Wednesday, May 22, 2019

18. Growing in Prayer – The Learning Tree – (2) The Heart Is Deceitful

The heart is deceitful above all things and it is extremely sick; Who can understand it fully and know its secret motives?”   --Jeremiah 17:9

We continue with our discussion of the heart.  Last week we discussed the morally good heart.  This week we venture into the deceitful heart.  First, we must understand “deceit”.  Deceit is when we take action or practice deceiving those around us by concealing or misrepresenting the truth.  Many folks even deceive themselves so well they can be convincing to others their own beliefs and actions of the heart.

I use as an example collateral damage.  When others do to you that brings harm, the one harmed reacts to the hurt.  A deceived heart begins to justify their actions to harm the one that did the collateral damage.  The true heart takes responsibility regardless of circumstances for their own actions and turns to Jesus for their hurt (Philippians 4:13).

There are many scriptures defining the heart.  As we mentioned last week the heart is the whole person, thinking, acting, remembering, feeling; all our human activity.  God works within the heart; we may have a tender, soft heart or we may have a heart of stone (Ezekiel 11:19).  We must understand how our heart deceives us.

One may say, “I don’t have a hard heart.”  When we reject God’s teachings, we have entered the Harding of our heart.  We do this to ourselves.  For instance if you have unforgiveness in your heart that unforgiveness grows into anger, bitterness, and resentment .  The longer it stays within our heart, our heart begins to harden (Matthew 6:15).

Sometimes God hardens our heart.  I use for example the Pharaoh of Egypt (Exodus 7:3, 9:12).  Why did God harden Pharaoh’s heart?  Could it be that God uses the hardened heart to show His mighty power; He is God all Glory and Honor to HIM.  Paul had a hard heart toward Christians and God used him to bring the Good News to the Gentiles (Acts 22:19-21).

You may say what has this to do with prayer?  I had rather come to the Thorn of Grace with a true, clean, and pure heart (Psalms 51:6) than a heart of stone, wouldn’t you?

Let us pray for those in darkness and let Christ bring them to the Living Water (John 7:38) and His light (John8:12).

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

17. Growing in Prayer – The Learning Tree – (1) The Understanding Heart

21 For where your treasure is, there your heart [your wishes, your desires; that on which your life centers] will be also.  --Matthew 6:21

We talk often regarding knowledge of the mind and understanding of the heart.  In long ago Blogs we have explained this thoroughly in the concept that we understand.

We of the Western world think of the heart as a physical organ that pumps our life-giving blood in our bodies.  Not so in the Biblical sense.  The ancient Hebrews understood the heart as a physical part of our bodies but far more they understood the heart is the very soul of a person.  All things thought or done comes from the heart.  The Heart is the Center of Hidden Emotional-Intellectual-Moral Activity. "Man looks at the outward appearance, " says Samuel, "but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Sam16:7).

The heart's reasoning, as well as its feeling, depends on its moral condition.  If we think bad or evil things our mouth speaks what is in our hearts (Mark 7:21; Matthew 12:34; Luke 6:45).  For instances if one has unforgiveness in their heart, the mouth speaks it though the one speaking may not mention the thing that they do not have forgiveness.  What folks do not realize the hatred, resentment, and revenge shows in an outwardly way.

Our emotional state of the heart affects us in the rest of our person.  Proverbs 15:13 says it well.  “A heart full of joy and goodness makes a cheerful face, but when a heart is full of sadness the spirit is crushed.”  Proverbs 17:22 says “A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”

Our heart thinks (Matthew 9:4; Mark 2:8), it remembers, and meditates (Psalm 77:5-6; Luke 2:19).  God made our hearts to understand, to discern and give us insight.  An understanding heart cannot be separated from our morals.  We intercede for those in our prayers to have eyes that see and ears to hear.  What we see and hear we take into our heart unless we have the power of the Holy Spirit to reject what is wrong or evil in God’s sight.  James 1:5 says to ask for wisdom in our circumstances and it will be given to us.  James 1:6 says we must ask in faith without doubting.

To be in God’s Will our heart must be pure and clean (Psalms 51:10).  We must have a heart that is receptive to God’s Word and His direction to live as we are purposed in our Mother’s womb.  The Holy Spirit teaches us to discern, understand, the statutes and God’s guidance to live a life in Jesus.

Our mouth reveals what is in our heart, the ear determines what we receive in our heart.  In Proverbs 2:2-6 says “So that your ear is attentive to [skillful and godly] wisdom and apply your heart to understanding . . . “.  With the power of the Holy Spirit we have wisdom and with that wisdom we understand the knowledge of the glory God (Habakkuk 2:14).  We cannot have a pure and clean heart without the power of the Holy Spirit to teach us an understanding heart.  

God gave us the greatest commandment: “and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul (life), and with all your mind (thought, understanding), and with all your strength’ (Mark 12:30)  If we do this, we understand the fullness of God’s love for us.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

16. Growing in Prayer – The Learning Tree – (3) Prayer and the Holy Spirit

16 May He [God] grant you out of the riches of His glory, to be strengthened and spiritually [connected to God][1] energized with power [Holy Spirit Power] through His Spirit [Holy Spirit]  in your inner self, (indwelling your innermost being and personality), 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith. And may you, having been (deeply) rooted and (securely) grounded in love, 18 be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God’s people) the width and length and height and depth of His love (fully experiencing that amazing, endless love); 19 and (that you may come) to know (practically, through personal experience) the love of Christ which far surpasses (mere) knowledge (without experience), that you may be filled up (throughout your being) to all the fullness of God (so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself)Ephesians 3:16-19 (AMP)

We want to begin this week’s Blog with this definition of God’s grace.  “Grace describes the undeserved kindness by which salvation is given, but it is also the power-word describing the Holy Spirit’s operational means.  Grace is a force as well as a favor, a verb as well as a noun.[2]  John 1:16, “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.”  “The fact that John states that grace comes from His fullness teaches that grace is more than God’s disposition or impersonal favor.  It is God meeting us at our point of need in the Person of Jesus Christ, including all His power and provision.”[3] 

We first learn knowledge in our mind, but the understanding becomes wisdom of the heart.  We use Ephesians 1:17-18; Isaiah 6:10 and Proverbs 2:2 for our thoughts. 

It is our understanding, the fullness of God is the understanding in our hearts the incredible, magnificent, and glorious love God has for us.  God’s fullness is the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s salvation by the regenerating work in us, born again, (Romans 10:9-10) and power (Acts 1:8) to give our hearts the understanding of His love and to do our mission.  God’s love is the full measure of who we are in Jesus Christ (1 John 4:7-21).

In Paul’s prayer he says, “to be strengthened and spiritually energized with power through His Spirit in your inner self.”   We quote John Piper, “The fullness of God is experienced, he says, as we are given the ‘strength to comprehend’ the love of Christ in its height and depth and length and breadth—that is, in its fullness. This is remarkable: The fullness of God is the spiritual apprehension (experience) of the fullness of the love of Christ. This love is the grace and truth that fills the Son of God and pours out on us.”[4] 

We cannot experience the “fullness of the love of Christ” without the baptism of the Holy Spirit’s power received on Pentecost.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, we can experience the breath-taking miracle of God’s love. 

We are baptized by water in our confession of faith, we believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, lived, suffered, died, and was raised from the dead so that we might know God the Father and eternal life with HIM.  When we received Jesus as our Savior, He cleansed us of our sins, and He came into our spirit as life. Thus, because Christ is in us, our “spirit is life because of righteousness.” (Galatians 2:20; II Corinthians 13:5; Romans 8:10)

When we ask, we are baptized with the power of the Holy Spirit to do our purpose and mission here on earth.  When we receive the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:31) God’s presence gives us understanding in our hearts the love (I John 3:1; 4:7) He has for His Children.

Let us join in Prayer as Jesus’ followers joined in praise and prayer in Acts 4:31. Let us shake our very core by the power of the Holy Spirit.

[1] Charlsey’s interpretation in brackets
[2] Spirit Filled Bible, Note, p. 1647
[3] Spirit Filled Bible, Note, p.1444
[4] John Stephen Piper (born January 11, 1946) is an American Reformed Baptist continuationist pastor.  Continuationism is a Christian theological belief that the gifts of the Holy Spirit have continued to the present age.