We began our Summer Series on Sunday, exploring the life of David, to learn from his ups and downs how to respond to the ups and downs of our own daily lives. I would greatly appreciate your letting me know what you think about this Series. Your input is very valuable in helping me know what is helpful to you.
A Heart for God – to Choose
On Sunday, we saw why David was chosen by God to lead his people – because David had a heart for God; and how God can choose and use all people for His purposes, regardless of who or “what” we are. (1 Samuel 13:14; 16:1-13)
- Our lives are shaped and transformed by the lives of others. Our Summer Series looks at the life of a man who offers us encouragement and guidance by the good he did; the mistakes he made; how he responded to each; and how God worked in his life. Above all, David (despite his faults and failures) offers to lead us to a deeper relationship with God, by growing a heart for God!
- David’s name is mentioned more than any other person in the Bible (1115 times in the Old Testament; 58 in the New). Yet, he began his life as a lowly shepherd; his great-grandmother was a homeless woman from an enemy tribe; he was a warrior, traitor, poet, adulterer, robber, murderer. He had terrible problems with his children and his marriage. David wept and laughed, cried out in despair and danced for joy…. And through it all, God never gave up on David – because David never gave up on God, because he had a heart for God.
- This means that whatever we have done or will do in our lives, David has been there, and can show us how to have a heart for God in all our life circumstances.
- David came on the scene when Israel was in economic, political, social, and military turmoil. Its first King, Saul, had begun to obey his own laws instead of the laws of God, with the predictable results. So God rejected Saul, and sent His Priest Samuel to Bethlehem to the family of Jesse to anoint a new king that God had selected.
- Jesse presents his seven older sons, beginning with Eliab, who was handsome and tall. But God rejected them all, saying, “The Lord does not look at outward appearance, but at the heart!” Samuel learns that Jesse has one more son, David, who is tending the sheep. Samuel demands to see David. When he arrives, God says, “This is the one”; and Samuel anoints him.
- We focused on two truths from this opening look into the life of David and the relationship with God that he offers us. The First Truth is this: What matters to God is what is in our hearts, or, more precisely, who is in our hearts. God tells Samuel: “The Lord seeks a man who is after his own heart. The Lord looks at the heart.” And in Hebrew, the heart is not the center of emotions, it is the center of our being that directs everything that we think, say, and do.
- The God who created us does not care about how handsome, beautiful, rich, smart, athletic, successful we are. What God cares about is whether He and His ways are in the center of our being, directing everything we do – the ways God gave the Israelites: “Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind”; the ways Jesus gave us: Love; compassion; forgiveness; generosity; kindness.
- David later laid out in his Psalms (at least 73) what it means to have a heart for God, including Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd… He leads me in path of righteousness… Surely goodness, mercy (other translations say ”kindness and love”) will follow me every day of my life….” The question is whether this is what is in our hearts, directs our lives every day.
- On many days, this is not what is in my heart and is not in the hearts of many others. Other gods lay claim on our hearts. They tell us that what matters is appearance, popularity, money, intelligence, athletic talent, “success” – the list goes on and on… This is what Jesse cared about. He presented his “accomplished sons”; did not think David worthy of coming to the ceremony.
- The challenge for us is not to be like Jesse. We praise our children for their appearance, popularity, and success. It is certainly good to praise our children for making good use of their God-given talents. But are we sending the message that what matters most, what we want most for them, is to have a heart for God, for God to be their shepherd every day?
- This is an urgent question for our church and all churches. A recent survey of high school students revealed that a large majority feel defined by performance on tests and hyper-sexual and hyper-materialistic peer pressure. And it is no wonder, since another recent survey showed what is happening in our homes on an average daily basis: 2 hours and 13 minutes of television; 1 hour and 6 minutes of leisure; 16 minutes of church, religion, and helping others. This does not reflect families with a heart for God. What a difference it would make if these numbers were reversed in our homes, which is what would happen if we had a heart for God. This is what God is seeking when He comes to our homes.
- Which leads us to our Second Truth: God comes to us to choose us and use us, no matter how popular, rich, intelligent, educated, successful we are. And when He uses us, we are blessed and a blessing to others!
- God chose David, a common shepherd boy, by one criteria – He had a heart for God. And God chose David to be a king to lead His people to have hearts for Him, to be led by Him as their shepherd every day. God wants you and me to have hearts for God, so that He can choose us and use us to bring others to have hearts for Him. Can you imagine anything more important in your life than that?
- We have seen these two truths of David lived out in our congregation in the life of Amy Linderman who passed away two weeks ago. Her story is too long to repeat here (listen on our website), but, in summary, Amy, an “ordinary farm girl” had a heart for God (Her words: “I love the Lord”). Her heart for God led her to change the lives of thousands as a teacher for 40 years; and offer the Lord to them by her love and by her requiring them to learn a Psalm of David: “I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord…who keeps my life….”
- We, too, can be blessed and be a blessing if we, like David, have a heart for God – and let Him choose us and use us….
Connection for the Week: Read Psalm 23 at the beginning of every day this week; ask God to come into your heart and lead you as your shepherd to offer goodness, mercy, kindness, and love; and go and do as He leads you.