Getting A New Heart

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.’” -Zechariah 7:9-10 (ESV)

It begins with the heart. Out of our hearts, our actions flow. When we see oppression, injustice, deceit, and wanton cruelty in the world it is easy to condemn the perpetrator of such acts as diabolical and purely evil in every fiber of his being. But is the problem with the person or with the heart? God does not create imperfect people. It would go against His nature as a perfect Creator. The real problem is with a heart that has been tainted by the reality of living in a fallen world. The oppressor must have his heart cleansed from his sinful nature and have a spiritual liberation just as much as the oppressed needs both a spiritual and physical liberation. We must acknowledge that we all have the same fallen heart and thus we are all prone to become tyrants and deceivers.

What then is the remedy for a fallen heart? It is but one simple word. Jesus. Only He is able to cleanse the heart and purge it of all sin. We simply cannot because sin is a major problem that we are too small to handle. No matter how hard we may try to purge ourselves of wickedness, it will never work because our hearts, without Christ residing in them, will only continue to persist in leaning towards evil and doing everything that is wrong in the eyes of the Lord. Our hearts without Christ want to be independent and free of any sort of outside control. By being so we allow ourselves to engage in all sorts of foul indulgences. These fallen hearts deceive us with a false sense of freedom and thus we become enslaved to sinful habits and patterns of behavior. Only through a breaking down of all the pride in our hearts that tells us that we are gods unto ourselves can we humbly submit to a God who grants us freedom from our fallen nature by obedience to Him. Only then can we render true judgments, show kindness and mercy, avoid becoming oppressors, and abstain from plotting evil in our hearts. May we continually ask God to purge our hearts of evil so that through Him we may be able to do good

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Who Is Your Master?

“Large crowds were travelling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.’” –Luke 14:25-26 (NIV)

It would seem odd for Jesus to say this. How could the same God who made it clear in the Ten Commandments to “Honour your father and mother”, suddenly turn around and throw filial piety out the window? Is Christ telling us to backtalk to our parents, treat our siblings and relatives like garbage, and be living terrors to our wives and children? Of course not! It would go against His desire for us to be witnesses for Him through our love and service to others. Families and marriage are gifts from God. How could He call for their destruction?

But like most of the gifts God has given us, we end up worshiping the gift and not the giver of that gift. How often do we place our families, our spouses, and our children on a pedestal higher than God Himself? We have placed them in a position in our lives that should be reserved only for God. Yet when we do this, our minds become clouded to the reality that the people whom we most love and cherish belong to the same human race which has proved is fallibility and sinful nature over and over again. True children of God know that only their Heavenly Father is worthy to be worshiped and adored. Thus, when those around us, and even ourselves for that matter, act contrary or in opposition to the cause of Christ and His plan for His people, our ears and mouths must yield to the voice of truth and righteousness. However, this voice can only be heard if we are in a living relationship with Jesus. No one can serve two masters and Jesus knew full well that the majority of the people in crowds who came to Him would eventually choose their earthly pleasures and comforts as their ultimate master. But may we be the faithful few who choose Christ and in doing so choose life eternal.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Refining Fire

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” -1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

When everything seems to be going our way, when all seems to be right with the world, it is easy to thank God and praise Him. We all love it when someone buys us a nice present right? Hence our gratitude when God blesses us. However, when trials and suffering come along our path, we want nothing to do with God. We hold Him responsible for our misfortune and see Him as a cruel saboteur deliberately trying to deprive us of any happiness that we can find in this life. Thanking Him in our circumstances is the last thing on our mind! Only after things return to a relative calm do we thank and praise God for brining us back into a state of peace.

How wrong we are in our attitudes! If our faith is based on the wonderful things we get from God, then our faith is like a decaying house waiting for the catalyst that will tear it down. God is not the source of suffering because all good things come from God. Yet because of the fallen state of the world, which was the direct result of man’s disobedience, suffering exists. God does not allow suffering into our lives because He is spiteful or gets some sadistic pleasure out of it. He allows it because suffering refines character. Just as how metal needs to be bent and twisted in order to create a beautiful finished product, so to must man give thanks in his trials knowing that His Heavenly Father loves him, is in control, and has allowed suffering to befall him in order to turn him into a beautiful person that will be a beacon of hope, love, and life in this dark world. If we go through suffering kicking and screaming and refusing to be moulded by our Welder’s hands, then we have missed out on a valuable time for growth in our faith and we end up hindering the good and perfect redemptive work that God has planned for our lives. Instead of wallowing in self-pity in the midst of our darkest hour and instead of forgetting God, let us give thanks to Him and let us use this opportunity to hold our Father’s hand ever so tightly and seek to learn from Him and understand what He is trying to teach us; always keeping in mind that He has promised to preserve us and lead us into a beautiful future if we continue to hold onto Him.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.