How many of you have something in your life that you desire to see changed? Do you want to be more fruitful in your life? I would assume that everyone in the Body of Christ desires to grow and bear more fruit in their lives. For some of us, we desire to see more of the gifts of the Spirit or the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. For others, we desire to see our bodies healed or a turnaround in our finances. Still others desire to see their children and grandchildren serving the Lord and fulfilling the purpose God has for their lives. Everyone likely has something that they desire to be more fruitful in.
So, since there will always be things that we, as believers, desire to grow in and see changed, it is imperative that we learn how things work in the kingdom of God. Yes, there are spiritual principles that we must learn to abide by if we are going to see consistent fruit borne in our lives. And that is what we are going to learn in this series—how to bear the fruit of God’s kingdom in our lives.
So, let’s go over to John chapter 15 and take a look at one of these spiritual laws that teaches us one very important kingdom principle for bearing much fruit:
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE FATHER’S BUSINESS
Now it is important for us to realize that Jesus’ teaching in John 15:1-8 is part of His last words of exhortation to His disciples. Therefore, these verses must be of extreme significance as they were likely referring to something they would need to know with Him leaving their side. Amen?
Just think about it: If you were running your own family business and had employees working under you, and then you were moving on and planned to hand this business over to those employees, don’t you think your last set of instructions would be your most important? You bet they would! You would probably give them the information that they needed to remember the most there at the end.
So, I believe this is what Jesus was doing here in John chapters 14-16; He was giving them the instructions that they most needed to hear with them being on their own.
For example, one of the main topics that he covered in these chapters was that the Helper—their advantage—would be coming in His place to teach them all the things they couldn’t bear while He was with them, to guide them into all truth, and to even remind them of the things He had taught them. Therefore, He was encouraging them that even though He was leaving them, they wouldn’t be alone.
But I believe that these words in John chapter 15, were likewise significant. I see them as equally as important as the Promise of the Holy Spirit because in these verses, Jesus teaches His disciples how to stay in His presence even though He would soon not be present.
We will get more into this in this series, but let’s look at these verses and see the example that Jesus gives them to illustrate this vital message.
(Read John 15:1-8)
WHAT GLORIFIES OUR FATHER?
“By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”
Notice that Jesus said here that our Heavenly Father is glorified when we bear much fruit, not when we bear little fruit. In other words, what glorifies God is not when we are struggling and lacking.
However, there are many Christians who believe this. They think God is glorified in their sickness, poverty, etc. but that is not true! Now you can certainly glorify God in your infirmities by bearing the fruits of joy, peace, etc., when you are struggling in these physical things. But it is not our trials and tribulations that glorify God; it is being fruitful that brings Him glory.
You see, we need to understand that our Heavenly Father wants to give to us good things and wants for us to be fruitful! It is super important to understand this—that God desires, wills and is pleased with us being fruitful, not fruitless. He is not glorified when we aren’t reaching our full potential and being successful in life.
Just look at your heart’s desire regarding your own children: How many of you are proud and blessed when you see your kids barely getting along and struggling in their life? No! You are “glorified” when your kids are successful in life—when they are doing well in their careers, in their choices, in their family, etc. This is what blesses you and what you are proud to share with people—when they are bearing much fruit. Amen?
And notice that Jesus says at the end of verse 8— “so you will be My disciples.” What is a disciple? It is one who follows their Master and has duplicated their example. So, being fruitful can best be described by being just like Jesus and following His own example in what we do and experience. Amen!
HOW TO BEAR MUCH FRUIT
But there is a way—Yes, there is a specific way to being fruitful in God’s kingdom and glorifying Him in our lives. And that is what I want to begin talking to you about today: How to be fruitful!
So, this is the question: How do we do this? How can we practically apply this truth to our lives so that we can produce His fruit in and through us? The answer is found in verse seven. Yes, John 15:7 teaches us the two steps to receiving what we desire from God. Now I am hesitant to even say it that way because receiving from God is not in a formula; receiving from God is like receiving fruit. It just comes as a result of our position and by submitting to kingdom principles. Amen.
In John 15:7, Jesus says, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”
Notice that this verse begins with “If.” If you have an “if” then what is being said is conditional and is based on what you choose to do. You see, the Lord is not in the business of violating the spiritual laws that He has set up, just like He is not in the business of violating physical laws like the law of gravity. The law of gravity will work 99.9% of the time, barring a miracle. But that is exactly what so many Christians are trying to do—to live on that “one in a million” time where the Lord suspends natural laws to perform a miracle. That is not the way God wants us to live.
It is like a farmer who buys a field out there because he desires some corn. But instead of planting corn seed during the time of the year where the seed is to be sown, he says, “Naw, I’m not going to do that. I’m going to ask God for the corn and hope that He gives me corn come harvest time.” Well, what is going to happen come harvest time? Is any corn going to grow in that field? No, he is going to be “fruit-LESS.”
Now that seems comical to talk about it from that perspective but that is exactly what most of the Body of Christ is doing: They are asking the Lord for a harvest when they have not planted any seed. It doesn’t work that way in the natural; nor does it work that way in the spiritual.
So, yes, there is a cooperation with the promise contained in this verse, and we will get more into these conditions through this series.
But can this verse really be true? Are there any other stipulations made or are there any conjunctions that tie this promise to other verses? No and no! This verse is TRUE! So, notice that in this verse, we have both a description of what it means to be fruitful and the means by which we get to this place of bearing much fruit in our lives.
Now the asking what we desire and it being done for us by the Lord is the bearing of fruit spoken of in this parable. And I suppose that everyone reading this is doing this—asking the Lord and desiring to be fruitful for His glory, right?
You see, most Christian’s petitions revolve around their own glory. They read verses like this and get off track on what it means. They think “Oh okay, whatever selfish, carnal, and even sinful desire I have will be given to me!” No, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that is not what Jesus was saying.
In fact, we see in Psalm 37:4 that if we delight ourselves in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart. This doesn’t mean that if we simply are successful in “delighting” ourselves in Him that He will give us all the selfish, carnal desires that our heart lusts after. No, it simply means that when we are indeed “delighting ourselves in Him”—that is, having a desire to love and honor Him and are simply enjoying our personal relationship with Him—that He will give us those desires that are in our hearts as they are obviously in line with His desires for us. Amen?
So yes, we are not talking about asking for things that are outside of God’s will for us. These are desires that line up with His will for our lives and that will both make us more fruitful and glorify our Father.
Now this obviously describes asking the Lord to make us more fruitful in our spiritual walks and to grow us up spiritually. But it also describes asking the Lord for physical things like healing in our bodies, the salvation of our children, financial prosperity, etc. Yes, the Lord wants us to prosper in every area of our life and in our physical bodies, just as He wants our souls to prosper (see Third John 2).
Now let me ask you a question: Have you ever asked God for something you desired and it wasn’t done for you? I’m sure we all have. So, does that mean this verse is not true then? Absolutely not! The bottom line is that His Word is true no matter what our experiences are. And that concept right there is one that we must adopt if we want to learn to consistently receive from God.
But what I want you to see in John 15:7 is that there is an absolute, concrete, positive way to receiving all of these desires that we ask the Lord for 100% of the time! In other words, there is fool-proof way to getting 100% results at always receiving from God.
Notice that Jesus tells us two things at the beginning of verse 7:
So, if we want to receive what we desire from the Lord, we need to find out two things: What does it mean to abide in Him? And what does it mean for His Words to abide in us? Because Jesus said if these two things are a reality in our lives, we will ask what we desire and it shall be done! How many of you want this? Amen! So do I!
So, as we go through this series of teachings, we will answer these questions. But today, let’s go back to verse one of this chapter and look at what Jesus taught that led up to John 15:7 in order to get the proper foundation laid.
THE TRUE VINE VERSUS FALSE VINES
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.”
By Jesus referring to Himself as the “True” Vine, He is implying that there are false vines out there too—that is, there are people, belief systems, all sorts of things that man tends to see as their source of life, peace, joy, etc. Likewise, there are things that we can tend to rely on, thinking they will make us fruitful and produce what we desire, such as our church, our pastor, a new teaching or ministry, etc. But the truth is that there is only one “True Vine” that can supply us with the “Way” to fruitfulness, the “Truth” that makes free, and the “Life” that we desire because Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Therefore, there is no other vine that can give us eternal, abundant, resurrection life but Him. Amen!
So, always be careful in both putting your trust in anything or anyone for the fruit you desire to see in your life. Along these same lines: be careful in what you state that you “need.” We like to say, “I need them, I need that, etc.” but the truth is, there is only one thing you need, only one person you need, and His name is Jesus. That is the Truth—namely the True Vine!
But people will say, “Well, I’d be happy if this would change or if God would give me this…” No, you’re deceived if you think that way. The truth is—if you do not have joy, peace, contentment, etc., in your current situation, then you won’t even if your situation changes. The only source to your happiness is found in abiding in the True Vine! Jesus and Jesus alone is where all of the fruit we desire comes from, and that includes the satisfaction and contentment that we have even in adverse circumstances before the fruit we desire comes. Amen!
THE KINGDOM PRINCIPLE
And so our King—the Lord Jesus Christ—has given you and I the very laws of how His kingdom operates. Yes, the True Vine has taught us the very principle of His kingdom and we will see today that again, the physical laws of seedtime, harvest, & fruit-bearing are involved.
It is for this reason that I believe the Lord would have us to spend today talking about what I call--The Kingdom Principle. I emphatically call what I am about to share with you the kingdom principle and not just a principle of the kingdom because the Lord has taught us again and again in His Holy Word that there is a specific process that the kingdom of God operates by, and that is the law of seedtime & harvest.
We see this all the way back in the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth and all that is within them. Repeatedly, the Lord said that everything was to reproduce after its own kind. Therefore, we saw in the Book of Genesis that everything with life in it reproduces after this eternal, kingdom principle. Amen!
Therefore, since we all have things we desire to see change in our lives and want to experience the kind of life that God has for us, the best and most consistent way to experience the God-kind of life in our lives is by operating according to this kingdom principle. Amen! This means that if we want to see change in our bodies, our finances, our marriages or even in ourselves becoming the fruitful believers we are called to be, this kingdom principle is the best way to get there!
Now I know we all have our own ideas about the way God does things, but we would be wise to let the Word dictate and determine our beliefs—not our experiences, our traditions, or our own understanding. But what we must understand is that similarly to how we have natural laws that govern how things work here on the earth, there are also laws that govern how things work in this kingdom of God. Therefore, this kingdom principle is how we see God’s kingdom come and His will be done in our lives.
THY KINGDOM COME
You know, Jesus taught us to pray this way in His model prayer (see Matthew 6:10). Therefore, it is certainly God’s will that His kingdom comes in our midst—that is, that we see people set free from the influence of the kingdom of darkness (this including ourselves). It is also God’s will that His will be done in our lives.
Now let me ask a question here: Why would Jesus tell us to pray for this if God’s will was automatically going to happen in our lives? You understand that many people think this, don’t you? They think God’s will just automatically happens in all of our lives irrespective of the choices we make, but that’s simply not true.
The fact that we are told to seek for His kingdom to come and His will to be done in our lives proves that it evidently does not just automatically happen. Amen? No, if you want to see God’s kingdom come in your life, you have to operate according to the laws of God’s kingdom.
You see, this is a major misunderstanding in the lives of many Christians—that if God wants our needs met, they will be met. How many of you know that if this is how it worked then all of the needs of the world would be met? Why? Because it is clear in the Word that God wants us to walk in victory, wholeness and success more than we do!
No, friends, it is evident that God is not moved by need; however, what His Word does teach us is that God is moved by seed. More accurately, God is not moved by need; we are moved by seed. I say “we are moved by seed” because, although there are those who teach that we “move” God through things like prayer and fasting, that simply is not true! Saints, God is not the one who is stuck and needs moving; we are the ones who need to move in order to line ourselves up with the will of God. Sure, things like prayer and fasting certainly can get results, but the belief that we are somehow twisting God’s arm to doing something is absolutely wrong.
No, if we want to consistently see God’s kingdom come in our lives, we have to operate according to the laws (or, principles) of His kingdom. It is that simple. Let me say it this way: God’s kingdom does not come by hoping & praying; God’s kingdom comes by sowing & reaping. Amen!
Now sure, there are times where God will suspend natural laws in order for His kingdom to come and His will to be done in a situation, but these are the exception and not the rule.
For instance, God extended the day one time in order for Israel to win a victory; but that is not going to happen every day. Sure, the Holy Spirit might desire to manifest one of His various gifts in a situation, but we can’t live off that fruit. And, don’t get me wrong, it’s great when that happens, but just as a parent does not want his or her children to always wait for them to bail them out of every crisis they have, likewise God wants us to grow up spiritually to where we recognize how God has arranged His kingdom and operate according to its principles. Amen!
And this is why I believe that Jesus’ kingdom parables—specifically the ones contained in Mark chapter 4 that refer to this seedtime and harvest principle—are (for a lack of a better example) the “skeleton key” of God’s kingdom. In other words, this kingdom principle is the key to unlocking the consistent and abiding fruit of the kingdom of God in our lives. Amen?
Well, this week, I would like us to discuss this kingdom principle by looking at a parable that Jesus taught us in Mark 4:26-29 because I believe it concisely illustrates to us this kingdom principle:
THE PARABLE OF THE GROWING SEED
In this, what is traditionally called the Parable of the Growing Seed, Jesus uses a similar example to the Parable of Sower. But this time, the lesson to be learned is not about the condition of the ground; the focus of this parable is how the ground (i.e. the heart) and the seed (i.e. the Word) already have programmed in them what to do when the seed is planted in the ground.
So let’s look in depth at this parable and pick out some of the powerful nuggets contained in it: Verse 26 begins by saying- “And He said…”
Now by using the conjunction “And” here, we should see our need to understand what He had just said before moving on into this parable: Of course, Jesus had just taught the Parable of the Sower, and then, in verse 23-25, He says, “’If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.’ Then He said to them, ‘Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you, and to you who hear, more will be given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, but whoever does not have, even what has will be taken away from him.”
Basically, what Jesus was teaching here is that we need to both take heed to what we are hearing and how we are hearing it. Why? Because this is evidently how the seed of God’s Word is sown into our hearts and can greatly determine both the quantity and quality of fruit that we produce. Amen! So, we need to be extremely vigilant concerning what we allow to be sown into our hearts because, as Solomon taught us, out of our hearts flow the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23).
Then Jesus went on to say in verse 26--“The kingdom of God is as…” In other words, Jesus was saying, “This is how the kingdom of God operates! This is a law of the kingdom, and it will work this way every single time!”
So, let’s look at this kingdom principle as illustrated in Jesus’ Parable of the Growing Seed and find out how His kingdom works so that we can see it working in our lives! Amen?
NO RESPECTOR OF SOWERS
Again, Jesus says in verse 26— “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground,” Now notice that He used the word “if” here.
By using the word “if,” Jesus is saying that this principle of the kingdom is conditional. Conditional on what? Conditional as to whether or not this man should scatter seed on the ground! What this means is that it is not up to God! It is our responsibility if this kingdom law will become effective in our lives or not. Amen?
Now I believe this point needs to made again here—but did you know that if everything that happened in our lives was the will of God, we could have no “if?” Absolutely! If there is an “if” in a passage of Scripture like this one, then that indicates that there is a part we have to play in seeing God’s will come to pass in our lives. Amen?
Now we understand from the previous parable in Mark chapter 4 (the Parable of the Sower) that the seed is the Word of God (Mark 4:14) and the ground is our hearts. So, the condition to seeing this kingdom principle becoming effective in our lives is if we are going to take the time to sow the Word in hearts that are good, noble and pure (see Luke 8:15).
But I find something very interesting here in Mark chapter 4: In His interpretation of the Parable of the Sower, Jesus tells us what both the seed and the ground represent, but He never told us who the sower was? And do you know why? Jesus doesn’t tell us who the sower is in these parables because it does not matter who the sower is! Amen!
You see, a seed will produce when sown into good ground every single time! It doesn’t matter how the seed got there or who it was that sowed it! The seed is programmed to work no matter whose hands it was scattered through. For example, even if a bird were to grab a seed in its beak and drop it into the ground, that seed will still produce in the ground. Or what if that bird swallowed the seed and then (pardon the example) “pooped” it out on the ground? Did you know that there have been many seeds that have produced even when they were sown like that? This should teach us that even if you are convinced that you are the offscouring of the earth, if you will just sow the seed, it will produce like it would for the most professional farmer.
Did you know that there are those out there who preach what I consider to be a perverted prosperity gospel? They preach those things for selfish gain and with impure motives. But guess what? It works for a lot of them! And do you know why? Because they are simply being the sower that sows the seed and it is producing fruit.
So, no, who the sower might be is irrelevant. The only thing that truly is relevant is will he or she cooperate with this kingdom principle of seedtime & harvest or not.
But I know some people might argue this point, saying, “No, brother, I believe the sower here is the Lord Himself!” I differ from that interpretation, however, because notice what Jesus went on to say that the sower did next in His Parable of the Growing Seed (verse 27): He said, “and should sleep by night and rise by day…”
Do not the Scriptures teach us that God neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121: 3-4)? Don’t they teach us that there is no night time in the kingdom of heaven (Revelation 22:5)? Therefore, the man in this parable that did the sowing cannot be symbolic of God; it has to be a man since God does not sleep, correct?
But the fact of the matter is, it does not matter who that sower is because the seed and the ground do their thing whether one person sows it or another person sows it.
Saints, even if it was God who was doing the sowing here, it still would not matter because (Get this now!) God’s Word coming out of our mouth is just as powerful as God’s Word coming out of His mouth! Amen! How can I make such a bold statement? It’s because it is God’s Word and it is a seed! Therefore, if we just take His Word that He has already spoken and plant it in good ground, it will produce the same results! Amen!
Friends, the seed and the soil are no respecter of persons or we could say that they are no respecter of “sowers!” Praise God!
ENTERING INTO HIS REST
But the point of this parable is that this man (whoever he happens to be) just simply scattered seed on the ground and then went about his business. He didn’t stay up all night, wringing his hands, fretting over whether he was going to get a harvest or not. No, Jesus told us that after he scattered the seed on the ground, he just went to bed and rested.
You know, whenever we begin to fret, get anxious and worry about the things that we need or desire to see change in our life, we are not operating according to this kingdom principle. No, when we are abiding in this law of the kingdom, we will enter into His rest.
Friends, this is such a super important part of kingdom living—entering into the Lord’s rest! Yet this is so hard on our flesh. No, I am not talking about “resting” from a natural perspective, but “resting” from a mental, emotional and spiritual perspective.
Do you remember the words of the Master in Matthew 11:28-29 when Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you… for My yoke is easy and My burden is light”?
I would venture to say that every one of us has to learn this at some point or another once we become Christians. Why? It is because it is so easy to try to make things happen in the arm of the flesh and lean to our own understanding. When we do this, what this causes is undue stress as opposed to living in the rest that Christ has afforded us.
You see, we cannot bear fruit in God’s kingdom by “white-knuckling” it. What I mean by that is that the fruit that comes according to this kingdom principle will not be produced by the will of man or the will of the flesh (see John 1:13). No, the transformation of life in God’s kingdom only comes by resting in the work of another—namely, the Grace of God Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen!
So, with this said, does this mean we can just kick back and relax and let God do everything? Does it mean that we have no part to play? Of course not, or else every born-again believer would be bearing a bunch of fruit, right?
So what part do we have to play? It is found in these kingdom parables, in Mark chapter 4—just sow the Word! Our only job is to sow the Word into our situation and sit back and watch God be God! Hallelujah! Now on the flip side of this, there are some seeds that we don’t have to plant, and those are bad seeds. If you notice in your yard or in a field, no one has to plant weeds. They just spring up all by themselves. Likewise, if you don’t plant good seed in your heart, undesirable fruit will grow all by itself. There is no standing still in the kingdom. You are either moving forward or moving backwards. I like to say it this way - bad and undesirable fruit comes by itself, or naturally, but good and desirable fruit comes deliberately - by you taking the time to plant the seeds in your heart.
Jesus was telling us here that His Word already has programmed in it to produce what it was sent to perform (Isaiah 55:11) and the good and noble heart that is not full of the weeds, thorns and rocks of this world will germinate the seed. All we have to do is spend time meditating on His Word till it becomes planted in our hearts and then just rest from trying to force fruit in our lives! Amen!
The Word is the source of our fruit, not us. This is why Jesus went on to say in this parable-- “and the seed should sprout and grow…” Amen! It’s the seed that does the sprouting and growing all on its own, without any of the sower’s help! He can just kick back and rest knowing the seed is working behind the scenes! Thank you, Lord!
Now that leads me to what I consider to be the most significant phrase in this parable:
Notice what Jesus said in the rest of verse 27: “he himself does not know how.” I believe this is the most powerful statement in this parable and I also believe that it is the point Jesus was trying to convey:
Again, this sower simply planted the seed in good ground and then there was nothing else he could do to help the process! He could just rest! Then, after the process of time, the seed began to sprout and grow and he couldn’t even explain how it happened.
You see, this is the only way God will allow you to grow spiritually. He is not going to let you try and force fruit in your life. Actually, if you try to force fruit, the Bible teaches us He will actually oppose you (see Proverbs 4:6)! Why? Because He wants all the glory! He does not want you to be able to take credit for your growth. He wants you to be like this sower who would have had to say if asked about the harvest he had in his field, “You know what? All I did was put the seed in the ground. I couldn’t tell you how those little seeds produced all this. It just happened on its own. I can’t figure it out. I don’t know how this happened!” Thank you, Lord!
You see, in verse 28 Jesus goes on to say, “For the earth yields crops by itself…”
Here, Jesus reiterates that the earth produces by itself—not with any help from the owner of the ground. The crop just comes forth independent from his help.
Friends, the earth—being the heart of man—will produce whatever you sow into it. As Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Never forget this one thing: you will become in your actions whatever you have allowed yourself to become in your heart. Therefore, when you meditate on the Word of God and allow those seeds to be planted in your heart you will eventually produce the fruit of the Word. You become transformed by the renewing of your mind (see Romans 12:2). The only thing you need to be fruitful in your life is a relationship with Christ and the willingness to plant seeds. We are living on the fruit today of the seed we sowed yesterday. If we don’t like the fruit, we can plant better seed today and have better fruit to live on in the future. If someone is being fruitful in an area of their life that you also want to be fruitful in, go to them and ask them how they got there.
Finally, notice that Jesus gives us the steps that take place in the harvest in the remaining part of verse 28: He says, “first the blade, then the head, and after that the full grain in the head.” What this is speaking of is patience! Hebrews 6:12 says that we inherit the promises through faith and patience. A very interesting word picture is painted here, because the Greek word for faith is considered a “masculine” word and the Greek word for patience is considered a “feminine” word. So when the man (faith) and the woman (patience) get together, the harvest is conceived and birthed. Amen!
Most believers, when they get a hold of this principle, will begin to read and meditate the Word and then when they don’t see any results in a month (for instance) they quit and say it doesn’t work. Well, how ridiculous would it be for a farmer to plant some seed and then after a week or two, when it hasn’t produced, dig up the seed and say this farming stuff doesn’t work? That would be ridiculous, right?
No, reaping a harvest is a process! Eventually, we will start seeing some results as we abide by this kingdom principle, but don’t expect the full harvest to come quickly. We have to go through stages one and two first (i.e. “first the blade, then the head”)! And then, don’t quit—knowing that the full grain in the head is coming in due season if we faint not!
This is why Jesus said in His Parable of the Sower, that the good ground—the one that produced some thirty, some sixty, and some a hundredfold—bore fruit with patience (see Luke 8:15). There will be an element of patience involved in whatever God gives increase in. Although there are certainly the “immediately’s” and the “suddenly’s” in God’s kingdom, this is not how the fruit that endures is generally produced. In God’s kingdom, abiding fruit is produced through patience. Amen! But this abiding fruit comes when God’s Word is sown into our hearts, and as we allow God’s Word to spring up in our hearts, then we will begin to see the production of it in our lives.
So, when it comes to us to seeing the fruit of God’s kingdom coming in our lives, sow the Word! When it comes to situations and circumstances in our lives that we know need to change, sow the Word! Find Scriptures that promise what we want to see and begin to let God perform His good Word and let it prosper in the thing for which He sent it (Isaiah 55:10-11)!
It works every time, my friends! It is a law! It is the kingdom principle! Amen!
What I have on my heart to share with you today is something the Lord taught me very early on in my Christian walk.
I actually have a “growth tree” that I’ve drawn where I illustrate the things the Lord has established me in since I was born again in January of 2000. And the very first thing He taught me was FAITH—the importance of not being moved by what we see, hear, feel or experience, but only to be moved by what we believe (based on what is written).
THE FIGHT OF FAITH
First Timothy 6:11-12 – But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
What the apostle Paul was telling Timothy to flee was all of the false teachings that have always tended to creep into the church, from obsessions to dispute and argue over words to the teachings of worldly, material gain. But these six virtues that he told him to pursue are what are truly important.
I remember when the Lord taught me something similar: Early in my Christian walk, I had been reading a book of a woman who had apparently visited hell and she said that there were preachers there for preaching false doctrine. Now whether you or I believe that is accurate or not, it shook me up back then (before I had started preaching but knowing I was called to). So, I remember going to the Lord and asking him to keep me from ever teaching or preaching things that were error. Well, the Lord took me over to Second Peter the following day and showed me that if I put my focus on my foundation of faith and work towards building myself up in all of these other godly virtues, I will never stumble in His Word (see Second Peter 1:5-11).
And I believe that is lesson for us here today: Don’t give your time and attention to things that do not promote edification and growth in these areas that Paul told Timothy to pursue. Honor the weightier matters of the Word, such as faith, mercy and justice (as the Master said). Give your attention to righteousness, godliness, love, patience, and faith. Then, we can be assured that He can keep us from straying from the faith—for our humility is our protection from deception.
But then notice how Paul transitions to the exhortation for Timothy to “fight the good fight of faith.”
Now by saying that there is a “good fight of faith” indicates that there must also be a bad fight. Now a bad fight would be characterized by the following terms: weak, cowardly, retreating. A good fight, on the other hand, is a fight where we are strong, bold, persistent and militant. And a good fight is always a fight that we win and have that winner’s mentality. Amen? It’s a good fight of faith when you do exactly what the Lord told you to do, regardless of how you feel.
However, I believe the key element that the Holy Spirit gave us here that makes a Christian fight a good fight is faith—for Paul calls it a “good fight of faith.” In other words, because it is a fight of faith, it’s a good fight in God’s sight.
And this is exactly where many Christians miss it. They are fighting all right, but they are not doing it in faith. They are fighting in the flesh—defending themselves, retaliating, etc. Let me give you an example of this: Say, someone comes against you—maligning, slandering and falsely accusing you of something. What is our tendency when this happens? To defend ourselves, bless God! And shouldn’t we? God helps those who help themselves, right? WRONG! That is not a Scripture! The truth is—God helps those who humble themselves under Him and do what He told us to do in these situations. But here is the truth: Whenever we respond like this (which is in essence like the world does), we are not responding in faith. No, we are not at those times, fighting the good fight of faith. What we are doing is trying to fight a good fight in the flesh—and that is always wrong.
You see, I think it is interesting that the example that Paul goes on to use in the verse immediately after this is Jesus before Pontius Pilate. You remember what happened there, don’t you? Jesus was being falsely accused, being done wrong, etc. and what He do? He fought the good fight of faith by not even defending Himself. And I love how Peter says that He “committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (First Peter 2:23). Here’s the truth: the more we are trusting God to defend us, fight our battles for us, etc. the less we will defend ourselves, retaliate, etc. That’s right—how we respond in the middle of tribulations & persecutions indicates how much faith we have in Him. Amen.
Now this does not mean that there is never a place for us to speak up or do anything in these situations. In all cases, we must be Spirit-led and act in faith on whatever both the Spirit and Word have agreed upon. However, what I am saying is that to respond in the flesh and be emotion-led is not going to be the response of faith.
You see, a big thing that we can gather from this passage of Scripture is that faith is a fight. Therefore, we are going to have to fight to not cater to the flesh’s impulses to do something to help God out and that self-preservation thing that we all have in us.
Some believe that if we live a life of faith that we won’t have any problems, but that is simply not true. The truth is, when you are living by faith, you will be swimming upstream and against the current—because we live in this world and everything in it will fight against us. Therefore, walking by faith is not easy.
For example, if we are walking by faith, what are we not doing? Walking by sight. In other words, if we are walking by faith, we are not living our lives according to what we see, feel, hear, or experience. This means that if we are going to walk by faith, we are going to have to fight the good fight of faith.
Now the term “faith” is key here. That means that if we are going to win the battle for our soul, then we are going to have to do some fighting without seeing anything and without feeling anything. And that is where we lose most “believers.” Most people are emotion and feeling led. They only look at the things which are seen. But if we are going to be “believers” then we can’t be “feelers” or “see-ers.” God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) and has given us the tools to escape the corruption that is in the world (2 Peter 1:4) - giving all diligence, adding to your faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love - knowing that if these are in you and are increasing, you will be a fruitful follower of Christ (2 Peter 1:5-8). Note that in this list, faith is the foundation and love is the ceiling.
So, what I want to do today is to teach you how to fight.
WE ALREADY HAVE FAITH
But there are those who believe that some simply have been blessed with more faith than others, etc. That’s not true. We all have the same spirit of faith (Second Corinthians 4:13).
Now I just love the way the apostle Paul says what he did in Second Corinthians 4:13: He says, “Having the same spirit of faith…” Notice he said, “having”—not “having had” or “hoping to have.” No, having right now! So, this is something every born-again believer has the right to have right now.
In 2 Peter 1:1, Peter addresses his letter “to those who have obtained like precious faith” with him and the others who had called on the name of the Lord. What this means is that every believer has obtained faith, and not only just any faith, but faith that is of the same value and of equal specialness to that of even the great apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ! In fact, Peter is one of the ones included in this “with us” right? So, that means you have the same water-walking faith that Peter had! Wow! Now that is awesome stuff! We all have a measure of faith (see Romans 12:3)- not just some of us.
So we all have faith, and this faith is capable of growing exceedingly (see 2 Thessalonians 1:3). We all have the capability to walk in mountain-moving, devil-stomping, life-changing faith! But this gift of the Spirit differs from the measure of faith that we have all received in that it is a supernatural endowment of special faith that transcends what we could receive with our own faith.
You see, as we have seen, our faith grows. We have all obtained like precious faith—having received the measure of faith. But that does not mean that we have all arrived to the place of mountain moving faith. We must let our faith grow by first hearing the Words of faith and then by putting it into practice by exercise.
And this is a great lesson on the very subject we are covering here right now. Someone with the “spirit of faith” will take Scriptures like this one and say, “Bless God, a spirit of faith is mine right now!” Someone might even say to them, “Well, it doesn’t look like you have it, brother.” But this person of faith will say, “I am not moved by what I see. God said. I believe. That settles it. I have—right now—a spirit of faith! Amen!”
TAKING UP THE SHIELD OF FAITH
Someone might be thinking, “I don’t think I have much faith at all because I have not seen the results that others have.” The reason one might not have had the results that others have had around them is not necessarily because others “have more” faith than them. It is likely more because these other “faith giants” have decided to “take up their shield of faith” (see Ephesians 6:16).
You see, faith is like a muscle. It must be exercised in order to become stronger. And anyone will agree that if you haven’t been exercising, you cannot go in to a weight room and start lifting the heavy weights first. You must start with what your muscles can handle first. Likewise, when it comes to our faith, we need to exercise it first on what it can handle and let it develop so that it can handle the bigger stuff down the road. For example, we need to exercise our faith with a cold or a car payment before we start trying to believe God for something bigger. We have “more than enough” faith; we just need to exercise it.
Saints, we have a free membership to "God's Gym" - we exercise our faith by using it in each trial that comes. Notice that even Jesus grew His faith in the same way. Hebrews 5:8 says that Jesus “learned obedience by the things He suffered.” He faced everything that came at Him in faith.
And that is another problem—so many believers do not know how to exercise their faith. In other words, they do not know how faith works.
Do you remember when Jesus referred to us having faith as a mustard seed? So many believe Jesus was referring to the size of their faith by the reference to the mustard seed, but Jesus never mentioned anything about the size of the seed except in one parable. In His teachings on faith, He simply said, “as a mustard seed.” In other words, you could make the point that He was referring to faith like a mustard seed. This is why I believe Jesus was referring to the manner by which a mustard seed operates. In other words, Jesus was not using a mustard seed to illustrate the size of faith that gets results; He was using a mustard seed as the example as to how we see these mountains removed.
So, in my experience and based on what the Word of God teaches us, I have found that the problem is not that God’s children do not have enough faith; the problem is they have never exercised their faith.
So, like the Apostle Paul said, we all have our own shield of faith - which is more than enough faith to cover everything in our life - but we have not all learned to “take up” our shield of faith—that is, learning to use it when our faith is tried.
Now, there is a reason why the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul used a shield to describe our faith: It is because our faith is what we use to resist the enemy!
For example, if you read further in Hebrews chapter 11, you come to find out that our faith actually accomplishes two things (see Hebrews 11:32-40):
Verses 33-35 tells us that faith certainly works offensively, producing miracles. It delivers from fiery trials and from the edge of the sword. It raises the dead and makes strong the weak. It subdues kingdoms and makes us valiant in battle. It shuts the mouths of lions, etc., etc., etc.
However, in verses 36-38, the writer says, “still others’” faith also caused many of them to simply not quit when they endured intense suffering and persecution like being tempted, stoned, imprisoned, impoverished, etc.
So, what I take away from this is that our faith in God will cause us to do two things:
And the latter is why we see our faith described as a shield in our spiritual armor.
You see, just as a shield is used to primarily resist an enemy’s offensive attacks, likewise our faith is what we use to resist the offensive onslaught of the devil.
There are a couple of passages of Scripture that make this same connection between our faith and resisting Satan: James 4:7 tells us specifically to “resist the devil” and 1 Peter 5:9 says, also speaking of the devil, “Resist him, steadfast in the faith…” So, by these two passages of Scripture, we can see that our shield of faith is what we use to resist the devil.
So, what specifically are we resisting? We are resisting the pressure that comes from the tribulations he causes in our lives. We are resisting the temptations to quit and compromise our faith.
But the end of Ephesians 6:16 describes what we are literally resisting in the midst of these tribulations and temptations: The end of Ephesians 6:16 says, “with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”
You see, the enemy will stir up persecution, create temptations, and bring tribulations into our life, but these are not the “fiery darts” that Paul was referring to. These outward, physical things are just the vehicles that he uses to create an opportunity to shoot those fiery darts into our heart and mind.
You see, these fiery darts are spiritual, unseen weapons intended to wound our inner man. Just as the armor of God is spiritual and cannot be contacted through our physical senses, these arrows that the enemy uses are spiritual in nature and cannot be the physical, natural problems.
But let me tell you what the devil does. He will cause these natural trials and tribulations and then will attempt to capitalize on these things by sending thoughts and stirring up emotions on the inside of us that tempt us to let go of our faith. He will stir up troubles on the outside and then will fire these unseen arrows to wound us on the inside. This is the method he uses to penetrate our faith.
But by using the term “fiery darts” the Apostle Paul reveals to us exactly what these arrows are meant to accomplish:
The terminology “fiery darts” is actually a substandard translation. A better translation would be “flaming missiles.”
You see, back during the first century, many nations’ armies would use long, slender pieces of cane and fill them with combustible fluids. They would then light the tips of these combustible arrows and shoot them at their enemy. When the arrow hit, it would explode and generally burn up whatever it hit. This is exactly what these “fiery darts” that the enemy fires at us will do.
You see, these spiritual, unseen “flaming missiles” are shot at our heart and mind and if they hit, they can spread into a full-fledged “forest fire” of emotions, anxiety, and fear.
Many of us have experienced this, haven’t we? Maybe you received a bad report, and after you heard the bad news, what began to happen on the inside of you? Well, a fire of emotions can have a tendency to consume you. All kinds of thoughts seem to be fired at your mind and can even penetrate your heart to where you feel emotionally and spiritually wounded. These “feelings” that we experience are oftentimes a result of the enemy firing these “flaming missiles” at our heart and mind in an attempt to penetrate our faith and defeat us spiritually.
This reveals to us another important truth concerning our shield of faith:
Earlier, I explained how these shields were not made out of what we would traditionally think they were made out of… Their substance included wood and layers of animal hide. So, guess what might have happened when one of these flaming arrows hit their shield? Their shield was capable of catching on fire because of the material that was used to make the shield!
So, the Roman soldier developed a strategy to defend themselves from this deadly possibility… They would take their shield every morning and soak it in a large barrel of water until it was completely saturated - “water-logged,” if you would. So that when those arrows hit their shields, their flames would be “quenched.”
What does this teach us? It teaches us that if we want to be able to quench the flaming missiles of the devil, then we better saturate our shield of faith by both the “washing of water by the Word” and those “rivers of living water” produced by the Holy Spirit. It tells us that the quality of our faith is directly tied to our attention to God’s Word as revealed by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Spirit and the Word ought to be our first and foremost priority in our life. Without a daily saturation of these two things, our faith will become dry and susceptible to being burnt up. And this should not surprise us, for faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).
So, what have we learned today? We have learned that our shield of faith is what we use to resist the devil and quench all of his assaults against our mind, heart and emotions. It is our defensive weapon, saints! So, we need to start “taking” it up when those fiery darts are thrown at us - and we do that by exercising our faith!
Therefore, when those pressures to quit, compromise and shrink back are fired at us, that’s when we are to take up our shield of faith and begin quenching those flaming missiles by actively and aggressively putting our faith into action! The more “weights” that are in your life, the more opportunity to grow stronger, if you respond in faith. Amen.
But not only does our faith put out the fires that the enemy tries to stir up in our souls, it also stirs up the things that we are called to walk in.
STIRRING UP THE GIFT
Now I want us to go over to Second Timothy chapter 1 and take a look at what the apostle Paul said to his son in the faith, Timothy, regarding this:
Beginning in verses 3-4, he says, “I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy,”
Notice, first of all, that Paul acknowledged the hurts, pains, heartache that Timothy was experiencing by saying, “being mindful of your tears.”
So yes, there is a place for being mindful of other’s tears—for sympathizing with, and even weeping with those who weep. But here is an extremely important point you need to get: Your tears, your hurts, your pain, your sorrow, your heartache, etc. absolutely should mean something to me. But your tears, your hurts, your pain, your sorrow, your heartache, etc. should mean absolutely nothing to you. In other words, when it comes to me loving you, I should be touched with the feelings of your infirmities and show compassion on you. However, when it comes to you governing your own life—you shouldn’t be moved by your own feelings and “pity thyself.”
However, what good friends in the faith will do is, while they will be compassionate towards their friend’s hurts, they will also draw them back to faith. Notice what Paul said next.
He said, “that I may be filled with joy…when I call to remembrance the genuine faith...” (Verses 4-5). What filled Paul with joy, however, was remembering the genuine faith he had. So, what Paul was doing here was a good job of exhortation. He was not just remembering Timothy’s faith, but was reminding Timothy himself of what he had—because apparently Timothy hadn’t been using much of it.
So, when Paul said that this genuine faith that he knew was in Timothy’s grandma and his mama was in him as well, he said, “and I am persuaded is in you also.” In other words, what he was saying was—"You got it in you, boy! That same spirit of faith that your grandmama & mama had in them, it’s in you too!”
Then we get to this oh so powerful verse--Second Timothy 1:6. Paul says, ”Therefore…” In other words, “since you have this genuine faith in you, this is what you need to do—stir up that gift that God put in through the laying on of my hands!”
Now what did Paul mean when he said, “I remind you”? Apparently, he had spoken something to him before about stirring up this gift of God that was given to him. So, when did Paul tell him this—do we have any record of it? We sure do!
In First Timothy 4:14, Paul had told Timothy not to neglect this gift of God that was in him, given to him by prophecy and through the laying on of hands of the eldership. Well, guess what apparently happened? Timothy did exactly what most of us do—God tells to be sure to do something and then we fail to do it, and then He has to come and tell us how to get out of the condition we never should have gotten in, in the first place.
You see, the words “stir up” that Paul used in Second Timothy 1:6 come from a triple-compound word in the original Greek language. It comes from the word where we get “pyro” from, which obviously means “fire.” It also uses the word “zoe”—meaning life. And, finally, it uses the Greek word ana which means “up or again.” So, when you combine these three words together, the phrase “stir up” means to “bring a fire to life again,” or you could say it means to “rekindle” a fire.
Well, in order to “rekindle” a fire, that means that the fire had to go out. And that is exactly what had happened to Pastor Timothy—his fire had all but been quenched. So, his father in the faith was exhorting him to stir that fire back up—that fire of the gift of God which he had in his spirit.
But again—when do fire’s go out? When we neglect them! Therefore, Timothy’s fire went out simply because he had failed to give the proper attention to it. So, how do we keep the fire stirred up within us? By doing what Paul told Timothy to do in First Timothy 4:14—to give attention to reading, exhortation, doctrine, and meditating on these things, etc. (see First Timothy 4:13,15-16).
You see, saints, it all starts with just simply reading your Bible. You would think that this was a given to most Christians, but it’s not. Very few believers actually read their Bible on a regular basis. God’s Word is food for your spirit man, church! So, in order to stay nourished in the spirit, we must feed ourselves regularly on the Word of God. Amen?
So, you getting in the Word yourself is the first and foremost way in which we do not neglect the gift of God within us, and therefore, keep that fire stoked. But then Paul says to also give attention to “exhortation.” This is exactly what I am giving you today—a good exhortation! But did you know that you do not have to wait until Sundays, Wednesday or Thursdays? You can “exhort” yourself in the Lord. We will get more into this momentarily. And, finally, Paul lists the third and final way in which we give attention to the gift of God within us and not neglect it—through “doctrine.” Now “doctrine” simply describes “teaching.” So, what this means is that we need to regularly sit under good, solid teaching like you are hearing here today. Can I get an, amen?
Then, in verses 15-16, Paul goes on to describe other important factors to keeping the fire burning in our hearts—namely, meditating on these things (i.e. what you have been reading, are being exhorted by, and what you are being taught). In other words, it is important for you to take the things you’ve heard, and give even “the more earnest heed” to those things lest you drift away from their truths (see Hebrews 2:1)—that is, aggressively and purposefully meditating on these truths afterwards.
And, finally, Paul tells Timothy to “take heed” to himself. This has a wide range of meaning too. First of all, we need to learn to take care of ourselves by not burning the candles at both ends and experiencing “burn out.” There is certainly a natural side to this as well. But it also describes “watching ourselves” in regards to making sure that our flaky flesh and squirrely soul don’t start this pity party, “woe is me” stuff we’ve talked about.
A good example of all of this I’ve been describing to you that happened to Timothy is how so many of us go to a camp-meeting, a youth retreat, or some other time of spiritual refreshing and we get “fired up.” But what happens almost every time? The fire begins to subside. What once was a bon-fire of zeal and excitement begins to wane and we wind back down to where we were before we ever went. Do you know why this happens? It is because we let the fire go out by not giving attention to it and continue to throw logs on the fire. And we throw more wood on the fire by doing these very things Paul told Timothy in First Timothy chapter 4.
But what I want you to see also is the other reason Timothy had let his fire go out:
We see this second point in Second Timothy 1:7 when he said, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
So, Paul turned his attention to the things God had given him (the benefits, if you would)—power, love, and a sound mind, saying, “Man of God, exhort yourself! Tell your soul who you are and what you have! You have power, love, and a sound mind!”
HOW TO STIR UP THE GIFT
Now the very meaning of these words “stir up” also describes to us how we are to do this. Fire is involved! In other words, some zeal, fervency and passion are necessary to doing the “stirring.” Romans 12:11 says, “Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame” (The Message).
And one thing that needs to be understood is that what is being stirred is “the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands”
Now it is rather clear that Paul is referring to a ministerial, spiritual gift that was given to Timothy during a time of laying on of hands. He said in Romans 1:11 that he desired to come to that body of believers in order to impart to them some spiritual gift—which I believe was at least partly through the laying on of hands like in Timothy’s case. But here is the point I want to make: Paul said that he was persuaded that the same genuine faith that was in his family was in Timothy also. And then he said, “Therefore, I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you…” Now the gift of God Paul was referring to was not the genuine faith he had in him. We know this because faith does not come through the laying on of hands. Faith comes by hearing, not through going through some prayer line!
So, the genuine faith that Timothy had was what he was to use to stir up the gift of God that was already in him. So, when we have those times where we are tempted to get down and be discouraged—throwing a pity party and wanting everyone to come help us feel sorry for ourselves—that is when we need to grab ourselves by the ear and say to ourselves, “What are you doing!?! I’m a believer, not a whinny baby. I am changing my attitude right now and picking back up that spirit of faith that I am persuaded is in me.” And hopefully you also have some good faith buddies who will smack you across the face if you start poor-mouthing it, and say to you, “Get a hold of yourself! We don’t talk about how bad it is; we talk about how good He is! Let’s rejoice together until we regain the victory!”
Therefore, I believe we can see a principle here. When it comes to any of God’s gifts that are in you and I—whether that be the anointing for ministry or any other gift God has placed in us—we “stir up” those gifts through our faith that’s in us! No, we don’t stir it up by sitting there crying and saying, “Oh woe is me! It’s so hard! I’m hurting. Nobody loves me.” When we are tempted to feel that way, we need to pick ourselves up and stop being wimps! That’s not the spirit of faith! Begin to stir yourself up in Him! Amen!
So today, I plan to conclude our series on “God’s Own Heart”—not that we have exhausted the subject in the least, but it seems good that we find a good landing spot this week.
In this series, we have learned some tremendous things about God’s nature and what He had on His heart by looking at the life of the one who was called a man after God’s own heart.
Most recently, we learned that like David’s heart, God is not just a “Good Shepherd” or a “Kind King”; the Lord is also a “Militant Warrior”—that is, while the Lord is certainly full of mercy and gracious, He also has zero tolerance for the kingdom of darkness. And we saw this in David’s life—that just as much as all of the kind, loving things that David did were certainly a reflection of God’s own heart, likewise the absolute intolerance for the wicked and the militant attitude he possessed was also another side of God’s heart that we can see in his life.
But the point we were making last week was this—God desires us to also have that heart of a warrior that David possessed and be completely devoted to destroying all of the works of the devil and seeing those in captivity set free. As we have been learning, His heart is certainly for us individually; but we also need to be aware that He loves and cares for other people just like He does us. Therefore, His heart is for us to deliver the same freedom into other people’s lives that we are coming to see that we possess in Him ourselves. You see, people are what are important to God, and we are what are on His heart. But we need to think outside the box of our own lives and begin to bring God’s salvation, deliverance and healing into other’s lives just as He has brought it into our lives.
We then looked at some of the things that David wrote in his Psalms that express this different side of his heart and saw a lot about God’s heart-cry through the things David petitioned the Lord for. Most notably, we saw in Psalm 35:17-18 that when David said, “Lord, how long will You look on?” that this is God’s question for us—how long will we just observe the afflictions around us and not be His hands and feet. Saints, the Lord’s heart is that we do not keep silent concerning the injustices we see! He wants us to be near His heart, and to stir ourselves up and awake to His vindication and cause! It’s high time we wake up, church, and stir ourselves up to deliver, vindicate, and minister to God by doing this for those He has created in His image and likeness. Amen? The Lord is waiting on us to make His enemies His footstool—that is, put the devil and his cohorts under our feet!
David’s big moral failure of taking Bathsheba and having Uriah killed came when he forgot this for a time. He had won many battles, but at this time “when the kings went to war,” he had stayed home. He had lost the fire and zeal. Fighting against darkness was not his focus, and it opened a foothold in his life for the devil. If we don’t continually have a total disdain for the things of darkness, we allow the devil a place in our lives.
We concluded last week by looking at the example of David & Goliath: We learned that since David was a type and shadow of Jesus here, then the church is found in this story as the smooth stone that was used by the Lord to slay the giant. Yes, church, I believe that we are the stone that David hurled into the forehead of Goliath—the rock of the confession of Jesus’ Lordship that Peter made is what Jesus said He would build His church upon. This is what the Son of David would use and the gates of hell shall not prevail against this rock! Amen!
Yes, church—you and I are being fashioned into the living stones whom the Lord Jesus Christ will use to knock the giant off of his feet and make the Lord’s enemies His footstool. This is our heritage, church—and this honor have all the saints! Amen!
OUR PRIMARY PURPOSE AND CALLING
So, as I mentioned earlier, I believe we will be concluding our teaching on God’s Own Heart today. And we will do so by looking at what I consider to be the most important message that we can hear in the Christian faith—His “One Desire.” So, you could say that I’ve saved the best for last😊
If you recall, in our first teaching of this series, we began seeing God’s heart in inviting all of us—from the least to the greatest—to seek and know Him. And this is what I would like to conclude this series of messages with—the grand invitation that we all have to have rich fellowship with our Lord and God.
If you have been coming to this church for at least a couple of years, you’ve probably heard the message you are about to hear today. And if you continue to come here for several more years, you will likely hear this message a couple more times. Do you know why? It is because this is again the most important message a believer can hear and also because most believers are not doing it.
You see, the great question of mankind is: What is the meaning of life? People have been asking this question for centuries, and the truth is that the only way to find the answer is to find God. Faith in God is the only thing that will unveil to us the answer to our purpose.
Let’s look at a couple of Scriptures that teach us why we are here: Revelation 4:11 says, “You are worthy, O Lord to receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”
Now, first of all, notice that what is being declared in heaven is that He is worthy to receive glory and honor and power (from His creation). Why? Because He created us, and therefore, we owe all that we have to Him. As the Apostle Paul said in Acts 17:28, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” Our next breath, our next heartbeat, all of this comes from Him. Therefore, He is worthy to receive this praise, adoration and worship back from His creation.
Now the word “will” here describes one’s desire (i.e. what they wanted). So, we can see that we exist and were created because God wanted us here. He wanted you! He wanted me! He desired us to be here! And He didn’t do this for selfish reasons. He didn’t do it because He felt some responsibility as His Creator.
Now that is something that we need to reflect on because there are many people on this planet—even believers—who have not understood the fact that God actually created them just the way they are because He likes them this way. So, if this is you—if you are one of those who looks at yourself in the mirror and despises the way you look, the way you act or simply the way you are, look again! God created you because He wanted you here, just the way you are! You are valuable to His purpose and you are a part of His plan! So no longer blaspheme by looking at yourself and calling yourself “fat, stupid, or weak.” Rather, look at yourself and say, “I exist and was created for His pleasure! God wanted me here! I have a purpose! God has a good plan for me!” Amen!
Colossians 1:16 says, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.”
So not only were we created because God wanted to create us, we were created for Him. This means that we were created totally for Him—that is, we are here for His purpose and His plan.
So, the simple answer to the question: “Why are we here? (And) What is the meaning of life?” is we are here because He wanted us here and our purpose is for Him.
But I want us to begin by talking specifically about this because while most Christians would agree with what I just said, the confusion is in what our “purpose” looks like. Most think that His purpose for us is just simply to serve Him, but that is not completely true. Yes, serving Him and doing things for Him is important, but it’s not the main thing we were created for.
Yes, what we do for God is not the most needful part of our calling. Our relationship with Him is the most important part of our calling. Contrary to popular opinion in many circles of Christendom, we were not primarily created so that we can evangelize the world. Someone might argue, “How can you say that? Winning the lost is our primary objective as children of God!” I can say that because when God created mankind in the beginning, there was no evangelism necessary. In other words, there were no lost people that Adam & Eve needed to win for the Lord. Therefore, I can assure you that God’s intention for creating us to begin with was not for the purpose of personal evangelism.
Now I am not downplaying the importance of witnessing, missions, and personal evangelism. These are important responsibilities we have as ambassadors for Christ, but what I want you to understand is that there is something more important than these services you perform for Him—and that something is personal relationship with Him.
Saints, this is why God created us in the beginning! We were created so that we could intimately know the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! And now our role is to, first of all, have a personal relationship with God ourselves and then to introduce others into this same relationship with God.
You see, God created Adam & Eve because He wanted a family that He could have a personal relationship with. He wanted children created in His likeness and image to walk and talk with in the cool of the day. This is all He originally wanted of man—to have a personal relationship with Him. And if that was the original reason man was created, then we can be sure that this is God’s perfect will for us today.
Therefore, winning the lost is not the primary purpose of our salvation. But somebody else might say, “What about our individual callings? To fulfill what He has called us to do has to be God’s primary purpose for us, right?”
Well, did you know that God has called each and every one of us into the same calling? Sure, we all have specific gifts, talents and abilities given to us that are unique and specific, but we all are ultimately called into the same thing, and that general calling is to come into fellowship with Jesus Christ, our Lord!
The Apostle Paul makes this clear in 1 Corinthians 1:9 when he says. “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
What this verse is saying is that God Himself has called each of us for one specific and primary purpose, and that is to come into fellowship with Jesus. This means that above everything else God has called each of us to do to promote and expand His kingdom, He has called every one of us to fulfill this general calling first. This is important to understand lest we identify what we do for the Lord as being our relationship with Him.
Let me explain what I mean by this: a tendency that the flesh has is to let what it does for the Lord define its relationship with Him. We have to be careful not to do this because our works are in no way an indication that we have fellowship with Christ. While certainly our service and good works will follow our relationship with God, these works can also be done apart from knowing Him. You cannot know God without serving Him, but you can serve God without knowing Him. So, although we ought to strive to live for God and serve Him, we do not need to view what we do for Him as being our most important calling. Our relationship with God is our most important calling!
And back to David now—I believe that this “one thing” is what provided David with his longevity in his ministry to Israel. It was that his identity was not locked up in what he did for God. Remember, his beginning was in spending time alone with God as he was keeping his father’s sheep. His foundation was laid in relationship with God, so when he was in charge of Saul’s army, slaying all of those Philistines or ruling over God’s people as Israel’s king, he was established in his God.
And I believe that is an important lesson for us all today: that our identity is not in what we do for God. In fact, I would say that if we are getting burned out, we're doing it wrong. We must be led in what we do and what we don't do. Our identity begins in the fact that we are sons and daughters of God and created for His pleasure. That is who we are! We keep "the gas tank filled up" by spending time with Him continually.
THIS ONE DESIRE
So, let’s begin looking at one of David’s most beloved psalms, and one which I believe beautifully describes God’s heart and this one desire that we have touched on. Let’s turn over the 27th Psalm:
In Psalm 27:4, David begins to say, “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek…” The Hebrew word that was used for the word “One” here does not just describe a “solo” request. In other words, David was not saying, “One of the things that I have desired of the Lord…” Rather, this word “One” describes the bringing together of several different things or a uniting together of multiple things. So, what David was saying was that if he could summarize everything that he desired from the Lord—if he could bring everything together that he asked and sought the Lord for—it would be this “one thing”— “that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.”
And notice that David did not just desire this by asking the Lord for it and hoping it would happen; no, David both “desired” it and sought after it. And there is a big difference in just desiring something and both desiring and seeking after it. Far too many Christians would like to see a change in their life and desire to experience more of God, but their desire never turns into action—that is, they never begin seeking what they say they want.
Now I see this summarization of David’s request as being the most perfect description of what made him a man after God’s own heart. Yes, I believe what made David a man after God’s own heart was that He simply wanted to live every day of His life in God’s “house!”
So, what was David referring to when he said that his one desire was to dwell in “the house of the Lord?” Did this mean he wanted to go to church every day? No, a physical place like the Tabernacle was not what David sought after. In order to understand what David’s one desire was, we need to first understand what the “house of the Lord” represented to the Jewish mind.
You see, during the days of the Old Testament, the house of the Lord was symbolic of the presence of God. In their days, the Jewish people considered the Tabernacle and the Temple as the place where God dwelt. So, the terms God’s “house” and God’s “presence” were synonymous. The reason for this was because it was in God’s house that the Holy of holies resided and it was the place where the Ark of the Covenant dwelt—both of which were also symbolic of God’s presence. So, to the Jewish mind, if one wanted to be where God was, they must go to His “house” (which was first the Tabernacle and later became the Temple).
So, when David said that his one desire was to live in the house of the Lord all the days of his life, what he was really saying was that his one desire was to dwell in God’s presence all the days of his life. Therefore, it was not a building or a physical structure that David desired to dwell in. Living in God’s presence was what David was hungry for! Therefore, what David was saying was that if he could summarize everything that He asked the Lord and sought Him for, it would be to dwell in His presence all the days of His life. This is the one thing he wanted! And I personally believe this was the main thing that pleased God so much about David: that his heart’s sole desire was to be with His God all of the time.
THE TWO THINGS DAVID’S ONE DESIRE TEACHES US
So, if David had a heart like God’s, there are a couple of things we can learn from his one desire:
One is that we can look at the differences between him and other people of his day in order to see what God’s heart truly looks like. And what was the difference between David’s heart and the hearts of countless other believers? I believe Psalm 27:4 clearly portrays what made David different than others. Unlike countless other believers, David desired to be with God every chance he got! He understood the importance of dwelling in the secret place (in the Lord’s manifest presence), where all the wisdom, protection, etc. of God are.
You see, David valued his fellowship times with God more than others did. This is evidenced by the myriad of psalms that he wrote because they prove that he spent a lot of time praising, worshipping, and loving His God. Therefore, David’s psalms prove that he had tremendous times of fellowship with God and they also prove that he had spent a good amount time in God’s presence. And God is looking for those who have a heart for Him like this. “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.” (Second Chronicles 16:9). Here, the word “perfect” means “full, entire and complete,” hinting at a desire for God being our “one thing.” Even David’s son, Solomon, understood this too: In the phrase of Proverbs 3:5-6 that says, “in all your ways acknowledge Him,” the word acknowledge should be translated “to intimately know.”
So, “one thing” we can learn from David’s “one thing” is what made him a man after God’s own heart. The other thing we can learn from his heart’s desire is the very thing that made David a man after God’s own heart—that He desired the one thing that God desires from all of us. He wanted to be in God’s presence as much as possible! But you might be thinking: How can being in God’s presence be God’s desire? Well, it is obviously not His own presence that God desires; so, it must be someone else’s presence. Then whose presence do you suppose God wants to be in? You guessed it! It is our “presence” that He desires!
My friends, God desires one thing from us above anything else! He desires for us to want to be with Him every day just as He wants to be with us all the days of our life! Just as David longed to be with God, fellowshipping with Him all the days of his life, God longs to be with us as well! This is God’s heart: to have close fellowship and an intimate relationship with His children. His heart’s desire is to spend time with us just as our heart’s desire should be to spend time with Him.
So, if we want to be considered a man or woman after God’s own heart, we must whole-heartedly desire this one thing—to spend time in God’s presence. This was David’s one desire; therefore, it should be our one desire as well.
Therefore, in essence, God’s one desire—the summarization of all that He wants, desires, and seeks after—is to dwell in our house all of the days of His life. Or it might be more accurate to say—His sole desire is to live in our presence from everlasting to everlasting.
He does not want to live apart from us. In fact, I believe that is why we are even here in the first place. You see, He never had to create mankind. He had the hosts of heaven already. Therefore, it wasn’t like He was alone in heaven, got bored, and so He decided to make you and I. No! We are the most unique of all His creation—for we were created in His image and likeness and have been given a free-will to love, honor and worship Him. No angel can say this, church! And do you know why He created man in His image and according to His likeness? It is because of this one desire—to have a people that He might have fellowship with.
THE FRUIT OF BEING PLANTED IN HIS PRESENCE
Now regarding Psalm 27:4, notice that David used the word “dwell.” This word denotes that God wants us to live, stay, remain, and abide in this sweet fellowship with Him all the days of our life. You see, saints, this is where the child of God is meant to dwell—in God’s presence!
And this is obviously not just an occasional visit to these places; this is living in them! That is what this word “dwells” indicates, which I see as being the Old Testament counterpart to the New Testament word “abide.” Therefore, this excludes the “nod to God” crowd (i.e. those whose relationship with God consists only of attending the occasional church service or doing sporadic religious exercises). No, this is referring to the one who lives in the place of His presence, those who daily “dwell” in His house.
Psalm 92:12-15 teaches us that as we are planted and abiding in the Lord’s presence (i.e. His house) that we will blossom and sprout with a spiritual harvest (i.e. we will be spiritually rich with the life of God). It’s just like how a tree works. The trunk of a tree pumps sap into the branches which force the branches to produce or else they’ll drown. Likewise, as we remain plugged into Jesus, He pumps His life into us and forces us to produce His fruit.
You see, this was David’s great desire because he knew just how wonderful time spent in the Father’s presence was! Yes, he knew its benefits!
Notice what he went on to say in the 27th Psalm: He said at the end of verse 4–“to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.”
You know, there are some things you just will not know outside of fellowshipping with God in His presence. You will not be able to behold the beauty of the Lord outside of His house. In other words, you will not be able to see how truly good and gracious He is. Yes, some things are better caught than taught. I could stand up before you Sunday after Sunday, telling you how good God is and how awesome He is, but if you do not get in His presence for yourself and behold upon Him yourself, there are some things you just will not see. No, we need to get in His “house” and gaze upon Him (i.e. beholding Him). This is when, not only will we be able to truly see Him as He is, but also, we will be changed into the same image from glory to glory! Amen!
Yes, saints, His temple is where we are able to truly “inquire” of the Lord and learn all about His ways. In other words, in His presence is where we get answers. Have you ever noticed that the things God speaks directly to you are the things that stick and you remember the most? That’s because the Lord Himself will always be your best teacher.
So when David goes on to describe these benefits of dwelling in His presence like “beholding the beauty of the Lord” and “inquire in His temple” it is important to note that this was not just on the heels of his desire to visit God’s presence, but on “dwelling” there “all the days of his life.” In other words, it is to be understood that truly beholding God’s beauty and inquiring of Him is not a promise for those who casually spend time in His presence; these are promises for those who live there and daily make it their practice to spend time with Him. Consistency is the key, saints. It is the habitual, day in and day out things that we do that mold and shape our lives.
But notice what David went on to say next in verse 5—David says, “For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion. In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.”
So here, David explains another major reason why dwelling in the presence of God all the days of His life was His greatest desire: Not only did He get to experience the myriad of blessings associated with spending time in God’s presence; he also knew that this was the key to being hidden and protected in the time of trouble. Therefore, we can see that dwelling in God’s presence—just you and Him, fellowshipping and spending time with each other—is where we are sheltered from harm and trouble. It is here that we are shielded and defended from the snares of the fowler. Amen.
OUR VITAL NEED
Now let’s skip ahead to another verse in the 27th Psalm that explains the attitude that David had regarding his desire to be with God. What we will find is that David did not seek to be with God all of the days of His life just because he wanted to; we will see that David sought to be with God because he knew how much he needed to.
Psalm 27:8 in the Amplified Bible reads this way: “You have said, Seek My face [inquire for and require My presence as your vital need]. My heart says to You, Your face (your presence), Lord, will I seek, inquire for and require [of necessity and on the authority of Your Word].”
Notice, first of all, that David said God told him to seek His face and, as the Amplified Bible brings out, to require His presence as his vital need. What this tells us is that David’s desire to be with God was evidently not just initiated by David himself. No, the Lord had commanded David to seek His face and require His presence as his vital need.
The Lord has repeatedly told me the exact same thing in my walk with Him. Yes, throughout my walk with the Lord, I have had Him tell me time and time again just how important it is that I learn to fellowship with Him. In fact, it seems like every time I have ever approached Him with a frustration that I was having in my walk, that seeking His face was the remedy He gave me. Particularly early in my walk, in the times where I asked God for answers, invariably His response to me was something like, “Son, you just need to be spending time with Me.”
But, whether we know it or not, God has told all of us how important that it is that we spend time with Him—and He has told us through Psalm 27:8. He has admonished each and every one of us through this powerful passage of Scripture to seek, inquire for, and require His presence as our vital need. None of our situations are unique. We all need to spend time with God—dwelling in His presence and feeding on His faithfulness!
You see, He knows that spending time with Him and seeking His face is vital to our spiritual life. This is why He commands us to do so. But the problem is not with getting God to know how much we need to spend time with Him; the problem is with getting us to realize how vital it is that we spend time with Him.
I believe a good illustration that describes the importance of the time we spend fellowshipping with God is in the importance of periodically plugging an electronic or battery-operated device into its power source. You see, we all have battery operated devices that we have to recharge periodically and we also have some electronic devices that need to stay plugged in so that they can continue to operate. Either way, every electronic or battery-operated device has to be plugged in or recharged at some point or another. One device that can probably be understood by most of us is our mobile phone. If we do not plug in our mobile phones regularly, we are likely to have the battery die, correct? Therefore, we place a priority on charging our phone on a daily basis so that it does not run out of power. And although having our cell phone lose its power is not a serious thing, what God wants us to understand is that a failure to maintain quality fellowship with Him is indeed detrimental to our spiritual lives. No, I am not saying that we are going to die physically or spiritually if we do not spend time with God. However, what I am saying is that we will not truly live if we do not have good, quality fellowship with Him!
For example, Jesus said in John chapter 15, in order for the branch to truly live and be productive, it must abide in the Vine because, apart from Him (i.e. Jesus Christ), we can do nothing. If Jesus were here on the earth during the 21st Century, He might have used the same illustration that I am using here because basically what He was making the point of is that if the branches do not stay “plugged into” the Vine, they will lose their “power” to be fruitful. Therefore, just as is the case with our electronic and battery-operated devices, if we want to fulfill our mandate to be lights to the world, we must stay plugged into the source of that light. Why? It is because the quality of our spiritual life is directly tied to us having an abiding relationship with the True Vine.
But let me take this illustration to another level: What if you literally ran on a battery and, just as is the case with any battery-operated device, you had to recharge your battery at a certain time, say first thing in the morning? If this were the case, where would you be first thing every morning? Undoubtedly, every morning for a specific period of time, you would be plugged into that power source! It would not matter if you did not sleep well the night before, if you would rather watch television, or even if someone invited you to an all-expense paid trip to your favorite place to shop. No matter how you felt or what came up, you would be recharging your battery at all costs! And why? It is because you would understand how vital and necessary it is that you recharge your battery. And this is exactly how we should view our time spent with God! Now I believe that the reason that God has indicated that we need to be this serious and rigid about our time spent with Him is because if we do not adopt this mentality, the devil is sure to distract us.
Have you ever noticed that when you have decided to go to your prayer closet to spend time with God that every possible distraction will come up? Yes, invariably, the devil will send both external and internal distractions to derail our time spent in God’s presence. Some examples of these external distractions would perhaps be the phone ringing, someone knocking at the door, or the dog starts barking. But not only will these external distractions come up, even our minds will begin to be filled with distracting thoughts. For example, we might start having thoughts about all the things that need to be done around the house. Now you know good and well that if you were simply sitting in front of the television, you would not be thinking of how you need to be cleaning out the garage, would you? So where do you suppose both these external and internal distractions come from? You guessed it! It is the enemy that plants those distractions in your path to abiding in His presence! And why do you suppose he fights our time spent with God like this? Do you think it might be because he knows how vital this time we spend with God is to our spiritual lives? I guarantee you this is why he sends these distractions and obstacles! He apparently knows something that most believers do not! But no more! Lord you have said, “Seek Me and require my presence as your vital need!” So, we say to You, “Lord, one thing we desire and commit to do; we will seek to spend time with You!”
But since this was David’s heart desire, we can also see the Lord’s heart in this statement: Not only has He commissioned us to seek His face, His heart says to us likewise— “You face, my son, will I seek.” Again, He does not expect more out of us than He is willing to give us Himself. So, while He certainly wants us seeking His face, He has sought our face first. And all of this is aimed at us meeting in perfect fellowship—Him knowing us and us knowing Him. Church, just as time spent in His presence is our vital need, it is His vital need as well. No, not that He is any less God than He was, is, or evermore shall be, but His heart can be hurt. Amen.
HOW LONG, MY CHILDREN?
Regarding His heart aching for us to make personal time with Him, let’s look at God’s one desire in other Davidic psalms:
In Psalm 38:9-10, David says, “Lord, all my desire is before You; And my sighing is not hidden from You. My heart pants, my strength fails me; As for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me.”
Here we see David’s heart being poured out before the Lord. But, again, let’s look at it from the Lord’s perspective. Hear His heart here: “All My desire is before you and My heart pants for you!”
You know, I’m sure many of you can relate to this but ever since I have started seeing a lot of these things about God’s own heart, I have started even seeing the Lord’s heart for us in songs we sing to Him.
For example, a song we have sung while we have been on this series is “Lord, I Give You My Heart,” and in parts of that song, I see Him singing that to us. Yes, the Lord sings over us— “This is my desire to honor you, Son, with all my heart, I love & adore (i.e. worship) you. All I have within Me, I give you praise(s).”
Also, notice that older praise & worship chorus, “As the Deer”; that song likewise reflects the heart of God for us. In it, He sings over us— “As the deer panteth for the water, so My soul longs after thee. You alone are my heart’s desire, and I long to love & adore (i.e. worship) thee…”
But the fact is, this is God’s heart desire! He longs for us and all of His desire is before us. Can you see just how important our time and attention are to Him?
Psalm 16:11 is a very familiar passage of Scripture along these same lines. In it, David says that in His presence is fullness of joy and at His right hand are pleasures forevermore. Well, did you know that this is true in Him as well? Yes, being in our presence brings the Lord fullness of joy and enduring pleasures. Yes, He gets joy out of being with us just as we get joy from being in His presence.
We are all familiar with Nehemiah 8:10, right—where the Holy Spirit said that the joy of the Lord is our strength? We oftentimes only equate that truth as to meaning that our own joy produces strength in us. And while that is certainly true and I don’t want to overshadow that truth, I believe that this also can refer to the joy of the Lord. In other words, the joy He derives from the fellowship we have with Him—the Lord’s joy—is what also produces strength in us. So, when we give the Lord the desire of His heart—pleasing Him and bringing Him joy—we will know it because it will produce strength in us. Amen!
So, yes, He longs for us and desires for us to experience all of the pleasures that are at His right hand. But what He does not understand is why most of His children do not give Him the time of day. Sure, He know why we don’t. It is because we have this flesh and an enemy that wars against the hidden man of our heart that likewise longs for Him. But His heart just yearns for us to give Him our love and attention that He cries out for.
For example, in Psalm 22:1-2 we read— “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; And in the night season, and am not silent.”
Of course, we know that this was one of those Messianic inspired sayings of David. In other words, we know the first question in verse 1 to be the words of the Son of David as He hung on that Cross, being made all of our sin.
But again, let’s flip it and see God’s heart as it pertains to the fellowship He desires to have with us. His heart cry is— "My son and My daughter, Why have you forsaken Me? Why don’t you hear My heart’s cry? I am calling out to you, but you do not listen.”
You see, He will never leave us nor forsake us, but we can leave Him and forsake Him. And that is precisely what the problem is. He stands at the door of His church’s heart and knocks, but do we open the door? Are we receptive to His voice?
So hear the Lord saying these words of David in Psalm 13:1– “How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?”
How long, my children!?! Will You forget Me forever? I am seeking for your face, but how long will you hide your face from Me? His desire for us to show up in His presence and to be with Him?
And here is the wonderful truth about spending time in His presence: you will never know Him like you do when you spend time in fellowship with Him. Church, this is where we come to truly know His heart—not in a sermon or a series. Knowing God’s own heart comes as we spend time giving Him His one desire—coming daily into His presence, seeking His face and finding our place. Amen!
And the truth of the matter is this: If you and I do not fulfill His one heart’s desire, our hearts will never be full. In other words, if we do not fulfill our calling to be with and know Him, we will never experience the joy, peace, contentment and satisfaction that the Bible says we can have.
Saints, this is what made David different than others: Above all things, he loved being with God—spending time fellowshipping with Him and loving on Him. That, my friends, is God’s own heart. He wants to be with YOU—spending time fellowshipping with you and loving on you. Make time with Him a priority in your life today and become a man or woman after God’s own heart.
Today, I want us to continue looking at “God’s Own Heart”—that is, His divine nature and what is important to Him. Again, what we have been doing is looking at God’s heart by studying the heart of the one who was said to have a heart like His, David. And in doing so, we have seen some amazing things!
Last week, we looked at how the Son of David, the Lord Jesus Christ, also reflects the heart of God. We learned this by going first through several of David’s psalms and seeing how his words ended up becoming both a fulfillment of many of the things we see happening in the life of our Messiah and even were the very words He would end up speaking. So, we saw how since Jesus is called the Son of David and He and David were obviously tracking on things, it is clear that Jesus was also a man after God’s own heart—especially considering He is the Son of God Himself.
But we also learned that Jesus more clearly represented God’s heart than even David did. Yes, as much as David was a man after God’s own heart, Jesus’ life & ministry was even a purer example of the heart of God: For example, we saw how the writer of Hebrews said that Jesus was “the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person.” And we looked at several Scriptures that validated this further: First of all, Jesus said to Philip, “If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father.” We saw that He also said that His words were given to Him by His Father and He only did what He saw His Father doing. Therefore, we have more than enough witnesses that clearly show us that Jesus fully expressed the true nature of God while He was here with us. So, we learned that if you truly want to see God’s heart, just look at the life and ministry of His Son—Jesus. We saw this in John chapter 1 where he said, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” So, we saw from this that we cannot truly see the express image of God’s heart in any other example other than His only begotten Son.
Then, we ended in Acts 10:38 by seeing a perfect summarization of the life & ministry of Jesus that declares His Father’s heart. Yes, Jesus went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil for God was with Him. And again, why was this Jesus’ pattern? It is because He only did what He saw His Father doing and only said what He heard from His Father. And as Peter said in Acts 10:38, “for God was with Him.” Based on what we’ve been learning, we might say it this way—“for God’s HEART was with Him!” Amen!
So, we saw that Jesus is not “just a man” after God’s own heart. He is not “just a prophet, a good man, etc.” No, Jesus being the Second Person in the Godhead is the express image of God’s own heart. And here is where the good news gets even better: since Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forevermore (Hebrews 13:8) and while God is called “no respecter of persons” (Romans 2:11), that means that God is still willing to manifest His heart today! In other words, God’s heart that we saw in Jesus 2,000 years ago is also God’s heart today and will be forevermore—for He is no respecter of persons. Amen!
ACTS OF GOD’S WILL
So today, let’s begin what I believe the Lord wants to show us this week by opening up our Bibles to the 13th chapter of the Book of Acts: I want us to look at another one of the verses that describe David as a man after God’s own heart because this particular passage is going to lead us into seeing another side of God’s heart.
You know, the Book of Acts has been traditionally called “The Acts of the Apostles.” You will find that as the title in just about every kind of Bible, but that is not an appropriate title because you see more than just apostles being used by God to perform His “acts.” On top of that, it was not any “man” who did these acts; it was the Holy Spirit doing these acts through men and women who cooperated with Him. Consider Stephen, who was simply a deacon in the church, but because he was “full of the Holy Spirit” (among other things), he did great signs and wonders. He was not considered an apostle, yet the Holy Spirit worked through him in a mighty way. Therefore, a more appropriate title for this Book of the Bible would be— “The Acts of the Holy Spirit through the Church”, and not “The Acts of the Apostles.”
And that is exactly the point I believe the Lord wants to reveal to us today about His heart: His heart desires for His Church to rise up and do all of His will in this lost and dying world we live in. Amen?
In Acts chapter 13, we see the apostle Paul being invited by the rulers of the synagogue located in Antioch of Pisidia to share a word of exhortation. So Paul, of course, took this opportunity to share with his countrymen the gospel of Jesus. And in his message, he makes this other reference to David being a man after God’s own heart. Acts 13:22 says, “And when He had removed him (Saul), He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.”
Now notice that Paul, after saying that David was a man after God’s own heart, also described him as a person “who will do all (His) will.” So, the point I want to make this week is that both the kind and the militant things that David did for God was God’s will—not just the kind, loving, and merciful things he did. In other words, not only was David’s tender, merciful side a part of God’s heart, but even his militant side was evidently another side of God’s heart.
THE WARRIOR WITHIN
You see, David was known in his life for not just being a “good shepherd” and a “kind king”; David was also known for a good portion of his life as being a “militant warrior”—being anointed by God to bring vengeance on God’s enemies such as the Philistines. Amen? We see this at the beginning of David’s life—that he gained his popularity by being the captain over King Saul’s troops and slaying multitudes of Philistines. Yes, David was a killing machine with zero tolerance for the enemies of God. He was God’s anointed warrior.
So, my point is that just as much as all of the kind, loving things that David did were certainly a reflection of God’s own heart, likewise the absolute intolerance for the wicked and the militant attitude he possessed was also another side of God’s heart that we can see in David’s life.
And while the enemies of David were indeed flesh & blood, we are not advocating making flesh & blood our enemy here. Why? Because under our new covenant, we are clearly taught that we wrestle not against flesh and blood (see Ephesians 6:12). However, there is an enemy that we have out there that we as God’s church certainly should not let our anger sleep regarding, and that we should live our lives with the intent to destroy (see Ephesians 4:26-27). Who is that, you ask? That enemy is satan and his cohorts.
You see, church, there is a place for mercy, forgiveness and forbearance, but not with the devil. He is to be judged, condemned and not tolerated in the least. But if another human being is being used by the enemy and is unrepentant, it is sometimes appropriate to cut them off. We see this in the example of the young man whom Paul turned over to satan for the destruction of the flesh (see First Corinthians 5:5).
But here is my point: God desires us to also have that heart of a warrior that David possessed and be completely devoted to destroying all of the works of the devil and seeing those in captivity set free. As we have been learning, His heart is certainly for us individually; but we also need to be aware that He loves and cares for other people just like He does us. Therefore, His heart is for us to deliver the same freedom into other people’s lives that we are coming to see that we possess in Him ourselves. And this is always God’s pattern: for us to know we are loved and then to exhibit that love to others, for us to be comforted and then to share that same comfort with others, for us to be healed and then to deliver that same healing to others, etc., etc., etc. People are what are important to God, and we are what are on His heart. But we need to think outside the box of our own lives and begin to bring God’s salvation, deliverance and healing into other’s lives just as He has brought it into our lives.
Let’s now look at some of the things that David wrote in his Psalms that express this different side of his heart. But again, what we are looking for is God’s heart in these things that David expressed, not just what David’s own personal heart-cry was.
You see, we see this all throughout David’s psalms; we see him crying out to God to destroy his enemies. And yes, all of those psalms where David is crying out for God to deliver, vindicate, and save him is God’s heart for us. His heart cries out for us to go deliver, vindicate, save and heal His people! Let’s look at a few of them:
First off, in Psalm 58:6, David said to the Lord, “Break their teeth in their mouth, O God! Break out the fangs of the young lions, O Lord!”
What an interesting petition to God, to break their teeth in their mouth!?! This certainly does not sound like something a good Christian would pray, right? But again, when we apply it to our real enemy—satan—it is certainly a reasonable request. And all of these Philistines and other “ites” were simply types and shadows of our real enemy. Therefore, we ought to certainly pray to the Lord to “break the fangs and teeth” of that lion, the devil, who walks about seeking whom he may devour (see 1 Peter 5:8). Amen? One reason that we know this is a reasonable request is because this is evidently God’s heart for David to even be requesting it.
Sure, we are to love the sinner. That is our duty—to love the world as God so loves them. But at the same time, we are to hate the sin that is both hurting them and those around them. That is what we are to be intolerant of.
Let’s back up and look at the 55th Psalm: Psalm 55:9-15 says, “Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues, For I have seen violence and strife in the city. Day and night they go around it on its walls; Iniquity and trouble are also in the midst of it. Destruction is in its midst; Oppression and deceit do not depart from its streets. For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; Then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; Then I could hide from him. But it was you, a man my equal, My companion and my acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked to the house of God in the throng. Let death seize them; Let them go down alive into hell, For wickedness is in their dwellings and among them.”
Here, we see David crying out to God, asking Him to destroy the violent and strifeful people who trouble, oppress and deceive. Again, this is a far cry from the merciful David that we have seen thus far, amen?
But then David goes on to describe that this was his companion and acquaintance that was living in hypocrisy and practicing this wickedness. What this teaches us is that God’s heart is even against those who might appear godly on the outside, but on the inside are full of wickedness. Therefore, His heart desires for us to deal with the leaven that tries to leaven the whole lump. In other words, if another so-called believer is hurting other parts of the body and is unwilling to repent, then the Lord wants them removed. Someone might say, “But I thought God is love!” Sure, and that is exactly why He wants them removed—because He loves the body so much that He doesn’t want the cancer destroying the body. So He has it removed. God does not tolerate the self-righteous and unmerciful.
In Psalm 59:1-9, David says, “Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; Defend me from those who rise up against me. Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloodthirsty men. For look, they lie in wait for my life; The mighty gather against me, not for my transgression nor for my sin, O Lord. They run and prepare themselves through no fault of mine. Awake to help me, and behold! You therefore, O Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel, awake to punish all the nations; Do not be merciful to any wicked transgressors. Selah. At evening they return, they growl like a dog, and go all around the city. Indeed, they belch with their mouth; Swords are in their lips; For they say, “Who hears?” But You, O Lord, shall laugh at them; You shall have all the nations in derision. I will wait for You, O You his Strength; For God is my defense.”
Now this is one of those psalms where I listen to hear God’s heart in David’s words. Can you hear the Lord appealing to us— “Deliver Me from My enemies”? Now, of course, we are not delivering Him personally, but what I do see His heart crying out for is for us, His church to rise up and deliver those who are created in His likeness and image from their oppressors—for whatever we do for the least of these, we have done it unto Him.
Notice that in Psalm 68:1-6, David says, “Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered; Let those also who hate Him flee before Him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away; As wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. But let the righteous be glad; Let them rejoice before God; Yes, let them rejoice exceedingly. Sing to God, sing praises to His name; Extol Him who rides on the clouds, by His name Yah, and rejoice before Him. A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation. God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; But the rebellious dwell in a dry land.”
This is exactly what we want—for God to arise! When this occurs, His enemies are certainly scattered! This is why I believe the Lord told His disciples that when they go out to heal the sick, cast out demons, and give to the poor, to always accompany those good works with the following declaration— “the kingdom of God has come near to you!” What that means is that when God’s representatives go about doing good and healing all who are oppressed of the devil, this is God’s kingdom in manifestation!
And I believe that is why these verses of God arising and driving away the wicked are immediately followed by the righteous rejoicing and praising God. Didn’t David say in Psalm 22:3: “But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel”? The original King James version says that God “inhabits” the praises of His people. The Hebrew word describes God as being “seated” where God’s people are praising Him—seated like a king is enthroned. Therefore, I see this as saying that where God is praised, His kingdom comes. And where His kingdom comes, there His will is done—the sick get healed, the demons flee, and blessings abound! Glory!
Then I love how David goes on to describe that God is a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, and how He sets the solitary in families and brings out those who are bound into prosperity. In case, you haven’t realized this, taking care of the orphans and widows is a big part of God’s heart. We see time and time again in His Word how God shows how a failure to care for those who are destitute and helpless is one of His biggest pet-peeves. And the awesome truth is this—God has already practiced what He preached! Yes, He Himself has provided and cared for the orphans and widows. Someone might say, “No pastor, I see plenty of orphans and widows still with needs. How has God practiced what He preaches?” YOU are the orphan that He has provided for! And not only did He provide for you; the Bible says He actually “adopted” you. And YOU are the widow that He has cared for—not just by meeting your spiritual needs once or twice, but by marrying you and making you His bride! Glory to God!
And this is exactly what the Lord desires for us to do—imitate Him in being a father to the fatherless and a defender of the widows! Yes, He desires for us to bring those in solitude into the family of God and those who are poor into prosperity! This, my friends, is the heart of God!
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING ON?
Therefore, I hear the Lord saying to us the following words that David uttered: Psalm 35:17-18 says, “Lord, how long will You look on?” You see, the truth is God is not the One who is sitting back and looking on at all the evil we are seeing in this world. He has called His church to “Go therefore” and set the captives free. We are called to occupy and bring light to this dark and perverse generation. Yes, the keys have been put in our hands to bring the kingdom of God to this generation. So, the Lord would ask us: How long will we look on?
Then He goes on to say to us, “Rescue Me from their destructions, My precious life from the lions…” Again, not that God Himself is in danger of destruction, but His creation that He loves dearly needs rescuing. Amen!
And then He goes on to give us one of those exceedingly great and precious promises of what things will be like at the judgment seat of Christ: “I will give You thanks in the great assembly; I will praise You among many people.” Glory to God! Can you imagine that day—when the Lord will thank you for setting His people free and will praise you among the hosts of heaven for those you ministered His love to? That is going to be an awesome day!
In verses 22-24, David goes on to say, “This You have seen, O Lord; Do not keep silence. O Lord, do not be far from me. Stir up Yourself, and awake to my vindication, to my cause, my God and my Lord. Vindicate me, O Lord my God, according to Your righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me.”
Saints, the Lord’s heart is that we do not keep silent concerning the injustices we see! He wants us to be near His heart, and to stir ourselves up and awake to His vindication and cause! It’s high time we wake up, church, and stir ourselves up to deliver, vindicate, and minister to God by doing this for those He has created in His image and likeness. Amen? The Lord is waiting on us!
As David said in Psalm 110:1-2— “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’ The Lord shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies!”
This is, of course, prophesying of the day we are living in, where Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of God, waiting for His enemies to become His footstool. Now your foot is not on your head, is it? No, your foot is a part of your body. Therefore, what the Lord’s heart desires and expects is the day when all of His enemies go exactly where they belong—beneath the feet of His body. Amen!
Oh, and saints, God’s heart is for us to know this very thing. We see this in Ephesians chapter one when the apostle Paul prayed over this church a prayer—not that God would give them something they didn’t have, but that they would see what God had already given them!
After praying these things in Ephesians 1:17-19, Paul goes into greater detail as to why they needed to see these things, and it was for the very reason David prophesied in Psalm 110. Notice he says in Ephesians 1:20-23— “which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
So, in the end of his prayer for the Church of Ephesus, Paul was praying for them (and us) to have revealed that all things have already been put under our feet and all authority in heaven and on earth have been given to us, His church. Amen!
Yes, Jesus said in Matthew 28:18 that all authority was given to Him in heaven and on earth and that’s what Ephesians 1:22 is teaching us. But Jesus didn’t stop with that. In Matthew 28:19, He says, “Go therefore.” Jesus received all authority from the Father and then turned around and delegated that authority over to the church. Mark 16:17-18 is more specific on what He’s delegated His authority to us for: “And these signs will follow those who believe: In my name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover.”
You see, this is how the Gospels ended, and it is also how the Acts of the Holy Spirit through the church begins. Therefore, it is in our hands to go and do these works in His name. Also, it is totally unscriptural to pray that God would get rid of the devil for us. He won’t do it. And there are no scriptures in the New Testament that tell us to ask God to do something about the devil. Jesus has delegated His authority over to us by giving us His name, which is above every other name. He gave us the authority and told us to take care of the devil, both in our lives and in the lives of others. He has figuratively given us His checkbook and signed His name on every check. We are the ones that fill in the rest to cash in on His kingdom being established on the earth. Yes, He is waiting on us—the Body of Christ—to put the devil under our feet!
In conclusion, let’s look at the example of David & Goliath—which perfectly illustrates to us God’s heart in defeating His enemies. One thing that is important to remind ourselves of is that although these Bible stories are certainly real-life, historical accounts of things that actually happened, they are also types and shadows of things which are to come. And as we learned last week, King David and the Son of David are one in the same by many of the things they said and did.
So, if David was a type and shadow of Jesus here, then where is the church found in this story. I believe that we are the stone that David hurled into the forehead of Goliath. Yes, the church of the Lord Jesus—the rock, not Peter himself, but the confession of Jesus’ Lordship that Peter made is what Jesus said He would build His church upon. This is what the Son of David would use and the gates of hell shall not prevail against this rock.
Now it is noteworthy that these five stones that David gathered were “smooth” stones. Well, what made them this way? It was that they came from the brook where the waters and flowed over them for some time and molded and shaped them making them more aerodynamic.
So, that is exactly what needs to happen with us. We need to allow those living waters of the Holy Spirit to flow over and through us and also let ourselves be washed by the water of His Word so that both the Spirit and the Word mold and shape to be more effective weapons for the Lord against His enemies.
Yes, church—you and I are being fashioned into the living stones whom the Lord Jesus Christ will use to knock the giant off of his feet and make the Lord’s enemies His footstool. This is our heritage, church—that no weapon formed against us shall prosper, for our righteousness is of Him.
As Psalm 149:6-9 says, “Let the saints be joyful in glory; Let them sing aloud on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance on the nations, and punishments on the peoples; To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute on them the written judgment— This honor have all His saints. Praise the Lord!”
Yes, church—this honor have ALL His saints! We all have the privilege of executing on those Philistines the written judgment with the sharp two-edged sword of the Spirit in our hands. Let’s do it! And in so doing, we will give God His heart’s desire. Amen!
So, let’s continue our series today entitled “God’s Own Heart” by looking deeper into the heart of our Creator!
Again, we are camping on this series in order to learn more about our God—what is important to Him, what He is focused on, what He loves, etc. And we are looking at this because we want to learn more about Him, which should in turn change us into the same image we are beholding. But we are studying God’s heart by looking at the man who was said to be “after God’s own heart”—King David. In other words, we are studying God’s nature by looking at David’s nature. And what we have learned thus far is that David’s heart for God, His love for Him and His desire to know Him reflect God’s heart for us. We have also seen that the honor that David had in his life likewise reflect God’s honorable heart.
Then, last week, we looked at something else that has a big place in God’s heart—the grace that He is said to be rich in and the mercy that He is said to be full of. So, we looked at that phrase given to describe the everlasting covenant we now have with our God—the Sure Mercies of David. We saw that these “Sure Mercies of David” are found in First Chronicles chapter 17 where God said, “And it shall be, when your days are fulfilled, when you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up your seed after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son; and I will not take My mercy away from him, as I took it from him who was before you. And I will establish him in My house and in My kingdom forever; and his throne shall be established forever.” (First Chronicles 17:11-14).
We saw how grand of a promise this must have been to David seeing that the last king of Israel, Saul, was cut off due to his failures (See First Samuel 15:22-23). I can just imagine that a concern David might have had would be: “What if my son makes the same mistake that Saul did? Will he be cut off like Saul was?” So, the Lord promised David that his son would sit on the throne forever, and He would not take His “mercy” away from him as He did with Saul, who was before him. Therefore, you could say that David was guaranteed mercy. No sin or shortcoming would undermine God’s unconditional promise of an eternal house from David. It was for this reason that Isaiah called this everlasting covenant, the “sure mercies of David.”
We saw how the word “sure” here denotes that these are faithful, concrete, stable promises of God’s mercy, not the kind of mercies that one might ask of God, not knowing whether or not He will grant them the mercy they are requesting. No, the mercies of David are “sure mercies”—that is, they are established and we can be sure of them in our own lives. Amen!
But we saw that David was obviously ahead of the curve. This revelation of God’s grace and mercy was not a common revelation amongst the people of the Old Covenant. But David had gotten a glimpse into the covenant that you and I are living in today.
We then looked at Psalm 32:1-2 where David said, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” Then we saw how the apostle Paul gave us his divine commentary about this particular passage of Scripture in Romans 4:6-8.
In these verses we saw how Paul brought up David as another example of the basic “spiritual math” he was teaching: Grace + Faith = Righteousness. We saw how the terms Paul used in these verses in Romans 4 were accounting terms, meaning “to count, calculate, count over, to make an account of.” And I love how this is the terminology Paul used because, again, it’s basic math and spiritually logical.
Therefore, we learned that these sure mercies of David and God’s grace that does not impute sin to our account any longer is God’s own heart. No, He has not made this everlasting covenant available to us because He felt some sense of responsibility as our Creator; He has bestowed this grace & mercy on us because He purposed in His heart to do so.
We looked at Ephesians 1:3-14, where the apostle Paul simply breezes through all of these exceedingly great and precious promises of what Christ has done for us and all we have in Him. He says that He did it “according to the good pleasure of His will” (vs. 5) and “according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself” (vs. 9). This taught us that all that the Father sent Christ to accomplish was done because it was His good pleasure to do so. Yes, He wanted to do it. Therefore, He “sentenced” you to it!
So, no, His heart is not to judge and condemn. Although He certainly has to be the Judge and all sin must be judged, that is not because He enjoys doing it. It is simply that He has the responsibility of doing it. But God’s heart is to abundantly pardon, to show mercy and forgive. That is what He would rather do. Yes, being gracious and merciful is a big part of who our God is.
Like we have seen in the life of David, God’s heart is a heart of mercy. Even though David certainly brought God’s judgment to certain individuals, it is obvious that David did not prefer to be this way. He liked to honor, love and show mercy. And this is God’s nature.
So, we learned that showing mercy and sowing mercy is God’s good pleasure! His heart is to both extend these sure mercies of David in our lives, but also to see us turn around and extend the same mercy into others. Yes, He loves giving us grace, but He also loves when those whom He has been gracious to are gracious to others! If we get closer to God, mercy just rubs off on us, because it is His nature. Church, grace and mercy are a big part of God’s heart!
So, this week, let’s move into looking into another example that even reflects God’s heart more than the great King David does. This week I want us to look at the best example we have ever had of a person who revealed the heart of God—the Son of David Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ!
Now I suppose that we all have heard by now the reference to Jesus being “the Son of David.” This was, of course, a title given to the Messiah by the Jewish people because of the promise that God made to David that his son’s throne would be established forever (see First Chronicles 17:11-14).
We see Jesus being addressed as the Son of David throughout the Gospels by those who recognized that He was more than just a normal man, but was their promised Messiah. Yes, those with physical needs would cry out, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” and as the people received Jesus in Jerusalem, they would cry out “Hosanna to the Son of David.” In all of these cases, this was their confession of His Lordship and a recognition that He was their promised Messiah.
But the point I want to make this week is that since Jesus is the Son of David, then it is understandable that we can not only see God’s heart in David’s life, but also in the life of David’s Son, who is truly the Son of God. So, that is what I want us to look at today--Seeing the Heart of God in the Son of David.
THE SON OF DAVID IN THE PSALMS
In fact, one thing that we see throughout David’s psalms is that there were many times where his words were prophetically inspired, and became the words of Jesus during His life and ministry. Let’s look at some of them:
In the first example of this, I want us to look at something Jesus said in Matthew 22:41-45. It says, “While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, ‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?’ They said to Him, ‘The Son of David.’ He said to them, ‘How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool’?’ If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?”
Here, Jesus was making the point that the promised Son of David was really the Son of God because why would David refer to his son as his “Lord.” And He quoted from Psalm 110, which was widely recognized by the Jewish people of Jesus’ day as one of the greatest Messianic Psalms.
And in this psalm, not only is the Messiah seen as a King and Ruler, seated at the right hand of God, but he is also called a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4). This Scripture is used by the writer of Hebrews to make the point that Jesus comes from the line of priests that is superior to the Aaronic one. Therefore, the Lord Jesus is both King and Priest—as King at the right hand of God and as priest from a divine priesthood!
But although David prophesied of the glories and triumph of the Christ, he was best known for speaking of His sufferings:
In Psalm 41:9, David speaks of Judas, one of Jesus’ disciples who would betray Him, saying, “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.”
In Psalm 69:9, David says, “Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me…” Here we see a reference to the zeal for God’s house that consumed Jesus when He cleansed the temple of the commercialism that had infected it (see John 2:17). And even the second half of this verse is mentioned by the apostle Paul in reference to the reproaches of Christ (Compare Romans 15:3).
In verses 19-20 of this same psalm, David continues to describe the reproach of the Messiah, and in verse 21 says, “They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” So, David here even prophesies of Jesus’ experience on the Cross when the Roman soldiers offered Him “gall” and “sour wine” (vinegar) to drink to ease His suffering.
In the 22nd Psalm, which is widely considered one of the greatest Messianic psalms that David wrote, we have many references to Jesus’ sufferings:
In verse 1, David writes, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning?” (Compare Matthew 27:46). Then in verses 6-8, he says, “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised by the people. All those who see Me ridicule Me; They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, ‘He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!’” And did the religious leaders not say almost these exact words as Jesus hung on the Cross? (Compare Matthew 27:43). And David goes on to say in verses 16-18-- “For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.” And these verses give obvious references to Jesus’ hands and feet being pierced with those nails on the Cross and the Roman soldiers gambling over His garments (Compare Matthew 27:35).
So, all in all, this psalm is chalk full of things that would come to pass on the Cross of Christ. But again, they are written by David like he personally went through these things.
Even as Jesus drew His last breath on the Cross, His words are a quote of yet another Davidic psalm--Psalm 31:5—which reads, “Into Your hand I commit my spirit…”
So, after Jesus gives up the ghost, we know that Jesus did not stay in that place of death, darkness and torment: In the Psalm 16:10, David prophesied— “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.” This was, of course, quoted by the apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost when he testified of Jesus’ resurrection (Compare Acts 2:31)
But glory to God, this was all part of God’s plan—for as we see in David’s 118th Psalm, David prophesies of this day that the Lord has made. In Psalm 118:22-26, he says, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Save now, I pray, O Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.” All of this pointed towards Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem when the people cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” and Him being established as the chief cornerstone that the religious leaders of His day rejected. In fact, one gospel writer says that the people said, “Hosanna to the Son of David.”
So, what have we seen here? We have seen how what seemed to be the words of David would wind up being truths concerning the Son of David. In other words, while some might think that these were realities from David’s life, they were really prophetic utterances forecasting the sufferings and glories of the His Son, the Son of God. Amen.
Finally, let’s look at the 2nd Psalm, which is not specifically referred to as being a psalm of David in the psalm itself, but was attributed to David by the group of Christians in Acts 4:25-26: In Psalm 2:7-9, David says, “I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’”
Now as we’ve seen by now, there were obviously times where David prophesied things in his psalms that were not necessarily things that were examples from his own life. In this case, perhaps the Lord God really did say this to David, or perhaps he was just prophesying of something that God the Father was saying to His Son just as Jesus said that Abraham saw His day and rejoiced (see John 8:56). Either way, we know that this is referring to the Son of David. However, now that we are in Christ, we know that the Lord is saying this to us today. And what is He inviting us to do? To ask Him and He will give us the nations for our inheritance!
Regarding this, Minton received this word for our church and shared it with church leadership. The Lord said to him, “What is My body @ HPC asking for?” So, we spent some time talking & praying about this and determining what we are going to start specifically asking Him for. And I challenge you to both ask along with us for these things for the church (see handout in the foyer), but also to figure out what you truly desire for your own life and ask Him for that.
GOD’S HEART MADE FLESH
But the fact is, since Jesus is called the Son of David, and David and Him were obviously tracking in things, it is clear that Jesus was also a man after God’s own heart being the Son of God Himself. In fact, it is an undisputed fact that Jesus more clearly represented God’s heart than even David did. Yes, as much as David was a man after God’s own heart, Jesus’ life & ministry was even a purer example of the heart of God. Let’s look at a few verses that verify this truth.
First, let’s look over at John chapter 1 where we have a good summarization of what Jesus came to both do and declare: John 1:14-18 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”
Here we see Jesus again being referred to as “the Word”—or, the Logos. The word “logos” basically describes “a statement, the expression or transmission of a thought, or a divine revelation or declaration.” The Bible is oftentimes what is being referred to when the word “logos” is used in the Word of God, but the fact is that both God’s Word and Jesus are one and the same in that they both reveal and express God’s love, goodness, grace and truth.
But here we see Jesus being described as the Mighty Logos, and John goes on to say He became flesh and dwelt among us. The word used for “dwelt” here literally means that He “tabernacled” among us. So here, I see Jesus as being the One that even the Tabernacle itself was a type and shadow of. Glory! (But that’s a whole other sermon right there)
Then the apostle John goes on to describe how we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father. And as we are about to see, the glory we see in Him is actually the glory of His Father, the true nature of God Himself.
Notice then that John said that Jesus was “full of grace and truth.” This is important to understand when we see what he went on to say in verse 16— “And of His fullness we have all received…” What is He full of according to verse 14? Grace and truth! Therefore, what we have all received is the fullness of the grace of God and the truth of God. Amen!
But then John goes on to say, “…and grace for grace.” Notice that now truth is left out—not that truth is not relevant or important—but now we live in a New Covenant characterized by grace. Regarding the phrase, “grace for grace,” most expositors agree that this literally describes “grace upon grace.” In other words, while we have received the fullness of truth, the grace is an ever-growing experience of God Himself.
So, the bottom line is that Jesus has brought us the fullness of God—that is, the full expression of God Himself—unlike Moses, who simply brought us the Law. And I’m glad that John brought this up in verse 17 because many people try to see God by the way He had to do things under the Law. In other words, people see God as quick to judge and harsh, critical and condemning like He seemed to be under the Old Covenant. But the truth is, God was not different under the Law than He was through Jesus. Yes, He never changed; we were the ones who changed! God had to deal with mankind differently in the Old Testament but He was always love, then and now.
No, the Bible teaches us that the purpose of the Law was simply to bring to light what is sin and to hopefully draw people to their knees recognizing their need for a Savior. But the law was never God’s heart. His heart was to have a relationship with His creation by restoring us to Himself. Therefore, you do not see God in the Law. That is simply how God had to deal with mankind—His heart was the Garden. In other words, His original design of putting sinless man in Paradise and walking with Him in the cool of the day was His heart.
But someone might say, “Yeah, but look at how God kicked them out of the Garden and removed them from His presence when they sinned!” I’m glad you brought this up, because if you look at the end of Genesis chapter 3 you will find the true reason why God had to banish them from the garden after their sin: Genesis 3:22 says, “Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’- therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.”
You see, God’s heart in sending them out of the Garden was not to punish them; He sent them out of the Garden to protect them! He knew that the tree of life was inside the garden and if they were to partake of the fruit of that tree after partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would live forever in a dead and cursed state. In other words, if they were to eat the fruit of the tree of life then they would live forever physically in a spiritually dead condition. And God loved them too much to let that happen. Therefore, He sent them out of the garden and guarded its entrance.
So, this is how much God loves us! He loves us enough to protect us. Ultimately, this is why God gave us those commandments, statutes, and ordinances. He is not saying, “Thou shalt not…!” from the standpoint that He is trying to control us and keep things from us. It is ultimately His protection! He, as any good father, will give His children boundaries, not just because He is trying to get us to do what He wants us to do, but because He wants the best for us! We don’t tell our children to look both ways before they cross the street because it brings us pleasure to see them obey us. No, we give them those types of commandments because we are trying to protect them and because we want it to be well with them. So how can we believe that God is any different when He loves us infinitely more than we love our own children?
No, this is the heart of God, church: He is love! He is merciful! He is full of grace! And He only gets to a place of anger and judgment when His great longsuffering is tested. So, don’t ever let the devil or religion tell you otherwise! He is for you, not against you!
THE EXPRESS IMAGE OF GOD’S HEART
But I believe this why John went on to say in John 1:18 that no one has seen God at any time, but the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, has declared Him: It is because you cannot truly see God’s nature by how He operated in the Old Testament—particularly under the law. That’s right— You do not see God in Moses because heck, not even he saw God’s face & fullness, just a part of Him. Now we see God the Father in God the Son. He (Jesus) has declared Him fully. Amen.
So, what does it mean that Jesus “declared Him (God)”? It means that He not only declared Him in Word, but He also declared Him in action. In other words, Jesus’ life—both words and deeds—reveal the true nature of the Father. Therefore, if you see Jesus, then you see God.
Sounds like that should be in the Bible somewhere…??? Oh wait, it is!
In John 14:7-11, we see how Jesus said to His disciples, “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him. Then Philip responded with-- “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.’ to which Jesus responded-- “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?’ Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.”
So, what this means to us is, if you want to see God the Father, then just observe God the Son. And then Jesus went on to speak of both His words and His works—both of which “show us the Father.”
Jesus also said in John 12:49, “For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak,” equating His words to what “Thus saith the Father.” Then, in John 5:19, He said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” This means that whatever Jesus did in His ministry was exactly what the Father would do.
In fact, the writer(s) of Hebrews even described Jesus as the “brightness of His glory and the express image of His person” (Hebrews 1:3). By saying that Jesus is the “brightness” of God’s glory means that no other example shines brighter, and yes that includes David. The phrase “express image” comes from the Greek word where we get our English word “character” from. It describes an engraved or stamped image like of one of the presidents on one of our coins. Therefore, Jesus’ life was the “express image” of God’s personality and character. Yes, the Last Adam was the express image of His person just as the First Adam was also the express image of His person. Amen!
Therefore, we have more than enough witnesses that clearly show us that Jesus fully expressed the true nature of God while He was here with us. So, if you truly want to see God’s heart, just look at the life and ministry of His Son—Jesus.
FOR GOD’S HEART WAS WITH HIM
Now while we do not have time to go through the myriad of examples we have in the life of Jesus that perfectly reflect God’s heart, let’s just look at some general things:
First of all, can you show me one time where Jesus turned someone away who came to Him for healing and deliverance? No, you cannot! And do you know why? It is because He didn’t. His reputation was that everyone who either touched Him or that He touched got healed. This is why you see examples like with Jairus, who came to Jesus asking Him to just come and lay His hands on his daughter and heal her. Where did Jairus get his faith for the laying on of Jesus’ hands? He got it from the things he heard—that whoever Jesus laid His hands on got healed. How about the woman with the issue of blood? Where did she get the faith that if she could just touch the hem of His garment, that she would be made whole? You got it! She got her faith from what she heard about those who touched Him: they all got healed as well.
So, my point is that since Jesus only did the things that He saw His Father doing, then 100% of the people that came to Him for healing received their miracle because this evidently was and still is God’s heart!
How about how Jesus had the reputation of always meeting people’s other physical needs? So much so, that He had a treasurer that had to keep up with their ministry’s monies. And even on the evening of His betrayal, Jesus sent Judas away and some thought that one of the reasons he might have told him to go do what he must do was because He was giving to the poor. And this happened in the evening time! Well, why do you think they might have assumed that? It was because Jesus evidently had a reputation of meeting people’s need all the time!
This is why I love how Peter described Jesus’ ministry to Cornelius’ household in Acts 10:38. He said, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”
Here we see what Jesus’ ministry basically consisted of— “doing good” and “healing all.” Glory to God! And again, why was this His pattern? It is because He only did what He saw His Father doing and only said what He heard from His Father. As Peter said, “for God was with Him.” We might say it this way as well—for God’s HEART was with Him! Amen!
You see, Jesus is not “just a man” after God’s own heart. He is not “just a prophet, a good man, etc.” No, Jesus being the Second Person in the Godhead is the express image of God’s own heart. And here is where the good news gets even “gooder”: Since Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forevermore (Hebrews 13:8) and while God is called “no respecter of persons” (Romans 2:11), that means that God is still willing to show us His heart today! In other words, God’s heart that we saw in Jesus 2,000 years ago is also God’s heart today and will be forevermore—for He is no respecter of persons. Amen!
So, we have been looking at “God’s Own Heart” over the past couple of months in an attempt to better understand the true nature of our God. Yes, we are looking at what is in the heart of God—what He desires, what He is passionate about, what is important to Him, etc. But we are studying God’s heart by looking at the man who was said to be “after God’s own heart”—King David. In other words, we are studying God’s nature by looking at David’s nature.
Now we spent the first four teachings in this series looking at how we are the biggest thing on God’s heart. Yes, those created in His likeness and image are the ones who hold the biggest place in God’s heart. We saw how He wants us to search and know Him and how He is acquainted with all of our ways. We saw how we are the apple of His eye and how His focus is on us because He loves us. We saw how His core nature is love, so love is obviously going to be a big part of His heart. But the main thing we took away from these messages is that God is crazy about us! He thinks about us all of the time! He is interested in us because He more than loves us; He actually likes us.
But most recently, we got into talking about another big part of God’s heart—and that is that He has a heart of honor. Yes, honor is very important to Him. Therefore, He knows how to value, esteem, and prize us. We saw this from the life of David: how he is our biblical “poster-boy” of what honor looks like. And, again, that is because He was exemplifying God’s heart.
So, if you have missed any of these teachings thus far, I encourage you to go back and listen to them on our website @ www.highpointmacon.com. Do not underestimate the power of renewing your mind to the truths of who our God is. I wholeheartedly believe that as the Bible teaches us that “when He appears, we will be like Him for we will see Him as He is” (see 1 John 3:2), that this process begins now—meaning, the more we begin to see His nature now, the more we become changed into the same image (2 Corinthians 3:18).
So, this week, I want us to move into looking at something else that has a big place in God’s heart—that is, the grace that He is said to be rich in and the mercy that He is said to be full of. So, let’s begin in Isaiah chapter 55.
THE SURE MERCIES OF DAVID
In Isaiah 55:1-3, we have an awesome forecast of what you and I are currently living in today! In it, the Lord said, “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you—the sure mercies of David.”
In Isaiah chapter 53, the Prophet Isaiah had just finished explaining what Christ would endure on the Cross and what His substitutionary work would accomplish for us. Then, in chapter 54, Isaiah goes on to describe in greater detail the wonderful blessings that would come upon us as a result of Jesus Christ becoming our sin and shame. So, as we come to chapter 55, we have the great invitation for all to come to this great supper.
And it is important to note that these verses are addressed to “Everyone.” This means that we can all get in on it. It is no longer just reserved for one special group of people; now everyone who thirsts and everyone who is broke can come and taste of the salvation of God! Church, that means it’s free! It is all available by the grace of God! No longer must one “spend money.” Now, we are able to drink water, milk and wine because Jesus paid the price! It is available to everyone when they get thirsty enough to turn to the only One who can provide it. Amen!
Now I see the “water” as being what we need for refreshment, the “milk” as what is needful for nourishment, and the “wine” as what is needful for enjoyment. Glory to God, Jesus describes these waters that satisfy our thirst as coming from the wells of salvation, the milk as being the good word of God that we grow thereby, and the wine as the Holy Spirit of promise—all of which are available for those who are thirsty and broke. Praise, Jesus!
And while there is a lot of good truth contained in these first three verses of Isaiah 55, I want us to look at what He promised at the end of verse 3: “and I will make an everlasting covenant with you—the sure mercies of David.”
Now by saying that this will be an “everlasting covenant” indicates that the other was not an everlasting covenant—thus, this new and better covenant would be eternally different. Amen! You see, in His covenant with Israel, it was mainly based on them; now in this new covenant, it is based on Him. And then Isaiah goes on to prophesy that this “everlasting covenant” is also to be called “the sure mercies of David!”
So, a good question then would be—what are the sure mercies of David? Why does the Lord equate this everlasting covenant we now have with God as being “the sure mercies of David”?
To answer these questions, we need to look back to God’s promise to David in First Chronicles chapter 17. You see, after David had on his heart to build God a house, the Lord turns around and makes promises to Him. And one of the promises He makes is to build him a house, which included the Son of David Himself. He said, “And it shall be, when your days are fulfilled, when you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up your seed after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever. (First Chronicles 17:11-12).
Now as one casually reads this, they might assume that this was referring to Solomon, but it is rather obvious that we are talking about more than David’s immediate children; we are talking about the Messiah, the promised Son of David. Therefore, the house being built here would be the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, the true temple of God. This becomes even more obvious as we look at what the Lord went on to tell David in verses 13-14— “I will be his Father, and he shall be My son; and I will not take My mercy away from him, as I took it from him who was before you. And I will establish him in My house and in My kingdom forever; and his throne shall be established forever.” (First Chronicles 17:13-14).
Wow! What a grand promise this was to David seeing that the last king of Israel, Saul, was cut off due to his failures (See First Samuel 15:22-23). I can just imagine that a concern David might have had would be: “What if my son makes the same mistake that Saul did? Will he be cut off like Saul was?” So, the Lord promised David that his son would sit on the throne forever, and He would not take His “mercy” away from him as He did with Saul, who was before him. Therefore, you could say that David was guaranteed mercy. No sin or shortcoming would undermine God’s unconditional promise of an eternal house from David. It was for this reason that Isaiah called this everlasting covenant, the “sure mercies of David.”
You see, the word “sure” here denotes that these are faithful, concrete, stable promises of God’s mercy, not the kind of mercies that one might ask of God, not knowing whether or not He will grant them the mercy they are requesting. No, the mercies of David are “sure mercies”—that is, they are established and we can be sure of them in our own lives. Amen!
I’ll tell you, saints, this mercy we are now basking in is a done deal. It is established forever, just as God promised that the Son of David’s throne would be established forever! Glory! No wonder we can now boldly approach the throne of grace to obtain mercy and find grace in our times of need (Hebrews 4:16).
But the fact is, David was ahead of the curve. This revelation of God’s grace and mercy was not a common revelation amongst the people of the Old Covenant. But David had gotten a glimpse into the covenant that you and I are living in today.
BLESSED IS THIS MAN
On this note, he said in Psalm 32:1-2: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.”
Now we have a divine commentary given to us about this particular passage of Scripture, found in Romans 4:1-8: The apostle Paul, in giving us God’s “road to righteousness,” said, “What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.’”
What the apostle Paul began doing here in Romans chapter 4 is using the example of Abraham to establish the truth that righteousness by faith was even taught in the Old Testament. So, beginning in verse 5, Paul describes the one whose faith is accounted for righteousness—the ungodly! Wow! What a statement! Here, Paul countered the erroneous thinking that doing righteous things could ever make people righteous. He dropped the bombshell that God justifies the ungodly! But the fact is, church, this is the only kind of people whom He justifies. The reason is because He doesn’t have any other kind of people to justify. Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (see Romans 3:23)! Therefore, we were all ungodly and in need of grace. So, Romans 4:5 should forever dispel the delusions that we can ever earn God’s favor by our performance.
Then, in verse 6, Paul brings up David as another example of this basic “spiritual math” he was teaching: Grace + Faith = Righteousness. By quoting David’s words from the 32nd Psalm, he explains that David was describing the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works (see verse 6).
Now in quoting David’s 32nd Psalm, Paul used some strong language that we need to look at: In Romans 4:8, David said, “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.” But in the original Greek, the words translated “shall not” are what some call a double negative, which strongly conveys that the Lord “never, not at all, and by no means” shall impute sin to this blessed man or woman.
Another very important term that is used here is the word “impute.” This is what the Lord will never and by no means will ever do—impute sin to us. In order to understand the meaning of “impute”, we should compare it with the word “accounted” used to describe how righteousness came to Abraham because this is the context of Paul’s teaching. In fact, both of these words come from the same Greek word, logizomai, which is an accounting term, meaning “to count, calculate, count over, to make an account of.” And I love how this is the terminology Paul used because, again, it’s basic math and spiritually logical.
So, let me explain it this way: Many of us are familiar with how we are all born into this world with a sin nature and are, therefore, deemed “sinners.” Well, the reason we are born with this corrupt nature is because of the sin of the first Adam. He, through his one disobedient act in the Garden of Eden, sent a curse upon all those born through his lineage to where every man and woman is born into this world a “sinner”—that is, with a sin nature. We all were just born this way—before we even chose to disobey God ourselves. So, you could say that we were made “sinners” by grace—that is, by a free gift from the first Adam and completely independent of our works, right?
Now you know where I am going with this, don’t you? Just as we were made sinners by the “grace” of the first Adam, likewise we were made righteous by the grace of the last Adam—the Lord Jesus Christ! The Apostle Paul used this same example in Romans 5:12-19 of the similarities between the first Adam and the last Adam. In these Scriptures, he compared how what we inherited through Adam in the Garden was a type of what we inherited through Jesus on the Cross. When we were physically born, we inherited a sinful nature; when we were spiritually born-again, we inherited a righteous nature. It is that simple. Thank you, Jesus!
So no, the essential “free gift” of Adam—what his deed provided to each of our accounts, completely independent of any good that we had done—has made us all unrighteous. But the “free gift” of the last Adam has provided to each of our accounts the opportunity for complete justification, completely independent of any evil that we have done! So, this example of Adam should make us think on what we believe about what Jesus truly provided for us.
Let me explain this by asking you a question: Do you believe that there was any righteous act or any amount of good works that you could have done to make you in right standing with God before you became a Christian? Of course, you don’t! To believe otherwise would completely violate our core beliefs that we are saved solely by grace and not by any good works we have done. So, let’s turn this question around then: How can we believe that any unrighteous or sinful act we commit can make us a sinner after we have been made the righteousness of God in Christ during our born-again experience? Let me say it this way: If we do not believe that any amount of righteous deeds can make someone “in Adam” righteous, how can we believe that any amount of unrighteous deeds can make someone “in Christ” unrighteous? If we believe one, we have to believe the other! For they are types of one another, as Paul said.
Now let me say this: I do understand that there are people who abuse this gospel of grace, and use it as an opportunity for the flesh. Perhaps this is why Solomon got so goofy in his life: He heard this promise that God’s mercies would never be removed from him, so his belief in “greasy grace” caused him to get a little loose in operating in the wisdom God gave him in his latter days. And, church, let me assure you—there will always be those who will pervert the true grace of God and use it as a cloak for vice. It happened throughout the apostle Paul’s ministry and it is sure to happen still today. But don’t let that throw you, to where you throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are flaky people who rely heavily on the gifts of the Spirit; does that mean we throw out spiritual gifts altogether. No, other’s faithlessness does not nullify God’s faithfulness. Church, there is a reality to this gospel of grace. So, think it not strange if the enemy tries to counterfeit the genuine article. Amen?
SOWING DAVID’S MERCIES
And we have not deviated from our subject either—for these sure mercies of David and God’s grace that does not impute sin to our account any longer is God’s heart. No, He has not made this everlasting covenant available to us because He felt some sense of responsibility as our Creator; He has bestowed this grace & mercy on us because He purposed in His heart to do so.
For example, in Ephesians 1:3-14, where the apostle Paul simply breezes through all of these exceedingly great and precious promises of what Christ has done for us and all we have in Him, he says that He did it “according to the good pleasure of His will” (vs. 5) and “according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself” (vs. 9). This teaches us that all that the Father sent Christ to accomplish was done because it was His good pleasure to do so. Yes, He wanted to do it! Basically, with this very long run-on sentence (in the original Greek), you are sentenced to love! Glory to God!
So, no, His heart is not to judge and condemn. Although He certainly has to be the Judge and all sin must be judged, that is not because He enjoys doing it. It is simply that He has the responsibility of doing it. But God’s heart is to abundantly pardon, to show mercy and forgive. That is what He would rather do. Yes, being gracious and merciful is a big part of who our God is.
Like we see in the life of David, God’s heart is a heart of mercy. Even though David certainly brought God’s judgment to certain individuals, it is obvious that David did not prefer to be this way. He liked to honor, love and show mercy. And this is God’s nature.
Yes, we can certainly find these mercies in the life of David. We can certainly see God’s heart regarding this subject of mercy & grace in some of the things David did in his life. In fact, we saw some of these examples last week, like when David showed mercy to his king, Saul, when conventional wisdom would tell one that they had every reason to take his life. We also looked at the example of David having on his heart to show kindness and honor to Hanun for the death of his father. Then finally, we saw in the story of Mephibosheth a beautiful picture of God’s mercy and covenant love in how David treated him when it was common in their day for the former king’s sons to be put to death.
So, David was certainly living a life of “sowing mercy.” And do you think it is of any coincidence that just a chapter or two later, after sowing some of these sure mercies, that he reaped mercy in his major mistake with Bathsheba & Uriah? I think not! No, David reaped unusual mercy from God under the Old Covenant—where people were put to death for much less things than what David did in this situation. And I believe the reason why is because he was operating by the principle of God’s kingdom that says “mercy triumphs over judgment” (see James 2:13)!
You see, David Himself said in his 18th Psalm, that with the merciful, the Lord will show Himself merciful. (Psalm 18:25), did He not? So, he understood this principle well. I bet David was glad that he showed mercy to Saul after he became the very murderer that Saul was trying to be. Don’t you?
This is why I call this the wisdom of mercy—because wisdom invests in its future. In other words, it will sow towards its future because it is not just considering what it wants in the present. It also considers what it will need in the future.
The Prophet Hosea said, “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy.” (Hosea 10:12) And in Proverbs 21:21 we are also told-- “He who follows righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness and honor.”
Someone will say, “Well, they don’t deserve it! They’ve done this, this, this and that!” That doesn’t matter. Their guilt is not what is on trial today. What is on trial is your willingness to show mercy and sow mercy, the very same mercy that we ourselves have been shown by God! Will you give the Lord what He desires and what He requires today? Will you sow mercy into that person today because you are grateful for the plentitude of mercy you reaped in the past and also because of the amount of mercy you will need to reap in the future?
We are called to this, saints: to be merciful to one another as Christ has been merciful to us, to forgive others who have hurt and betrayed us, and to be gracious to those who are not so gracious. And the bottom line is this: one does not have a revelation of grace unless they themselves are gracious. Likewise, one does not have a revelation of the sure mercies of David unless they are themselves merciful to others.
It is easy for one to say that they believe in God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. What I mean is that if you believe in something, then the proof of your faith is, that truth you say you believe in will be demonstrated through your life. For example, if you say you believe in God’s forgiveness, then what should be the fruit of your faith? Well, the fruit should be that you practice that same forgiveness towards others. It seems to me that the Lord thought this as well with all the references He gives us in His Word to forgiving even as we have been forgiven.
You see, this is why it is so important to understand all the wonderful dimensions of God’s heart. Why? Because when you truly see God’s heart to you, the by-product is it will reflect in His heart flowing through you. Glory to God!
So, showing mercy and sowing mercy is God’s good pleasure! His heart is to both extend these sure mercies of David in our lives, but also to see us turn around and extend the same mercy into others. Yes, He loves giving us grace, but He also loves when those whom He has been gracious to are gracious to others! If we get closer to God, mercy just rubs off on us, because it is His nature. Church, grace and mercy is a big part of God’s heart: Receive it from Him today—and then begin sowing it, so you can reap even more of it! Amen!
We have been studying the subject of “God’s Own Heart” for several weeks now. In this series of teachings, we have been answering the following question: “What is God’s own heart?” In other words, what does His heart look like? What is in His heart? And what are His innermost passions and desires? And the answers we have come up with to these questions so far is—US! We are what is in His heart! We are His innermost passion and desire! He is treasuring us, and His eyes are on us!
So, in this series, we have seen why His attention and focus are on us so—and it because He actually likes us! Yes, He seeks after us for a reason—and that is because He delights in us! He doesn’t just tolerate you or put up with you. And, no, He doesn’t just give you His attention because He is finding fault or looking for iniquity. In fact, we found in Psalm 18:19 why He saved us in the first place. In this passage, David said, He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me…”
First of all, we see that David said that He brought us out into a “broad place.” The word used for “broad” here literally describes a “wide, roomy, large place.” I see this place David describes as a type of the kingdom of God that the apostle Paul said we have been translated into (see Colossians 1:12). But then David said, “He delivered me…” So, we saw that, like David here, He has delivered you and I too! Yes, He has delivered us from the hand of all of our enemies! Glory to God! But why did God deliver us like He did David? Well, we made the point last week that He didn’t save and deliver us because He felt obligated to or because He would have felt guilty if He didn’t. No, this passage of Scripture explains exactly why He has delivered us. It is because He delighted in us!
So, we saw how this word “delighted” is a very important word for us to understand—for this was His motivation for saving us. We saw how this word means, “to desire, be pleased with, and have pleasure in.” I once heard someone say that this word simply means to love something or someone very, very much! So, we can see God’s heart for us here! He actually “delights” in you and me! No, He doesn’t just tolerate us. He doesn’t just put up with us. He actually takes pleasure in us!
And, again, don’t be mistaken—He doesn’t just delight in us when we do what is pleasing to Him. We looked over at John 3:16 which teaches us that God gave us His only begotten Son because He so loved the world. First of all, that means that He didn’t just love the world; He so loved the world! In other words, this was not just a casual, generic, normal kind of love. That would have been far beyond what we could imagine—that He would even love us in our lost and sinful condition. But for Him to so love the world shows us the depth, width, height and length of this love He has for us! Secondly, Jesus here didn’t say that God so loved the “righteous,” or His “children.” It says that this immense love that motivated Him was for the “world.” Yes, the lost, cursed, dying world that had sinned and fallen short of His glory! Glory to God!
So, we looked at a good question that could come up—Does God still “so love” us now that we are saved and delivered? Sure, He does—for why would He love us less now that we are actually trying to live for Him? That is illogical. So, we looked over at Romans 5:6-11 to verify this where the Apostle Paul reasoned along these same lines when he, in essence, said, “If God loved us when we were ungodly sinners, how much more will He love us today now that we are saved and justified?”
In other words, we saw how God sees us now by looking at Colossians 1:21-23. We learned that we are no longer to identify with the beginning of verse 21, which says, “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works…” Notice that this verse says, “And you, who once were…” No, this is who we were, but not who we are any longer.
So, we saw what we are now: The next phrase in verse 21 says— “…yet now He has reconciled.” Yes, we are now reconciled because God wanted us reconciled. In other words, we are reconciled because He wanted us close to Him again. You see, God does not think you stink. It’s us who have that “stinking thinking,” not God. You have been washed in the blood and bathed in the perfume of the Anointed One and His anointing. Now we put off the aroma of Christ and put a sweet smell in the nostrils of God. Glory!
Then we saw how Paul goes on to say that we have been reconciled “in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.” We saw how now, in Christ, have been presented unto God as, holy—meaning that we are already set apart and pure in the spirit. We are also “blameless”—meaning that we are now considered faultless and without blemish like an animal sacrifice under the Old Covenant was supposed to be. And, finally, Paul says, and we are “above reproach in His sight”—meaning there is a total absence of charges on our account. In other words, we have a clean slate! All of this is true in God’s sight! Glory!
We then began looking at some Scriptures that describe us as “the apple of God’s eye” such as Zechariah 2:8 and Psalm 17:8. We saw that this phrase “the apple of His eye” is not referring to fruit, but to the pupil of the eye—which is the center of the eye. In fact, the Hebrew word used here describes “the (little) man of the eye.” Have you ever looked someone in the eye and seen your own reflection in their pupil? That is the “little man,” right in the center of the eye.
So, here in this phrase “the apple of His eye,” we saw a big part of His heart: We are the reflection of His heart. We are where His focus is and, therefore, what He seeks to cherish and protect. Yes, God guards us as the apple of his eye.
Someone might say, “No, I believe that those references to being apple of God’s eye is a reference to Jesus.” Well, when it came to Jesus, instead of protecting Him at all costs like we always do with our eyes, the Bible actually teaches us that it pleased Him to bruise Him, His beloved Son (see Isaiah 53:10). Have you ever read that and wondered how God the Father could do that to Jesus? Moreover, how could it actually “please” Him to put Jesus on the Cross? The answer is simple: We saw that He did not get pleasure in causing to Him suffer; what pleased Him was how it would cause all of us to be redeemed, forgiven and made righteous once again! His pleasure was in us—and both He and Jesus were willing and happy to do what They had to do for you. Therefore, because of the True Son of David, we have become the apple of God’s eye. We are now the beloved sons and daughters of God. He has His eye on you. He protects you. This is the Gospel!
And that led us to an interesting point—some have said that the pupil is the part of the eye that is subject to more acute pain than any other part. So, what that ministers to me is that what hurts the heart of God the most is the pain of his people. Yes, His children’s pain is His pain as well. Just think about how we guard our eyes. If someone or something were trying to hurt our eyes, we would throw our arms up because we are far more willing to take a temporary bruise on our arm than a permanent injury to our eyes. Amen? Yes, you are willing to suffer that pain in your arm to protect something more valuable to you—in this case, your eyes. Well, that’s exactly what the Father did for us on the Cross—it pleased Him rather to bruise His right hand to protect the apple of His eye! Glory to God!
We then began to look at the fact that, as the apple of God’s eye, the Lord said through David in Psalm 101:3-8, “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes.” We saw that another translation of this word for “wicked” here is “worthless.” Therefore, if God’s covenant people are the apple of His eye, then we must not be wicked or worthless anymore. Amen?
Then we saw in Psalm 16:8 that David’s heart declared, “I have set the Lord always before me...” What about God? I believe He would say to us today— "I have set you always before Me!” Just imagine then—you are like God’s favorite piece of art that He proudly sets before Him, just because He enjoys looking at you. And we saw this in Ephesians 2:10 where we are told that we are God’s own “workmanship”—that is, His own work of art!
So, why is this so important to understand? It is because when you come to truly know in your heart how important you are to Him, how much He loves you, how His delight is in you, and how you are the apple of His eye, you will be more prepared and equipped to give Him the other desires of His heart. And this is how we concluded this teaching—by looking at Psalm 37:4. So, evidently, the Lord delights Himself in us! And guess what else is true, therefore? We have the capability of giving Him the desires of His heart. Glory to God! What I mean is that as you and I receive His love, pleasure and delight over us, we can actually give Him what His heart desires—which is our heart, our fellowship, our love, etc. Oh yes, when you and I receive His love and let Him delight in us, then we are giving Him what His heart desires—which is a people who will let Him love them.
So, last week, we moved into a part of God’s heart that most are completely ignorant of and cannot relate to—yet, it is a big part of who He is. We began last week by asking the question: What is the first thing that you identify King David with? Most of us first identified David with being a worshipper, and understandably so—for he was first a psalmist, and a great one at that!
So, since David was a man after God’s own heart, then this heart of worship that He possessed just might also be a part of God’s heart. Yes, I believe that God too is a praise & worshipper like David was, and today I will show you why I believe this is true.
Now, we made the point that we do understand that God is not paying homage to anything or anyone else. He alone is God, and there is none other! So, He is not worshipping His creation in regards to reverencing and/or lowering Himself to us. That is His creation’s job—to worship Him in that respect. Therefore, no one is arguing the fact that God lays prostrate before no one. However, if we do a careful study of what the terms “praise & worship” truly mean and also look at other Scriptures that illustrate this other side of God, we can get a glimpse into God’s heart of worship. Amen?
So, we looked at the third chapter of the Prophet Zephaniah’s Book, where we have a beautiful description of our God’s own heart: Again, Zephaniah 3:14-17 reads— “Sing, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your judgments, He has cast out your enemy. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; You shall see disaster no more. In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: ‘Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.’”
Notice the Mighty Jehovah’s heart for us in verse 17: Zephaniah goes on to say— “He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.’” I guarantee you that this description of the Almighty has never entered into the hearts and minds of most believers. It certainly is true though! Our God actually rejoices over us with gladness and with singing! He celebrates us! He endeavors to refresh and renew us with His love! Amen!
We then looked at some definitions for the words “praise” and “worship” in order to understand how the Almighty could actually be a praiser and a worshipper Himself!
First of all, we saw how the term “praise” literally means “to esteem, value, or prize.” And like the word “appraise” it can also describe “raising the value of or to lift up the price of.” In other words, you could say, praise means to esteem something or someone very highly. Therefore, based on these definitions, we ought to be able to see how God can actually “praise” something or someone Himself.
What about worship? The word “worship” literally means “to adore, honor, or respect.” If you look at the word in its simplest form it says “worth-ship” which means “the state of being worthy or worthiness. Therefore, worship simply means to adore someone because of the great value and worth you place upon them in your heart.
So, based on this, the best way I can see how to describe this heart of honor and adoration that the Lord possesses is by looking at how a parent/grandparent views their children/grandchildren. They are so in love with their young ones that they oftentimes cannot even see their faults! We used the example of things like little league. Their kids can be one of the worst players on the team, but their parents think they should be batting clean-up or starting at quarterback. The reason these parents are like this is because they love their children so much that they believe in them. Yes, they expect all the good that they see in the child to come out in the game. This is what love does! It believes, trusts, and hopes in the object of its love! Amen!
So, no, God does not praise & worship us like we do Him, but He does “praise” us like we praise our children and grandchildren or “adore & love” us like we do our spouse. It’s all about relationship, church! And God’s heart is for us like our hearts are for those whom we love. Yes, the Lord rejoices in us always just as He told us to rejoice in Him always! He blesses us at all times and our praise is continuously in His mouth!
Again, God practices what He preaches. And so, if He desires us to have a heart of praise, love, worship, and rejoicing, then it is because His heart is to first love us in like fashion. He loves to praise His children, saying all manner of good things about us! If God had a wallet, I believe He would carry our picture around in it!
A HEART OF HONOR
Now this week, I want us to look at another part of God’s heart that I believe, as a general rule, our world today has lost the concept of--honor. Yes, our God has an honorable heart—again, a virtue that many in the world today have lost the concept of.
You see, one of the ways we know that honor is a big part of God’s heart is because we see this virtue lauded throughout His Word. So, again, since we see it described so much in the Bible, we can see that it is in God’s heart in abundance—because out of the abundance of His heart, He has spoken. Amen?
But regarding this subject of honor, out of all of the examples that we have in the Word of God of those who possessed this virtue, King David would be considered the poster-boy of honor. Yes, when you study the life of David, you will find a common theme throughout his life. You will find that David’s heart, among many other virtues that he possessed, was a heart of honor. And I believe this is obviously one of his biggest characteristics that made him a man after God’s own heart. Yes, in studying his life, you will see time and time again how He honored God, the things of God, other people, etc. And I want us to look at some of these examples today—but, again, not just so that we can see how honorable David was, but so that we can see the honor of God.
But before we look at these examples, let’s quickly define “honor”: Now we could spend a good amount of time just defining this virtue because of all of the different contexts that it can be used in; but today I want to just give you a general idea of what honor is.
So, what is “honor”? It is simply defined as “high respect or esteem.” Therefore, to honor something would be to show great respect for something or someone and to esteem, value and prize those things.
In the New Testament, the word “honor” describes placing great “value” on something or someone, and refers to seeing these things as “valuable, precious and costly.” In fact, it is oftentimes referring to money. So, that is a good way to illustrate what it means to honor a person or thing. Simply look at how most people treat money: They esteem it. They respect it. They value it. It receives their attention, adoration, and respect. They place it in safe places. They do not treat it as light and trivial.
Now in the Old Testament’s usage, the word “honor” carries with it the idea of “heavy” or “weighty.” Actually, it is akin to the word for God’s “glory.” So, if honor describes something being heavy or weighty, what is the opposite of heaviness or weightiness? Light! This is echoed in First Samuel 2:30: “those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.” So, to treat certain things and people as light and trivial is a way of dishonoring those things. Now certain things need to be treated light and trivial, but those are just the things that God does not consider valuable or important. For instance, Paul had the snake that came out of the fire and fastened onto his hand, and he just shook it off. He didn't give it his attention. On the other hand, the things of God ought to be considered extremely valuable and precious.
And as we go through some of these examples from the life of David, we will see how he truly honored like these definitions we’ve just seen. We will see how he honored first God Himself, the things of God, and also other people.
So, let’s begin by looking towards the beginning of David’s story—at how he got “put on the map.” And what I want us to look at is how God honors us today by looking at how David honored God by how he treated both the uncircumcised and the Lord’s anointed. Amen.
DEFENDING HIS HONOR
In First Samuel chapter 17, we have that great Sunday School story of David & Goliath. We all know what happened: David’s father, Jesse, sent David to Israel’s camp to deliver some food to his brothers. And while David was there, he overheard Goliath. So, when he found out what Saul had promised to the one who would defeat this giant, he went around talking to various men.
Now we know that part of David’s motivation was obviously what he was going to get out of defeating Goliath, but I also believe that part of his motivation was defending God’s honor—for he said, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (First Samuel 17:26).
Now the word “defy” that is used here refers to “reproaching, insulting, or treating with contempt.” So, the giant was reproaching, insulting, and treating with contempt the people of God here, and ultimately God Himself (as we will see in a moment). Sounds a lot like dishonor to me!
So, I see this story as being a good description of how the Lord God deals with the “uncircumcised.” You see, if you look at David’s heart here as being the heart of God, then consider how the Lord will treat those who dishonor His armies of people. When our enemies ridicule, insult, slander, defame, etc. the Lord will be there to defend our honor. Yes, like David did here, He will array himself to bring justice and vengeance on His people’s behalf. Therefore, when David heard Goliath speaking against His God, He stood up for Him. Likewise, when the Lord hears people speaking against us, He stands up for us. Glory!
So, there are a couple of lessons to be learned from this: We ourselves do not want to ever pit ourselves against the Lord’s anointed. It behooves us to keep our mouths off of other soldiers in the army of the Lord. Why? Because if we begin dishonoring our brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord will defend their honor—even at the expense of another child of God who is not behaving honorably themselves. Amen?
I recall how the Lord responded when the children of Israel spoke against Moses. He said that He heard what these people were saying about Him, not Moses. So, the Lord took personal what the Israelites were saying about Moses. Likewise, the Lord takes personally how His representatives are treated, and will defend both His and their honor.
TOUCH NOT THE LORD’S ANOINTED
In regard to this, we see how David also behaved honorably when it came to the next enemy that arose in his life—his own king, Saul.
Now how did this relationship between Saul & David come in to being? It started with David being identified as a skillful player on the harp that could play before Saul when the distressing spirit troubled him. Then we see David showing up when King Saul and the Israelites were standing on one mountain and the Philistines on another mountain with the valley of Elah in between them. So, after David was brought to Saul and offered to be the one to face Goliath, Saul was somehow convinced that the fate of Israel was okay to be put in this young man’s hands. And, of course, we know how that story ended.
But after that, Saul placed him over his army, and then the favor that David started receiving from the people caused Saul to be angered through seeds of jealousy being sown in his heart. So, the Bible says that from that day forward, Saul “eyed” David (First Samuel 18:9). This is when we saw Saul throwing his spear at David, saying, “I will pin David to the wall!” And the Bible says that David escaped Saul’s presence twice. Then, we see other attempts by Saul to take David’s life after that.
Can you relate to this? Has there ever been a time in your life that another Christian has stabbed you in the back, said things to defame your name, etc.? Well, you are in good company then—for it happened to David, it happened to Paul, and even happened to the sinless Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
But I want you to notice David’s response: As this situation between he and Saul continued to escalate, David never one time retaliated. In fact, in First Samuel chapter 24, we have the account where David and his men were hiding in the recesses of a cave when Saul came into the cave to rest. David’s men were convinced this was a sign that God had delivered David’s enemy into his hands. So, David secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. But then we see another example of David’s honorable heart. In First Samuel 24:5, we are told that David’s heart troubled him because of what he had done. He said in verse 6— “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.”
Then, in First Samuel chapter 26, David spares Saul again a second time. While Saul and his men slept on the hill of Hachilah, David’s two men snuck in and took both Saul’s spear and jug of water. Now Abishai encouraged David to give him the order to take Saul’s life, but again David refused, saying that the Lord would deal with Saul in His own way.
I’ll tell you what—I can guarantee you that most of us would have been thinking exactly like David’s mighty men were here. If we would not have fought back already, we would have certainly taken a whole lot more than just a corner of Saul’s robe. But not honorable David. Not only did he do no harm to his king, but his heart even smote him for taking a part of his robe. To some of us, we cannot even relate to that. But that just means we have room to grow in this godly virtue, called honor.
Now one thing we should take away from these examples is that today, every born-again child of God is the “Lord’s anointed.” Yes, we are all kings and priests before our God (Revelation 1:6). So, David’s heartfelt, truthful statement here now applies to all of God’s children. The Lord forbid that we should do anything harmful to the Lord’s anointed—to stretch out our hand against them or even to speak a slanderous word concerning them. Amen?
You see, if we are honoring the Lord, we will honor those whom He died for. We will show love and respect for one another—especially the gifts to the body that hold even greater positions of honor in the Body of Christ.
So, you can imagine where I am going with this: This honorable heart that caused David to honor even the one who tried to unjustly kill him on numerous occasions, must also be a part of God’s own heart. Yes, the Lord has treated each and every one of us, His anointed, like David treated Saul! He has poured out on us grace upon grace, mercy upon mercy! Glory to God!
You see, even though Saul made some very poor decisions as Israel’s chosen king, the Lord granted him an abundance of mercy, through the one who had God’s own heart and had every right in the natural to take his life. And I believe the Lord extends that same grace and even more so to His anointed today! For we are told in Romans 11:29 that the gifts and calling of God are without repentance (i.e. irrevocable). That means that if God has called you, gifted you, and anointed you, then He is not revoking our position just because we seemingly blew it. If they were something we had earned, it would be different, but the reason they are called gifts is because that’s what they are - gifts, not wages. If we will just come boldly to the throne of grace and draw near to the Lord, He will draw near to us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness! Amen!
EATING AT THE KING’S TABLE
But David’s honor did not just stop with King Saul; it continued to his household. Yes, David honored his covenant with Saul’s son, Jonathan, even after he was killed.
Notice in Second Samuel 4 that we have a brief description of Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s young son. And when the news came from Jezreel that both his father and grandfather were killed, his nurse took him up and fled in haste. We are told that this is when he fell and became lame.
Now as we are going to see through this story of David and Mephibosheth, these things are a type and shadow of our relationship with Christ. So, I want to bring to your attention the lesson we can learn from this:
Why did the nurse flee with Mephibosheth after hearing the news of both Saul and Jonathan being killed? It was because it was customary then for one, when taking the throne, to kill all surviving descendants who might ever try to reclaim their family’s throne. Therefore, this nurse assumed that David would do the same. But she obviously didn’t know David, did she? She was completely unaware that he was different from others. Yes, David was kind. He was noble. He was gracious. But she didn’t know Him to be this way.
Do you reckon that there are many of God’s children out there today who are, likewise, unaware of how good, gracious and kind our Lord is? It is sad, but a good portion of God’s church do not truly know their God’s true nature. Just as this woman assumed David was like any other man, likewise Christ’s bride assumes their God is like any other god (i.e. quick to judge, harsh, condemning, critical, etc.)
So, this misconception of David caused her to do what? To take Mephibosheth up and flee from David’s presence! Likewise, this misconception of God’s true nature has led many Christians, when they have missed it and fallen short of His glory, to run from Him rather than to Him.
But notice that this response of fear that caused Jonathan’s house to run from David is what caused this accident that left Mephibosheth lame. The same happens to us, my friends. When we run from God in fear, guilt, condemnation, etc. this is when we open ourselves up to falling even further into more permanent spiritual conditions (i.e. spiritual lameness).
Now let’s go back over to the Book of Second Samuel and look at Second Samuel chapter 9… In this chapter, we get to see what happened with Mephibosheth later in his life:
Chapter nine begins with David saying, “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (verse one)
Notice, here in verse one, that David said that he was going to show this kindness for Jonathan’s sake. Here, we see a beautiful type and shadow of how God shows us the same “covenant faithfulness” for Jesus’ sake. Amen! In other words, all the goodness, grace and mercy of God that was shown to us was not given to us because of who we are, but because of the Father God’s and the Son of God’s relationship. Amen!
Then notice in verse three that David said that his desire was not just to show any old kindness, but “the kindness of God.” You see, there is a big difference between “our kindness” and “God’s kindness.” Our love is oftentimes conditional; His love is unconditional. Our love is oftentimes merited; His love is unmerited. Our love oftentimes fails; His love never fails! Thanks be to God!
However, David went on to promise Mephibosheth that he would eat bread at his table continually. The word “continually” comes from the Hebrew word tamid (pronounced “tah-meed”) which means “constantly, always, evermore” but the root word describes continually from an eternal standpoint. So, when you look at this from the perspective of us eating at the Lord’s table, we are invited to eat from this table today in the presence of our enemies, but we will continue to partake of it all the way to the marriage supper of the Lamb and forevermore. That’s a lot of food, amen?
Then notice in verse eight, Mephibosheth’s response to this good news: He said, “What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?”
So, what we see here is this man had a serious identity problem. To refer to oneself as a “dead dog” means that they see themselves as having no value. This could have been because of what happened to his father’s house, but it also likely had to do with his lameness. You see, sometimes the things that have happened to us in life can warp our sense of value. But what we should be encouraged by here is that it did not change the king’s perspective of him. You see, we tend to think of ourselves as having little to no value and are unworthy, but to God, we are extremely precious and have been made worthy through our “Jonathan”- our Good, Heavenly Father.
Finally, in verse thirteen, we are told, “for he ate continually at the king’s table.” This is the fourth time in this chapter that Mephibosheth eating at David’s table is mentioned. Biblically, the number “four” describes “totality.” Therefore, this table has been “totally” prepared for us! It is a done deal! All things have been made ready and complete! Now it is just up to us to come partake! Amen.
Notice that this beautiful story ends with the phrase, “And he was lame in both his feet.” Now the awesome thing about this whole story of kindness and mercy is that when Mephibosheth sat at David’s table, his lameness was covered. It was hidden. When eating at the table of the Lord there is no sign or indication of our weakness. We are on equal “footing” with Him. Amen!
But, again, we see God’s heart in David’s heart to honor his covenant with Jonathan. You see, because of His covenant with Christ, God shows that same covenant, faithful love towards us. Amen!
Now, David’s heart of honor is not just limited to how he treated his enemies. We see his honorable heart in how he treated those who had shown kindness to Him—ultimately in His Lord and God.
Notice first how David had on his heart to honor a man after the death of his father: In First Chronicles 19:1, notice that David said, “I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash, because his father showed kindness to me.”
Now this is certainly an attribute of honor—honor is being thoughtful and does to others what it would like to be done to itself. In this case, David had on his heart to show honor to the son of the one who had already showed kindness to him in the past. So, when David heard of the death of the king of Ammon, Nahash, he had on his heart to show kindness to his son, Hanun, for the kindness that Nahash had shown to him. Therefore, David sent messengers to comfort Hanun concerning his father’s death.
Well, guess what happened? The princes of the people of Ammon said to Hanun, “Do you think that David really honors your father…?” and they accused David of having ulterior motives in sending these messengers to comfort Hanun. So, they dishonored David’s messengers and sent them back in a shameful fashion.
This is indicative of our generation. You can try and honor someone in showing them kindness and they immediately think that you have a wrong motive in doing it. They might be thinking— “What do they want? Why are they being kind to me right now? There must be a reason.” Why? It is because they think that you think the way they think. In other words, they think that we are like they are. Therefore, people who lack honor do not recognize honor. Amen?
And did you know that this is how many of God’s children think that He is—that He does things like we do. No, like David in this example, the Lord is honor! And that means, as Jesus said, He is better to us than even we are to our children (see Matthew 7:9-11). Yes, He gives us good gifts just because He is good and loves to honor us.
For example, some people have thought that I am ignorant and naïve because of how I am kind and gracious to them when they have ill-will towards me. But in some of those cases, what they do not realize is how I am very aware of what is in their heart towards me, yet I show them God’s love and honor anyway. And why? It is because this is the honor of God. He is gracious, merciful, kind and loving to us, even when we are not so lovely. Amen?
THE HONOR OF GOD’S HOUSE
In First Chronicles chapter 17, we have the account where King David had it on his heart to build a house for the Lord. He said to Nathan in verse 1, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of the covenant of the Lord is under tent curtains!” In other words, David was sitting in his house, thinking of how he could honor the Lord. So, honor looks at how it can bless and show gratitude to others and is not self-focused.
Now when it comes to most of God’s children, they are not sitting around thinking about how they can do more for the Lord; rather, they are thinking of how they can be honored themselves. This is not the honor of God! Like David, God is focused on how He can honor you and I, not how we can honor Him more!
Then notice how Nathan responds: He said, “Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.” (verse 2). Now this is a quite an amazing response by Nathan because the Lord had ordained the tabernacle to be fashioned the way that it was. In other words, God was the One who decided to place the ark of the covenant under tent curtains. Yet, David just had it on his heart that the things of God deserved better—especially when he himself lived in a house of cedar.
But later that evening, the Lord told Nathan to say to David, “You shall not build a house for me” and then proceeded to tell him why in verses 5-14: He explains, first of all, in verses 5-6 how He has never asked to have a house built. Then, beginning in verse 7, the Lord addresses David personally and reminds him of where He had brought him from and various things He had done for him.
And notice what the Lord then promised to David in verse 10: He said, “Furthermore I tell you that the Lord will build you a house.”
So, what just transpired here? David, of his own accord, had on his heart to honor the Lord in building Him a house. And even though that was not a part of God’s plan—David not being the man for the job—the Lord honored David in return with the very same thing that he desired to honor the Lord with! Wow! Granted, David had not even done anything yet! He simply just had it in his heart to do it. And the Lord promised to bless Him just because of his heart. Praise the Lord!
This reminds me of the story in the Book of Haggai: Haggai is a relatively short book containing only two chapters, but it holds a truth that’s value cannot be contained in a mere two chapters.
This prophet was sent to the governor of Judah, Zerubbabel, and to the high priest, Joshua, to give them a Word from the Lord. And contained in this Word was a rebuke for their failure to build the Lord’s house when they had been busy building their own homes.
You see, the truth that we should take away from this short yet powerful book is that we should guard against not putting the things of God first like the Jewish people were doing here. After their return to their country, they were first rebuilding their own homes and seeking first their own personal things. But the Word of the Lord that came to them was, in essence— “What about My house!?! Is it really best for you to get your personal things together before you seek My kingdom!?!”
What I see through this event in the history of Israel is a failure to abide by the first principle of the kingdom—seeking first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). They were doing what so many Christians still do today—seek first their own things before they seek the things of the kingdom.
Then the prophet told them in Haggai 1:5-7 to “Consider your ways.” Then he recalled to them that they had “sown much, and bring in little; they ate, but did not have enough; they drank, but were not filled with drink; they clothed themselves, but were not warm; And he who earned wages, earned wages to put into a bag with holes.” In essence, what he was telling them was, by them only seeking to take care of themselves (you could say, seeking first their own kingdoms), their needs weren’t being met. So, the prophet said again, “Consider your ways!” In other words, observe how you have been doing things because the fruit (or lack thereof) of your ways is a result of how you have been doing things.
Well, then we see the people heeding the word of Haggai, repenting, and purposing in their hearts to work on the house of God. Then, in Haggai 2:15-19, he tells them to consider something else—"that from this day forward, from before stone was laid upon stone in the temple of the Lord…I will bless you!”
You see, the principle that we can see in both of these examples is this: Lord’s blessing begins when we purpose in our hearts to honor the things of God first.
But let’s endeavor to see God’s own heart here: If the Lord commends, lauds, and blesses His people when we seek first His kingdom, then we must believe that this is who is He as well. Yes, our God possesses a heart that honors us first! His heart is to bless our kingdom first! He wants us to have a house too!
Then, in First Chronicles 17:11-14, the Lord begins to describe this “house” that He would build for David by declaring the promised Christ, the Son of David. Now let me ask you a question: Would this automatically have been God’s plan—for the Messiah to come through David’s line—or was it possible that the Christ could have come through someone else’s genealogy from the Tribe of Judah? The reason this is good question to ask is because David’s heart to honor the Lord by building Him a house culminated in this exceedingly great and precious promise that the Christ & Messiah would come from the Davidic line! Glory to God! Proving to us once again that when we seek to honor the Lord, the honor we receive in return is a pressed down, shaken together, running over kind of harvest! Amen!
Now, believe it or not, we are a part of this prophetic promise as we are now grafted and abiding in the True Vine of David’s family tree! Which is significant when you consider verse 13 which says, “I will be his Father, and he shall be My son; and I will not take My mercy away from him, as I took it from him who was before you.” Now that is an obvious reference to King Saul. So, the Lord is promising that the seed of David would not be dealt with like Saul was dealt with. I believe these are called— “the sure mercies of David.”
Then we see in verses 16-27, how David went in to his house and sat before the Lord and prayed such a beautiful and humble prayer: Notice that in verse 18, David refers to all that God has done for him and has promised to do for him as “the honor of Your servant.” This means that all of these wonderful promises were the Lord “honoring” David. And in verse 19, David referred to all that God did for him as being— “according to His (i.e. Your) own heart.” Therefore, God’s own heart is a heart that seeks to honor us!
Well, even amid all the awesome promises that he received, I can just imagine that David was still a little disappointed that He wouldn’t be the one to build the house of the Lord. However, although David was not permitted to build the house for God, he still did all that he could to prepare for its construction. In other words, his heart said— “Well, just because I can’t build it myself, doesn’t mean that I can’t make preparations for it and be the first to give towards it!” And we see this described in detail in the last chapter of First Chronicles.
In First Chronicles chapter 29, we have the big event of David overseeing the first stages of building the Temple along with his young son, Solomon.
In verses 2-5, David first shows His willingness to underwrite the building of the Lord’s house with his extremely generous offering. I’ve heard one say that just David’s own personal offering from his treasury listed in verses 3-5 would be by today’s standards, the equivalent of 1.5 billion dollars plus! Wow! Now that’s an honorable offering!
Then, in the following verses, David encouraged the people to give as well! And they, in turn, gave billions of dollars, following the lead of their king!
Wow, what a glorious day this must have been to be a part of! And it all started by this man after God’s own heart who first off simple had it on his heart to build the Lord a better house and then his follow through to give one of the single greatest financial offerings we have ever seen!
So, I will conclude with this— Can a man out-give God? Absolutely not! So, if we see this man who had God’s own heart giving so lavishly for the building of the Lord’s house, then how much more can we see God giving us. “To us?” you say. “How does giving to the building of the house translate to God giving to us?” Well, what is God’s house/temple today? We are! Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit of God (First Corinthians 6:19)! So, we can see God’s own heart in this example as He has given more than a couple of billion dollars for us!
Yes, God has already given an extremely honorable offering for us, and He is still willing today to “spend and be spent” for us! We see this in the New Testament.
ACCORDING TO HIS RICHES IN GLORY
Notice Philippians 4:19, an oft-quoted passage of Scripture, says, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
Now, let me first say that this verse is not just a blanket promise for every Christian like so many tend to use it. No, this verse is only a promise to those who sow faithfully into God’s works like the Philippian Church did. You see, a good rule of thumb when interpreting Scripture is to not take a verse out of the context in which it was written. Notice the one little conjunction that Paul begins verse 19 with— “And.” You do not begin a sentence with a conjunction without intending for the previous thoughts to be considered first, do you? So, what Paul was saying basically was— “Since you have given so graciously and faithfully into my ministry and God is so well pleased with your offerings, all your needs will be supplied according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus!” Therefore, Philippians 4:19 is a conditional promise intended for those who faithfully seek first the Kingdom of God in their finances.
Let’s look further at this verse: Notice Paul said, “And my God…” Why did he refer to God as “my God”? Was He not the God of the Philippian Church as well? Of course. Paul was simply speaking to them out of his own personal experience with his God. A good paraphrase of this would be— “And my God, the God that I have personally known to be so faithful to me and to always supply all my need…” So, we can clearly see that the apostle Paul had a personal and experiential knowledge of his God. He had both tasted His goodness and fed on His faithfulness during his Christian walk. Regarding this, he said in Second Timothy 1:12, “…for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded…” Likewise, when you get to truly know—intimately and experientially—the One in whom you believe, you too will become persuaded that He will do what He said He would do—not just for you, but for others as well.
Then Paul goes on to say to them in Philippians 4:19 that the God that he had found to be so faithful and true— “shall supply all your need.” On the surface, this phrase may seem to say that God will just provide your basic necessities, but in looking at the original Greek language, we find that it means more than that. The Greek word for “supply” in this verse is pleroo and literally means “to make full.” This does not sound to me like God will just give us the bare minimum to meet our everyday needs, does it? No, this says that God will take our cup that is empty and fill it up to the brim so that we do not have any more room to contain His provision. Hallelujah!
Then Paul goes on to say how God will fulfill our every need: He said that He will supply them— “according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” This is such an awesome truth, saints! Notice that He does not supply our need out of His resources; He supplies our need according to them! You might be thinking— “What is the difference?” Allow me to illustrate: Suppose a millionaire tells you he is going to help you pay for a car. Well, if he or she gives to you out of their resources, then that would mean that they could give you as little as one dollar, correct? But if they say they are going to give to you according to their resources, then that means they are going to supply you with a whole lot more than one dollar, amen? You see, if a millionaire helps you pay for a car according to their resources, then we are talking about them paying for a good portion of that selling price of the car, if not flipping the entire bill. Why? It is because they are supplying your need according to how wealthy they are, not simply giving you just any amount from their wealth. Do not be mistaken either: We are not talking about just a millionaire here. We are talking about the God who created the heavens and the earth. We are talking about the God who owns both the cattle on a thousand hills and all the gold, silver, and precious stones of the earth. To say that the Lord is extremely wealthy would be a major understatement. So, when Paul says that our God will fill our cup “according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus,” he is not talking about God giving us just enough; He is talking about Him giving us more than enough. And this wasn’t the first time Paul talked about supply. In Philippians 1:19, he says, “For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” Paul was very familiar with the heart of God to supply our needs abundantly!
Friends, this is simply God’s nature! When He filled Peter’s net with fish, He gave him so much that his boat began to sink. When Jesus multiplied the loaves and the fishes, they ate until they were full—even having twelve baskets left over. Our God is extremely wealthy and delights Himself in supplying all our need according to His glorious riches. So, when we are promised in the Word of God that our faithful and sacrificial giving into the Kingdom of God results in Him supplying our every need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus, know that we are talking about abundance. I do not know about you, but this stirs me up to even be more of an extravagant and honorable giver! Glory!
So, we began a new series a few weeks ago, which I have entitled “God’s Own Heart,” and this series of teachings is to answer the following question: “What is God’s own heart?” In other words, what does His heart look like? What is in His heart? And what are His innermost passions and desires?
So, we began three weeks ago by looking at one of the references that we have to David being a man after God’s own heart found in 1 Samuel 13:14 which says, “But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”
We saw that if we want to learn what is in the heart of God, we ought to look at the heart of David, since he was said to be after God’s own heart. Of course, David was flesh & blood and had a nature like ours. So, he is not a perfect reflection of God’s nature. However, we can look at a lot of things in his life, study his heart, and learn more about “God’s own heart.” So, that means that, as a general rule, the things he cared about, God cares about. The things he desired, God desires. The things he sought after, God seeks after. The things he focused on, God focuses on. And those last couple of sentences are what we looked at in part one of this series: What does God look at and what does He seek?
Last week, we talked about His love, and we found out that the undisputed most emphasized topic in the entire Word of God is love. Therefore, love must be the greatest part of His heart—for if love is talked about the most, then it must be what is in God’s heart in abundance. We verified this by that truth in Matthew 12:34-35 where Jesus said, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” So, if we want to know what is in God’s heart in abundance, all we need to do is study His Word and find out what He likes to talk about—and love is obviously the top conversation piece.
We proceeded to look at a passage of Scripture that verifies this--Matthew 22:36-39–-when Jesus said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” And the truth we learned last week is this: Would the Lord make such a fuss in His Word about love—namely, us loving Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and loving our neighbor as we do ourselves—if He was not doing this Himself? And the answer to that question is obvious: Of course, He does! Therefore, we learned that if He says that the greatest of all virtues is love (1 Corinthians 13:13), and if He says that the greatest of all commandments is love, then love must hold the greatest part of His heart! Amen? Yes, the Lord God loves you and me with all His heart, with all of His soul, with all of His mind, and with all of His strength! Amen!
Yes, love is what flows from God’s heart—not condemnation, not criticism, not ill-will—only love. We saw this from Jesus’ statement in Mark 7:21-22 where Jesus taught us something about the heart. He said, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.” Here, we saw how Jesus was teaching us that, when it comes to mankind, our hearts are deceitfully wicked and these are the things that proceed from our evil hearts. However, since God is good, perfect, holy, and love, the opposite must be true for His heart. So, out of the heart of God “proceed good thoughts (not evil thoughts), faithfulness (not adulteries), purity (not fornication), giving life (not murders), gifts (not thefts)…” Therefore, His mind—His thoughts, meditations, etc.—are only on good, not of evil (see Jeremiah 29:11)! This is the way God thinks!
But also, regarding the Greatest Commandment, Jesus told us to love our neighbor as we do ourselves, didn’t He? Yes, He loves you and I as He does Himself. What does this mean? It reinforces that awesome truth that God loves us just as much as He loves Jesus (see John 17:23)! Yes, He loves us just as much as He loved His Only Begotten Son! Hallelujah!
And, finally, we looked over at Matthew 6:21, where Jesus said, “Where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” and we learned that if we can find where God’s treasure is, then we can find out where His heart is also. And we learned that God’s treasure is in us!
We saw how the Bible teaches us that “we have this treasure in earthen vessels…” (2 Corinthians 4:7) and also that the “riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints…” (Ephesians 1:18) Therefore, God’s treasure—Christ’s very inheritance—has been placed on the inside of every born-again believer! Glory! So we learned that this means that since God’s treasure is in us, then His heart is there too! Amen! In other words, God’s heart is with us just like His treasure is! Glory be to God!
We verified this by looking at those two Kingdom parables that the Lord Jesus taught us—the Parable of the Pearl of Great Price & the Parable of the Hidden Treasure (see Matthew 13:44-46). And we learned in both of these parables, that while there is certainly truth that we are like the man in these parables that sell all we have to purchase this treasure and pearl of great price, we would not have been able to even do this if Jesus Himself would not have done it first. Therefore, we saw how Jesus was first this merchant who sold all He had on the Cross in order to redeem us—all because we are that precious commodity in His heart! Thank you, Jesus!
That’s right, church—if where one’s treasure is, there their heart will be also, then God’s heart is most certainly with us because we are His treasure! As a matter of fact, if the Lord was constantly criticizing the religious leaders of His day for having hearts that were far from Him, then He is not going to be like that, is He? No, His heart is obviously not going to be far from us. On the contrary, His heart must be near to us! Yes, His heart is with us!
Church, love is the greatest thing on God’s heart. And do you know why? It is because God is love! He doesn’t just have love to give; He is love personified. In other words, agape is the core part of His very nature! Love is the greatest part of His heart! Amen!
GOD’S HEART OF WORSHIP
So, this week, I want us to move into a part of God’s heart that most are completely ignorant of. Yes, the thing I want us to focus on this week is something that most Christians simply cannot relate to—yet, it is a big part of who He is.
So, let me begin by asking you a question: What is the first thing that you identify King David with? In other words, when you think of David, what is the first thing you think of?
Some might have answered that when they think of David they think of Israel’s greatest king. Others might have recalled his faith and boldness in situations like his confrontation with Goliath. But probably for most of you, you first identified David with being a worshipper, and understandably so—for he was first a psalmist, and a great one at that!
David was undoubtedly used by the Lord more than any other man in writing all of these psalms that you and I benefit from today. In fact, 73 of the 150 Psalms in the Bible are specifically attributed to him by being referred to as “a psalm of David.” And if you add the two psalms (Psalm 2 & Psalm 95) that the New Testament attributes to David (See Acts 4:24-26 & Hebrews 4:7), you find that at least half of the Psalms (i.e. 75 out of 150) that we have recorded as Holy Scriptures were Davidic psalms. Therefore, it is rather clear that a big part of David’s heart was being a praiser and a worshipper of Yahweh.
So, you know where I am going with this, don’t you? Since David was a man after God’s own heart, then this heart of worship that He possessed just might also be a part of God’s heart. Yes, I believe that God too is a praise & worshipper like David was, and today I will show you why I believe this is true.
Now, let me first of all say, I do understand that God is not paying homage to anything or anyone else. He alone is God, and there is none other! So, He is not worshipping His creation in regards to reverencing and/or lowering Himself to us. That is His creation’s job—to worship Him in that respect.
Therefore, no one is arguing the fact that God lays prostrate before no one. However, if we do a careful study of what the terms “praise & worship” truly mean and also look at other Scriptures that illustrate this other side of God, we can get a glimpse into God’s heart of worship. Amen?
So, let’s first look over at passage of Scripture that will rock your world! Yes, you are about to get a different picture painted in your heart of Who it is that you praise & worship! Amen!
Now, first of all, let me give a quick lesson to the Wednesday Night, Spiritual Giftings crew: I overheard a lot of different prophecies being given this week during the exercise and several of them contained a lot of things that you will hear here in Zephaniah chapter 3 and also in this message today. So, here is a good lesson on how to judge prophecies: When someone gives you a word, a lot of times the Lord will confirm it through the corporate message you hear, like say through the pastor’s message on Sunday. And that is exactly what is happening here today—the Lord’s wisdom well at work. Amen.
In the third chapter of the Prophet Zephaniah’s Book, we have a beautiful description of our God’s own heart: Zephaniah 3:14-17 reads— “Sing, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your judgments, He has cast out your enemy. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; You shall see disaster no more. In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: ‘Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.’”
Notice, first of all, that Zephaniah is concluding his prophecy with a section of hope here. This was actually quite common in many of the major & minor prophets’ books—as there were continuous references in their writings of the salvation that would come in a later dispensation that you and I now live in. In other words, the gospel was forecasted in the Old Testament through the prophets—who prophesied of the grace that would come to us.
Concerning this, the apostle Peter said in First Peter 1:10-12– “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.”
The gist of what Peter was saying here is this—that many of the prophecies that were given through the major and minor prophets were not things that Israel would see fulfilled in their dispensation. Rather, some of these things that were given through them were written for us who are now experiencing the good news they spoke of! Glory to God! And Peter said that the blessings of salvation that we are walking in today are things that even angels desire to look into.
Now this phrase— “things which angels desire to look into” --describes how a child might curiously peer over a gate to see what was on the other side. Church, even the angels of God are interested in the glorious salvation that you and I have! This is one of the reasons I believe that the cherubim are positioned in such a way on the top of the arc of the covenant—that they might peer over into the mercy seat and see the glorious covenant that has been established between Christ Jesus and God the Father! Hallelujah!
In regards to this, we had a service a few weeks ago that a couple of you saw into the spirit and saw things like this: In one account, someone saw angels peering in through what looked like windows as little children peering over a gate to see what was on the other side. Also, while we were singing the song "Good, Good Father," someone saw Brother Don Van Hoozier, our founding pastor here at High Point Church who went on to be with the Lord a couple of years ago, looking down on the congregation, with his hands on something like a white picket fence, and nodding in approval. Then he turned his head and said to God the Father, "Lord, they're doing pretty good down there." Then when I took the microphone and began to sing and talk at the end of that song, he nodded in approval and clapped his hands in applause, and finally walked away.
Church, what we have today is so amazing! God desires for us to realize the so great of a salvation that we are a part of today! This is why the Lord, through the Prophet Zephaniah, told us to “Sing, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!” Church, we have something to sing and shout about under our new and better covenant! As “Zephy” goes on to say, “The Lord has taken away your judgments (i.e. There is therefore now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus – Romans 8:1), He has cast out your enemy (i.e. Behold, I saw satan fall like lightning from heaven – Luke 10:18). The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst (i.e. I will never leave you nor forsake you and the Holy Spirit shall abide with us forever – Hebrews 13:5 & John 14:16); You shall see disaster no more (i.e. He delivers us from all evil –1 Thessalonians 1:10 & Matthew 6:13).”
Then Zephaniah goes on to say, “In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: ‘Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save…” So, based on all of these promises we have today, we never need to fear. We need to be strong because the Mighty One is with us! He will save—deliver, provide, heal, etc. Amen!
But notice what else the Mighty Jehovah does: Zephaniah goes on to say— “He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.’” Let’s look at another couple of translations of verse 17:
Now I guarantee you that this description of the Almighty has never entered into the hearts and minds of most believers. It certainly is true though! Our God actually rejoices over us with gladness and with singing! He celebrates us! He endeavors to refresh and renew us with His love! Amen!
HOW GOD PRAISES
So, this is what I want us to focus on this week—that our God is a praiser Himself! He rejoices in us! And He even has things (or in this case, people) that He “worships.”
Again, if David is a called a man after God’s own heart, then his heart for praise & worship will not be too far off from God’s heart, right? In other words, God is a good praise & worshipper Himself! No, not that He is paying homage and worshipping a higher being than Himself. But if we truly understand what these terms “praise” and “worship” really mean, then we can more easily swallow the fact that the Lord does some “praising & worshipping” Himself.
First of all, let’s look at the term “praise”: You see, according to the Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, “praise” is defined as “to esteem, value, or prize.” Webster’s also adds this comment which I found very interesting— “It appears that praise, price, prize, are all from one root, the primary sense of which is to lift or to raise...” He goes on to say, “…and it may be questioned whether this (i.e. raise) is ‘praise’ with the prefix.” This is also where we get our word “appraise” from—which means to place an estimated value on something.
So, from this definition, “praise” literally means “to raise the value of or to lift up the price of.” In other words, you could say, praise means to esteem something or someone very highly. Therefore, if this is what it means to “praise,” how does one technically do it? Let me give you a few Scriptural examples:
In Second Samuel 14:25, the Scriptures say that Absalom was “praised” for his good looks. Does that mean that people went around saying, “I praise Absalom! Oh, I praise Absalom!”? Of course, not! Since it was his good looks that they were praising, this is probably what they went around saying— “Isn’t Absalom good looking!?! My, oh my, his hair is so beautiful!” This is praise!
Psalm 145:4 says, “One generation shall praise your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.” Now, how will one generation praise God’s works to another? Is it not by them declaring and boasting in what God had done? Of course! They probably told their kids things like— “When I was your age, God parted the Red Sea and we walked across on dry ground! I’ve seen God do some miraculous things like defeat a whole army of men without us even having to lift a sword! I’ll tell you, He is a mighty God!” This is praise!
Last but not least, in Second Chronicles 5:13 we have a great example of true praise: It says, “… and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying: ‘For He is good, for His mercy endures forever,’…” Notice that it says that they praised the Lord by saying something. In other words, they were praising God as they said something specific, and in this case, they said, “For the Lord is good and His mercy endures forever!” You see, this is a true statement of praise: to declare that God is good and that His mercy lasts forever is the praise of God.
So, from these examples can you see what it truly means to praise something or someone? It means to declare how beautiful and lovely it is to you! It means to boast in all that someone has done for you! It means to tell how good something or someone is!
Therefore, we ought to be able to see now how God can actually “praise” something or someone Himself—for if “praising” someone is not just saying, “Praise Joe” or “I praise Sarah,” but rather is simply talking about how wonderful we think Joe and Sarah are, then God can certainly be doing some “praising” Himself. Amen?
HOW GOD WORSHIPS
Well, what about worship—How does God worship? The word “worship” literally means “to adore, honor, or respect.” If you look at the word in its simplest form it says “worth-ship” which means “the state of being worthy, or worthiness. This describes the object of one’s worship being excellent in character and of great worth and value. Therefore, worship simply means to adore someone because of the great value and worth you place upon them in your heart.
So, if this is what worship really is, then we can see how God might do some “worshipping” Himself, right?
Let me give you an example of this from our own life: Our little dog, Bluesy (for some reason or another) loves to sit there and stare at me. And, no, not just when I have some food or she thinks she’s going to get something. No, sometimes that dog will just sit there and stare at me for no reason whatsoever. Well, there have been times when Shannon will say, “Awww, look at Bluesy adoring daddy.”
I bring this out because, what have we just seen? We are the apple of God’s eye! His attention is on us! And you could say that He is watching over us because He adores us! Yes, God is constantly adoring each and every one of His children. And why? It is because He places great value on us! And the gospel is this—He adores us because He sees us as “worthy” of this form of honor, adoration, and love. Amen!
LOVE BELIEVES THE BEST
Now the simplest way to explain all of this is with how we, as parents and grandparents, love and honor our children/grandchildren.
The apostle Paul said, in First Corinthians 13:7, that love “believes all things, hopes all things.” Now we know that God is love, so all of these descriptions of love listed in First Corinthians chapter 13 describe God, right? Therefore, God also “believes” and “hopes” all things. In fact, if you replace the word “love” with God in First Corinthians chapter 13, verses 4 through 6, you get a better picture of who God is.
So, what does this verse mean? It means that God believes the best in us. He expects (i.e. hopes) that we are the best. This is why you see Jesus seeming to expect a lot out of His disciples. It is because God, as Romans 8:31 says, is for us and not against us. He is our biggest fan and is actually rooting for us.
This is why I like to call God the ultimate little leaguer parent. You know how the parents of little leaguers can be completely irrational and blinded to the weaknesses of their children, right? Their kid can be one of the worst players on the team, but their parents think they should be batting clean-up or starting at quarterback. The reason these parents are like this is because they love their children so much that they believe in them. Yes, they expect all the good that they see in the child to come out in the game. That is how God is! Not that he is blinded to our shortcomings, but He does not focus on them. In His love, He chooses to focus on the potential that we have and looks beyond our current weaknesses. This is what love does! It believes, trusts, and hopes in the object of its love! Amen!
So, no, He does not praise & worship us like we do Him, but He does “praise” us like we praise our children and grandchildren, or “adore & love” us like we do our spouse. It’s all about relationship, church! And God’s heart is for us like our hearts are for those whom we love.
WITH ALL MY HEART
So, in light of all of this, I believe we can look into David’s heart of praise & worship in the Psalms and hear God’s heart as well. Let’s look at a few examples (for there are far too many for us to cover today), but look for God in these statements of praise & worship.
In this last example, we see how the Lord “blesses (us) at all times.” This really shouldn’t be a foreign concept to us either—for if He continuously tells us to rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4), then why would we think He doesn’t do the same with us? Yes, church, our Lord always rejoices in us! And let me throw this in here: Just as He has told us to rejoice in Him always—not just when situations are ideal or our circumstances are favorable—likewise He rejoices in us always—even when we aren’t on our A-game and are not as holy & righteous as we should be. He rejoices in us always! Praise the Lord!
Again, God practices what He preaches. And so, if He desires us to have a heart of praise, love, worship, and rejoicing, then it is because His heart is to first love us in like fashion. He loves to praise His children, saying all manner of good things about us! If God had a wallet, I believe He would carry our picture around in it!
He loves us so much, church! And it’s high (point) time, we embrace this, so that our lives can reflect His love all the more! Amen!
So, we have been studying God’s heart for a few weeks now, and we have been seeing deeper and deeper into His unconditional love and amazing grace. It has been awesome!
We have seen how the Lord has given us a grand invitation to search and know His heart. We have seen how we are the apple of His eye and that He delights in us. In short, we have been learning in these first two parts of this series how God has set us before Him and His focus is on us—because He loves us! So, let’s talk a little bit more about this love today.
THE GREATEST OF THESE
You know, when studying the Word of God, there are several things that we see that are certainly emphasized: One would be faith—faith is a big deal in the grand scheme of God’s plan of salvation. Another would be mercy & justice—the Lord’s pet peeve (as I like to call it) is the failure to remember the poor, widows, orphans, etc.—for He desires mercy not sacrifice. But if we had to single out just one thing that the Lord emphasizes the most in the Bible, the undisputed subject would have to be LOVE. Yes, according to God’s Word, love is what it is all about.
In 1 Corinthians 13:13, after his chapter devoted to love, the Apostle Paul said, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
What he was saying here is that now—on this earth, before the Lord returns and sets up His eternal kingdom—we operate in these three cardinals of Christianity: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of all three of these is love. Why? It is because love is the only one of these three that we can operate in now on this earth and also that we will walk in on that day when we see Him face to face. (Not that we won’t ever use our faith or hope in the kingdom of heaven, but our faith will be turned to sight in that day and we will be experiencing all of those things that our hope is in now).
So, love is the greatest of these! This word “greatest” comes from the Greek word where we get our word “mega” from. So, we could say, love is the “mega virtue” of the Kingdom of God!
In fact, the Lord inspired the Apostle Paul to tell Timothy that the whole purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, sincere faith, and a good conscience (see 1 Timothy 1:5). That means that even the entire Old Testament was written to promote this mega-virtue! In other words, the Holy Scripture—from the Old Testament to the New Testament—has always pointed towards love.
Jesus Himself verified this in Matthew 22:36-39 when asked by the lawyer, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” And Jesus responded with— “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Therefore, love—both loving God and loving one another—is obviously at the top of the list of God’s passions and desires!
And here is another reason we can be persuaded that love is His heart: It is because if the Word of God emphasizes love more than anything else—In other words, if love is talked about the most—then it must be what is in God’s heart in abundance. Amen? Why do I say that? It is because Jesus said in Matthew 12:34-35 that “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” So, if you want to know what is in God’s heart in abundance, study His Word and find out what He likes to talk about. Amen?
But allow me to draw your attention back to what Jesus referred to as the “Greatest Commandment”— Would the Lord make such a fuss in His Word about love—namely, us loving Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and loving our neighbor as we do ourselves—if He was not doing this Himself? Let me ask you this way—Does the Lord practice what He preaches? You can sure of that! Hallelujah!
So, guess what? If He says that the greatest of all virtues is love, and if He says that the greatest of all commandments is love, then love must hold the greatest part of His heart! Amen? Yes, the Lord God loves you and me with all His heart, with all of His soul, with all of His mind, and with all of His strength! Amen!
Let me give you an example of this: How does God love you and I with all of His mind?
In Mark 7:21-22, Jesus taught us something about the heart. He said, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.” Is it just me or could Jesus maybe have stopped halfway through this list? 😊 So, here, Jesus was teaching us that, when it comes to mankind, our hearts are deceitfully wicked and these are the things that proceed from our evil hearts.
However, since God is good, perfect, holy, and love, the opposite must be true for His heart. So, out of the heart of God “proceed good thoughts (not evil thoughts), faithfulness (not adulteries), purity (not fornication), giving life (not murders), gifts (not thefts)…” Need I go on? Therefore, His mind—His thoughts, meditations, etc.—are only on good, not of evil (see Jeremiah 29:11)! And why? It is because He loves us with all of His mind! Amen!
But back to the Greatest Commandment: Jesus also told us to love our neighbor as we do ourselves, didn’t He? Yes, He loves you and I as He does Himself. What does this mean? It reinforces that awesome truth that God loves us just as much as He loves Jesus (see John 17:23)! Yes, He loves us just as much as He loved His Only Begotten Son! Glory to God!
Now let’s look at a couple more of the sayings of Jesus and take a deeper look into God’s heart…
WHERE IS GOD’S HEART?
Jesus also said in Matthew 6:21, “Where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” So, where is God’s treasure then? Well, what does the Bible say? It says in 2 Corinthians 4:7 that “we have this treasure in earthen vessels…” Paul also told us that his prayer was that we would come to know, through the wisdom and revelation, what are the “riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints…” (Ephesians 1:18) So, evidently, God’s treasure—Christ’s very inheritance—has been placed in us.
So, if this truth that where our treasure is there our heart will be also is a universal truth (and we ought to believe it is), then since God’s treasure is in us, then His heart is there too! Amen! In other words, God’s heart is with us just like His treasure is. Glory to God!
Let’s consider two Kingdom parables that the Lord Jesus taught us—the Parable of the Pearl of Great Price & the Parable of the Hidden Treasure (see Matthew 13:44-46): Now there are two ways that you hear of these two similarly themed parables being interpreted. One is that the treasure and pearl illustrated in these two parables are the Kingdom of God itself and we are the man and the merchant who discover it. Then, having found this precious commodity, we sell all we have for the joy set before us by laying down our lives for the cause of the kingdom. Therefore, most believers see these parables as how the disciple of Christ will react once discovering the kingdom- we will forsake all to experience the life of the kingdom. This is probably the most common interpretation of this Scripture.
Secondly, these two parables have also been interpreted that the treasure and the pearl is us, and the man or merchant that sought out and found the church was Jesus. The Lord then forsook all He had to purchase us by first leaving His glory in heaven, becoming a man, and then ultimately by giving up His life for us on the Cross. So, this interpretation could be summed up by saying that Jesus sold all He had in order to redeem us as His own.
So, as I have considered both of these possible interpretations, I asked the Lord which one was correct. Is it that the treasure/pearl is your kingdom and the salvation one experiences when entering your kingdom or is the treasure/pearl the church that You died for? Is the man/merchant us discovering the kingdom or is this person Jesus who was seeking after us? As I asked the Holy Spirit these questions, He responded to me saying that the answer is both. Yes, He told me that both interpretations are correct because, as He put it to me, you cannot have one without the other. Let me explain:
You see, the Lord never encourages us to do anything that He Himself has not already first done. Always remember that. He, as any good leader, will first practice what He preaches. And these two parables perfectly illustrate this principle of God’s kingdom.
The Lord was first this man/merchant in these parables: He discovered this kingdom in first seeking out and saving we who were lost and paying His all to purchase us out of the world. Thus He began His kingdom by seeing a valuable treasure and pearl of great price that was hidden to the naked eye. He came to seek and save that which was lost and paid the greatest price to redeem us- that pearl of great price and that treasure hidden in the field.
Now there was a slight difference in both of these parables in regards to this interpretation:
In the Parable of the Hidden Treasure, after stumbling upon the treasure in the field, he did not simply attempt to attain the treasure. No, he paid the price to purchase the entire field- knowing that in purchasing the field, He was purchasing the treasure hidden in the field. What a wise God we serve!
What we see here is that the Father saw such great value in the treasure that was hidden in this field that He decided to purchase the whole field itself. This paints a beautiful picture of the lengths that love will go to redeem the object of its love. And in this illustration, we can see how God paid the price for the whole world and not just for those who would receive His call for salvation. In other words, He paid for all man’s sin, not just the redeemed people’s sin. He went to such great lengths to offer this free gift of salvation to the whole world to where all one needs to do is receive the price paid- the blood of Jesus. Then, if they receive the price that was paid to redeem them, all other sin issues are taken care of. But if they reject the lamb who was slain for their sins, then the reject the gift of salvation.
But did not Jesus pay the price to redeem all of mankind, He also paid the price to redeem all of the world itself. Yes, this planet which has thrown into a sin-cursed state when Adam sinned, was also purchased, ready to be redeemed when Jesus returns, bringing with Him the new heavens and the new earth. Come Lord Jesus, Come! Amen.
Now the point I want us to understand about these two parables is how Jesus chose to describe us- as a treasure and a pearl of great price. Oftentimes, we get so wrapped up in the greatness of the price that was paid that we totally miss the value of the object that was being paid for. Now, please understand me: This is in no way an attempt to diminish the focus on Jesus’ precious blood. Oh, how we should always pay great honor and reverence to His redeeming sacrifice! But at the same time, we need to realize that if God were willing to pay such a great price for us, then we must have had some value as well.
Do you believe God is a wise investor? Well, He did choose the Jewish people, did He not? Yes, saints, the Lord knows how to make a sound investment. Well, do you think He would have paid that high of a price if there was not some comparable value in the item he was purchasing? Of course not! No, He paid such a great price for us because of the great value He saw in us. Thank you, Jesus! He saw a treasure in each one of us and He saw a pearl of great price in this church that He saw in His heart to create!
And this wonderful day that you and I are walking in the reality of was also forecasted by the prophets: In Malachi 3:17, God prophesied that the day would come (that being this church age that we are now in) when we would be His and that we would be made His “jewels”, or the Hebrew says “His own special, priceless treasures.” God has placed His priceless jewels in each one of us. That’s why Peter said in 1 Peter 2:4-5 that Jesus is the “living stone” that is chosen by God and precious and that we also, in Him, are “living stones” chosen by God and precious. We are Living Jewels!
So, if where one’s treasure is, there his heart will be also, then God’s heart is most certainly with us because we are His treasure! Therefore, love is the greatest thing on God’s heart. And do you know why? It is because God is love! He doesn’t just have love to give; He is love personified. In other words, agape is the core part of His very nature! Love is the greatest part of His heart! Amen!
Last week, we began a new series which I have entitled “God’s Own Heart.” Obviously, this title comes from that very popular Biblical reference to David where the Holy Spirit called him “a man after God’s own heart.” However, while we usually tend to look at that description of King David from the standpoint of – How can we become a person after God’s heart like David was? – I want us to look at it a little differently in this series: I want us to look at this phrase from the standpoint of – “What is God’s own heart?” In other words, what does the heart of God look like? What is important to Him? What are His innermost passions and desires? For our heart describes our innermost passions and desires.
So, as I explained last week, in this series we will learn about God’s true nature and what His heart is for you and I. We will see how much He loves us and what else He loves, honors and desires. Therefore, we should walk away from this series of teachings in awe of God’s heart for us and also understanding how we can love Him better ourselves.
So, we began by looking at one of the references that we have to David being a man after God’s own heart which is found in 1 Samuel 13:14. In this verse, the Prophet Samuel said to King Saul, “But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”
So, here we have that oh so wonderful title given to David as being the one that the Lord sought for Himself, a man after God’s own heart! But again, we are not looking at this from the traditional viewpoint; I want us to look at this phrase “a man after God’s own heart” from a different perspective.
You see, if we want to learn what is in the heart of God, we ought to look at the heart of David, since he was said to be after God’s own heart. Of course, David was flesh & blood and had a nature like ours. So, he is not a perfect reflection of God’s nature. However, we can look at a lot of things in his life, study his heart, and learn more about “God’s own heart.” So, that means that, as a general rule, the things he cared about, God cares about. The things he desired, God desires. The things he sought after, God seeks after. The things he focused on, God focuses on. And those last couple of sentences are what we looked at last week: What does God look at and what does He seek?
You know, one way to know what is in one’s heart is to consider what they seek and are focused on. In other words, what someone spends their time in search of and what they focus on is what their heart deems important. Therefore, if we can see what God is looking at and looking for, we can get a glimpse into His heart.
We began looking at this in 1 Samuel 16:7 where the Lord told Samuel--“Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
So, since the Lord chose David to be the next king of Israel, this shows us that he had a heart that mirrored God’s own heart, because the Lord was looking at and for a heart like His! So although David did not have it all together, what he did have was a heart after God. He loved God with all of his heart! He knew the God of Israel! And, last but not least, he had a heart to praise God!
On top of that, we saw in Psalm 139:1-6, 23 that not only did God know His heart—inside and out—David had a heart that was open and transparent, inviting even a more thorough inspection of his heart by God. He said, “O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it.” But then he goes as far as saying later in this same Psalm, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties.”
However, we looked at these words in the 139th Psalm a little differently. We read them as if they are God’s heart-cry for us—and we saw that God’s heart is that we would “search Him and know Him, that we would know His sitting down and His rising up, that we would understand His thoughts from afar off, and become acquainted with all of His ways.” Amen! So, not only does God want us to have this heart like David’s to where we invite Him to search and know our own hearts; He wants us to search and know His own heart! Yes, He wants us to know His ways like Moses did, and not just his acts like the children of Israel (see Psalm 103:7). Yes, the Lord’s heart is that we all, from the least to the greatest, would come to know Him (see Jeremiah 31:34)! Praise the Lord!
But we also saw last week that not only does God look at our hearts and also desire for us to know His own heart, but He is also looking for a certain kind of heart. 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.”
We saw how this verse reveals to us that God is constantly scanning the earth in search of something. He is on a search to find someone that He can bless and prosper, someone that He can anoint and use. This verse puts it this way - “to show Himself strong” through. In other words, God is looking for a people that He can manifest His glory through! And whom did it say that He shows Himself strong on behalf of? “Those whose heart is perfect towards Him” (KJV)
And we saw that this “perfect heart” describes a heart that is “complete or entire.” In other words, it is a heart that is fully or wholly inclined towards the Lord and, therefore, describes being “whole-hearted.” So again, God is not looking for perfect people; He is looking for people with perfect hearts—that is, people whose hearts are fully devoted and in love with Him.
But again, if this is God’s heart—to seek out and search for a heart that is perfectly and completely devoted to Him—then this must be His heart as well. Amen? Yes, church, our God’s heart is perfect towards us as well—that is, He is totally committed to us and loves us unconditionally and completely! Glory to God!
We saw this heart of His reflected in Luke chapter 15, where we have a beautiful description by the Lord Jesus of God’s heart to seek out the lost. We saw in this chapter, how we have the Parable of the Lost Sheep, the Parable of the Lost Coin, and the Parable of the Lost Son—all three parables meant to illustrate to us God’s heart for the lost being found and to show us how heaven rejoices over one lost sinner who turns to the Lord!
So, we ought to get a glimpse of God’s heart through this chapter—that He is searching for the lost! He is looking for those who have the heart to follow Him! And He does this because we are valuable to Him: We are that precious sheep that is worth something to Him! We are that silver coin that is valuable to Him! We are that son and daughter who is precious to our Heavenly Father!
Finally, we looked over at the 63rd Psalm and saw a little further into God’s heart: In it, King David says, “O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory.” (Psalm 63:1-2)
So, we looked at this from God’s perspective and from His own heart: First of all, He says to us—“Early will I seek you…” So, we saw how He is saying to us—“That’s the first thing I do! My priority is you!” So, even with having the responsibility for running the entire galaxy, you and I are His first priority! Glory!
Then we can see Him going on to say: “My soul thirsts for you, My flesh (if I had it) longs for you.” You see, this is why we are His priority; it is because He thirsts and longs for us! Where? In this dry and thirsty land we call earth—learning that God cares more for us than He does anything else that He has created, including the earth and this entire galaxy. In fact, we saw how God actually used more strength in creating our salvation than He did in creating the earth, sun, moon, and stars! Wow! That is an awesome truth!
Therefore, we saw in part one of this series, that God’s heart is searching for us because He loves us so immensely. Yes, He is looking for those with “perfect hearts” because His own heart is “perfect”—a heart of “perfect love”? (see 1 John 4:18).
So, today, I want us to move into another big part of God’s heart. You see, His attention and focus are on us and He seek after us for a reason—and that is because He delights in us! No, He is not looking in you to find fault, He actually likes you! He doesn’t just love you because that is who He is or because He has some sense of showing mercy towards us as our Creator. No, He actually delights in you!
I want you to notice something that David said in the 18th Psalm. Now we are told that this particular psalm was written by him “who spoke to the Lord the words of this song on the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.” Therefore, this song was written by David to acknowledge the Lord for “saving” him from all of his enemies. And he begins this particular psalm by saying, “I will love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies…” Then he goes on to say, beginning in verse 17— "He delivered me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me, For they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, But the Lord was my support. He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me…” (Psalm 18:1-3, 17-19)
I want us to pay particular attention to verse 19. Again, David says, “He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted me.”
Now, first of all, notice that it says that He brought us out into a “broad place.” The word used for “broad” here literally describes a “wide, roomy, large place.” I see this place David describes as a type of the kingdom of God, and I’ll get more into this in a moment.
But then he said, “He delivered me…” How many of you know that, like David here, He has delivered you too! Yes, He has delivered you from the hand of all of your enemies! Glory to God! Don’t just be carnally-minded here either—we are not just talking about physical enemies; we are talking about our spiritual enemies.
In fact, you know that when we use the term “saved” that literally means “delivered” (among other things). So, when we say that we are “saved,” we are declaring that we are “delivered.” You see, sometimes we make the mistake of not understanding even our own Christian terms—for when we are evangelizing, we ask someone, “Are you saved?” and they respond— “Saved from what?” How would you respond to that? Through Christ, we have the opportunity to be “saved or delivered” from sin’s penalty and dominion—from iniquity, transgressions, trespasses, sickness, disease, weakness, poverty, depression, etc.
Colossians 1:13 says that “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” Notice that it does not say, “He is delivering us…” or, “He will deliver us…” No, the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to declare to all of God’s children for all time that He has delivered us from the power of darkness. The word for “power” here is exousia, meaning “authority.” Therefore, we already have been delivered from all of the authority of the kingdom of darkness. Glory to God!
Didn’t Jesus tell us—Behold, I give you all authority over all the power of the enemy (Compare Matthew 28:18-20 & Luke 10:19)!?! And in Christ, we have been delivered from all of his power and authority in our lives! Therefore, I don’t ask the Lord to deliver me from anything—for I believe He has already done it!
So, when it comes to our salvation, we have already been delivered! But this passage of Scripture doesn’t just show us what we have been delivered from; it reveals to us what we have been delivered unto—namely, the kingdom of the Son of His love! Glory! Yes, church, that is the “broad place” that David prophetically spoke of God bringing us into!
But why did He do all of this? Why did God deliver us? Well, as I’ve made the point of already, He didn’t save and deliver us because He felt obligated to or because He would have felt guilty if He didn’t. No, this passage of Scripture explains exactly why He delivered us?
Notice again that David said, “He delivered me because He delighted in me.” So, say it together with me—He delivered, saved and rescued me because He delights in me!
Now this word “delighted” is, therefore, a very important word for us to understand—for this was His motivation for saving us.
When you look up the Hebrew used to translate this word “delighted” you find that it means, “to desire, be pleased with, and have pleasure in.” (Strong’s) Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies says that the primary meaning of this word seems to be “to bend towards” and metaphorically describes the bending towards of the will. Therefore, it implies the entire or full inclination towards an object or a person. So, this is where they get the word “delight” from—for when one’s will or desire is bent towards something or someone, their heart is for that thing. Yes, they delight in it, are pleased with it, and take pleasure in it. I once heard one minister say that this word simply means that He loves us very, very much!
So, can you see God’s heart for us here? He actually “delights” in you and I! No, He doesn’t just tolerate us. He doesn’t just put up with us. He actually takes pleasure in us!
Someone might say, “Yeah well, maybe He delights in us when we do what is pleasing to Him, but I can’t see Him taking pleasure in me when I am the way I am right now.” Let me reason with you by looking at probably the most popular verse in the entire Bible.
In that very popular passage of Scripture, we have a truth that most believers have not wrapped their heart around. It is John 3:16 where Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
So, why did Jesus say that God the Father gave us Jesus so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life? His entire motivation for this, our salvation, was because He “so loved the world.”
Now there are two very important parts to this phrase: One is that He didn’t just love the world; He so loved the world! That means that this was not just a casual, generic, normal kind of love. That would have been far beyond what we could imagine—that He would even love us in our lost and sinful condition. But for Him to so love the world shows us the depth, width, height and length of this love He has for us!
Secondly, Jesus here didn’t say that God so loved the “righteous,” or His “children.” It says that this immense love that motivated Him was for the “world.” Yes, the lost, cursed, dying world that had sinned and fallen short of His glory! That is who He so loved and what motivated Him to provide the Way of salvation! Glory to God!
So, here is a good question then—Have things changed today? Does God still “so love” us now that we are saved and delivered? Sure, He does!
In fact, in Romans 5:6-11, the Apostle Paul reasoned along these same lines when he said, “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”
Let me explain to you what Paul was saying here in a nutshell. He was saying that if God sent His Son to die for us and so loved us when we were ungodly, His enemies, and still sinners, how much more will He love, bless, be gracious, etc., now that we are His covenant people!?! Glory!
Therefore, it would not be out of place for a born-again child of God to say, “I am so loved!” In fact, you could say—I am the disciple whom God so loves! Amen! So, yes, God delights in us! He so loves us! We are the people of His pleasure!
HOW GOD SEES US NOW
Of course, this does not mean He is pleased with all you and I do. But He is pleased, however, with all that we are in Christ! Let’s take a quick look over at Colossians 1:21-23 and see how God views us now that we are in Christ.
The apostle Paul begins by saying in verse 21— “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works…” Let me ask you something: do you still see yourself this way? In other words, is this the picture you see when you look at your Christian life? If most were honest, they would have to say that this description is what they can more readily identify with. But this is not who we are anymore, church. This verse says, “And you, who once were…” No, this is who we were, but not who we are any longer.
So, what are we now? I’m glad you asked. Take a look at the next phrase in verse 21: “…yet now He has reconciled.” And what have we just learned? We are now reconciled because God wanted us reconciled. In other words, we are reconciled because He wanted us close to Him again. You see, God does not think you stink. It’s us who has that “stinking thinking,” not God. You have been washed in the blood and bathed in the perfume of the Anointed One and His anointing. Now we put off the aroma of Christ and put a sweet smell in the nostrils of God. Glory!
Paul goes on to say that we have been reconciled “in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.” If this verse doesn’t light your fire, then your wood is wet! Saints, this is what we need to identify with!
We now, in Christ, have been presented unto God as, first, holy. That means that you already are holy in the spirit. That is why Paul keeps addressing us in his letters as “saints.” The term “saints” means “holy ones.” Again, this doesn’t mean we are perfect in our deeds, but it does mean that we are set apart and pure in the spirit.
Secondly, he says and we are “blameless.” The Greek word used here means to be faultless and without blemish like an animal sacrifice under the Old Covenant was supposed to be. So, what does that mean? It means we are not the runt of the litter anymore! We are “top shelf”—that is, the ones inspected and approved by the Master. Like the sacrifices of the Old Covenant, we are the choicest parts of the sacrifice! Hallelujah!
Thirdly (and I love this one), Paul says, and we are “above reproach in His sight.” The phrase “above reproach” literally means “not called in,” or “not called to account.” This describes a total absence of charges on our account. In other words, the slate has been wiped clear! Glory! So, not only are we without blemish, all the charges have been dropped! And this is true “in His sight.” The word “sight” here literally describes “to look down in”—denoting a deep and penetrating gaze. Now we know that God sees all and there is no blemish that is hidden from His sight! So, through the blood, we have been completely washed and made clean to where even God’s deep, penetrating gaze cannot see any faults in us! Thank you Jesus!
So now, the only thing that can condemn us today is us. Paul goes on to say in verse 23 that all of this is true “if indeed you continue in the faith…” In other words, the only way to lose is to quit. The only way to be condemned is to agree with our adversary. The only way to not stay holy, without blemish, and above reproach in His sight is to leave. Amen.
But the truth is that when it comes to God’s sight, we are “right”—that is, we have been made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus! This is how He sees us now!
THE APPLE OF GOD’S EYE
In fact, Zechariah 2:8 gives us a beautiful prophetic promise. It says, “For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you (seemingly, a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ); for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.”
In Psalm 17:8, we see how David knew that He was the apple of God’s eye when he said, “Keep me as the apple of Your eye. Hide me under the shadow of Your wings.”
So, how could David claim to be the apple of God’s eye? Could he just say this because it was before his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah? Did he forfeit this claim after he committed such sins? I don’t believe so because we know that He was inspired by the Holy Spirit to pen these words. And, what about us? Surely, we can’t lay hold of this title as being the “apple of God’s eye”, can we? We know how far we have fallen from God’s glory. We know our sin. We know what we have been thinking in our hearts. So, how can we be the apple of God’s eye?
It is because we are in the True Apple of God’s eye! You see, at the baptism of Jesus, the voice of God the Father said, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Jesus was, is, and evermore shall be the very apple of His Father’s eye.
However, when it came to Jesus, instead of protecting Him at all costs like we always do with our eyes, the Bible actually teaches us that it pleased Him to bruise Him, His beloved Son (see Isaiah 53:10). Have you ever read that and wondered how God the Father could do that to Jesus? Moreover, how could it actually “please” Him to put Jesus on the Cross?
The answer is simple: He did not get pleasure in causing to suffer; what pleased Him was how it would cause all of us to be redeemed, forgiven and made righteous once again! His pleasure was in us—and both He and Jesus were willing and happy to do what They had to do for you. Therefore, because of the True Son of David, we have become the apple of God’s eye. We are now the beloved sons and daughters of God. He has His eye on you. He protects you. This is the Gospel!
Now when it comes to this phrase “the apple of His eye”, we often think that this is referring to fruit, but it really has nothing to do with a physical piece of fruit. So, what does this phrase really mean? The “apple of the eye” is the pupil of the eye—which is the center of the eye. In fact, the Hebrew word used here describes “the little man of the eye.” Have you ever looked someone in the eye and seen your own reflection in their pupil? That is the “little man,” right in the center of the eye.
So, here in this phrase “the apple of His eye,” we see a big part of His heart: We are the reflection of His heart. We are where His focus is and, therefore, what He seeks to cherish and protect. Yes, God guards us as the apple of his eye.
And that leads us to an interesting point—some have said that the pupil is the part of the eye that is subject to more acute pain than any other part. So, what that ministers to me is that what hurts the heart of God the most is the pain of his people. Yes, His children’s pain is His pain as well.
Just think about how we guard our eyes. If someone or something were trying to hurt our eyes, we would throw our arms up because we are far more willing to take a temporary bruise on our arm than a permanent injury to our eyes. Amen? Yes, you are willing to suffer that pain in your arm to protect something more valuable to you—in this case, your eyes. Well, that’s exactly what the Father did for us on the Cross—it pleased Him rather to bruise His arm to protect the apple of His eye (Compare Isaiah 53:1)! Glory to God!
David said in Psalm 101:3-8, “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes.” Another translation of this word for “wicked” here is “worthless.” So, if this was David’s heart, then we can see God’s heart—He too sets nothing worthless or wicked before His eyes. Therefore, if His covenant people are the apple of His eye, then you must not be wicked or worthless anymore. Amen?
In Psalm 16:8, David’s heart declared, “I have set the Lord always before me...” What about God? I believe He would say to us today— "I have set you always before Me!” Just imagine then—you are like God’s favorite piece of art that He proudly sets before Him, just because He enjoys looking at you.
In Ephesians 2:10 we are told that we are God’s own “workmanship”, created in Christ Jesus.
Now when this says that we are His workmanship and created in Christ Jesus, what part of us is it referring to? Well, obviously it was not referring to our bodies as the part of us being changed because if we were bald headed before we got saved, we were bald headed after we got saved. Obviously, it was not referring to our souls either because our mind did not miraculously change when we got saved. So, the part of us that became a new creation and a product of His workmanship had to have been that third and final part of our being (i.e. our spirit) right? Yes, it was our spirit that was recreated in Christ at the moment we were born again and is a product of God’s workmanship.
So, what does this mean that we are His “workmanship”? This word comes from the Greek word poiema which is where we get our words “poem” and “poetry” from. As a matter of fact, this word poiema came to describe something that was a product of an artist’s handiwork or artwork—like say a sculpture or a painting. Therefore, this word describes something that is a product of one’s creativity and artistic abilities. Oh, hallelujah! Do you see where this is going?
So, when the Apostle Paul said that we are God’s “workmanship” here in Ephesians 2:10, you could translate this that we are God’s own work of art! Better yet, since God—who has to be considered the most creative and wonderful artist ever to exist—is the one who designed and sculptured our spirit, then you could say that we are His masterpiece! Hallelujah! Did you get that?
You are God’s own handiwork, His work of art, and His masterpiece! You have been created in Christ—beautifully and ornately fashioned by the Creator, who is the epitome of creativity and artistry! And let me assure you in the worst English that I can: God don’t make no junk! If you are His workmanship, then you are perfect, complete, and beautiful! There are no flaws in your spirit man!
In fact, do you know the reason why your spirit is flawless? It is because you have received the spirit of Christ Himself! That is why Paul said in this verse that you were created (i.e. recreated) in Christ Jesus. It is because it is in His image and in His likeness that you have been designed!
So, let’s use the analogy of a painting or a sculpture to describe what happened in your spirit when you were born again. When God took your dead spirit, where no good thing dwelt and painted/sculpted you into a new creation in Christ, what He did was He painted on the canvas of your heart the likeness of Jesus Christ! What He did was He sculpted, as the potter sculpts the clay, a full image of Jesus Christ Himself in your inner man! So, He made you all that He is because you are in Him and He is in you! Praise be unto God!
Understanding this is what will make truths in the Word of God such as we are the righteousness of God, we are saints, and we are beloved, easier to accept! It is because it is not our righteousness! It is not our holiness! It is not a matter of how lovely we are! You are accepted, forgiven, redeemed, saved, righteous, holy, and loved because of who He is in you! So, when the Father looks into a born again, child of God, He is not looking at our faults and shortcomings; He is looking at the beautiful image of Jesus Christ! Hallelujah! Jesus is what makes us God’s masterpiece!
The reason the majority of the church has trouble accepting this is because most identify themselves by who they are in the flesh. But as 2 Corinthians 5:16 says, we are no longer to judge anyone according to the flesh, and that includes ourselves! We are to form our opinion of our self by looking at the inward man, the hidden man of the heart. To not do so, is to look at an extremely valuable painting and to estimate its value solely by the frame that holds the painting itself. This, of course, is utter foolishness! I mean, who goes to the Musee du Louvre in Paris to see the original Mona Lisa painting and stands there admiring only the frame and not considering the portrait inside the frame? No one does that! So why do we only focus on our earthen vessel and not consider the treasure that has been placed within us?
Friends, in the eternal part of you has been placed a beautiful and perfect masterpiece! So, let’s begin to focus on what is important and what is eternal! God placed a priceless treasure in our hearts the moment we were born again. Let’s esteem it! Let’s give attention to the new creation we have been made in Christ!
So, why is this so important to understand? It is because when you come to truly know in your heart how important you are to Him, how much He loves you, how His delight is in you, and how you are the apple of His eye, you will be more prepared and equipped to give Him the other desires of His heart. Let’s conclude this teaching by looking a little further into this.
THE DESIRE OF HIS HEART
In Psalm 37:4, we have another very popular passage of Scripture—one that many Christians hold on to dearly. But I want us to flip this verse as well and see God’s heart in David.
This verse says, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” So, what David was clearly saying here is that when a believer “delights” him or herself in the Lord, then He will give them the desires of their heart—not meaning that He will give us any, old flaky thing that we want just because we are delighting ourselves in Him. What this means, rather, is that when we are truly delighting ourselves in Him—that is, loving Him and having hearts that are pursuing Him and His things—we will already have desires that are in line with His desires, and therefore, will get the desires of our heart. Clear as mud?
In short, when you and I are taking pleasure in Him, loving Him with all of our hearts, and desiring Him, then our desires will be in accordance with His will. Therefore, we can expect that He will give us those desires that delight in Him. Amen?
So, what about God? Since David wrote this, let’s flip it and see God’s own heart: As we have seen, He delights Himself in you! Oh yes, and guess what else is true therefore? We have the capability of giving Him the desires of His heart. Glory to God! What I mean is that as you and I receive His love, pleasure and delight over us, we can actually give Him what His heart desires—which is our heart, our fellowship, our love, etc. Oh yes, when you and I receive His love and let Him delight in us, then we are giving Him what His heart desires—which is a people who will let Him love them.
You see, in 1 John 4:19 we are taught that we love (the word “Him” was not in all of the Greek texts. So, let’s leave it out and see what this verse means without it) because He first loved us.
So how are we going to be able to love God and love God’s people if He hasn’t first loved us? We won’t and we can’t. Sure, He loves us all already, but if we have not tasted His goodness, experienced His love and seen His grace, we will have a major uphill battle to loving the brethren. Why? Because we cannot give away what we have not first received.
This is why I consider the revelation of God’s love for you and I to be the single greatest revelation that we can ever receive! Why? Because if we receive His love for us and it has truly impacted our hearts, then we are in the best position possible to fulfill the Great Commandment of loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves!
You see, people reveal how much of God’s love that they have received by how much of God’s love that they are walking in. In other words, we reveal how much we see and understand God’s love for us by our own love walk. We see this in the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant because what Jesus was teaching us in this parable is that if we receive such a grand and glorious amount of forgiveness from God, then we ought to forgive our brothers and sisters the much smaller debt that they might owe us.
So, when we see His love for us and receive it, then we have the standard by which we are to love others with. Amen?
AS I HAVE LOVED YOU
Now in John 13:34 Jesus said that we are to specifically love one another “as I have loved you.”
So how can we love one another as He has loved us if we have not experienced that love for us first? In other words, how can we fulfill this commandment if we haven’t experienced this love personally? We can’t! Well, when Jesus said this to His disciples we understand that He was specifically referring to how they had personally experienced His love over the past three years.
So, my question to you is—how does this apply to you? You didn’t physically walk with Jesus for three years and personally experience His love. So how can we relate to this and actually obey this new commandment? Sure, we can try to love one another, but how can we love the brethren as Jesus has loved His disciples if we didn’t personally experience what His disciples did? That’s a good question, isn’t it?
Let me ask it this way—What if Jesus’ disciples would have never experienced that love themselves? They would have only been able to emulate what they had experienced themselves, right?
This is the problem with so many believers: Many have never experienced much love at all. Many had unloving parents and no good role models of true love in their life. Therefore, they cannot relate to anything close to the love of God because they have never received the example. So, if this is you, I have the solution: you can receive this love of Christ by faith.
You can respond with— “God, I choose to believe that you love me. My parents might not have told me or showed me love. But I choose to believe that what you feel towards me is real and it is true whether I feel it or can relate to it or not.” When you make that heart adjustment to choose to believe it, you have taken the first step to experiencing His love in your life. It is when we approach the love of God in unbelief that we are further away from experiencing His love than ever.
But what you most commonly hear is, “I just can’t relate to God loving me because my momma this or my daddy that…” Friends, that Christian is not creating an environment conducive to experiencing His love. No, first you must believe it by faith and then the feelings will follow.
So today, begin to receive this good news by faith. Begin to believe that He so loves you, and that is what has motivated Him to provide your salvation. Begin to believe that He has delivered and redeemed your life from destruction because He actually, really does, “delight” in you. Receive His grace and love and experience the heart of God today! In so doing, you will be fully equipped to do all of the works that He Himself does—because you will have in your heart what He has in His own heart. Amen.