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Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 139:23-24’

A Personal and Spiritual Inventory

January 7th, 2015

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith.” 2 Corinthians 13:5 NIV.

Be aware of the priorities and practices important to Christian life and faith.

My thoughts and comments today are about a “personal and spiritual inventory.”

While in college, I worked at a drug store tracking inventory, stocking shelves, and delivering orders to hospitals and care facilities. Taking inventory was my least favorite task. Counting every item on the shelves was laborious. An inventory revealed products no longer in reserve that would be needed, reducing potential sales and possibly disappointing customers. Also, inventory revealed things on the shelf that were no longer useful, taking up space, gathering dust, and wasting capital.

With the benefit of life experience, I now realize that taking inventory is valuable for a business, and even more essential for your life. The New Year is an opportunity to take a personal and spiritual inventory. Paul instructed the Christians at Corinth, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.” 2 Corinthians 13:5 NIV. Welcome the Holy Spirit to examine your heart. You will discover what you need and don’t have or what you have and don’t need.

Like those stock room shelves, there is much that you and I accumulate along the way. A few of those thing may have seemed helpful at one time, but are no longer. Others are more hurtful than helpful – always were; still are. Consider such things as wrong opinions, old habits, secret sins, prejudices, disappointments, painful memories, attitudes, hurts, grudges, guilt, regrets, and unforgiveness. Those never were useful and are now just emotional and spiritual clutter. You may not be storing all of those, but you likely will find yourself holding on to a few of them on occasions. As the song from Disney’s Frozen advises, “Let it go!”

Self-examination can expose your need for graces and strengths, not as well stocked as once they were while you assume they are. Be aware of the priorities and practices important to Christian life and faith that once were plentiful in your character and activities. Are you ever surprised to discover you haven’t possessed some character qualities you thought you did. The worst kind of deception is self-deception. Humbly and sincerely pray as did David, ”Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24 NIV.

In your heart, do you still find ample inventory of: Godly dreams, holy aspirations, fervent love, authentic trust, enthusiasm, patience, obedience, engagement with God’s Word, fullness of the Spirit, or a heart of assurance? Peter reasoned, “Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance Godliness, to Godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.“ See 2 Peter 1:3-11.

The Bible provided timeless and invaluable counsel for followers of Jesus then, and still is guidance for you today. “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23. I’m glad I learned the importance of an accurate, personal and spiritual inventory. ”Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the Lord. Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in Heaven” Lamentations 3:4041.

Today, my prayer for you is for an honest and frequent appraisal of all issues of your heart.

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Being Authentic

February 14th, 2014

“God blesses those whose hearts are pure.” Matthew 5:8 NLT.

Purity of heart is the greatest deterrent to the presence and progress of impurity.

My thoughts and comments today are about “being authentic.”

Purity does not come easily in a culture that too often denigrates what is pure and celebrates what is not. Impurity begins in the most subtle of ways, but grows incrementally with each unnoticed tolerance or indulgence. From our study of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), we have considered Jesus’ teaching that an exemplary life is: “being real, compassionate, submissive, satisfied, and merciful.” Jesus had more to say. (6) “Being Authentic.” To those who zealously guard their inner life, God is revealed. “God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8 NLT. What obstructs your heart obscures God from sight.

Establishing and keeping a pure heart in today’s world is no small task; thankfully, that undertaking is not left to you alone. God gives you spiritual resources that are available and ample – the Word of God to instruct you, the love of God to enfold you, the Holy Spirit to empower you, and the fellowship of others to encourage you. The Bible says, “Pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully. Don’t lose sight of my words. Let them penetrate deep within your heart, for they bring life and radiant health to anyone who discovers their meaning.” Proverbs 4:21-22 NLT.

Purity begins in the heart, as does impurity. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.” Proverbs 4:23 NLT. Impurity is not the inevitable byproduct of your environs; if that were so, there would be no one pure. From a Roman prison, Paul wrote of those forced to live and serve in the midst of the evil and debauchery of the Roman Emperor Nero, “All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household.” Philippians 4:22 NKJV. An impure culture is no excuse for an impure life.

“Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are defiled. Titus 1:15-16 NLT. Impurity simply fills the places left void of that which is pure. Purity commences, continues, and concludes with the condition of your heart. Read Mark 12:30 NLT. Purity of heart and mind is the greatest deterrent to the presence and progress of impurity. Read Luke 6:45 NIV. “Finally, brethren . . whatever things are pure . .  meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8 NKJV.

Jesus’ severest rebuke was to the Pharisees, “You are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy – full of greed and self-indulgence . . You try to look like upright people outwardly, but inside your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness. .”  Matthew 23:25/28 NLT. Being pure means living with integrity, and without pretense. God is interested in internal matters rather than external manners. The purer your heart before God and man the clearer you see yourself and others as God sees. Read Psalm 15:1-2 NIV.

This is the prayer for purity: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me . . and see if there is any wicked way in me . .  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord.” Psalm 139:23-24 NKJV/Psalm 19:14 NIV.  

My prayer for you today is that you live with authenticity before God and man.

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Superficiality

November 15th, 2013

“The Lord searches every heart and understands every motive.”  1 Chronicles 28:9 NIV.

A superficial life is ultimately unsatisfying.

My thoughts and comments today are about “superficiality.”

Often, people give much time and attention to outward appearances while sorely neglecting their inner life. Lives are contentedly occupied with shallow acquaintances while inattentive to meaningful relationships, sadly without knowing or noticing the difference. Content to live on a surface level only, people ignore matters holding greater importance to God and others. Busy, noisy lives may reach a mile wide, while rarely being more than mere inches deep. All of those are symptoms of a life content with externals. God intended your life for so much more. A superficial life is ultimately unsatisfying.

The Pharisees were a proud but shallow bunch, religious people content to live superficially. For that and more, Jesus spoke harshly to them. “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in Heaven.” Read Matthew 6:1/5-6 NIV. They postured more than prayed, more concerned that their prayers were seen by men than that their prayers were heard by God. They were concerned with externals such as religious behaviors that impressed others, without realizing that God concerned Himself with internals, one’s heart, thoughts, intentions, and motives.

God rejoices in sincere righteousness but rejects the superficiality of self-righteousness every time. When Samuel, the prophet, was sent to anoint a new king, God reminded Samuel, “I do not judge as man judges. Man looks at the outward appearance, but I look at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 TEV. To the Pharisees, Jesus said, “Woe to you . . hypocrites. You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” Matthew 23:25-26 NIV. You can imagine how unpopular Jesus was with the Pharisees.

“Serve [God] with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you.” 1 Chronicles 28:9 NIV. You cannot fully know your own heart without God’s involvement. See Jeremiah 17:9-10 NKJV. God does not intrude into your life except by your invitation.

My conclusion is this. As often as is needed to be assured of a pure heart before God, pray sincerely and humbly as did the Psalmist David: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139:23-24 NLT.

God will use your daily time with His Word to examine and cleanse your mind, soul, and spirit. Everyday, hide the Word of God in your heart. “For the Word of God is living and active . . it judges the thoughts and intents of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:12-13 NIV. God’s intention is clear: “That He might sanctify and cleanse [you] with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present [you] to Himself . . that [you] should be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:26-27 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you reject spiritual superficiality in all its forms.

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Conscience

May 21st, 2012

Cling tightly to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear.” 1 Timothy 1:19 NLT

It is folly to mentally approve what your heart disapproves.

My thoughts and comments today are about “conscience.”

Who has never been tempted with doing wrong? But be advised, temptation imposes turmoil between reconciling right and wrong – a vain attempt to justify what you want to do with what you know is right to do. Torment results when you try to mentally approve what your heart disapproves. You were created to love and obey God; when you will not, you experience an uncomfortable, emotional and spiritual dissonance you cannot reconcile apart from God.

In matters of one’s eternal soul, a loving God leaves nothing to chance. Inside every heart there is the God-given capacity to hear His still small voice.I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be My people.” Jeremiah 31:33 NKJV. In the arena of right and wrong, that is your conscience. God is faithful. The prophet Isaiah said to wayward Israel, ”Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’” Isaiah 30:21 NIV. Ignoring your conscience imposes a growing pain felt in your soul’s discomfort. Violating one’s conscience incites troubling inner turmoil from which you do not find relief. Only repentance, obedience, and God’s grace can restore an untroubled conscience.

You ignore God’s voice in your heart to your own discomfort, even peril. Paul’s fatherly advice to young Timothy and the Bible’s loving instruction to you is, “Cling tightly to your faith in Christ, and always keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.” 1 Timothy 1:19 NLT. Tragic pictures come to mind from the single word, “shipwrecked” – shattered lives, hurting families, damaged reputations, and haunting regret.

On January 13, 2012, the Costa Concordia cruise ship ran aground on Italy’s Tuscan coast. Hours later the ship capsized in the dark of night. The report was, “More than 4,000 passengers and crew were able to abandon ship under chaotic circumstances, though thirty-two passengers and crew perished in the tragedy . . the ship’s captain was in the wrong when he directed the Concordia too close on an unauthorized sail-by . .” “Unauthorized” . . where trouble always seems to begin, but not end. Moral, relational, and spiritual shipwrecks harm yourself and innocent people, in ways you cannot foresee.

King David ignored his conscience and tragic consequences ensued, in his life and the lives of others. See Psalm 32:1-5 NLT/51:1-4 NIV. Joseph followed his conscience, resisting Potiphar’s wife and reasoning, “How then can I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” Genesis 49:9 NIV. The Bible gave wise instruction when Paul wrote, “Always keep your conscience clear.” How you do that is usually the question. God’s answer is simple, “Cling tightly to your faith in Christ.” The simple way to avoid doing the wrong thing is by always choosing to do the right thing. Choose to do what is right and pleasing to God, what is true to God’s Word and character. Read Psalm 139:23-24 NLT.

These words are as true today as when written centuries ago, “He will easily be content and at peace, whose conscience is pure.” Thomas a Kempis, 14th Century Catholic Monk. Truth is timeless. The Bible describes people, “who are mature, who have trained themselves to recognize the difference between right and wrong and then do what is right.” Hebrews 5:14 NLT. Your conscience needs to be sanctified daily by the truth found in God’s Word. Be mature in Christ; life works best that way. See Acts 24:16 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that you learn to listen to God in a sanctified heart.

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Heart Health

February 17th, 2012

“Above all else, guard your heart.” Proverbs 4:23 NIV

“Your heart is the secret place where you meet God. Keep it a sacred place as well.”

My thoughts and comments today are about a “heart health.”

Your heart is important. In an average lifetime, your heart will beat approximately 2,838,240,000 times; that’s an incredible 2.8 billion times, and done tirelessly as long as it remains healthy. So much of your overall well-being is dependent upon your heart properly functioning. According to the Franklin Institute, “Blood is the fluid of life, transporting oxygen from the lungs to body tissue and carbon dioxide from body tissue to the lungs. Blood is the fluid of growth, transporting nourishment from digestion and hormones from glands throughout the body. Blood is the fluid of health, transporting disease fighting substances to the tissue and waste to the kidneys.” Physically, your heart is essential to all God created your body to do. Practice good habits of diet and exercise for better heart health.

Not much thought is given to one’s heart, as long as it works as it should. When it doesn’t there is much concern to find out what is wrong and what to do to make it right again. When your heart is working as it should and as God intended, you are doing well. That is true as well in your spiritual life. Spiritually, the heart is described in the Bible in a very different manner – the spiritual center of everything God redeemed you to become in Christ Jesus.

When Samuel was to anoint a new king over Israel, God reminded him that the “The Lord does not see as man sees . . for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NKJV. What does God see when He looks into the secret place of your heart? What you hold secretly in your heart may be known only to God but will not long remain hidden, expressed in conversation and conduct. Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24 NKJV.

Listen to Solomon’s advice, “My son, give attention to My words . . do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them . . Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Read Proverbs 4:20-23 NIV. Your heart is to be carefully protected at all times from anything that would turn your heart from God. Mark 12:30 NIV.

Here is Solomon’s wise counsel why you should guard your heart. See Proverbs 4:20-22 NIV. God’s Word is life to those who follow His commands; the right things in your heart are health to your body – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, “for they bring life and radiant health to anyone who discovers their meaning.” Here’s Solomon’s counsel how to guard your heart. (Verses 24-27). Keep God’s Word in your heart foremost; avoid deceit at all times; focus on where you are going; stay on the right path; run from evil.

Your heart is the secret place where you meet God. Keep your heart a sacred place where God feels welcome. “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8. A prayer I was taught to pray long ago is: “Lord, make of the timber of my life a temple, not a tavern.” See Psalm 51:10-13.

My prayer for you today is that your heart will lead you to God, if you will listen.

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