from our logical expectations. Our heads wrap themselves around rules and logic concerning prayer. We develop expectations when we pray. Our brains cause us to feel disappointed when answers do not come.

In contrast the experience of the new heart is satisfaction. When the heart prays it does so with a deep seated sense of contentment. The prayers of the heart are centered in trust. The heart is not disappointed when answers do not come. The new heart continues to trust God and not rely on the head.

Help me to not be disappointed Lord. Teach me to pray with my heart and not my head.

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

The Surrendered Heart

O Lord, I give my life to you. I trust in you, my God! [Psalm 25:1-2 NLT]

What do you think of when you consider the word "surrender"? A battle fought and a white flag of defeat waving? In a carnal sense. In the mental realm. The word conveys a sense of defeat. It is a capitulation to an enemy that has waged war against you. There is absolutely no joy in this kind of surrender.

In contrast, on a spiritual level, there is no more of a glorious concept than that of surrendering your heart to Jesus. I think that the phrase, "I give my life to you" is one of the most beautiful phrases in the bible. When we surrender our hearts to God we are not doing so in defeat but as a gift of service.

To trust is to surrender. We can only trust God for what we have surrendered. If we retain control we are not trusting and have not surrendered anything. In a very real sense salvation is all about giving our life to the Lord each day. He is not really interesting in having our things. He wants us. Our lives. Our hearts.

O Lord, I give my life to you. I trust in you, my God!

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

The Hopeful Heart

    I know that your goodness and love will be with me all my life;
    and your house will be my home as long as I live. [Psalm 23:6 GNT]

The word "hope" is sometimes confused with the word "wish". When we say "I hope you get better" we are really conveying a heartfelt wish for a better tomorrow. In that context hope is tenuous and no more than a wishful thought. In contrast, hope is not wishful at all. It emanates from the heart not the head.

When David speaks about goodness, love and eternity he is writing about something that he knows. Hope that he has experienced not something that he wishes would come later on. The nature of hoping is knowing not wishing. In this sense we can only hope in what we know. In Who we know in our heart.

We can have hope for future goodness and love because of what and Who we know today. We can understand that God will be good to us tomorrow because he was good to us yesterday. This kind of hope is not rational because it is not based on what we know with our head but Who we know with our heart.

Help us to remember that we have hope today Lord. Attune our ears to listen to our hopeful heart.

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

The Heart in the Valley

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. [Psalm 23: 4 NKJV]

My first wife Ellen had a heart attack and kidney failure in 1990. She was 39. I was 40. The following years seemed to be filled with one health crisis after another. When I read this verse I remembered the image of a valley I once saw in a vision. A vision of my journey through the valley of Ellen's death.

I was driving to work. I was worried. I was thinking about Ellen. As I began to pray, I saw a picture in my mind. In this vision I saw myself standing on a mountain looking down at a valley. Somehow I knew it was the valley of the shadow of Ellen's death. As I looked into the vision I saw Jesus come to my side, take my hand, and walk with me into the valley. The image reminds me yet today of how I can trust God in dark valleys.

In the days after Ellen's death I sensed my friend Jesus walking with me through that dark valley of death. His presence comforted me. I remember how close I felt to him as I would take walks in the evening listening to worship tapes. My heart seemed to be strong even though every part of me was falling apart.

Come Holy Spirit and walk with us in our dark valleys. There is no greater comforter than you.

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

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 knows that it is not forsaken and is unafraid to embrace a 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.

The Truthful Heart

O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart. [Psalm 15:1-2 NASB]

Have you ever betrayed your conscience and did something that you knew was wrong? James defines this as the essence of sin. Sometimes we call it a gut instinct. Often we tell ourselves that we should listen to our heart. There is something deep inside of us that want to guide us into truth. It is the new heart.

It is why we must train ourselves to listen to the still small voice of our new heart. Unlike our brain, our heart knows more than precepts. More than ideas. More than black and white. The new heart has the ability to discern the truth of a matter when the brain is confused and lacking understanding.

Yet it is often so hard to embrace truths spoken in our hearts. Many of us have relied on our brains for so long. Our minds seem to shout so loud and drown out that still small truthful voice of our heart. It is an issue of power. It is why we must strengthen our new heart with healthy spiritual food and exercise.

Teach me to strengthen my heart Lord. Help me to discern and speak truth from my heart.

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

The Foolish Heart

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” [Psalm 14:1 ESV]

The dictionary tells us that a fool is a person who lacks good sense or judgment. I think that we can all relate to knowing, or being, such a person. I have done many foolish things. I have been led astray by lusts and pride. I can not tell you how many foolish automobile purchases that I have made.

Yet I think that this verse speaks to us of something very different. Jesus says this about the foolish heart:
"Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
The fool builds on the premise that God does not exist. Their life is controlled by their brain. They live by carnal principles and precepts. Yet the wise heart, the new heart, fully embraces the presence of God. In history. In the world. In their own life. Such a person says in their heart, I believe in God.

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

trusting in God's love

I trust in your love. [Psalm 13:5 NCV]

Sometimes the only thing that has gotten me though life is the belief that God loves me. When my wife had a heart attack at age 39 all I seemed to have was the love of God. This love often showed up in the actions of family and friends. When she died four years later I chose to trust in God's love.

Trusting that God loves us can be most difficult when times are hard and life seems so dark. It is even more difficult if one believes that God causes or allows such times of. We can become angry and bitter at the Lord. We can react in such a way that rejects the love of God instead of embracing it.

Yet who would not blame God for their pain if they have been taught that God micromanages their life events? It is why it is so important to understand that God is not the one who allows your pain but is the one who walks through it with you. He weeps with you. You can trust in his unconditional love.

I trust in your unconditional love Lord. Nothing can separate me from your love.

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

The Safe Place

Lord, you will keep us safe; you will always protect us from such people. [Psalm 12:7 NCV]

This verse does not seem to makes sense when one considers the damages done, and lives lost, by tornados, floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters. In truth, no one is safe from physical harm. Trials and troubles happen to everyone everywhere. Rains fall on the righteous and unrighteous.

So what are we to make of David's statement? I am not sure that he meant it this way, but I believe that the regenerated new heart is the spiritually safe place. A place that is untouchable by worldly, and even spiritual, forces. Such a place is where we are kept safe from things that wage war against our souls.

The issue however is that most of us live out of the unsafe place of our minds. The head is never kept safe from assault because it is susceptible to worldly influences. It is why we are admonished in proverbs to always trust in the Lord with all of our hearts instead of our relying on own understandings.

Teach us Lord to live from the safe place. I tough times help us to embrace our hearts.

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

The Compassionate Heart

Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? [Psalm 10:1 NIV]

I think most of us can relate to these questions. Our brains scream out these questions in times of trouble. The word "Why?" is prevalent when we see a loved one suffering. When my first wife died I asked it. Watching my wife struggle with disability I ask it. It is a very normal and human response.

Yet there is another response that I experience. Compassion. This word is never about questions or accusations. Compassion embraces suffering and, like the Holy Spirit, comes alongside a friend to help. Instead of looking for the cause of the pain, compassion answers the pain with empathy.

I fell last month and fractured my hip. Compassionate friends listened to me recount the accident. These friends empathized, prayed and sought ways to help me in my need. I felt their hearts of compassion. It helped me to get past my brain's "Why?" questions. I am glad that compassion ruled the day.

Thank you Lord for compassionate friends that help us get past "Why?" questions.

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

Refuge for the Heart

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. [Psalm 9:9 NIV]

Trouble seems to eventually find us. We hurt and feel alone in our suffering. We look and find no place to turn. In addition to the pain, we sometimes experience a sense of abandonment. In times like these we need a place of refuge for our souls. A place of healing and refreshing for our hearts.

My life experience informs me to the nature of such a place. I think that the words 'refuge' and 'stronghold' communicate an environment and atmosphere of encouragement. Sometimes such courage can be found in times of solitude with the Lord. Yet generally, courage is found in the company of friends.

It points me to the way that God 'normally' interacts with us. For sure he often speaks to us in a still small voice. Yet he usually encourages and strengthens us through gifted members of the Body of Christ. I have received strength from the words and acts of such saints. And my heart has been encouraged.

Help me Lord. I want to hide when I hurt. Help me to be vulnerable to the encouragement of friends.

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

The Just Heart

Wake up, my God, and bring justice!. ... I will thank the Lord because he is just; [Psalm 7:6,17 NLT]

Justice is an interesting concept. When David wrote this I think that he believed that justice looked like 'an eye for an eye'. In this psalm he writes of wanting God to execute justice with deadly weaponry. Some today embrace this flavor of justice. They cry out for revenge thinking justice will be done.

In Jesus we see a different brand of justice. One based in Restoration. Rehabilitation. Forgiveness. Unconditional love. Treating others as we want to be treated. It is a justice that cries out to God for the poor and less fortunate. One that visits the sick and those in prison. One that seeks social equality.

Such a justice is not always human but it is always divine. Such a justice is the way that God interacts with humankind. Instead of judgment he offers us compassionate justice. He forgives offenses instead of passing judgment. He picks us up when we fall. He is ever present in our times of trouble.

Dear Lord, help me to live out a just heart Help our nation. Help the world. To embrace divine justice.

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

Tears reveal the Heart

The Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my plea. [Psalm 6:8-9 NLT]

There is something abouts tears and weeping that touches something deep inside of us. I think that tears often reveal what is going on in our heart. As we pray tears sometimes flow. John tells us twice in Revelation that God will one day wipe the tears from our eyes. There is something special about our tears.

Like David, I often cry in prayer. Sometimes over a sin or a failure. Sometimes over something God has whispered to me. In some sense there is a universal language of tears. The gospel writers saw Jesus cry on many occasions. They interpreted his tears by saying that he was moved by compassion.

This imagery is the one that best defines compassion. Tears incite a compassionate reaction in us. They connect us to the pain and suffering of another person. I have been moved to compassionate tears many times when I have prayed for a friend. Perhaps the Lord responds to our prayers in the same way?

Dear Lord. Help us to compassionately connect with the pain and suffering of others.

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

The Happy Heart

You make me happier than those who have abundant grain and wine. [Psalm 4:7 NET]

Ever wonder why people of simple means seem so much happier than folks who possess much wealth? Ever contemplate the cost on the heart of attaining riches? So often our lives are lived focused on the things that our brains prioritize as important. In doing so we often lose our hearts.

There is a happiness that transcends human experience. One that is not dependent on happenings. Not related to social status. Oblivious to wealth. Not associated with the mind but with the heart. It is an inner contentment that defies logic and rationality. It comes from knowing the Lord.

David possessed such a joy. He had such a heart. He was born from above. He had the Holy Spirit. He knew God. Like the Apostle Paul, David had the inner ability to be content in whatever circumstance he found himself in. We who believe do too. Our challenge is to simply live from our happy heart.

Help me today Lord. To live from my happy heart. Instead of my logical head.

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

The Resting Heart

I will lie down and sleep peacefully, for you, Lord, make me safe and secure. [Psalm 4:8 NET]

David's life was filled with times where he was hunted down. Saul chased after him before his royal reign. Years after becoming king his son Absalom drove him from the throne. In this psalm, and the one before it, he speaks of resting in the midst of tumultuous times. Sleeping in times of trials and troubles.

I think that many of us can relate to times of sleeplessness causes by trials and troubles. In these times our brains cause us to lay awake playing out what-if scenarios in our head. In such times we would do well to listen to the still small voice of our heart telling us that the Lord will keep us safe and secure.

For sure it is not easy to stay centered in such times. The nature of trials is to capture our attention and cause us to become fearful. During such times it is so important to listen to the voice of our heart.

It reminds me of a time in 1990 when my first wife lay in a hospital room fighting for her life. Oxygen was not getting her extremities and the hospital staff was ready to put her on a breathing machine. In the midst of chaos I asked them to stop. I began to pray out loud words that came from deep within me. A presence filled the room. Oxygen began to flow to her body. It was amazing. I cried out to the Lord and he heard me.

Dear Lord. In times of trouble. Help my heart to rest knowing that you are the One who makes me safe.

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

The Generous Heart

I will not make an offering to the Eternal One, my True God, that has cost me nothing. [2 Samuel 24:24]

There is an old joke about the chicken and the pig discussing the idea of breakfast. The pig says to the hen that her contribution is but a mere offering while his will cost him all that he has. So it is with many of us. We are not disturbed by the idea of making a donation if it really does not cost us anything.

I think that the difference in the way we give is whether we do it with our head or our heart. The head calculates percentages. It measures the worthiness of the recipient. The heart on the other hand is generous. It embraces grace and mercy. It gives what costs them something. Sometimes everything.

Help me Lord to say with David that I will not give an offering that has cost me nothing.

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

The Spirit speaks within Me

The Spirit of the Lord speaks within me; his word is on my tongue! [2 Samuel 23:2 ISV]

Much turmoil has happened since David sinned with Bathsheba. David's family has come apart. His son Absalom revolted against David and is now dead. David has returned to his throne. He takes time to reflect on his life. He remembers how God has protected him. And how He has spoken within his heart.

It speaks to me about how in the toughest of times God is with us. Speaking to us in words and feelings of our heart. The truth is that we most need to hear His still small voice when we are despondent. When we are hopeless. Such words and feelings evidence his presence with us. And it is enough.

Help me Holy Spirit to sense your presence and to hear your words within my heart.

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

A Broken and Repentant Heart

The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. [Psalm 51:17 NLT]

David has been king for some time. The army is engaged in battle. He is at home in his castle. He sees a woman taking a bath. He wants her. He takes her. He has her husband killed. He did despicable things. He eventually marries a pregnant Bathsheba. How is this man called one after God's heart?

The words that David writes in this psalm give us understanding. Sometimes it takes a great error in judgment to reveal the hardness in our heart. Our heart must break over our actions before we can repent. The price of humility is brokenness. Once we are broken grace can take hold of our heart.

A person after God's own heart is not one who does not sin. Such a person is one who is broken. Such a person is one who is influenced by the Holy Spirit to repent and change when they sin. This is what it means to be a person after God's own heart. Not a perfect heart but broken and repentant one.

I am proud Lord. Help me to be humble. Teach me to be one after your heart.

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

Extravagant Kindness

David said to him, "Don't be afraid, because I will certainly extend kindness to you for the sake of Jonathan your father. You will be a regular guest at my table." [2 Samuel 9:7 NET]

If ever there was an image of kindness, David's welcoming of Saul's grandson Mephibosheth is a beautiful one. His kindness extended past forgiveness. Past reconciliation. Being a regular guest at the king's table signified a desire for relationship. The invitation revealed so much about David's heart.

I think that this image is so representative of the kindness of God. In the same way that David extended kindness to Mephibosheth, the Lord invites us to sup with him at his table. His desire for us is more than forgiveness. More than reconciliation. His kind invitation is all about relationship.

Who am I that you would want to be my friend? Thank you Lord for your kind invitation.

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

The Humble Heart

Who am I, Lord God, and what is my family, that you have brought me to this? [2 Samuel 7:18 ISV]

This was David's response when the prophet Nathan prophesied to him saying: "Your dynasty and your kingdom will remain forever in my presence—your throne will be secure forever." Such a word from God will, depending on the state of your heart, either break you or inflate your ego.

In my darkest and most discouraging times the Lord has spoken words to my heart that has broken and humbled me. He has spoken words to me, about me, that have brought me to tears. Such is the word that Nathan spoke to David. When a heart is humble it is surprised by such a word.

Thank you Dear Father for giving me a new and humble heart. To you belongs the glory.

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

Dancing to honor the Lord

I will go on dancing to honor the Lord, and will disgrace myself even more. [2 Samuel 6:21-22 GNT]

David is now king. He has captured Jerusalem. The Ark of the Covenant is returning to the city. David is dancing as the Ark returns. He is filled with a joy that his wife Michal cannot understand. She strikes out at him criticizing the manner in which he dances. She is bereft of joy and does not want to dance.

When I was younger, I danced in church. There was so much joy when we were all singing together. Many people danced and celebrated as we experienced a joy deep in our hearts. Some, like Michal, criticize this kind of dancing. I get that. Some simply do not understand this joyous way of honoring God.

Cause me to dance again Lord. Help me to be filled with a joy in my heart that moves my feet.

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

The Heart of Enemy Love

Who else would let his enemy get away when he had him in his power? [1Samuel 24:19 NLT]

Saul has been hunting David. His intention is to kill him. Then suddenly David has an opportunity to kill Saul. Instead of death he chooses life. The passage tells us that David’s conscience began bothering him. Who cannot relate to hearing that still small voice of conscience when we are tempted to act out of hate?

In truth, loving our enemies runs counterintuitive to how we are all wired. Doing good to them when they treat us badly just does not seem logical. It is why enemy love is an issue of the heart and not the head. When we live from a new and regenerated heart we seek to love, and reconcile with, our enemies.

Open our inner eyes Lord. Help us to see and love as you do. Teach us to love our enemies.

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

Encouragement from the Heart

Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. [1Samuel 23:16 NLT]
David has been on the run from Saul for a long time. He is discouraged. He fears for his life. Did not the prophet anoint him to be king over Israel? How is it that the journey has taken so many wrong turns? He has waited for so long to ascend to the throne and grab hold of what the prophet anointed him to do.

In times like these we all need encouragement to stay strong in our faith in God. We need someone who will seek us out. One who can speak courage from their heart to our heart. In times of trial and adversity we need to be reminded that God is with us and will fulfill his calling in our lives.

Grants us Lord, to be ones who speak words of encouragement. From our heart to another heart.

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

Heart Loyalty

Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn loyalty to each other in the Lord’s name. The Lord is the witness of a bond between us and our children forever.” [1Samuel 20:42 NLT]

Much has happened since that day when David overcame the giant. David has become famous. More famous than Saul. The king is jealous of that fame and seeks to kill young David. In spite of Saul's hatred, his son Jonathan has developed a loving friendship with David that puts him at odds with Saul.

As Saul seeks to kill David, Jonathan chooses to follow the dictates of his heart rather than the edicts of the king. An example of how we must always choose to be loyal to good so that evil does not prevail. We must be loyal to what we know to be true in our heart instead of what make sense to our heads.

Teach us about loyalty Lord Jesus. Help us to always choose you when our head wants to choose another.

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

The Reply of the Heart

David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. ... This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!” [1Samuel 17:45,47 NLT]

What do you think of when you hear the phrase: "This is the Lord’s battle"? Do you imagine miraculous intervention? Or something else? In this example David seems to be speaking about how God will be using an insignificant shepherd boy to defeat an infamous and irreverent Philistine giant.

I really love the faith and confidence that envelope David's words. His response seems to come from a place deep within his heart. He knows where he has been. He understands who he is. He has seen God work through him before and he expects Him to work through him again. It is simply beautiful.

Help us Lord to remember when you worked through us. Give us a heart filled reply to our giants today.

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

The Heart of a Shepherd

David said, “I’ve been a shepherd, tending sheep for my father. Whenever a lion or bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I’d go after it, knock it down, and rescue the lamb. ... And I’ll do the same to this Philistine pig who is taunting the troops of God. [1Samuel 17:34-36 MSG]

I love the type of person that God chose to fight the giant. Not a seasoned warrior but a shepherd boy. Not one trained in the art of war but one seasoned in the art of caring for helpless animals. Though similarities exist, the warrior and the shepherd are very different. One attacks. One defends.

As David speaks to King Saul we hear the heart of a shepherd. One who cares more about the safety of his flock than his own safety. One who understands the call to defend the helpless. A person who understand what it means to love sacrificially. Such is the one who is called to fight giants.

Lord, help us to develop the heart of a shepherd that we might defend those who are the weakest among us.

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

The Ridiculousness of the Heart

Don’t be ridiculous—you can’t fight the Philistine. You’re only a youth, and he has been a warrior since his childhood. You lack age and experience. [1Samuel 17:33 VOICE]

Age. Experience. These are the qualities that the brain values. These are the things that managers look for in professional resumes. Yet these are not the things that make great leaders. Or soldiers. Or software designers. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates did not change the world because of age and experience.

These two titans of computer engineering changed the world because they had what David had. They had heart. They had passion. Like David they embraced courage and believed that giants, like IBM, would fall before their passion. Such is the example we have in David. He had a ridiculous heart.

I want to have a ridiculous heart Lord. I want to see the possibilities. I want to defeat giants.

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

Let no one lose Heart

“Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” ... “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” [1Samuel 17:26,32 NIV]

Some time has passed since Samuel anointed David king. Life has gone back to normal for young David. Back to caring for his Dad's sheep. Back to the daily grind. Back to taking provisions to his brothers as they fight the Philistines. And then Goliath appeared before him and revealed David's heart.

There is something about giants that bring the best or worst out of us. Giants cause us to either lose heart or take heart. And, in this moment of challenge, we see the very best of David as he takes heart. As courage rises from the very depths of his being. It reminds me to feed my faith. And my courage.

In you Lord I find the faith to fight the giants in my life. Arise in me today that I might slay my fears.

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

God sees the Heart

The LORD told Samuel, "Don't look at his appearance or his height, for I've rejected him.
Truly, God does not see what man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance,
but the LORD sees the heart." [1 Samuel 16:7 ISV]

This is the beginning of a new chapter in Israel. Saul has been rejected as King. Samuel is looking for a new man to anoint as king. Yet he seems to still have an old regal image in mind as he looks. Consider what the prophet saw, and how it skewed his judgement, when he first came upon Saul.
"Kish had a son named Saul, as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else." [1 Samuel 9:2]
As Samuel looks for Saul's replacement he looks for someone who looked like Saul. And as he does God stops him in his tracks by telling him that his criteria was all wrong when he chose Saul. For you see, Samuel was still looking for outward stature when he inspected all of David's brothers.

Samuel thought this when he saw one of David's brothers: “Surely the Lord's anointed is before him.” It was hard for the prophet to get passed his external image of what a leader looked like. It is hard for many of us as well. God is all about the heart. He has always wanted men and women after his own heart.

Open our inner eyes Lord to see past external images. Cause us to be a people after your own heart.

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


Grow in grace and understanding of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ. Glory to the Master, now and forever! Yes! [2Peter 3:18 MSG]

Life is a continuum of growth. A baby is born with limited mental and physical capacity. Their growth in those early years is amazing. Their bodies double and triple in size. Their abilities seem to outperform their size. As these precious children head towards adulthood their growth seems to evolve.

Such is the life of one who is born from above. Like a natural child a baby believer is in need of growth. These often look like a baby who falls as they try walk. And like the child they are wired to emulate their parents. Such is the context of growing in the grace and understanding of Jesus.

We who have been born from above are wired to glorify our Heavenly Father in the same way that a child desires to please their parents. Growing in grace and understanding is all about emulating the One of whom the Father said: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

We desire to glorify you Lord. Please guide us as we grow in grace and understanding.

... this devotion is part of my series on the epistles of Peter and biblical words.

Work Hard to Live in Peace

So, my friends, while we wait for the day of the Lord, work hard to live in peace, without flaw or blemish; and look at the patience of the Lord as your salvation. [2Peter 3:14-15a VOICE]

The words, "work hard to live in peace", speak deeply to me of what it means to walk in the Spirit. It is so difficult to experience peace on the outside when we are internally bereft of it. Yet this peace is so important for anyone who desires to follow the way of Christ. It is why we must work hard for it.

When I think of working hard for something I think of the word discipline. A disciple is one who patiently trains to achieve their goal. They exercise. They build up their muscles. The have a training regimen. Such it is for those who work hard for peace. One step at a time these do the things that make for peace.

Help me to embrace the discipline of peace Lord.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

Where Justice Reigns

What will happen next, and what we hope for, is what God promised: a new heaven and a new earth where justice reigns. [2Peter 3:13 VOICE]

The Greek word, dikaiosynē, is translated here as justice but in other translations it is rendered as righteousness. That is understandable as as righteousness can be defined as "God's judicial approval". I love the idea that divine righteousness, or doing the right thing, is centered in divine justice.

When I think about justice reigning in heaven I think not about human justice. This flavor of justice too often looks more like retribution (i.e. an eye for an eye) than reconciliation and rehabilitation. When I think about the reign of heavenly justice I imagine a place that is filled with divine reconciliation.

Teach us Lord to pray for heavenly justice. As it is in heaven please let it be done on earth.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

Like a Thief in the Night

The day of the Lord will come unexpectedly like a thief in the night; and on that day, the sky will vanish with a roar, the elements will melt with intense heat, and the earth and all the works done on it will be seen as they truly are. [2Peter 3:10 VOICE]
I once read these words in a very literal sense. I believe that the only meaning to the phrase 'the day of the Lord' was the end of the world. Thinking back, it is a strange perspective. Why would Peter write about something that Christians would not experience for several millennia after he wrote it?

The more realistic meaning is summed up in acknowledging that none of us know the day of our death. That day when earth's sky will be irrelevant. When our lives on earth will be seen for what they really are. When, as Paul writes to the Corinthians, all that is not pure in our lives will be proverbially burned up. And because we do not know the time of our passing we are compelled to live every day as though it is our last.

Help us Lord to live our mortal lives with immortality in mind.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

Patient and Merciful

Now the Lord is not slow about enacting His promise—slow is how some people want to characterize it—no, He is not slow but patient and merciful to you, not wanting anyone to be destroyed, but wanting everyone to turn away from following his own path and to turn toward God’s. [2Peter 3:9 VOICE]
Sometimes it is so very hard to exercise patience as a parent. It can be equally difficult to show mercy to your children when they have followed their own path and rejected the things that you have taught them. It is during these times that our children most need our love, patience, understanding and mercy.

Such is the example that we have in our Heavenly Father. My own life is a testimony to how he has been patient with my religious arrogance and judging of my brothers and sisters in Christ. For years he watched as I rejected the path of humility. Eventually I began to grasp his mercy for me and for others. I began to be accepting of others. I learned how to patiently love and show mercy to them. Wishing them the very best.

Help us Lord to be people who help people turn towards you and follow your path.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

God’s Timetable

Don’t imagine, dear friends, that God’s timetable is the same as ours; as the psalm says, for with the Lord, one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like one day. [2Peter 3:8 VOICE]
What do you think of the idea of a timeless being having a timetable? Amusing when you consider the idea. God created everything. Including time. Apart from the rising and setting of the sun there is no point of reference for the concept. Putting God inside of time would make the created greater than the Creator.

Even so, the concept does speak to our need for patient endurance when God seems nowhere to be found. In a real sense these are the times that we need to engage faith. Not in the notion that God has a timetable but that he is greater than time. Greater than our trials. And timelessly present with us in all things.

We wait in hope Lord Jesus. Help us to sense your timeless presence today.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again?

They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.” [2Peter 3:4 NLT]

Ever wondered about the idea that Jesus is coming again? In the previous verse Peter says that scoffers ask these kinds of questions. So is he saying that it is wrong to question eschatological dogmas like the Rapture or the Battle of Armageddon? Or is the issue is more about how we question than whether we do.

For me, I love questions. I find that they cause me to seek the scriptures. They help me to refine my theological thinking. For example, in my youth I dogmatically embraced a mid-tribulation rapture and thought that it would happen in my lifetime. Time has caused me to question that dogma and think differently.

These days I read about the promise that Jesus is coming again and I see him coming for me when I breathe my last breath. It is a blessed hope that gives wings to a full embracing the promise of his return.

Help us Lord to be seekers instead of scoffers. To find hope in your coming for us.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

Whatever Controls You

They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you. ... They prove the truth of this proverb: “A dog returns to its vomit.” And another says, “A washed pig returns to the mud.” [2Peter 2:19,22 NLT]

When I think about the idea of being controlled by something I think of addiction. There is a tendency in our culture to regard addicts and addiction in a pejorative light. We often are not merciful when we consider the topic. Unless the addiction is something more resembling a Christian addiction ... I mean habit. ツ

Peter warned about false teachers in his time. Have you ever wondered about what a false teacher looks like in our day? Could it be someone who promises grace and then, like the Pharisees, impose regurgitated religious rules on their followers? Or could it be preachers who invite followers to experience the love of God and then teach people to return to habitual judging and gossiping about addictions not similar to their own?

Teach us Lord to be teachers of love who are not controlled by our addiction to judging others.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

Like Animals

These false teachers are like unthinking animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed. They scoff at things they do not understand, and like animals, they will be destroyed. [2Peter 2:12 NLT]

I may be wading into uncomfortable territory when I say that the unregenerated human is like an animal in that they possess nothing that will survive death. As much as I dearly loved my pets, I do not believe that I will see them in heaven. They were mortal animals that simply ceased to exist when they died.

So I believe that it is with humans who have not been born of the Spirit. In my view people are not born immortal but become immortal when they are, as Jesus put it, born again. Those who have not been spiritually born have nothing in them that survives death. They simply cease to exist when they die.

We pray Lord for those who are in need of a spiritual birth. Open their eyes and their hearts to your love.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

The Day of Judgment

Since the Lord did all this, he knows how to rescue godly people when they are tested. He also knows how to hold immoral people for punishment on the day of judgment. [2Peter 2:9 GW]

In a very real sense salvation, like judgment, is finalized in the future. Life is filled with things that are not fair. Innocent children die young. Bad things happen to godly people. Good things happen to immoral people. So often life simply does not makes sense. So often we are confronted with the question of why.

Yet when I think of judgment day, my mind imagines a day when all is made right. Parents are reunited with lost children. Painful tears are wiped from our eyes. Those who have rejected the Divine are nowhere to be found. It is a time when past trials and sufferings will make sense. It will be a glorious day.

We have a Blessed Hope. Empower us again to persevere when tested Dear Jesus.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

False Teachers

Just as false prophets rose up in the past among God’s people, false teachers will rise up in the future among you. They will slip in with their destructive opinions ... These false teachers will follow their greed and exploit you with their fabrications [2Peter 2:1,3 VOICE]

It is always good to remember that the presence of something false is an evidence of something true. The idea of a counterfeit three dollar bill is ludicrous because there is not a real one printed by the government. So it is with false prophets and teachers. They exist as a testimony to those who are true teachers.

That said, I think that it is helpful to point out that not everything a person teaches is entirely true or false. Being a false teacher has everything to do with the heart and not the head. With why one says something rather than what one says. False teachers use manipulation as they follow their greed. In this context we understand that false teachers will say about anything to benefit themselves and their ministries.

Keep us Lord. Help us not to be manipulated. Give us discernment concerning false teachers.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.


Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. [2Peter 1:20-21 NIV]

Hermeneutics is the theory or methodology of biblical interpretation taught at seminaries and bible colleges. Though the concept has much merit, such classes rarely examine the prime hermeneutic, the interpretation of God himself. In reality, all biblical interpretation is filtered through how one sees God. It is a difficult topic to be taught because it reveals how the most essential hermeneutic skews every other hermeneutic.

So when Peter tells us that the scriptures are not about human interpretation we understand that he is not saying that the prophets were not human. In contrast he tells us that these humans were carried along by God's Spirit as they spoke. God spoke through them in the context of their culture, language and their image of God. As we read their words in scripture we interpret their words in the light of the prime hermeneutic.

Help us Lord to fully embrace your divine image presented by Jesus in the gospel accounts.

... this devotion is part of my series on the epistles of Peter and biblical words.

Who brings me Great Joy

“This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” [2Peter 1:17 NLT]

These are the words from the majestic glory of God that Peter, James and John heard on the Mount of Transfiguration. The words are expressive of the pride that a parent feels when they see their child. Children often create a great sense of joy in their parents as they grow into the fullness of their gifts.

I think that we are capable of bringing great joy to our Heavenly Father. When we love others the way that he loves us, we bring joy to him. When we continue to believe when it no longer makes sense, we bring him joy. When we seek him in prayer, asking for his will to be done in our lives, we bring him great joy.

Our desire Lord, is to be among those who bring you great joy. Help us to be like your dearly loved Son.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.


For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. [2Peter 1:16 ESV]

Peter seems to understand how, even in his time, there is a tendency to relegate the gospel accounts of Christ's life and ministry to mythic status. It is understandable that some think that Jesus never existed. The things that we read about Jesus in the bible are somewhat unbelievable. How could they not be?

Yet the testimony of those who witnessed the majestic life, death and resurrection of Christ is very believable. These were not theologians or apologists. These were people like us who were there with Jesus. Yet, unlike you and me, these testified and remained faithful to Christ in the face of torture and death.

Thank you Lord for those who have stayed faithful to you in times of suffering, trial and persecution.

... this devotion is part of my series on the epistles of Peter and biblical words.

Confirm your Call

Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble. [2Peter 1:10 NRSV]

I made my confirmation in the Episcopal church when I was about thirteen. It was similar to how young Jewish boys celebrate their Bar Mitzvah. Yet the confirmation that Peter writes about here is a bit different in that it speaks to what James writes to us about showing your faith by the way that you live your life.

This to me is the heart of what it means to be a person of faith. Each day we are called to confirm the call that God has on our lives. In moments of trial and suffering our faith is being tried and tested. And perhaps, in the end, confirmation is more about conformation to the image of Jesus than anything else?

Conform me Lord. To the image that I see of your Son in the gospels. I am eager to confirm your call.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

Improve your Faith

Do your best to improve your faith. You can do this by adding goodness, understanding, self-control, patience, devotion to God, concern for others, and love. [2Peter 1:5-7 CEV]

Sometimes I think we view faith in binary terms. Yesterday we did not believe. Today we believe. I think this view is limiting. It does not allow for faith to grow or, as this translations puts it, improve. I like the idea that faith can improve over time as we add virtue to it. In reality faith and virtues are linked together.

I love the similarity between Peter's list of virtues here and the fruit of the Spirit that Paul speaks of in his letter to the Galatians. There is a symbiotic relationship between internal transformation and external fruit. In truth, internal virtues are strengthened as they are externally expressed and exercised by a believer.

Lord help us to act out and improve our faith. Teach us to follow the voice of virtue deep within us.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

Faith in the Righteousness of God

Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained a like precious faith with us in the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ: [2Peter 1:1 ESV]

What do you think it means to have faith in divine righteousness? I suggest to you that it means to believe that God will always act in accordance with his character. As such, we can always expect him to be a real expression of the fruit of his Spirit. He will always be patient, loving and good in his dealings with us.

A belief such as this is precious in the sight of God. To see Him as loving in the midst of suffering is to embrace a precious faith. To know that he is good when everything around us seems so bad requires a faith in divine righteousness. To have such faith we must be, like Peter, a servant of Jesus Christ.

Help us Lord to lean into a faith in your righteousness. That we might fully embrace the fruit of your Spirit.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

Greet one another with a loving kiss.

Greet one another with a loving kiss. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. [1Peter 5:14 NET]

There is something intimate about a kiss or even a hug. I remember the first time a guy hugged me at a Christian businessmen's meeting. It was unprovoked and somewhat unwelcome. Yet I think it was the beginning of a breakdown of barriers. The stoic part of me was always more comfortable shaking hands.

Perhaps this idea of a loving kiss is best expressed in our culture by a loving embrace. A hug. I can see embraces like this all over the gospels. The healing touch of Jesus greatly abounded in his ministry. Likewise in our lives, healing and peace can also flow when we embrace each other in love.

Open our eyes Lord to those who are hurting and in need of a hug.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

Steadfast in your Faith

Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. [1Peter 5:8-9 NRSV]

Peter reminds us in these verses that life is a spiritual battle. We have a spiritual enemy that wars against us seeking to destroy our faith in the love and goodness of God. This enemy whispers to us when we suffer. He questions and casts dispersion on the character of the Lord. Our response is to resist him in faith.

I relate to these sorts of temptations. We are open to these kinds of suggestions when we suffer and are in pain. In reality, if someone can convince you that God is the source of your pain then the battle is mostly won. It is why we must resist such accusations. It is why we must steadfastly believe that God is good and loving.

Help my suffering brothers and sisters in the world to remain steadfast in believing you are good and loving.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

Humble Yourselves by Casting Your Cares on Him

God will exalt you in due time, if you humble yourselves under his mighty hand by casting all your cares on him because he cares for you. [1Peter 5:6-7 NET]

There is something humbling about prayer. In a sense, prayer is is an admission to ourselves that we are powerless and not in control. In this verse, Peter presents an image of one who has prostrated themselves before God releasing all of their worries and cares to Him. The image is humbling, heartfelt and helpful.

Prayer is a reflection of the One to whom we pray. We pray because we know He cares for us. We entrust our deepest pain to Jesus because we know that he understands. Hebrews puts it this way:
"For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help."
We pray because God cares about our cares. Jesus understands our struggles and is with us in them.

I am not in control. I choose to trust you Lord. I release all of my cares to you.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

Clothe Yourselves with Humility

And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. [1Peter 5:5 NET]

Is there a more expressive image of the spiritual life than a person who is clothed in humility? So what does it mean to put on humility? Perhaps it is good to recognize that clothing is visible to others and can take on many forms. In that respect humility is like clothing. Visible by actions. Varied by demeanor.

When one puts on humility they put on Christ, the humble king. They embrace his compassion for others. Like Jesus, their humility bleeds as red as the love of God. These who put on humility know God and who they are in Him. God is for such people. He daily empowers them with divine grace.

Teach me Lord. To reject the rags of pride. To choose the beautiful clothing of humility.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

Do not lord it over those entrusted to you.

Give a shepherd’s care to God’s flock among you, exercising oversight not merely as a duty but willingly under God’s direction, not for shameful profit but eagerly. And do not lord it over those entrusted to you, but be examples to the flock. [1Peter 5:2-3 ISV]

I have a memory of a pastor who, when I was young, told me that my job as a leader was to submit to his leadership. To the damage of my soul I said yes thinking that it was my responsibility to follow his leadership. I so want to point the finger at people like him who have lorded it over me. And yet.

I have learned that such people, those who demand loyalty, are the ones who least deserve it. Those who have earned it are the ones that, as Peter put it, give a shepherd's care to God’s flock. In truth, we all lead by influence. And the best way to lead is to influence by genuine love and care.

Lord, I pray for those who have been called to lead. Help them to be divine examples to your flock.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

Trial by Fire

Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you. [1Peter 4:12 NET]

When I think about fire I am reminded that there are things that cannot be burned up when exposed to a flame. Paper will burn. Wood will be turned to ash. Gold will be refined. It will be purified. It will be reshaped into something beautiful and useable. This is the image of one tried and tested by the fires of life.

In truth, life is meant to test us. Test our faith. Test our love. Refine us. Purify us. To make us like Jesus Christ. When fiery trials come they are meant to burn away every false thing in us. Like molten gold, these trials purify and reshape us into something beautiful. It is why we can rejoice when we are tried by fire.

To you we turn Lord. Like Daniel's friends, you are the one who stands with us in the fire.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.