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.