We couldn't find what you are looking for. Try searching for something else.
The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? - Jeremiah 17:9 (NLT)
A couple of weeks ago Jon took us through the story of David and Bathsheba. We saw how King David was overcome with lust after he saw Bathsheba bathing on her roof. Though she was married, he had her brought to his chambers where he slept with her and she became pregnant. A whole series of awful decisions were made from there that led David to eventually murder Bathsheba’s husband. This is the same David who defeated Goliath, became the King of Israel, and wrote some of the most beautiful songs of worship that we know today as the Psalms.
How do we make sense of these two sides of David—the hero and the murderer, the worshipper and the adulterer? Warren Buffett famously said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation, and five minutes to destroy it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” I doubt David sought after Bathsheba thinking that it would eventually lead him to murder her husband. I doubt he thought much at all, except how to satiate the craving of his heart to be with this beautiful woman. Surely he wasn’t thinking of God’s law, except maybe how to get around it to satisfy his desires.
In his book Didn’t See It Coming, Carey Nieuwhof said, “The subtle compromises we make day after day—the half-truths, the rationalizations, the excuses—create a gap between who we are and who we want to be.” David stands out as a lesson in what happens when we allow sin to lead us down the path of destruction. None of us set out wanting to lead a double life. But when the desires of our heart take the lead, we are often willing to compromise our character and put our future at risk.
Think about a time when you compromised to do or get something that you wanted even if you believed it wasn’t right. Were you thinking about the future or were you caught in the moment? Do you feel like you were being led by your values or by your emotions? If you could have a do-over, what would you do differently and why?Share Tweet
But my people would not listen to me. They kept doing whatever they wanted, following the stubborn desires of their evil hearts. They went backward instead of forward. - Jeremiah 7:24 (NLT)
I love the way Jesus taught. He mostly told stories with lessons called parables, and sometimes even offered an explanation at the end. Jesus tells one such parable in Matthew 13 about a farmer who scatters seeds on different kinds of soil. While good soil represents a heart that hears God’s word and understands it, a heart with thorny soil “represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.”
As Christians, we want to know that we have hearts with good soil. But even though we know the good news of the gospel, we often settle for a kind of pseudo-moralism instead of living in the true freedom of salvation. In our stubbornness we cling to the need to control everything in our lives. We add spirituality to our wellness plan, checking the boxes to prove to ourselves that we are living a good life. We hope we can do all of the things we want to do and still be “good with God”.
In Matthew 19, Jesus saw this same kind of stubbornness in the wealthy young man who claimed he had obeyed all of God’s commands. That sounds great. “If you want to be perfect,” Jesus said, “go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then follow me.” The rich man’s ego deflated and he walked away. His heart was almost there, but the world still had its grip on him. The truth is, as long as we cling to the things of the world, we will continue to struggle to trust God completely. If we want to enjoy God’s best, if we want to be storing up treasure in Heaven, then we have to stop settling for the world’s substitutes.
Do you ever feel like you’re holding out on God? You say, “Sure God, I trust you, but I like the way I’m doing things.” Whatever you think is holding you back, surrender that to God today. This is something we need to do daily and God is faithful to help us through if we ask!Share Tweet
It is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from within and defile a person. - Mark 7:21-23 (NIV)
I’ve never been to Las Vegas, but I really don’t need to go to know what to expect once I’m there. The city spends so much money advertising itself as the place where you go to bring all of your wildest fantasies to life. It’s the city of indulgence, the city of vice… Sin City.
We call it Sin City in an attempt to take the word “sin” and try to associate it with the word “fun”, and as an extra nudge to the more apprehensive soul we add this tag line: “Whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Throw caution to the wind, do whatever you want, as much as you want it, and don’t worry about the consequences. Tonight it’s all about you.
When our hearts are deceived by sin, we turn inward and try to satisfy whatever cravings are clamoring to be fed. We justify our desires and say “this was just for me.” But sin is always selfish, and our selfishness will always lead to more sin. We don’t have to go all the way to Vegas to satisfy sinful urges… we don’t even have to leave our homes. The sinful desires of our hearts can convince us to speak and act in ways we might never expect ourselves to.
Friends, there is JOY in following Christ. God created us as His finale, endowed us with the care of all creation and said, “be fruitful and multiply.” There is so much in this life that we can enjoy as a gift from the Father, infinitely more than Satan could ever hope to offer! We are also called to be good stewards of this life we’ve been given, to cultivate community where we put others’ needs before our own, and to honor God with our words, thoughts, and actions. That way of living is fueled by generosity because our Father has been so generous to us, and it’s life-giving.
God created us to live for far more than just our own desires. Today, let’s pray this prayer: “Father, please root out any selfishness that you find within me and replace it with your generous, overflowing love. Today and every day, let me see myself and the world through Your eyes. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”Share Tweet
And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulation. - Ezekiel 36:26-27 (NLT)
As a teenager, I remember God and I had a pretty big misunderstanding. Well… specifically, I had a misunderstanding. The problem was that I wanted to trust God more fully with my life, but I thought that by “giving things to God” it meant that He was going to take all the “fun things” away. I had this notion that being obedient to God was something akin to joining a monastery, denying all of life’s pleasures for the sake of a pure life. Frankly, at that stage of my life I couldn’t decide if obedience was worth the cost of getting to do things my way.
The problem was that my heart had been deceived by the Liar himself, much like Eve had been deceived in the garden. My compass was broken and my notions of right and wrong were upside down, making me skeptical toward God. When I finally started to trust God with more of my life, He DID start to take things away: things like regret, shame, the need to perform, perfectionism (still working on it), anxiety… the list goes on. And then what did He do? He started to replace those things with His peace and His truth about who I really am.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’” I had heard this verse before but my heart did not understand. God created us... He created our very hearts. He made all things beautiful and good and perfect. In our sin we messed it up, but God is not intimidated by our rebellion. He is patient in our stubbornness and gracious when we come back to Him.
In one of my favorite songs by Rend Collective, the lyrics say, “Jesus, take my all. Take my everything. I’ve counted up the cost and you’re worth everything.” There is nothing in this world that is worth our souls. God created us with a simple purpose; to worship Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Sometimes it’s not easy, but it is always, always worth it.
Today, read Romans Chapter 12. It’s a beautiful call to live a life that imitates the life of Jesus. How can you take Paul’s words and start to apply them to your life today?Share Tweet
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. - Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)
Have I ever mentioned that I have four children? They range in age from 8 years old down to 2 years old. You would think that we have learned to keep markers out of their reach and to keep important papers in a safe place to avoid accidental art projects. But, honestly, I forget how big they’re getting, and just how clever they can be. If I put an important piece of mail on the countertop and expect it to stay there, I am always surprised to find it on the floor with marker drawings all over it. Not the first time, and surely not the last time. When will I learn?
Imagine if I left the map of my life on the kitchen counter. And then one of my children got it and drew red, blue, green, and black scribbles over the whole thing. The map would be unreliable after that, and if I used it in that condition I would be far more likely to take a wrong turn. Sin is like scribbles on our map, blemishes and marks that distort the truth of God and lead our hearts down paths that are harmful for our lives. I’m not saying Crayola is the devil, but I am saying they make really good markers that are hard to wash out.
Thankfully, our hearts are washed clean in the blood of Jesus, every stain of sin removed by His love. In His mercy He leads us back to the right path and helps us walk each day under His leading of love. We need to make sure we’re entrusting our hearts to Him daily and not carelessly leaving ourselves in a place where we can be easily misled or manipulated by the evil one. We will be far less likely to make wrong turns and we will always be glad to end up where God wanted us to go!
Have you been taking unnecessary risks with your heart? One way that you can guard your heart is by leaning into the process of discipleship… living life with Jesus, in Community, and on Mission. Discipleship helps us reorient our hearts around God’s truth and teaches us that we don’t have to go it alone! Check out Southland’s Discipleship Model for ideas on how to stay strong in this process!Share Tweet