Experiencing God’s Love
By Dr. Charles Stanley
The Bible refers to David as a man after God's own heart (1 Sam. 13:14). What made his relationship with the Lord so special? We know it wasn't because he was perfect—Scripture records his sin with Bathsheba and his involvement in the murder of her husband Uriah. However, the life story of Israel's second king shows us how we can relate to the Lord in a way that frees us to experience His amazing love for us.
1. David was honest with God. It's tempting to "censor" our prayers, editing out the things we assume God doesn't want to hear or making our words sound appropriately pious. David avoided prayers that sounded good but didn't express his heart. (Ps. 142:2)
- Read Psalm 42:9. Are you comfortable being completely honest with God, as David was? Why or why not?
2. David confessed his sin. When Nathan the prophet rebuked him for committing adultery with Bathsheba and killing her husband, David admitted his sin to the Lord (Ps. 51:3-4).
God's love for you is unconditional, but your ability to experience that love will be diminished if you are carrying a load of guilt.
- For what sin do you feel guilty? Read Psalm 32:3-5. Then write a prayer confessing your sin to God, knowing that He will be faithful to forgive you (1 John 1:9).
3. David meditated on Scripture. One of the most powerful ways to increase your awareness of the Lord's care is to focus on verses that declare His love for you. When we choose to fill our minds with truth from His Word, we are more likely to experience His love.
- According to Psalm 119:146-149, why did David value meditating on God's Word?
- Choose one of the following passages: Romans 5:8; Romans 8:31-32; Ephesians 1:4-5. How do those verses help to encourage you about God's love?
4. David worshipped God in private, not just in the public assembly. During his years tending sheep and, later, hiding from Saul, David certainly had opportunities to be lonely. His isolation often prompted him to seek the Lord through composing original songs (Ps.144:9). For instance, David wrote Psalm 63 when he was in a cave in the wilderness, far from the temple.
- Read Psalm 63:1. To what does David compare his intense desire to fellowship with God?
- You might not have the ability to compose original lyrics or play a musical instrument, but how could you incorporate song-related worship into your time alone with God?
5. David knew when to keep praying and when to let go. Read 2 Samuel 12:20-23. When God didn't grant David's request, how did he react? He washed, dressed in fresh clothing, and ate. In other words, he prepared to enjoy life again. Bathsheba bore Solomon not long afterwards.
When we experience loss or disappointment, grieving is healthy. However, if we put our lives on hold indefinitely and refuse to look towards the future, we may miss certain ways that God wants to demonstrate His love for us.
Note: Grieving the death of a loved one is a process that normally takes a good deal of time. If you have lost someone close to you, give yourself freedom to express your heartache. Find an experienced counselor or a healthy support group. Expecting yourself to simply "move on" is probably unrealistic.
- Are you focusing too much on a loss or disappointing event in your life? If so, describe it.
- Write a prayer, turning the weight of that disappointment to God, and asking Him for a vision for your future.
6. David focused on God in the midst of his daily life. While tending the sheep, he probably sang songs he knew and composed new ones. It's likely that his time alone enabled him to cultivate a close relationship with the Lord.
Spending time with God shouldn't be an activity that occurs for just a few minutes each morning or night. It's important to be aware that God is with us, everywhere we go.
- How good are you at remembering that the Lord is with you as you go through your day?
- What are some ways you remind yourself that He is always present?
7. David lived a life that honored God. The heavenly Father always extends His love unconditionally. However, we are more likely to sense that love when we are walking in His ways.
- David honored the Lord by sparing Saul's life despite the king's attempts to kill him. Read 1 Samuel 24:4-6. Why do you think his conscience bothered him?
- Has the Lord ever convicted you of something that others said wasn't a sin? Describe the situation.
By convicting us of sin, God keeps us within His will and reminds us that we belong to Him, not the world. In the same way, He enables us to walk closely with Him as we become more aware of His presence.
- What does David say is his secret to a pure life (Ps. 119:9-11)?
Closing: Do you want to experience a greater degree of God's love? Then follow David's example: Be honest with the Father about your sin, meditate on His Word, think about Him throughout the day, and live a God-honoring life.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for extending Your perfect love to me despite my failures and shortcomings. Grant me a heart of worship and adoration so that I can experience Your presence and amazing care. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.