Today, We Prepare

Hebrews 3:13   (KJV)   13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

One glorious day, we will be meeting our long-awaited beloved Lord, beholding Him with our very eyes, to spend time with Him and with our God for eternity. That will be one day, and we pray, one day soon. Today, we prepare.

exhortPart of our proper preparation is urgently exhorting and warning each other daily to be passionate about our God and His Word; to be watchful and vigilant against the insidious tactics and hideous attacks of our enemy.

God has powerfully set us free; we live in freedom. We don’t unwisely subject ourselves again to the cruel sin overlord. In freedom; we’re repeatedly commanded to be careful, to guard our hearts, to make sure our hearts don’t get hardened by sin’s deceitfulness, and cause us to turn away from God.

We aim to be faithful to our Lord, to fight the good fight, to finish the race, to keep the faith, to trust Him as firmly as when we did at first—even more. We don’t make light of the admonition for us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, to strive with the power of God’s Spirit that’s continually working in us to will and do what pleases Him. These we restfully do—in freedom, in His grace.

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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.

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.

Heart Issue

Mark 7:21-23  (KJV)   21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

I don’t know who originally said it, but it hits the bulls eye: “The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.” If ungodliness characterizes the speech and actions of people, they’re just expressions of ungodly hearts. There are things that affect men physically, but there are things that reach way more deeply.

We’re often concerned about the physical, the superficial. Yes, our bodies are important; material things are important as well. But we often judge someone’s beauty based on the external. We often judge someone’s relationship with God based on the food they eat, the clothes they wear, what they drink, the make-up they wear, etc. We ought to not undermine the fact that our visible and physical conducts and demeanor can be telltale signs of what’s inside; but we ought to make sure that we don’t appear clean only on the outside yet filthy on the inside. The condition of our hearts matter most.

Our dear Holy God, please check, cleanse, change our hearts – whatever is necessary. May we be true to You inside and out, in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Greatest Reward

Genesis 15:1  (KJV)   After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.

When our gracious God called the then pagan Abram, He made a very appealing promise – that He will make Abram a great nation; that He will bless Him; that He will make his name great; that Abram will be a blessing (see Gen. 12:2). But with all these amazing sovereign provisions, God presented Himself to the highly favored Abram as the best of all the offers. He will be Abram’s “exceeding great reward.”

Greater than becoming a great nation, greater than having a great name, greater than being a blessing – God is. Of all the bountiful blessings and benefits of being a believer, our Beloved beats the best of the best. if we may, He is the Best of the “best/s.” It is foolish to deny, reject or dismiss the amazing graces of God; it is also foolish to accept, embrace, and pursue them more than the God of grace. In what many believe as a noble posture of humility, some would innocently say that all they need is God; they don’t need or want His blessings. Conversely, in many cases of careless Christianity, some have gravitated towards the promises of God; they have forgotten the person of God. To reject what God offers is not humility; it may be ignorance, even pride. To miss God’s best offer is not gain; it’s to miss it all.

Dear God, our exceeding great Reward, may we be wise not to choose either You or Your blessings and reject either one or the other. May we receive everything You offer, but help us to wisely prioritize. May our hearts be single in longing for only You; may our hands be open in accepting all that’s Yours. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.