Posts tagged ‘Heart’

Does He Know You?

There is a vast difference between knowing about someone and actually knowing the person. I could spend the next few years in researching the life of George Washington for a new book. I could read his personal journals and everything discovered by historians. And even if I feel like I know him, I will never be able to say that George Washington is my friend and we know each other! While a relationship certainly involves learning about them, gaining that knowledge is no substitute for know the actual person.

Jesus, in Matthew chapter 7 talks about this, and it is a passage that is cause for serious reflection by Christians. Jesus is talking about the judgment, and differentiates between the two groups of people in a very revealing way.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV)

There are some important things to notice here.
1. Both groups, the saved and the lost, were verbally calling Jesus “Lord”. Jesus is not diminishing the importance of being our Lord, but is rather emphasizing that just saying the magic words is not what means you have a relationship with God.

2. If we look at the entire passage, keeping His commandments is a sign of one who is saved. If I can say this in a positive sense, obedience is a symptom of having a relationship with Christ.

3. But here is the danger. If you look at what the lost ones say, they were doing all the right things as well! What causes their confusion is that they thought that if they did all the things they were supposed to be doing, they would have a relationship with Christ and go to heaven. If their checklist was complete, someone told them, then their performance was satisfactory and they would make it in.

4. From the passage, what is stated as the determining factor was whether or not Jesus knew them. Did they have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ? What got them into heaven was not what they did, but who they belonged to. According to John in 1 John 2,

“He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (I John 2:4-6)

If we concentrate on deepening our relationship with God, the good works will be a natural reflection of the vibrancy of that relationship. Our lives will show the power of the love of God working within us. But if we lack that love, we run the danger of doing the works out a need to be right with God through our performance and not have that relationship. Our lives will not be characterized by “faith working through love”, and whatever is not of faith is sin. Even the seemingly good things we do will be sinful because they weren’t done in faith and love. We will be practicing lawlessness and not even know it. If it takes the threat of losing your salvation and going to hell to motivate you to obey God, then you are already backslidden in heart. Are there things you are doing because God said to do it or else, you have fallen away.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. (Galatians 5:6)

We, as disciples of Jesus Christ, must make our aim the same as that if the apostle Paul — to know Him!

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:8-11)

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We All Have A Heart Condition

Despite accumulating more medical knowledge than any generation before us, heart disease is still the number one killer of adults. A variety of new advances have come about which has enabled doctors to do intricate surgery on hearts and fix them, or even transplant in a new one! Things are being done now which would have been science fiction 50 years ago.

But God has been in the heart transplant business for thousands of years!
He sent Jesus to “heal the broken hearted” (Luke 4:18). Way back in Ezekiel’s day, God promised that someday He would be performing spiritual heart transplants.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26 NKJV)
Then how do we check on our heart health? How do we know what kind of shape our hearts are in? By the way we hear and receive the Word of God, and by looking to see if it is bearing fruit in our lives.

Jesus Christ described different heart conditions in Matthew 13 in He called the Parable of the Sower.

Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! (Matthew 13:3-9 NKJV)

Unfortunately, there is a problem with this parable. Actually, the problem is with us. We have heard this parable so many times that there is a tendency to say, “okay, I know this part” and skim over it without digging deeper for more. For there surely is more for us here. So let’s try to take a fresh look at tis parable and find some things to apply to ourselves.

I believe that one major mistake we have traditionally made with the parable is to only apply it to those who are hearing the Gospel for the first time. We use it to show why not everyone responds to the salvation message, or to show why they do respond but then fall away. But Jesus does not limit the interpretation to salvation, and neither should we. This parable applies to the heart condition every one of us have on a daily or weekly basis when we read the Word or hear it preached and/or taught! So with that in mind, let’s take a fresh look at the explanation Jesus gives for the symbols and apply them to ourselves instead of others.

Therefore hear the parable of the sower:
When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.
Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.
But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (Matthew 13:18-23 NKJV)

In this short discourse, Jesus reveals the heart conditions of those who hear His message.
Hard heart = characterized by the habit of hearing the message but refusing to take it in and apply it to ourselves. Doing this for an extended period may cause you to lose the ability to understand the message and how it applies to you at all. Can you remember the last time a Bible passage or a sermon changed something in your life? If not, or if you do remember and it was awhile ago, you have symptoms of a hard heart. This can only be cured by repentance, so that your heart soil is prepared to have the Word planted in it.
Heart Stones = also a dangerous condition. This is caused by not preparing your heart to receive the word by growing deeper in your walk with God. Only by prayer, diligent study of the Word, and the encouragement and fellowship of other believers can we put down deep roots. The more we practice these things, the more the Word becomes a part of us and we do not stumble when trials and tribulation comes. Ever read something in the Bible or heard a truth and said, “that’s okay, but no need to get radical about it”? One big symptom of this condition is a string of enthusiastically learning things, but just trying them out to see if they work instead of totally trusting God and doing what His Word says for us to do.
Distracted Heart = also known as spiritual ADD. This happens when we hear or read the Word and say that it is great, but are afraid of what people will think of us if we put it into practice. Or even hearing the truth about something and refusing to change because it might cost us wealth or position if people found out we were sold out to Jesus. A warning sign of this is when you see the truth but the first thought that goes though your mind is, “what would people think if I did that?”. The cure for this condition is the fear of the Lord. Our first thought, upon understanding the truth, should be one of joy at the opportunity to be obedient to God. It should not occur to us to disobey the commandments of God because we love Him more than anything on earth, and even life itself.
Healthy Heart = this is characterized by striving to find something about ourselves in every message and Bible reading that we can change to become more like Christ. Or to find something new that we had not known that will equip us to love and serve Him more fully. Results of this condition will be fruitfulness in our walk with God and ever increasing growth in our spiritual lives.

So how about it? What kind of soil do you have right now? Does your heart seem to go through different phases of soil quality and preparation? Mine does. Let’s be ever diligent to keep our hearts right, and in so doing keep our lives healthy and our doctrine sound, that we may be fruitful in His Kingdom!

“Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Timothy 4:16 NIV)

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