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A Heart After God

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Carl H. Stevens Jr. was pastor of Greater Grace World Outreach located in Baltimore, Maryland.

Pastor Stevens was also chancellor of Maryland Bible College & Seminary and host of the international Christian radio program “The Grace Hour.” This booklet was created from a message preached by Pastor Stevens.

Pastor Stevens can be seen weekly on cable television stations throughout the United States. Call us for information regarding programming in your area.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the King James Version. Italics for emphasis are ours.

GRACE PUBLICATIONS

P.O.BOX 18715

BALTIMORE, MD 21206

Printed in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.

Copyright © 2006

From a message preached on January 24, 1988 Tape #3881

Grace Publications is a ministry of Greater Grace World Outreach, Inc.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Chapter 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

A POINT OF REFERENCE AND A FRAME OF REFERENCE

Chapter 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

A STONE MADE SMOOTH BY LIVING WATERS

Chapter 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

HONOR GOD’S WORD

CONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

INTRODUCTION

“And when he had removed him, he raised

up unto them David to be their king; to whom

also he gave testimony, and said, I have found

David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own

heart, which shall fulfil all my will” (Acts 13:22).

It is important for me to know that the knowledge I have

of God becomes God’s life in me. The patience that I

develop through following God becomes contentment for

my life. The truth that I understand turns into love, grace,

and mercy through the indwelling Spirit. Then, we have

fellowship with God because of an inward revival that makes

us meek. Meekness that comes from a revival inwardly

makes us gentle outwardly. With gentleness comes

kindness that always produces a spirit of faith-rest.

The Cross of Calvary always brings in a Christ-like attitude.

A heart that is up-to-date with God is a

heart that has a fresh response to God.

I want to show you from the Bible how one

man practiced a life of revival. In His foreknowledge,

God saw this man and decided that

he would be the man, thirty years before this

man was born. In 1 Samuel 13, the prophet

Samuel said to Saul, “But now thy kingdom

shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a

man after his own heart, and the LORD hath

commanded him to be captain over his people,

because thou hast not kept that which the LORD

commanded thee” (1 Samuel 13:14). He was referring

to David.

God kept looking for a man. What was the

qualification God was looking for? He was looking

for a man who had a heart after Him.

He could have found Samuel who was a

beautiful man of God. He could have chosen

Jesse, the father of David, whose name indicates

“living water of the Almighty God.” He could

have chosen Saul also, and He did choose him

to be king, but He did not choose Saul as the

man after His own heart. He could have selected

Abner, the commander-in-chief of the army, but

He didn’t. God selected a teenager, a young man

who remained committed to caring for his father’s

sheep.

You know, many people have this idea that

teenagers are not supposed to be spiritual, that

they don’t know what they want to do with

their life. But God chose a teenager. Why did He

choose this teenager? You will find out in these

pages. Read on and you will see that this

teenager knew how to fellowship with God. He

knew how to get to know God. He knew how to

be trained by God, how to trust God—how to go

after God.

Chapter One

A POINT OF REFERENCE AND A FRAME OF REFERENCE

What is a man who is after God’s own heart?

First of all, the word “heart” refers to a point of

reference and a frame of reference. A man after

God’s heart is a man who is after God’s point of

reference, which is salvation through the Cross.

This is God’s frame of reference, which is governmental

doctrine through grace. David was a man after God with his point of

reference and with his frame of reference. When

something happened, he had both a point of reference

and a frame of reference, and he got to know God’s heart.

A man after God’s own heart must learn to

know what God’s heart is—to know God’s point

of reference all the time and to understand

God’s frame of reference for every subject and

for every detail of life. We’ve got to know God’s

heart if we’re going to go after God’s heart. So

David, at a very young age, got to know God’s

point of reference and God’s frame of reference.

If a man is after God’s own heart, he has to

agree with God’s heart. David agreed with

God’s heart. If a man is after God’s own heart,

he must have a heart like God, and he must fulfill

all of God’s will. According to the Bible, David was that man.

God Makes His Choice

Many years before David was born, God

was searching for a man after His own heart.

Why didn’t He choose Abner, the commanderin-

chief, or Samuel, the prophet? I do not know.

But He was searching for a man after His own

heart.

One day, the Philistines came against the

army of Israel, boasting and bragging. The ninefoot

giant Goliath was taunting the army of Israel,

and he had the feeling that a victory was

just around the corner. The name “Goliath”

means “alienation from God; banishment; exile

because of God’s wrath.” The Philistine would

be alienated from God and banished from God’s

sight because of God’s wrath over his rebellious

indifference. David’s three brothers were with Saul at the

battle site, but David was still at home, caring

for the sheep. He was a teenager in training for a

great task ahead. This is a beautiful picture. Often, teenagers

do not realize that of all the men, women,

preachers, and famous men around them, they

can be chosen as people after God’s heart. Here

was a little boy back home, taking care of the

sheep, but he was fellowshipping with God. He

was getting to know God’s heart. When God

told him how to rescue the lamb from the mouth

of the bear and from the mouth of the lion, he

agreed with God on how to do it. When God

told him to humble himself, he agreed with

God. As a teenager and as a young man, he was

learning how to agree with God.

David was not even the most desired one of

his family. His three elder brothers did not particularly

respect him because of his humility and

his favor with God. This young man accepted

his training in the field with the sheep.

The Boy Beats the Giant

One day, David was told by his father to

take food to his brothers who were on the front

lines where Goliath was. This young man, who

was seemingly left behind, revealed the results

of the training program of honoring God’s heart.

All would see that David had developed into a

man whose knowledge became filled with compassion;

whose faith became courageous and bold; whose truth

turned into love, mercy, and grace; whose point of

reference and frame of reference, no matter what

would happen in his life, was like Christ.

As he arrived on the scene, the Philistine

was screaming and hollering. Saul was afraid.

The soldiers were afraid. Then David said, “One

day I rescued a lamb from a bear and from a lion

as well, and I did smite the beard of the raging

animal. Just as God delivered that lion and that

bear into my hand, so He will deliver this Philistine.”

He had courage, he was bold, and he was

faithful to the Word of God. David did not fear

as Saul feared. His trust was solely in God. He

was not occupied with his enemies. His elder

brothers mocked him. They told him that he was

arrogant and proud and that he should go home

and take care of the sheep. But the situation was

desperate. No one else was there to do the job.

The three brothers did not want him to do it, but

they couldn’t do it. They didn’t have the

courage.

There is always someone who is willing to

take on the enemies of this world. Somewhere

there is a man after God’s heart. Reading this

very booklet, there are special men and special

women who are willing to take on the

Philistines of the world. They are willing to let

God train them, and they are willing to be occupied

with Christ.

David tried on Saul’s armor, but he said, “I

have not proved it. The armor I want to use is

armor I have already proven.”

When the Word of God is the means of our

obedience, then our testing ground is with the

Word. David’s testing ground was the Word. He

was tested by the Word, and he proved the Word.

The Philistine was mocking him and confronting

him with all kinds of statements, but David simply

said, “God will deliver you into our hands, for the

battle is the Lord’s.”

God says the battle is His, and David agreed

with Him. God was David’s point of reference

for victory, and the doctrine of victory was his

frame of reference. He said, “The Lord will deliver

you into our hands.” How could David, a teenager,

be so victorious? Just one way. He had a heart after God.

Chapter Two

A STONE MADE SMOOTH BY LIVING WATERS

God knew David’s life before He chose him.

He knew everything about David before the

foundation of the world. He chose David, and

He didn’t make a mistake. Nothing David ever

did was a surprise to God. He chose him because

He knew He had a man after His heart.

David took a little stone. The streams of the

living water had shaped that stone and fashioned

it over the years, making it smooth. He

had five stones in all, but he took this smooth little

stone, put it in his slingshot, and said to the

giant, “I come against you in the name of God.”

He was a teenager going up against the

world in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. He

went against all the mocking voices and all the

temptations that came into their path. Here was

a teenager representing God’s heart and representing

the army and the nation of Israel. Here

was a teenager who talked with his God in the

wilderness, who had been with his God.

The battle was going on in the valley of Elah,

and it was a valley. It was a valley where Saul

didn’t have any strength. But you know what

“Elah” means? It means “a place of derived strength.”

Saul didn’t have any strength. David’s three

elder brothers didn’t have any strength. The

army of Israel didn’t have any strength. Judah

had been invaded. Israel was being terribly

threatened and was often humiliated by the

Philistine army. In this valley, threatened by Goliath,

they didn’t have any strength.

Here was an enemy upon whom was the

wrath of God because Goliath was alienated

from God. He was a man who would be banished

from God’s sight. If anyone had God’s

heart, then this enemy would be placed in exile,

banished, and destroyed because God said he

was His enemy. But in this valley of Elah, Saul

and his soldiers didn’t have any strength.

The Valleys

A problem for many people today is that

they lack strength in the valleys. They fear the

valleys. There is no job, no proper apartment,

and no security in sight. Business is going

poorly. They get discouraged after two months

when God might want to train them for forty

years. You’d think that for their whole life they

were in poverty, as some have been. They don’t

have a happy day when they are in a trial. It is a

training period, but they are not happy. It is the

trial of their faith.

We face the job that we have to do with multitudes

of enemies in our midst: carnality, fear,

insecurity, rebellion, pride, self-righteousness,

and temporal security. We live in the midst of

these enemies, but greater is He that is in us than

he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).

First John 5:4 says that this is the victory that

overcomes all the world system, even our faith

in our God. David said, “I’m not afraid. This valley

is a valley of strength. I’m not afraid. My God is a God

of the valleys.” The Assyrians found that out in

1 Kings 20:27-28. They mocked Israel and said: “God is

the God of the hills, but He is not the God of the

valleys.” God said, “I’ll show them that I am the

God of the valleys.”

Some of you don’t treat the people you live

with like God would. You don’t have God’s

heart. You’re not after God’s heart. You don’t

love your neighbor as yourself. You’re not a

good neighbor, living in your home. You’re not a

neighbor as a husband. You’re not a neighbor as

a wife. You’re not a neighbor as a friend. You are

indifferent. You ought to be ashamed, and in humility

you ought to repent. You don’t understand

the valleys.

The valley is to reveal that God is the God of

the valleys—that Jesus Christ gives victory, life,

and power in any valley situation. He converts

the knowledge into life. He takes the truth and

turns it into love, mercy, and grace. He takes patience

and turns it into contentment. He takes

kindness and turns it into meekness.

David took the stone. It speaks of the Chief

Cornerstone of 1 Peter 2:6 and Isaiah 28:16. The

five stones speak of grace, and here was God’s

grace with the Chief Cornerstone being hurled

at the enemy. The enemy fell to the ground, and

David ran over with his sword and cut off his

head. The head that was mocking David was

now dissembled. The Philistines were running,

and the Israelites went after them. They were a

foe defeated. The enemy’s head was cut off.

The Enemy is Defeated

Jesus Christ was crucified, buried, and resurrected.

He ascended through the atmosphere of demons

and is now in heaven seated at God’s right hand

as the God-Man, the glorified Man,

the One who defeated the enemy.

Some of you act as if life is so difficult. Don’t

you know we have a defeated foe? Don’t you

know the devil’s head has been cut off? Don’t

you know that everything he says is a lie? He

has convinced you that you have to be sick the

rest of your life, and that becomes an escape

mechanism so you won’t have to be responsible,

as other people. “Remember, I’ve been sick for

twenty-five years. I can’t go out today. I can’t be

responsible because my stomach aches.” The

point is that sickness can be manufactured as a

way of escape so you don’t have to work.

The Christian who has God’s frame of reference

and point of reference—Calvary and resurrection

and ascension—is chasing a defeated

foe. The devil is defeated.

Chapter Three

HONOR GOD’S WORD

David arose in the darkness and then he

went and cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe. Afterward,

David’s heart smote him, because he had

cut off Saul’s skirt.

“And he said to his men, The LORD forbid

that I should do this thing unto my master, the

LORD’S anointed, to stretch forth mine hand

against him, seeing he is the anointed of the

LORD” (1 Samuel 24:6).

David revealed what happens when a man

has a heart after God. Saul was very fearful. No

longer was he fearful of the Philistines, but he

was jealous of David. David had showed

courage that he didn’t have. David had showed

him faith in God and God’s favor. Saul didn’t

have it. David showed him how he was used to

be a deliverer, and Saul didn’t have it. So, Saul

sought to kill him.

Now, David had an opportunity to get rid of

Saul, but he would not make a move that was

not according to God’s heart. First of all, he

knew that Samuel had anointed Saul to be king.

David’s life was a life of revival because he

agreed with what God’s Word said. He failed

momentarily, but he adjusted to what God’s

Word said. Sin, as we will discover, is not the

issue with God. David’s life ended with the

Holy Spirit writing that God didn’t make any

mistakes in choosing David.

David checked his men with the words in

1 Samuel 24:6 and did not let them rise against

Saul. So, Saul rose up and left the cave and went

out of the way, and then David went out of the

cave and called to him saying, “Saul, my lord,

the king.” When Saul looked behind him, David

bowed with his face to the earth, and he humbled

himself.

In verse 12, David said, “The LORD judge between

me and thee, and the LORD avenge me of

thee; but mine hand shall not be upon thee.”

This was a man after God’s heart. First, he

recognized that Saul was God’s anointed. Second,

he understood that God does the judging,

so he couldn’t touch Saul who was trying to kill

him. Third, he humbled himself before Saul and

submitted to him when Saul was trying to take

his life. He bowed to the earth in absolute humility.

A Heart of Humility

Why was David so humble? Why did David

treat a murderer who had murder in his heart

like that? There isn’t one in a million on this

planet today who even knows this kind of humility,

not one in a million. I don’t think there is

one in twenty million who would practice this

today.

David said, “The Lord judge between me

and thee. I will not stretch forth mine hand to

touch thee. You are the Lord’s.”

In 1 Samuel 26, the same thing happened

again, and they found Saul and his guards sleeping.

David’s men wanted to strike Saul dead

right there, and again David stopped them.

David took the spear and the bottle of water that

sat beside Saul’s head, and they got away.

In verse 19, David called to the king. “Now

therefore, I pray thee, let my lord the king hear

the words of his servant. If the Lord have stirred

you up against me, let him accept an offering:

but if they be the children of men, cursed be

they before the LORD; for they have driven me

out this day from abiding in the inheritance of

the LORD… .”

Saul said, “I have sinned. I have sinned. I

will do thee no more harm, because my life was

precious in your eyes today. I played the fool

and have erred exceedingly.”

Then David offered back his spear and said,

“I would not stretch forth my hand against the

LORD’S anointed.”

David’s humility and heartbeat humbled

Saul and changed Saul emotionally. Saul was

touched by God’s heart through David—temporarily,

to be sure, but he was touched. For the

second time, Saul was chasing him and trying to

take his life. Once again, David humbled himself

and would not touch Saul in any way,

shape, or manner. Why? His point of reference,

in principle, was Calvary. His frame of reference

was God’s mercy, God’s love, and God’s grace.

God is the Judge. God is the One who makes the

final decision. God is the One who implements

the plan, and David would not go against the

heart of God.

Mercy Makes A Difference

The problem with the Church today is that it

knows nothing about revival in mercy. Twentysix

times in Psalm 136, David wrote, “His mercy

endures forever.” David gave Saul mercy. He

gave Saul unconditional love. He gave Saul

godly patience. He was longsuffering. He let

God be the Judge. He would not take anything

into his own hands. He returned good for evil

because he had a heart after God. That’s revival.

As the story continues, David fell into deep

sin. You say, “Does he have a heart after God

now?” He fell into deep sin, and he did not have

fellowship with God for a year. He had Uriah

killed and he took Bathsheba to be his wife. He

was silent. He was subdued. He covered up his guilt.

It would seem that his life for God was over.

He was a murderer and an adulterer. It would

seem that God would just let him go to the synagogue

but not serve anymore. Not so.

David understood something magnificent.

God gave him a tremendous revelation (Psalm 32:1-2)

that Paul reiterated in Romans 4:6-8,

“Even as David also describeth the blessedness

of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness

without works, saying, Blessed are

they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose

sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the

Lord will not impute sin.”

David knew and understood God’s heart

about sin. He understood that forgiveness forgets.

He understood that grace followed him to

the grave. He understood that mercy endures

forever, and it followed him until he went home

to be with God. He understood God’s point of

reference and God’s frame of reference. He understood

that God would use him, though he

had done the one sin that was so serious—

killing Uriah—because it took away Uriah’s

right to choose before his God in divine institution

number one, free volition.

Was David’s life over? No. He had a heart

after God. He agreed with God about forgiveness.

So, he repents in Psalm 51, the great psalm

of repentance. In Psalm 51:4, he said, “Against

thee, thee only, have I sinned.”

That is what David understood about Saul.

He gave Saul mercy. He let Saul answer to God.

Now David was going to answer to God. That

was his frame of reference. He was not bothered

by people. He was not bothered with having

rapport with others. He was not bothered by

what the church thought. He said, “Against

thee, thee only, have I sinned.” He had a heart

after God. He had God’s doctrine on grace,

God’s doctrine on forgiveness, and God’s doctrine

on mercy. In the midst of that terrible sin,

God looked down and said, “David still has My

heart. He is after Me.”

Oh yes, he failed. Yes, he was chastised. Yes,

he failed God miserably. Yes, he did wrong, and

yes, he was penalized, but he had a heart that

had God’s frame of reference for his sin and

God’s point of reference for his recovery.

David’s pattern of repentance for his sin was to

name it, forsake it, come back, and continue to

be king.

Agree with God and Get Right

David understood God’s heart. He didn’t listen

to men. He didn’t listen to theologians. He

didn’t listen to this one and that one. He knew

that God couldn’t remember his sin. He knew

that God had paid for his sin, and he knew that

God had judged his sin. All God wanted him to

do was admit it, confess it, get it behind him,

and go on in the plan of fulfilling His will.

David had a heart after God. He was out to

do one thing: fulfill God’s will. Whatever would

come up in his life, he would agree with doctrine.

He would agree with the Word of God. He

would agree with Calvary as the point of reference.

Whatever happened, he would be patient,

longsuffering, and gracious. If he failed, as he

did, his point of reference would be Calvary and

restoration. The same ministry he gave others,

he would then receive from God.

CONCLUSION

I want you to go all the way with Christ. Go

after God with all your heart. Get to know Jesus

Christ. Pray to Him and get to understand what

is on God’s heart. You’ve got to know what it is.

Don’t be caught up with people; be caught up

with God. Don’t be caught up with your feelings;

instead be caught up with the Word. Don’t

be caught up with knowledge unless it’s transferred

into life. If you need to get patience, let it

be transformed into meekness and contentment.

God guides us with His heartbeat, with His

thoughts, and with His plan.

David never turned aside. David fulfilled all

of God’s will. David was a man after God’s

heart, before he was born and all during his life.

That’s why, throughout my many years of

ministry, I have had a problem communicating

with “modern” Christians. They do not have

Calvary as their point of reference, nor do they

have Finished Work mercy as their frame of reference.

Somehow, they get in between with

“this, that, but, and, if, all.” They take things in

their own hands, and they don’t set God before

their face in revival!

Let me ask you this question. Do you think

I’ve added to the Bible? Do you think I’ve taken

away from the Bible? Do you think I’ve privately

interpreted the Scriptures? Well, I have

not. I could go on with a lot more if I wanted to.

I gave you a New Testament commentary.

Have a heart after God. Have heart like David’s.

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