Free and Obedient Hearts

1 Chronicles 29:18   (KJV)   18 O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee:

Can our sovereign and loving God work in our hearts—people’s hearts—without violating our free will?  I guess He can.  We may not fully understand how He does it, but He can.  Otherwise, there’s no point praying for Him to make His people want to obey 1 Chronicles 29.18 - Free and Obedient HeartsHim.  We’ve seen clear examples and explicit passages in the Scriptures showing this.  God changed the heart of Saul (1 Sam. 10:9); He prophesied about giving His people a new heart (Jer. 24:7); He directs the king’s heart like rivers of water (Prov. 21:1); David prayed for God to give him a clean heart (Ps. 51:10).

Yes He can, and Yes He does work in people’s hearts.  This is not however a removal of free will, or cancelling of our responsibility.  In fact, we see clearly in the Scriptures how Saul turned away from God, how Solomon turned his heart towards the gods of his wives, how one king after another chose to rebel against God, and how His Old Covenant people repeatedly disobeyed God.  We as His people weren’t made robots when we placed our full dependence on Him to save us and surrendered our lives to Him.

We were made new creations (2 Cor. 5:17), but we still obviously have a choice whether we obey or disobey Him, whether we abide in Him or not, whether we live faithfully or not, whether we deny Him or not.  God won’t fail; if He says He’ll give us new hearts, He will. In fact, for believers, He already has.  What we do with our God-given new hearts is up to us.  As for me, and I pray my entire household, we will worship and serve Him faithfully—wholeheartedly.

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Leader: Rejection to Acceptance

Acts 7:35   (KJV)   35 This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush.

Moses was rejected His own people, but He was accepted, chosen, called, and sent by God. Forty years after he fled the land of his rejection, he went back and led his people out of slavery, out of cruel bondage. At Moses’ very first attempt to mediate between two of his acts-7-35-leader-rejection-and-acceptancequarreling people, he and his efforts were not received well. After God’s commission, and after God’s miraculous backing up of His servant, Moses was finally accepted by his people as God’s man. The man who originally rejected Moses was probably one of those who eventually benefited from the deliverance.

People can change. Not all do, but some do. Those who dislike us now may like us later; our most hostile foe may become our most ardent friend. We may not fully understand how our Sovereign Lord can direct even kings’ hearts like a watercourse to bring them to His desired end without violating their free will, but He’s able. Often, He works on surroundings, environments, and situations to carry out His plans. Oh the depths of His wisdom!!!

But even if people don’t change their antagonistic attitude towards us, we’re fine; we have God who continuously extends His loving arms of invitation, and loves us just the way we are. His plans for us are always greater than our plans. His timing is always better than ours; His timing is perfect. He can turn things around. When our visions and dreams don’t find fulfillment right away, we don’t stop dreaming and hoping. God’s callings in our lives are without repentance. We just wait, with faith and patience. As things unravel, we see God orchestrating all factors necessary: situations, events, even nature and people, to bring about our destiny-fulfillment.

Unstoppable

Exodus 11:3   (KJV)   3 And the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants, and in the sight of the people.

God has ways and means of changing people’s attitudes without violating their free will. God is in control; He will work out everything according to His purpose. Those who consider others as enemies can change and see those enemies as friends. Those who abuse their workers can change and honor those workers for being a huge help to them. Those who consider someone in a very negative light can change and see their greatness instead.

God is Sovereign. Even when things seem to be getting out of hand, even when He seems very silent and uninvolved, even when evil seems to be winning and growing. There are specific times in history when God’s handiwork becomes absolutely obvious; when no matter how people act or react, whatever they think, whatever they say or do, however flagrant their rebellion is; pertinent people, things, and events move clearly towards righteousness.

People may not even associate the events with God’s work or intervention, but the momentum becomes unstoppable. The government, mainstream media, Hollywood, educational system, politicians, and many other powerful and influential individuals or groups may unite against God and His people, but all their billions of dollars and their endless rhetoric will even work against them. When God declares special favor upon a person, or His people, favor comes like an unstoppable flood; there’s nothing His enemies can do. So we live in Him; we seek, pursue, and exalt Him, His Kingdom, and His righteousness. Against the torrents of hypocrisy, lies, and abusive attacks, we have peace, knowing we’re on the right side, and His favor is upon us.

Living in the Spirit

Romans 8:9   (KJV)   9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

We are not in the flesh—we’re not controlled by that part of us that desires sin. What a wonderful affirmation!!! Praise the LORD!!! The reason why we’re not controlled by the flesh is the Holy Spirit; He’s the new force, power, or influence Who is in control of us. For romans-8-9-living-in-the-spiritthose of us who have received the Holy Spirit through our faith in the Lord Jesus, it’s a very encouraging guarantee: He’s now in control of the wheels, no longer our sinful nature.

This sounds very interesting; it’s almost like we don’t have to do anything about it because it’s automatic. But to clarify, we have a part here. We are also urged to make righteous choices. I pray that my humble short exposition adds clarity to those who may have a small question regarding the seeming irreconcilability between God’s Sovereignty and our free will. Does God sovereignly control us to live in the spirit, or do we make that determination? It’s both.

If there’s any consolation to us who may have to exert a little more effort in understanding Paul’s teachings especially in his letter to the Romans, we’re not alone in this; even the Apostle Peter pointed out the fact that parts of Paul’s letters are hard to understand. Praise God, we have the mind of Christ; we can understand. “Hard to understand” doesn’t mean impossible to understand. Regarding the outworking of God’s Spirit in us and us choosing to live in the Spirit—both are true as I wrote above.

The apostle Paul affirms this repeatedly. We as true believers are the ones in whom the Holy Spirit lives. We in whom the Holy Spirit resides, the Holy Spirit takes control of. We who the Holy Spirit takes control of, mind the things of the Spirit and choose to walk after the Spirit. This doesn’t mean that we don’t have the ability to choose otherwise; it’s just that we are now new creations, with new nature, who now desire thus choose to live freely in righteousness and life, and no longer as slaves to sin, flesh, and death.

Best is Better than Good

1 Samuel 28:2   (KJV)   And David said to Achish, Surely thou shalt know what thy servant can do. And Achish said to David, Therefore will I make thee keeper of mine head for ever.

Being a keeper of a king’s head isn’t too bad – imagine being a personal bodyguard of a king – that ought to be an honorable position. But, what may be a really good thing may not be the best thing. David has already been chosen by God to be a king; he has already been anointed by the prophet Samuel as God’s personally chosen replacement for King Saul.

A lot of times, we find ourselves in situations when we forget our God-given destiny. The immediate satisfaction becomes a distraction from our great future. We get ourselves in tight predicaments and just not to be in bigger trouble, any good offer becomes a great offer.  We swallow what’s fed us never knowing that it’s poisoning our tomorrow.

Never believe that we will never be afforded with choices without undue pressure. When these opportunities come, let’s choose wisely. Let’s use both our hearts and minds. Never lose sight of what God wants us to become and who God wants us to be. Let’s not our present passions blind us from our future promises. The trend of the culture can pressure us to hurry ourselves. Somehow, we ought to be like everyone else. Let’s not forget: the Lord’s plans for us are almost always different from the ways of the world. They’re always better than the world’s. Good is good, but best is best. Choose well.

Praise You Father; You’re perfect! You’re the best!!! Thank You for always desiring what’s best for us. Please help us to be wise and discerning. Help us that we won’t ever trade our spiritual birthrights to a “bowl of stew.” We may be passionately hungry for something right now, and we may feel it’s very important for us to satisfy our present passion. But may we always remember: Your offers and plans for us are way better than our passions – unless our passion is You, in Jesus’ Name, amen.