What’s in your heart?

The heart is an important part of life. It’s not only physically important, in that our heart pumps blood through our entire body and without it we cannot live. Any medical problem with the heart is a really big deal. Even more important than the physical heart, though, is the deeper meaning of “heart” we often talk about as an invisible quality someone has. Rocky Balboa had “heart” to stay in the fight and keep going. Physically he should have been done, but he kept going because of a deeper, invisible quality.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. – Matthew 5:8

The heart as we use it here is defined as “the soul or mind, as it is the fountain and seat of the thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, endeavors.” (https://lumina.bible.org/bible/Matthew+5). That is what the heart is. It’s much deeper than the physical.

Someone pure in heart is “one whose motives are unmixed, whose thoughts are holy, whose conscience is clean.” (William MacDonald, “Matthew” in Believer’s Bible Commentary, 3809).

Pure in heart is more than doing good things or being a good person. This is down to the very core of who I am as an individual, made in the image and likeness of God. There is something more going on beneath the surface of someone pure in heart. It is worked out in the physical realm, we can see it, but it comes from somewhere deeper.

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. – Proverbs 4:23 NLT

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. – Luke 6:45 NLT

The pure in heart will see God because they are living faithful lives, following God, and determining in their hearts to live for Him instead of themselves. This is the person who realizes his or her selfish tendencies and lays them at the feet of the cross, looking to Jesus Christ as an example of how to live and trusting in Jesus Christ for eternal life.

 

How can we live consistently pure in heart? I think there are at least 4 things that can be very beneficial, maybe even essential, to living as someone who is pure in heart:

1. Cultivate daily faithfulness.

Living pure in heart is not a one-time decision that can be over and done with one day and forgotten about the next. This must be a daily, moment-by-moment determination that Jesus Christ is Lord of one’s life. It is a daily recognition we are poor in spirit, mourn after our sin, and live in humility. The pure in heart are comforted because they shall see God.

 

2. Live in disciplined pursuit.

This is our “personal growth plan.” It must be something intentional and consistent. There’s that old adage, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” We need to make a plan to succeed and be disciplined to do it.

 

3. Be quick to confess and repent.

The pure in heart are not perfect in heart. Temptation and sin is still an unfortunate present reality while living on this earth, but confession and repentance (a turning away) of sin renews our relationship with God and brings healing and freedom. We should be quick to confess and repent, turning from sin toward God.

 

4. Live in community.

“No man is an island entire of itself” – John Donne.

We need each other. We need to live in intentional community for the help and healing that come through it. A person who is pure in heart is not living it alone, because it is, if not impossible, incredibly difficult to live pure in heart on our own.

 

 

The Progression of the Great Commission

This is a follow-up post to last week’s “The Strategy of the Great Commission.” Not only is this responsibility, this command, for every disciple of Jesus Christ strategic, it is progressional. How? Here’s what the Bible says in the book of Acts:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (ESV)

The progression is in the location of Jerusalem, Judea & Samaria, and then to the end of the earth. Jesus gives this progression to His followers basically saying, “Start where you are and share Christ right there.”

We don’t have to go on mission trips to different cities or foreign countries to serve and share Christ. We are actually called to first start where we are. Start in your family, with your friend group, in your neighborhood, at your job or your school. Start where you are.

Then, after starting where you are, go a little further. Maybe across town at a homeless shelter or a neighboring city.

After going a little further, going a little further still. And all the while behind you, leaving a trail of sharing Jesus. Everywhere we go, in everything we do, we should be intentionally engaged in sharing Jesus Christ. It is the only thing that truly matters in life.

When we share, we don’t just move on and never go back. We must teach them to observe all that Jesus commanded in the Bible. We must disciple and train and make disciples who can make disciples.

But, before we can move on to the ends of the earth, we have to start right where we are. Who is one person you cross paths with on an almost daily basis whom you can share Christ with today?

Christians are…

This morning I went to search something on Bing. What did I want to search? I typed in, “Christians are” and then waited to see what suggested results came up. Here is what I found:

Christians are

Being a genuine follower of Jesus Christ is frowned upon by so many in the world today. Why? Jesus Himself claimed that the world hated Him and so would hate His followers too (Matthew 10:22)! There is a crucial balance between being in the world and not of the world that often we misunderstand for being in the world and tolerant with the world’s desires.

Being in the world does not mean condoning what the world does. It does not mean engaging with everything the world says is good and okay. Our culture says that you do what you think is right, I’ll do what I think is right, and we will never say the other is wrong and we will never tell the other how to live his or her life. This leads to a neglect of moral standards, there is no absolute morality, and it concedes that truth and moral uprightness are in the eye of the person acting it out.

For example, if you think pornography use is good for you, but I disagree, I will continue to not engage in pornography, but I will also not bring up to you the relational consequences of pornography, the brain chemistry changes that come through extended porn usage, and the other harmful long term effects that come as a result of pornography. I will not spare you from these consequences because for you it is right, though it is not right for me. Truth and morality become subjective.

This is the world we live in. Right and wrong is not black and white.

 

It is into this world that we have been commissioned to share the Gospel and to live out the Good News of Jesus Christ in our words and actions.

In Acts 18:9 (NLT) we see Luke write about Paul’s experience:

“One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him, “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent!”

This is the kind of courage we need to have. In a world and a society that tells us as Christians to be silent, to not speak out, we must learn to not be afraid. We will be hated, we will be wronged, and you know what, we will do wrong! We are human and we don’t always control our words or actions well. We will certainly at times be poor examples of Christ.

But, when we err on the side of not being afraid and err on the side of speaking out for our faith in Jesus Christ with love and humility, we are definitely heading in the right direction.

So today, do not be afraid. Pursue Jesus Christ with all that you have and make Him known in the way that you love others, in the way that you show compassion and concern for Christians and non-Christians alike. Do not be afraid to humbly, boldly, authentically live out your faith. Don’t be a hearer only, but be a fearless doer of the Word.