Monday, April 9th, 2018
What is your heart’s condition today? We all know that heart condition is a major factor in good health. We must work at keeping our physical hearts in good condition if we want to live active, long lives. But my question is directed at your inner heart’s condition—the real you that we often refer to as our “heart.”
The Bible talks about many different heart conditions, and I want to address a few of them and encourage you to have a spiritual heart checkup.
For example, you need to check and see if you have a hard heart. Proverbs 28:14 says: “Blessed is the one who always trembles before God, but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.”
What are the symptoms of a hard heart? Well, have you noticed that you don’t care to read the Word much lately? Have you seen a decline in your desire to pray? Do you find that you don’t care so much about other people and their problems as you used to? Is it difficult for God to get your attention these days and speak to you? If you have some of these symptoms, check it out; you may have a hard heart.
This hard-heart condition can creep up on you. You don’t realize it’s happening until one day you take a look at yourself and see that your love for Jesus has grown cold. You’re in that mediocre state—that lukewarm condition—and it feels like you’re in a desert, all dried up with a crusty, hard heart.
Interestingly, you can have a hard heart and appear to be just fine. You can keep doing all the things you always do—the right things and the good things—so that everybody else thinks you look fine. But underneath, that hard heart robs you of joy. First Corinthians 13 says we can look real good—work miracles, speak like angels, impress all kinds of people—but without love, it amounts to absolutely nothing. A hard heart is a loveless heart.
Have you been doing the right things but without love—love for Jesus or for others? That’s a hard-heart condition. How do you cure it? With water from the Living Well. Just as water softens a desert land and makes it bloom like a garden, the Water of Jesus Christ poured on your heart will soften it up again.
Get back to the basics of loving Jesus. Meditate on what he’s done for you; remember how he’s redeemed you; recite how much you have to be thankful for and how much Jesus loves you. Re-establish those disciplines of consistent daily time in the Word and in prayer. Make knowing Jesus your highest priority. Fall in love with him again. Get back to this first love. That’s the prescription for a hard heart.
Tuesday, April 10th, 2018
I encourage you to examine your heart and see what condition it is in. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Most of us are better at taking care of our physical heart than we are our spiritual heart. Have you been guarding your heart lately?
For example, your heart should be a cheerful heart. Is it? Proverbs 15:15 says “. . .the cheerful heart has a continual feast,” and Proverbs 15:13 says that “A happy heart makes the face cheerful. . .” Finally, Proverbs 15:30 tells us that “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart. . .”
Christians shouldn’t be sourpusses, don’t you agree? Our faces should reflect cheer and joy, yet we allow ourselves to be negative all too often, complain a lot, and generally appear as though we’re sad, troubled, and upset all the time. Would your friends call you a cheerful person? Is your heart cheerful?
Maybe you’re thinking, Life is tough for me right now. Things are going very badly. You can’t expect me to have a cheerful heart when bad things are happening. While it’s true that there are times in our lives when happiness seems like a stranger, even then we can know a cheerful heart—a heart that underneath the pain is still at peace because of Jesus.
Ephesians 5:19-20 says, “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Here is the secret to a cheerful heart: Singing, praising, making music in your heart, and giving thanks at all times. The Apostle Paul wrote these words, and he knew more hardship than we can imagine. Yet in the midst of much trouble, he said, “Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.”
How much singing do you do? You may not be a soloist, but you can still sing to the Lord—and to his ears it’s beautiful music. Sing in the midst of your problems; sing when you don’t want to; sing when you feel terrible. Sing praises to God, and see how it cheers your heart up. I promise you, it will work. We are also supposed to help each other to have cheerful hearts by speaking to each other in joyful ways and singing to each other.
God loves cheerful hearts. If yours is not cheerful today, I trust you’ll go straight to the One who can change your heart—Jesus Christ—and follow his prescription for a cheerful heart. It works every time.
Wednesday, April 11th, 2018
Did you know that your heart reflects who you are? Proverbs 27:19 says, “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” So, if your spiritual heart condition were known to all of us, what would it reflect?
For example, would we see a greedy heart? In Ezekiel 33:31 we read “My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain.” Wow, that’s a serious heart condition—greedy for unjust gain.
Jesus warned us about this greedy heart condition. In Luke 12:15 he says, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” This greedy heart problem can take over before you know what’s happened if you’re not on your guard against all kinds of greed.
There’s greed for power—the drive to have authority and influence over other people. Also, there’s greed for prestige and fame—many people live for recognition from others. Of course, greed for material possessions is very commonplace. The passage in Ezekiel talked about being greedy for unjust gain: Trying to get something for nothing; wanting to win the lottery and be rich without working for it; becoming deceitful and dishonest in order to gain some money, possessions, or power. These are all examples of a greedy heart.
Do you have any of those symptoms? Even if they’re in the early stages, you need to get very serious about dealing with that greedy heart. Greed is contagious. If you’re around people who have lots of things and who focus their lives on getting more and more things, you’ll discover that it’s very difficult not to be swept right along into that greedy mindset for things.
The Psalmist wrote, “Turn my heart toward your statues and not toward selfish gain” (Psalm 119:36). That’s a very good prayer if your heart tends to be greedy. Turning it toward the Word of God and away from selfish gain will cure you of a greedy heart.
Jesus said life does not consist in the abundance of your possessions. Even if you get all those things, money, and power that you’ve been greedy for, they won’t bring you what you think they will. You can be very rich in this world’s stuff and be very poor in the things that really matter. Be on your guard today against a greedy heart, especially as you go out into your working world where it’s very easy to be swept away with the desire for things and power.
Thursday, April 12th, 2018
I encourage you to have a heart check-up. Sure, you need one for your physical heart, but I’m talking about checking up on your spiritual heart—your inner person. If you could X-ray your spiritual heart, would it look dirty? Does it need cleaning? I’ve examined the hard heart, the cheerless heart, and the greedy heart. The Bible also has a lot to say about having a pure heart.
In Psalm 51:10, we have that famous prayer of David’s: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” David was desperate to have his heart purified because he had fallen and sinned badly. You know the story of his lust for Bathsheba and how that led him to adultery and murder. His heart was very dirty because David had deliberately and willfully disobeyed God and done what he knew was wrong to do.
In this Psalm, he begs God to give him a pure heart again. Maybe that’s where you are today. You know your heart is dirty and you really want it to be pure again. God is in the business of cleaning us up, and he is waiting to be merciful to you. All you need to do is follow David’s example and confess your sin—openly and honestly. Confess it to God, be willing to make restitution if that is feasible or necessary, and come clean. Stop covering it up, stop rationalizing it away, and stop trying to pretend it’s not a big deal. Just come clean before God and he will gladly and graciously give you a pure heart again.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). When your heart is pure before God, you will be able to see him—both in eternity and here on this earth. You’ll know his presence in your life, you won’t feel alone or abandoned, and you’ll have that incredible peace that comes when the accounts between you and God are clear.
Psalm 24:3-4 asks this question: “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.” That’s really a paraphrase of what Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). We have communication with God and are able to know him only when we have pure hearts.
And how do we keep our hearts pure? Psalm 119:9-11 answers that question: “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Purity of heart comes to us when we live according to the Word of God and hide it in our hearts. There is no other way.
Friday, April 13th, 2018
I’ve been examining our heart condition and the symptoms of a hard heart, a cheerless heart, a greedy heart, and an impure heart. I’d like to look at another common heart condition that you may be experiencing—a broken heart.
Does your heart feel as though it’s broken into pieces right now? Has someone disappointed you terribly? Has a relationship been severed? Have you suffered the loss of one very dear to you? Those things truly break our hearts—the pain is deep and sometimes very dark.
The Psalmist wrote this: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). Did you realize that when your heart is broken, the Lord is especially close to you? That’s his promise to you today; furthermore, he says he will save you.
I don’t know how he’s going to work in your situation to save you. It may not be the way you would do it, but you can trust your God. He is trustworthy, and when he says he will save those who are brokenhearted, that’s exactly what he means. It’s not going to last forever; he has something good planned for you.
In Psalm 147:3 we are told that “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” If you will go to God with your pain, he will heal it and bind it up so that it won’t be unbearable.
I frequently hear from people with broken hearts. Many of them are due to broken relationships—husbands leaving wives and wives leaving husbands. Many are brokenhearted because some loved one is living in sin and refusing to come to God. Often I hear from those who’ve suffered the death of a mate or a child. Their hearts are so broken, they feel they will never heal and be whole again.
I want to encourage you, to bring you a word that will bind your broken heart and remind you that God has not forgotten you. Indeed, he is very close to those who have broken hearts. Remember, he understands your pain because he’s been there. The heart of Jesus was broken for you, and God’s heart was broken as he gave his only Son to die. We serve a wounded Savior, one who has suffered and understands the broken heart. The great news is, he is also our Great Physician and he is the one who can heal your broken heart.
In Psalm 119:32 we read “I run in the path of your commands for you have set my heart free.” He will set your heart free today—free from the unbearable pain of a broken heart—if you will run to him, obey him, and trust him. I hope you will allow his Word and his presence to heal the wounds of your broken heart.