Volume. XXVII, No. 30
Sunday, 20 January 2013


Thoughts on the Heart


The word “heart” appears 830 times in 762 verses in the Bible. It is mentioned in 54 of the 66 books. The only body part mentioned more often is the hand, but this is probably because “heart” can mean so many more things than just the organ that pumps blood around our body keeping us alive. Let’s have a look at what God has to say about our hearts in His word.

Warnings

Firstly, some warnings. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked”. This heart is the seat or place of affections and passions - things like love, joy, grief, courage, so, how we feel. We need to be careful about trusting our feelings because they can deceive us. Just because something feels good to us does not mean it is good. Proverbs 4:23 advises that we keep our hearts with all diligence because “out of it are the issues of life”. To keep our heart with diligence is to guard it carefully. We need to watch what we feed our hearts with for that will affect what comes out.  In Genesis 8:21 God says, “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth”. This is part of our corrupt nature.  Jesus said, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” (Mark 7:21-23) I’m sure that as you read through this list you can see the truth of it. We may not think that we think all of these thoughts but definitely some of them do cross our mind at times. Jesus says they come from our hearts and they defile us. Now Luke 6:45 tells us that our mouths speak that which is in our hearts. There is hope here because as well as saying “an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil”, it also says “a good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good”. This shows that it is possible to have a good heart. We will get to this later.

In both the Old and New Testaments we are warned not to harden our hearts (Ps 95:8, Heb 3:8, 15). What does this mean? Both Psalm 95 and Hebrews 3 refer to the Israelites wandering in the wilderness. Repeatedly during this time they complained rather than trusting that God would provide all their needs. Hebrews 3:12-13 says, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” We need to beware of having an unbelieving heart.

Isaiah 29:13 describes people who honour God with their lips but their heart is far away from Him. Jesus quotes this in Mark 7:6 as He calls the Pharisees hypocrites. God tries our hearts (Jer 11:20, 12:3) and searches them (Jer 17:10; Rev 2:23). He knows our thoughts and our motives. He knows if we are worshipping and serving Him in truth or if it is just an outward show. It is good for us to take time and examine our own hearts. We can pray as David did in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” We can also use God’s word to help us. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” It may be that as we read a portion of scripture or as we listen to a message our hearts may be pricked to recognise a failing, in which case our response should be to repent and turn to God, seeking forgiveness and help in the matter. God “… is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness…” (Joel 2:13). He has promised that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Commands

We are commanded to love the LORD our God with all our heart (Deut 6:5, 30:6; Mark 12:30). Jesus calls this the first commandment. We are also told to serve the Lord our God with all our heart (Deut 10:12, 1 Sam 12:20, 24). What does this phrase “with all our heart” mean? It means to love and serve God sincerely, purely and with great affection, wholeheartedly rather than half-heartedly.

Deuteronomy also tells us to keep God’s word in our hearts (6:6, 11:18) and to keep and do His statutes and judgements (26:16). Jesus said, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me:” (John 14:21a) and the Psalmist said, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” We keep God’s word in our hearts by reading it and meditating upon it, bringing it to mind throughout our day. There are many verses which show that loving God and keeping His commandments go hand in hand (Ex 20:6; Deut 5:10, 7:9, 11;1, 11:22, 19:9, 30:16; Jos 22:5; Dan 9:4; John 14:15, 23, 15:10; 1 John 5:2,3).

Paul exhorted the Ephesians (6:5) and Colossians (3:22) to be obedient to their masters in singleness of heart, not as menpleasers, but remembering that we are serving God. We may not live in a master-slave society today but the principle remains that as we work and serve those in authority over us we should work as though Christ is over us for in truth He is.

In John 14:1 and 27 Jesus says, “Let not your heart be troubled”. Things may happen in life which cause us concern and dwelling on it can turn to worry, a troubled heart. Jesus says that we should believe in Him and He promises to give His peace. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”. This carefulness that we should not have is being full of care, worries, anxiety. The remedy for this problem is to bring these things to God in prayer, to trust Him to take care of them for us, and we will have a peace that keeps or guards our hearts and which passes all understanding. Can you imagine that there is turmoil around you, but you have the kind of peace which makes people seeing you in this situation say “how can you be so peaceful at such a time as this”? This would be a wonderful opportunity to share about God with them, to share about our Great God who is All-powerful and in control of all things and loving you and taking care of you. 

Ephesians 5:18b-19 “…but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord”. We are instructed to make melody in our hearts to the Lord. This is part of being filled with the Spirit. We can encourage each other in song and this can also help us to keep our focus on God. It is something people can see.

As well as loving God we are also to love others. 1 Peter 1:22 says, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart, fervently.” This is another example of loving with sincerity. This is related to a different verse telling us not to harden our hearts, Deuteronomy 15:7, “If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thing heart, nor shut thing hand from thy brother.” We are to have actively caring hearts, noticing those in need and helping them.

Examples

Whenever we come to study God’s word or to worship Him, I think it is good for us to follow the example of Ezra.  He “prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it…” (Ezra 7:10). God promises that if we seek Him with all our heart we will find Him (Deut 4:29, Jer 2:13). It should be noted that in both these instances, it is addressed to those who have turned away from God and gone after other things so if you feel far away from God it is not too late to turn back to Him.

Another example we can learn from is Daniel. As a captive in Babylon he purposed in his heart not to defile himself (Dan 1:8). Each day as we head into the world, it is good for us to have that same purpose or determination in our hearts, not to defile ourselves but to live lives pleasing to God.  

Earlier I briefly mentioned the possibility of having a good heart. This is something which comes from God. In Ezekiel 36:26 God speaks of giving us a new heart.  He removes our hard, stony heart and replaces it with one of flesh. What does a good heart look like? If you read the parable of the sower and the soils as recorded in Luke (8:15) it says, “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” The good heart doesn’t just hear the word like the other soils. It keeps it, meditates on it, applies it and in time the fruit/effects will be seen.

Finally, as we think of the benefits our physical hearts gain from good nutrition and appropriate exercise it is good to remember to feed and train our spiritual hearts. Pastor Weng has recently started a new series of Bible studies on Wednesday nights on Spiritual Disciplines and I’d encourage you to come along and learn or be reminded of these things.

Deaconess Purdee Yeo

 


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

*Kitchen Roster: Today’s Team Leader: Bro Raphael Ng. Next Lord’s Day:  Bro Simon Yeo

*Hope Bookstore: Open today: 12:30 - 1:45 pm. 

*Ladies’ Fellowship Meetings will now be held on the 3rd Saturday of each month at 3:30 pm.

*Ladies’ Fellowship “Share & Prayer” will start on Fri, 8 Feb, at 10:30 am.

*Men’s Fellowship Meetings commence on Sat, 9 Feb, at 9:30 am.

*Sparks4Christ starts on Fri, 1 Feb, at 7:30 pm.

*Serving the Lord in the Flower Roster for 2013 - There are only seven “vacant slots” to be filled.

*Combined Ebenezer-Hope Family Bible Camp Registration & Special Diet forms available. Early registration appreciated & with early bird discounts!

*Kitchen News: Please claim your plates, trays & foodstuffs from the wooden cupboard next to the fridge by next Lord’s Day.

*Working Bee next Sat: please come to tidy & maintain God’s House.

 

Praise & Thanksgiving

 

1. Journey mercies: Bro Chilton & Sis Emily Chong & family (Melb); Bro Raphael & Sis Bernadette Ng & family; Bro John & Sis Josephine Wong & family (Apollo Bay); Bro Lucas Yiew (S’pore); Sis Iris Surman (KL);  & others who have arrived safely.

2. Holy Baptism last week - Sisters Xiao Hui Chye, Eliana Ng (Infant) & Piah Buey Yeo

3. Church Activities, in the past week.

4. Health & healing: Pastor Okman & Sis Myung Ki.

5. God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.

6. Visitors & new worshippers.

 

Prayer Items

 

1. Health & God’s healing - Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev George van Buuren; Rev & Mrs James White; Bro Colin & Sis Kathleen Creaser; Bro Len & Sis Margaret Pearson (Nursing Home); Preacher Zhang (Sihanoukville); Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Bros Elton Law & Kang Fun Tan (S’pore); Sisters Lynette Booth, Mabella Booth (Nursing Home), Margaret Hooper, Lai Kheng Chiong (KL), Myung Ki, Choon Fong Lee (KL), Lehia Paauwe (Per), Susan Varadi (Nursing Home); Mr Swee Liang Ng (Bro Raphael’s father); Mr Mang Soo Ong (Sis Gillian Ong’s father); Mr Wong (Dn Wai Kin Wong’s father); Mrs Maggie D’Mello (Dn Edwin’s mother in Mumbai) & Mrs Chuilin Yap (Malacca); Mr Tony Zhang; & others in affliction.

2. Cambodia Missions - Rev Stephen Choi & Ministry; Bro Sun Sokha & Ministry (Phnom Penh).

3. Special Prayer for healing & journey mercies from USA to S’pore: Rev Pong Sen Yiew (injury).

4. Ministry in New Life BPC (London): Ps & Sis Ki. Special Prayer: Healing & health; Ministry in Hope BPC & Adelaide.

5. Batam Missions - Sis Ang Liang Phoa & Ministry.

6. iSketch&Tell Studio, YouTube Ministry & Ordination - Pr HS Lim  (Melb, Vic).

7. House of Hope, Cebu - God’s guidance for counsellors, & drug addicts to receive Christ & be healed.

8. Ps & Sis Weng - Ministry in Hope BPC. 

9. Journey mercies: Bro Chilton & Sis Emily Chong & family; Sis Lee Lan Chong (Per); Bro Raphael & Sis Bernadette Ng & family (Melb/Adl); Bro John & Sis Josephine Wong & family (Melb); Bros Raymond Ang (Adl) & Lucas Yiew (USA); Sisters Natalie Cheng & Wendy Liang (Adl); & others who are travelling. 

10. Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.

11. Full-time Job - Sisters Xiao Hui Chye, Michelle Lee (Melb) & Corinne Teng; & others looking for  stable jobs.

12. Unity in doctrine & fellowship of all B-P Churches

13.  God’s guidance in Perth: Bro Chilton & Sis Emily Chong & family (Leah & Marcus).

14. Health in pregnancy - Sis Kerrie Lam

15.  Australian work visas - Sisters Xiao Hui Chye, Clara Sim & Felicia Tan

16. Australia - God’s wisdom & guidance for our politicians.

17. People affected by the bushfires in Victoria, Tasmania & NSW.

 

 

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PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063