What does the Lord require?

I want you to imagine that you have a significant other that you’re telling how much you love them, and imagine you haven’t gone on a date with them for a few months, you barely call them- only when you need something, and you never do anything they ask you to do.

How long would that last?

How long would you stay if you were treated this way?

Probably not long for either question.

Love requires and demands evidence in every relationship. Words are not enough. Expensive gifts are not enough. Public declarations are not enough. It requires our heart.

It’s the same with God. He wants our hearts.

Psalm 51:16 says, “For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

Matthew 5:18 says, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.”

Psalm 51:17 tells us, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”

God wants us to love Him with our hearts. He wants us to care. He wants us to keep His love and commandments on our mind. It’s not enough for us to say we love Him. It’s not enough for us to give to the church. We have to mean it. Nothing in this world can substitute our wholehearted commitment to Him.

Commitment means obedience, commitment means prayer, commitment means thought put into your relationship.

You may have that special someone. And you may not be able to spend time with them right now. You may not be able to give them expensive gifts. You may not be able to take them on dates. But if they know that they have your heart (your commitment)- your relationship will last.

With God, you may not have many talents to give Him, you may not have the years to give Him just as a younger person could, and you may not have any special skills to offer.

God only wants your heart. He wants your love, your commitment, and your full obedience and reverence.

It doesn’t matter who you are, that you can give. That, you can always give.

“And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Deuteronomy 6:5

 

 

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Did you fix your heart today?

Most people can tell you that when you turn on the news, or go online to look at a news website, you will find bad news. All over the world, the most shocking, grotesque, and base things that humanity has done is published abroad for all to observe. The news is also filled with many reports that bring fear. Whether by design or nature, many articles and soundbites bring fear to observers.

Which world power has nuclear weapons, which new disease has no known cure, which horrible natural disaster could strike your area next, which new economic development could bring a meltdown, – all such things can bring fear.

I’m sure you know where this is leading.

The Christian need not fear any of these things. Fear is completely unnecessary. Psalm 112:7 tells of the righteous man. It says, “He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD.”

The word “fixed” has the idea of prepared. If you were to a-fix a shelf to a wall, you would be preparing it to hold the weight of whatever you would put upon it. The same is with your heart. The righteous man prepares his heart by trusting in the Lord. By encouraging himself in the Lord and absorbing His word, the righteous man obtains security in his faith.

When “evil tidings” or bad news comes his way, he is prepared, and fear has no power over him.

So I challenge you, prepare your heart.

Find your stability and security in Christ. There will always be bad news to bring fear, but God is your rock. You have no need of fear, you have Christ. If you prepare your heart now, the next time you hear of some “frightening” news, you will not be shaken. Your trust will be in the Almighty who controls all circumstances and is Lord over all.

Do you have a heart?

Have you ever known someone that was really annoying? They were rude, unsportsmanlike, selfish, and didn’t seem all that intelligent? Perhaps this person did more and more to reduce their value in your eyes. Over time, you didn’t care what that person thought or felt, and pretty soon, you didn’t give one iota about their well being either.

I must confess, I’ve been there. There have been some times that I have had so much disgust for someone that I almost hated them. I honestly believe that this sort of miserable condition is what Proverbs 11:12 is speaking of when it says,

“He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.”

That word despise really carries the meaning of “to value as nothing.” It’s easy to devalue people who don’t treat us the way we want. It’s natural to love less those who disrespect us, but the God has something very profound to say about this. He says that such a person who devalues his neighbor is devoid of wisdom.

But it doesn’t end there. The Hebrew word translated as wisdom, is translated over 500 times as our word “heart.” So let’s put this in a literal way. If you don’t value or love your neighbor, you don’t have a heart.

On the other hand, if you are a person of intelligence and understanding, then you will hold your peace. You will be silent. You will keep the peace. Perhaps you will even love them.

Those are some pretty intense opposites.

I challenge you, search your heart. See if there is someone that you do not value as God values. It is not a healthy thing to harbor feelings or attitudes that do not coincide with God’s view. In case we didn’t get the full picture from this scripture, God spells it out in Proverbs 14:21 when He says, “He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth.”

Don’t allow selfishness and pride reduce you to devaluing another.

Have a heart,

or ask God to give you one.

Commune with your own heart . . .

What does the word “Awe” mean to you?

“Awe” isn’t a word that we use much anymore. For me, “Awe” is being totally amazed with something, jaw dropped, mind blown, staring with a strange mixture of admiration and sudden humility, while being completely overwhelmed.

It’s that feeling of admiration and respect. Like when you first gazed at a great natural wonder like the Grand Canyon, or some amazing architecture like the Colosseum. That admiration and awe, is what we should hold in our heart when we consider God.

Psalm 4:4 says, “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.” What an amazing statement! We are so busy trying to run our lives, make things right, please ourselves, and more- that we forget to stand in awe of God. The contrast in this verse sends a very clear message. It strongly suggests that if you are in awe of God, you will refrain from sin.

But let’s take it a step further. In the Greek, the word for awe doesn’t just mean respect, it literally means “to tremble.”

Do you tremble when you think of God?

Our admiration and respect for God should keep us from sin. But also our fear of God. Many of us have lost a healthy reverence for the Lord, and I honestly believe that that is a main reason why we treat sin so flippiantly. If we trembled with respect, awe, and fear of God, we would naturally keep ourselves from sin.

This respect, awe, and fear, isn’t something that we can flip a switch and create in our heart. It’s something that must be developed. The verse finishes with: “Commune with your own heart on your bed, and be still. Selah.”

This verse does not command that we suddenly “do’ something. It calls for us to cease from doing. It calls to each and every one of us to be still. To regain our awe of God. To speak to our own heart and realize the greatness of our Lord.

Won’t you quiet your heart in respect of God today?

Won’t you commune on your bed,

and be still?

 

It’s a stretch of the heart

Have you ever forgotten important information? Ever fallen asleep during church or during a lecture or meeting? Ever just “blank out” when you were supposed to remember something? I used to do that all the time when I was younger, and even now there are plenty of times when I fail to apply myself to listen to the important things in life.

In Proverbs 2, Solomon gives instruction about wisdom. He tells his son to get wisdom, search it out, treasure it, etc, etc. He says, if you receive what I have to say and do it, then you will have great reward. I noticed something in verse 2 that I had never seen before.

Verse 2 says, “So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;” When your reading, you can easily skip over a verse like this. Honestly, it’s sortof reduntant, and all Solomon is saying is that you should listen up. But if you take the time to treasure the word of God, you are rewarded.

The interesting thing about this verse is that suggests that in order to listen and attend to the words of wisdom, you have to work, and you have to change. The word for “incline” actually carries the idea of sharpening. Sharpen your hearing abilities to hear wisdom. When you sharpen something, you can use it less and get a better result. Think about that, if you take the time to “work” on hearing, you won’t have to hear God’s wisdom fifty times before you “get it.” If you incline (sharpen) your ears, you can hear something less, and gain more.

Secondly, you must apply your heart to understanding. The word for “apply” also holds a gem for us. It means to stretch. Think about stretching, it’s not comfortable, most people don’t want to do it, and sometimes it hurts. But in the end, you can reach what you couldn’t before ( like maybe your toes), and you have more capabilities. Think, after you stretch, things that weren’t in reach, now are.

So I challenge you, make a decision today to sharpen your hearing when it comes to understanding. Make a decision to stretch your heart. If you do, you can learn more while hearing less, and reach higher levels of understanding that you couldn’t before. It might be work, and it might be uncomfortable, but you will be the better for it.

I am embarrassed to confess this, but I must. I was once asked, (after I had fallen asleep in church) if I could have managed to stay awake if I would be paid a million dollars to do so. I replied, “of course!” Then I was left with the uncomfortable realization that money was more important to me than God’s wisdom. This should never be true of myself, or any person. We can sharpen our hearing, and stretch our hearts, we simply must value the right things to do so.

Let’s ask God to help us value His wisdom.

When the heart teaches the mouth

Speaking the right thing all the time is nearly impossible. In fact, I think it is safe to say that it is impossible. The Bible tells us that, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Now I’m not completely sure about everything that analogy means, but it is pretty clear that speaking the right things at the right time can be a great blessing.

When I was younger, I always had a problem with saying the wrong things at the wrong time. I was told repeatedly, “You need more self-control!” So I would think about my words all the time; I’d concentrate for hours on biting my tongue, but no matter how hard I tried, I would eventually spend a good part of the day regretting something I said.

Times have changed. I still say many things I regret, but I’ve learned a better way to control my tongue than spending every waking moment thinking about it.

Proverbs 16:23 says, “The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.”

Luke 6:45 states, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”

If you have trouble keeping your tongue from saying improper things, then you are having trouble with your heart. Think about the last part of that verse. It says, “For of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”

If your tongue does need a little control, and you are feeling a little discouraged, take heart! God can mold you into the person He needs you to be. We can’t change our speaking habits on our own any more than we can change our own heart condition. We must decide for the right, and ask God to help us and shape us into who we need to be.

We must humble ourselves and ask God for the power to change. After all, “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

As you rely on God to transform you, remember His charge to, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” – Proverbs 4:23

As you decide to take the journey to purify your heart, you only need to watch as your renewed heart will teach your mouth and add learning to your lips.

 

Are you clean, only on the outside?

We all know that person that is just going through the motions. We look at them, and we are like, “That person is so fake.” We see them doing one thing, and then as soon as they are with another crowd, they are doing and saying something else. It seems as if all they do is make sure the outside looks good. We can easily spot hypocrisy in other, but do we ever look for it in ourselves?

Jesus spoke harshly toward those who acted as hypocrites. In Matthew 23:25 he says, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. ” In this verse Jesus is using an object lesson of dinnerware. He is simply saying that if you clean the outside of yourself, without cleaning the inside, you are still defiled. Just like if you clean the outside of a cup, it is still filthy. When a person washes containers, they care about the inside just as much as the outside, if not more. To those who focus on the outward appearance, he gives a very specific charge.

“Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also,” Matthew 23:26. In short, Christ is instructing these people to cleanse their hearts. He says that if they cleanse their heart, their appearance will be clean also. The pharisees had been so focused on outward rituals that they never truly cleansed themselves. They were so focused on washing their hands and going through ceremonial cleansings, that they had never invited God to truly cleanse them through and through. Only when a person has God cleanse their innermost being, are they truly clean.

So how about you? Are focused on the outside? Do you spend your time going to church, talking the Christian talk and walking the Christian walk. There is nothing wrong with any of that. But it must never be our main focus. We must put our focus on God’s power to cleanse us. We must desire His washing. God must cleanse our hearts. I would like to encourage you, if you have found that you are simply going through the motions, go to God. If you are simply going to church or doing devotionals or following commands, but you don’t have a real personal relationship with Him, go to Him. Only when you have a come to Him desiring to be cleansed, can He truly cleanse you. Ask Him to change your heart. Ask Him to change you and make His.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” – Psalm 51:10

Delight, Commit, Trust

In this post I would like to share with you a passage of scripture which God has used in my life tremendously. In these verses, the psalmist describes a process by which God works in us and blesses us. The verses are found in Psalm 37:4-5, "Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass." In this post I would like to share a quick overview of these verses. This is by now means an extensive study, in fact, I would like to encourage you to study and meditate on these verses for a few days. You will be surprised how much God can use them to transform your thinking.

This passage tells us that we must delight in the Lord. He must be our first pursuit. We must make Him the purpose in our life. He alone should be what we find our joy in. When we get to know Him more, we will see how worthy He is.

If we make Christ our delight, he will give us the desires of our heart. The scripture does not say that God will give us whatever we want, but instead, that God will give us the desires He wants us to have. God will transform our value system so that we place value on and desire the proper things.

The second thing this passage tells us to do is to commit our way. Christ wants us to give ourselves completely to Him. We must make a commitment to walk in His precepts and follow His will. We must be dedicated to the things of God. Our path should not stray from His will.

Third, we must trust Him. God tells us that without faith it is impossible to please Him. If we truly want to please our Father we must commit ourselves to Him and ask Him to teach us to put our faith in Him. This is a work that He alone can do, but we must ask Him to do it.

So in conclusion, I would like to challenge you, Delight in God. Make Him your first pursuit. Ask God to teach you to be faithful to Him. And lastly, endeavor to trust Him. What will happen as a result? God will make all those desires He gave us come to pass. I have seen God use this passage again and again in my life and I’m sure if you dedicate yourself to living our the principles found here, you will find yourself a most contented Christian!

Look at the desire God placed into the heart of the psalmist. I’m sure God brought it to past.

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. – Psalm 27:4

What God wants

Isn’t it great that God isn’t a God of status? He isn’t impressed with money, good looks, popularity or power. God is interested in our hearts. As He spoke to Samuel in Samuel 16:7, “Look not on His countenance or on the height of His stature, because I have refused Him, for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” Our money, good looks, status, and positions of authority don’t impress God. He wants our hearts right with Him. As David wrote in Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart O God thou wilt not despise.” God doesn’t want all the stuff that man values. He wants us.

He wants us to come to Him, broken and repentant. He wants us to weep over our sin and ask Him to transform us. So I would like to encourage you. God doesn’t care how much money you have, where you are on the corporate ladder, or whether or not you were the prom king or queen. He cares about how much you are willing to follow Him. It doesn’t matter what the world thinks you have to offer, you can offer God your heart, and that is everything to Him.