Know My Heart
Last week we launched 2020 with a simple prayer! Asking God to “Transform Me.”
It is our hope and prayer as we begin, this New Year that we will have optical clarity on one objective. “To become Transformed people who transform our world.”
This is why we extended the invitation for Southside Church to enter a time of fasting and prayer!
We have fasting guides to help you know how to begin and we have daily prayer reminders sent daily to you through our church app.
And as we launch into this prayer journey we are continuing our study of the prayer prayed by David the second notable king of Israel, found in Psalms 139.
Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV) 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Before praying this prayer, David began by right-sizing himself in the presence of an unlimited, all-knowing, ever-present God.
We too must right-size ourselves before our awesome God and ask Him to conduct a complete inventory of our life by praying, “Search me oh God.”
If you will sincerely pray this prayer, God will begin to reveal areas of your life that need transformation!
Once He reveals them, we need to move quickly to submit those areas to God.
Submission opens us up to the transforming power of God!
And God’s transforming power will begin to change us beginning with our heart.
This is why David prayed: “Search me oh God, Know my heart”
What did David mean by heart? When he uses the word heart, what was he conveying?
You see David was not talking about the blood-pumping organ in your body.
In the Hebrew mindset, the heart is the center of the self; it reflects the inner man, the center of your will and passion and emotions.
One could say it is the intersection of the mind, will, and emotions encased in the body of every human! This is the heart!
The heart is the core essence of who you are.
Your heart is the real you.
And the real you is what God is most concerned with!
David would have been familiar with this because of the way God selected him to be the second king of Israel.
This selection happened after Saul the first king of Israel was rejected by God for directly disobeying God’s clear command.
Therefore, God instructed the prophet, Samuel, to go to the family of Jesse and anoint the next king of Israel.
When Samuel arrived at Jesse’s home, Samuel asked to see the sons of Jesse.
Jesse paraded the sons before the prophet, and Samuel began sizing up the potential candidates.
As he surveyed the lot, he was drawn to the oldest son Eliab, and immediately Samuel thought that Eliab was impressive!
Surely this must be the one! However, the LORD cautioned him:
1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV) 7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
One by one, Jesse introduced seven of his sons he thought were eligible to be king before Samuel.
To each one, Samuel said, “that is not the one the Lord has chosen.” Finally, Samuel asked, “is that it?”
Jesse, answered, “well, I have one more but he’s so young that he’s out there tending the sheep.”
David was the youngest son, yet he was the one the Lord chose.
Not by His impressive outward stature, He was a young teenager he had not even fully developed yet.
Often, we look at things that seem impressive and we immediately jump to a conclusion because we think it is impressive so it must be right.
We have been influenced by our bachelor and bachelorette culture, we make snap assessments based on our first impressions.
If it looks good then swipe right, it must be right.
When in reality we don’t know what’s under the surface.
Outward impressiveness can fool us!
What if in our default, we use the wrong metrics?
We use outward metrics, but God uses heart metrics.
According to God’s heart metrics, David scored high! Because he had a humble, willing, pliable heart.
In God’s eyes, David’s inner life demonstrated a strength that far outweighed the flashiness of outward impressiveness.
God saw the inner heart of David as the right kind of clay, that could be shaped by His divine hands.
Who you are on the inside - will show up in time on the outside.
Especially when you come under the fire of life.
God could see that the heart of David was ready for development even though he would have to face the fire of life.
Just as clay formed on a potter’s wheel must go through the fire of a kiln to be cured, David had to face fire in his life, and God saw him as ready.
This anointing of David happened when he was a teenager; it was approximately 15 years before David became king and prayed the prayer we read in Psalms 139.
A lot of water had gone under the bridge in fifteen years.
David was anointed as king as a teenager
- then he faced Goliath the Giant Philistine champion and killed him
- King Saul banished him from his household because of jealousy
- David lived on the run in fear of his life
- he hid in the desert
- He was forced to leave his nation and act like a lunatic to avoid being killed
- He fought many battles
- faced many lonely nights
All before he actually became King.
I think we falsely believe that having a spiritual encounter with God will rescue us from the hard things in life.
This is the furthest thing from the truth.
Hard things are sometimes used as molding and shaping times!
God uses the fire of life’s adversity to shape the heart within us.
God wants to transform us from ordinary lumps of clay into a useful vessel. This cannot happen without FIRE!
Just think, right now, what are some of the hard things in your life?
Could it be that God can use hard circumstances to shape your character for a higher purpose?
God doesn’t remove every difficulty in our lives.
However - He promises to provide His presence and be our advocate while producing transformation through His power!
God will help us walk through the hard things in life.
In fact, through Him, our tragedies can become His triumph.
This is why David opened his heart before God as declared – Search me and know my heart!
David knew the truth his son Soloman would later declare in Proverbs.
Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) 23Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
David knew that the heart was the critical place that needed God’s transforming power because it was also that place where sin can grow.
He knew that his heart could deceive him. Like the prophet, Jeremiah later declared:
Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV) 9The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
This is why David begins his reign as king by asking God to - know my heart because he wanted God to know the real him!
WHO KNOWS THE REAL YOU?
David was inviting God to enter into the innermost parts of his existence because he wanted God to transform the hidden places that could lead him down the wrong path.
Our attitude needs to be, “God, I want to hold nothing back!”
I want to give you access to every inner part of my existence and allow you to know my psyche, soul, and will!
Know me and make yourself known to me oh God!
This was the prayer of David, and when you pray this bold prayer, something will begin to happen within you!
It did for David, because of His consistent openness before God he received a promise!
He was promised a descendant who would follow him and sit on his throne.
A new king who would usher in a completely new level of transformation.
1 Chronicles 17:11-14 (NIV) 11 When your days are over and you go to be with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. 12He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. 13I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him, as I took it away from your predecessor. 14I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever.'"
And sure enough, we see this prophecy fulfilled when an angel gives a message to a girl by the name Mary.
Luke 1:31-33 (NIV) 31You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
We just finished celebrating the arrival of Jesus, this very descendant at Christmas time!
Jesus, the one and only son of God, who arrived on the scene to become - The King of kings.
This second member of the Triune God declared clearly that He had the ability to know our hearts.
In fact, John, one of Jesus' closest friends, said this about Jesus.
John 2:25 (NIV) 25 He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.
The Triune God, Father, Son, and Spirit have the ability to know your heart; He knows who you really are at the core of your being.
When we approach God with a spirit like David and say search me oh God, know my heart - it is an invitation to:
Invite God in close to reveal to us what He already knows about us!
Jesus knows our tendency; he knows the condition of our heart will determine the kind of person we will become; this is why when Jesus was preaching he declared clearly:
Luke 6:45 (NIV) 45The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
Jesus knows you! The question is: Do you know Him and what He knows about you?
Here is an amazing reality; Jesus did not simply show up on the scene to state the obvious.
He arrived on the scene to become the remedy to a condition all humans deal with.
The tendency to have a heart problem!
We all have a heart that is divided!
We all possess the knowledge of both Good and evil and we are tempted on a regular basis to choose what side we allow to win.
Jesus is God’s Son sent to break the curse of sin that caused this confusion and offers to purify the clay of our hearts.
He can transform our tendency to be self-destructive and begin a work of transformation producing in us everything God intended we would become.
The prophet Ezekiel prophesied that Jesus would bring this change to us!
Ezekiel 36:26-27 (NIV) 26I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
When we say yes to Jesus we begin a relationship with God!
Then in relationship we can pray, “Search me o God, know my heart,” and He is ready and willing to reveal and guide us to everything that needs further transformation.
This is why the Apostle Paul told the Philippians this:
Philippians 1:6 (NIV) 6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
And here is the icing on the cake.
When you and I face hard times, we have an advocate who is working all things to our good!
God looks at your heart and is waiting to be invited in so He can help you navigate both the good and the hard times in life.
You can invite Him in by praying, “Search me, oh God! Know my Heart”
In my life, after walking with God for years, God is still purifying and molding my heart.
As the leader of this church, I have experienced the good times, which encourage me, and I have hard times that mold me and purify my heart.
The good times bring pure joy to me: like-
Growing in my relationship with my wife and seeing my children continue to develop as adults and watch, my grandson grow.
The 180 decisions for Christ we have experienced from the 1st of April 2019 to December 31st of 2019!
The joy of talking with people who began a relationship with Jesus for the first time and witness their baptism.
I have been encouraged by the baby dedications we have had this past year, all the weddings that have happened.
To see the many people serving Jesus and finding their place of service and hear stories of life transformation in action.
Watching our jail ministry team lead women in the prison in worship.
Our medical teams care for people in other countries. Our teenagers while they are working on roofs.
All of the people who show up for community impact and outreach like Trunk or Treat, or school clean up days, or teachers breakfasts, and pack-a-meal events.
Watching miracles happen like in June of last year.
We came up against a financial reality that we needed more funds in our Imagine more fund to start the build-out project at the Courthouse Road campus.
We challenged you and immediately you responded, our Imagine More giving shot up. We raised the funds to pay for the build-out without borrowing money!
Or how about Guardian Christian Academy stepping out to build the Sports Complex.
Members of our school community donated more than $500,000.00 in services to build this unbelievable building we broke ground on in March opened in December of 2019!
Or the Christmas offering and the generosity we celebrated last weekend.
The launch of our Amelia campus with 54 in attendance the first weekend we were opened.
These are amazing things and I give God praise as my heart has been lifted and encouraged by these good things.
But I have to be honest with you that there have also hard times and difficulties.
In our church family, we experienced the death of 42 people connected with this church this past year.
I personally facilitated 15 funerals, some for people I was very close to, including our foster son Zion Jiggetts.
These losses have affected me emotionally in a profound way and I am still experiencing the heart chiseling affects in my life.
As a leader, I face challenges in leading this multi-organizational, multi-campus ministry, one of those areas in dealing with the finances of a large organization.
For example, while we had increases in special offerings like I bragged on earlier.
I have been perplexed to figure out why we have experienced a consistent decline in our regular giving which includes tithes and mission giving.
In fact, right now in the second week of January, we are two and a half months from the end of our church financial year which ends in March.
With our regular giving down about 5.6% over the flow of the year, we find ourselves currently $97,000 behind.
And unless giving patterns change in the next 10 weeks it will become $126,000.
Just like with your personal finances, you can move money around to try to make the cash flow work but by the end of our fiscal year, things get real!
We need a financial turnaround to the tune of $126,000.00.
This is a Big ministry. We have big bills and this is a big weight.
Let me put this into perspective for you. One line-item in our budget is the electric bill. Our electric bill for all our campuses is $87,000.00 a year.
As you know in your family finances you can trim, shave, and tighten the belt!
However, you also know there are very few areas you can adjust when you are trying to keep the lights on while paying fixed expenses like salaries of our staff and the mortgage.
I thank God for the wonderful finance team and church board who work with me to ensure we budget wisely and manage expenses with financial best practices.
The ministry of this church is dependent on obedience in giving by God’s people.
If giving isn’t coming in then we won’t have the funds to minister.
And as your leader, the buck stops with me. I carry the weight of what gets cut!
This is a pressure point for me, it is bringing me to a place where I say on a regular basis “search me oh God, Know my heart!”
That’s why I need us to pray and fast, to allow that God will show me and show us what to do!
And the Lord is challenging me to have BIG faith! In what areas is God stretching your faith?
Our staff meets to pray every Tuesday, I have a prayer team that meets every Thursday and for the past four years, we have been praying search us oh God know my heart.
One of the specific prayers we have been praying for is the eyesight of our own Liberty Gratz.
She was diagnosed two years ago with Usher Syndrome, a condition along with retinitis pigmentosa, which is a degenerative eye condition that can lead to blindness.
We have been praying bold prayers like "God heal her sight!"
While I was writing this very section of the message, I received an update text from Her mom that catapulted my Faith. I couldn’t believe it!
She told me that the report from last Wednesday’s Dr. appointment states that the fluid pressure in her eyes had diminished and her eyesight has improved.
I believe God is hearing our prayers, and providing the optical clarity for Liberty!
If I can pray bold prayers like heal her eyes then I can allow God to stretch my faith in all areas where life is pressing in!
Why don’t we all join into the prayer and pray for optical clarity, not just for Liberty but for all of us, Search me oh God know my heart!
As I pray each week about the challenges we face as a local church God keeps pressing in on me!
He says "Wynne I got you, you are not alone, share this with the people and let them carry this with you. "
So I just did!
Then I have this kind of spiritual conversation with the Spirit of God. It was not audible but it was loud and clear in my heart. He went like this:
- He said, "didn’t I call you to be the lead pastor of this church?" I say yes!
- "Didn’t I tell you to launch those ministries?" I say yes!
- "Didn’t I bring the pastors to work alongside you?" I say yes!
- "Don’t you see me raising up leaders in the areas of service?" And I say yes!
- "Haven’t I shown you that I still hear and answer prayers?" I say oh yeah!
Then God said, “ then trust me, I got you!” God is increasing my faith!
God desires us to have a willing heart that prays “search me, know my heart” so He can bring optical clarity to the areas of life that need transformation!
Is there anyone here today who needs the power of God’s transformation?
What areas of pressure are you facing today? Where do you need to bear your heart before God?
Have you come to the place where you say, "search me oh God, know my heart."
Then let's pray, know my heart oh God! Transform me so I can be used to transform our world!