New Hearts

Matthew 15:18   (KJV)   18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.

Matters of the heart matters more than the physical. They affect us in more significant and more crucial ways.

The words we honestly speak spring from deep within us. Depending on the condition of our hearts, the kinds of words coming out reflect them. The Bible tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Matthew 15.18 - New HeartsThat’s why although we hear it often, it’s not always wise to say “Just listen to your heart,” or “Just follow your heart.” Unregenerate hearts from unsaved world often come up with very wrong advice.

We praise God for changing our hearts. Instead of hearts of stone—hard hearts unwilling to listen to God’s Word and God’s Spirit, He gave us hearts of flesh—soft hearts—longingly, lovingly hungering, expectant of, and pursuing Him, His Kingdom, His Word, and His will. We’re more concerned about these hearts of ours and the issues flowing from them compared to the physical stuff we stuff our physical bodies with.

Don’t get me wrong; we don’t deny the importance of our physical bodies and the honor our Lord Jesus has bestowed on them. We are the temples of the precious Holy Spirit. We recognize and realize the importance of good diet and exercise. Over-eating is still something to avoid, although I admit, I need more discipline in that. Gluttony may be a more convicting term than over-eating.

We can desecrate this temple. But what defiles this temple are not the kinds of food we eat but the kinds of words coming out of our lips; the kinds of thoughts we think with our brains, and the kinds of actions we engage in with our bodies. Immorality—these kinds of acts of our bodies defile us. But all these ultimately spring from deep within us. We take care of  our hearts; everything else flows from there. Our hearts belong to Him; that’s the big difference.

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On Leaders/Teachers and Words

James 3:1   (KJV)   1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

This sounds like trying to dissuade believers from becoming masters, leaders, or teachers. The obvious reason is given: those who are have greater responsibilities, James 3.1 - On Leaders-Teachers and Wordsgreater accountabilities, greater condemnation or stricter judgment.

The way the chapter progresses is very interesting; it’s followed by quite a strong discourse about how uncontrollable our tongues are. Connecting the introductory passage about being very cautious in aspiring to be leaders/teachers, to the context, we may say that since words of leaders/teachers matter a lot and carry a lot of weight and influence, we ought to really consider and really pray earnestly if it’s something we truly desire for ourselves and it’s a weight we we’re willing to carry on our shoulders.

For us leaders/teachers, we are all the more watchful of our tongues. We can never underestimate the damage it would cause. That’s why we avoid engaging in conversations about disputable matters. Often, those conversations lead us to speaking derogatorily—cursing—our brothers and sisters with the very same lips we praise our Lord and Father with. We are called to be humble even in the use of our words. We are to conduct ourselves with wisdom that flows from above—the kind of wisdom that’s peace-loving and gentle at all times. We ought to be peacemakers.

How sad that leaders/teachers have engendered many of our quarrels and divisions in the body of our precious and loving Lord Jesus because of our very incendiary words against each other. To the leaders, I implore: let’s watch our words. Let them be words of love, truth, unity, humility, and peace. If I’m not willing to humble myself, I would rather not lead and teach.

Cursed at but Blessed

Psalm 109:28   (KJV)   28 Let them curse, but bless thou: when they arise, let them be ashamed; but let thy servant rejoice.

We bless others; not all of them reciprocate that.  There are people who dislike us despite the good way we treat them.  Others would get hurt when cursed at; it weighs heavily on them.  We pray for them that they’d handle things better.  It’s good to be treated well, but Psalm 109.28 - Cursed at But Blesssedwhen we believers are cursed, we’ve learned not to get hurt;  what matters is that God blesses us.  And His Words are more potent.

We glory in the Lord; in Him, no one can really hurt us.  God has an effectively powerful way of protecting us.  Although we don’t rejoice in other people’s pain—even those who mistreat us, often, the harm they intend for us boomerangs on them, and they’re the ones who suffer from their own actions.  Here again, it’s made clear why we can heed the Word’s admonition for us to rejoice in the Lord always.

There are many reasons why others curse us; they probably hate us for reasons we don’t know or reasons unfounded.  There are probably many reasons why God blesses us, but there’s one I know for sure:  He absolutely loves us.  He’s never an absentee God.  Even in those moments when He’s seemingly very quiet, and the slanders, accusations, and lies of our enemies abound, God is blessing us. Even in the middle of the worst treatment from others, we’re at the very center of the the best treatment from God.  It’s a fact of our Christian journey:  people will repay us evil for good, hatred for love, and slander for praise; we’re fine; our joy’s intact in the Lord.

 

Distinctions

Exodus 8:23   (KJV)   23 And I will put a division between my people and thy people: to morrow shall this sign be.

There are similarities and differences in the experiences of God’s people and the world. God determines which is which. The world isn’t disqualified from all of God’s blessings exodus-8-23-distinctionsand goodness; God’s people aren’t exempt from tragedies. God makes the sun shine on both; He makes it rain on both. But there is a time when in God’s wisdom, He decides to create a distinction between those who are His own, and those who fight against Him.

Those are so many things believers do that unbelievers do; there are even miracles they can imitate; demonic forces are supernatural beings capable of extra-ordinary feats. But they can only go so far; they have limitations; our God alone is omnipotent. But yes, there’s suffering in the world, and Christians aren’t exempt from suffering. In fact, there are additional sufferings unique to believers; we do get persecuted for our faith.

God has sovereign plans for His people that will be accomplished no matter what. God has sovereign plans for the wicked that will be accomplished no matter what. The godly and the wicked may share the same blessings and experiences here and there, but there’s surely a demarcation line in this. God has a different destiny for the godly, and a different destiny for the ungodly. We’re excitedly waiting for our ultimate “tomorrow” when the difference will be total and final.