pass it on

June 28, 2016

growth marks

Since the heart is so important to what we think, say, and do, we each need to regularly do open heart surgery with the scalpel of the Word under the guiding hand of the great physician, the Lord Jesus. We accomplish this through the teaching, guiding, convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit. Like a sharp two-edged sword, the Word divides the inner man asunder to reveal the true condition and needs of our hearts (Heb. 4:12).

Most people today want to be successful according to their own idea of success. However, as you listen to the success propaganda of today, again and again the focus of attention is on one of two things. First, the vast majority of thinking, writing, and talk focuses on the outer self—on how smart I can appear, what kind of impression I make, how much applause I register on the applause meter, how much I make, how much I own, how fast I climb the ladder of success in my company, and on the list goes. Very little that you read places any emphasis on the inner man, on the heart, the wellspring of our thoughts, motives, ambitions, values, and decisions. And second, when what you read or hear does place an emphasis on the heart, it generally does so in a completely self-centered way, even in a lot of Christian literature.

Against the present anthropocentric (man-centered) kind of spirituality so common today is the biblical theocentric (God-centered) spirituality which sees the glory of God and the advancement of the kingdom of God as the priority pursuit and reason for life. Scripture’s goal is not material or even spiritual gain for oneself, nor self-realization or promotion, but the realization of our calling as heralds and ambassadors of Jesus Christ. “Franz Kafka once observed: ‘The Fathers of the Church were not afraid to go out into the desert because they had a richness in their hearts. But we, with richness all around us, are afraid, because the desert is in our hearts.’”

Bloesch also writes: (Rev, Dr. Donald Bloesch will drive you absolutely nuts if you read his works, you’ll will disagree with 60% of what he says, but the other 40% will drive you to your knees).

In our society today, the humanist ideal of happiness or interior well-being was incorporated into Christian faith without any drastic modification so that religion was given a decidedly anthropocentric orientation. It is generally acknowledged that much popular religion (both conservative and liberal) is narcissistic (egocentric), focusing on inner feelings and on purely personal hopes and goals. God is deemed necessary to help his people attain the desires of their hearts or to find perfect happiness. Some even make the object of religion sound like capitalist consumerism—acquiring the goods of this life. But is prosperity an inevitable concomitant of true faith?

Importantly and interestingly, the Bible says very little about success, especially that kind of success, but as seen, it says a tremendous amount about the heart because the heart is the wellspring of true success. Little wonder, then, the word “heart” is found literally hundreds of times in the Bible. So, when it comes to describing man and his needs, heart is one of the most commonly used terms of the Bible and, again, most of these occurrences are used metaphorically of the inner man, either of the mind, the emotions, the will, the sinful nature, or inclusively of the total inner person.

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)

Swindoll writes: “How important is the heart? It is there that character is formed. It alone holds the secrets of true success. Its treasures are priceless—but they can be stolen.”

We must all ask ourselves this question: How well am I guarding (keeping) 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 our love for God and for others. It determines who we are and what we do.

The Heart Needs Guarding

The heart needs guarding because of its natural bent as a part of our fallenness. And this is true even of those who have been regenerated by the Spirit of God through faith in Jesus Christ. While believers possess the new nature and the capacity to know God and discern spiritual things, and while they have received the enlightening and empowering ministry of the Holy Spirit, they still possess the old nature or the wretched capacity for evil and selfish pursuits by which they can independently strive to handle life on their own apart from God.

To use biblical analogies or illustrations, we can be:

(1) People committed to building our own cisterns, but these always turn out to be broken cisterns that can hold no water (Jer. 2:13).

(2) People who are always prone to turn to the arm of the flesh rather than to the arm of God and His resources (Jer. 2:13; 17:5f).

(3) People who seek to walk by the light of our own man-made firebrands (Isa. 50:11).

To use the words of Isaiah, we can become filled with influences from the east, i.e., man’s substitutes for life for God’s plan for life (Isa. 2:5-6). Obviously, then, as Proverbs 28:26 warns us, the heart of man is not a safe haven, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered.” (See also Prov. 20:9 and Jer. 17:9.)

Isaiah 55:8-11 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth, And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; 11 So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”

Jeremiah 10:23 I know, O LORD, that a man’s way is not in himself; Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps.

Guard your heart, especially as American falls, becomes a socialist nation and Christian speech will soon be outlawed as hate speech.

I usually end with a God bless you, but instead for a while I will say; “Grow up, stand up, get a spine, and fight back, stop being passive, risk everything and be militant, expressive and fearless.”

scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

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