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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All

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

The word “all” is all inclusive – we all fall short of God’s flawless standard. Even the most righteous person, the most moral person, the most kind person.

It has less to do with a sinful act and more to do with our human nature. We are born egocentric. We are all bent toward selfishness and pride. In fact, every sinful act is a transgression against the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

That “other god” often times is me! How many times daily, do I think of my own comfort and desires. It seems hopeless unless we tap into a power greater than our human nature, a supernatural power. Only through the Holy Spirit who comes to us the moment we submit our life to Jesus Christ, can we overcome the dark areas of our human spirit. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit can we overcome the selfishness of our thoughts, emotions, and will.

Romans 3:22 tells us that we are made righteous with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are…

All

Faith vs Religion

Then you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free (John 8:32).

Whenever I am referred to as being religious, in my heart I feel insulted. I am not offended by the person who said it because most likely he/she meant it as a compliment, but I would prefer being thought of as a believer whose faith is in the Lord, Jesus Christ. To me, religion is man-made and filled with man-made restrictions.

Jesus Himself had nothing good to say about the religious. He called them vipers and described them as white-washed tombs.

Religion equals constraints, limitations, and the guilt that comes with never doing or being enough. Religion adds hundreds of thou-shalt-nots to the freedom and assurance that we can experience in living in the grace that is freely given though faith in Christ Jesus.

And if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

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.

Compelled

 

For when I preach the gospel I cannot boast since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel (1 Corin 9:16).

I really, really dislike the feeling of being “obligated” to do things. If I do something, or give something, or say something, I would like it to be from the heart, not because of guilt or duty. The flip side is also true. If something is good, I really, really enjoy sharing it, especially with those I love.

When I am walking closely with the Lord, it’s impossible to keep quiet about God’s activity in my life. The word “compelled” in this verse tells us that Paul’s heart was so full of joy and the understanding of the full meaning of the gospel that it spilled out of him.

In the words of Jesus, “For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

Let my heart be filled with your Spirit, Lord, so that no bitterness, but only love , flows out.

 

The Law vs Love

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matt 22:37-40).

Did you know that there are at least 5,000 federal criminal laws, with 10,000-300,000 regulations that can be enforced criminally and may carry criminal penalties? And that is just federal. As we are sitting here right this minute, we may be unknowingly breaking some kind of law or code.

Following Jesus is so much simpler, not necessarily easy, but definitely less complicated. In fact, if everyone followed the two laws outlined by Jesus, we would not need any other law. With the love in our hearts from God (the source of all love), we can turn that toward others. If we truly loved others we would never do anything that would be detrimental or harm them.

Simple, but not easy. Over and over our human nature takes the lead. Even Paul, one of the people throughout history who was most dedicated to the Lord, Jesus Christ said, “ I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

Visualizing life governed by the greatest commandment gives us a little glimpse of one little facet of eternity. Law–less, because we will all be governed by perfect love.

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.