Tag Archives: heart

The Finished Work

Back in the early 70’s I worked for my brother-in-law in aluminum siding. A local company paid us for applying the siding to older homes, hopefully making them look like new. This company wouldn’t release our compensation until the job was completed. On the bigger houses this could take a month or more. As a job was nearing completion, I’d tell my wife, ‘I think we’ll get paid today.’ But invariably we’d finish the day with more work to do. Job not done = no pay.

I relate that story to illustrate this point: our Lord Jesus came to earth with a job to do. The consequences of sin had to be dealt with, once and for all. And the Word of God joyfully reveals that Jesus finished His assignment. Through His death, burial, time in hell and resurrection, Jesus completed the plan of redemption.  The work has been done with nothing more to do. The check is signed in His blood.

What does this mean to you and me? We’re not waiting on God. Prayer isn’t attempting to get God to do something He’s otherwise reluctant to do. We aren’t required to “eek out” a victory over the devil. No good works are necessary to receive answers in prayer. All requests for God’s promises have received a resounding answer: Yes!  The work’s already done. For those who have accepted Jesus’ Lordship, righteousness is ours, health is ours, peace is ours, deliverance is ours, and an abundant life is ours.

Why aren’t we experiencing more of what is already ours? The Bible declares four times, “The just shall live by faith.” We are responsible to believe! And not merely intellectually. We’re to believe in our hearts. Heart belief is at the core of everything we receive in life – good or bad. If we don’t like what we’re receiving, we must check our heart.

But for right now, focus on the finished work. Mankind owed a huge debt that we could never have paid. As Jesus entered heaven and sat on His throne at God’s right hand, He, in effect, handed over a receipt of our bill marked PAID IN FULL!

The Hidden Man of the Heart

I Peter 3:4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

Have you ever considered who you are inside? Speaking from a biblical perspective, the inside of us is extremely important. Jesus’ accusation for the religious bunch in His day was that they were like whitewashed sepulchers, full of dead men’s bones. They looked good outside, but they were dead inside.

Such is the case of the unsaved. A man could dress in a $1000 suit and a $200 tie after a spa treatment on his skin, and doused in a manly smelling cologne, yet be deader than a doornail on the inside!

But a man or woman who has received Jesus as Lord and Savior has been made new on the inside. [II Corinthians 5:17] They’ve been made righteous (right; as they should be). [II Corinthians 5:21] They are children of God, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus. [Romans 8:16, 17] That’s far different than being dead inside!

As born again children of God we’re now supposed to conduct our lives by who we are inside. God now lives there in the Person of the Holy Spirit. Consider this verse:

Proverbs 20:27 [AMP] The spirit of man [that factor in human personality which proceeds immediately from God] is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts.

The illumination of God shines from the inside out, not vice versa. This really serves two purpose. First, it is there to lead us in the right direction for our lives. We know from reading Psalms that the Bible – the Word of God – is both a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Then secondly God’s light inside is a beacon to those around us. We grew up singing “This little light of mine; I’m gonna let it shine.” When Jesus lived here on earth, He was he light. Now we are to be light and salt. [Ephesians 5:8]

The main principle of living from the inside is acknowledging who we are inside to ourselves. A person could be born again with all the intrinsic changes that brings, and yet live totally dependent on the “outside man.” The Bible refers to this man as “the flesh.” In our Thursday night discussion group we’ve been focusing on tapping into who we are inside. Living “outwardly” is tiring, painful and lacking in power. We want to make positive, long-lasting changes, but we try and often fail. The reason we fail is that we’re depending on the outer man who is weak and worn out. Strength comes from within!

So what should we do? There isn’t space here to go into detail, but suffice to say this: study the New Testament for scriptures that tell you who you are in Christ – who you are inside since being born again. Then think about them, meditate on them, and see yourself experiencing them. This is who you really are!

Got Milk?

Got Milk?

I Peter 2:1-3 – Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

Understanding a few key words in these verses makes a huge difference in extracting what Peter, by the Holy Spirit, was trying to say. First consider the word “desire” in verse two. It means to long for something with all one’s being. Peter’s admonition: “This is something you’ve got to have!”

And what is this very important commodity? “The pure milk of the word.” In using the words “pure milk,” Peter is emphasizing uncontaminated, undiluted, fundamental truth! Make sure the teaching you receive is pure and nourishing. And don’t read God’s Word with preconceived notions. Seek truth.

This brings us to the last phrase in verse two, “that you may grow thereby.” The purpose of reading, studying and even meditating in our Bibles is not merely to learn more but to grow, i.e. to become more mature in our faith.

In our discussion groups we have explored the difference between knowing something intellectually and actually experiencing it. Knowing about something or having collected data on a subject doesn’t transform our lives. Transformation is in the growth process and requires more than information. Truth must be applied to our lives to elicit real change.

Spiritually speaking, one doesn’t become mature based merely on how long it has been since he first accepted Jesus into his life. You could have been born again thirty years ago and be a spiritual kindergartner. Conversely, you might have come into the Kingdom a short time ago and yet show huge signs of growth.

Here’s my point: be sure that you never stop growing (spiritually)! My title here makes reference to the TV commercial, “Got Milk?” The truth is that we have milk – at least we have access to it. There’s no reason for any of us to be without a Bible. We give them away free at church. Yet again, it’s not just owning a Bible … or even reading it. Sorry to say but some Christians read their Bibles daily and aren’t growing a lick!

Our attitude toward God’s Word is one key. King David wrote a psalm (the longest chapter in our Bibles) just to express his enthusiasm over God’s Word. With him, reading Old Testament scrolls was not something he was obligated to do. He felt privileged to peruse the laws and commandments. Is Bible reading a chore or a joy for you? It makes a difference!

Another key is getting Bible truths written in our hearts. Intellectual “head knowledge” won’t change your life. Whatever is written on our hearts sets the boundaries of our lives. [Proverbs 4:23] Head knowledge might impress some, but biblical principles etched into the heart create victorious lives.

As I said, David understood these principles. In Psalm 119:11 he said, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You!”

The writer of Hebrews in the New Testament agrees. “For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 [AMP]

So, … “Got Milk?”

How’s Your Heart?

Romans 10:8-10 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

There are two phrases that I’d like us to take note of here: “believe in your heart” (verse 9) and “with the heart one believes” (verse 10). From the time I first started studying the Bible (not just reading it), I became interested in the subject of faith. Obviously “faith” and “believing” are the same thing. To “believe unto righteousness” (verse 10) means having faith for being made right with God. But faith for healing, deliverance, peace, and so on come from the same place.

One cardinal rule about faith is that it must be “heart faith.” Agreeing with the Bible mentally is a start, but the type of faith that moves mountains is settled deep in our hearts.

King Solomon exhorts us to guard our hearts, for out of them come the issues or boundaries of life. [Proverbs 4:13] Heart faith is what we need.

Agreeing mentally could be called “head faith.” The problem with head faith is that it won’t sustain us through the challenges of life. When we try to take a strong stand against sickness, for example, “head faith” wavers. In James chapter one we’re told that the person who wavers won’t receive anything from God. This is not a case of God holding out on us, but rather a case of doubt. “Wavering” and “doubt” are usually translations of the same Greek word.

That brings us then to “heart faith.” The “heart” here is not merely an organ in our chest that pumps blood.  “Heart” represents the center of our being. It’s a combination or link between our spirit and our soul. [I Thessalonians 5:23] Everything that has affected us emotionally over the span of life seems to get stored here. Painful experiences from the past can inhibit our ability to truly believe God at this heart level. We may agree mentally, yet disagree from our heart, and this “faith” produces nothing. But “heart faith” got us born again, and this same “heart faith” is what will receive healing, deliverance, peace or whatever God’s word promises us.

The question becomes, then, what are we going to do with the painful experiences in our hearts that have stymied our faith? The definition of faith given in Hebrews 11:1 gives us the information we need.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Bible faith – the God-kind of faith – requires EVIDENCE! Gather enough evidence to persuade your heart of the principles and promises of the Bible. Where will this evidence come from? First and foremost from the Word of God. II Timothy 3:16 tells us that the Word is profitable for “reproof.” The Greek word translated “reproof” is the same as the one translated “evidence” in Hebrews 11:1. So we could say it this way: “The Word is profitable for evidence.”

Evidence also comes from what we see – not with the natural eye, but with our spiritual eye. In II Corinthians 4:17, 18 we’re instructed to look at the things that are NOT seen. Joshua was told by God to SEE that He had given Jericho into the hand of the Israelites. This “seeing” is a type of meditation. We can meditate – see ourselves – already enjoying the benefits of the promises of God, before there is any manifestation. Our senses may bring opposing evidence to us in the form of pain, symptoms, etc., so we have to gather more to overcome that opposition.

One last area (for this article) is the area of words. The words we hear spoken, especially the one coming out of our own mouths, become either positive or negative evidence. Proverbs 18:20, 21 relates that death and life are in the power of the tongue. Choose the right words and persuade yourself toward life!

Well, there’s much more to be said on this subject but this is as good a stopping place as any. I suggest you study this out for yourself, because the just shall live by faith – heart faith that is!

The Value of Words

If you know me you know that I’m a “words guy.” I use the Greek and Hebrew dictionaries and lexicons to help me understand the words of scripture. I also make use of English dictionaries, because I’ve discovered that what words mean and what we think they mean are often very different.

Choosing the words we say in conversation is extremely important. We’ve all discovered by now, I’m sure, that words can heal and words can hurt. Words even create an atmosphere. If you’ve ever entered a room where cruel words were recently spoken you have discovered that they leave a heaviness in the room, even if you weren’t there to hear them. Words can encourage, edify, comfort and soothe. They can also wound, discourage, alarm and destroy.

Proverbs 18:21 tells us that both death and life are in the power of the tongue. In fact, if you think words aren’t important, the book of Proverbs will prove you wrong! Jesus’ brother James wrote that with our words (tongues) we both bless and curse. [James 3:9, 10] He also instructs in the same chapter that we can steer our bodies by the words we say.

So, on one level I think most have discovered that speaking positive words makes for a better life than harping on the negative. But there’s another level I’d like us to consider. Let me start with a few of the classic New Testament scriptures on the value of words.

Mark 11:23For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.

Romans 10:9, 10 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

II Corinthians 4:13And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak,

I can’t tell you how many messages I’ve taught on “confession.” The basic principle of biblical confession is twofold: believe in your heart and confess with your mouth. Confessing what God says works! But we’re not getting the results we should. The promises of God aren’t “You win some, you lose some and some get rained out!” God’s promises are yes & amen. Jesus came to give us abundant life. We’ve been made more than conquerors.

The question remains then, why aren’t we getting the results we should? I think the answer is contained in these (and other) scriptures. For our words to carry the power they should we must first BELIEVE. Believe in your heart. Don’t doubt in your heart. We believe, therefore we speak.

If we’re honest with ourselves we’ll acknowledge that a lot of our confessions were attempts to appease God into doing something for us. “If I confess it often enough, loud enough, passionate enough …” If that’s been our focus it is fleshly and legalistic. Everything done for us by our Lord Jesus was done before we were doing anything right. Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. [Romans 5:8] Making positive statement won’t change Him. He’s already for us, with us and in us.

The release of power comes as we believe in what’s already done on a heart level, and form our words around that belief. Believe in your heart; confess with your mouth. We believe unto righteousness; confession is made unto salvation, which includes forgiveness, healing, deliverance, peace and all that Jesus won for us.

That leaves us with one more question needing an answer: what if I don’t believe in my heart? Here’s where we must be brutally honest with ourselves. Most of us have confessed things we just don’t believe. No wonder it hasn’t come to fruition. So, what now?

The root meaning of faith is to be persuaded. Many times becoming persuaded is a process. The good news is that confessing what God has said will help you become persuaded. Therefore, as long as your confession does not fall into attempting to please God so He’ll come through for you, your confession can continue working for you to persuade your heart of truth.

The writer of Hebrews said it this way: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” [10:23] Hope is a confident expectation with joy. Keep speaking the Word to persuade your heart. God is faithful!

“I couldn’t help but think …”

“I couldn’t help but think …”

I’ll be the first to admit it – I’ve said this! Something stimulated one of my senses and it felt like my mind ran off on its own without my permission. But is that really true? Do our minds “have a mind of their own”? Is there really nothing we can do but let them race away, unchecked?

As in every area of our lives, the Bible has some important things to say about this subject. Allow me to peruse through a few.

Proverbs 23:6-8 – Don’t eat at the table of a stingy person or be greedy for the fine food he serves. “Come on and have some more,” he says, but he doesn’t mean it. What he thinks is what he really is. 8 You will vomit up what you have eaten, and all your flattery will be wasted. [Good News Bible]

Wise Solomon here speaks of a man who says one thing while he’s thinking something else entirely. The key is at the end of verse 7: “What he thinks is what he really is.” I’m starting with these verses to establish how important our thinking is. We’re all adept at putting on a false facade; but the thoughts, the attitudes, that come out of our hearts, they represent the real us! As uncomfortable as that can be, it is the absolute truth.

II Corinthians 10:4, 5 – For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
[New King James Version]

As believers in our Lord Jesus we have been given “weapons” or instruments to help us deal successfully with the realm of thoughts, attitudes, imaginings, etc. Notice specifically verse 5: “casting down arguments.” For “arguments” other translations have “reasonings” or “imaginations”. When we add to this the thought “Bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” we’re clearly being told to stop thinking, reasoning or imagining anything that does not comply to who we are now in Christ!

Returning to my premise, it cannot be true that “I couldn’t help but think …” if the Bible tells me not to think certain things. God would be unfair to require us to control our minds if we are incapable of doing so!

One more verse, Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.  [New King James Version]

In II Corinthians 10:5 we were told what NOT to think. Here we’re told the opposite – these are things we should think or meditate on. It’s interesting to me that the word “arguments” in II Corinthians 10:5 is the noun form of the same word translated “meditate” (a verb) in Philippians 4:8. And again, since the Bible tells us not only thoughts to cast away but thoughts to embrace, it must be in our power to do just that.

No doubt our minds need to be retrained. They can be like unruly children, involved in all kinds of mischief. But we can reel them in and train them to obey. An important principle in the New Testament is “the renewing of the mind.” You, your Bible and the Holy Spirit can get that unruly child retrained.

So, don’t give in to “I couldn’t help but think …” Take control by the instruments you’ve been given. You’ll be glad you did!