He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40:11
This prophecy in Isaiah points to the coming Messiah as a shepherd who will tend His flock with care and love. Jesus called himself the good shepherd, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep, John 10:11. A few verses later in 10:14 He said, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me”. Some of the most tender and reassuring verses about Jesus’ love and care for us are found in John 10:27-28 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” No one, nothing, nowhere and at no time can anyone or anything snatch us away from Jesus. Once we belong to Him we are His eternally. He is with us 24/7 and is always accessible instantaneously through prayer.
Let the assurances of the good shepherd carry you through this day and bring you comfort.
The librettist, Charles Jennens, of Handel’s Messiah put these two prophecy’s of HOPE together. Both of them tell of the good news of Christ’s coming. It is seen as prophecy applying to their return to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon, Christ’s first coming as a babe in the manger to save us from our sins and can be applied to Christ’s second coming where He will return as victor and judge. All were good news of God’s care and plan to save mankind.
Isaiah 40:9 “Go on up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good news;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
“Behold your God!”
Isaiah 60:1 Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
Just reading the words of Isaiah 40:9 makes me want to shout the good news of salvation in Jesus from the mountain tops! The assurance of Isaiah 60:1 is profound- your light has come! I am so thankful that Jesus came because He loved me and you. Think back to John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” Ponder anew the amazing provisions of our God both then, now and in the future.
What does it mean when scripture refers to David as ‘a man after God’s own heart’? “After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’” Acts 13:22 What did David do that pleased God? I have concluded that God’s answer was also given here- “he will do everything I want him to do”. David was willing to submit to God’s will and do as He commanded. In 1 Samuel 15:22, Samuel was speaking to Saul about God’s heart’s desire. But Samuel replied: “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.” God commanded the Israelites to do various sacrifice rituals to atone for their sins. It was a temporary fix to the issue of sin but showed their obedience to God’s laws and their devotion to Him. However, Samuel was telling Saul that following God and pleasing him was about more than following His laws. It was about following God with your heart in obedience. Obedience seems to be the key to God’s heart and our being willing to do submit to God’s will for our lives. If you look at David’s life, you quickly see that he did not do everything right and did not follow God’s laws all the time. He sinned big time with the intentional killing of Uriah and the lusting after Bathsheba. However, David accepted his discipline from God and was repentant. He was obedient in following the Lord and his faith never wavered. He trust God 100% and submitted to God’s will in his life.
What does that mean for you and me? Obedience in faith and worship = putting God first above all else and believing in His Son. Obedience in our daily walk = seeking to please God by loving Him and others. That means spending time with Him daily in prayer and in His Word. It also means having Jesus’ attitude of compassion and love for those around us. Obedience in service = working by ourselves and/or with other Christians to show the world Jesus by reflecting Him in our words and deeds. God wants all of our heart transformed to work for Him with joy, love, obedience, in purity, devotion, kindness, compassion, with forgiveness for ourselves and others, in peace, faith and humility. There is so much God wants for us and striving through the power of the Holy Spirit to live for God makes us a people after God’s heart. Those things are reflected in a heart of obedience, submission and love. It is a life-long process that brings and bears much fruit and blessings to us from God.
Striving to walk each day in obedience to God with heart that is pleasing to Him,
I love studies of the Old Testament as I learn so much about the character of God. His attributes shine through as He exhibits His faithfulness and sovereignty over all creation. In 1 Samuel is the story of God sending the prophet Samuel to identify the son of Jesse that He has chosen to be the next king of Israel. The Lord gave Samuel some good advice that we need to take to heart as we look at others and even ourselves. But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 When God looks at us, He looks at our hearts. Therefore, He desires that our hearts be transformed, renewed and cleansed. He wants more for us than we can even imagine. He sees what is truly in our hearts and knows our innermost thoughts. It is a humbling and sobering thought that God knows all and in His love and mercy He see what I can be not what I am at the present. God looks at our hearts.
I am comforted by Psalm 10:17 where the psalmist proclaims what God will do for him. “O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear” God will listen to me and the cries of my heart then He will strengthen me. He knows I need transformation and will listen to my heart cries and then give me strength to persevere in pursuit of His transformation in my life.
Our challenge today is seek His transformation for our lives from a heart filled with obedience and love and then to seek to see others as God does. We are limited and can’t see the heart of others but we can learn not to judge by outward appearances and seek to reach out to others with love and kindness. We can ask God for insight and wisdom in dealing with others.
Thankful for a loving God that will give me strength to live for Him,
God is very intentional in His transformation of our hearts. I would say there is no wasted efforts or motions in God’s plans. Unlike man, God is omniscient and knows the beginning and the end. He knows where we are going and how to get us where He wants us to be. Here are a couple of verses that point to God’s intent or purpose in transforming our hearts.
Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Jeremiah 32:40 “I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.”
God wants us to realize that we are accountable to Him and use our time here on earth wisely. He desires we affect others with our lives and show His goodness and glory in what we say and do. In the Jeremiah passage God tells us what He will do for believers. We have an everlasting covenant of salvation in Jesus, He promises to not turn from us- He is completely faithful, He desires good for us and will do it and He wants us to love and follow Him. God wants us to spend eternity with Him and the only way that is possible is if we wisely turn to Him, accept His salvation in Jesus and have a make-over of our heart’s desires. A transformed heart is essential for the Christian believer and something God does with intentionality. Look back at the ways He transforms our heart… with joy and praise, love and faith, commitment, purity, kindness, compassion and forgiveness, devotion and obedience. His way brings results and fills our hearts with His heavenly treasures.
Let’s make this a day of Thanksgiving to God for His grace and mercy. Thanking Him that for transforming us so we can live lives of purpose and bear fruit for His kingdom.
One of the clearest verses in scripture that tells us what we have to do to be Saved is Romans 10:9-10. ” If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” Once you believe in Jesus within your heart and say it you are saved. The saying confirms what your heart is telling you that Jesus is the son of God and that He came and died for your sins and was raised from the dead. In dying He took your sin and mine upon himself as the perfect sacrifice but in rising from the dead He conquered death and buried our sins forever. Romans 10:9-10 show us that a heart that believes in God is essential to faith. We have to believe in Jesus with the very core of our being, our heart, for salvation. Jesus told us about the importance of heart faith in Matthew 22:37 “Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ God will accept nothing less that our whole heart, soul and mind. Loving and knowing God requires it all.
How about you? Do you have a sincere heart love for God? Are you willing to tell others that Jesus is your Savior? God demands that our love be all consuming. He is a jealous God and wants all of us. Exodus 20:5 “You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.” Are you devoted to God and willing to give all of your heart to Him? Meditate and about this today. Consider how much of your heart you are giving to God, remembering He wants it all.
Let this be said of me as I seek to give all my heart to Jesus,
When was the last time you spoke of your devotion to God? Is it something that you and I as believers take for granted? In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul used the example of slaves and masters to illustrate the devotion we need in serving Christ. This would have been very familiar to the early Christians as it was common practice during Roman times and many of them were slaves not free men. Ephesians 6:5-8 “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.
Paul uses several ‘heart’ words in describing how are to treat others whether they be in authority over us or working alongside us. We are to serve with sincerity of heart. False or fake love for others will not show devotion and love of God to them. We need to work in serving others to fulfill God’s desires not our own. We have to work and act from our whole heart not just a portion reserved for showing God’s love. Paul is describing pure devotion to God that is shown in our heart attitude and our willingness to serve Him. God wants us loving the world regardless of where we find ourselves. This is a tall order that can only be accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit living within us. Jesus can make all things possible. We need to walk each day in His love with a sincere, devoted heart for the world to see.
May you experience God’s love and power as you strive to be devoted to Him with your heart.
In Ephesians Chapter 4, Paul is exhorting Christians to be Christ honoring in their behaviors. He encourages them to clean up their speech, eliminating unwholesome talk, and speak only words of encouragement that build others up. (29) He does not want us grieving the Holy Spirit by our actions, thoughts and deeds that he lists in verse 31, bitterness, rage, anger, arguing, fighting, being slanderous, or doing any kind of evil. In Ephesians 4:32 Paul tell us what actions and thoughts would be Christ honoring in our lives. “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
What does it mean to be tenderhearted? The dictionary defines it as ‘soft-hearted, sympathetic’. Does that describe your heart? Because of Christ’s transforming love, do you react to the world with a kind, forgiving and sympathetic heart? Paul is telling us that because we are forgiven and Christ lives within us we can react and interact with the world through a kind, tenderhearted, forgiving heart. Let this be your challenge today. Ask Jesus to let you see the world through a heart that is tender and loving towards those around you.
Loving with a tender heart is what Jesus did while on earth and He desires us to continue showing that love towards others in His name.
Paul tells Timothy in two letters to have a pure heart. This is not something Timothy could make himself but rather the result of his love for Jesus. Paul wants Timothy and all future believers to examine their hearts and check their motives. 1 Timothy 1:5 “The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.” Paul wants to know if our love for others comes from a heart overflowing with love for Jesus. He needs to be the source of our love. In 2 Timothy 2:22 Paul encourages believers to look for others who share the purity of heart that you find in Jesus. “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.” He wants Timothy and us to chose friends that will encourage us towards right living and not worldly pursuits.
Since we are sinners, purity of heart can only be achieved through the redemption. Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead to make a way for us to be ‘pure in heart’. His love for us is transforming and will clean up even the dirtiest of hearts. Talk with Jesus today and ask Him as David did in Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a pure and clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Jesus will not let you down but will lift you up and make you new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” Claim it today in Christ alone! Then look for fellow believers to encourage your new pure heart and your desire to love and serve Jesus.
Purity comes from Jesus alone,
Commitment seems to be something that scares people in our day and age. They seem afraid to step out and say they will be there at a certain time, place or with you in a project. Are there so many choices in our lives that people cannot decide? Have they had experiences where they felt trapped by agreements they’ve made? Whatever the root of their fears, to love and serve Jesus we have to go beyond them, step above or over them and persevere. 1 Peter 3:15 appears in a portion of scripture where Peter is encouraging believers to persevere in their faith and not to fear doing good. He tells believers to hold fast to their faith in Christ regardless of where they find themselves. “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” In addition to honoring Christ as Lord, we need to be able and willing to tell others about what Christ has done for us. The hope we have in living, the hope we have in eternity, the hope we have in being forgiven and cleansed, and the hope we have in His always being with us. We need to be prepared to tell others about Jesus. Being committed to Jesus with your heart demands that we are ready to speak about Him. This is not to be an argumentative discourse but words that speak of the Hope we have in Jesus with gentleness and respect that come from a heart of love and commitment to Jesus.
I love this verse in 1 Peter because it holds me accountable and tells me where my commitment needs to be. God wants us committed to Him, loving and acting in our world with words of Hope for unbelievers and words of encouragement in that Hope for fellow believers. Who will you tell today about the HOPE you have in Jesus?
May the Lord bring people to cross your path today that are in need of those words of hope and encouragement.