Bible Devotions

Heart of the Matter

But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. Deuteronomy 30:17-18 NKJV

The Bible has a lot to say about the heart. In fact, using BibleGateway.com’s keyword search on “heart” reveals 926 different references throughout the entire Bible.  We’ll look at a few verses to get a better understanding of the complexity of our heart.

Starting out with a Wicked Heart

  • Genesis 6:5 NKJV – Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
  • Jeremiah 17:19 NKJV – The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?

Our Heart has Many Attributes

  • Luke 24:38 NKJV – And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?
  • Proverbs 19:3 NKJV – The foolishness of a man twists his way, And his heart frets against the LORD.
  • Proverbs 12:25 NKJV – Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad.
  • Proverbs 15:13 NKJV – A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
  • Matthew 5:28 NKJV – But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
  • Proverbs 28:14 NKJV – Happy is the man who is always reverent, But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.

Our Heart Determines our Focus

  • Matthew 12:35 NKJV – A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.
  • Luke 12:34 NKJV – For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

We can Control our Heart

  • Deuteronomy 11:16 NKJV – Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them.
  • Psalm 78:37 NKJV – For their heart was not steadfast with Him, Nor were they faithful in His covenant.
  • 1 Chronicles 22:19 NKJV – Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God.
  • Proverbs 2:2 NKJV – So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding;
  • Proverbs 22:17 NKJV – Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, And apply your heart to my knowledge;

The Lord Looks at and Tests the Heart

  • 1 Samuel 16:7 NKJV – But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
  • Psalm 7:9 NKJV – Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, But establish the just; For the righteous God tests the hearts and minds.
  • Proverbs 17:3 NKJV – The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the LORD tests the hearts.

We could go on, but we’ll stop there as this list should begin to portray the complexity of the heart.  Now, what do we do with this information?

God desires us to love Him with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength (Deuteronomy 6:5).   He wants us to give our entire being over to Him in a whole-hearted commitment.  He even makes it possible by giving us the Holy Spirit to purify our hearts by faith (Acts 15:8-9). As the paslmist said “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10), we know God would answer that prayer because it’s inline with His perfect will.

Our take away is to remember the heart is central to our relationship with Jesus Christ.  If we believe with the heart and confess with the mouth Jesus Christ is Lord, we will be saved (Romans 10:9-10). Therefore, we need to continually feed our heart wisdom, knowledge, and truth or it will turn back to evil.

The book of Romans tells us to overcome evil with good.  So we need to consciously be on guard protecting our hearts.  Keeping our hearts set on Jesus that we may be pure and blameless when He returns.  Paul tells us to keep our thoughts fixed on things lovely, pure, true, honorable and just because these nourish the heart.   Whatever is in our heart will eventually come out.  Lord tests our hearts and through adversity, trials and tribulations a person’s heart is revealed.

How’s your heart?

Lord thank you for creating a clean heart in us today.  Thank you for your grace we receive by faith in Jesus Christ.  Help us to set our hearts on you so we won’t be deceived or turn away to other gods.  In your precious name we pray, Jesus, Amen.

©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade.  Author of ThinkOnItBibleDevotions.com and BeingWomenOfInfluence.com websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

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The Pretenders

 “Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.”” Acts 19:13 NKJV 

There is coming a time when all who claim to be Christians will be revealed for who they are not.  In today’s passage we see some itinerant Jewish exorcists knew the power in Jesus’ name.  Sadly, they didn’t believe in Jesus but rather wanted to use His power. 

 

How many of us come to Jesus for what He can do for us?  In a sense, we are no better than the exorcists.  We want a quick fix to our problems.  Maybe we want a relationship restored or our health to return or our finances to be better. 

 

Be on guard, my fellow Christian, for these impure motives.  At the last day all will be revealed.  Jesus taught in Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV ““Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

 

Jesus Christ is not interested in being used by us.  He wants a personal relationship with us.  So how’s your relationship?  Do you have one?  If not, pray a simple prayer like this one to enter into a relationship with Him:

 

Jesus, I believe you died for my sins.  As best as I know how, I ask you into my life.  In your name I pray. Amen.

 

Congratulations!  Praying straight from your heart means you are now born again.  Christ’s Holy Spirit has taken up residence in your heart.  Your relationship with Jesus will continue to grow as you continue to seek Him. 

 

Don’t be a pretender, like the exorcists.  Look what happened to them in Acts 19:15-16 NKJV “And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”  Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.”

 Lord Jesus, thank you for loving us enough to die for us so we could know you and live forever with you in heaven some day.  Help us to trust in you.  In your name we pray. Amen.  © Elizabeth Marks, author of ThinkOnIt Devotions and has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.  For more devotions, bible studies and a recommended book store, visit http://www.ThinkOnItDevotions.com today.

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Are your motives Right?

 

Do you know you can believe the preaching of God’s Word but still be off base? Check out Simon the ex-sorcerer in Acts 8:4-25. 

 

When our desire is for the miracle and not for the Miracle-Maker, rest assured our motives are not right.  This guy, Simon, apparently had done some amazing things.  The people praised him saying “This man is a great power of God.”  But Simon wasn’t of God, he was of self. 

 

Oh how important it is to measure our self against God’s standards, allowing His righteousness to be our plum line.  That’s why we study the Bible, to understand God and our self better. 

 

I can relate to Simon.  When I was trapped in perfectionism, I did all the “right” and “good” things.  People praised me for my high standards, quality of work and reliability.  On the inside, my heart craved the people’s attention and approval.  I did those things for appear great in their eyes.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing your own press when there’s no internal compass keeping us centered on the Lord.  It happened to Simon and to me before we knew the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Unfortunately, we don’t know how Simon’s story ends.  But we do know how God radically changed me!  The Purpose Driven Life book says, “It’s not about you”.  Remembering that is crucial to staying focused on God. 

 

Now when people praise me for good work, I turn it into an opportunity to remind others God deserves the credit.  He enables me to do what I do and now I do these things to please Him.  You know what?  It’s a whole lot more fun working for God that working for my self!

 

How about you?  What motivates you to do a good job?  Is it praise or approval from people?  Or is it for God’s pleasure? 

 

Learn to live your life for an audience of One.  It’s a lot less stressful knowing we don’t have to measure up to our own unrealistic standards. 

 Lord, thank you for setting us free from the approval of man.  Thank you for changing our motives to be pure and right from you.  Thank you for leading us on the pathway of your righteousness. In Jesus’ name Amen.    © Elizabeth Marks, author of ThinkOnIt Devotions and has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.  For more devotions, bible studies and a recommended book store, visit http://www.ThinkOnItDevotions.com today.

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