Strangely Blessed

September 22, 2018

I’m going to tell a story about a parishioner that recently passed away. He told me that he came to church because it kept his wife off his back. He was a heavy alcoholic drinker, and he was a mean drunk, and he was often unfaithful because he was hung like a Missouri Mule (that was his wife’s description and she said the main reason she wouldn’t leave him was the sex).

I cannot tell you how many times his wife called me asking me to go get him out of a bar or restaurant where he was drunk and harassing a young waitress. And remember I said he was mean, this guy was 150 pounds of pure mean. I’ve saw him actually fall off a roof (single story) while welding and just get back up and go up the ladder.

There were several times that I had to taze him or Mace him in order to get him to comply and get in my car, he once told me he liked me because I was the only pastor that ever punched him in face (not a pastoral technique I recommend and one I don’t often use).

Funny thing is every time he saw me in the grocery store or the hardware store or Home Depot he would come up to me and hug me and cry and say that I was the best pastor in the world because I always came and got him, and always listened to his stories and I always talk to his wife and calmed her down and convince her not to divorce him.

Well his son has followed in his footsteps and the mother is called asking if I will go get her son and it is a mirror image of what happened with his father, he’s a mean drunk and he just ends up crying about how sorry he is and he’ll show up in church on Sunday and give his heart to the Lord which by the way never happens .

But his father dying from Cirrhosis of the liver accepted the Lord 10 days before he passed away. And it’s probably the only 10 days he’s ever had sober. So I was holding his hand as he passed away he told me that he was always grateful that I was gracious and loving to him and my love convicted him he said so often of his need for a Savior .

So pastors, the black sheep of the congregation you love them and so you going the extra mile out of your way to help them eventually pays off, so don’t give up on them, it’s your duty to go after that one out of the 99 that seems to always wander away .

I’ve been strangely blessed by having more of my share of the mentally ill, philandering, coke sniffing, alcoholic, pot smoking, sex addicted, ex-cons and bikers in my different churches. My family says I’m a magnet for weird, the “normal” people in church sometimes complain, but eventually they get with the program. God loves us all. And as the Apostle Paul said, “we were once one of them.”

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Heavenly Places

September 21, 2018

  “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:2).

  It is sad to have to say that the present-day Church is so earthy that it is of little earthly good. “Sir, we would see Jesus”! (John 12:21). The agony and the ugliness or the old rugged cross is now a golden bejeweled cross. There is no longer in most hymn books songs about the blood or phrases like; “such a worm as I.”

No, we sing praise songs about how great we are.

  The great failure of the Modern Church was in giving up the Apostle Paul. Many pulpits haven’t heard a sermon from the book of Romans in years. Or the second coming of the Lord and how it could be at any moment.

  It is essential that a believer have a clear understanding of his position before the Father—his place in the risen Lord Jesus Christ. This alone will give true peace of mind, joy and comfort of heart, strength for conflict and power for service. We will never be able to properly understand or fill our place for God on earth if we do not realize our God-given standing before Him in heaven.

  And never forget that our place before the Father is His gift, and a gift worthy of the Giver; not a gift according to the measure of our worth but a gift intended to display the exceeding riches of the grace of the Giver. The greatness of the Giver then is the measure of the blessings that are mine in the Lord Jesus Christ, not what I am or what I deserve.

 When you see and stand on your heavenly ground, you come to rest, just as the Father rests. You need not worry—only keep on that ground by your attitude of heart. If you are going to worry—if you must worry—worry lest you get down on earthly ground, for that is the ground of worry. Abide above! Heavenly things are in safe keeping—in the keeping of One who is ‘far above all.’.

  “For ye have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3, ASV.).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember to pray for Gwen and her economic struggles

Continue to pray for Maureen and her shingles.

Dave I, and his battle with prostate cancer.

THE PROMISES OF GOD

September 20, 2018

One of the questions I am often asked is; “are all the promises in the bible for me?”

They are surprised when I say NO.

Not every promise in the bible is for you. Some are only for the Jews, Some are for non believers, some are for the New Testament Church, some are for the 7 years of tribulation, some are for the 1000 year reign of Christ.

So you have to take the promises in context of the chapter and book.

So the old saying; “every promise in the book is mine” isn’t really correct.

So here’s a list from the first five books of the bible, ask yourself who they are for. It might surprise you.

GENESIS AND THE PROMISES OF GOD

God made man in his image, in his likeness, and gave him dominion over the earth and all its creatures (1:26-28).

God blessed the descendants of Abraham, and all peoples on earth have been blessed through them (12:2-3; 18:18).

When we believe the Lord, he credits it to us as righteousness (15:6).

God established his covenant with Abraham and greatly increased his numbers, so that he became a father of many nations (17:2, 5).

Nothing is too hard for the Lord (18:14).

God chose Abraham, “so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him” (18:19).

The Judge of all the earth will always do right (18:25).

God promised to bless Abraham and make his descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Through his offspring, all nations on earth would be blessed, because he obeyed God (22:17-18).

EXODUS AND THE PROMISES OF GOD

The Lord is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob (3:6).

The Lord took the Israelites as his own people, became their God, and brought them out from under the yoke of the Egyptians (6:7).

The Lord raised up Pharaoh to show him his power and to cause his name to be proclaimed in all the earth (9:16).

The Lord is faithful to his covenant promises and delivers his people through his powerful right hand (14-15).

“Who among the gods is like you, O Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” (15:11).

God brought his people in and planted them on the mountain of his inheritance (15:17).

The Lord is our Banner (17:15).

God promised that if his people would obey him fully and keep his covenant, than out of all nations they would be his treasured possession. Although the whole earth is his, they would be for him a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (19:5-6).

“My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (33:14).

The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, is slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin (34:6-7).

LEVITICUS AND THE PROMISES OF GOD

Among those who approach God he will show himself holy, and in the sight of all the people God will be honored (10:3).

“I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy” (11:44).

“For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life” (17:11).

“Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord” (18:5).

“Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God. Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy” (20:7-8).

“You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to by my own” (20:26).

“I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high” (26:12-13).

NUMBERS AND THE PROMISES OF GOD

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace” (6:24-26).

“The Lord answered Moses, ‘Is the Lord’s arm too short? You will now see whether or not what I say will come true for you’” (11:23).

The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion (14:17).

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the Lord your God” (15:41).

“God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (23:19).

DEUTERONOMY AND THE PROMISES OF GOD

“The Lord your God has increased your numbers so that today you are as many as the stars in the sky. May the Lord, the God of your fathers, increase you a thousand times and bless you as he has promised!” (1:10-11).

“The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place” (1:30-31).

“The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast desert. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything” (2:7).

“Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you” (3:22).

“O Sovereign Lord, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do?” (3:24).

“What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?” (4:7).

“If . . . you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul” (4:29).

“For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath” (4:31).

The Lord is God; besides him there is no other (4:35, 39).

The Lord is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands (7:9).

“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him” (18:17-18).

“The Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory” (20:4).

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever” (29:29).

That’s just the first five books of the bible, so what kind of list did you come up with?

Hopefully you’ll press on and work on the whole list, although there is a disagreement of how many promises there are, some say over 5000, some say only 3000. Either way you have a lot of work cut out for you to identify them all.

It will take a life time of work.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Larry R, going through a rough divorce

Pray for Valerie, the same (different person

Pray for Maureen and shingles.

Pray for those that are depressed. Reach out to someone today.

DIRECTIONS

September 19, 2018

Yield_Sign_in_New_Hampshire

  “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus” (Heb. 10:19).

  After years of reckoning with little or no deliverance from the dominion of sin, when you are just about to sink under the futility of it all, the Holy Spirit will turn your attention to the One who is your Deliverer. And by the Word, He will also begin to call your attention to the fact that where the Deliverer is, you are. “Hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6).

  “‘. . . our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him’ (1 Thess. 5:10). Can anything affect your heart so much as the way the man in Christ is received in the new position? What I press now is the right that we have to be in the place, and that it is not only that I delight to be there, but the ineffable thought is that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ delights to have me in His place, sharing His joys.

If we do not enter by faith into the new position to which He in His grace has placed us. A further fact is, that we have no place but that; and when we get even a glimpse of it, it alters immensely this place; this world through which we are passing, and all things in it, appear in another color altogether. There is so much more to salvation than just the new birth, there is learning, growing, abiding, practicing, cultivating the gifts we are given, witnessing, bible reading, bible memorization, praying, learning to pray, self-discipline, being filled with the Holy Spirit.

 If I only think of my position in Him above and do not study Him and His ways while here, then, though there may be a sense of power, there is no direction given to it. That is why so many Christians think the thing they are doing is in the will of God, but it’s not, it is only self-will. It is only in the combination of both that there can be a true study of the Lord Jesus, and conformity to Him. The eye of the soul must be open and receptive to learn of His ways and walk here.

  “But now in Christ Jesus ye who once were far off are made near by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember Ken in your prayers, he is struggling with chronic shyness.

Pray for Laurie, 54 and losing her eye sight.

Continue to pray for Maureen as she is trying to recover from shingles, pray it doesn’t get into her eye.

It is impossible to list all the people we’ve asked for prayer for, but everyone has been encouraged knowing that there are folks all over the world praying for them.

MY CONFESSION

September 18, 2018

My Confession;

Today I was cruel, masochistic, harsh, punishing, relentless, unforgiving, unfeeling and totally misused and abused to the point of death, finally killing; My Weed Eater.

Well now that I feel cleansed, how about you. How long has it been that you confessed your dirty little secret, or nasty habit or just said; “I’m sorry.”

Confession is good for the soul, and having someone to hold you accountable is a good thing.

That’s it, short and sweet, and if I don’t see you in church, I will see you at Home Depot.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Rick I, IBS

Pray for Carla and Sid, she’s about to become a new mom, any day now.

Pray for Jimmy W, he is just now coming to group meetings and should tell his story some day soon. He hasn’t hit the sobriety point yet, but he has a couple of meetings under his belt.

OUGHT NAUGHT TO BE

September 17, 2018

OUGHT NOUGHT TO BE

I’ve mentioned this before but want to revisit the situation.

I can walk into any bar or tavern. And say; “I’m cheating on my wife, my taxes, my boss, I’ve shot the neighbor’s cat and I just found out my mistress is HIV positive.”

And someone will come over and by me a drink. Or someone will come over and say; “I know what you’re saying.”

But have any failure in a Christian environment and well they shoot horses don’t they.

Mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation, brotherhood, fraternity, grace, support, join AA because you may not get it from church.

Doesn’t seem to happen. It’s seems the membership for church is perfect people getting saved and leading perfect lives. Don’t dare tell them your past, you’ll find yourself not asked for dinner after the Sunday service.

Yet Jesus live and visited with the worst of his day, sinners. He laughed with them, broke bread with them and invited them to know Him better.

How can we expect a body of believers to grow intimate with each other when we hide our past, keep secret our current struggles and shove out anyone that fails?

So by pretending to be perfect we become false. And the brother or sister in Christ is afraid to share their struggles and failures, because on Sunday morning everyone is lying and saying, “all is well” and “I’m just fine.”

We don’t have an actual church plan in place to help the brother or sister to restoration, just condemnation and forced out of fellowship.

There must be a balance in church, yes, the mature believers acknowledging the less mature and their failures. And the saint that falls, needs support not an exodus.

Let’s pray that we as believers are gentler, more forgiving, and willing to acknowledge we are forgiven but still fall short of perfection.

There is a time for the rod, but we are to quick to use it.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember Maureen in your prayers as she deals with shingles.

Pray for Gwen that is struggling financially.

One of my favorites

September 16, 2018

Pinocchio and the unruly lady

Again unique to a Pentecostal church and for those of you that don’t attend a Pentecostal service you might just read this and think we are all just nuts; well maybe we are.

There was a lady who used to sit on the front pew in every service, Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday evening. Same place same spot. And she would wait for me to start preaching and as soon as I started to preach she would jump up and in the loudest voice start speaking in tongues and then give ‘her’ interpretation.

I asked her husband to please ask her to stop, because she would go on forever and I knew she had real issues with me and you just knew it wasn’t the timing of the Holy Spirit nor really a true message.

Well she wouldn’t quit, the deacons were upset, people in the church were upset and still she continued to do this.

I talked to her and she said she had no control over when the Holy Spirit wanted to move her. (which is not scriptural) I Corinthians 14:32 Remember that people who prophesy are in control of their spirit…

Now I usually preach in series, so you can kind of guess each Sunday where I’m going to go because I give outlines ahead of time so people can study and follow along, and one of the adult bible study groups share the outlines with senior citizen homes and some use them in their home study groups or with shut ins.

So now a theme is developing in her messages in tongues where she’s trying to preach my sermons before I can start. So now the deacons have gone to her and she still won’t stop. I’m about to bring the matter to a head in the service, but I decide to wait one more week and just pray more about it.

So now it’s next Sunday and wham off she goes loud and blustery, I’m about to step down and I can see her husband actually balling up his fists, he’s going to literally fight me over this. (Pastoring is so much fun).

When over in the next section about two pews back out steps the oldest, sweetest woman in the church. You know the type, the spiritual grandmother to everyone.

She steps up front, reaches up and pinches the lady’s nose shut. Our self-declared prophet opens her eyes expecting to see me and slap me and instead sees dear sister Ellen, who stills has a hold of her nose, and with this nose hold forces said prophet to set down. Sister Ellen leans in and whispers something to our out of control prophet; and man the color that comes to her face.

Next Sunday, no interruptions, no displays of hysterics, nothing the whole congregation and I are pleasantly surprised.

That Sunday as I’m shaking hands while everyone is leaving, sister Ellen comes up last and I stopped her and said; “just what did you say to our little trouble maker?”

This dear old saint and spiritual grandmother to half the church looks me in the eye and with the straightest face said; “I told her if she didn’t start behaving and respecting you I was going to kick her boney butt out the door.”

It was I all I could do to not just burst out laughing.

Man, you just have to love your flock, all of them, pastoring what a great gig.

God bless

Special prayers for ‘k’ we are praying for your son.

Pray for Maureen Lindner, shingles on her leg, she is in misery

Send your prayer requests to scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

be a good witness

September 15, 2018

The most important question an unbeliever can ask was posed by the Philippian jailer: “What must I do to be saved?” (Ac 16:30). The reason we proclaim the gospel, the reason we share God’s Word with others, is to lead unbelievers to ask that very question.

 But what happens when they do? Are we prepared to give them the most important answer they will ever hear?

 The first demand Jesus made during his public ministry was, “Repent and believe the good news!” (Mk 1:15). That is the heart of what we need to know to be saved. Keeping the message straightforward: “Repent, believe, confess. Keep it simple . . . Stick with the basics. The deep theological discussions can come later.”

 Here’s a helpful breakdown of what it means to repent, believe and confess and how each one is addressed in Scripture.

  1. Repent—The first requirement for salvation is that we must repent of our sin (see Ac 11:18; 2Pe 3:9). As Charles Spurgeon once explained,

  Repentance is a discovery of the evil of sin, a mourning that we have committed it, a resolution to forsake it. It is, in fact, a change of mind of a very deep and practical character, which makes the man love what once he hated, and hate what once he loved.

  1. Believe—The second requirement is that we believe in the gospel, specifically that Jesus is Lord and that God has raised him from the dead (see Ro 10:8–10). And how does one come to believe this? Yes, through the preaching and spreading of the gospel.

  2. Confess—The last requirement is that we must confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord (see Ro 10:10). To confess Jesus is Lord we must believe he is God, the supreme authority over all that exists and the supreme authority over our lives.

    Repent, believe, confess. By keeping the steps to salvation simple, we can be sure we’ll always be prepared to answer the unbeliever’s most important question.

We are all called to be a witness. So you say you work in a secular environment. Then be a servant and be loving; people will ask you why you are so different. Now it your chance to tell them about Jesus.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for all those in the military. As a veteran I can tell you it can be a difficult calling.

More than a muscle part four (the end).

Thanks for all your encouragement and especially your patience to read through these long posts. this series on the heart was a real blessing to me. I hope you have been encouraged as well. God Bless.

The Heart Needs Prostrating

Over and over again, we are told in Scripture to worship God with all the heart. This stresses the need of total involvement with God, an involvement that includes the mind, emotions, and the will. So, note the following passages of Scripture: With all our heart we are to:

  • Love God (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37; Mark 12:30).

  • Search for God (Deut. 4:29; Jer. 29:13).

  • Return to the Lord (Joel 2:12).

  • Rejoice and exult in the Lord (Zeph. 3:14).

  • Give thanks. This means learning to live by praise and thanksgiving with one’s focus purely on the Lord (Ps. 9:1; 86:12; 119:7; cf. Rom. 1:21).

  • Believe God and His Word (Acts 8:37).

The Heart Needs Pouring

Psalm 62:8 Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.

We need to go to the Lord in prayer in order to pour out our hearts and burdens to the Lord. The command here is based on the promise that He cares and wants to hear from us.

The Heart Needs Centering

Proverbs 4:21 Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart.

God is never to be just a side issue. In this passage, the word “midst” is the Hebrew tawek which means “the middle, the center.” We need to keep God’s truth on center stage in our hearts. When the Word of God is not central to life, God will also get pushed aside by other cares, desires, and issues. We become like ships without a harbor, or an anchor, or rudder only to be pushed about by the varying winds and storms of life.

We need God’s truth center stage because of the importance of His truth to our relationship with God, our ambitions, our values and pursuits. When God is not center stage, we ignore Him and His purposes, principles, and promises (cf. Isa. 40:9; Heb. 2:9; 12:1-2). In fact, people often try to sanctify their self-centeredness into a kind of self-centered godliness. Concerning this problem, J. I. Packer writes:

Modern Christians tend to make satisfaction their religion. We show much more concern for self-fulfillment than for pleasing our God. Typical of Christianity today, at any rate in the English-speaking world, is its massive rash of how-to-books for believers, directing us to more successful relationships, more joy in sex, becoming more of a person, realizing our possibilities, getting more excitement each day, reducing our weight, improving our diet, managing our money, licking our families into happier shape, and whatnot. For people whose prime passion is to glorify God, these are doubtless legitimate concerns; but the how-to-books regularly explore them in a self-absorbed way that treats our enjoyment of life rather than the glory of God as the center of interest.

The Heart Needs Exposing and Convicting

Proverbs 5:12 And you say, “How I have hated instruction! And my heart spurned reproof!”

John 16:8 And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment;

Jude 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.

2 Timothy 4:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

Titus 1:13 This testimony is true. For this cause reprove them severely that they may be sound in the faith,

Titus 2:15 These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

Proverbs 28:13 He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.

1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.

Ephesians 5:11 And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;

One of the purposes for centering our hearts on the Word is that of reproof.

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;

Also, one of the purposes for testing the heart with trials is to bring about conviction with repentance that will lead to confession and changed living.

Jeremiah 17:10 I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.

Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.

The Heart Needs Cheering, Encouraging, Comforting

Proverbs 15:13,15 A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, But when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken. … All the days of the afflicted are bad, But a cheerful heart has a continual feast.

2 Corinthians 9:7 Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.

John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me …

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

Life is full of pain and disappointments which bring sorrow and discouragement, so the heart needs to be cheered, comforted, and encouraged. But our tendency is to seek to cheer and comfort our hearts with the methods of the world—through our strategies for happiness, through the details of life as with the pursuit of power, pleasure, possessions, position, and the like. God has given us all things to enjoy, but God’s plan for lasting joy and encouragement comes from a heart that has been prepared and fixed to trust the Lord (Jn. 16:27; Ps. 37:4).

The Heart Needs Strengthening

Psalm 37:31 The law of his God is in his heart; His steps do not slip.

Psalm 40:8 I delight to do Thy will, O my God; Thy Law is within my heart.

Psalm 119:11 Thy word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against Thee.

Psalm 19:7-9 The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.

(1) The absolutes of God’s Word provide a sure FOUNDATION that promotes right thinking and attitudes, direction and choices, values, priorities, and pursuits, etc. (Matt. 6:21f).

(2) Strength of heart comes through humility of heart. A humble person is one who walks in dependence on the Lord rather than in proud self-trust (Ps. 10:17; 31:23-24).

(3) Strength of heart comes through waiting on the Lord and trusting God for needs. What exactly does the Bible mean when it calls us to wait on the Lord? In essence, from the use of this challenge in Scripture, to wait on the Lord is a summary term for living by faith or living dependently on the Lord as explained for us in the Word. On the one hand, it calls us to throw ourselves on the Lord in childlike trust. On the other hand, it calls us to turn away from all forms of independent living whereby we seek to handle life by our methods and means.

In the Bible, waiting on the Lord stands opposed to running ahead and taking matters into our own hands by turning to our own human solutions. Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yea, wait for the LORD!” (RSV).

(4) Strength of heart comes through making God our portion. This means God is the reward or greatest possession and companion of the heart (Ps. 73:26; 119:56-57). “Portion” in Ps. 119:57 is the Hebrew cheleq. It was used of a reward or profit, but also of a chosen portion as a habitual mode of life. As a contrast, compare Psalm 50:18b, “and you associate with adulterers.” The NIV reads, “you throw in your lot with adulterers (i.e., you have chosen this as your portion, your way of life, the companionship of adulterers).”

The Heart Needs Biblical Desires and Longings

One of the most fundamental and life changing needs of the heart is to have biblical desires and longings. Please note the emphasis in the following passages:

(1) Psalm 37:4: Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart

Though this passage is filled with commands, we can summarize it into four key responsibilities:

  • Look up: get your eyes off of people and circumstances and trust the Lord. Do not fret, do not be envious, but trust, delight, commit.

  • Look ahead: Rest and wait on the Lord and what He is doing. Know that the way of life of evil doers is only temporal and unstable or insecure. God will bring forth your righteousness, you will one day dwell in the land, you will have eternal rewards.

  • Be productive: While resting in God’s provision for our needs and committing our way and our circumstances to the Lord, ever delighting in Him, we are to do good, cultivate faithfulness, and dwell in the land.

  • Be content: Compare Ps. 37:16f. with 1 Tim. 6:6f.

At the core or heart of all this is verse 4 and the words, “delight yourself in the Lord.” This is the basis of trust, commitment, and rest in the Lord.

First, the Command. “Delight” is anag which means (1) “to be soft, delicate, dainty.” In Arabic, a sister language, it meant “to allure” and “to entice” and was used of the amorous gestures of women in their looks and walk. There is a certain feminine quality to this word and it fits with the nature of God’s dealings with believers. Israel was the wife of the Lord and the church is the bride of Christ. As it was with Israel, so we are to respond to the Lord as His chaste bride and to be sensitive to His love and care. Knowing Him as such should build our trust and commitment and keep us from being lured away from Him. In the Hebrew text, the verb “delight” is in a reflexive stem which came to mean, “to take exquisite delight, to delight yourself in an exquisite manner.” So the Psalmist says in effect that God is to be our most exquisite source of joy. We are to delight in His person and being. He is calling us to pursue God that we might know and revel in His divine person and being.

Second, the Promise. “Desires” is the Hebrew mishalab which may mean, “prayers, requests, petitions.” Our requests are usually based on our desires, wants, or what we see as our needs, though this is not one of the major Hebrew words for desire. “Of your heart” points us to the source of the requests, our inner person through the function of the mind, emotions, and will. “Desires of your heart” refers to the results of the function of the mind, emotions, and will in the formation of aspirations, desires, and longings.

When our delight is genuinely in the Lord, our requests, the product of our desires, will be transformed and conformed to the will of God. When we start truly delighting in the Lord and trust in Him for our needs and desires, we will then stop depending on our own devices for security or significance. It is then that our desires and requests will naturally begin to change.

Therefore, God promises to give us those requests, as the context suggest, according to His timing.

(2) Psalm 94:19: “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Thy consolations delight my soul.”

Anxious thoughts multiply when a man’s delight is off the Lord. When this occurs, his trust will also be off the Lord and on his own devices and solutions to life. So what does the Psalmist say? “Thy consolations delight my soul.” What is God’s greatest consolation or source of comfort? It is God Himself. When Christians fail to delight their heart in the Lord by seeking Him as their number one source of comfort, they will begin to unravel and they will turn to their own devices.

Note also the emphasis of the following passages:

Psalm 42:1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for Thee, O God.

Psalm 62:10 Do not trust in oppression, And do not vainly hope in robbery; If riches increase, do not set your heart upon them.

Psalm 73:25-28 Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 27 For, behold, those who are far from Thee will perish; Thou hast destroyed all those who are unfaithful to Thee. 28 But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, That I may tell of all Thy works.

Such Psalms do not just express the desire of a highly spiritual man, but they acknowledge man’s need as a human being created with a vacuum that only God can fill. They acknowledge the fact that nothing else can truly satisfy.

Finally, compare Psalm 86:11 with Matthew 6:21-24. The greatest indication of man’s fallenness is his capacity to try to handle life, or to seek satisfaction, significance, and security apart from clinging to the Lord.

Psalm 86:11 Teach me Thy way, O LORD; I will walk in Thy truth; Unite my heart to fear Thy name.

Matthew 6:21-24 for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 22 The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

Even at his best, such a person is guilty of a divided heart trying to walk with one foot stationed on the Lord and the other one stationed on his own solutions. So what does the Psalmist say? “Unite (remove any division of trust) my heart to fear Thy name.” To fear the Lord is ultimately to trust the Lord or to turn to Him in complete trust (Ps. 40:3; 115:11).

Problems of the Heart

(1) A wrong focus or thought pattern.

  • In Psalm 19:14 the Psalmist prayed for a right focus and thought pattern. He recognized the danger of a wrong focus or center.

  • The heart, when dominated by the sinful nature and man’s viewpoint, gathers wickedness to itself like impure imaginations, slander, false beliefs, false aspirations and solutions, impure desires, and deceit, etc. (Psalm 41:6).

  • Because the heart is the wellspring of life, and because the heart is incurably wicked, unrighteousness begins in the heart (cf. Ps. 36:1; 58:2; Matt. 15:18-19). Remember, the flaming missiles of the evil one, as with Eve, are aimed at the heart (the mind, emotions, and will) (Eph. 6:16).

(2) An unbelieving heart (Heb. 3:12). An unbelieving heart is what causes us to pursue our own solutions to life. This is what happened to Eve.

(3) Fear and anxiety (Isa. 35:4; 51:7). Fear or anxiety is removed through a believing heart or trust in God’s plan and supply regardless of the problems or how things look from our perspective (Ps. 112:7; 13:5; 27:3).

(4) Agitation, frustration of heart. The absence of peace because the heart is not truly centered on the Lord (Ps. 38:8-10).

(5) Fainting, depression, losing heart. The absence of endurance (Ps. 40:12; Lk. 18:1).

(6) Turning away from the Lord. Turning away into sin, unfaithfulness, backsliding (Deut. 17:17; Ps. 44:18; Pro. 7:25; Heb. 3:12).

(7) Trusting in the wrong sources of hope as human strategies for security, significance, or happiness (Ps. 62:10; cf. 64:6 with vs. 10; 73:25f. Also cf. Ps. 81:12, “to walk in their own devices”).

(8) Loneliness and brokenness of heart (Ps. 69:20; Pro. 15:13; 17:22).

(9) Bitterness of heart (Ps. 73:21; Pro. 14:10; Ja. 3:14).

(10) Stubbornness of heart (Ex. 7:14; Ps. 78:8; 81:12; Jer. 3:17).

(11) Divided heart, the opposite of singleness of devotion (2 Chr. 25:2; Ps. 86:11; Matt. 6:21-24; Ja. 1:6-8).

(12) Arrogance or pride of heart, the opposite of a humble heart (2 Chr. 32:26; Isa. 9:9; Ps. 101:5).

(13) False values of the heart (Matt. 6:21; Phil. 3:8).

(14) Hardness of heart (Pr. 28:14; Heb. 3:7-13).

Is it any wonder then, that Solomon challenges us: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23, NIV).

As emphasized previously, the heart is where our character is formed and maintained, the place that determines who we are, and what we do. As Scripture warns us, issues of life flow from the heart. It alone holds the secrets of true success or meaning in life. If our heart is filled with what is good, our actions and words will follow. If it is filled with what is evil, so will be our actions and words.

So then, the treasures of our hearts are priceless, but as stressed, they can be stolen. We face three thieves, the world, the flesh, and the devil, and these three stalk us always seeking ways to steal the good treasures of the heart and to replace them with what is evil and worthless, or at least, with those that are not the best.

How well am I guarding my heart? Is the condition of my heart my greatest concern? It should be because it is so determinative of every aspect of life. It ultimately determines my love for God and for others. It determines who I am and what I do.

Conclusion

As we have seen, God is terribly concerned about our hearts. But the thing that makes this even more difficult is the fact, as Jeremiah 17:9 warns us, the heart is deceitful above all things and incurably evil. Part of the deceitfulness comes from the self-protective nature of the heart and its commitment to trust in its own solutions. We would rather trust ourselves than someone else, even God.

Because of this, even our worship of God is suspect and needs to be cleansed or purified of selfish pursuits. Remember, God warns us in His Word that we can be very religious while we withhold our hearts from true faith and worship of the Lord (Isa. 29:23).

Since most people spend an enormous amount of time working, their time in church must be only a fraction of their involvement with God. As a result, unless we are challenged and equipped to live all of life for God from a heart fixed and prepared to trust in Him in the daily routine of life, Christianity degenerates into mere external religiosity in which people play church.

Unless we really deal with our hearts, our religious striving or our worship of God becomes egocentric. And though this can be purified and brought into the service of God through the Word, too often true religion is corrupted and nullified by cravings and striving for self-centered concerns like power, comfort, and security. The Word of God is more than a handbook of doctrine and a set of prescriptions for proper living that we can apply to make life work out the way we want. It is a God-breathed book designed to involve us passionately with the living God so that we trust Him even when life doesn’t seem to make sense. All we can do is trust God that He is in charge and a good and eternal plan continues fully in place.

What we often try to do is develop “trust in God by understanding why things happen and how to organize our lives to rule out severe misfortune. If we understood the whys and hows of life, of course, there would be no need for trust. A predictable world would require nothing other than conformity to its principles.”

Christianity and the promises of the Bible are matters of trust, and trust is a matter of the heart

Like the old song goes; “Trust and obey, For there’s no other way, To be happy in Jesus, But to trust and obey.”

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember Ronne and Tim, they knew their daughter was devoted to being a missionary to Africa. So, they will travel to Africa to bury her there.

More than a muscle part three

September 13, 2018

The Heart Needs Giving

To balance out your character you need to do more than guard your heart. It is the flip side that makes you authentic … you also need to give your heart. To resist releasing yourself for fear of getting burned may seem safe, but in the long run it is lethal.

(1) Giving the heart means risk, entanglements, becoming vulnerable: It means having to step out in faith, believing God rather than one’s own strategies. It means having to give up something … sometimes a lot. It can even mean having your heart broken and wrung like a towel. But to fail to give it means to lock it up safely in the casket of selfishness. And like a body laid to rest in a casket, the heart will change; though safe, dark, and motionless, it will rot and become a bag of bones.

(2) Giving the heart also means accountability: “As the maxim goes, ‘People are willing to give God credit, but not cash.’ As long as accountability is in the future and suspended in space, I will accept it. But if it actually starts interfering with my personal life, forget it.”

To believe you can give your heart without accountability is like believing that you can raise children without discipline, run a company without rules, or lead an army without authority. Accountability is to the Great Commission what tracks are to a train. It is the means of quality control, facilitates leadership, protects the congregation, makes ministry a joy, helps people keep their commitments.

(3) Giving the heart means involvement: Involvement with God, involvement with family, involvement with other Christians, and involvement with non-Christians. And what does involvement include? It includes: sacrificial love, walking by faith rather than sight, spontaneity rather than rigidity, the risk of vulnerability, and a willingness to become accountable. In Webster’s Dictionary, we find that being involved means “to draw in as a participant, to relate closely, to connect, to include.”

Religious striving is far too often egocentric, and though this can be purified and brought into the service of God through His Word, too often true fellowship with God and loving Him with all our heart is corrupted and nullified by craving and striving for power, security, or other selfish desires that stem from a heart that is kept from God as our source of strength, joy, and meaning in life.

Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote, Therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous” (Isa. 29:13).

Obviously, withholding the heart means our inability and our unwillingness to give our hearts to either God or ministry to others. Certainly, since we never arrive at ultimate maturity in this life, there will always be room for growth in giving the heart because it is so difficult to give up our various methods of self-protection.

The Heart Needs Preparing

Psalm 78:8 And not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not prepare its heart, And whose spirit was not faithful to God.

Psalm 108:1 A Song, a Psalm of David. My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing, I will sing praises, even with my soul.

The word “prepare” in Psalm 78:8 and “steadfast” in Psalm 108:1 is the Hebrew, kuwn. Its basic meaning is “to be firm, established, stable.” From this it came to mean (a) “be set up, established, fixed” and is used in the Old Testament of a house fixed on a foundation, of the establishment of a throne or kingdom, and of persons being established, secure and enduring. (b) Then it came to mean “to fix so as to prepare, be ready, arrange, set in order.” As such it was used of preparing words for wise speech, of the preparation of food, of preparing the foundation for the temple of Solomon, of prayer being prepared, arranged, and set in order before God, of preparing a road, a sacrifice, one’s steps or path (Ps. 119:133), of God’s creative activity, of what He has established as the heavens by His understanding, and of preparing the heart.

This word is used in Psalm 78:8 of preparing the heart to be firm, focused, and fixed on the Lord in the sense of trust and rest in God’s love, goodness, wisdom, grace, and power (cf. Ps. 112:7-8). The point here is that the heart can only become steadfast, stable, when it has been properly prepared in a biblical sense.

This same word is used in Psalm 108:1 of preparing the heart to worship the Lord. The KJV translates this as “My heart is fixed” while the NASB, NIV, and RSV all have “My heart is steadfast.” The Amplified Bible has “My heart is fixed—steadfast [in the confidence of faith].” But the idea here is that it is steadfast because it has been spiritually prepared. Remember, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” As the heavens were prepared, fixed, and established by God’s understanding, so our hearts are made stable by the understanding which comes from God’s Word (cf. Col. 2:1-6).

Just as the human heart needs preparation through proper diet and exercise in order to handle strenuous activity and be healthy in general, so one’s spiritual heart must be properly prepared if it is going to be able to effectively respond to God in the varied situations of life.

This is one of the ways we can guard the heart, but the emphasis here is on the need of spiritual preparation through the various biblical disciplines—honest, deep down confession of sin, fervent prayer, careful Bible study, meditation on the Word, Scripture reading and memory, and fellowship with believers. We need these disciplines to stabilize the heart so we can respond positively to God in trust for the varying situations of life.

The Heart Needs Purifying

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

(1) The heart is purified by being renewed. The mind needs renewing in its ideas, values, motives, and beliefs. The thoughts and intents of the heart need to be changed through storing and meditating on the Word. Included here is the idea of exchanging our viewpoint for God’s (Rom. 12:2; Isa. 55:8f; Ps. 51:10; 119:9-11; Pr. 3:3; 7:3; 2 Cor. 4:16; Eph. 2:23).

(2) The heart is purified by being tested (Deut. 8:2; Jer. 17:10; Ps. 139:23-24). One of the reasons for suffering and trials and the varied irritations that God either brings or allows is to reveal the condition of our hearts, to show its true colors that we might see our sin and deal with it through confession and faith in God’s provision.

(3) The heart is purified by confession or repentance (Acts 8:22). This is vital to the whole process, of course.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Ronne and Tim, their only child, a missionary to Africa was martyred this week and they just found out.