A Pure Heart

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me (Ps 51:10).

Are there people in your life, too, who knowingly or not, cause contention? When I choose to admit it, those people and uncomfortable situations are so often what send me to the Lord in prayer. Often times I have prayed for them to change when God shows me that it is I who need to change too.

Isn’t this exactly what God wants? A change in my heart?  When Jesus dealt with the people who despised Him so much that they took satisfaction in the brutal suffering that He endured until death, He looked at them with love, forgiveness, and understanding, realizing that they didn’t really know what they were doing.

Oh, to have that much love in my heart! Maybe the table He is preparing before me in the presence of my enemies is really my own heart.

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Guidelines for a Joyful Life

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men (Col 3:23).

The other day I heard the following part of a sermon preached by the Reverend Martin Luther King:

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”

I did not check the rest of his message to identify the scripture about which he was speaking, but when Colossians 3:23 came to my mind, I began thinking that every success principle discovered by man can be paired with a principle from scripture.

Our God is good. He wants us to be joyful even when we are hard at work. In fact, His joy gives us strength (Neh 8:10).

So instead of reading a list of the 10 Best Things to Do for a Contented (Successful, Joyful…) Life, search The Book and you can write your own.

Self-Examination

Each one should test his own actions then he can take pride in himself alone, without comparing himself to someone else (Gal.6:4).

Since this was written about 60 A.D. I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one who compares myself to others. Whether I’m better or worse than anyone else is so very meaningless. Both the vanity or the self-condemnation—totally meaningless.

We are told a number of times in scripture to examine ourselves, not to compare ourselves with others, but to examine ourselves by God’s standards. Where is my heart? What are my motives? Am I seeking to do God’s will? Am I trusting Him? Am I living and moving in the faith in Christ whom I profess?

Should we fall short (not if, but when), we still have the assurance of salvation as a safety net. But also what joy comes at times when we examine ourselves and know that we are on track.

Submission

Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ (Eph 5:21).

Our ladies’ group was discussing submission a few days ago and I was reminded of some of the principles that, as I saunter through the day, are so easy to disregard. I also realized that this topic and related scriptural references were ones that I had never written about—maybe because it is so volatile and misunderstood even among believers, and especially when dealing with less-than-perfect marriage relationships.

The goal of submission is not domination/subservience, but rather unity. And the path to unity is kindness, respect, honor and love—one to another.

Submission is lifting another up—not pulling or dragging, but lifting for the other’s greater good. That is so opposite of pride or even low self-esteem where we’re trying to make ourselves feel good, right, or knowledgeable.

Relationships always work best when we follow the instructions and guidelines of the Creator. And I personally think the connotations of the words arrogant and prideful are much more distasteful than that of one who serves out of love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Vicki for suggesting practical applications

Answered Prayer

 

So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him (Matt 7:11).

God hears the prayers of believers, and answers them. We discussed before how His answer may be “Yes” or “No” or “Not yet,” but faith comes into play when we trust that God knows our needs, and even more important, that He knows us.

As earthly parents, one of our goals hopefully is helping our children to develop a godly character. We instinctively know that saying “yes” to every whim or desire would do much, much more harm than good. Our Heavenly Father knows exactly what we need. He may not say yes to the lottery, but He would never give His son a stone when he asked for bread.

We may be praying for a change in circumstance like maybe a better job, or a change in the demeanor of a spouse or child. We may find that God answers our prayer, not by changing the externals, but by changing us—our heart, our attitude, our inner peace.

His answers to our prayers—His good gifts—are always right on target.

Safe Space

Whoever dwells in the shadow of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty (Ps 91:1).

 Today there is so much talk about safe spaces where people are insulated from, well, just about anything that anyone wants to define as harmful, or hurtful, or even just uncomfortable. God doesn’t offer us that kind of isolation; in fact, His word (and my experience) shows that we grow in character and holiness through adversity.

If we look to Him in trust He offers us, not a safe space, but a fortress (v2). He doesn’t remove discomfort; sometimes we need it to grow, but He promises to be with us (v15). He protects us from the enemy’s snare [what are my personal temptations] (v3); terror by night [what are my fears]; arrows that fly by day [what are my arrows]; the plague that destroys [what plagues me physically, mentally, spiritually] (v 5&6–just read Psalm 91, it’s amazing).

Thank You, Father, that You have my back, in fact, You surround me so that “evil can not conquer me and no plague can come near my tent (v10).”

Pure in Spirit

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).

The topic for my most recent bible study was purity — not just sexual, but more so the motives of our heart. Coincidentally, today’s reading from Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, was also about purity. He says that when our hearts are left to their own devises, what proceeds from them are evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornications, false witnesses, blasphemies and that list of ugly things noted in Matthew and 2 Corinthians. Whoa! I don’t do THOSE things, but…

Without the Holy Spirit, we are constrained only either by cowardice (would I really act on my thoughts if I was more brave!?), or that we are constrained by living in a civilized society (so grateful for the morality set in place by our forefathers).

Sometimes I question my motives like am I being manipulative or prideful or selfish. Those I don’t like, but they are “acceptable sins” if there is such a thing. But when we let the Holy Spirit penetrate our heart, we’re appalled at how evil we really are. The Spirit of God uncovers our self-exoneration and excuses and makes us sensitive to things we never recognized, let alone admitted before. We begin to realize how much we need the kind of cleansing that only comes from Him.

Proverbs 16:2 says, Everything a person does seems pure in his own opinion, but the Lord weighs intentions. So I prayerfully repeat O God… see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.