Heartfelt Proverbs

Proverbs has a lot to say about the heart.  Sometimes the truth is given directly like in Proverbs 24:1-2  “Be not envious of evil men,  nor desire to be with them,  for their hearts devise violence,  and their lips talk of trouble” and Proverbs 6:14 describes a wicked man’s heart, with perverted heart devises evil,  continually sowing discord.”  Very often the proverbs are given with a contrast between the good heart and the bad and seek to teach or instruct us about our hearts.   Proverbs 28:14  “Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always,  but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity. “  The writer of Proverbs was wise and desired us to know how God views the heart of man and that God would not just be an observer in our lives.  Proverbs 21:2  “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.”  Proverbs 17:3 “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.”  

Proverbs also teaches how our hearts can and do please or displease God.  Proverbs 15:13-15 speaks of the cheerful, seeking heart and how a sorrow can crush the spirit of our heart.   “A glad heart makes a cheerful face,  but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed. 14 The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge,
but the mouths of fools feed on folly.  15 All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.”   Proverbs 14:30 speaks of the effects of calm and envy on the heart.   A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh,   but envy makes the bones rot.”  In Proverbs 6:16-19 we are given a list of things God hates that really displease Him. There are six things that the Lord hates,  seven that are an abomination to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
    and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked plans,
    feet that make haste to run to evil,
19 a false witness who breathes out lies,
    and one who sows discord among brothers.”

How do these ‘heart’ proverbs speak to you today?  Is your heart cheerful and calm or do you have times when you feel discord, disharmony or evil?  Because of the root of sin in our hearts, we need to continually submit our hearts to the Lord for His continual transformation.   I love Proverbs 22:11 “He who loves purity of heart,  and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.”  I do want King Jesus as my friend so I need to submit to daily cleansing at His feet in prayer.   Won’t you join me today?

proverbs 22Prayer:  Lord Jesus, you know the true nature of my heart.  Root out the evil ways in me and replace them with your love, grace and mercy.  Give me compassion and love for others that comes out of a grateful heart.  Create in me a clean heart that desires to please you.  Amen.

Seeking to serve with a humble and contrite heart,

Linda

The True Nature of our Hearts vs God’s Power = Victory in Jesus

God knows the true nature and intentions of our hearts.  Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees as they had observed the disciples eating food without washing or cleaning of their hands.  The Jewish law required certain observances before eating for yourself and the food.  Jesus called them hypocrites in Mark 7 saying they were more concerned about the outward appearances and not about the heart’s intent.  His disciples questioned him after this encounter.   And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,22 coveting, wickedness deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”  Mark 7:18-23

Lord looks at heartJesus knew the heart of man is where the problems lie.  The Pharisee’s desired to destroy Jesus out of greed, envy, jealousy and hatred.  It had nothing to do with eating ‘unclean food’ with ‘unclean hands’.  Jesus knows our hearts too.  He knows our true motives and desires.  Our hearts are bent toward self-gratification, self-glory, self-power and self-adulation.  It comes from a heart that is not right with God.  An old hymn calls it a sin sick heart that is in need of saving, cleaning and setting right before God.   We can not deny the true nature of our hearts but we can bring our hearts to God and allow Him to transform and make our hearts clean before Him.  Jesus gave us this new way to reconciliation with God.  Hebrews 10:21-23 describes this power, “21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God (Jesus), 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”   Jesus can clean our hearts and minds.  Then we can hold to our faith with assurance and hope!  He can and will root out the evil intentions of our hearts with His indwelling Holy Spirit and mold and shape us to His will and His ways.  First, we need to be cleaned by faith in Jesus’ work on the cross (death and resurrection) and then willing to be molded and shaped by His Holy Spirit.  God’s transformation is complete and 2Corinthians5.17permanent.  He replaces the old desires with new desires 2 Corinthians 5:17 calls us a new creation,  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”   Praise God for His transforming power!

Praising Jesus and His power to make me new!

Linda

Seeking Heart relief from God

Two heart verses spoke to me this morning.  Knowing our hearts are deceitful and driven by original sin, God promises to do a work in our hearts that is amazing.  trust-pope francis qutoeProverbs 3:5-6 is a well quoted verse that speaks of God’s power to lead and guide if we will trust and acknowledge Him in our lives. Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
 do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do,  and he will show you which path to take.”   God is the one with the transforming power in our lives if we will seek to know and trust Him.   My second verse is found in  psalm 34 18Psalm 34:18 The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
    He rescues them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
    he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”  David wrote these words during a very difficult time in his life.  He knew God. He knew He would hear his cries for help.  He knew God would and could rescue him.  He knew from experience that God was near to him when his heart was broken and his spirit crushed.   David knew God and had experienced His love and care during times of great need.  

God knows our hearts and sees what we need even before we ask for help.  God knows our desire for guidance and He alone has the power to mend our broken hearts and crushed spirit.   Seek Him like David did and lay your sorrows, hurts and needs before Him.  He promises that those who seek Him will find Him.  Moses told the children of Israel just  before they entered the Promised Land, “But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.”  Deuteronomy 4:29   God promises to be found if we seek with and God doesn't failopen heart.  Seek Him today and tell Him about your broken heart, your crushed spirit or your desire to be guided by Him.  God can and will answer your prayers, just as He promised.

Seeking His comfort and jclinging to His promise as I  walk with Him daily,

Linda

Transforming a Sin Sick Heart

What is the true nature of the heart?  Scripture teaches the hard truth of what our hearts are like because of sin.  Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things,
    and desperately sick;  who can understand it?”  God knows the nature of our hearts and is the only one who can transform a sin sick heart.    10 “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.”   God searches our heart, tests our mind and will evaluate us according to our deeds.  This does not mean we have to earn our salvation.  It means there will be a day of accounting where God looks at our actions.  We are clean and purified by the blood of Christ, so He will not be looking at sin, but at our heart for Him.   What causes you to do good or hard things for God?  Is it love, devotion, thankfulness, zeal for the gospel?  

I totally identify with David’s plea to God in Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a right and steadfast spirit within me.”  By nature our hearts are filled with sin but God can create a clean heart within us.  Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, we can be transformed by faith in Him.  Jesus is our pathway to cleansing, restoration and hope.  Just like David, we have to desire it and ask God for it.  He promises to renew our hearts and make them pure, and committed to Him.

Will you ask Him today to create a clean heart within you?  It will be a new beginning and a step that pleases God, renews and revitalizes life, and brings hope and restoration.  Ask Him today.

heart inside outPrayer:   Lord Jesus, I believe you have the power to transform my heart and make me clean and pure.  Root out the sin that plagues me and bring me into a vibrant relationship with you.  Create in me a clean heart that will be devoted and steadfast in loving you.  Create in me a new life with new desires and new hopes that are firmly placed in you.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Redeemed and transformed by faith in Jesus,

Blessings today.

Linda

True Freedom

Freedom-DaysI want to wish each of you a Happy 4th.  The 4th of July is a favorite holiday filled with family BBQ’s, games, swimming, picnicking, corn on the cob, apple pie and fireworks.  But as you know, the 4th is more than that to each of us.  America and the freedom it represents and holds for each of us was bought with a price- sacrifice, hope and struggle by those that went before us and those that labored to secure our freedom.  Our struggle over the centuries has been to secure,defend and maintain freedom of religion, peace, prosperity and hope for us and our children.  We desire to live in an unbiased, loving and accepting society.  Is this possible? Actually I believe it is not possible without Christ.  He is the one who can make all things right and gives us the power to love and live in harmony with others.

Today’s thoughts of freedom bring me to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and Galatians 5:1.  Paul was teaching the Corinthians how to live together in harmony and purity.  “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own: you have been bought at  price.  Therefore honor God with your body.”   Paul was reminding the Galatians what they had in Christ.  “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves by burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”  Christ  died for us so that we might be free from sin and its bondage and have the ability to live lives that honor Him.  The cross was the ultimate sacrifice for us.  Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  He bought us with a price, his life.  He redeemed us from sin’s ultimate consequence-death.  My freedom in Christ was bought with the price of His life on the cross.

I have FREEDOM in Christ- freedom from my sins, freedom to live for Him, freedom from eternal death and freedom to live with Him for eternity.   Just as we are thankful for those who died to secure the freedom we have in America, we need to be thankful for the freedom we have in Christ alone.  He is the one who secures it all and brings us to the place where we can enjoy freedom.

freedomToday as you are thankful for America, think also of the greater freedom you have though Christ and say a prayer of Thanks to Jesus.

Thankful today,

Linda

Reject your heart of stone, Get a new living model!

heartToday I am beginning a new series on the heart.  There are at least 100 scriptures that focus on the heart, so it must be of great importance to God.   I found there are scriptures that talk about God’s Work in our hearts, the true nature of our hearts and what a transformed heart looks like.   The materials I have show the most ‘popular’ verses- people actually voted, so perhaps they were either most helpful, most revealing or most convicting.  I love it that the most loved verses deal with God’s Work in our hearts.  It gives us a good place to begin.

Ezekiel 36:26 is one of the key verses in this summary of prophesies God gave to the children of Israel in Ezekiel 36Look at what God said He would do:  22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name…  23 I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations… 24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land.  25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I heart of stone heart of fleshwill cleanse you.  26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.  28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.  29 And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. 30 I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations.”

God said He would do all these things to and for His believing children.  He would vindicate or show the holiness of  His name to them and the world,  He would bring them back to the land (they were in Babylon in exile at the time), He would cleanse them, He would give them a new heart, He would put His spirit within them, He promised them long life in the land and great fruitfulness.  As I read this list of promises God gave them, I realized that some were fulfilled then with their return to the Promised Land but many were fulfilled much later.  Jesus came and brought cleansing and healing through His death and resurrection.   At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was sent to indwell the believers through faith because of Jesus’ work on the cross.  Israel is again a nation and is amazingly fruitful.  It is a wonder in the desert and blooms as God intended under their care.

new heartThrough Jesus’ Work on the cross and resurrection from the dead, we can live forgiven and be filled with His Holy Spirit.  We can have the new heart that God desires for us.  He says in verse 26, He will give us a new heart.  This heart will be soft, pliable and alive with faith and devotion to Him.  With this new heart, we can live for him.  2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”   We are new creatures with a new heart through Christ.  Do you feel like you have a heart of stone?  Are you hard-hearted towards others, unfeeling about the difficulties in your life and their lives, do you shut out God?  Or do you claim a new heart through Jesus that is open, willing, compassionate and loving towards those in your life?

Claim your new heart in Jesus today and watch God transform you and give you a heart of flesh and feeling and take away your heart of stone that was filled with sinful self-desires.  Turn to Jesus and He will transform your heart.

Seeking transformation of heart,

Linda

A Treasure Chest of provisions for you and me!

psalm119Today as I reflect on Psalm 119 for the last time, I am looking at the list I made of just a few of the things the psalmist found.   This glorious psalm is a song of praise to God and a declaration of the psalmist’s faith in God Almighty.

He found:   joy in seeking God,  2 “Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him    with all their hearts.”    a way to purity, 11 “I have hidden your word in my heart,  that I might not sin against you.”   answers for living, 32  “I will pursue your commands,  for you expand my understanding.”  answers for persecutors, 42 “Then I can answer those who taunt me,  comfort and hope49-50  “Remember your promise to me;  it is my only hope.  Your promise revives me;  it comforts me in all my troubles.  for I trust in your word.”  security, 86 “All your commands are trustworthy.  Protect me from those who hunt me down without cause.”   meditations that bring understanding, 103-4 “How sweet your words taste to me;  they are sweeter than honey.  Your commandments give me understanding;  no wonder I hate every false way of life.”    guidance, 105 “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”  a shield and refuge, 114  “You are my refuge and my shield;  your word is my source of hope”   resolve to stand with the right, 128 “Each of your commandments is right.   That is why I hate every false way.”  expectations, 131 “I pant with expectation,  longing for your commands.”  sorrow over evil, 136 “Rivers of tears gush from my eyes  because people disobey your instructions.”  God’s righteousness, 137  “Lord, you are righteous,  and your regulations are fair.”  truth, 160 The very essence of your words is truth;  all your just regulations will stand forever. “  the Sovereignty of God, 168 Yes, I obey your commandments and laws because you know everything I do.”  that God seeks the lost, 176  “I have wandered away like a lost sheep;  come and find me,  for I have not forgotten your commands.”

This is an amazing list of things the psalmist understood because he believed in God and took His Word seriously.  How precious is God’s Word to you?  Meditate on this list of things the psalmist found- how many of them can you claim to have found in God’s Word?  Seek Him in His Word and see what you find.

Blessings as you seek Him too,

Linda

Going astray-our struggle, seeking the lost-God’s eternal position

As the psalmist reaches the end of the alphabet (taw), he reflects on the power of God and pleads for understanding and deliverance.  169 “Let my cry come before you, O Lord give me understanding according to your word!  170 Let my plea come before you;  deliver me according to your word.”   Next, he speaks of how he worships God both privately and publicly. 171 “My lips will pour forth praise,  for you teach me your statutes. 172 My tongue will sing of your word, for all your commandments are right.”  He knows for certain that God will be with him and is always ready to deliver him.  He knows God is true to His Word and he depends upon it.  173 “‘Let your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.  174 I long for your salvation, O Lord,  and your law is my delight.  175 Let my soul live and praise you,  and let your rules help me.”  Lastly, he ends this great psalm with a true confession.  He admits that he has wandered away from God’s truths and he implores God to continue to seek him and remind him of His ways.  176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant,  for I do not forget your commandments.”

sinThe apostle Paul speaks of ‘going astray’ as the constant struggle he has with sin and not doing what God wants him to do.  In Romans 7:15-20 Paul lays his heart bear and shares his personal struggle with sin just like the psalmist has been doing in Psalm 119.  As you read these verses, see if you too can identify with Paul and the psalmist.  For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.”

In addition to his struggle with ‘going astray’  the psalmist feels like a lost sheep, wandering away from the Lord.  Jesus told God’s view of lost sheep in his parable of the lost sheep that is found in both Matthew and Luke.  He knew God is the good shepherd who seeks and finds the lost believers.  So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-lost sheepnine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”  Luke 15:3-7   When the psalmist begs God to seek and find him, we know that is exactly what God can and will do for each of us.  God will faithfully find those who are open to Him and are seeking to know Him.  Jesus saves those who are lost.

As you reflect and meditate on this last portion of Psalm 119, do you identify with the psalmist and Paul on the struggle to walk daily with the Lord and follow His pathway?  Are you confident that God continually seeks you because you are precious to Him?  

faithful God“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”  Hebrews 10:23

Linda

 

Faith=treasure, truth, peace and knowledge of God

care-trustAs the psalmist nears the end of his lengthy outpouring of praises and petitions to God in Psalm 119:161-168, he lays bare before God his struggles with persecutors.  He relies upon God’s Word and character to uphold him.  Powerful people harass me without cause,  but my heart trembles only at your word.   I rejoice in your word like one who discovers a great treasure.“(161-2)  He knows that God’s Word contains power to overcome and sustain.  He considers it a treasure.  He also discovered that as he called upon God throughout the day he received peace and had strength to face the tough circumstances he encountered. ” I will praise you seven times a day because all your regulations are just.  Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble. (164-5)  The psalmist concludes with what he knows about God.  He is the one who saves.  I long for your rescue, Lordso I have obeyed your commands.” (166)   God knows him intimately and loves his obedience. Yes, I obey your commandments and laws  because you know everything I do.” (168)  

Is God’s Word a treasure for you? Do you gain power to overcome by reading and meditating upon it’s truths?  Do you pray throughout the day reminding yourself of the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit?  Do you find peace? Do you obey and trust God because you know His character?  Do you know that He knows you personally?   Can you join the psalmist in obedience to God’s Word because of who He is and what He does?  The psalmist trusted God in all things and called upon Him throughout his day in faith.  Faith is defined in Hebrews 11:1 and 6 “Faith shows the reality of faith tells mewhat we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.”  “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”   Making God real involves faith in who He is and what He has done for us in Jesus.  Pleasing God involves seeking Him and accepting the gift of faith in Jesus.  He promises sincere seeking will be rewarded by faith.

Walking by faith in God and His Word is the psalmists answer to life’s problems, may it be mine also.

Linda

An Absolute for Life

feed-on-the-wordIn Psalm 119:153-160 the psalmist proclaims God’s deliverance, salvation and compassion.  He has discovered these truths about God through his life’s experiences.  His conclusion in verse 160 is profound.  All your words are true;  all your righteous laws are eternal.”  He concludes that God’s Word, the Bible, is entirely true and the principles God provides within are everlasting and unchanging.   He does not have to worry about discrepancy, errors, half-truths, or changing attitudes to adapt to society.  Hebrews 13:8 tells us “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  We do not need to worry that God will change His plans, change His mind about loving and forgiving us as He is unchangeable in all His ways.  That fact alone is comforting as it gives us something to hold onto when everything else in life seems to be swirling and changing.  The psalmist also understood the trans-formative power of God’s Word. Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”   God’s Word is alive and working in our lives.  His Word penetrates our thoughts and minds helping us to live like 2Corinthians 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Gods-Word-brings-peace-1How about you?  Do you know for certain that you can rely upon God and His Word?  Is it an absolute in your life?  As you meditate today on these verses, allow God to speak to you and clarify, strengthen and reveal to you the truth of His Word.  I pray that you will arrive at the same conclusion the psalmist did about God and His Word:  All your words are true;  all your righteous laws are eternal.” 

Blessings today as you meditate upon the truth of God’s Word.

Linda