Monday, June 6, 2022

            Isaiah 29:13 says, “The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.’”  God was not pleased with either the worship or the devotion of the people of Israel in Isaiah’s day.  Though these words were first spoken nearly three thousand years ago, they still have some tremendous relevance for us today.  Isaiah calls us to examine our relationship with the Lord God.  We might discover that we too have honored the Lord with our lips while our heart is far from Him.  The heart cannot be seen or examined by others.  Only the Lord God knows the heart of any man or woman.  God was not satisfied by the words the people spoke to Him because He saw the sad state of their hearts.  Their lips could not conceal the plight of their heart.
            There is a temptation today to reduce faith to a matter of words—simply saying or acknowledging certain things without seeing any real change in the human heart.  Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”  The heart is the compass or GPS of life.  The content of the heart often determines what we do and how we live.  Our lips may say one thing while the heart is full of something else.  We can easily hide behind the words of our lips but we cannot hide from what God sees in the heart.
            Another prophet, Jeremiah, weighed in on the matter of the human heart.  He wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve” (Jeremiah 17:9-10).  God says that he will look past our lips and words to examine the heart.  So, the question is rather simple.  How are we to protect the heart?  What must we put into the heart?  We certainly want to fill our heart with God’s Word as we read and study the Bible.  Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”  When we know God’s Word and honor it, we have put protection in our heart against sin and disobedience.
            Next, we want to cover our heart with prayer.  We bring our heart to the Lord for healing, help and recovery.  We bring the burdens of our heart to the Lord.  We confess sin that we have kept in our heart.  To prayer, we add worship.  God goes to work in the heart as we worship Him.  Part of worship is seeking the Lord.  The Bible says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).  We open our heart to the Lord when we seek Him in worship and praise Him with other believers. 
            We can present a good heart to the Lord when we serve Him.  Serving can often redirect the heart away from pursuits that are both harmful and sinful and toward pursuits that are good and righteous.  We often speak of people having a “servant’s heart.”  Likely, that expression means these people have rooted out selfishness and replaced it with service.  Isaiah’s message, and what we read elsewhere in Scripture about the heart, teaches us that the heart is the decision-making center for life.  We often think of the heart as an organ that sets in our chest and distributes blood.  But Israel saw the heart as a matter of will, purpose, inclination and decision.  So, God consistently taught the people to incline their hearts toward Him—turn your choices, inclinations and purpose toward seeking and serving the Lord.  When Israel tried to do this only with their lips, God saw through the charade and called them to embrace a sincerity of heart and to return to Him.  If your faith is characterized more by the words you speak than the heart you nurture, perhaps it is time for a change as well.  Remember you can share our worship always at youtube.com/FirstBaptistKannapolis.  Have a great Monday!

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