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Friday, March 7, 2008

What Does it Mean to be..."A Man After God's Own Heart?"

A Man after the Heart of God

4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple. (Psalm 27)

David in my opinion was the most God centered man in scripture. David was not perfect mind you, in fact he sinned greatly. But David had a relationship with God at a young age. David faced adversity at a younger age than most individuals. I believe that those closest to God will face the most adversity. Show me an individual serving the Lord and I’ll show you a target for the devil. But remember Job! Every challenge isn’t always just devil generated, some are God allowed. David like Job was up to the challenge of facing the onslaught of Satan because of his hunger for God. David didn’t do everything right, but he did love God like no one else.

When David faced Goliath he boldly proclaimed, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that challenges the Army of God.” David focused on his relationship with God by acknowledging that Goliath did not know God. When will we get it through our thick religious heads, that our relationship with God is the most precious thing we have? It tears my heart apart when I hear these preachers of prosperity treat God like He is some cosmic ATM machine. Yes God blesses us materially…but! The real blessing is in knowing Him. Do you recall when the 12 disciples ran to Jesus all excited because they could cast out demons in His name? Jesus reply to them was, (paraphrased) don’t get excited because demons are subject to you in my name, rejoice because your name is in the Lamb’s book of life. I am sad to see so many Christians that their happiness is based on material blessings. In reality the spirit realm we are awaiting is more “real” than the here and now because the here and now is going to fade away. Only what we do for Christ will last. Paul said he wanted to know Christ in the fellowship of His suffering. Let’s examine Christ suffering:

26:1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples,
2 Ye know that after two days is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.
3 Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,
4 And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtlety, and kill him.

If you preach the truth of Jesus Christ you will face persecution. No one will persecute you for preaching a prosperity gospel, which tickles the hearer’s ears. Preach repentance and salvation by grace through faith and watch the devil attack. I personally am not a very popular preacher. Why? I primarily preach repentance and salvation messages. When I preach to a saved crowd I try to preach what the Lord gives me for them. Sometimes it can cause me angst but like Paul said “woe unto me If I preach not the gospel.” I have been criticized for preaching against homosexuality in the church, pre-marital sex, and the traditions of men in the church. I have been called "too hard”. Please read some of Paul’s sermons! I’m a cream puff compared to him. Paul was so adamant about the truth being preached he publicly rebuked Peter for straying away from the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith. Truth has to be more important than our feelings. Paul never apologized to Peter either.

11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them that were of the circumcision.
13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
15 we who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.

Salvation by grace is one the enemies’ main doctrine he attacks. Why? It infuriates Satan that man; a creature of dust can receive not only redemption but also an inheritance from the Lord. We don’t deserve eternal life in glory, but because of GRACE! Oh I love the sound of that word…GRACE! It almost brings tears to my eyes when I hear it because I know how wretched I am. I know how capable I am to commit some of the most evil of sins, yet God extended to me His grace. The enemy for preaching the gospel will attack you. But don’t be afraid; be encouraged in the Word of God:

17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD. (Isa. 54)

18 So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun? When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. (Isa. 59)

29 For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall.
30 As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.
31 For who is God save the LORD? Or who is a rock save our God?
32 It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.

Because we are emissaries for the Lord, He will protect us from the enemies’ onslaught. The righteous WILL be attacked! The Word tells us many are the afflictions of the righteous, BUT the Lord will deliver us from them all. We may not want to deal with the issue, but suffering is very real scenario for the people of God. Something many Christians fail to remember is that the rain falls on the just and the unjust.

Hab 1:1 The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see.
2 O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! Even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!
3 Why dost thou show me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? For spoiling and violence are before me: and there are those raise up strife and contention.

13:1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? Forever? How long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
2 how long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;

The testimony of David and Habakkuk both prove that godly men are not exempt from stressful moments. God’s answer to Habakkuk was simple; “The just shall live by their faith.” Our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is what sustains us, just as His relationship with His Father kept Him through His trials. The spirit of the martyrs is long gone in our society. We want prosperity and power, but no cross. We must be willing to bear our cross daily.

If the disciples had the attitude of today’s believers the Gospel of Jesus Christ would have never been spread. Peter was crucified upside down for the Gospel sake. John was boiled in oil and banished to the Isle of Patmos. James was beheaded and Stephen stoned to death. Horses dragged Mark till he died. Nero beheaded Paul. What is my point? These men were all devoted and sold out for the cause of Christ and they paid the price for it…their lives. Can we do any less?

10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.
10 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. (Jas. 5)

22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. (Acts 14)

People with a heart after God cannot avoid trouble because they have become public enemy number ones for the enemy. Look at David again; he received an anointing from God, and WHAM! Here comes a Goliath. Anointed people will always have to face the enemy. We aren’t anointed to sit still; we are anointed for battle. David had a relationship with the Lord at an early age. I believe we are sadly mistaken if we think God fills us with the Holy Ghost just so we can go to church and brag about being “spirit-filled”. We are filled to fight! The church has established a “Members Only Club”; we asked each other questions like “are you Spirit-filled?” “Do you speak in tongues?” or “Are you Full-Gospel?” And if you don’t answer the question right you are not really saved or you are lacking spiritually. The reason we are Spirit-filled is for SERVICE! (Acts 1:8) In the Old Testament when the Lord anointed someone it was time to get busy! Gideon was anointed to go to war, Samson was anointed to kill Philistines, and we are anointed to win souls and cast out devils in Jesus name. The power of the Holy Ghost is for all that call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

14 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luke 11:13)

19 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; (Eph. 5)

9 Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him,
10 And said, O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. (Acts 13)

15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. (Luke 1)

John the Baptizer had to be Spirit-filled before Pentecost ever happened because he was called to proclaim Christ and repentance, two things you need the Holy Spirit to assist you in doing.

26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)

26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.
16:1 These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.
2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. (John 15)

If you call yourself “Spirit-filled” and you don’t obey God’s Word and witness to the lost, you are fooling yourself. I don’t care if you speak in tongues and dance in church every Sunday. Anointed people are often misunderstood, even hated.

18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

So often I hear Christian’s say they want to be like Paul, Peter, or some other early church father. Could we really bear what they bore? Could we sacrifice as much as they did? I’ll give you two examples of modern day saints that had to endure hardness like good soldiers. While stationed in Turkey during Desert Storm I had the blessed pleasure of leading 2 Turkish Moslems to Christ. I was excited and on fire about this experience, until I found out what happens to Christian converts in Islamic countries. Usually they lose their jobs, their family, and in some instances their very lives. People had to be baptized in bathtubs for fear of their faith being discovered. To this day I wonder and worry about my two brothers in Turkey. You see how trivial the message of prosperity sounds in light of people who count it a blessing just to live another day in the faith.

Chaplain Mark H. Stevens, M.Min

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