Thursday, May 2, 2013

Heart Check

Two 12 year old boys can certainly make for some interesting days, even without factoring in the 3 year old.  When our twins were about 8 years old, my husband said, “I think 8 may be the most annoying year.”  Each year since, though, he’s had to rethink that.  Though, I will say, they are starting to mature a little.  They really are good boys and we’re seeing many facets to their personalities develop that are unique, even though they’re twins.  They can be funny, witty, silly, overly serious, compassionate, fun loving, irritable, hard-working, hard on themselves, lazy, etc., and…… all on the same day.  Some days we have so much fun with them, other days, well….let’s just say it’s challenge.  Quite often, we just have to remind each other that……they are still just 12 year old boys. 

sweet again

So, I have all of my experience raising boys in the back of my mind as I’m working through a 10 week  Bible study on David.  Even though the Lord is teaching me a WHOLE lot in study....I can't help but think of my guys as I read about David, too.  Now, this is a Beth Moore study for women called, “David: Seeking a Heart Like His”.  If you’ve done any of Beth Moore’s studies or been to any of her women’s conferences, you know you can expect to come away with a blessing.  This one is no exception…it is an absolutely fascinating study.  But, it’s not her studies per say that I find so fascinating……it’s always the scriptures that we’re studying.  And, if you get nothing else out of a Beth Moore study… can at the very least say you have seriously studied some scripture! If you are familiar with her teaching style, you know what I mean.  Even though it may take a little time each day to look up all the scriptures, they never fail to bless me in some way.  As I am writing this, I am in the 6th week of studying David.  We’ve seen many strengths and weaknesses….kind of watched him grow up.  I guess that's why I keep thinking of the boys so much.  I have to tell you, without a doubt…..the life of David and the heart of God entwined in such detail was certainly something the Lord intended for us all to benefit from.  Even though David has always been such a well-known name from scripture, I realize now just how little I actually knew about him and how little I had read of those segments of scripture.  I’m frequently reminded of what my brother in law, Jeff, once said about teaching Sunday School, “The more you get in there and start reading to prepare your lessons, the more you realize you need to be reading.”

David is an interesting fella to say the least.  He was anointed by God, through Samuel, as future king at a very young age. Some scholars say early teens, some say as early as 12.  TWELVE! I know times were different back then and kids grew up a little harder and faster.  But, I mean….come on.  The thought that my boys could have such a monumental calling placed on them at this young, silly age just blows my mind.  Now, he didn’t take the throne for YEARS.  No, no, no.  He was actually sent back to tend the sheep after Samuel anointed him.  Then along came a giant and it becomes a little more clear what God saw in the heart of David even while he was still just a kid. 

A Strong Heart

The account of David and Goliath alone would be enough for his name to go down in history.  Think about it….here’s a kid….and he was a kid, who goes barreling up to grown men in battle, including his older brothers who naturally dismiss him.  They asked him what on earth he was doing there and he asked them what on earth they were doing not taking that giant out and….did they not remember they were the LORD’s army?  He goes on to ask King Saul’s permission to fight the giant himself.  Saul reluctantly, but finally gives in and even gives him his armor to wear.  Only, it is of course a bit bulky and David doesn’t think he can operate well in it so, he doesn’t wear any! Here I am as a mother of baseball players, wishing they were made to wear helmets and chest protectors for every position on the infield.   Well, you know the rest of the story: David goes in with his sling shot and stones, reminds the Phillistines (and the Israelites) just WHO he’s representing, and then takes out the giant on the first try.  Now, it may blow my mind to think about either of my 12 year olds having such a calling placed on them, but man do I want them to have such a bold, tenacious heart for God?! What am I saying? I want one myself!! 

A Broken Heart

One of the other accounts of David that people remember most would be.... David and Bathsheba, of course (2 Samuel 11-12) .  We haven’t gotten to this in the study yet but, I can tell you from memory…..Not one of his finer moments.  If you need a refresher…David had become king and was doing an amazing job until one day….he saw the beautiful Bathsheba bathing on the roof and apparently couldn’t resist.  He summoned her over and long story short….she ended up pregnant.  When Bathsheba let David know about the pregnancy, he secretly arranged to have her husband Uriah killed in battle so he could have her and the baby.  David….the man with a heart after God’s…..arranged the murder of a good man for selfish gain.  Well, naturally, God was not happy, happy, happy.  Quite the contrary….He was deeply offended and He let David know it.  David immediately and genuinely repented of the sin he committed against God.  But, still… he had taken Uriah’s life…..and his wife.  As punishment, after Bathsheba gave birth, God afflicted the baby with a sickness.  During the sickness David fasted for days and prayed that God would relent and spare his baby.   But, he didn’t.  When the baby died, David perplexed those around him that had been watching him in his distress for days.  Instead of being more distraught and fasting over the death, David immediately ended his fast. The scripture says he anointed himself, got cleaned up, changed his clothes…..and went in to the house of the Lord and worshipped Him.   See, David stumbled and fell.  And it was a hard fall.  However, because David saw how offensive his actions were toward God, immediately humbled himself in repentance, and THEN had the heart to worship God even though He didn’t relent and remove his consequences…..God was able to bring something beautiful out of the whole ugly mess……Solomon.  
2 Samuel 12:24-25
“Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her, and she bore him a son, and he called his name Solomon.  And the Lord loved him. 

This would be one of my first prayers for my boys even at 12 years of age: humility.  They are undoubtedly going to have some mess ups in their lives.  I sincerely hope it is nothing as severe as David’s series of bad choices. But, whatever mess they get themselves into, I pray that, like David, they will be humble before God.  I hope that they know in their heart of hearts that He is just and good…..and that He can bring something beautiful out of any mess they make if they will turn their hearts back to Him. 

Open Heart

The other story that probably comes to the mind of many when thinking of David is the story of him dancing naked down the streets of Jerusalem as he brought in the ark of the Lord.  Like having two 12 year olds around, things were apparently never dull with David around, either! If you aren’t familiar with the story, you may be thinking, “Well, this doesn’t sound like one of his finer moments, either.”  But, actually, he had nothing to be ashamed of in this scene which took place prior to the whole adultery/murder sequence of events.   Now, he wasn’t completely naked, but I imagine he was doing some flashing as he was dancing.  He had on a linen ephod and from what I can gather, the ephod was a strip of cloth that sort of came across the chest/waist and barely down to the thigh.  And that was ALL he had on.  See, the ark of the Lord that was being brought into his city contained the very presence of God and David was overcome with praise.  He did not care who saw it, either.  Yes, they got an eye full of David.  But, they also got an eyeful of his heart for God.  That’s my next prayer for the boys: not necessarily to go dancing naked down the street but, to be unashamed of their God. 
Being unashamed is not for the faint of heart.  God didn’t appreciate fair weather fans in David’s day.  He still doesn’t.  If David’s servants or the citizens thought anything odd about his form of worship that day, they didn’t dare say anything.  But, his wife looked down from the window and disapproved….and she let him know it when he got home.  Just picture it.  He was overflowing with so much joy because the presence of God was going to dwell in his city that it caused him to dance openly before the Lord, to bless all the people of Israel with a good meal (a MULTITUDE of people…..that’s what we call sharin’ the love!), and then to head home so he could bless his own household.  Instead of being greeted with celebration though, Michal greeted him with a shaming reprimand, “My how the king of Israel honored himself today….”  And went on to scold him for flashing people during his dancing.  Can you imagine how stung David must have felt?  The city worshipped with him as he praised his God…..but, his wife scolded him.   (Now, I could say a whole lot here about the ramifications of a wife who scolds her husband…..but, that would have to be a blog of its own.  Let me just say they aren’t wired to take a lot of that from their wives….and David didn’t.  Though, if any reading this want to read more….it’s 2 Samuel 6:16-23.)   The lesson we can ALL learn from this, though, is that it may be hardest to be open and unashamed about your faith with those closest to you because we are so sensitive to their opinions of us.  But as David replied in vs. 21, “It was before the LORD, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the LORD – and I will celebrate before the LORD. “  He was not going to be deterred for one second. 

See, David had come a long, long, long way with God.    He had fought a giant.  He had served King Saul and fought many battles for him, then spent many years on the run from him! He had suffered great loss.  He came to a point where there was no one…… not one person on his side.  No friends.  No family supporting him……only the Lord.  But, He was allowed to learn one priceless fact through it all….the Lord was all he needed.  So, to go from tending sheep, to fighting battles, to losing friends and family, to being on the run for his very life… bringing the ark of the LORD into the city and among the people God had placed him over….. well, it was too much for him.  How could he not worship??  If Michal had really gotten it, she wouldn’t have shamed him.  And sometimes those closest to us won’t “get it” either.  Then there’s always the rest of the world ever ready with their judgments and ridicules of anyone who stands for absolute truth.  It’s sad but true, that in our country with freedom of religion…..Christians are hated and ridiculed in an unprecedented way anytime they stand in unashamed devotion to Christ and His truths.  I don’t want my boys to have to go through all that David did.  Still, I know they’ll have their low points.  I just pray, especially in the face of the disturbing trends being seen in our country today, that God uses those to help them see beyond a shadow of a doubt, as David did, that He’s their rock, their fortress.....and if they are aligning their hearts with His......they need never to be ashamed. 

Heart Check

I’m reminded that, even though I’m studying a man, the character of God doesn’t change whether He’s dealing with man, woman, boy, or girl.  Whether dealing with me, my husband, my boys, or my daughter, He looks at the heart…..He knows our hearts…..and He knows exactly what we lack to make them more like His. 

Today is National Day of Prayer. Great day to do a heart check and see if ours looks like His.   If you’ve watched any news lately, you know there is a war going on in this country that’s not being covered much in the media.  The war to remove “all things God” from the fabric of our nation is in the hearts of men and women like never before in this country.  It’s not just the movement of atheists.  It’s the deception in the hearts of many who claim the name of the Lord that leads them to call things that the Lord deemed as good in His Word….. wrong, and things that He deemed as wrong….. good.   This deception has done as much harm to our children, individuals, families, churches, and our nation as a whole than any atheist movement ever could.  That’s the way the father of lies works.  Let me just clarify, whatever the battle, whoever the foe…..He will win.   David knew this truth so well.  How else could he be so bold as to face a giant at such a young age?  As he grew, he came to know well the tender mercy and forgiveness of God, as well as His strong hand to guide and protect. David knew how it felt to have the favor of God.   But, David also knew how it felt to experience His discipline.  Again, I don’t really want to dance naked in the street….or as we say in the South…..”nekkid”.  But, I wish for myself, my husband, my silly boys, my feisty daughter, and every believer in this country to have hearts for God that are bold, humble, and unashamed.  With all I’ve seen and heard just over the last 6 months, I’m to the point where my prayer today is, “Give us a heart for you again, God.  Do what you need to…..starting with me.”

Psalms 63:1-7
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy

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