Friday, August 28, 2020

Heart

"If your heart is cold, my fire cannot warm it."
Do you have a heart of stone? You of course will say, by no means. Really? I have seen many with hearts of stone. I am not judging motivation but behavior.  God knew that we were evil starting in the garden. Our free will given by God caused us to be disobedient The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time”  (Genesis 6:5).  This is not the view that people have of themselves. Most say, “I am a pretty good person, at least I am not like Hitler or Stalin.” Really, God disagrees and Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).  God talks about the heart 725 times in Scripture. He is not talking about the physical but the spiritual heart or center of our lives. In Exodus God hardened the heart of Pharaoh towards the Israelites. Even in Leviticus God is speaking about uncircumcised hearts or ones not humbled for their sin. The Shemah or commandment for the Jews in Deuteronomy 6:5 said, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” He is telling them to fear the Lord and walk obediently with Him. God looks at the heart, not appearance as when He chose David to be King in 1 Samuel 13, “the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”

The psalms speak of every emotion of the heart from pride to joy saying, “The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart(Psalm 19:8).  These hymns direct us to our hearts to “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord” (Psalm 31:8).  God wants to give you the desires of your heart and He wants those desires to be wholly given over to Him saying, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart(Psalm 37:4). God wants our hearts to be changes to want to be more like Him and to recognize that we cannot do this without Him in our lives. So He wants to replace our cold hearts of stone into warm hearts of living flesh like Him. Psalm 51 would call it a pure heart and a steadfast spirit.  He goes on in the wisdom literature of Proverbs to say, “For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul” (Proverbs 2:10). They go on to say, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it”(Proverbs 4:23). Life is a battle for our hearts and God’s wisdom gives life to our hearts. So plan to be wise and do what is God’s will for, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps” (Proverbs 16:9). You might have thought that your brain did the planning. It is in your heart and spirit that you plan.

“The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure” (Ecclesiastes 7:4). Here is one of the hard saying. Grief brings God near to comfort us. As C.S. Lewis said, “God shouts to us in our pain and whispers in our pleasures.”  We may not want grief, but it finds each of us. In it our hearts must seek after God.  Many people know Jeremiah 29:11 which tells us that God has plans to prosper and not harm us but, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13). Then God promises that He will take us out of whatever problem we have been in and lead us and bring us back.

God is leading us back to Him. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). Heart transplants are done every day in the hospital where I work. This is miraculous. Yes, God has allowed us to know how to do this to extend a life. But only God can give us a new heart. “Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity” (Joel 2:13).  We need to have contrite hearts.

So where is your heart? “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”  (Matthew 6:21).  It is easy to have you heart given to worldly things that will rot or rust away. “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Matthew 15:18).

So what do we do? “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved”  (Romans 10:10).  Turn from the world and believe. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23). And “May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones” (1 Thessalonians 3:13). And one more admonition, “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded”  (James 4:8).

May you hearts be full of the Holy Spirit to overflowing.



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