For our final Sunday of Lent, #5, before Palm Sunday and the Easter, I want to look at the last verses of Psalm139: 23-24. These verses speak to my heart because they tell me to who God is and why I need Him.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
God is omniscient, all-knowing so He knows what is in my heart and what my heart desires. If it is not good- then God knows it. If it is good or partially good, God knows it. He can and does use my thoughts to guide and challenge my thinking. I am His and all of me belongs to Him. He can seek out and reveal to me things I have done wrong, attitudes that need refining or redirecting and through His searching He can cleanse me from the inside out! Praise our magnificent, merciful and loving God.
One thing I’ve noticed about favorite verses. Some are ones you cling to as a life line for a lifetime, others are tailored to specific seasons of our lives. All are good and remind us that God’s Word will always sustain and encourage us in our walk with Him.
Today’s verse comes from my friend Patty. She chose Proverbs 4:20-22. and I added verse 23. I chose the New Living Translation.
My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. 21 Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, 22 for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body.23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
These verses call for us to look into God’s Word diligently and listen to His directions for living. We are to meditate upon them and let them sink deep into our hearts. The promise is that in doing so, we will find life and healing for our whole body- heart, mind, and soul. We are admonished to guard, hold fast, protect, our hearts for where our hearts lead us determines our life’s direction. Jesus taught this same principle in Matthew 6:20-21 “but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
The questions for us today are:Am I listening to God when I pray, worship and read His Word? Acts 16:14 gives the story and attitude of Lydia. Is this you? “One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. She was open to God and was ready to listen and respond. Am I listening with a heart that is ready to respond to what God has for me?
Am I letting His Word penetrate my life and guide my actions and words?Psalm 119:9 and 11 “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? Byliving according to your word. “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” God’s Word needs to be internalized to help us live and think biblically.
Am I praying and studying God’s Word with the expectation of healing and guidance? Psalm 143:1 “Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief. and James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayerofarighteous person is powerful and effective.” Am I praying like Paul for the things Christ has for me, Colossians 1:9 “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,”
Am I taking steps daily to guard my heart? Philippians 4:6-7 tells us how“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Pray with a thankful heart and submit to Him. He will guard your heart. I love the promise in 2 Timothy 1:14 “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the HolySpirit who lives in us.”
This is our blessed assurance: we do not have to do all of these things in our own power and strength. 1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the powerof God.” Check your power source. Recharge with prayer and the Word. Then ‘just do it!’ for the Lord!! He is always with you and will guide your steps.
As we look towards Lent beginning in a few days, I need to ask myself what does God desire of my heart? In my heart search in Psalms I found new facets and attitudes of our hearts showing what God desires. He desires that we have a bold, teachable, repentant and seeking heart in our interactions and responses towards Him.
God desires that we take a ‘No Fear’ stance in life that depends upon God and not ourselves. Psalm 112:7 “They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” Be bold for Him.
God desires that we are open to teaching and examination of our motives.Psalm 26:2 “Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;” Psalm 139:23 “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.”Be teachable by Him.
God desires a repentant heart, one that is sorrowing over sin, the Bible also describes this as a contrite heart.Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Isaiahalso speaks of our need to have a contrite heart inIsaiah 57:15 ” The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this:“I live in the high and holy placewith those whose spirits are contrite and humble.I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.” God desires us to be repentant so He can restore and dwell with us. We have to come humbly before Him. Since living with Him is not just when we die, we need to deal with the sin in our lives. God living with us is being indwelt by His Holy Spirit begins when Jesus enters our hearts and lives. Jesus gives cleansing from sin when we come before Him with a contrite heart and ask for forgiveness and restoration. Be repentant or contrite towards our sin.
God desires that I have a seeking heart towards Him. Psalm 119:10 “I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.” Psalm 22:26 “The afflicted (meek) shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord! May your hearts live forever!” Be a seeker of Him.
What is the temperament of your heart today? Are you trusting, open to teaching, repentant and seeking restoration? Would God describe your heart as contrite? Do you sorrow over your sins and desire to walk with Jesus each day? The opposite of each of the above would be one who is fearful, close-minded, rejecting, proud and arrogant over their sins. I pray that none of those describe your heart and that you seek to please God. Micah describes it this way: “He has shown you, O mortal, 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
May this be the attitude of our hearts as we walk with Him today.
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, 2 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 seeks 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 show our emotions. 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?
Prayer: 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.
Psalms is filled with images of the heart. Today think about some of these and see if you can identify and claim them for your own heart towards God.
A heart filled with Praise and Thanksgiving, Psalm 9:1 “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.”
A heart filled with Confidence, especially in times of adversity,Psalm 27:3 “Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.”
A heart filled with JOY because of God’s Word, Psalm 119:111 “Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart.”
A heart that is willing to wait upon the Lord, Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”
A heart that is unafraid to call upon the Lord for help,Psalm 119:145 “With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord! I will keep your statutes.”
A heart that yearns for God’s presence,Psalm 84:2 “My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.”
A heart filled with Praise and Gratitude,Psalm 138:1 “I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise”
Our heart attitude needs to begin and end with praise and thanksgiving each day. God’s Word is so descriptive and really points to the true needs of our hearts in relationship to and towards God. Do you see confidence in Him? Joy in His Word? A willingness to wait upon Him? Fearlessness in talking to God about your problems? A yearning for God in your heart? Let His Word be your guide today as you examine your heart before Him.
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. Proverbs 3:5-6is 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. 6 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 34:17-18, 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 God would hear his cries for help. David 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 an open 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 clinging to His promise as I walk with Him daily,
February is a month that retailers, florists and card makers would like us to focus on love. Valentine’s Day is big business. They capitalize on the desire of people to find ways to express their love and friendship towards one another. God desires that we have a right heart before Him and attitudes, feelings and joys of the heart are of importance to Him. Deuteronomy 6:5 tells us “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Our devotion and love for God is to be paramount in our daily walk with Him. As we move towards the Lenten season which begins on Ash Wednesday, the 17 of February this year, I want to spend a few weeks talking about our hearts and seeing that they are realigned to Him before Lent begins. Join me on this brief look at the heart and be sure yours is in line with God and His desires for you.
What is the true nature of the heart? Scripture teaches the hard truth of what our hearts are like because of sin. Jeremiah 17:9-10 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?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 knows the true nature of our hearts and is the only one who can transform a sin sick heart. He 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, or 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.
Prayer: 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.
Mary’s story has so much to teach us I wanted to spend another day looking at the scripture of the Angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary and her response. Here is our scripture passage, Luke 1: 26-38 , in the Amplified translation. “26 Now in the sixth month [of Elizabeth’s pregnancy] the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming to her, the angel said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was greatly perplexed at what he said, and kept carefully considering what kind of greeting this was. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Listen carefully: you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and eminent and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob (Israel) forever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin and have no intimacy with any man?” 35 Then the angel replied to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you [like a cloud]; for that reason the holy (pure, sinless) Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 And listen, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 For with God nothing [is or ever] shall be impossible.” 38 Then Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel left her.
Mary was perplexed at the greeting from Gabriel and wondered what God could possibly mean. Isn’t that just like you and me? We are led by God to do something and constantly ask why or why me? What did I do to deserve this? Did I make a mistake or maybe God did by choosing me? All Mary’s questions were answered as the angel explained fully about this child. Gabriel said her conception would be supernatural and that the child would be called the Son of God. Now that is an answer that requires faith to even at attempt to understand it. How much like our own lives and God’s answers to our prayers. We cannot see the forest for the trees, so to speak, when God shows us an answer that seems impossible. I love Mary’s response as God knew that she was a servant at heart. Do you see yourself as a servant of God? Are you willing to do whatever He asks of you? At my age, even knowing the Lord for a long time, I often hesitate. Mary at probably 15, had tremendous faith in God and was willing to serve the Lord without question. What a wonderful heart and attitude she had.
May we not lose the wonder at what God can do in us and through us, and May our hearts be as open and willing as hers. Linda
As Paul wrote that he was praying for the Ephesian believers, he eloquently told them he was praying for the eyes of their hearts to be flooded with light. He wanted them to know God, know His power and believe that they possess a portion of that same power in their lives. Ephesians 1:18-20 “I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. 19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.”
Ask yourself, do I feel flooded with His light in my life? Am I confident and assured in my faith? Do I feel like I belong to Him? Paul says we can be sure of His love and power in our lives as it is the same power that raised Christ from the dead! His indwelling Holy Spirit is that power in our lives. The same power that created the universe and defeated death lives within us. When we truly grasp this truth, there is nothing that can shake or defeat us. In Matthew 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Today ask God to show you His power within as you step out in faith to engage in your day. May you have a new sense of confidence and awareness of His Holy Spirit within you.
This idea of thinking biblically is something I’ve given quite a bit of thought. Scripture tells us in Isaiah 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,so are my ways higher than your waysand my thoughts than your thoughts.” God’s way of thinking and doing things are not the same as ours. We are human and finite and God is omniscient and infinite. So, we need to learn to think biblically to understand God’s ways better. How do you go about that? The process begins by spending time in God’s Word, memorizing His Word, and meditating on His Word so that your minds thoughts are immersed in His thinking and ways. Then when you are faced with a situation, you will respond with biblical thoughts more often than with worldly thoughts and actions.
I have had this happen many times while I was memorizing the book of James. It is a very practical book with loads of thoughts to direct our actions. When something would happen, I would immediately recall scripture as my first reaction to a situation. I realized I was practicing biblical thinking and acting like God would have me act. It is an amazing feeling when your first reaction is godly and not worldly. Our thought originate within ourselves and are selfish at heart and of this world. God’s ways are not like ours and only come from being fully covered in His Word.
Psalm 119:11 confirms this idea, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119: 98 “Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,for it is ever with me.” Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feetand a light to my path.” Hebrews 4:12 tells us that God’s Word is powerful and can discern truth. “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Having God’s Word in your heart and on and in your mind causes you to think Biblically and react as God would have to you act. As you strive to be more and more like Jesus, becoming sanctified in Him, your thoughts and actions need to reflect Jesus more and more.
Ponder how you can think more like Jesus. Delve into God’s Word and try to soak it up into your very being. Endeavor to practice Biblical thinking this week and see if you are not wiser and led into sin less as you look to His Word as your guide.