Thank You For Another One

Luke 10:21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes.

As I celebrate my birthday today; I do so with much gratitude and thanksgiving. Not just because it is that season but because of just how Good God has been to me. I have been the beneficiary of many revealed blessings that were not deserved and I’m very grateful.

Oh, Give Thanks

PSALM 106:1 Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

This week is Thanksgiving and it is truly my favorite time of year.  One because my birthday is always within a few days of Thanksgiving and Two because this was the time of year when a majority of my family would travel from across the country to celebrate together.  We would have big dinners and experience fun times being able to see family that I did not often have a chance to see.  Now, while Thanksgiving should be a time that we all spend considering the things that we are thankful for.  But let’s be honest, 2020 has kind of put a “wet sock” on everything; the chaos, lives lost, and social justice discrepancies have sucked much of the excitement of the season out of many of us.  We are not allowed to continue our time-honored traditions, without putting others health in jeopardy of a contagious virus.  We have to make a choice, we can look at this time and be disappointed not really being as thankful as we normally are or we can remember these few things:  

  1. Praise the LORD! The Lord desires our praise because we were created to give Him praise. The Bible tells us that God inhabits the praise of His people (Psalm 22:3). That means he lives, abides or just hangs around praise. He looks for opportunities to hang out with those who praise Him. Check this out; where the presence of the Lord there is Liberty (2 Corinth 3:17; in His presence there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). The Bible even tells us that in His presence the enemy melts (Isa 19:1). So, if you’re looking for reasons to be thankful this week; here is one. Because we get to Praise God and receive all of the blessings that comes with it!
  2. He is good! God is so very good to each of us. Have you ever had someone be good to you? What a feeling! So, imagine the richest person in the world and the poorest person in the world both being good to you.  I would have to think that both acts of goodness would look gravely different.  We would probably lean towards the richest person’s good being better than the poorest. Well, now imagine the all-powerful; all knowing and ever-present God being good to you. His acts of goodness are so much greater than the others.  That’s who we have being good to us every day. He seeks after us, waiting to find ways to be good to us (Isaiah 30:18). What does the bible say about the word “good?”  According to many verses, good means: to be pleasant, agreeable, excellent, rich, valuable, appropriate, becoming, happy, prosperous, understanding, kind, ethical, benefit, bounty.  God is all these things in our lives. So, if you need another reason to be thankful, use this:  God is Good to Me!!!
  3. His mercy endures forever. We long for God’s Mercy and Grace.  His mercy endures throughout our entire life and beyond. God has been so merciful to us. The many things that I have done wrong, where I failed to live according to His standard; where I have hurt others; both those closest to me and those whom I did not really care about; am I’m sure you could say something similar.  If you like me know the powers of God’s mercy; mercy that allows us to be merciful to others and even more importantly merciful to ourselves. You remember that His mercy covers us completely; our every hurt, every pain, every tear and every heartbreak. God’s mercy endures; meaning that it goes well beyond expectation, it suffers patiently and long; it remains in existence even when we give up. Why does God show us such great mercy?  Because of Love (1 Cor 13:4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails).  If I can give you one more reason to be thankful during this season, God is enduring with you daily and He’s saturating you with Mercy and Grace.

Thanksgiving in a pandemic can be the most depressing one of our lifetimes if we allow it. However, when we remember we’ve been created to Praise; that God is Good to us and that His Mercy endures forever; we can and should be thankful.

A Man After God’s Own Heart (3)

1 Sam 16:11 And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all the young men here?” Then he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here.

This is installment #3 of A Man After God’s Own Heart.  It’s funny how we want to do one thing then God steps in and does what He wants.  I’d recently been looking at David’s Psalms and could not help seeing his heart being that of a praise and worship leader bringing everyone into the presence of God.  I thought it funny that it was as if he was created solely for that, but he did so much more.  Then I was struck with what Lucifer’s original position as “the anointed cherub,” could that anointing Satan forfeited be what was bestowed on David, who wrote most of the Bible’s Psalms? 

Then God stepped in.  Last week Bishop Jakes preached a messaged called “Know Your Role.”  Then it all clicked for me along with David’s WHIP; and his actions completely contradictory of the fall of Adam; David knew his role in whatever capacity and he served in each as unto God.  Each role was vital to him becoming the King and Servant of God who was so affectionately known as “A Man After God’s Own Heart.”

Let’s look at the many roles of David:

Shepherd: (1 Sam 16:11) Then he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.  This was the role in which we were first introduced to David.  Serving in his father’s fields tending to his sheep, goats and other animals that allowed his father Jesse to prosper.  However, what we know is that this job was not the most flattering or exciting job.  Jesse had 8 sons, yet David was the only one that didn’t even get into the room when Jesse and Samuel were looking to anoint a King.  We got a little since of what kind of shepherd David was, when hearing of his protecting the flock against a lion and a bear.  He was willing to put his life on the line to protect the sheep.  That trait would come in very handy latter in his life as leader of Israel.

Armor Bearer: (1 Sam 16:21) So David came to Saul and stood before him. And he loved him greatly, and he became his armorbearer.  This role in the bible, was a young valet that carried the armor and weapons of a warrior and in David’s case he directly served the King.  Many may be familiar with the armor bearer role in the church, a person that travels with and serves the man or woman of God who serves the church.  The are very close to them, they hear the conversations happening behind the scenes, they spend time with the person’s family, they see them at their highest and lowest because of the proximity.  One of the key roles of the armor bearer is the ability to be both invisible and unheard.  The text shows us that Saul the King loved David.  I believe this speaks volumes about just how well he served Saul and his ability to be trusted.   

Musician: (1 Sam 16:16) Let our master now command your servants, who are before you, to seek out a man who is a skillful player on the harp. And it shall be that he will play it with his hand when the distressing spirit from God is upon you, and you shall be well.  David played the harp and he was well known for that skills; so much so that the Kings servants recommended him (1 Sam 16:18 Then one of the servants answered and said, “Look, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a mighty man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; and the Lord is with him.”).  The lesson we learn from this role of David is that the gift of harp playing was his key to the palace.  In other words, Proverbs 18:16 A man’s gift makes room for him, And brings him before great men.  When we have a God given skill, we should work to develop it and use it to the glory of God.  The bible is clear, that your gift will make room for you.

Delivery Guy: I’m taking a little literary liberty regarding this role.  Jesse told his son David to take some food and supplies to his brothers that were out at war; (1 Sam 17:20) So David rose early in the morning, left the sheep with a keeper, and took the things and went as Jesse had commanded him.  I sarcastically called this role the delivery guy; I was originally going to use “uber eats,” but you get the jest.  Here it was, the anointed one was tasked with taking lunch to his brothers.  However, all things work together because as he was arriving to the stronghold of the troops, the Philistine giant was making his demands against the army of Israel.  This would spark two new roles that David had not signed up for when he left home on a simple task.  Sometimes our most tedious of assignments are the exact ones which lead us into our destiny.   

Salesman: (1 Sam 17:33-37) But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock.  David was disgusted by the arrogance of this Uncircumcised Philistine and would not stand by and not let it be addressed.  While everyone else may have been afraid (including his brothers), he would step up to represent the Lord’s Army.  But not everyone thought it would be possible so it would take a new skill.  David had to sale himself to the king; 1 Sam 17:33 And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth. David immediately pleaded his case to the point of success, as Saul would agree to allow David to battle Goliath.  This newfound skill of selling his accomplishments to the decision makers led him to maybe his greatest victory.   

Warrior: (1 Sam 17:40) Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine.  After his sales pitch was accepted, David then got himself ready for battle.  The King and others wanted to help him by loaning David their gear and weapons.  However, David understood something that is valuable for us all.  He could not walk in the shoes of others but need to use the gear God had given him (1 Sam 17:38 So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. 39 David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So, David took them off).  David would now become the ultimate warrior, as he aggressively attacked the menacing Philistine with his weapons of choice “So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him.”   

Prince: (1 Sam 18:20) Now Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved David. And they told Saul, and the thing pleased him. So Saul said, “I will give her to him, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” Therefore, Saul said to David a second time, “You shall be my son-in-law today.”  David’s amazing victory over Goliath changed everything from him.  He went from caring for sheep to living in palace as the King’s son.  He became a hero to the people of Israel, so much so that is made King Saul jealous.  One of the “spoils” for defeating Goliath, was forever living tax free, but also the promise to marry the King’s daughter.  Of course, David’s attitude for such a gift was maybe predictable “1 Sam 18:18 So David said to Saul, “Who am I, and what is my life or my father’s family in Israel, that I should be son-in-law to the king?That was the posture in which David served as Prince in the Kingdom. There is one thing I believe to be the most significant thing about David’s attitude and humility in all these roles.  He acted in each of these roles after being anointed the next King.  This was a span of over 20 years between being anointed by Samuel to becoming King.  David displayed tremendous humility by serving in multiple roles and in a few of them he personally served the one he would eventually replace.  David always knew his role; he did not attempt to take on the role of others nor did he arrogantly approach even the most humiliating of roles.  Because David knew his role, God could trust to put him in any position, because He would give God glory.  We can learn a great deal from David attitude towards serving.  It was in the many roles in which he humbly served; that he was certified and  qualified to serve in his final role as King (2 Sam 2:4) Then the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.

A Man After God’s Own Heart (2)

Psalm 51:1-4 Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.

Last time we did a deep dive into David’s WHIP (Worship, Humility, Integrity and Prayer), and how these powerful character traits made him known as a Man After God’s Own Heart. Today we will dig a little deeper into what causes David to stand out, by comparing the Man made in God’s own image to the one chasing His heart. In a unique way, it becomes the perfect way to practically understand the difference in what God is looking for from us.

Adam was God’s first man, created in perfection, by perfection, honestly for perfection. He was given everything we need to succeed; relationship with God, provisions from the Father, living in an environment of blessings. However, temptation shaded Adam’s heart with doubt about God’s best for him. This caused Adam to eat of the tree that God explicitly told him not to. Disobedience was the same sin that caused Saul to lose his Kingdom prior to David taking over. Let’s see how this played out.

Adam

1. Sinned & Exposed His Wife: Eve ate and gave to Adam Gen 3:6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Here Adam ate the fruit, knowing it was wrong. Maybe he saw that after Eve ate the fruit, she did not immediately drop dead and it caused more doubt since the serpent had already planted the seed. But here he failed his wife by not obeying God despite his own thoughts. It was clear what God said, and regardless of how we feel, think or even doubt, God’s Word is always true. This failure would cause them unnecessary exposure; Gen 3:7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.  They were naked and free before eating the fruit, but now that they know they are naked, they are experiencing shame, embarrassment and fear.  They’d never been exposed to any of this before.

2. Adam Hid From Confrontation: Gen 3:8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. God knew they had sinned and when He came to speak with them, Adam hid from the confrontation, because Truth always confronts a lie; therefor God’s mere presence was confrontation to the sin they’d just committed. Like many of us, rather than deal with our failure or mistakes we (like Adam) look to hide.

3. He blamed Eve: Gen 3:12 Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”  Adam provided an example that I have (and many men have) used at times when failing as a husband/father/man. His actions failed God, his family and himself. Ultimately, his blame removed his ability to demonstrate leadership.  When given the chance to step up, he blamed his wife; the very one God gave him to complete him. 

4. Adam Attempted to Cover His Exposure (Nakedness): Adam’s sin exposed he and Eve to their nakedness, which led them to cover themselves with fig leaves (and insufficient covering). Gen 3:7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.  We know what this is like, we cover our exposure, embarrassment, shame and hurt with insufficient coverings all the time. We don’t use fig leaves, but we do use alcohol, drugs, food, clothes or other material things. All can distract from the real issue, but they have never truly been able to cover any of the pain or embarrassment.  We know today that we are covered by the Blood of Jesus, and His blood is the only thing that is a sufficient covering.

5. His Actions Negatively Impacted His Lineage: It was from this point on that every man would be born into sin. His actions sentenced his offspring into eternal condemnation, any father would have to consider that failure (Gen 3:22-24).

To the contrary; David’s life and decisions provided substance that gives us an insight to God’s heart.  David was far from perfect, but the way he responded to God was with honor and worship are as close to perfect as we might get. 

David:

1. Sinned & Exposed Uriah’s Wife: 2nd Sam 11:3 So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house. David’s sin did not just impact his family, but it also exposed Uriah’s family and caused significant consequences.  David’s lust and subjection to what many consider to be the first pornographic viewing (watching Bathsheba bathing atop the house).  Pornography has exposed many men, their families as well as other families to the world of lust and more.  The damage that has been done to so many families has impacted generations.  When your sin impacts other’s you become a parasite to be around and harmful to others. In the case of David, it would cost Uriah his life.

2. When Confronted by God He Took Accountability: God sent Nathan to David with the assignment of confronting his sin and bloodshed. It was interesting, God had different relationships with Adam and David. Adam only knew God’s voice; David had many others, but Nathan’s voice was the authority that David heeded. When Nathan confronted David, his response differed from Adam’s response to God; he acknowledged (2nd Sam 12:13 So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”) and then he repented (Ps 51: 1-4 Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge).  Contrary to Adam’s confrontation, David stood up and took accountability; he did not point to others for blame but acknowledge that it was his failure and his responsibility alone.   

3. David Comforted the Wife He Failed:  (2nd Sam 12:24 Then David comforted Bathsheba his wife…).  David’s sin impacted not just Bathsheba the wife of Uriah but also their newborn son.  The loss of a child is every parents nightmare and here as a result of David’s sin, their son died.  But after this failure, David did not do what Adam did, blame his wife; but he comforted Bathsheba.  That word comforted is powerful; David consoled his wife, he empathized and sympathized with her.  A husband comforting his wife is not as simple as it might seem.  Comforting a wife must be learned for many men, it takes something that many men don’t strengthen.  Now imagine consoling your wife while feeling guilty and being in pain yourself.  This is a valuable lesson David is teaching.  Why?  Practically speaking, 80% of marriages end in divorce following the loss of a child.  David’s heart was to comfort his wife, the remained together during this devastating time and eventually had another son (one that would eventually follow David as King).   

4. David Exposed Himself and Worshiped: Like Adam, David’s sin left him exposed before God, Nathan, Bathsheba and even his servants.  2nd Sam 12:16 David therefore pleaded with God for the child, and David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. 17 So the elders of his house arose and went to him, to raise him up from the ground. But he would not, nor did he eat food with them.  David exposed himself to everyone around as he laid before the Lord in prayer and fasting on behalf of his sick child.  Historically, when David and others fasted, they tore their garments; the tearing of clothes occurs in sorrowful occasions but typically a King would not conduct himself in that manner.  However, it was the cloth David was cut from, as demonstrated when bringing the arc of the covenant back to Jerusalem where he praised the Lord right out of his clothes.  Here David was at his most desperate, yet when he knew his son had died; he got up; he cleaned up and he Worshiped (2 Sam 12:20 So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped..).  David did not hide during this time of exposure; and sometimes when a King is willing to go through his failure and pain openly many are able to learn from it. 

5. His Actions Produce Kings From His Lineage: 2nd Sam 12:24 Then David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in to her and lay with her. So she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. Now the Lord loved him.  Although David failed God, his family and potentially his kingdom; his response was endearing to God.  While his sin resulted in the death of his son; God eventually blessed him with an heir to his throne.  Solomon would become a king and God would give him honor and riches so that there would not be anyone like him among all kings.  God would also make the promise to David that there would always be a king from his lineage on the throne (2nd Sam 7).  That lineage would also include Jesus; enough said. 

David was truly a Man after God’s own heart and this was displayed in the great times like killing the giant Goliath as well as in the darkest times like this death of, he and Bathsheba’s son.  So, we looked at a comparison of the responses of Adam and David, when they failed.  We see that it lines up perfectly with David’s WHIP (Worship, Humility, Integrity and Prayer), that we discussed last time.  David demonstrated more character than the man that was created in the very image of God; and demonstrating yet another reason why he was known as A Man After God’s Own Heart.

A Man After God’s Own Heart

Acts 13:20 After that He gave them judges for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. 21 And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22 And when He had removed him, 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.’ 23 From this man’s seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior–Jesus

I truly believe every man wants to be great, and while being great means so many different things to different people, I believe it would be wise to hear the statement “A Man After God’s Own Heart,” and want to model your life after such a man.  David, the son of Jesse was the FIRST man which God selected to be king of Israel.  You are saying, that is not true; Saul was the first King.   I would agree with you that Saul was the first King, but he was not God’s choice.  You see God, himself wanted to be our one and only King (we’ll dig into that more later), however the children of Israel where not satisfied with His Kingship.  In 1 Samuel 8 we learn that the children of Israel desired to be “like all other nations,” when they requested that Samuel (who was the current Judge of Israel, a position given to the one God selected to be High Priest) give them a King to reign over them as his replacement.  This was displeasing to Samuel and God, so He let them have what they wanted in Saul.  It was literally only 5 chapters later that Samuel would inform Saul of his firing and soon replacement.  1 Samuel 13:14 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.”

Let’s dig into this a little bit more.  There are two Truths we should know about God’s leadership: 

  1. God Will Never Force His Leadership on Man:  God provided leadership for the children of Israel for nearly 500 years, which included His desired leadership structure (Judges) and method of selection (God).  However, Israel determined that they wanted new leadership and they wanted to be like other countries.  This was because their current leader, Samuel, whom God placed in charge, was getting old and he was allowing his sons to lead the people.  Samuel’s sons were dishonest, they did not follow their father’s example, taking bribes and perverting justice.  Now my intentions today were not to find any correlation between our current administration (2020) and Samuel’s corrupted sons, so I will not (even if it certainly seems like there are definite similarities).  Anyway, God knew that His leadership was the best for Israel, but since they did not want it, He allowed them to choose something different.  The same thing is true for us today, we need God’s leadership and following Him is the best thing for us.  However, when we desire to do something different or when our way seems better than His; God is willing to allow us to make that decision. 
    As a parent, there have been many of times when my kids did not agree with my leadership and desired something else, but I was not willing to oblige them, yet God is so gracious that He does not hold our ignorance against us.  God is Omnipotent (all powerful) and Omniscient (all knowing), so unlike me as a parent, He knows the future and has the power to change it.  Because of that His ways will always be better than ours, even if He will not force us to follow Him. 
  2. God’s Criteria is Vastly Different Than Man’s:  There was a vast difference between Man’s selection for King and God’s.  The Lord sought for Himself a man after His own heart.  God allowed Saul to be King, but God sought for Himself, a man to hold this important office.  The word sought, in Hebrew the meaning of this term is to search out (by any method, specifically in worship or prayer).  We look at resumes, credentials and letters of recommendations when filling a position, God searches the heart; and what he found in David was a man after His own heart.  So, what did God see in David’s heart that so moved Him to make David King?  Here is the amazing thing about God; we’ve talked about is Omniscience and it was prevalent in this story.  Samuel is informing Saul about God’s decision, even though his replacement was not anointed for some time after this declaration.  Saul did not meet God’s criteria, but he satisfied man’s desires, he looked the part.  Yet, the entire time God had already selected who His first King would ultimately be. 
    We would later learn that it was David’s WHIP that made such an awesome impact of God.  Of course, it would seem that I’m trying to be “Cool Dad” a little bit, using an old term to seem cool (my kids would call me out for it). A WHIP is a term that in politics refers to an official of a political party whose task is to ensure party discipline in a legislature.  So, this is a leader who is tagged with the responsibility of ensuring that everyone is following the same rules/laws.  But it has also simply come to represent a car. It has been said that it was used a long time ago when a whip would be used to steer the horse-drawn carriages.  Yet even more than a car, more of a status symbol, the coolness or expense of your car speaks of how one sees themselves or others.  Well what would I use that here, because it was the status of David’s heart that attracted God to him.  What then is David’s WHIP, and is it something that we should all desire?
    • Worship: David truly understood worship; the act of attributing reverent honor and homage to God.  He acknowledged all of God’s wonderful attributes, he received God’s love and told God how special he was.  If you don’t believe me, check out the numerous psalms that David drafted probably just after he’d sang them to the Lord; many we are familiar with and others are still to be explored.  David found out through worship, that it moved the heart of God, He is always on the lookout for it “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him (John 4:23).” 
    • Humility: The definition for humility is “freedom from pride or arrogance.”  That really captured David to a tee, he was willing to defer from pride even when he knew God had anointed him King.  Whether it was serving and honoring a father that did not deem him valuable or serving a King that he knew he would soon replace.  He was able to detach from pride and even when he was arrogant he was able to (95% of the time) immediately acknowledge his wrongs and be transparent with God (Psalm 51:4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight). 
    • Integrity: David’s character was at times impeccable; he trusted and served God with the utmost distinction.  He responded to God given authority with such humility and professionalism; so much so, that while Saul attempted to kill him every time, he had an opportunity to harm, he refrained because of God’s word.  David did the right thing even when nobody was around.  David knew that continual assessment to maintain his integrity (Psalm 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; 24 And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting). Allowing God to challenge him and share with him those areas we typically try to hide, that takes courage and David demonstrated this constantly. I wish we all had David’s Integrity.
    • Prayer:  One thing David understood was where his help came from, (Psalm 121… I will lift up my eyes to the hills– From whence comes my help? 2 My help comes from the Lord).  The key to this understanding, however, was David knew how to access this help, he communicated with God more than anyone besides Jesus.  David was constantly in conversation with God, whether seeking guidance, giving praise or even cursing his current situation.  David consistently talked to God; he believed that he moved the heart of God with his worship, and moved the hand of God with his praise, yet his prayer life made it all possible.  David models the value of a powerful prayer life, the consistent communication with God opened his heart to receive direction and favor for the people he was charged to lead. 

We cannot be David, but we can use David’s example to help us move to the next level of relationship with God.  If we want to be men after God’s heart, we need to inspect our WHIP. How is your Worship, Humility, Integrity and Prayer??

Happy Birthday Princess

Eleven years ago today, God gave us Grace.  Literally!!   My Daughter (named for God’s Grace) was born and has blessed our family’s life tremendously.  Her first decade has been filled with loving us greatly, filled with compassion for others and a heart to treat people better than she herself is often treated.  It is an amazing trait, characteristic, gift that only Jesus could give.  She has been the epitome of God’s Unmerited Favor; Grace.
While she is certainly not perfect, when she is flowing in the love of Christ, she’s given His perfect love to us all…and we are grateful!!  In celebration of her Special Day; I want her to know how special she is and just how much her Daddy Loves her….. Happy Birthday Princess.  

Get Thee Behind Me 2020

Matthew 16:21 From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. 22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” 23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.

I don’t know about you, but 2020 has been brutal.  Do you remember Watch Night Services all over the country on New Year’s Eve 2019?  I do, 2020 Vision; 2020 Provisions; Moving into the Land of Plenty in 2020; Reaching My Destiny in 2020.  Most could not wait until 2020; but I tell you that it has been difficult to see any of those through what we’ve witnessed in the first 8 months of the year. An unseen virus (COVID 19) that has taken more than 183,000 lives in this country. It decimated a dynamic US economy and record number of people now unemployed. Schools shutdown; businesses closed; the whole world went into quarantine. For days, weeks, and even months families remained inside relegated to maybe a grocery store. How could this be a prosperous year when all these things are happening??

If you are Black in America, this has been a devastatingly tragic year.  Black people have been dying at 3 times the amount of everyone else.  Young black men being gunned down both by Police and vigilantes attempting to take the law into their own hands.  Thankfully these acts were captured on video and shown globally; which has led to outrage and protest all over the world for social injustice, rivaling only what was seen back in the 60’s.  For the first time in history the condemning and disgust of racism and inequality has been shared by more people than ever before.  As if that was not enough, we’ve seen the deaths of very prominent Black Icons in Congress, Sports and Entertainment; the great John Lewis, a trailblazer for civil rights; the relentless Kobe Bryant, a role model for so many; Big John Thompson Jr., Legendary Coach (First Black Coach to Win a NCAA Championship opening the door for all of the Black Head Coaches today) and most recently the incomparable Chadwick Boseman who portrayed Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, James Brown and of course King T’Challa of Black Panther fame.  With all the death in the Black Community I can personally tell you I’m so ready for this period to end. 

The reason I selected this scripture though is because Peter while hearing what Jesus said to all His disciples, but Peter could only see the negative and its impact on him; while not being able to see God’s purpose filled plan for the redemption of the world.  22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”  Peter cracks me up because I see a lot of his Sanguine in myself.  I can see how he brazenly pulled Jesus to the side to tell him that he knew better than the Christ.  I know that I’ve been that arrogant before, how about you? 

Anyway, it is Jesus’ response that I want to focus on today.  But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.He ordered Peter behind him, not physically but Peter’s influence.  He could not be moved by what Peter was saying because it would negatively impact His purpose.  Which would have ultimately impacted all our futures.  Jesus call Peter an offense; the term means a snare or a stumbling block.  I believe that if we are not careful, we will allow the death, injustice and economic downfall to hinder us from the purpose of God during this time.  What is the purpose of all this you ask?  I do not know, but what I do know is that there has been some incredible growth that has happened during this year. 

Whether it be the time I’ve had to spend with my family, certainly seeing them more due to working from home as opposed to being gone and traveling often; or getting to know my teenagers a bit better especially at a time when they are in high school soon to be out of the house, or my little person who is no longer little but going into middle school.  Even the time spent with my wife being able to appreciate much of what she does every day and also dealing with the areas of improvement need in order for us to continue growing together.  Probably the most import has been me being as my son’s latest album (found on all platforms) is titled, “True to Myself.”  Dealing with the issues that I have been able to ignore because of the business of life and ability to mask when so many others are around.  Yet, when you’re in isolation, they must be dealt with.  These are all positive things that have come out of this tumultuous time we find ourselves in. 

I’m pretty sure that because we have not been mindful of the things of God, we’ve been exposed to the may ugly truths that our country and world have been experiencing.  I will be honest 2020 has made me sad, furious, empathetic, emotional, helpless and even rageful.  But as much as I am ready for it to leave, to just go and be over, I’ve learned that what I want most out of the is to learn what are in God’s plan for me, as well as what things God wants to purge from me.  I hope that you to will at some point be able to look beyond the hurt and the pain to see God.  Just as God was not in all the chaos when taking to Elijah; “1 Kings 19:12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice,” He was in the still small voice.  Are you able to hear the still small voice over the hurt and pain of 2020?

It’s Time to Lose Your Mind

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God

We’ve been living thru a pandemic for the past 5 months now.  For most of that time, if you’re like me and my family, you’ve spent it in quarantine.  A quarantine as many now know, is a state, period, or place of isolation in which people that have arrived from elsewhere or been exposed to infectious or contagious disease are placed.  This strict isolation imposed to prevent the spread of disease; however, it has produced tremendous challenges for everyone. 

Some people have used the time to thrive, to be creative and find new things to do themselves or with family.  Many people have attempted to do just that, but after 5 months (some after one month) have just about gone crazy.  They feel like the famous DMX song “I’m About to Lose My Mind; Up in Here.”  I contend that we need to all be of that mindset.  But before we allow the pandemic and other chaos around us right now cause us to feel like we are losing our minds; why not go all in?  We need to lose our natural minds and take on the Mind of Christ.  After all; “1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” 

In order to have the mind of Christ, we need our minds renewed, at least according to Paul in his letter to the Corinthian Church.  If not renewed, our minds will conform to the mindset of the world; or a mixture of many differing worldly mindsets.  And when left to exercise our own thoughts, Paul said “Romans 1:21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened,” we go dark.  Let’s look at the three steps to having the mind of Christ, laid out in Romans 12.

  1. Stop, You’re Going the Wrong Way: And do not be conformed to this world.  Paul beseeches (an urgent and fervent request) the reader in the first verse to take heed of what he had to say.  What was so important?  Stop, You’re Going the Wrong Way!!!  The word he uses is conform, which means to comply with rules, standards, or laws; goes further to state behave according to socially acceptable conventions or standards.  Most people don’t know this, but we did not always have cell phones.  There was once a time when traveling in a car, you had to actually look at a map, prior to leaving or having a passenger in the car follow along with a map to ensure the driver was actually moving in the right direction.  We’ve become so accustom to our readily accessible phone GPS that tells is moment by moment directions, which quickly inform us if we go off the corresponding track to our destination.  Previously, we could plan and plan but if the navigator (passenger in charge of the map) took his eye of the map for a few moments too long; the drive might loudly hear “Stop, You’re Going the Wrong Way!!!”  Paul was acting as the Navigator for Christians both then and now.  He is yelling Stop; because many followers of Christ were complying to the wrong rules, they were behaving as was accepted by everyone else, but they were going in wrong direction, away from Christ.  Though they thought they were doing the write thing or at least the thing that would get the most approval from everyone around them.  Jesus did not conform, as a matter of fact He and His Disciples were easy to target, because the did not do what everyone else was doing.  It is time to turn around; be different stop following the trends.  Stand Out   
  2. Re-Newbut be transformed by the renewing of your mind:  The way to Stand Out; to turn and go in the right direction, is to transform.  The driver would have to pull over and re address the map to figure out what they now needed to do in order to get back on the correct path.  This would require a new route.  That is what renewal is; Webster’s defines renew as “to resume (an activity) after an interruption.”  Conforming to the ways of the world, is the interruption, to having a mind of Christ.  When we find our walk interrupted, we must make a transformation, by the renewing of your mind: I like to take the simple meaning out of a word and to renew, or Re-New, means to continually re-new or making new.  Every day, reading God’s Word, spending time with Jesus and walking in obedience to God’s direction.  This must happen continually, because the natural mind needs help to submit to the mind of Christ in us a believer.  However, there is an outstanding benefit to renewing our minds. 
  3. Live in the GAP: that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God: When we renew our minds and take on the Mind of Christ, we are able to live in the GAP.  The Good, Acceptable and Perfect Will of God.  What does that look like?  It will often result in living in a peace that passes all understanding (Phil 4:7); when chaos is all around and you should go crazy, but God gives you a calm that makes no sense to the people around you.  It can also look like God’s grace given at the perfect time; providing for a need without any notice (Phil 4:19).  Or maybe it is just God speaking a Word that may not change your situation immediately, but it changes the way you view the situation (Luke 5:5).  As we renew our minds, our lives become transformed and we live, see and hear God in a new way.  We dwell in the perfect will of God, and that is the BEST place to be.

When the Truth Hurts

John 8:32 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Here we have one of the more famous scriptures in the Bible; yet today I’m seeing it so much differently, almost as if I’d never heard it before. I’m used to seeing this as evangelistic verse that explains the process of a non believer coming to know the truth of Christ for the first time. Or when a true believer learns a new understanding of God’s promise to us. Then that understanding becomes a transformational point in their life.

However, today what I see is how knowing the truth can set you free; and yet that very freedom can reveal hurt and pain you’ve inflicted on others. So the first Truth that is hopefully learned today is that regardless of where we are in our walk, we can still come to know The Truth.

Secondly, we need to keep (continuously; sustained) believing in and abiding in Jesus. The text tells us that Jesus was talking to the Jews, but not just any Jews but only the ones that were believers. Does this mean that God does not talk to non-believers, of course not He speaks to everyone. But He certainly chooses to have a more regular dialogue with those of us who believe (we call it prayer). Jesus explained that those who dwell on God or keep their mind’s on the Word (meditate); are disciples and know The Truth.

Lastly, Jesus tells us that once the Truth is known, it will make us Free. In my case recently the Truth was made known and what it revealed was my failure as a husband. Now while I knew I was not the perfect husband, I never realized the level of hurt and pain I’d been causing my wife for years, because I failed to “Put Her First; Above Myself,” like Christ Loved the Church (Eph 5:25).

You know how the buzz words for so many people these days is live your truth. The problem with that is, if everyone has a different truth then we’ve got billions of truths to figure out. However, only by knowing The Truth, can we be set Free. In my mind, I was not great but I was doing OK; in reality I was causing significant hurt/pain and resentment.

Now I titled this “When the Truth Hurts,” because The Truth; Jesus Christ (John 14:6), made me free by by revealing the Truth to me. Because He set me free I now need to deal with the Hurt I caused. We were recently, attending a virtual marriage conference, and a Kevin Plank quote was used; “trust is built in drops and lost in buckets.” I will have to be like Nehemiah and begin rebuilding our trust. So when the truth hurts, it’s time to rebuild and since it takes a heck of a lot of drops to fill the knocked over buckets. There’s a Ton of Work to Do; and I cannot do it myself…..But God is Able; actually More Than Able (Eph 3:20)!!

A Son

Isaiah 9:6
For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given
.

Today I have the pleasure of celebrating the 15th year I’ve had with my youngest Son. He was made in the image of God, but looks a lot like my Father in Law. He’s outgoing like me but deep feeling and motivated like my wife. For the last 15 years he has made me laugh, smile, cry and even throw things. Yet, just the mention of his name sparks joy in my heart. I love being a father because it gives me a chance to attempt to show him a portion of the Love that God always shows me. This day is still sweetly bitter because as I celebrate his birth, it is a year closer to the day he leaves to begin his own trek towards Fatherhood. On August 2nd, 2005 unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given.

Happy Birthday Son!!