Tag Archives: Heart

Exodus [The Road Out] – Direct Access

Exodus 19:1 On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone forth out of the land of Egypt, on that day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 And when they set out from Rephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, they encamped in the wilderness; and there Israel encamped before the mountain. 3 And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: 4 You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my own possession among all peoples; for all the earth is mine, 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to  the children of Israel.”

This is my poetic representation of God’s word using verbatim phrases from this portion of Exodus 19 with the goal of seeing the place God is creating for Jesus.  I have the advantage of hindsight and knowing the reality of God’s desire is to make a place for Himself within the people of His own heart.  Moses hoped the Instructions God gave him to give to the people he’d led to this mountain would become a convenient working arrangement between them, but God had something greater in mind.  He intended those Ten Words to become the promise of direct priestly access. 

The third new moon after
the land of Egypt,
they came into the wilderness of Sinai.
There Israel encamped before the mountain.
Moses went up to God.
The Lord called to him
saying, Thus you shall say –
You have seen what I did
how I bore you on eagles’ wings
and brought you to myself.
Now therefore,
if you will obey my voice
and keep my covenant,
you shall be my own possession among all peoples
you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. RSV

It’s taken three months to get to this place of wilderness at the foot of the Mountain of God. “The word conventionally translated ‘wilderness’ is not a sandy desert, but grazing country, not settled by man.”a  Some scholars believe God has brought Moses back to the same place of the burning bush where He first spoke audibly to Moses.  Now Moses has heard the voice of God for a second time and been given the Ten Commands from God that are meant to offer tired, hungry, irritable and lost people a place of worship where they will finally have direct access to God within their memory, their mind and their heart.  Come, Lord Jesus!

aEnduring Word commentary

Reminder

John 14:25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Advocate: one who pleads the cause of another, defends and maintains a proposal and supports the interests of the cause.

The Word is so much more than just words.  It is the place God captures our hearts through our mind.  There is only one condition: you must accept that the Lord has placed His Advocate in your heart to begin the process of training your mind to first go to “He will” before it goes to that other place, “I should” which has a very different manager.  

2 Peter 1:12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.

“We let our mind descend into our heart and
there stand in the presence of God.”
Henri Nouwen in Spiritual Direction

Psalm 119:153-160 ר Resh – Head

Psalm 119:153-160 ר Resh – Head
153 Look on my suffering and deliver me, for I have not forgotten your law.
154 Defend my cause and redeem me; preserve my life according to your promise.
155 Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek out your decrees.
156 Your compassion, Lord, is great; preserve my life according to your laws.
157 Many are the foes who persecute me, but I have not turned from your statutes.
158 I look on the faithless with loathing, for they do not obey your word.
159 See how I love your precepts; preserve my life, Lord, in accordance with your love.
160 All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.

Right >§§§> Left

I have not forgotten your law, look on my suffering and deliver me.  Preserve my life according to your promise, defend my cause and redeem me.  The wicked do not seek out your decrees, salvation is far from them.  Preserve my life according to your laws, your compassion, Lord, is great.  I have not turned from your statutes but many are the foes who persecute me. The faithless do not obey your word, I look on them with loathing.  Preserve my life, Lord, in accordance with your love, see how I love your precepts.  All your righteous laws are eternal, all your words are true.

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Resh – Head might be the Psalmist’s acknowledgement that he knows God is his Head.  He is confident God always acts in accordance with His character.  He is truly certain of what his heart knows about God but his words show us that isn’t always what is in his head.  God has chosen to show us the honest words of this man “after His own heart” because they clearly reveal a struggle between the faith of his heart and the words of his head.  That is the struggle people of faith still confront today.  

The Psalmist knows every circumstance of his life is exposed to God’s own heart. I think that’s what he wants us to learn too.  “We [must] let our mind descend into our heart and there stand in the presence of God.a    Standing in that presence our heart and head can finally recognize the gaps in our faith. That is the place God’s own heart transforms our faith from what our own heart and head know into faithfulness based on knowing God’s law is always balanced by His promises; His decrees by His compassion and His precepts by His love. 

a Henri Nouwen in Spiritual Direction

Psalm 119:105-112 נ Nun – Fish, Longevity

Psalm 119 Nun – Fish, Longevity
105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
106 I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws.
107 I have suffered much; preserve my life, Lord, according to your word.
108 Accept, Lord, the willing praise of my mouth, and teach me your laws.
109 Though I constantly take my life in my hands, I will not forget your law.
110 The wicked have set a snare for me, but I have not strayed from your precepts.
111 Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.
112 My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end.

 Right >§§§> Left

The light on my path for my feet is the lamp of your word.  I will follow your righteous laws. I have taken an oath and confirmed that.  Preserve my life, Lord, is according to your word.  I have suffered much.  Teach me your laws and accept the willing praise of my mouth.  I will not forget your law though I constantly take my life in my hands.  I have not strayed from your precepts but the wicked have set a snare for me.  The joy of my heart and my heritage forever are your statutes.  My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end.

—∞∞∞—

For some time now I’ve been separating the Scripture from my own writing using a typographical sign of the fish [ >§§§> ] so  the meaning of “Nun” didn’t seem unusual.  It’s a familiar image many Christians use to associate themselves with Jesus.  The surprise was to find it hidden here in Psalm 119. 

 The fish symbol was a common pagan symbol long before it was chosen as an identifying mark for Christians. Early believers in Jesus Christ chose the
“fish” because it was a sign that would attract less attention than, say the sign of the cross might, because people were familiar with seeing it.  It became a way to safely identify themselves to one another.  The story is told that when strangers met, the Christian could draw a simple arc in the sand with his toe and wait for the other to respond.  If the other was a Christian, he would respond by drawing the lower arc to form the outline of a fish.  

The “fish” is the surprise set-up for these devotional thoughts.  Did God reveal
נ Nun to the Psalmist king as a mark of a greater KING, yet to come, or was it just a poetic accident?  Was that secret little Hebrew heading written as a familiar signal for generations in the future to respond to, and reveal their own identity? 

This Psalmist king knew the law of God.  He knew it made the path he wanted to follow visible to him.  He knew seeing that path was one thing, but deciding to walk it demanded a way to identify truth and people he could trust.  He knew the writings of the prophets.  He knew life was his training ground with a divine purpose; intimacy with God.  I think he knew the significance of נ Nun – Fish was longevity, that his identity with God would last into our future too.

The Psalmist king has become known throughout history as a “man after God’s own heart.”  He knew his own identity was as sketchy and unreliable as any other human being except for his awareness that God’s truth [aka, the law] had saved and changed him.  The Psalmist knew he could trust God to be just and fair even when his own behavior and words were not.   Long before Jesus fulfilled the law, the Psalmist identified himself completely with the fullness of God revealed in His law, it’s precepts and statutes.  The value that has been ascribed to his heart was that he gave the fullness of it to God without reservation; the very best parts as well as well as the very worst parts.   That was the identification mark the Psalmist king made face to face with God trusting it would be recognized and God’s response would be to complete His identity with him.  >§§§>

Sunday Soul Sing Along – Psalm 86:5

Psalm 86:5 You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. [NIV]

>§§§>

Let this songa be a part of every heart in worship today.
I love you, Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship You
Oh, my soul, rejoice!

Take joy my King
In what You hear
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound
In Your ear

aLyrics to I Love You, Lord by Petra from Petra Praise 2

If you’re unfamiliar with this song.  There are many places on the internet you can listen to it and sing along.

He Speaks

John 15:22 They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. NLT

>§§§>

Jesus had “come and spoken to them” to make them aware of their guilt.  John records this truth about Jesus’s living Word; it reveals the destructive reaction of human nature to the awareness of sin and guilt.  That same reaction has lasted across time and many generations.  Is there anybody reading this that can’t understand a defensive response when confronted with their sin?  Let me answer that for you…NO!  Jesus’s Word only requires changing the generic pronoun “they” to make it personal enough to impact our human nature today too.

Hearing Jesus speak about sin in the same sentence with your name awakens an awareness of guilt that leaves you with a choice: defend your sin or take Jesus at His Word.  Jesus has “come and spoken to [me].” He speaks to offer this replacement for excuses…opportunity.  Opportunity to let defensiveness be replaced with repentance that replaces guilt with forgiveness and Grace.

Love First

John 15:17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another


Matthew 22:37-40

Crutch

NRSV 1:1 Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. 3 He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word…8 But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom.

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Scepter’s not a common word today so that caught my attention.  A scepter is an ornamented staff often used by kings as visual evidence of power but the word also has a practical meaning as something one can lean on for support.

You may have heard a negative description of faith as being a “crutch” as I have.  Your reaction may have been as defensive as mine was so it was back to the dictionary for another definition – crutch: a long stick with a crosspiece at the top, used as a support under the armpit by a lame person.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard your faith referred to as a crutch.  Raise your hand if you’ve ever been confronted by your own need for support.  My heart still has a negative reaction to identifying my faith as a crutch but the reality is my hand is in the air.

My heart and my hand respond today to God’s own words identifying his Scepter: “But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom.”  My heart and my hand have responded to His Son.  Jesus is the righteous scepter God provided for the support of His own Kingdom and for each of us to personally lean on.   All you have to do is admit to being lame.  I’m in God’s Kingdom because of the provision of that righteous scepter, His Son, “the exact imprint of God’s very being,” being the “crutch” that held me up so I could limp into it.

Acceptance

Hebrews 8:10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord.  I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.  I will be their God, and they will be my people.[NIV]

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Trusting your heart and mind really are under God’s control has to become one of the main disciplines of experience for the believer.  There are other experiences we have a better handle on: gathering information from the Bible, the Church, Godly people, prayer and service in the Lord’s name.  OK, got it, now what?

That answer to “now what?” is so simple…and yet so much harder because the reality is even those disciplines are not our own.  They certainly express our faith, but where did that faith come from?  They’re certainly the evidence of experience that proves the reality of our desire to please God, but where did that come from?  Faith and desire both came from the simple acceptance of what God promised at the day of our salvation.  Simple right?

Just as faithfully as we practice those other disciplines of experience we need to learn to practice this simple truth…“I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.  I will be their God, and they will be my people.”  Simple acceptance is what makes this discipline of trust so much harder.  Can you believe God intends you to trust His presence in your mind and heart even when you fail, even when you don’t know which choice to make, or even worse, when you’ve made the wrong one? 

Dare to trust living with God’s real promise for your life and believe: “I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.”  All it requires is simple acceptance…but it’s hard evidence of real trust in God.

Second Chance: I Peter 2

I Peter 2
√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house…9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

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God has designed our bodies from the inside out.  It’s a good design.  We have an internal structure that our entire body is built around.  We are born the first time with everything in miniature, a tiny skeleton along with tiny muscles and organs that all need to grow in relationship with one another. 

The second time we’re born it’s another version of miniature but still a new life.  We’re still “newborn babies” and still based on God’s original design..but this time we’re aware of life in relationship to God and equipped with faith to “grow up in your salvation.”  There’s a new structure that requires different muscles and organs; “your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength” that must grow in relationship with one another into the spiritual house God has designed you to be. 

This is God’s truth: ”you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”  Go big!