The following devotional is mirrored with permission by the author, the Rev. Mark Daniels, who serves as Senior Pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Dayton, Ohio.
Asking God to show me what truth He wanted me to see and what thought He wanted to give to me from Acts 1 this morning, I was struck today by Acts 1:24.
In this verse, after the resurrected Jesus’ ascension to heaven, the disciples are in Jerusalem, where Jesus has directed them to go. In prayer, they ask God to show them who should replace Judas, the disciple who defected, betrayed Jesus, then took his own life. They begin their prayer, “Lord, You know every heart.”
This idea that God knows our hearts isn’t a new truth, of course. It’s confirmed at many places in Scripture. But it’s a truth I need to hone in on, one I often forget.
When I think that I’m off in a corner with my sin, God knows my real heart.
When I think that I need to struggle with some challenge or hurt, that no one understands, I need to remember that God knows my heart.
He knows when I need to exercise the gift of repentance, whether I know it or not. He knows what sin threatens me.
He knows, long before I do, when I need to gather under His protective wing, praying, “Save me from the time of testing.”
God knowing my heart has two aspects. There’s the law and there’s the promise.
The Law: Because God knows my heart, when I dare to be quiet and read His Word and let it soak in, God, through His Holy Spirit, convicts me and leads me to seek restoration of my relationship with God, a relationship I turn from when I think, “my will be done” and not “Thy will be done.”
Because God knows my heart, when I dare to be quiet and read His Word and let it soak in, God, through His Holy Spirit, convinces me and leads me to take solace in His grace and His love. I come to understand that nothing can separate a sincere believer from the God we meet in Christ.
In Psalm 139:1, David prays: “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.” Later in the psalm, he asks God to cast the light of His law on his life so that He can repent and be restored in his relationship with God: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).
David invites God to convict him of his sin so that nothing can come between God and him. The follower of the God made known to the world in Jesus Christ isn’t afraid to be convicted for sin. They’re not afraid of guilt. Guilt is the mechanism God uses in the mind, heart, and will of a Christian to prick their conscience and call them back home to God.
David invites God to convict him of his sin so that nothing can come between God and him.
When God’s hand is heavy on our shoulders, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the true believer in Christ understands that when the God Who knows our heart is convicting us, it’s out of love. Citing Proverbs 3:11-12, the preacher in the New Testament book of Hebrews says: “‘…the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.‘ Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?” (Hebrews 12:5-7)
When God’s hand is guiding me, or when God showers me with grace and forgiveness I don’t deserve, or when I face daunting decisions, times, people, or circumstances, I take comfort in the fact that God knows my heart. He knows everything about me, yet still loves me, still wants to give me eternity, still promises to be with me always. And His will for me is good, eternally good. “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:13-14).
When we’re authentic before God in our sin, He convinces us that because of the crucified and risen Jesus, that grace, forgiveness, and eternity will be His “last words” over our lives, not sin, condemnation, and hell.
God, grant that I won’t tune You out so that I can both seek Your help in seeing and repenting for my sin AND relish the fact that though You know my heart (and everything about me), You still love me and want me as Your own. In Christ’s name.
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