1. My Heart's Desire
"Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved." Romans 10:1
As we enter the month of February, we see red hearts on signs, cards, balloons, and boxes of candy. As I thought about using "Hearts" as my next devotional theme, I decided to pull up my Bible program, Theophilos, and read the Bible verses containing the word, "heart". I read through all 762 verses and narrowed down the list to 10 pages of verses. I still did not find just the right verse to use as my theme verse, so I pulled up "hearts" and found a few more. Then I typed in "heart's" and saw this verse in Romans 10:1.. "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved." What is your heart's desire? The Apostle Paul's desire was that Israel would be saved. The Lord's desire is that all would be saved, as we read in II Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." As we look at several "heart" verses, let's try to make this our heart's desire, to see others saved.
2. Man's Heart Sinned And God's Heart Was Grieved
"And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart." Genesis 6:5 & 6
The first references to "heart" in the Bible are found here in Genesis 6, verses 5 and 6. We see the contrast between God and man. Verse 5 tells us that man has a wicked heart. Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, and man's sin grew worse and worse. We also see this in the New Testament in Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" Genesis 6:6 tells us that God's heart is grieved because of man's sin. "And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD." (Genesis 6:6-8) Praise the Lord for grace. God loved us so much He was willing to give His only begotten Son to pay our sin-debt. "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) How is your heart? The Lord can give you a clean heart.
3. God Knows Our Heart
"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24
David begins this Psalm in acknowledgement of how God knows him. "O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it." (Psalm 139:1-6) David praises the Lord for creating him and thinking of him. "For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee." (Psalm 139:13-18) After David thinks about all that God knows about him he realizes that God knows his heart and he ends the Psalm, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24)
4. God Can Heal A Broken Heart
"He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds." Psalm 147:3
I guess there is not a soul alive that has not had a broken heart at one time or another. Even as a small baby my son would turn his little lips down and whimper when I laid him down. His little heart was broken that I could not hold him all the time. I could pick him back up and sing to him as I rocked him gently and his tears went away. This is a simple example, but I used it to show how God can heal our broken hearts. We may be broken because someone has put us aside, and gone on with his or her life. In time, I always went back for my babies, but as we grow older we learn that sometimes those we love don't always come back. Sometimes death takes them away and leaves us with broken hearts. Often the pain of a broken heart seems unbearable. It is comforting to know that we can go to the Lord and He can give us peace. He can heal a broken heart and bind up our wounds. I have cried many tears on my knees when my heart was too broken to utter words in prayer. Do you have a broken heart? Trust in His promise. "He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds." (Psalm 147:3)
5. God Sees A Laughing Heart
"Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?" Genesis 17:17
"And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh." Genesis 18:10-15
It is wonderful that all our days are not spent with a broken heart. There are times in our lives when we have a laughing heart. In these scriptures we see that Abraham and Sarah both laughed when the Lord told them they would have a son in their old age. (I don't think laughter would be my first reaction if I found out I was going to have another baby in my old age.) It is good to laugh. Isaac was born, "And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me." (Genesis 21:6) We should not laugh "at" people, but it is good to laugh "with" people. Some think that Christians are always solemn and sad, but we should have an inner joy that overflows our hearts and brightens the world of those around us. The Apostle Paul sums it up, short and sweet, "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice." (Philippians 4:4)
6. God Desires A Willing Heart
"Take ye from among you an offering unto the LORD: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the LORD; gold, and silver, and brass, And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair, And rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins, and shittim wood, And oil for the light, and spices for anointing oil, and for the sweet incense, And onyx stones, and stones to be set for the ephod, and for the breastplate. And every wise hearted among you shall come, and make all that the LORD hath commanded;" Exodus 35:5-10
As the Children of Israel wandered in the wilderness God gave Moses instructions for building the Tabernacle. The people brought their gifts and offerings to be used for the Tabernacle and they gave willingly. We see this exemplified in I Corinthians 13:3, "And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." We can give everything we have, and even give our life, but if we don't give with love, it profits nothing.
7. God Gives Wisdom Of The Heart
“And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the LORD hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship; And to devise curious works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, And in the cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of wood, to make any manner of cunning work. And he hath put in his heart that he may teach, both he, and Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work.” Exodus 35:30-35
Yesterday we saw how everyone who had a willing heart gave for the work of the Tabernacle. As we continue with the same chapter we see that God gave "wisdom of heart" to some and they did all types of work for the preparation of the Tabernacle. Women were also included with the "wise hearted" as we see in verse 25, "And all the women that were wise hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine linen." It is wonderful to have knowledge, but knowledge does not always bring wisdom. We can read and study to gain knowledge, but I believe God gives wisdom to those who seek it. We see this shown with King Solomon, "And all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart." (I Kings 10:24) We have these examples showing that God gave wisdom to men and women of the Old Testament, but God still grants wisdom to those that ask. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." (James 1:5) I read a devotional recently which stated that we often pray for answers to our problems as they arise, but we should really pray for wisdom as we begin each day. We need wisdom in our daily walk, sunshine and rain, on mountains and in valleys, when we are young and as we grow old. My constant prayer as a mother was that God would give me wisdom to bring up my children in the right way. We need to ask God for wisdom of heart.
8. The Lord Understands A Discouraged Heart
“For when they went up unto the valley of Eshcol, and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the children of Israel, that they should not go into the land which the LORD had given them." Numbers 32:9
"Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there.” Deuteronomy 1:28
Moses sent men to search the land of Canaan and said, "be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land." (Numbers 13:20) They brought back a cluster of grapes that two men had to carry on a staff and news that the land was flowing with milk and honey. But all but two of the spies, Caleb and Joshua, said they would not be able to go into the land because of the giants. They discouraged the hearts of the people and had to wander in the wilderness for forty years. (Numbers 14:34) It is easy to get discouraged. Even our best friends and close family members can discourage us with their comments and actions. The words of one or two people can make us feel like the whole world is against us. Depression is a serious problem for many today. Does Jesus care when we are discouraged? May I say with the songwriter, "Oh yes He cares, I know He cares." During our Lord's ministry on earth many of His followers turned away. "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God." (John 6:66-69) Peter answered in words of assurance to the Lord. When our friends are feeling low, do we encourage them? We all go through times of discouragement. We need to help each other during these hard times. "Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do." (I Thessalonians 5:11)
9. Ezra Prepared His Heart
"For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments." Ezra 7:10
Today is the Lord's Day and many will go to church to worship the Lord. Are you prepared? I am sure that my pastor spent time in prayer and Bible study to prepare his heart for today's sermon. Sunday school teachers and singers also took time to prepare before going to church. Our scripture reference above takes place years after the Children of Israel had been carried into captivity by the Babylonians. When Cyrus became king of Persia he allowed some of the Jews to return to Jerusalem. This remnant of people rebuilt the temple and Ezra returned from Babylon to teach God's Word and restore law and ritual. "For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments." (Ezra 7:10) This is a good lesson for us today. As we get ready in our Sunday "go-to-meeting" clothes we should also prepare spiritually. We can follow Ezra's example and prepare our hearts to seek God's Word, to follow it, and to teach it to others. Don't leave all the work up to the preachers and Sunday school teachers. Read your Bible and prepare your heart to seek God. Let's look at two more examples in II Chronicles. "So king Rehoboam strengthened himself in Jerusalem, and reigned: for Rehoboam was one and forty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there. And his mother's name was Naamah an Ammonitess. And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD." (II Chronicles 12:13-14) Did you see that last line? "And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD." We read of Jehoshaphat in II Chronicles 19:3-4. "Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God. And Jehoshaphat dwelt at Jerusalem: and he went out again through the people from Beersheba to mount Ephraim, and brought them back unto the LORD God of their fathers." He prepared his heart to seek God and it was counted to him as good. We need to prepare our heart to seek God as we see in Jeremiah 29:13 "And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." We also have this promise from the Lord in Matthew 7:7-8. "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."
10. Daniel Purposed In His Heart
“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8
Daniel was one of the children carried away in the captivity to Babylon. Verse 4 describes them, “Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.” They were put in the care of the prince of the eunuchs to eat the daily provision of the king and drink his wine for three years. Then they would stand before the king. But Daniel purposed in his heart not to defile himself so he asked to be fed pulse and water for ten days. “And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat. Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.” (Daniel 1:15) Verse 20 tells us that the king found Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah to be “ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.” Daniel was away from home, but he purposed in his heart not to defile himself. It may be easy to stay on the right path while you are at home or at church, but there comes a time when you may be faced with the temptations of this world. Don't stray away from God. It may be hard when it seems as though everyone around you is drinking and trying new things, but make a promise to yourself and to God that you will continue to do what’s right. Purpose in your heart to follow God.
11. Mary Pondered In Her Heart
"But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19
We usually include this verse in our Christmas programs, but it is one of my favorite verses throughout the year. I am a mother of five children and now that I have grandchildren, they remind me of the days when my children were young. It brings back fond memories to let little Micah help me rinse and dry dishes. I enjoyed teaching our children many things as they grew up and there were many nights when I went to bed and "pondered" the day in my mind and heart. Mary pondered the Lord's birth, and the visit from the angel and shepherds. Look again, when Jesus was twelve years old, and Mary and Joseph found Him in the temple "sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart." (Luke 2:46-51) There have been times that I didn't understand or know what was happening in my life. But I know the Lord. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28) Just as you ponder events in your daily life, sometimes it's good to ponder in your heart all that the Lord has done for you!
12. Pharaoh Hardened His Heart
"And Pharaoh said, I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only ye shall not go very far away: intreat for me. And Moses said, Behold, I go out from thee, and I will intreat the LORD that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, to morrow: but let not Pharaoh deal deceitfully any more in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the LORD. And Moses went out from Pharaoh, and intreated the LORD. And the LORD did according to the word of Moses; and he removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; there remained not one. And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go." Exodus 8:28-32
In the first verse of our scriptures above Pharaoh said, "I will let you go..." God sent the plague and Pharaoh made this promise to Moses and God. God took away the swarms of flies, and "Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go." How often do we make promises to the Lord, and when God brings us out of our trials, we harden our hearts and don't keep our word to the Lord? The story of Jesus feeding 5,000 with just two loaves of bread and five small fish is taught to many children in our Sunday School classes. As the night came on, Jesus sent the disciples ahead in a ship while He stayed on the mountain to pray. A terrible storm came up and Jesus walked to the disciples on the water and they were afraid. "And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened." (Mark 6:48-52) God brings us through the storms. God supplies our needs. Don't let the hard times harden your heart. Keep trusting the Lord!
13. Hannah Prayed In Her Heart
"So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the LORD. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head. And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth. Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee. And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD. Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto. Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him. And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad." I Samuel 1:9-18
I included more verses than usual to show the depth of Hannah's sorrow. She wanted a son. She prayed in her heart, moving her lips, but not speaking the words out loud and Eli thought she was drunk. She explained that she "poured out" her soul before the Lord and Eli told her that God would answer her prayer. Just as Hannah prayed from her heart, she was also able to rejoice from her heart. "And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God." (I Samuel 2:1-2) We ask the Lord to bless our food before we eat, and that is good. But, is it from the heart, or is it just repetition? Everyday I pray for my family, and my sisters' families, and for the families of the youth at our church, along with others. As I thought about Hannah's prayer I began to wonder, do I go down the list praying just from memory, or do I really pray for them from my heart? When troubles come to my life, or touches someone I love I really pour out my soul to God and pray from the depths of my heart. I need to take the time to really pray from my heart, not only in the bad times, but also in the good times. Sometimes I feel the Lord's blessing on my life so much I pray with thanksgiving from my heart. Then it seems like God blesses me even more. I want to be more like Hannah and pray from my heart.
14. Josiah Humbled His Heart
“And as for the king of Judah, who sent you to enquire of the LORD, so shall ye say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel concerning the words which thou hast heard; Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardest his words against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, and humbledst thyself before me, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before me; I have even heard thee also, saith the LORD.” II Chronicles 34:26-27
Let's take a look at this young king. "Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem one and thirty years. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left. For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images." (II Chronicles 34:1-3) He broke down the idols and their altars in Judah and Jerusalem. He directed the workers to repair the house of the Lord. As they worked Hilkiah, the priest, found a book of the law of the Lord given by Moses. The scribe read it to King Josiah and he rent his clothes. "Go, enquire of the LORD for me, and for them that are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do after all that is written in this book." (II Chronicles 34:21) Because King Josiah humbled his heart, God promised not to bring the punishment on the people during his lifetime. God's Word promised that those who humble themselves will be exalted. "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:4) "And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted." (Matthew 23:12) This message is repeated in James 4:10 "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." Also, in I Peter 5:6 "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:" We can also read the dangers of having a proud heart in Proverbs 16:5 "Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished."
15. The Fool Says In His Heart, "There Is No God."
"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good." Psalm 53:1
I know of a young man who was extremely smart in his grades all through school. He had a good home and his parents took him to church. Sometime about the time he went to high school he decided that he was too smart to believe in God. He understood math and science and decided within himself that life just happened and those who believed in God were weak and needed God like a crutch to lean on. Although attempts were made, witnessing to him seemed to do no good because he believed only in himself. He received great scholarships for college and I am sure he is making big money somewhere today. But, unless he humbles himself and turns to God, the Bible says he is a fool. It is sad that some people can't see God in creation and in the miracle of life. I praise the Lord that He opened up my eyes one day and I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. A message to those who don't believe in God, please open up your heart before it is too late. "For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God." (Romans 14:11-12)
16. Thy Word Have I Hid In Mine Heart
"Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." Psalm 119:11
Pastor Jeff Woods has been preaching from this verse relating to the best thing (the Word of God), the best place (our hearts), and the best reason (to keep us from sin). Psalms 119 in the longest chapter in the Bible and it is fully devoted to the Word of God. My key verse for this devotional site is Psalm 119:105. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." We can read the same scriptures over and over and God can give us new insights each time because His Word is the living Word, shining His light to our path. The best place is in our hearts. We can read and memorize scriptures in our head, but we must give God room in our hearts. Then, when hard times come, the Word of God will be fresh and new in our lives shining it's glorious light for us to see the way. Finally, the best reason. We can read the Bible to gain wisdom and knowledge. As we memorize the scriptures the Holy Spirit can use the Word to send conviction on our hearts and remind us to follow the Lord in the right path. It really is good to memorize scriptures, and this is a good place to start. "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." Psalm 119:11
17. The Greatest Commandment
“And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” Mark 12:28-30
What is the greatest commandment? Moses was given Ten Commandments on the tables of stone. The books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy give laws for the children of Israel. When Jesus was asked this question, He quoted the scriptures, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4 & 5) The older I get, the more I realize that nothing I do matters except for what I do for God. Our time on earth is short. Most of what we do today will not be remembered. If we could love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, everything else in life would take its proper place. Isn’t it foolish of us to put earthly things ahead of serving God? God loved us so much that He gave His only Son to die for us. We could never repay Him, but we should love Him with all our being. In the book of Revelation are seven letters to the seven churches. A portion of the letter to the church of Ephesus says, “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil… Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” (Revelation 2:2 & 4) We may be working and laboring for God’s Kingdom, and God knows our works. But do we still have that first love? Take a trip in your mind back to where you were before God saved you, or think of where you might be if He had not saved you… and rejoice in His love. Time is short, now is the time to love God and give Him your life.
18. Believe In Your Heart
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Romans 10:9-13
Do you believe in God? Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of the one and only true and living God? Do you believe there is a heaven and a literal hell? I am afraid that many people may believe all three of these statements in their head, but not in their heart. We have all sinned and we read in Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" God is a holy God and we can't come into the presence of God in our sinful state. In the Old Testament lambs were offered or sacrificed to God to pay for sin. But, Jesus came to die on a cruel cross to pay for the sin of mankind, once and for all. "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23) The final sacrifice was made. Jesus is the precious Lamb of God who gave His life so that we would not have to. You may believe and celebrate the Christmas story and even go to church on Easter Sunday, but you must believe in your heart. Thinking the Bible stories are real in your head is not enough. You must believe in your heart. If you heard that a store was giving out free apples and you didn't believe it you would not go to get them. If you believed it in your head and you went to the store but did not accept them you still would not have them. Romans 10:13 above says, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." You have the promise of salvation, but if you do not accept it, you still don't have salvation. You must confess to God that you are a sinner. Then you can ask the Lord Jesus to forgive you and He will. The price for your sin and my sin has already been paid. But we must believe with all our heart, and not just believe in our mind. If you have never asked the Lord Jesus to forgive you and save you now would be the perfect time. Please accept God's salvation so that you can spend eternity in heaven.
19. A Meek And Lowly Heart
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30
Do you ever get weary? I know that I get tired and weary. Burdens and struggles often weigh us down. When I get weary I turn to these scriptures for help. I have thought about how a yoke is put on a team of oxen and neither one has to carry the whole burden. I believe that is what Jesus is saying to us here. He wants to help carry our burdens. Since we are looking at verses about the "heart" I noticed the next part of the verse, "for I am meek and lowly in heart:" I had not really concentrated on that portion of the verse before. I prayed that God would give me an understanding and here is how I see it. Have you ever worked for a hard boss? Time on the job seems so much longer if you have a hard, money-driven, non-caring supervisor. You may even begin to hate your job, which makes it even harder to go to work. Jesus is asking us to come to Him. He is meek and lowly in heart. He cares for us more than any other. Are you weary? Listen to the words of our blessed Lord. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
20. God Knows Our Hearts
"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:26-39
Pastor Jeff Woods helped me with today's devotions through his preaching Wednesday night. These verses have been favorites of mine for a long time. I used to have a copy of Romans 8:28, 29 & 31 posted on the wall at my desk before I lost my job. With those words there beside me, reading them almost daily for four years, I was able to claim them, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God..." even in the midst of losing my job. Pastor Woods reminded us that the Holy Spirit is our helper. When things in our lives are so hard that we get down to pray, and can't even find the words, the Holy Spirit prays for us. The Lord Jesus is our healer. And the love of God is our hedge, placed about us, keeping us in His care. "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
21. Man Looks At The Outward Appearance, But The Lord Sees The Heart
"And Samuel did that which the LORD spake, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Comest thou peaceably? And he said, Peaceably: I am come to sacrifice unto the LORD: sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice. And he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice. And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD'S anointed is before him. But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." I Samuel 16:4-7
After the Lord rejected Saul from being king over Israel He sent Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint a new king from the sons of Jesse. As Samuel looked at Eliab he thought that surely this was going to be the new king. "But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." Eliab was the oldest son. He was tall. He was army qualified. He looked like he would make a good king, but the Lord said he was not the one. Seven of Jesse's sons passed by Samuel and the Lord did not choose either one. There was one son, a young shepherd boy, left and Samuel said "Send and fetch him..." (I Samuel 16:11) Jesse did not think him capable of being the new king, he had not even called him when Samuel came to town. We can read what the Lord thought of David in Acts 13:22, "And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will." Those who tried to judge David by his outward appearance misjudged him. We see Eliab and David again in the next chapter. Eliab went to battle and Jesse sent David to carry food to the army. We can see a little of Eliab's heart in I Samuel 17:28 "And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle." David followed his father's orders and he was still misjudged. Sometimes we do just what we are supposed to do and others judge us falsely. I guess my point today is, God looks on your heart. Try not to get discouraged if people judge you by the way you look, God doesn't judge you by your height, or your skin color, or by how you look. God sees your heart. If you are following God in your heart, don't worry about what others will think. Just keep keep trusting in Him.
22. Trust In The Lord With All Your Heart
"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:5-6
I once heard a preacher talking about this verse and he said that if you are not trusting in the Lord with all your heart, then you are not trusting in the Lord. I don't know what may happen in this coming year. As a matter of fact, I don't know what may happen next week, or even today. But, I do know who is in control and I do know that I need to trust Him. I have come to a path in my life that I don't know which way to turn. Our verse above tells me to trust in the Lord with all my heart and He will direct my paths. I need to pray more and keep trusting in Him. If God loved us so much that He would send His Son to die for us, don't you think He cares about our day to day struggles? And if He cares about the little things in our lives from day to day, don't you think He also cares about the big things that sometimes knock us off our feet? In God's eyes there are no big problems. I like the verse in Jeremiah 32:27 "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?" There is nothing too hard for God.
23. A Pastor According To God's Heart
"And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding." Jeremiah 3:15
What a wonderful promise is found in this short verse. I know that it was written to the Children of Israel, but I believe that many churches can claim this verse today. I am thankful for the pastors that God has sent to our church, Pine Grove Baptist Church, over the years. Preacher Buddy Fox was the pastor when we started going to the church some twenty five years ago. When he retired, after thirty plus years, Preacher Jack Tripp pastored a few years, followed by Preacher David Owen.
Preacher Jeff Woods is the pastor now and I am thankful that it was in God's heart to send him to Pine Grove. He feeds us from the Word of God faithfully. He also has a tremendous burden for the youth. He came to Pine Grove in 2005 and each July the church members back him in prayer and service for the annual Youth Jubilee and we all rejoice to see souls saved. Each church is different, as each one is made up of different individuals. I am glad that God sends the right pastor, to the right church, at the right time, for those who seek His guidance. In the last chapter of the book of John the Lord Jesus asked Simon Peter three times, "Simon, son Jonas, lovest thou me?" Each time Peter said, "Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee." The first time Jesus answered, "Feed my lambs." The second and third time He answered, "Feed my sheep." But, think about the first reply, "Feed my lambs." What are lambs? They are the young sheep. Jesus reminded Peter that the young Christians need feeding, too. Today is the Lord's Day. Let your pastor know that you appreciate him and give the Lord thanks for sending you a pastor to feed you with knowledge and understanding.
24. A Song In My Heart
"Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;" Ephesians 5:19-20
I have always enjoyed singing. I can remember singing "Silent Night" in the Christmas play when I was six years old. My sisters and I sang in church growing up and I still enjoy singing at church. But, I get the biggest blessing when I am singing just to the Lord. Sometimes when I am driving alone I start singing and the Lord starts blessing my soul and before I know it I am crying and praising the Lord in my heart. There are also times when no one else is home and I sit down to practice the piano, and I start playing "Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior" or "I Need Thee Every Hour". The Lord fills me with His love and peace and the tears flow down my face until I can no longer see the pages of the book. It is a joy when we can sing with other Christians and share the song in our heart, but it is also a joy to sing just to the Lord. Paul said, "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;" Keep a song in your heart. Sing praises to the Lord!
25. Peace In Your Heart And Mind Through Right Thinking
"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:7-8
It has been an unusually warm, sunny winter this year. We had a little taste of winter on Sunday with cold rain and an inch or two of snow. Our Sunday School lesson was titled, "Living In The Sunshine". Mike opened up the lesson by saying that we can live in the sunshine, even on rainy days. The lesson was in three parts, "Right Praying", "Right Thinking", and "Right Living". These verses in Philippians were part of the "Right Thinking" segment. We can have peace in our hearts and minds through Jesus when we think on the right things. Look at this list again..."Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Think on what's true. Don't spend time worrying about things which probably won't happen anyway. Don't fret over gossip or things that are said that are not true. Think on things that are honest and just, or right. Be truthful. Next, think on things that are pure, or holy, and lovely. Last of all, think on things that are of good report. The evening news is full of bad news. We will have a greater peace and joy if we dwell on things with a good report, instead of focusing on the bad. God can give us peace in our hearts and minds, but we need to keep our mind on the right things.
26. Number Our Days And Apply Our Hearts Unto Wisdom
"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." Psalm 90:12
We are almost through another month. Winter winds will soon be replaced with soft spring breezes. The seasons come and go so fast. Look at the verse prior to our verse above. "...we spend our years as a tale that is told. The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away." (Psalm 90:9-10) Our lives on earth are short compared to eternity. "For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night." (Psalm 90:4) Our days are numbered. One day we will all be called out to meet our Maker. Are you ready? Have you accepted the Lord as your personal Lord and Savior and trust in Him for eternal life? Do you make each day count? Be wise in your heart. Don't live recklessly like there is no tomorrow, but live each day to the fullest and give Him your all. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (Romans 12:1-2)
27. Jesus Can Calm A Troubled Heart
"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." John 14:1-3
"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27
Jesus understands a troubled heart. In the previous chapter of the book of John Jesus had the last passover supper with the disciples. He washed their feet to show them they should serve one another. Then Jesus said that one of them was against Him. "When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake." (John 13:21-22) The disciples did not know what was about to take place, but Jesus knew, and He was troubled. Judas, one of His followers, would betray Him. He knew that He was about to be hung on a cruel cross. He knew that the disciples, His friends, would be troubled, and this troubled Him. Of all the things in this world that have troubled me, none has been so great. When we look at the things that trouble our hearts, they seem small in comparison to all the Savior endured for us. Look again at these words and think on them when your heart is troubled. "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27
28. What's In Your Heart?
"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24
My sister, Donna, had this little post on facebook today and I called and asked her permission to use it as our next "heart" devotion. Thanks, Donna.
"I was asked the question "What's in your heart?" I didn't know how to answer that question, so I prayed "Lord, please show me what's in my heart." I was shocked at what He showed me. So go ahead and ask Him to show you what's in your heart and see what He shows you. Once you have seen yourself as He sees you, you will be able to ask forgiveness and help."
29. Heart Smart
We hear a lot about being "Heart Smart". Experts tell us how to live and what to eat to take care of our heart physically. Well, we have been looking at Bible verses about the heart, what's deep inside, for the past four weeks. I hope these simple devotionals have helped strengthen your heart and soul. This is our last "heart" devotional but there are several more "heart" verses that I considered using. Please read these verses and find courage, strength, and hope in these promises from God's Holy Word.
"Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD." Psalm 27:14
"Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart." Psalm 37:4
"From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I." Psalm 61:2
"If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:" Psalm 66:18
"Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." Matthew 5:8
"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Matthew 6:21
"And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?" Luke 24:32
"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." I Corinthians 2:9
"But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." I Peter 3:4