How to Repent — Continued... Barry's Video Blog...
Examples in the Bible of
Those who Repented by
Directing Their Heart
Examples From Scripture
King David is our best example of one who took an active role in directing his heart toward God: "Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God" (Psa. 43:5). Notice how he spoke to his fears by talking to himself and reassuring his heart to trust God.
You may be one who has loved God strongly in the past. But unless you take an active role in directing your heart toward God, earthly dependencies increase. Eventually, the flame of your love for God dies down to a slow burn. It is too easy to turn and quench our thirsty desires by depending on anything and everything except God. Not so with David. He took an assertive and determined role in how he was going to quench His thirst. He directed his heart toward God. He was able to quench his thirst for God because David made the Lord his strength, his glory, his refuge, his first love.
David wrote, "O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You..." (Psa. 63:1). He also said,
David directed his heart toward God by strongly reassuring himself that God was his salvation, his hope, his strength, his refuge—and not other things. I believe it was by continually directing his heart toward God that David became a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22).
By strong declaration David reminded his heart that it was God that he wanted—not the ways of this world. He continually steered the affections and intentions of his heart to depend on God. David said, "My soul will make its boast in the Lord..." (Psa. 34:2). He also said, "And my soul shall rejoice in the Lord; It shall exult in His salvation" (Psa. 35:9).
Follow David’s example, "All my bones will say, ‘Lord, who is like You, who delivers the afflicted from him who is too strong for him..." (Psa. 35:10)? Directing your heart toward God requires that you involve your whole being in the process of getting your heart to hear.
David reassured his heart with truth about God. He told himself and God, "Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendor and majesty, Covering Yourself with light as with a cloak, Stretching out heaven like a tent curtain" (Psa. 104:1,2). Elsewhere he also wrote, "The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him" (Psa. 28:7). He reassured his heart about God, but at the same time, he was also directing his heart to "bless the Lord" and to "trust in Him."
I believe that directing his heart toward God was how David coped with the difficulties of life. The pattern is clear. The Bible says, "Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered...But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God" (1 Sam. 30:6). Perhaps Psalm 31 was David’s response to the circumstances spoken of in 1 Samuel.
In times of distress, David’s response was to admit to God what he was struggling with. Then he made a declarative statement intended to direct his heart toward greater dependence on God, "But as for me...I say, ‘You are my God.’" Then, he trusted the shine of God’s face upon him as what would save him from his enemies.
Directing his heart toward God was not a vague thing for David. His experience of God was very much connected to real life. David was directing his heart to trust the nearness of God’s presence: "But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge..." (Psa. 73:28). He also said,
David didn’t hide from his fears. He addressed them directly by turning his heart to trust God. But please note that it was the closeness of God that was David’s defender: "The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and...my stronghold" (Psa. 18:2). When David says he made the Lord his refuge, his fortress, or his shield he not directing his heart to trust a God who was distant. In order to calm his fears he had to believe that God was close. In doing so, God was close. That is just how it works, "...he who comes to God must believe...that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Heb. 11:6).
David was continually directing his heart to trust the presence of God with him, "Let Your lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us, According as we have hoped in You" (Psa. 33:22). David was reassuring his heart to trust the closeness of his God, "I cried out to You, O Lord; I said, "You are my refuge, My portion in the land of the living" (Psa. 142:5).
You have to get your heart to hear and believe the closeness of God or you won’t be able to quench your thirsty desires with His presence. Repentance requires that we turn to God—we have to turn our heart to trust His nearness. But repentance also requires that we have to turn away from our earthly ways. In the example below, it may be that David was directing his heart to stay turned to God and not turn back to trusting his earthly ways: "You are my King, O God...For I will not trust in my bow, Nor will my sword save me" (Psa. 44:4a and 6).
New Testament teaching about repentance has taught me to start by making the statement about what I will not depend on. Then after that I follow it up by making a declaration about why I can and should turn to God.
Direct your heart to believe and love the closeness of God. Follow David’s example. When David said that his soul was thirsty for God he did not settle for just being thirsty. He says, "Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory." (Psa. 63:2).
Elsewhere I have explained why I believe that David was talking about the spiritual sanctuary of God. David quenched his thirsty desire by trusting he was in the heavenly sanctuary before the Lord and by looking at God’s power and glory. It was with eyes of faith that he was able to "see" the power and glory of his God.
Immediately following the passage where David said, "The Lord is my light and my salvation" he talked about being in the secret place with God.
It quenched his desire for God to believe he was in the heavenly sanctuary before the Lord. It also says, "They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house; And You give them to drink of the river of Your delights. For with You is the fountain of life..." (Psa. 36:8,9). The reason standing before the Lord is so filling is because our God is a fountain who radiates His holiness, love, power, and glory. It is the people who trust the presence of God as their refuge whom God allows to draw near to Him and drink, "How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. They drink their fill...and You give them to drink of the river of Your delights" (Psa. 36:7,8).
The reason you can drink from the fountain of God is because when you draw near to Him, He draws near to you (James 4:8). It also says, "They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces will never be ashamed" (Psa. 34:5). They were radiant because of the radiance of God upon them when they trusted they were before the Lord.
You can experience God in a way that is similar to King David. Doing so is available to anyone who will address their fears by reassure their heart so that they can turn to God—without holding back. The road ahead of you may seem dark and lonely, but that is why you need to reassure yourself with the truth about what is available to you. Begin now. Follow the examples given in scripture. Get more involved in doing your part to help yourself to grow. It all boils down to softening your heart so you can hear. You can direct your heart away from earthly dependencies and toward God. You don’t have to hide from your greatest fears.
I am praying for the Lord's abundant blessing on your efforts to direct your heart toward Him.
How to Repent — Continued...
(C) Barry Hall 1999
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