More than a Muscle part four the end

September 13, 2018

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.

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