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.

Worship: It’s Good for Us

Jeremiah 32:39   (KJV)   39 And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them:

The Lord’s command and expectation for us to worship Him, serve Him, obey Him, fear Him is meant for our good and not for evil, to bless us and not to harm us—not only us, but even our children.

Jeremiah 32.39 - Worship - It's Good for UsWe hear of others who take offense on the truth that God is a jealous God who doesn’t want us to have any other god or gods. Praise God for the understanding He’s given us. His jealousy is not due to His insecurity. It’s because He doesn’t want us to live in a lie—worshiping those not worth worshiping, missing out on our best.

We pray that we others will open their minds and hearts to this reality. God existed in absolute perfection and contentment in eternity past without us. He doesn’t need us for Him to be whole. He has much to bless us with. As for us, we’re enjoying this awesome and indescribable privilege.

Thank you Lord for giving me—us, your children—hearts of worship.

No Fear of Bad News

Psalm 112:7   (KJV)   7 He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.

Bad news doesn’t scare believers. Our hearts and sights are set not on all the evil things going on around us; they’re steadily fixed on the Lord. Situations may be scary in the Psalm 112.7 - No Fear of Bad Newsnatural, but we always trust in our absolutely trustworthy God and Father. He’s always much bigger than our biggest problems and worst situations.

We don’t deny the existence of evil tidings. Bad things abound. They surround us. We live in an ever-darkening world that can’t stand what we stand for. There are enemies who don’t take it sitting down. They want to continue doing evil, and they won’t rest until they utterly get rid of the godly.

We live in peace. Goliaths of life are big, but God is bigger. We don’t deny evil, we face them head-on. We don’t take them lightly; evil and sin are serious matters. We don’t play around with them; to do so is to court disaster. No. We deal with them decisively and uncompromisingly. We don’t give in to them; we don’t surrender to them. We may be in the minority, but fewer doesn’t always mean weaker. We’re for God, thus, He’s for us; and “…If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

Teach Us, Oh LORD

Psalm 86:11   (KJV)   11 Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.

Having a humble and teachable heart is essential to living in and for God. Having a pure heart is essential to fearing God’s Name.

Psalms 86.11 - Teach Us, Oh LORDWe desire to follow after our precious LORD. The way we do that is by knowing His Word, His ways, and His will. This comes through spending time with Him and His Word. We can’t honestly say we’re living in obedience to Him if we don’t know what to obey. Else, we’ll be hypocritical, and that’s not the kind of heart we want to have. We want to keep our hearts pure before God; that’s one of the ways we honor God, and honoring Him is what we want to do.

We’re grateful to God because He teaches us and is willing to teach us. He’s always waiting, willing, ready to pour our His wisdom to us. So we come before Him, with sincere hearts, with loving fear of Him, with open hearts and minds, we fill ourselves with His precious truths.

Transformed Hearts

Romans 2:29   (KJV)   29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. That’s a saying we’ve probably heard many times, but its truthfulness can’t be ignored. It’s not that outside appearances aren’t important to God, it’s that He knows that the true nature of a person is found and comes Romans 2.29 - Transformed Heartsfrom the heart. The heart is the wellspring of life. Our words and actions, whether they be good or evil, are just natural external expressions of what’s abundantly stored within us.

Obedience is good, good works are that—good, but it’s obviously possible for people to obey and do good things externally—as great pretenders.  To do good, even when forced, for the purpose of helping others has some merits, but doing good for the purpose of deceiving others is reprehensible. It’s possible to have a heart that really desires to worship, serve, and obey God—a heart that sincerely desires to do good to others. It’s a heart changed by God’s Spirit.

One of the best evidences of a Spirit-transformed heart is that it’s “praise is not of men, but of God.”  For us, living good, upright, and godly lives isn’t to impress people but to bring their attention to the Him Who made us new creations as we shine our lights. He deserves our full surrender and obedience.  The truth is: He deserves everything we are and everything we have.  More so, He deserves infinitely more than everything we all are and everything we all have.  We see perfect sense in giving Him no less than our all and our best.

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.

All for God

Deuteronomy 10:12   (KJV)   12 And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul

deuteronomy-10-12-all-for-godThere’s a difference between fearing people and fearing God. We don’t fear people; we fear God.

It’s not demeaning to fear Him Who created all things, in control of all things, and Who not only can do something with our bodies, but has control over our souls’ destiny.

To fear God, to walk in a way that pleases Him, to love Him and to serve Him with our all—these may sound so hard, but if we really think about it, they’re really very doable. We just have to want to.

Reality: Christian life is not just hard; it’s impossible—if we depend upon our own power. But our precious Lord Who expects us to live for Him also empowers us to do so.

Because we fear Him, we want to live in such a way that will please Him, because we love Him, we serve Him. Not everyone who tries to please God really fears Him. Not everyone who serves Him really loves Him.

Fearing, pleasing, loving, and serving God is a privilege. He doesn’t need them. We do. He existed in perfection without us. They’re ultimately for our best.

All things are from Him, trough Him, and for Him. He also spared no expense for our pardon and salvation. That’s the reason why we do what’s appropriate: serving God with no less than all our heart and our souls, humbly acknowledging that even with that, He deserves infinitely more.

The Light of the World

John 8:12   (KJV)   12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

God wants us to see clearly, knowing where we are, with a clear sight of our destiny—the wonderful future He has prepared for us. He doesn’t want us lost, groping in darkness. He john-8-12-the-light-of-the-worldmakes sure our paths are lit well; He Himself is the light that illuminates our world and brightens our lives. (Thank You Lord). He leads the way where we should go. We—His followers are sure of our steps; we avoid stumbling and falling.

It’s difficult to move in darkness, much more to walk in it or live in it. But darkness is real; darkness abounds, and there are many of us who are still there. There is darkness in the mind: people are plagued with debilitating worries, erroneous beliefs, and destructive opinions. We have darkness in our hearts: many are sad, angry, and ashamed. There is darkness in our world: we see chaos, pride, hatred, and unbridled lust.

Praise God, we’re free from darkness. The Light of the World shines so brightly, showing us the way to go, and we walk forward with confidence. That’s the reason why we found our way to eternal life in the first place. He fills us, surrounds us, and leads us. He’s so much a part of our lives, so close to us that we as His followers share in His “light” nature. We are also lights of the world. He’s the great big universal infinite Light and Light Source; we’re the localized light—much smaller, but lights nonetheless—lights shining brightly as well.

Because we as believers live in His light, we see Him. Because of His light, we see ourselves clearly: we see if we’re clean, or if we have smudges, spots and stains. We’re honest about our real condition, and we address the problems. Because of His light, we’re living out our purposes well, and we’re journeying forward towards our destiny—joyfully.

 

Anti-Sin

Psalm 119:11   King James Version (KJV)   11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

I was introduced to this verse when I was a new believer. It played a big role in my journey and growth. It’s still very precious to me. The more I grow, the more I see its immeasurable value. There are so many loud, influential, and powerful albeit very ungodly psalm-199-11-anti-sinvoices surrounding us that seem to control the direction of people’s beliefs and walk. They’re unashamed; they’re bold; they’re brash; and they’re bent to leading the populace to their march of godlessness.

As believers, we’re called to walk in humility and gentleness. We’re open; we listen; we value people. Many times, they don’t hold the same convictions as we do. There are shocking moments of revelations and realizations. It’s absolutely crazy when people who are so sure and so confident about their Christianity voice out opinions and convictions that are obviously contradictory to Scriptural precepts.

Our natural inclination is to voice out our opposing view. It works to some people. There are opinionated and vocal people who are sincere seekers of the truth; when they meet the truth, they don’t have a problem bowing before it. But there are people who have rock-hard hearts, and sky-high pride; they’re not after truth; they’re there to convince others to fall in line behind them. In the thick of battle of ideas and opinions, God’s Word is our immovable anchor. It keeps us from error and sin. Kings and queens may give their anti-Scriptural decrees, but our allegiance is to His Word. We chose to walk faithful before Him. Without shame, we live out His Words; our feet are established; our steps are steady.

Ready Hearts

acts-8-36-ready-heartsActs 8:36   (KJV)   36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

Some people’s hearts are just good grounds for the seed of the Gospel. There are people who sincerely desire and seek God. When they hear the Good News of the Kingdom, the Good News of Salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, there’s no hesitation; instead, there is an immediate act of surrender, repentance and obedience. They’re ready to do what God bids them to do. They’re there; they exist; they’re waiting to be told, to hear.

God is looking to and fro; He knows His own. He knows those who will be saved and those who will perish. Not that He wants some to be saved and some to be damned; no; He explicitly laid down the truth about His desire for the salvation of everyone. He desires none to perish; He longs for all to be saved, although He’s fully aware of the stubbornness of people’s hearts. God-haters and God-seekers, He clearly demonstrated His all-inclusive love by willingly dying a painful, sacrificial death—not just for a few, but for all the world. His loving arms of sincere and zealous invitation are extended to all people.

Whoever we are, whatever ethnicity, color, creed, persuasion, or position—God is calling. That’s the wonder of His amazing grace and mercy. People of high degree, people of low status, known or unknown, the least of sinners or the worst of us, God’s forgiveness encompasses all and is enjoyed by those who wise up, humble down, and bow their knees to our Lord and Savior. We do. We may not fully understand everything, but we see the reasonableness and wisdom in the Gospel. In the Gospel, we see the most reasonable proposition for a solution to our problem of sin and death. Here, love and justice conjoin in perfect harmony where no other person or system offers any solution. His love is perfectly demonstrated through His sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins; His justice is satisfied through the same sacrifice payment for our sins. What hinders us from believing and surrendering our lives to Him Who loves us most and leads us best? That’s rhetorical.