Returning my heart!
So, I got my heart pierced again as I studied God’s Word. There I was reading along learning all about Samuel as a judge and discovering all kinds of things about the lives, responses, and hearts of God’s people way back when during Samuel’s time. Can you believe God’s people rejected Him as their king? They did! They asked to have a king just like the other nations that would “go out before them and fight their battles.”
Wow, that’s pretty blatant and bold. I mean who does that to God? And really… why would they ask such a thing when God had gone before them so many times and fought so many battles on their behalf?
From all I was reading, it appears they had rejected God as king long before they verbally declared it. They are described as doing what was right in their own eyes rather doing what God had declared was right and whose hearts were far from Him. As I read their story, it appeared to me that they wanted God to show up to fight and win their battles and then after God fought and gave them victory. they would put God out of their lives and live as they saw fit – without God.
I discovered that on two occasions and right before they declared they wanted a king, God hadn’t shown up to fight on their behalf. After the first defeat, they decided they would “take God with them” into the next battle so they gathered up the ark of the covenant, which represented God’s presence among them.” Surely if they took God with them and He was in their midst, He would fight for them, right? They got whooped and the ark captured. Say what???
God disappointed them. God didn’t show up. God didn’t do what they needed Him to do.
So, I guess you know this is where it starts to get personal for me. Yeah, this is when studying about the hearts and behaviors of “those” people start to look a lot like me. About that time, the homework instructed me to go read Leviticus 20:26 which says: “…you are to be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine.”
Yeah, I can say God is my King and Jesus is my Lord and yet my behavior can show that my heart is far from God. Honestly, when my thinking starts to line up with the world’s way of thinking, then my behavior starts to look just like that of the world. Out the window goes kindness, gentleness, patience, respect, forgiveness and “like Christ”. In comes unforgiveness, bitterness, jealousy, envy, gossip, resentfulness and so on start to crowd my heart.
As I read and studied, God so graciously points out that I am not so different from “those” people. When I let the ways and thinking of the world creep into my mind, my heart follows and that always takes me away from God. Forgive me if this gets long, but I'm processing here!
The razzle-dazzle of the world captures my attention and I want what others have, I want to fit in…I no longer want to be different. At this point, in my twisted thinking, I mix godly behaviors with worldly behaviors and come up with my own version of what God really means when He says, “be holy.” And, I can find lots of people and publications to make me “feel” better about what I’m thinking thus doing.
The reality is the world is a tough place and filled with troubles—daily battles. I don’t like this reality and so I consult with myself and determine this is not the way it should be. Things rarely go the way I want them to go in this trouble-filled world, and the more trouble, the less I can understand and fix, the less time I can spend with God. Why? Because He’s seemingly not doing anything about all the trouble. He’s not showing up when I think He should or doing what I think He should. So, I give up on Him and move on without Him.
Days and even months have gone by without opening His Word and allowing His Word to wash over me, challenge and correct my thinking, and align my thinking with His. Then, I stop talking to Him and seeking His wisdom and direction about every little detail. You know, I just go to Him when my back is up against the wall and in crisis. The further my heart drifts and wanders from Him the less I talk to Him. Worse, all my wrong thinking drowns out His voice so I can no longer hear Him so I stop even listening for Him. And there I go off without Him with a heart that is far from Him but I go in His name.
Surely, I am not alone. I think not. So, I process with you as an encouragement to do what God told the Israelites to do in 1 Samuel 7:3:
"…return to the Lord (come back to) with all of your heart…direct (to be firm, be stable, be established, securely determined) your hearts to the Lord and serve Him alone"
How do you and I return and direct our hearts? So, processing turns into action! Practically speaking, what does that look like for someone who has previously declared God as King and Jesus as Lord to return and direct their hearts back to God? Here’s how I go through the process of returning and directing. Please add anything to the list you believe would also help!
Assess my behavior.
Set aside time to take stock of my attitudes and behaviors realizing that what I’m doing flows out of what’s going on in my heart.
Start by reading Galatians 5:16, 19-25; Ephesians 4:1-3; 14-32; Ephesians 5:1-17; Colossians 3:5-7.
As I read these verses, make a two-column list. When we see an ungodly and unholy behavior that describes my current behavior, add it to the list.
Talk to God confessing and owning my wrong (sinful) behaviors.
Acknowledge how my behavior grieves Him and dishonors Him and His Word.
Ask God for help in understanding the “what” and “why” behind my behaviors. “ Lord, what are the thoughts and beliefs that drive this behavior?”
Using the same passages, identify godly and holy behaviors and how I am, as a child of God, to imitate Him and what it looks like to follow Christ.
Make a list.
Agree with God! Acknowledge as truth what God says is holy behavior and how I am to act and behave as a beloved child of God.
Read 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and 1 Peter 1:13-19.
In Jesus name and for His sake, ask God to help me remember I am not my own but have been redeemed from these behaviors ─ purchased with the precious blood of Jesus.
Read Ephesians 1-4:1.
Circle every reference to “in Him” or “in Christ.”
Make a list of everything that is true of me as a result of being “in Him” or “in Christ.”
Enter into a time of praise and thanksgiving.
Ask the Lord to write these truths on my heart as the motivation I need for keeping God as King and Jesus as Lord when my thinking starts to take my heart away from the Lord.
This exercise was awesome and certainly directed my heart back to God. Praise you, Jesus. Praise Your Holy Name.