“I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin” (Psalm 32:5).
David was a man who knew how to repent. He constantly searched his heart before God and was quick to cry, “I’ve sinned, Lord. I stand in need of prayer.”
Being repentant does not mean you simply try to make things right with the person you have wronged. No, it’s about making things right with God! He is the One who has been sinned against. Yes, we are to apologize to our brothers and sisters whenever we have wronged them, but, more importantly, we are to repent of our sin before God. David said, “For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned” (Psalm 51:3-4).
David believed strongly in conducting heart-searchings — the hard discipline of digging out sin in his heart. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). He continually invited the Lord to examine every corner of his life.
Perhaps you search your heart on a regular basis, yet you come away from the Spirit’s dealing saying, “Thank goodness, I’m clean. I don’t have any more sin in me.” If that is the case, beloved, you are deceived. Isaiah confessed, “For our transgressions are multiplied before You, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and as for our iniquities, we know them” (Isaiah 59:12). The prophet was saying, “We know all about our own sins.” Of course, God knows when we say or do wrong things but we know it, too.
A great benefit of repentance is receiving peace and strength. After Daniel had prayed and fasted in great agony, Jesus came to him, touched him and said, “O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong” (Daniel 10:19).
A truly repentant heart never has to hide from the Lord because there is no longer any fear of judgment. When you acknowledge your sins, evidence godly sorrow and make restitution, Jesus will look at you, just as he did at Daniel, and say, “I love you and I want to give you my peace. Now, stand up and be strong!”
I want to talk to you about mental distractions during prayer and forsaken worship — especially in the house of God. Jesus called people hypocrites who came into His presence mouthing words of praise, but whose minds and hearts were preoccupied. He spoke directly to them, saying, "You give Me your mouth and your lips — but your mind is somewhere else. Your heart is nowhere near Me!"
What about you? Most likely, you are present in God's house for an hour every week. So, your body is in church — but where is your mind? Your mouth says, "I worship You, Lord" — but is your heart a thousand miles away? Where do your thoughts take you during worship and praise?
It is not a light thing to come into God’s house to worship him! “And Moses said to Aaron, ‘This is what the Lord spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified’” (Leviticus 10:3). God had said to Moses, “I will not be treated as an ordinary person! If you’re going to enter into my presence, you must come before me sanctified. All who approach my holiness must do so with carefulness and thoughtfulness — because of my glory and majesty.”
We are not to utter anything in the Lord’s presence without our heart and soul in it. Jesus commands, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).
God’s house is a house of worship. When we enter, we are to set aside all flesh and cry, “Lord, I’m not where I should be but I love you! Put a wall of fire around my thoughts and let me bring the offering of a focused, full-minded praise unto you!”
God loves you and he knows the power that pure worship releases in your spirit. It makes you stronger than a lion and bigger than a giant, pulling down every wall and stronghold that comes against you. Hallelujah!
“Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward” (1 Samuel 16:13).
David became a man who was godly, wise, loved: “And David behaved wisely in all his ways, and the Lord was with him” (18:14). He was a man of much prayer who praised the Lord as few people ever have, blessing the heart of God with his songs and psalms. David was also a man of great faith. He went on to slay the giant Goliath on his way to becoming a mighty warrior for King Saul. God’s Spirit clearly was upon him.
After a time, Saul became angry at David and came after him with great wrath. David had to run for his life and hide in caves. At times he must have thought, “Lord, if I’m so special, anointed and chosen, then why am I in such deep trouble?” During this low period, David made an unwise choice and fled to a town called Gath, the hometown of the defeated giant Goliath. Because he had not sought the counsel of the Lord before making this move, hostility rose against him there. He was captured and brought before King Achish, where he made another foolish move. He pretended to be insane in hopes that his “insanity” would deliver him from the clutches of the enemy. This was a poor testimony to David’s men but it worked to a degree — King Achish wanted absolutely nothing to do with him.
Even though David was unfaithful to the Lord during this episode, God was still faithful to him! He did not write David off. Even while he was playing the madman, behaving foolishly, God’s eternal purpose for him went forward.
Have you ever gone through some sort of “insane” period in your life? You may have faced utter chaos and given up, saying, “I can’t handle this anymore!” You acted according to your flesh, getting ahead of God. But God still worked on your behalf. He is always at work behind the scenes; always faithful to his promises and his plan for your life.
The prayer that pleases God is very simple and easy to understand. The disciples said to Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). This request reflects an honest desire to learn to pray in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.
Many Christians pray only out of a sense of obligation, but prayer is not for our own welfare or relief, it is for the delight of our Lord. God tells his disciples, “When you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do … Do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:7-8). In other words, “When you come into my presence, focus your attention on fellowship with me — on getting to know me.”
Too much of our prayer time is spent asking God for a better job, a bonus, food, clothes and other necessities. But our Father already has made provision for our daily needs: “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on” (Matthew 6:25).
The Bible says, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). Delighting in the Lord doesn’t mean simply being happy in his presence; it also means being able to say, “I long to be with him because all others leave me empty and unfulfilled. Only Jesus can touch my deepest needs.”
Coming to the Lord with delight does not mean we cannot come to him during times of sadness and grief. During such times we prefer to be with him above all others. We were made for fellowship with him, even in our heaviest times.
Do you love to be with him? Do you prefer him above all others? Ask God to put in you a heart that is easily wooed to his presence. And then listen closely to his Holy Spirit during your times of communion with him. He will reveal his Word to you in new ways as he teaches you to pray.
Jerusalem is a symbol of the city of God, or God’s dwelling place. Rebuilding the walls was important because it served as a sign to Israel’s enemies, showed God was with his people, and revealed his blessing.
When Nehemiah heard that the walls of Jerusalem were still broken down more than a half-century after the completion of the rebuilding of the temple, he “sat down and wept, and mourned for many days” (Nehemiah 1:4). Then he fasted and prayed as he formulated a plan to remedy the situation.
Once the walls were rebuilt, the symbols of God’s presence among his people were restored and the people’s hearts were renewed in faithfulness and gratitude. Overwhelming joy flooded their hearts when the glorious rebuilding was completed. It was an important moment in Israel’s history, a cause for great celebration and heartfelt thanksgiving.
In an individual’s life, rebuilding the walls is a picture of reestablishing strength. We have all met people whose defenses have crumbled away. They may even be derelicts, utterly helpless and hopeless. But in his grace, God reaches down and brings them to a place where he can reconstruct their lives. They are transformed and restored to a place of strength, power and purpose.
One thing you can be sure of: when you start to rebuild the strength of your life, you will find forces immediately rise against you, both from within and outside of yourself. Resistance to God’s work in your life will be swift but when God is on the move, he causes glorious things to happen. And it doesn’t take him long to accomplish his restoration of your spirit. He only asks you to take your eyes off your circumstances, because Jesus has already won your victory.
God invites you to bring him the source of your brokenness — your hurt, your anger, your disappointment — because he wants to address it and heal it, through intimate communion with him. Ask the Holy Spirit, “Lord, be the voice of Nehemiah to me in my condition. Confront the sins I tolerate and restore my spiritual walls. Then heal the source of it all — my loneliness, my depression, my hurt. I trust you to keep me inside my safe walls, Lord. You are my victory in everything and I praise you!”