A Clean Heart
Have you ever met someone you would consider to be a snob? There was just something so condescending about the person, but you could not figure out why. They say that confession is good for the soul. Well, I was a big spiritual snob. I could look down upon those who did not know the Bible or serve God as legalistically as I did.
I can hardly believe I just shared this publicly! Truly, God has been at work. I have no idea how I ended up that way, but I thank God that He circumcised my heart. This confession comes after reading Romans 2:1-3:
Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? (NASB1995).
This Scripture took away all excuses! Is it even possible to say one loves Jesus and looks down upon someone else?
In Psalm 51:1-4, we see a penitent King David:
Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge.
God has been gracious to me too. He took me by the hand and led me out of the darkness into the light. Holy Spirit’s conviction brought me to that place of “sackcloth and ashes.” King David tried to cover up his sin. Far be it from me to judge him, but I can relate with his agony in Psalm 51:10-11 because I have been there too:
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
David must have been terrified about the thought of life without the Spirit of God, and so am I. The Lord already knows all the skeletons in our closets, and He still loves us! Confession really is good for the soul. It cuts the enemy off and helps us find our way to Jesus.
When I tried to wash my sins away in the shower, it did not work. A “broken and contrite spirit,” and a heart of “repentance” can set us free from a plethora of maladies. We can all come before the Lord with humility. He will not turn us away. This reality has washed away that stain of sin I foolishly tried to cleanse in the shower!
1 Chronicles 28:12, 19 12He gave him the plans of all that the Spirit had put in his mind for the courts of the temple of the LORD and all the surrounding rooms, for the treasuries of the temple of God and for the treasuries for the dedicated things… 19“All this,” David said, “I have in writing from the hand of the LORD upon me, and he gave me understanding in all the details of the plan.”
There is a tendency to think God was more visible and directly involved in the Old Testament in more dramatic ways than in this age. As David was sharing the plans of the temple with Solomon, he told how he received the inspiration for the plan. He did not have a vision or experience autonomic writing. He did not have a vivid dream or travel in his spirit to heaven. The Spirit of God put it into his mind. The hand of the LORD was upon him and gave him understanding of the details.
The LORD often works with us in the same way. If (and that is a great big if) we are seeking Him and His will with all our heart and have been walking with Him for some time to learn discernment, the Spirit inspires our thoughts. As we walk with the hand of the LORD upon us, we will have Spirit inspired thoughts.
Thoughts come from one of three sources: attacks of the enemy, our own soul, or the Spirit of God. As we mature, we learn to discern the difference, and become more and more attentive and obedient to Spirit inspired thoughts and quick to reject the enemy’s temptations. When we pray, we will notice the thoughts of whom to pray for enter our mind. As we approach daily difficulties, we will notice solutions that we would never have come up with on our own. Be careful to give God all the credit and all the glory. That is what David was doing when he said, “He gave me understanding in all the details of the plan.” “I can’t take credit for one little detail. God inspired my thoughts.” We find the same experience today as we go about working on the temple with living stones.
Remember: Grab those God inspired thoughts and give Him all the glory when you see the good fruit.
God Is Near
By Jessica Van Roekel, Crosswalk. com
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18 NIV).
Broken hearts are one of the heavier burdens we carry. Unanswered prayers, unfulfilled longings, and unmet expectations can lead our hearts to brokenness. Elijah, an Old Testament prophet, knew brokenheartedness too. His people, the Israelites, continually turned away from God and they rejected his message to return. How his heart must of broke for them.
God revealed himself to his people over and over again and for a time, they served him, but then fell back into idol worship. This led to the famous encounter on Mount Carmel between the prophets of Baal and the lone prophet of God. Fire fell from heaven and consumed the drenched altar, the wood, the stones, and licked up the water that remained in the trench. The people rose up and proclaimed, “The Lord is God,” and killed the prophets of Baal. Once Jezebel heard this news, she vowed to kill Elijah. And Elijah ran away. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it, and prayed that he might die. He had had enough.
Elijah struggled with broken heartedness. And if he can struggle with it, then it shouldn’t surprise us when we struggle with it too. Living for the Lord and seeking to be obedient to him carries with it its own set of difficulties. We wrestle against our old nature that rises to demand its own way, whether it’s through wanting recognition for a job well done or revenge against those who stand against us. We grow weary and declare that we’re done. We have had enough.
There are times when God doesn’t feel near. He feels far off and we wonder where he went. This happened to Elijah too. Imagine standing alone against an entire group of Baal prophets and a people who toggled between serving the Lord and serving idols. Visibly you are outnumbered except you have God—the Everlasting God who has no beginning and no end—on your side. To the human eye, victory looks impossible, but God fights for you and makes victory possible. Elijah didn’t do anything except obey the Lord. And God won the victory. But then Elijah got scared and ran away.
But in the wilderness, God came near. Under that broom tree, God provided sustenance and rest for Elijah’s refreshment. When we’re under duress of heart, we need to take time to satisfy our needs for refreshment too. Our broken hearts can cause us to throw up our hands in defeat and run away, and when we do, Jesus meets us in that moment, ready to remind us that victory is found in him and that he gives us the courage to stand and face the giants once again. Jesus is our bread and living water and his yoke is easy. When we turn toward him instead of away, we find that he satisfies the weariness in our heart. When we state that we have had enough, Jesus becomes enough for us. We can taste and see that the Lord is good, and he is everything we need.
Elijah left his broom tree of despair and traveled deeper into the wilderness to Mount Horeb, the mountain of God. Again, God met him there and asked him, “What are you doing here?” It is here that Elijah finally gives words to his broken heart. He says, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me” (1 Kings 18:10 NIV). And the Lord drew near. The wind came and shattered rocks, but the Lord was not in the wind. Then the earth shook and fire fell, but the Lord was not in either. Instead, the Lord arrived in a gentle whisper.
It is in gentleness that the Lord draws near. A broken heart doesn’t need more devastation like windstorms, earthquakes, or fire. It needs tenderness, and that’s what the Lord brings to us when our hearts are broken. He is gentle with our heart. He draws near. Will we come out of our caves of brokenness long enough to see his gentle ways with our hearts?
Author: Charles Spurgeon
“And, behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said unto him, Come, and I will shew thee the man whom thou seekest. And when he came into her tent, behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail was in his temples.” Judges 4:22
Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 12:1-4
Rest not content till the blood of your enemy stains the ground, until he is crushed, and dead, and slain. Oh, sinner, I beseech you, never be content until grace reign in your heart, and sin is altogether subdued. Indeed, this is what every renewed soul longs for, and must long for, nor will it rest satisfied until all this shall be accomplished. There was a time when some of us thought we would slay our sins. We wanted to put them to death, and we thought we would drown them in floods of penitence. There was a time, too, when we thought we would starve our sins; we thought we would keep out of temptation, and not go and pander to our lusts, and then they would die; and some of us can recollect when we gagged our lusts, when we pinioned their arms, and put their feet in the stocks, and then thought that would deliver us. But brethren, all our ways of putting sin to death were not sufficient; we found the monster still alive, insatiate for his prey. We might rout his hired ruffians, but the monster was still our conqueror. We might put to flight our habits, but the nature of sin was still in us, and we could not overcome it. Yet did we groan and cry daily, “Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” It is a cry to which we are accustomed even at this day, and which we shall never cease to utter, till we can say of our sins, “They are gone,” and of the very nature of sin, that it has been extinguished, and that we are pure and holy even as when the first Adam came from his Maker’s hands.
For meditation: We should never underestimate the power of sin, but we can never overestimate the power of the Lord Jesus Christ to conquer sin. Sin may remain, but it need not reign (Romans 6:12).