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.

 

 

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Well that was unexpected…

Have you ever had something odd happen to you? Something that you didn’t plan for, not necessarily good or bad, just unexpected? There have been times where I’ve been out to eat and when the bill came, the waiter or waitress came over and told us that our meal had been paid for (interestingly, this is almost always correlated with praying before our meal and someone commenting on the unexpected witness of that).
There have been other times when I’ve been given an unexpected gift. It wasn’t Christmas or a birthday, but someone simply wanted to be a blessing and gave an unexpected gift.
Then there was that time driving through Canada where I was driving like I would in America, following behind a semi, and I got pulled over unexpectedly for driving through a light that was very much yellow (I in fact never even saw it turn red, because I had already gotten through the intersection!). But this was an unexpectedly expensive experience.
The Christmas story itself is unexpected. Especially for Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus. An angel came to her unexpectedly, and she was “greatly troubled,” as the Bible records. But then, Luke 1:30 records this:
“But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.”
It’s intriguing, isn’t it? An angel just showed up and started talking to you! What in the world?? It’s freaky and unexpected, of course we’d be afraid and nervous and uncertain of what to do!
The first thing we seem to do when something doesn’t make sense to us is to be afraid, or nervous, or overwhelmed… why is that?
God’s encouragement through the angel here to Mary is that even though she doesn’t understand, she doesn’t have the “why,” she has the “Who.” That is enoughWho.
We may not always know the why or the how of something, but we can always know the Who that is on our side, guiding and encouraging and shepherding us. So today, or tomorrow, or next week, or next month, or next year, when the unexpected happens, don’t go right to fear, but instead go right to faith. God is in control. Rest in Him. Don’t get stuck on the why or the how, but put focus on the Who. It’s all about bringing glory and honor to God.

You are valued

Have you ever done something just to get someones attention? Have you ever done something that, looking back at it, was kind of ridiculous, just because you wanted someone to notice you? Right, I’ve never done that either…

Luke 12:7 says,

And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

If you have a relationship with Jesus Christ–meaning you turn from your sin, confess that Jesus is Lord of your life, that He was crucified and killed, buried, and you believe that 3 days He later rose again from the dead conquering sin, death, and hell, and you live your life like this is true–then you are saved and have nothing to be afraid of (Romans 10:9). You are a part of God’s family (John 1:12) and you are more valuable than any animal or created thing.You are of more value

You are loved, valued, cared for, necessary, desired, and pursued by God. We don’t have to try to get His attention or try to get Him to notice us. He sees, and even knows the number of hairs on your head! He loves you and sent His Son to die for you. So don’t be afraid, and try to understand and experience the beautiful revelation that you are so incredibly valuable to the One who Created the heavens and the earth. The Creator God values you as His precious creation.

Real Faith. Lived Out.

I wrote this post awhile ago, but for some reason left it as a draft and never made it public. I re-read it and decided to post it without changing much of anything. There’s some good stuff here. Good job younger Ben. :

Studying this week from Exodus 19:1-9 for the Bible study on Sunday morning, I was intrigued by the Life Application Bible’s statement under Exodus 19:5.  The application says, “God chose one nation and put it through a rigorous training program, so that one day it could be a channel for his blessings to the whole world.”

When I see this:  Israel was set apart in order to show the world how to properly live in communion with God and was set apart so God could work out His blessings to the whole world, I see a responsibility for each one of us who has been saved through faith in Jesus Christ.

Through the love, compassion, forgiveness, grace, mercy and acceptance of Jesus Christ, we all have the ability to establish a relationship with God. Each of us is able to freely approach God, and God wants us to approach Him, to receive the free gift of eternal life through Christ Jesus, His Son.

When we have established this relationship, what then is our purpose? The name of this blog I’ve entitled, “Real Faith. Lived Out.” I believe that is what God has called each of His children to do. Through the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20), we as followers of Jesus Christ are called to go and make disciples. We are called to go tell people about the life-changing relationship with Jesus that we have experienced, that is available to every individual in this world.

As we go throughout the world doing this and living this out, I believe God is working out to the whole world His blessing through us. We are the vessel God uses to extend His Word, grace, mercy, and Gospel.