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!