Posts Tagged ‘ Heart ’

[Continue] Preparing Your Heart – First Week of Advent

This originally posted three years ago, and then again a week ago, but sometimes it is good remembering some things! Also, I scheduled these all wrong by one week! Therefore, I added a bit to this week.
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It is the first week of Advent!
Advent is a time to remember our Lord’s first coming as we look forward to His imminent return.

So, let us prepare hearts for encountering the Lord!

“If you prepare your heart, you will stretch out your hands toward him. If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and let not injustice dwell in your tents. Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure and will not fear. You will forget your misery; you will remember it as waters that have passed away. And your life will be brighter than the noonday; its darkness will be like the morning. And you will feel secure, because there is hope; you will look around and take your rest in security. You will lie down, and none will make you afraid; many will court your favor. But the eyes of the wicked will fail; all way of escape will be lost to them, and their hope is to breathe their last.”
Job 11:13-20, ESV

In the passage today, Job’s friend Zophar is offering his friendly advice. May we remember that the only way these words are true is if we turn to the Lord and let Him make us clean and righteous!

Wait for the Lord;
     be strong, and let your heart take courage;
     wait for the Lord!
Psalm 27:14

Preparing our hearts requires waiting patiently for God. We cannot hurry Him.

Patience leads to peace.

Then we can more fully turn to Him!

Preparing Your Heart – First Week of Advent

This originally posted three years ago, but sometimes it is good remembering some things!

_________

It is the first week of Advent!

Advent is a time to remember our Lord’s first coming as we look forward to His imminent return.

So, let us prepare hearts for encountering the Lord!

“If you prepare your heart, you will stretch out your hands toward him. If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and let not injustice dwell in your tents. Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure and will not fear. You will forget your misery; you will remember it as waters that have passed away. And your life will be brighter than the noonday; its darkness will be like the morning. And you will feel secure, because there is hope; you will look around and take your rest in security. You will lie down, and none will make you afraid; many will court your favor. But the eyes of the wicked will fail; all way of escape will be lost to them, and their hope is to breathe their last.”
Job 11:13-20, ESV

In the passage today, Job’s friend Zophar is offering his friendly advice. May we remember that the only way these words are true is if we turn to the Lord and let Him make us clean and righteous!

Oh the Humanity? A Response to the Las Vegas shooting

Hey, all!

I know just a week ago I said this site would be updated more often, but there was a quick day trip, errands to run, minor illnesses at home, and the need to respond to people about the Mandalay Bay Las Vegas shooter.

Which leads to today’s post finally coming your way.

I have had to respond to several people this week about all of the why’s, how come’s, and Am-I-allowed-to-be-angry’s. This video and post are one of those responses.

Charlie Hoehn wrote a response, “Why The Vegas Shooting Happened, and Why Men Keep Doing This”, in which he reasons that the biggest reason so many men commit mass shootings comes down to loneliness.

I do not disagree.

However, I think he missed the deeper reason.

The heart is deceitful above all things,
    and desperately sick;
    who can understand it?
Jeremiah 17:9, ESV

We, as humans, are sick and deceitful. We are messed up, apart from God.

Clay Jones, an apologist and Associate Professor of Apologetics at Biola University, asks and answers the question “Is it inhuman that people do these things? Obviously not, since humans did them.”

Well, we are so messed up that we cannot understand what and why people do things. However, God answers his own rhetorical question in the next verse.

“I the Lord search the heart
    and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
    according to the fruit of his deeds.”
Jeremiah 17:10, ESV

God, and God alone, understands our hearts.

Amazingly, it is in this knowledge that He has done something about it. As Job told us long before Jesus walked the Earth,

For I know that my Redeemer lives …
Job 19:25, ESV

We are horribly messed up, but Jesus, our Redeemer, lives!

Jesus came and lived an in-messed up life, then he was horribly messed up for us by being crucified so that our sins could be forgiven and our sick hearts could be cured. He now lives in resurrection power.

That is our response.

The world is messed up, and it is our fault, but God can change our hearts to change our world.

It is sad and horrible what happened in Las Vegas and happens around our world, but our Redeemer lives!

Play-Doh Heart

Find solid wisdom through the thoughts at Proverbial Thought!

There are some things in this world that are rock solid and others that are softer, more pliable.

Something that should never be seen as pliable is Truth. While some things may not be black and white, set in stone (such as one person thinking the weather is beautiful while another thinks it is horrible) most truths are firm (such as the weather is overcast and rainy).

One truth that is never negotiable, no matter how much someone may want it to be, is that God is real and sovereign, and Jesus Christ is His Son who died for the sins of the world.

On the other hand, there are some things that are just better the softer they are: some cookies and cake, gelatin (without being melted, of course), your seat on an airplane, water after you have been pushed from the side of the pool, Play-Doh, and on and on.

Something that should always be pliable is your heart and mind. While you hold firm to certain truths, you should always be willing to always learn, always love, and always seeking after truth. Just as Play-Doh is soft, pliable, and even fun to shape and mold, so must our hearts be in this world of pain, injustice, and competing attentions.

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.
1 Peter 3:8

Here is the thing: you must entrust your Play-Doh heart to the Rock of Salvation. Only in His hands can it be properly and lovingly formed for the greatest good.

Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind.
Psalm 26:2

On our own, we will only have some fun, waste some time, and forget to put the lid back on at the end of the day. Then our Play-Doh hearts become hard. In hardness they either become brittle or useless … or both.

1 Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
    let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
    let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
3 For the Lord is a great God,
    and a great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth;
    the heights of the mountains are his also.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
    and his hands formed the dry land.6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
    let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
7 For he is our God,
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    and the sheep of his hand.
Today, if you hear his voice,
8     do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
    as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 when your fathers put me to the test
    and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
10 For forty years I loathed that generation
    and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart,
    and they have not known my ways.”
11 Therefore I swore in my wrath,
    “They shall not enter my rest.”

Psalm 95, ESV

The Core Values: Cardiac Consecration

Here is your regular, friendly reminder to head over to Proverbial Thought for today’s devotional thought from Proverbs!

We now continue our look at the Four Core Facts and the Four Core Values, having examined the desperate pursuit of God and diligent prayer.  If you are interested in a more in-depth look at the Core Facts and the Core Values, look up my wonderful youth pastor, Jesse Bollinger, at Fervent Youth.

As I said before, all of the Core Facts and Values flow together. The Values are useless without the truth of the Facts. Without a desperate pursuit of God bathed in diligent prayer, there is little need for the third Core Value:

A Consecrated Heart

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8, NIV

This requirement of a person seems simple enough. To put it in overly simplistic terms, we are required to do good, be forgiving, and live life honestly … with God.

Why are these so difficult, then?

To do good, to act justly, often means to think of others before yourself and to sacrifice.

To be forgiving, to love mercy, often means showing love, grace, and, yes, forgiveness to those you feel are least deserving … or to whom you would rather not.

To live life honestly, to walk humbly, often means realizing you do not understand this world or yourself as well as you think. It always means realizing you are someone in need of a Savior.

These are the beginning steps to having a consecrated heart.

But what is the first step?

Why not start with what it really means to have a consecrated heart …

From Merriam-Webster:

1
: to induct (a person) into a permanent office with a religious rite; especially: to ordain to the office of bishop
2
a: to make or declare sacred; especially:to devote irrevocably to the worship of God by a solemn ceremony
b:to effect the liturgical transubstantiation of (eucharistic bread and wine)
c: to devote to a purpose with or as if with deep solemnity or dedication
3
: to make inviolable or venerable <principles consecrated by the weight of history>
I especially like definition 2a. In fact, the second definition is the whole point.

In fact, this may help sum up this post pretty quickly.

Having a consecrated heart simply means that you declare your heart sacred, that you set aside your heart to be devoted completely to worshiping God.

Simple, yes? Declare your heart as God’s own.

For it to really mean anything, as stated before, it requires the Core Facts and the other Core Values.

You need faith that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ was necessary for your salvation. Without this knowledge, you can consecrate your heart to anything. It happens all around our world every day. Look at all of the religions, numbers of gods, lack of gods (and God), and every other belief, including in the self. Apart from God, we can do nothing, especially save ourselves from condemnation. (A simple, quick explanation: No God = No humans, thus we can do nothing without God.)

You need to have a desperation to know God, which comes from a desire to know truth. (Many seek truth, but not all seek to know truth.)

We grow more desperate to know God through diligent prayer. At the same time, diligent prayer usually grows out of a desperation. (Kind of like wanting to talk to that boy or that girl on the phone at all times of the day or night, because you can not seem to get enough. You find yourself falling ever more in love the more the two of you talk. You know what I mean 😉 .) With the desperate pursuit of God and diligent prayer, it can often be a chicken-or-the-egg dilemma. It always depends on the person, the circumstances, and the ways of God.

When you believe something so strongly, you dedicate your life to it. That is what a consecrated heart is. It is praying “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10, NIV)

And it leads to the fourth Core Value: A Focused Life

What do you believe? Why? What do you spend your time doing and with whom and about what do you talk? To what have you dedicated your life?

Why?

I love you with all of my bowels

If you had not heard the teaching, yet, instead of saying “I love you with all of my heart,” for centuries people essentially said “I love you with all of my bowels” or intestines or guts or whatever. It makes sense, too, when you consider “falling in love” frequently includes feeling sick to your stomach!

I propose something a little different today.

What if it is not necessarily love, but merely lust or physical attraction?

I am not saying love for another person will not cause physical manifestations within our bodies. I have experienced it. My wife and I occasionally joke around, saying “You make my bowels move” to say “I love you.”

However, I also remember something else as I think back on my life. The times in which my bowels seemed to move for someone the most I was thinking not so much about the long-term benefits of a relationship as the instant gratification of the flesh.

“I want to touch her just once.” “I want to know how [various parts of her body] feel.” “I bet the sex would be great!”

In truth, the times I feel “my bowels moving” for my wife very frequently are when I am ready to take her to the bedroom (wink wink, nudge nudge). Many people with whom I have talked (teens, young adults, older adults; men and women) have also said that those physical emotional responses have largely led to thoughts of physical (read: sexual) interaction with another person.

I guess this is more a warning than anything else, especially to young readers (high school/college): Be careful of those feelings.

How many people have rushed to marriage because “He makes my stomach hurt … in that good way!”
How many people have had sex outside of marriage because “It felt like what was right!”
How many people have not listened to others because “My whole body seemed to tell me it was the right thing to do!”

How many divorces could have been avoided?
How many diseases and unwanted pregnancies could have been avoided?
How much heartache could have been avoided?

The heart [bowels/body/emotions] is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?

Jeremiah 17:9

I thought in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless.

Ecclesiastes 2:1

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

Matthew 15:19

I added some meaning and italics.

The point is as I said above: we cannot always trust our emotions and when our bodies react.

This is what the LORD says:

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who depends on flesh for his strength
and whose heart turns away from the LORD.

Jeremiah 17:5

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5

Why are rules set in place for our relationships? It is not to deny our freedom or punish us. In fact, rules for relationships are their to protect us and remind us that we have a tendency to really mess things up in our lives!

We must remember to keep our emotions and bowels and hearts in check by trusting that God just might know us well enough to know what is best for us. We must remember that we can so easily be deceived by our own emotions if we base our understanding on us and not what God has told us. We must remember the need of hearing the Holy Spirit, and that means we need to learn to be able to listen to Him in all things.