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.