What’s Your P.I.P. — Your Personal Improvement Plan?

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

Do you currently have anyone in your life sharpening you? Do you have people on your Personal Development Team? Are there those who are willing to call you out in order to call you up? The Bible teaches that if you are going to win at life, if you are going to grow into Christ-like character, and if you are going to be a person of impact, it will not take place apart from the help of others—close friends that God will use to sharpen you.

Going Deep // Focus: 1 Chronicles 27:32-34

Jonathan, David’s uncle, was a wise counselor to the king, a man of great insight, and a scribe. Jehiel the Hacmonite was responsible for teaching the king’s sons. Ahithophel was the royal adviser. Hushai the Arkite was the king’s friend. Ahithophel was succeeded by Jehoiada son of Benaiah and by Abiathar. Joab was commander of the king’s army.

Jackie Robinson was the first African-American to play major league baseball. And he paid a heavy price for breaking the color barrier. He faced hatred everywhere he played; fastballs at his head; runners sliding into second base with their spikes up; racial slurs would be hurled from the opposing dugouts as well as the crowds.

One day in his home stadium in Brooklyn, he committed an error. The fans began to abuse him and Jackie just stood there at second base, humiliated. Then something dramatic happened. A southern white man who played shortstop, Pee Wee Reese, came over and stood next to him. He put his arm around Jackie and faced the crowd. The fans grew quiet. Robinson later said that one act of friendship, that arm around his shoulder saved his career. That’s a true friend!

That reminds me of the definition Henry Durbanville gave of a true friend. He said, “A friend is the first person who comes in when the whole world goes out.”

Friendship is one of the greatest gifts God has given us. You and I were not meant to do life alone. God has woven into the very fabric of who we are the need for community, to belong to a family. He has designed us so that we would thrive in relationship with others. That is why Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 famously says,

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

The Bible definitely calls us to choose friends who will in turn call out the best in us and challenge us to be all that God wants us to be—who will serve, if you will, on our Personal Development Team. We are told in one of the most famous verses on friendship, Proverbs 27:17 (Message),

“You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.”

King David surrounded himself with people like that—Jonathan counseled him, Jehiel helped him with his family, Hushai was his close friend, Ahithophel (before he messed up) was his political advisor, Jehoiada provided a priestly influence and Joab protected him. These men helped David become and stay great!

Do you have anyone in your life sharpening you right now? Do you have people on your Personal Development Team? The Bible says you need people like that. If you are gong to win at life, if you are going to grow into the character of Christ, it will not take place apart from people—close friends that God will use to sharpen you.

I hope you have someone like that, or will get someone like that, because there’s not a one of us who should go through life without that kind of friend.

Going Deeper With God: Perhaps you would say, “But I can’t seem to find friends like you’ve described, so where do I begin?” First, you are not alone in your experience. Many people would say the same, so don’t feel that you are not worthy of close friends. Second, ask God. He made you for friendships, so he can provide them. Seriously, just ask and keep asking, because I just happen to believe that God still answers prayer. And third, make sure you are the kind of friend to others that you would want to have. As someone has humorously but correctly said, “the best vitamin for friendships is B-1.”

The Sacred Duty of Serving Behind the Scenes

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

It’s unlikely that you will ever hear a sermon where the long lists of names in the Bible are given any mention, but don’t forget that by their inclusion in scripture they have been “given their props” in God’s eternal record. Furthermore they have been listed for us as a reminder that it takes a team to do the work of the Kingdom. For sure, there are leading characters on every Kingdom team, but it’s still a team, made up mostly of unnamed, unsung heroes who are typically forgotten—except by God. God never forgets! He appreciates the contributions of each and every one—even the lesser lights—and for them, he has stored up indescribable recognition and incomparable reward in the Kingdom to come.

Going Deep // Focus: 1 Chronicles 26:6-8, 12-13

Obed-edom’s son Shemaiah had sons with great ability who earned positions of great authority in the clan. Their names were Othni, Rephael, Obed, and Elzabad. Their relatives, Elihu and Semakiah, were also very capable men. All of these descendants of Obed-edom, including their sons and grandsons—sixty-two of them in all—were very capable men, well qualified for their work….These divisions of the gatekeepers were named for their family leaders, and like the other Levites, they served at the house of the Lord. They were assigned by families for guard duty at the various gates, without regard to age or training, for it was all decided by means of sacred lots.

So just who was Obed-Edom, and Othni, Rephael, Obed, and Elzabad, and the other sixty-two of their clan? We don’t really know, except that they were gatekeepers in the house of the Lord—the “tent” that King David set up in Jerusalem to centralize Israel’s worship of Almighty God.

We don’t know much about Obed-Edom or any of the other people the chronicler names in this chapter. And this isn’t the first time he has treated us to such a list. He is famous for that, which is why his book is called Chronicles. But why force us to read all these mostly meaningless names?

Simply this: Both the chronicler and King David, who supplied these names, knew very well that the work of administrating the country, and running the house of God, couldn’t have done it without the help of a lot of loyal and skilled people. If David were accepting an Oscar, he would be up there for thirty minutes listing off all the people he would like to thank—these names and many others mentioned in this book.

It is highly likely that you will never hear a sermon or attend a Bible study where these names are given any mention, but don’t forget that they have been given their props in the eternal Word of God. My point is, it takes a team to do the work of the Kingdom. For sure, there are leading characters on the Kingdom team, but it’s still a team, mostly of unnamed, unsung heroes who are typically forgotten—except by God.

God never forgets. He appreciates the contributions of each and every one—even the lesser lights. And he has stored up indescribable recognition and rewards for them in the Kingdom to come. And the chronicler’s mention of them here is an important reminder to us of their contribution to their efforts and of their value to God.

Maybe you are one of those unnamed, unsung heroes who goes unnoticed by everyone else, but your faithfulness is noticed by God. Perhaps you are an Obed-Edom, or Othni, Rephael, Obed, and Elzabad, or even one the other sixty-two of their clan who didn’t even get their name in the movie credits that roll on the film long after the audience has left the theater, and you wonder if you really matter. My response to you is, “Yes, you matter. We wouldn’t be effective in building God’s Kingdom without you! It takes a team—and no matter what you do, you are an integral part of that team!”

But more important than my acknowledgement is God’s. He has written your name in a book, too—one that’s even better than 1 Chronicles. It’s the Book of Life. And God himself will celebrate your name all eternity long. How’s that for recognition.

So just be faithful doing what you’re doing. Your day is coming!

Going Deeper With God: Offer this prayer of gratitude to the Lord for the unsung heroes with which he has blessed your life: “Lord, I thank you for all of the unsung heroes who have quietly but faithfully built your Kingdom throughout my life. [Name some of them.] They are now gone, and have mostly been forgotten on this planet, but they are not forgotten by you. They have joined the unending list of others long gone but not forgotten by you. They are the spiritual fathers and mothers of others who now serve in your eternal kingdom quietly but faithfully. Father, bless each one. Wrap your arms around them and remind them again that you noticed. And say ‘thank you’ for me.”

Now That’s Great Worship!

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

When the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been preached in the worship set, there you have had a great worship set. Martin Luther was right: “Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise. The gift of language combined with the gift of song was given to man that he should proclaim the Word of God through music.” If your minister of music accomplishes that week after week, you are fortunate; you have a minister cut from the same cloth as Asaph.

Going Deep // Focus: 1 Chronicles 25:1

David and the army commanders then appointed men from the families of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun to proclaim God’s messages to the accompaniment of lyres, harps, and cymbals.

In the broader sense, worship is about offering all of our lives before God as an offering, which is how the Apostle Paul clearly spelled it out in Romans 11:36-12:1,

For everything comes from God alone. Everything lives by his power, and everything is for his glory. To him be glory evermore. In light of that, I plead with you to give your body to God— your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and let it be a living sacrifice, holy—the kind he can accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask? (Paraphrased)

In the narrow sense, we mostly think of worship as what happens in our corporate gatherings as we lift music and singing to God. That is an accurate but partial explanation of worship. Now what we need to keep in mind is that the narrow sense of worship must be defined and controlled by the broader sense of worship. Namely, the offering of our lives and praise is not primarily to make us feel good, though it does, but it is the logical response to God for who he is and all that he has done. Worship is all about our response to God. As Paul said, “Everything is from him and through him and for him.”

Since that is true, I would argue that praise and worship services ought to be designed with a ruthless commitment to fulfilling that statement. It ought not to be so much about what moves us, or what the latest, greatest song or lighting technique or creative technological or theatrical movements are. Nothing wrong with making effort to be contemporary, mind you, so long as it is committed to being “by him, though him and for him.” Worship ought to be about proclaiming what God wants to hear and to be heard.

David got that right, and he actually codified it for all time by writing it into the job description of the first organized worship leaders of the temple era. He charged Asaph, the senior worship pastor, to ensure that his associates led the music and singing in such a way that what was done “proclaimed God’s messages.” Now that is the standard for judging any worship set as great. Did it proclaim God’s messages?

It is my sense that too much of modern worship in America misses the boat on that. The lyrics are light on good theology and the music is good mostly for entertainment sake—it’s hip, it’s edgy, it shows off the talents of the musicians, it makes you want to move your feet. Again, nothing wrong with that, but if the primary focus doesn’t meet the prophetic benchmark—proclaiming God’s messages—it falls short.

When the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been preached in the worship set, there you had have a great worship service. If your minister of music accomplishes that week after week, you are fortunate; you have a minister cut from the same cloth as Asaph.

If that is the kind of worship leader your church has, make sure you show your appreciation for her or him. Give them the greatest compliment any musician in the house of God could ever receive: “you helped me hear God’s message today!”

Here is to the modern day Asaphs in the body of Christ: May your tribe increase!

Going Deeper With God: Before you “confront” your worship leader with this devotional, first pray for them until God has transformed your own heart with the broader definition of worship: that you are offering all of your life every day to God as a pleasing sacrifice.

Not A Lot About Lots

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

How great is it that you no longer have to put decisions for your life in the hands of a small group of leaders who roll the dice to see which way to send you! Not that you should exclude spiritual leaders from key decisions, but God has deposited his very Living Spirit in you, and he expects you to engage him in matters great and small. God will speak to you and direct you if you will nurture that relationship. And that, my friend, says a lot about what God thinks of you.

Going Deep // Focus: 1 Chronicles 24:30-31

These were the descendants of Levi in their various families. Like the descendants of Aaron, they were assigned to their duties by means of sacred lots, without regard to age or rank. Lots were drawn in the presence of King David, Zadok, Ahimelech, and the family leaders of the priests and the Levites.

This particular historical section of scripture describes in great detail how King David brilliantly organized Israel’s worship. Hundreds of years prior, Moses provided the blueprints for the physical construction of the tabernacle—the tent of meeting—as well as the details of how worship would take place through a system of sacrifices and offerings administered by priest and Levites. Now that centuries had passed, Israel’s place of worship was transitioning to a permanent home in Jerusalem (the tabernacle was in Gideon, but would later be replaced by Solomon’s temple), and the number of priests and Levites had grown exponentially, so a refined and expanded system was critically necessary.

And King David, leader extraordinaire, singer and songwriter, and passionate worshiper of Yahweh, set to work reforming Israel’s worship. One of the things he needed to reorganize was the rotation of the thousands of priests and Levites who existed, literally, to physically serve in the temple. His challenge was how to squeeze in so many of these ministers of worship. So in fairness to all, his senior leadership team casts lots.

Casting lots? How could such an arbitrary activity be fair? Wasn’t this practice, which is used in more than one place in scripture, nothing more than depending on randomness to provide direction? Why would the God of Israel, who demanded strict obedience to his law, which he had made patently clear, allow this luck-of-the-draw process for determining important matters?

We don’t know for sure, but we do know that God is perfect in all his ways. We also know, in a general sense, that what is explained in scripture is not necessarily the equivalent of what God excuses. Given that, we can make some educated guesses about the casting of lots. Here is what the Quest Study Bible says about the process in it’s commentary on Proverbs 18:18:

How did God work through such an arbitrary process? Casting lots was a means used to settle disputed questions. In the absence of clear moral justification for deciding one way or another, this ancient equivalent of “flipping a coin” resolved the matter quickly and decisively. Though the means might appear arbitrary, participants fully believed God was involved: the lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord (Proverbs 16:33). God could certainly have directed the results of any such process.

The Israelites were fully committed to the belief that God controlled everything, even their methodologies for discerning his will. That is why you find several instances of casting lots in scripture, where a variety of instruments for finding out what God thought regarding an important matter are employed—sticks, marked pebbles and the Urim and Thummim. (Exodus 28:30)

Sounds weird, and a bit superstitious, but keep in mind that God never condemned the practice, and he seemed to actually sanction it. (Leviticus 16:8, Proverbs 18:8) Keep in mind also that the final recorded instance of lot casting was in the New Testament (Acts 1:16), where the Apostles used it to determine who would take Judas’s slot on the team of Apostolic leaders. Following that final instance, the Holy Spirit fell on the believers, and from that point on, they had an immediate and sure link to the mind of God. Going forward, God expected his people to discern his will from Spirit-directed prayer used in conjunction with wise counsel of the spiritually mature and the preaching of the Word.

Now what does that mean for you today? In a general sense, how great is it that you no longer have to put decisions for your life in the hands of a small group of leaders who roll the dice to see which way to send you! Not that you should exclude spiritual leaders from key decisions, but God has deposited his very Living Spirit in you, and he expects you to engage him in matters great and small. God will speak to you and direct you if you will nurture that relationship. And that, my friend, says a lot about what God thinks of you.

In a narrower sense, as it relates to this passage, casting lots to determine the rotation of temple workers showed how much God cared about details that might otherwise have seemed irrelevant to the hundreds of thousands of Israelites who were neither priests nor Levites. Why would they even care? But God wanted to make sure everybody within the Levitical calling got a chance to serve. What that shows us is that God is engaged in our lives, even in the smallest details, and he is fair. And a God who is engaged, and fair is a good God—and that is the same God who is involved in your life even as we speak.

We don’t know a lot about lots, but we do know that God cares a lot about us!

Going Deeper With God: Speaking of discerning God’s will for our lives, take some time today to refresh your understanding of one of the clearest passages in the Bible on this matter, Proverbs 3:5-6.

Make Music In Your Heart

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

Might I suggest that maybe you, too, have a song in your heart? In fact, if you truly appreciate what Jesus has done for you, you should. So why not make music in your heart, at least to the Lord? Perhaps you should even begin to record your songs. You see, what is in your heart—the love and gratitude that is there toward God—is a song in unrecorded form. No one other than God and you may read it, but the God part of that combination is reason enough for you to write it. And who knows, but maybe at some point in your life, or after your life ends, others may pick up what you have done and be inspired to make music in their own heart with the song that God has put there.

Going Deep // Focus: 1 Chronicles 23:1-5

When David was old and full of years, he made his son Solomon king over Israel. He also gathered together all the leaders of Israel, as well as the priests and Levites. The Levites thirty years old or more were counted, and the total number of men was thirty-eight thousand. David said, “Of these, twenty-four thousand are to be in charge of the work of the temple of the Lord and six thousand are to be officials and judges. Four thousand are to be gatekeepers and four thousand are to praise the Lord with the musical instruments I have provided for that purpose.”

David was quite the renaissance man, and that was way before the Renaissance Age. His skill, knowledge and artistry were well known among his peers, and his renown for matters of leadership, warcraft, musicianship and spirituality continue even to this day. No wonder he was and is the most loved king in the Bible.

Among David’s many achievements, none is greater than the contribution he made to the songbook of the human race, the Psalms. David was a songwriter par excellence, and a choreographer of immense creativity—he was able to direct skilled musicians in putting together the worship services of the temple—and a skilled craftsman of fine musical instruments. David’s all around artistic accomplishments are unmatched, even to this day.

That is mostly because David had a song in his heart. Music was not something that was manufactured; it was organic to him. When he was just a boy, he began playing a harp, writing songs, and performing to the flock of sheep over which his father had given him charge. David’s worship bubbled out from his core to the Lord, and over much time, in long stretches of solitude, refined by circumstances in which he met God’s deliverance, the sweet singer of Israel honed his craft. He became greater and greater as a singer, songwriter and musician. And while we will never truly know the expanse of David’s artistry, we do have the book of Psalms that surely impresses us with the brilliance of this man!

So other than great appreciation for the multifaceted talents of David, what should this mean to you? How should you apply this to your life? Might I suggest that maybe you, too, have a song in your heart? In fact, if you truly appreciate what Jesus has done for you, you should. So why not make music in your heart, at least to the Lord? The Apostle Paul says that is actually a function of the Spirit-filled life:

Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:18-20)

So with the Spirit’s help, at the very least, why not start with writing down your song? A song? Yes, what is in your heart—the love and gratitude that is there toward God—is a song in unrecorded form. So record it; write it down. Every day, or once a week, or at some regular interval, commit to writing down you thoughts in journal form. No one other than God and you may read it, but the God part of that combination is reason enough for you to write it. And who knows, but maybe at some point in your life, or after your life ends, others may pick up what you have done and be inspired to make music in their own heart with the song that God has put there.

What might seem like a silly activity could actually be what inspires even more worship to the God who truly deserves much more than what we have given.

Going Deeper With God: Today, record your first song. Hey, at least it’s a start!

Don’t Surrender Your Child’s Faith To Chance

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

Christian parents make a grave mistake when they take a hands-off approach to passing on their faith. “We will let our child decided for herself” is akin to a death sentence to that child’s potential walk with God. According to Proverbs 22:6, parents have a calling to direct their children in the way they should go, so that when they are of age, they won’t detour from it. Better than your own earthly accomplishments is passing the baton well to the next generation. It is your sacred duty, so do it well, for it will be an eternal accomplishment!

Going Deep // Focus: 1 Chronicles 22:11-13

“Now, my son, may the Lord be with you and give you success as you follow his directions in building the Temple of the Lord your God. And may the Lord give you wisdom and understanding, that you may obey the Law of the Lord your God as you rule over Israel. For you will be successful if you carefully obey the decrees and regulations that the Lord gave to Israel through Moses. Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid or lose heart!

David didn’t leave Solomon’s path to faith in God up to chance, nor did he let his son alone decide this important matter for himself. Christian parents make a grave mistake when they take a hands-off approach to passing on their faith. “We will let our child decided for herself” is akin to a death sentence to that child’s potential walk with God. According to Proverbs 22:6, all parents have a calling to direct their children in the way they should go, so that when they are of age, they won’t detour from it.

Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.

David was the paragon of baton passing for parents of faith. He clearly knew God’s will for Solomon’s life and boldly spoke that prophetic vision for his son’s future into his heart. David wasn’t a unique parent in his ability to discern that about Solomon, he was simply being a good steward of the child that God gave him. And that should be the case with all parents. It doesn’t require special prophetic abilities, but it does take diligent parenting—staying close to God and the child for the purpose of discerning God’s path for that child.

The setting for this story is David’s instructions to the young Solomon on the duty he would have to build a glorious temple to the Lord that would not only be a fitting house for the King of kings, but would wow the world as they were attracted to God by the uncommon blessings that had been poured out upon the nation of Israel. This building, in David’s own words, was to be “a magnificent structure, famous and glorious throughout the world.” (1 Chronicles 22:5) This would be an impossible task for a lesser person, but Solomon was up to it, according to the prophetic future David spoke forth for Solomon. And in the father’s instructions to the son, we find several universal and timeless truths that will not only lead to success before God and men in the building project, but throughout his entire life:

  1. Success comes from the Lord: “my son, may the Lord be with you and give you success.” (1 Chronicles 22:11) That is the starting point for a life of achievement and impact. Success begins with God, is for God and is rife through and through with God.
  2. God gives success as we are fully submitted to him: “the Lord be with you and give you success as you follow his directions.” (1 Chronicles 22:11) God is not obligated to bless the disobedient, no matter what we are doing for him. As David’s mentor, Samuel famously said, “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” (I Samuel 15:22) Above all else, a parent should instruct their child that love for God is proven through obedience to his Word.
  3. With God at the center of lives and full obedience to him the passion of our heart, he will supply us with divine wisdom and understanding to do life well: “And may the Lord give you wisdom and understanding, that you may obey the Law of the Lord your God as you rule over Israel.” (1 Chronicles 22:12) Knowing and applying God’s Word takes discernment and skill. And even discernment and skill are not a human invention. They require human discipline, but they come from the Lord, and must we seek them, align ourselves to receive them, and ruthlessly, consistently apply them to daily living.
  4. At the end of the day, it will take boldness and inner resolve to wholeheartedly follow God: “Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid or lose heart!” (1 Chronicles 22:13) The way of faith will be fought at every step. It will not be successfully trod by the faint of heart, but by the courageous and determined soul. Most parents believe that boldness is a personality train, but in truth, a mom and dad must train the child to be strong and courageous, to fight for what is right, and to persevere through difficulty. The example of the parent who uses real life expressions of boldness as teachable moments with the child is the best way to inculcate courage. Be strong and courageous, the Lord tells us, and he will give us success wherever we go. (Joshua 1:9)

If you are a parent—or a mentor or you have some influence with a child—God’s calling on your life is to pass your faith on in such a way that the child has a running start at succeeding in life. Better than your own earthly accomplishments is passing the baton well to the next generation. Billy Graham is right,

The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.

Pass your faith on to the child that God has placed within your sphere of influence, for that is an eternal accomplishment!

Going Deeper With God: If you have a child, or any other person who is under your influence, have a heart to heart talk with them as soon as possible about what has been said in this devotional.

Seeking Temporary Relief or True Repentance

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

King David was thoroughly flawed, yet also authentically humble and quickly repentant. The true condition of his heart revealed that he deeply cared about the things that God cared about. That’s what it means to have a heart after God’s own heart: not that you are perfect and never fall into sin, but that your heart is tender toward the Lord and quick to repent when you have violated his command. That is a heart he can bless!

Going Deep // Focus: 1 Chronicles 21:7

God was very displeased with the census, and he punished Israel for it. Then David said to God, “I have sinned greatly by taking this census. Please forgive my guilt for doing this foolish thing.”

Have you ever wondered why King David was called a man after God’s own heart but King Saul was a man rejected by God? On the surface, it seems that David’s sins were equal to, if not more grievous than Saul’s. David committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband killed to cover it up, and now, he had taken this census of Israel’s fighting men—a sin that demonstrated a lack of trust in God’s protection and pride in David’s own military prowess.

When you look at Saul’s sins, it seems that he had merely failed to follow the prophet Samuel’s advice to the letter (1 Samuel 13 & 15). Obviously, both kings made mistakes, but adultery and murder versus disobedience? Shouldn’t we give Saul more of a break that he gets in the history books?

The difference between these two men was in how they responded to godly conviction. When a distressing spirit came upon Saul (1 Samuel 17 & 18), he would send for his young assistant David to soothe his chaotic mind by having him play the harp. The problem was, Saul was only seeking relief from feeling bad rather that repenting for acting badly.

On the other had, when David experienced a guilty conscience, he would fully own up to his wrongdoing and seek the Lord’s forgiveness. David didn’t make excuses, he didn’t blame, he didn’t hedge—he would always come clean. He recognized how deeply wicked his flawed heart was prone to be.

When caught in wrongdoing, the true condition of Saul’s heart was revealed by his justification and minimization of the sin. Saul made excuses. He blamed—his men, Samuel, even God. Saul’s heart grew more and more dark as time moved on, but he chose to remain aloof to it.

The true condition of David’s heart revealed that he deeply cared about the things that God cared about. Immensely flawed, David was also intensely humble and quickly repentant.

That’s what it means to have a heart after God’s own heart: not that you are perfect and never fall into sin, but that your heart is tender toward God, passionate about the things of God, and quick to repent when you have violated the commands of God.

That is the kind of heart God can bless!

Going Deeper With God: Here is a David-like prayer you may want to offer today: Father, as David prayed in Psalm 51, so I pray this morning: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your loving-kindness; 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—and my sin is always before me. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow…Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit in me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.” O Lord, give me a clean heart, a heart after Your own heart. Help me to passionately care about the things You care about—this is my deepest prayer. Amen!