Psalms is filled with images of the heart. Today think about some of these and see if you can identify and claim them for your own heart towards God.
A heart filled with Praise and Thanksgiving, Psalm 9:1 “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.”
A heart filled with Confidence, especially in times of adversity,Psalm 27:3 “Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.”
A heart filled with JOY because of God’s Word, Psalm 119:111 “Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart.”
A heart that is willing to wait upon the Lord, Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”
A heart that is unafraid to call upon the Lord for help,Psalm 119:145 “With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord! I will keep your statutes.”
A heart that yearns for God’s presence,Psalm 84:2 “My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.”
A heart filled with Praise and Gratitude,Psalm 138:1 “I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise”
Our heart attitude needs to begin and end with praise and thanksgiving each day. God’s Word is so descriptive and really points to the true needs of our hearts in relationship to and towards God. Do you see confidence in Him? Joy in His Word? A willingness to wait upon Him? Fearlessness in talking to God about your problems? A yearning for God in your heart? Let His Word be your guide today as you examine your heart before Him.
Matthew 2:1 clearly states that the encounter of the Wise men with King Herod happened after the birth of Jesus. So our story continues….
Matthew 2:1-8 “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.”
When was the last time you went in search of something? Maybe you were looking for your keys, a particular piece of clothing, a special ingredient, an appliance or even a certain type of car? Did you make a plan for your search or have to drive from place to place? Maybe you called ahead or researched it on the Internet. In any case, it took time to search and you were looking forward to finding it. The Wise Men were looking forward to finding the babe, king of the Jews, so they could worship Him. Here are some thoughts about them and their journey. The Wise Men were from the east so that would be in the direction of Persia, Babylon or the Orient. They has been students of astrology if they were studying the stars enough to find the star phenomena that occurred at this time in history. Scholars believe it was a conjunction of planets that came together and then moved in retrograde probably Saturn and Jupiter. We had a similar occurrence just this last week that is very rare as the last time it occurred was in 1220. They were seeking the one born ‘king of the Jews’. This would indicate that they were gentiles. If they had been Jewish, they would have said our king and named him as Messiah. They were also seekers of truth as they had seen the star, been motivated to follow it and traveled hundreds of miles by caravan in pursuit of this ‘king’. These Magi or Kings themselves must have been men of means to be able to take the time and have all the necessary provisions-camels, men, money for this lengthy trip.
What would you do if you were the ruler of a country and someone came and asked where the new king was? We learn several things, not very good either, about King Herod from his words and actions with Wise Men. He was curious about the Wise Men, visiting dignitaries, and their journey. Visitors from the east were probably not an every day occurrence and created a bit of a stir. When Herod heard about their quest to find the ‘new born king’ scripture describes him as disturbed, troubled and all Jerusalem too. Herod was a very powerful tyrannical ruler who was a supreme builder. He shows himself here to be crafty and cunning. Herod told the Wise Men privately what his scholars had said about where the Messiah would be born and suggested they continue their search for this child. I’m sure he did not want it publicly known that there was a ‘new born king’ somewhere that might be the long awaited Messiah, hence the private audience. He asked them to come back and tell him when they found the child so he could worship him too. We learn later this was a crafty lie as he had no intention of sharing his throne with anyone.
What does this teach us about God? For one, all the universe awaited the birth of the Messiah and God used the heavens to declare his arrival. The prophecy in Numbers 24:17 speaks of a star in relation to a new king, “I see him, but not here and now. I perceive him, but far in the distant future. A star will rise from Jacob; a scepter will emerge from Israel. It will crush the heads of Moab’s people, cracking the skulls of the people of Sheth.” Since the king here was one that would be powerful and crush others, I’m sure this is yet another reason Herod feared a new king and wanted him gone. Another thought is that God can and does use all kinds of people to do His work. Lowly Mary and Joseph, elderly Zachariah and Elizabeth, Anna and Simeon were just ordinary people God used in mighty ways. Here God shows us He can and does use unbelievers to accomplish His plans. Their involvement in the coming of the Savior reminds us that Jesus came to save all people.
Blessings as you ponder anew the arrival of the Wise Men and their seeking hearts.
I would recommend the video The Star of Bethlehem produced by Stephen McEveely. You can look it up on their website at http://www.bethlehemstar.net It is fascinating and really faith confirming about how all the universe proclaims the arrival of God’s Son.
The appearance of Gabriel and the heavenly host spurred the shepherds into action. They were curious to see this child of peace that would bring the favor of God upon all who believed in Him. Our story continues in Luke 2:15-20 “When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.”
Their encounter with the Christ child led them to tell others what the angel had said, “The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:11-12 They also told others what they had seen, “Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” Their experience of seeing the majesty of God in His heavenly beings and the manifestation of His glory in the baby Jesus would have been life changing. It is no wonder at all that they left the stable and went back to work praising and glorifying God.
What do you do with your encounters with God? Do you discount them in unbelief or do you relish them in faith and turn them into praise? God desires that we seek Him like the shepherds did that evening in Bethlehem. Scripture tells us seeking God will bring results. Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 4:29 “But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.” David wrote in Psalm 119:2 “Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart,” Solomon wrote in Lamentations 3:25 “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 55:6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;”Jesus said in John 4:23 “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” An unknown author wrote in Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Throughout scripture we are encouraged to seek God wholeheartedly.
Are you a seeker? Do you love to spend time in prayer and studying the Word of God? Do you love fellowship with other believers? Do you pursue God with your whole heart? I pray that this Advent you will be open to the Savior and come seeking Him with a newness of heart. He is waiting to bless you, draw you closer to Him and reward you with peace and hope. Paul put it this way in Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. May you receive His blessings of peace and hope today!
How can I be or show more devotion and love for God? I came across a list of 9 practical ways for God’s people to experience love and commitment to God. I want to pursue each way with you as I know I need my faith to be real and practical. God desires that I know and seek Him each day.
Our first practical step in showing devotion and love for God is to recount His attributes. There are many examples for us to follow in scripture of praise given to God for who He is. 1 Samuel 2:1-10 is a prayer of praise given by Hannah because of her love and devotion to God who gave her the desire of her heart, a son named Samuel. Here is verse 1-2 ““My heart rejoices in the Lord! The Lord has made me strong. Now I have an answer for my enemies; I rejoice because you rescued me. 2 No one is holy like the Lord! There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. Hannah praises God in her heart and knows He alone is holy, steady and all powerful.
David praises the Lord in 1 Chronicles 29:10-13 as God has provided all the materials they will need to build the temple. See here in verses 11-12 how David praises God for his greatness, power, glory and majesty. He realizes that God owns, creates and is sovereign ruler of all things. “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things.12 Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength.”
Psalms is another good source for finding praise for who God is and what He alone can do. Psalm 93 is short but packed with praises for who God is.
The Lord is king! He is robed in majesty. Indeed, the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength. The world stands firm and cannot be shaken.
2 Your throne, O Lord, has stood from time immemorial. You yourself are from the everlasting past. 3 The floods have risen up, O Lord. The floods have roared like thunder; the floods have lifted their pounding waves. 4 But mightier than the violent raging of the seas, mightier than the breakers on the shore— the Lord above is mightier than these! 5 Your royal laws cannot be changed. Your reign, O Lord, is holy forever and ever. The psalmist sees God as eternal, all powerful, reigning king over all creation, unchanging and majestic beyond measure.
How do you see God? Can you praise God for His attributes because you have personally experienced them in your life? Join Hannah, David and the psalmist in praising God for those ways He has impacted your life with His marvelous character. God has shown me His mercy, comfort, love, grace, hope, compassion, guidance, power, accessibility, and each day the list lengthens as God is unchanging and eternally present in my life. Thank you Lord.
Have a blessed day as you meditate on the ways God has personally ministered to you because of who He is not because of who you are. Praise Him today!
My heart search in Psalms continues today with new aspects of our hearts and our heart attitudes towards God. God desires that we have a bold, trusting, seeking and contrite heart in our interactions/responses to Him.
God desires that we take a ‘No Fear’ stance in life that depends upon God and not ourselves. Psalm 112:7 “They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”
God desires that we are open to teaching and examination of our motives. Psalm 26:2 “Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;” Psalm 139:23 “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.”
God desires I have a seeking heart towards Him. Psalm 119:10 “I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.” Psalm 22:26 “The afflicted (meek) shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord! May your hearts live forever!”
God desires a repentant heart, one that is sorrowing over sin, which the Bible describes as contrite. Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Isaiah also speaks of our need to have a contrite heart in Isaiah 57:15 ” The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.” God desires us to be repentant so He can restore and dwell with us. We have to come humbly before Him. Since living with Him is not just when we die, we need to deal with the sin]]c in our lives. God living with us is being indwelt by His Holy Spirit when Jesus enters our hearts and lives. Jesus gives cleansing of sin when we come before Him with a contrite heart and ask for forgiveness and restoration.
What is the temperature of your heart today? Are you trusting, open to teaching, seeking but most of all repentance? Would God describe your heart as contrite? Do you sorrow over your sins and desire to walk with Jesus each day? The opposite of each of the above would be one who is fearful, close-minded, rejecting, proud and arrogant over their sins. I pray that none of those describe your heart and that you seek to please God. Micah describes it this way: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
May that be the attitude of our hearts as we walk with Him today.
As I have been praying about writing after the Lenten season, the Lord has renewed my conviction that His Word is essential to our Christian walk and good spiritual health. I am going to walk through Psalm 119 in successive weeks stopping to blog and meditate on selected verses. I pray you will be blessed as we journey through this magnificent Psalm together.
1 Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. 2 Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. (NLT)
This psalm is known as an acrostic as it goes through the Hebrew alphabet, aleph to taw. Each section has 8 verses and are all about God’s Word. In these opening verses the Psalmist tells us that joy is to be had in following God’s Word, walking in obedience and seeking after God. Can you agree with the psalmist? Do you find joy in reading and knowing God’s Word? Does walking in obedience make your life more joyful and keep you in touch with God? Do you hunger for a deep meaningful relationship with God and seek Him out each day?
Nehemiah 8:9-10 tells what happened when the people of God heard the word read to them. “Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were interpreting for the people said to them, “Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the Lord your God.” For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” How does the Word of God affect you? The Israelites were sad and grieved over their sins as God’s Word revealed to them how they were sinning and not walking with Him. Then Nehemiah reminded them that a right relationship with God brings joy and strength from the Lord! Their repentance brought them into a place of joy in the Lord. Offer up a prayer with a repentant heart right now, then claim His joy and strength in your day.
As we journey through this psalm, claim the joy that God has for you as you seek him with a humble and repentant heart. Remember, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13