At the Heart of All That Matters

from Lynda Lindsey

Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. Psalm 95:7(b)-9

Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. Hebrews 3:1-3

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. … For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” Hebrews 3:12; 14-15

Something practiced repeatedly becomes a habitual response; whether or not this oft repeated behavior is for our good depends on what is continually reinforced. If we practice godly spiritual disciplines over and over again, we reap spiritual growth. But if we, like the Israelites, grumble and complain incessantly we stand guilty of practicing rebellion against God and risk developing hard, unbelieving hearts. Hearts that are dull and unresponsive to God. Hearts that go astray because they have been strengthened in doubt and disbelief, not in faith. Hearts that have given up and not persevered. 

When we speak of getting to the heart of a matter, we speak of the need to determine the basic critical point of an issue. Following Jesus faithfully and obediently is at the heart of all that matters. Our thoughts, decisions, feelings and choices spring from our inner core, our heart. The heart is also the place where we either affirm or reject the truth of God and His saving grace. Our hearts can be vaults where truth is guarded and faith grows, or our hearts can be leaky sieves. Have you heard Jesus’ voice? Giving your heart to Jesus is at the heart of all that matters.

Over and over the Israelites rebelled against God. Even though they had experienced God’s many deliverances, their evil, unbelieving hearts led them to fall away from the living God. Through unbelief they refused to trust and obey. The choice is before us. Begin today. Each day is a new day to rehearse faithfulness and obedience to the living Lord. Consider Jesus, the heart of all that matters. Consider Jesus’ faithfulness. Be faithful. Don’t rebel. Hold fast your original confidence firm to the end. Guard your heart. Let it beat strong in faith. 

Courageous Hearts

from Lynda Lindsey

Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. Psalm 27:3

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple. For He will hide me in His shelter in the day of trouble; He will conceal me under the cover of His tent; He will lift me high upon a rock. Psalm 27:4-5

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14 

David depicts daunting circumstance that would leave many cowering in fear, yet David stands his ground, bold and courageous, confident in the Lord’s protection. Although enemies assailed David like evildoers hungrily stalking prey, lying in wait, eager for his destruction, David claimed his enemies, not he, would stumble and fall. Surrounded on all sides, liars breathing out violence against him, forsaken, David sought refuge in the Lord, the stronghold of his life, his light and salvation. 

David, by God’s covering, was hidden and concealed from his enemies. Not only was David hidden and concealed, covered over, sheltered by God’s grace and mercy, he was lifted high upon a solid rock of faith. David’s heart desired God; the closer David got to God, the more David desired God. To be with God, to be in His presence, to see the Lord’s beauty, and to worship the Lord filled David with courage, strength, confidence…and songs! David, enduring grievous trials, offered up songs to the Lord. 

Even under appalling circumstances godly men and women can choose to sing and make melody in their hearts. Remember Paul and Silas? They rocked the jailhouse with singing at the midnight hour after being beaten, flogged, and imprisoned with their feet fastened in stocks. God was on their side, what could man do? Daunting, appalling circumstances? God is not caught unaware. Trust. Take courage, be strong, wait for the Lord’s deliverance. And while waiting, sing and shout for joy. It’s counterintuitive, but it’s the way of courage.

Listen Up, Pay Attention, Don’t Drift!

from Lynda Lindsey

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son… Hebrews 1:1-2(a)

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. Hebrews 2:1

How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? Hebrews 2:3(a)

That we follow a God who speaks is as unique as it is awesome, for pagan gods are mute, lifeless idols fashioned from wood and stone. God not only speaks, He speaks with authority and power. God spoke the world into existence. He spoke to Adam and Eve, Moses, Noah, and to Job and his friends. God spoke through His prophets; God spoke, and still speaks today, through His Son Jesus. Jesus speaks essential words of eternal life. Listen up, pay attention, don’t drift. To neglect a relationship with the living God is to drift like an unanchored boat.  

Jesus, superior to angels, superior even to Moses, spoke words of healing, words of grace and peace. Jesus spoke and the blind could see, the lame walked, lepers were cleansed. Jesus spoke and demons fled. Jesus spoke and the dead rose to new life. Jesus has not stopped speaking; He still speaks miracles into existence. He transforms the old into new. The sick become well. Those once enslaved dance in freedom. The black cloud of shame and condemnation? Blown away by the fresh wind of God’s Spirit. At Jesus’ bidding we walk with Him on the water, leaving fear behind in the boat. And Jesus invites us all to the party, Jews and Gentiles alike!

Neglect rarely happens suddenly. Slowly, through inattention, Jesus gets crowded out. Boats must be anchored securely; spiritual anchors must be made even more secure. Listen carefully to the Word. Listen with the intent to obey. Be wary of hidden obstacles that could cause your boat to capsize. Let not the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for any other things enter in and choke out the Word of God, thereby proving your life unfruitful. The stakes are high. Live intentionally. Listen up, pay attention, don’t drift! 

Proven, Tried and Tested

from Lynda Lindsey

Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind. For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness. Psalm 26:1-3

But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me. Psalm 26:11

But He knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold. My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside. I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my portion of food. Job 23:10-12

People of integrity unwaveringly adhere to an inner moral or spiritual compass that demonstrates authenticity and genuineness in daily living. People of integrity live true to their beliefs; their actions match their verbal profession. Followers of the Lord God endeavor to live with integrity, melding an internal and external consistency of life involving both the heart and the mind or intellect. We want the living out of our days to prove to a watching world that God’s grace is foundational to holy living. 

The Psalmist confidently asks God to clear his name, to vindicate him from false accusations of deceit and unfaithfulness, to prove, try and test him. How could David be confident that God would vindicate and acquit him? David knew himself; David knew he was a man of integrity, a man following hard after God. David knew God and God’s character: God is trustworthy, merciful, gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. David knew to whom he belonged, a heart-knowing God; David trusted God and was unafraid to put his life in God’s hands. 

Bread making involves a process of proving or proofing the yeast to make sure it is viable and active. It is worth the extra time involved to ensure the bread rises well and develops a robust flavor. David asked God to prove him, try him, test him, to show definitive proof that he, David, was walking as a man of integrity. Job also laid claim to the fact that he followed a God who knew his way, his every step. Job insisted that when his trial was over, he would come out as gold. Proven, tried, tested, redeemed. Vindicate us, O Lord; we too desire that our life be proof of your grace!

Look Out, Press On, Hold True

from Lynda Lindsey

Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—-Philippians 3:2-3

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Philippians 3:16

Paul urgently exhorts believers to look out for false teaching and to press on and hold to a true, steady course in Christ. Paul’s concern was the erroneous teaching that Gentiles had to be circumcised before becoming Christians; Paul insists that true circumcision has nothing to do with the physical body but is rather a spiritual matter of the heart. Like watch-standers in the military looking for dangerous enemy activity, Paul warns us to be watchful and alert to deception. How well we know Scripture insures how alert we will be to deviations from God’s truth. 

Militarily, to press an attack is to soldier on in a forceful and determined forward push. While it’s true that military strategists analyze the past to be more effective in future engagements, military campaigns are forward focused. Troops must take the next hill, the next city. Just as soldiers don’t march backwards into victory, neither do we spiritually. It’s vital we press on, not giving way to untruths, discouragement or fear.  How well we press on in spiritual growth, forgetting the past and straining forward to what lies ahead, enables us to reach the finish line and receive the victor’s crown. 

Holding a true, steady course ensures not getting lost or blown off target. Pilots flying at night or in dense fog can easily get disoriented; sky and sea, up and down, all look and feel the same. If the pilot panics and abandons following his navigational systems, he can crash and perish. How to hold true in spiritual matters? Hold  firmly, confidently to Jesus; He is the way, the life, and the truth. Pursue Jesus. Grow in faith. Look out for untruths. Press on. Don’t get disorientated in foggy circumstances. Hold true to a steady course; like Paul, press on in Christ, for Christ has made us His own!

Emptied, Humbled, Poured Out

from Lynda Lindsey

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8

And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:27-28

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life… Philippians 2:14-16(a)

Would a king be born and laid in a feeding trough, his birth witnessed not by a royal retinue of physicians and midwives but lowly animals? Would a royal newborn’s first guests be shepherds from the nearby fields, arriving so hastily they didn’t stop to clean up first? Hardly! Except if that King is Jesus. Rich, Jesus became poor for our sake; in Him we inherit the riches of salvation. Jesus willingly left heavenly splendors, assumed a human nature, while still retaining His divine nature, and became a servant, to seek and to save the lost.

Would an exalted king walk dusty roads serving his subjects, allowing the ill, the outcasts, the down-and-outers to touch him? Would a powerful sovereign ever be homeless, without a place to lay his head in sleep? Indeed, not! Except if that King is Jesus. The exalted King, Son of God and Son of Man, came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for ours. The exalted King humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death, death on a cross. Jesus poured out His blood for us, taking God’s wrath upon Himself, wrath that we deserved, for the forgiveness of sin. 

Would a king pour out kingdom resources on the poor? On ones who cannot repay? Would a king open his arms to receive little children with grubby faces and hands? No! Except if that King is Jesus. In Christ we have everything we need for life and godliness. He gave Himself for us; He withheld nothing. Emptied. Humbled. Poured out. Sinless, He allowed Himself to be scorned and despised; He became sin for us. Our response? Hold fast to Jesus. Embrace servanthood. Live humbly. Obey eagerly. Live blamelessly. Shine Jesus’ light into the world’s darkness. Shine, little light, shine!