A Man or Woman after God’s Own Heart

God called King David “a man after His own heart.”  I have heard that phrase many times during my life.  But it wasn’t until my time alone with Jesus this morning, that I found myself asking how a mere man (even though a king) would be honored to acquire such an intimate, loving description from GOD, the creator of the universe.

I began to ask God what was it about David that captured God’s loving heart?  And then, what about me God?  Am I a woman after your own heart?  I want to be.  Or will that coveted description require more from me than I am willing to give?  Or maybe even more than I am even capable of giving?

Anita Keagy’s study, The Joy of Seeking God First provided me with fifteen verses from the Psalms that gave a little insight into what David’s heart was like.  In my quest to dig deeper, I wrote them out and then extracted the qualities I found.  Here’s the list:

David…

Trusted God
Was not proud
Had room for God in all his other thoughts
Understood God
Sought after God
Was satisfied with God alone
Praised God
Received vindication from God
Recognized that God was his Savior
Talked to God LOTS
Desired to see His face
Desired to live eternally with God
Rejoiced and was glad in the LORD
Exalted His name
Loved God’s salvation
Unashamedly claimed God as his God
Thirsted for God
Longed for God
Gloried in God’s Holy Name
Relied on God’s strength
Kept God’s laws
Experienced God’s grace
Knew God’s promises

The temptation for many of us, especially those of us raised in the church, is to say, “I can claim most or all of those qualities.”

But if we are truthful…do we really trust Him?  Are we prideful?  Do we have so many thoughts in our heads that there isn’t much room for thoughts of God?  Are we fully satisfied with God alone?  Do we really know how to praise Him?

If you are brave enough to go through each one on the list and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your true heart, you might find yourself like I did, sadly falling short.

Search us O God and know our hearts; test us and know our anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in us and lead us in the way everlasting.  Make us people after your own heart.

 

 

I Choose Joy in the Middle of My Sorrow

Years ago my husband Dave recognized my desire to share Jesus with other women and he encouraged me to follow that calling. So I did. 

His passion was to bring hope to hurting couples by sharing our marriage success story together.  So we did. 

He was also the biggest supporter of my inconsistent blog writing.   He loved to read my posts and would often say I was to write a book.

I would never have thought that the serious writing would come after his exit to Heaven. But it did. Or at least it has begun.

I find myself suddenly eager to write and share  with others even tho each day I have to survive the uninvited “grief bombs” that invade my emotional and physical being with waves of fear, pain  and depression. 

I am so very, very, very sad and yet I feel an almost miraculous joy. I didn’t  say happiness – because I am not happy!  But I have the overwhelming joy that can only come from knowing and relying on Jesus. I believe the Bible is truth – so consequently I am jealous of Dave for being in the presence of our great King Jesus! And it is that belief that drives me to thank God for Dave’s new address and for the promise of mine also someday.

Joy fills the hole in my heart with truth, hope, peace, and strength.

The prophet Nehemiah tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength. Nehemiah 8:10

Kay Warren in her study, Choose Joy, gives her definition of joy this way: 

“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life; the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right; and the determined choice to praise God in all things.”

I have decided to adopt that definition as mine also.

Father, I believe that you can replace my mourning with dancing and I can become a woman who feels the sadness of life and loss but still chooses to pursue joy. Give me strength and courage to look for your blessings on this journey.

God Spoke To Me Today…

God spoke to me today.

He broke through my childish doubts with words of comfort and assurance.

“Hang in there; sit tight; stick to My course for your life.”

He said, “I will not let you down”.

He reminded me of how He cared for past saints, how He watched over them and kept them through their hours of suffering and uncertainty.

He reviewed for me my own life, His loving concern through the days of my youth.

He restated for me my commission and appointment, His trust in me as His servant in this sorry world.

He reiterated His gracious promises to stand by me, to empower and support me in the conflicts that await me.

I know that God is with me today ~ just as surely as He was with saints of old.

I have neither to fear nor to doubt the eternal love and presence of my Lord.

~ written by Leslie Brandt

Psalm 104

Oh Lord, how great and all-powerful You are!

And how beautiful is the world You created for our habitation!

 

Even before man was brought forth from the dust,

You prepared for him a place in which to live and grow.

And everything man saw about him

reflected the beauty and power of the living God.

 

There was clean air.

Pure water from snowcapped mountains flowed through green valleys

and gathered together to become great lakes.

The skies shone with a million lights.

The land brought forth flowers and fruits

to delight the eye and palate of God’s creature.

And every part of the land

and the waters that covered the land

and the skies that looked down upon the land

were filled with uncountable forms of life;

and the world was vibrant and alive.

 

Your power and Your beauty were spread throughout the universe,

but it was only upon the heart of man

that You imprinted Your image.

And this creature,

in his short stay upon this world,

was destined to be Your son and co-worker

in the ever-continuing process of creation.

~ Leslie Brandt

Give Me Some Solitude Please

As is often the scenario,  thirteen people of a variety of ages scrunched into a space better suited for eight, in a familiar restaurant for breakfast after church one Sunday morning,

The busyness of the restaurant and the various conversations going on at the same time, competing to be heard above the others who were also dinning, was for me a bit much.  Maybe I was tired; maybe I was tired of people.

I had just come off of a few days of shopping with a friend, visiting long into the night with my sister, attending a highly anticipated yearly reunion with old friends in the city I grew up in, lunch with a few high school girl friends, dinner with more friends, a very emotional celebration of life with about 500 in attendance, and a fun and chaotic few hours with our children and grandchildren.

I am sure some of you can relate to the weekend overload I experienced.

The Gift of Prayer

Sunday morning “after church foyer talk” is sometimes brief because of family schedules and plans. But on a recent Sunday, a common and all too familiar emotion was conveyed by a sweet woman of God as I asked the usual question, “How are you?”

Although this woman’s joyous countenance was reassuring, she offered a facial expression and comment that I could relate to.

“Oh, I am wonderful, but there are so many family concerns and needed prayers, aren’t there?” she said.

Her face lightened again as she went on to say, “What a gift we have to be able to pray. “What hope do people have who don’t know God?”

I agreed with her and we said our well wishes and goodbyes. But I have been pondering this thought over and over since that encounter. There is so much pain all around us; hurting marriages, illnesses, death, wayward children and grandchildren, mental disorders….the list goes on and on and on.

No one this side of heaven is free from it. What is the answer? My friend is right. The answer is prayer.

Prayer is a gift, a privilege, a confidence that gives us a joyous countenance in the middle of all the pain.

“Fearlessly and confidently and boldly I draw near to the throne of grace that I may receive mercy and

find grace to help in good time for every need – appropriate help and well-timed help,

coming just when I (and others) need it.”

~ Hebrews 4:16 (AMP)

I Want Bloody Toes

Information…
If you take the Word of God into your head and spout it out to others, but you don’t take it any further, that’s called information. The Pharisees were truly remarkable when it came to information, intellectually amassing all kinds of biblical data. But they neglected to apply it. They refused to live it. They never oriented their lives to it – even though they loved to teach it to others.
No wonder Jesus told His followers,

“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.
So you must obey them and do everything they tell you.
But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.”
(Matthew 23:2,3  NIV)

Information alone isn’t enough.

Inspiration…
If you hear an exciting message that makes you want to stand up and shout, but you take it no further, that can be called inspiration. Most of us are pretty good at this. We love to listen to stirring music and attend motivating seminars – but usually that’s as far as it goes. This makes for good conversation and stirs our intentions, but it leaks. This kind of inspiration alone isn’t enough.

Thorns, Thistles, Pain, Death and a Promised Gift!

Every time we fight with weeds and thistles in our garden, we can think of our own disobedience. And every time we experience pain or attend a funeral and suffer heartache from the loss of a loved one – we remember our prideful, sinful nature, and our great need of a Savior.

God tells us in Chapter 3 of Genesis that because of our disobedience He proclaimed this curse…

“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it  you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

But oh I praise God for His other promise in that same chapter….(My paraphrasing)

Satan will wound Jesus, but Jesus will destroy Satan!  The severe wounding resulting in death ~ produced a glorious resurrection!  God’s victory – our victory over death and a wonderful promise to live eternally in a new heaven and earth – no thorns, thistles, pain, or death.

All of us born after Adam’s sin were born into sin but because God’s sacrifice there was a means of redemption for us – a rescuer of our souls – JESUS.  We only have to reach out and accept His gift of eternal life with God, our creator.

The evidence of our salvation is our humble obedience to Him.  (I can’t wait to share what I am learning about that humble obedience).

Dear Heavenly Father,

Please make us aware every moment of the price of your sacrifice.  And thank you for the extraordinary splendor of your free gift to us!

Amen

A Train Ride To Remember

The last train ride I had taken was when I was 16 years old, so although I was somewhat excited to ride a train again, years of only flying to destinations had spoiled me.  Like a presumptive senior citizen, I announced to the man behind the train counter that I wanted the largest bag checked and sent directly to my final destination, but I would be taking the smaller carry-on bags with me.

A condescending smile came over his face; his head went down slightly, his eyes focused on me over his spectacles…..”Mam, this is a train and you will be responsible for all of your bags for the entire ride.”  I processed this in my mind for a few seconds and then reworded my request, assuming he hadn’t understood my intentions…. but unfortunately, nothing changed.

So I dragged both suitcase, a purse, an ipad case, and my newly purchased fashionable lunch cooler full of snacks and water over to the waiting area.

I scolded myself for bringing so much with every step as I stumbled my way to an empty seat.  This wasn’t anything like I had remembered as a teenager!  But determined to make a positive adventure out of this, I waited patiently with a two hour train delay.

I knew that God had called me to this Speak – Up Conference in MI and I was ready for whatever He had for me. I was however beginning to wonder if I had prayed enough about my choice in transportation.

Finally, boarding the train, I struggled walking the length of 9 train cars to get to mine.  This is it, I told myself, I have got to get back to Curves when I get home, I am so out of shape!  With labored breath, I looked helplessly at the Porter for some help.  It must not be in their job description to lift suitcases onto the train.  But he finally took pity on me and lifted the big one up.  After much effort, the big bag was on and in the compartment they had us put them in, but then to my horror…

I had to carry the rest up the narrow winding stairs to the top level of the train.  The challenge was the small bag weighed almost as much as the one I had just stuffed into the shelves below and I had three other bags hanging from my shoulders and my neck making me get STUCK.  Unable to move up or down with people behind me waiting – a hot flash hit.  I pushed forward and upward with all the strength I could muster (the sweat from the hot flash probably helped) and I finally made it to the top.  Oh my – what a site!

As I reflect on that process, and visualize the ridiculous scene in my head, it makes me laugh.  There were more train and bus incidences for that trip that would provide comic relief but I want to assure you that God had some “Divine Appointments” on my train rides so I hadn’t missed HIM.  It all builds character, right?

But it also makes me think about the excess baggage we carry around in our adventure of life.
Baggage that trips us up, causes us pain, gets us stuck, and usually sends a distorted  view of Christianity.

The truth is, unlike the reluctant train porter, we have a willing and able God, ready to lighten our load, carry our burdens, straighten our paths, and give us confidence and a peaceful joy that redirects His great love and grace to others.

The ticket is…..to dwell in His Word, to claim His promises, to relax in His presence and trust HIM. Here are just a few scriptures that remind us of these truths:

Psalm 68:19

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.

Matthew 11:30

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Psalm 55:22

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let
the righteous be shaken.

Exodus 19:4

You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt,  and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.

Nahum 1:7

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.

Blessings to you all….and for your information, I am now building up my sky miles.  🙂

How Much Would You Pay For God’s Clothing?

John 19:23, 24 – When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. “Let’s not tear it” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said, *”They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. So the soldiers did this. (Psalm 22:18)
The soldiers at the cross of Jesus (totally unaware of who they were crucifying – just another day in the life and duties of the Roman soldiers) were gambling over the unique undergarment. I can’t help but wonder…Who won? And what did the winner do with it?
• Did he wash it and wear it himself from that time on?
• Did he present it as a gift to someone else?
• Did they hang it above their mantel?
• Did he incase it in a frame for all to see?
It is recorded that:
• John Lennon’s toilet sold for $15,000.
• Marilyn Monroe’s chest x-ray for $45,000.
• One of Elvis’s jumpsuits for $300,000.
No doubt the people who purchased these items had a need to have the life of these celebrities live on and on in their hearts and homes. And the only way to do that for them was to secure something that belonged to their idol.
If the soldiers had KNOWN who Jesus was – what would they have paid for his clothing?
What would you pay for clothing once worn by the one true God?
John, Marilyn, and Elvis are all dead. Their spirits live on somewhere – but the crucified Jesus (God) still lives. We don’t have to hang His memorabilia on our mantel, or in a frame. We don’t have to pay a dollar, let alone hundreds of thousands; we didn’t have to “win” Him by the role of the dice. We just have to believe in Him and receive Him into our hearts. Receive Him, just like we receive a gift.
As we live for Him, He becomes our Savior, Counselor, Guide, Teacher, Comforter, Sustainer, Joy-giver, and Living Friend. We can be clothed with His righteousness! And it is all FREE! Now that is a good price!

 

Jay Castor