Prophetic Momentum

Jon Cressey writing mostly about church, prophets and prophecy...

An obedient heart

Heart for God
Have you considered the lifestyle challenge of Acts 13:22? I have, and have found myself sadly short of the mark, but… I aspire to it!

I’ll explain. In Acts 13:22, we encounter a profound declaration from God that has intrigued theologians and believers alike: “I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will” (ESV). The apostle Paul is preaching a sermon at Pisidian Antioch. It not only reflects the historical and spiritual significance of David but also offers insights into the nature of God’s relationship with humanity. To grasp this verse and what Paul is trying to convey, we must delve into the context, the life of David, and its relevance to our own “here and now” faith and obedience.

The Context of Acts 13

As always, the context of Acts 13 is critical. Paul and Barnabas are on their ground-breaking first missionary journey, and upon arriving in Antioch of Pisidia, Paul delivers a sermon in the synagogue, recounting the history of Israel. He’s leading them to something but needs to lay the foundation correctly. The sermon, from the start, serves as a bridge between the Old and New Testaments, highlighting God’s redemptive plan through history, culminating in Jesus Christ. Jesus is always the hero and destination of the gospel story. When Paul refers to David as “a man after my heart,” he is invoking a deep scriptural and spiritual heritage that the Jewish audience would recognize and revere.

They had heard the legends of David’s activities, memorised them, sang about them, and danced in celebration of them.

David’s Unique Relationship with God

David’s life is a testament to his unique, close relationship with God. By the time God declares David a man after His own heart, David had already displayed significant qualities that set him apart. His behaviour paved the way for God’s observation and declaration. It’s not dissimilar to the way God looks on you as you learn His ways and seek to glorify Jesus in all your ways. Engage your heart in this because there is something of encouragement for you in these next few words.

As a young shepherd, David was known for his courage, faith, and musical talent, which he used to articulate psalms that expressed, for himself and anyone else lost in praise and worship, meaningful and deep theological insights and personal devotion. They were greater than Bethel, Hillsong, or Elevation for the simple reason that these were songs, not just inspired by circumstance, but were literally, “breathed out by God”. In all of his activity, David is proving himself, but you might ask, what had David done to warrant such an observation from God? (A man after God’s own heart) The answer lies in a combination of his character, his actions, and his heart’s radical disposition towards God.

David’s Life and Actions

David’s anointing by the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 16) was a convincing, significant, and pivotal moment. Everything turned on the moment. God instructed Samuel to anoint David, bypassing his older brothers, who seemed in various ways more outwardly suitable for kingship. But God had His eye on the young shepherd boy. This choice trumpets a divine principle: “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, ESV). God’s selection of David was based on his heart’s alignment with God’s purposes. He had integrity, transparency, humility, and congruency.

David’s astonishing victory over Goliath (1 Samuel 17) further painted a colossal picture of his unwavering faith and reliance on God. Unlike King Saul and the Israelite army, David saw the giant not as an insurmountable obstacle but as an affront to God’s honour. His bold proclamation, “The battle is the Lord’s” (1 Samuel 17:47, ESV), revealed his profound trust and faith in God’s power and promises. It could have gone very, very wrong, but he stepped out in obedience. It was a staggering act of obedience. Things have not changed today; you may be one of today’s Davids—or one of those set to step out and perhaps hear those words, “This also is my beloved one in whom I am well pleased”.

The Relevance for Us Today

He was not without his own disasters. David’s life was marked by a pattern of seeking God’s guidance and showing contrition when he failed, keeping very short accounts with God. His heart is revealed in his massive song collection, replete with expressions of repentance, trust, and a longing for God’s presence. When you think he’s being vulnerable, he goes on to eclipse it with songs such as Psalm 51, penned after his unbelievable and soul-destroying grievous sin with Bathsheba; and it’s a humbling example of his heart’s posture: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10, ESV). This transparency and humility before God set David apart as a man after God’s own heart.

This is where some people may trip up. David the adulterer is a man after God’s own heart? It is really important to understand that God’s commendation of David was not based on his perfection but on his responsiveness to God. David had a soft heart towards God, His purposes, and His leading, much like you. His life was under God’s scrutiny, not as a punitive measure but as a means of refining and revealing his heart. Similarly, God watches, examines, and tests us today. This divine scrutiny is not to catch us in wrongdoing but to guide us towards growth and a deeper relationship with Him. It is an expression of His grace and kindness, aimed at moulding us into people who reflect His heart and will—reflecting a people who love God and live for His glory—God’s amazing Spirit-empowered and Christ-honouring Church.

In 2024 terms, this divine examination manifests in various ways. Life’s challenges, opportunities, and even mundane or boring moments are all arenas where our faith and character are tested and observed. How we respond to these tests reveals the state of our hearts. Do we trust God in adversity? Do we seek His will in our decisions? Are we quick to repent when we falter? These questions are pivotal in understanding how we align ourselves with God’s heart, especially if you want that audacious statement that you are one after God’s own heart.

So, how is it worked out? Obedience plays a central role in this alignment. To be after God’s heart is to seek His will and to act upon it. In the New Testament, Jesus reiterates the importance of obedience in His teachings. In John 14:15, He states, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (ESV). Obedience is not a legalistic adherence to rules but a heartfelt response to God’s love and grace—a tangible expression of our relationship with Him.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, expands on this idea, emphasising that our obedience is a direct response to God’s mercy, laying a radical call in Romans 12:1-2 for believers to present their bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is their spiritual worship. This transformation comes through the renewal of the mind, aligning our thoughts and actions with God’s will. Here, obedience is framed not as a clumsy, burdensome duty but as a joyous and liberating act of worship—something that imparts life!

The outcomes or treasure of living as people after God’s heart are manifold. While it is not a formula for a trouble-free life (and never can be), it brings profound spiritual blessings. David experienced God’s favour in many ways—victories, a lasting legacy, and the promise that his throne would be established forever (2 Samuel 7:16). However, he also faced immense personal trials and consequences for his sins. Yet, through it all, God’s steadfast love and faithfulness remained with him.

In our lives, being a people after God’s heart invites us into a deeper experience of His grace and presence. It shapes our identity and purpose, giving us a framework for understanding our lives in the context of God’s redemptive story in the storms of 2024. This viewpoint allows us to see trials as great and welcome opportunities for growth and transformation. It encourages us to rely on God’s strength rather than our own and to seek His wisdom in our decisions.

Not only that, aligning our hearts with God’s heart cultivates a community of believers who reflect His character to the world. Our obedience and faithfulness become testimonies of God’s grace, drawing others to Him. That is a reward in itself.

An obedient heart
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