July 16 Devotional

Opening Prayer: O God, we can’t hide from you, for you see right into our hearts. It is our hearts that you most care about. It is our hearts that you desire one hundred percent ownership of. It is our hearts that ultimately make us who we are. Therefore, O God, capture our hearts once again today and make us completely your own. Amen.

Scripture: 1 Samuel 16:1-13

Journal: What words or images are you most drawn to in this scripture? Why? What are you most disturbed by? Why? What do you spend more time and energy investing in, the outward appearance or the heart? What does God see when he looks into your heart today? 

Reflection: We spend so much time and energy on the “outward things” these days, or at least I know I do. Oh not just our physical appearance, but our whole persona. It is how we are judged in this culture. And, if we’re really honest, it is how we judge as well. We care a lot about how we look, or should I say how we are perceived. We strive for success. We work for achievements. We list our accomplishments. We build our reputations. We make a name for ourselves. For us, and for our world, image matters. We define ourselves, oftentimes, by how others see us and by what they say and think about us. Which makes for a rocky and lonely ride.

But aren’t you so glad that God is not like that? Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t look on the outward appearance, but looks on the heart? It is the exact opposite of what the world does. Maybe that’s why these verses can be so unsettling. God is kind of turning our normal ways of being and seeing upside down. What matters most in his economy is not the outward things, but the inward things. Because life was meant to flow from the inside out, not from the outside in. He knows that if he has captured our hearts, our lives and our behavior will take care of itself. After all, only good water can flow out of a good well.

So maybe instead of spending so much time constructing my outer world, I need to invest much more time and energy on my inner one - nurturing my heart. Maybe I need come before him much more often in prayer and allow his great affection to so capture me that it affects everything I do, think, and say. Because maybe God wants my affection far more than he wants my activity. For he knows if he has my affection, he will have my behavior as well. In fact, he will have all of me. 

My guess is that’s what he saw in young David as he came in from tending the sheep. He saw a man after His own heart. And that’s exactly the kind of king he was looking for.  

Hymn for the Day

Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself 

Mark and Mary are living in a Creative Access country. Mark is working for a U.S. corporation there as a “Tent Maker.” Mark’s work gives him unparalleled access to the local population. Pray today for wisdom for Mark and Mary as they lead a growing team. Pray for unity of spirit and vision, and that the Lord would use them for his kingdom, and that the gospel would take root across the land where they live.

Pioneer Arab World Ministries Media Center clearly presents Jesus Christ to the Arab world audiences. This is done by recording scriptures, Bible stories, sermons, and Arabic Christian music for broadcast by partner agencies for outreach and for the encouragement of Arab world believers. Pray today for those that will hear the gospel through this organization.

Closing Prayer: God of all that is good and just, grant us courage to walk the path of faith with integrity and wisdom to rely on you to guide our feet toward the level ground of vital Christian community. Test us where we think we are strong, and strengthen us where we know we are wavering. Above all, create in us pure hearts given fully to love of your truth. Amen. (A Guide to Prayer for All Who Walk with God by Rueben Job, Norman Shawchuck, and John Mogabgab)