Bible Devotions

Pure in Heart

Read Psalm 73

Truly God is good to Israel, to such as are pure in heart.  But for me, my feet had almost stumbled; my steps had nearly slipped.  For I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. (Psalm 73:1-3)

The pure at heart will see God (Matthew 5:8).  Does this mean physically see God, as we see another person? No, I don’t think so.  Instead it’s about having spiritual eyes to see God in the middle of everything.  It’s a spiritual discernment that comes upon the child of God who is pure at heart.

This spiritual discernment helps us keep our eyes on what’s most important and not be caught up in the temporary things of every day life.  After Jesus died and rose again, He had a conversation with Peter.  During this talk Peter asked “What about him?” referring to John.  Jesus said “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?  You follow Me.”  Jesus is showing Peter the importance of focusing on Him alone.  A lesson we could all use.

Apostle Paul wrote much about focusing our minds on Christ.  Think on these things… Philippians 4:-7-8.  Keep our eyes on the eternal, not the temporary… 2 Corinthians 4:17-18.  Renew our minds…Romans 12:2.

Does being pure at heart mean we are to be sinless?  Absolutely not, for no man or woman could ever be sinless this side of heaven (Romans 3:23).  Just look at David’s example.  He was called a man after God’s own heart, yet he was an adulterer and a murderer.  How could he be a man after God’s own heart?  It’s because when he fouled up, he always returned to the Lord.  Yes, he sinned – we all do.  David turned from his sin and turned back to God.  In turning, he received God’s mercy and so can we.

Envy distracts us and takes our eyes off Jesus.  Just as David experienced we will also stumble, slip, and fall if we start looking at anything or anyone other than God.   Don’t worry about what others are doing and saying. Live your life for an audience of One. Live for God’s approval then you will win favor of not only God but man.

What did we learn today?  We learned being pure at heart gives us spiritual discernment to keep our eyes laser focused on God no matter what.  Envy is a sure sign we’ve gotten our eyes off the Lord.

Lord thank you for your constant leading us back on track with you.  Thank you for your precious Word of Truth.  May we apply what we’ve learned in our lives today.  In Jesus’ name Amen.

© Elizabeth Marks, author of ThinkOnIt Devotions and has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.  For more articles, devotions and book reviews, visit http://www.ThinkOnItDevotions.com today.

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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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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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The Mouth is connected to the Heart

 

The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his tongue talks of justice. The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide. Psalm 37:30-31 NKJV

 

To speak of wisdom and justice one must have God’s Word securely hidden away in his heart.  For the things proceeding from our mouth come from the heart (Matthew 15:18).   Jesus taught us out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34).  He also warned us we would be either justified or condemned by our words (Matthew 12:37).  Let’s face it, how many times have we said something we regretted later? 

 

Jesus knows us when he asks “How can you, being evil, speak of good things?”  The truth is we can’t speak good from our own resources because of our fallen sinful nature.  James 3:6 says the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity.  Proverbs 15:14 says “The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouth of the fools feeds on foolishness.”  What are we feeding on today?

 

We need to be careful with our words.  We can use words to build others up or tear them down.  Jesus told us for every idle word spoken we will be accountable in the Day of Judgment (Matthew 12:36).  This should compel us to use words sparingly and to make sure the words we do use are pure and pleasant and pleasing to the Lord (Proverbs 15:26).

 

So far we’ve learned our sinful and foolish nature prevents us from speaking good.  How can we every speak good?  There is good news, Jesus taught us a good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things and that means we can do (Matthew 12:35).  Through Jesus Christ in us, we can be good and bring forth good things.  But we have a responsibility to store up good in the treasure of our hearts.

 

How do we do that?  We immerse our self in God’s Word.   We find ways to fill our mind with His goodness.  We read His Word daily.  We listen to His teaching whenever possible.  Maybe we start listening to Bible teaching on the radio as we get ready for work or while driving anywhere.  We memorize God’s Word, so we’ll never be with out it and so the Holy Spirit can bring it forth when we need it. 

 

We are blessed with many opportunities to receive God’s Word.  We have churches to attend, tapes/CDs to listen to when we miss church.  There’s even on-line streaming audio message of church services available.  We have books, magazines, email devotions, newsletters and of course the Bible itself.  Between radio and internet technologies we really have no excuse for not getting enough of God’s Word stored away in our hearts. 

 

Stop and consider the words we speak.  Are they words of good building others up, coming from God’s Word stored in the treasure of our heart?  Or are they evil words of envy, strife, anger, fear and selfishness pouring out of an evil treasure stored in our heart? 

 

Deuteronomy 30:15-16 NKJV says “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.”

Oh that you would choose life and good that come from embracing God.

 Lord thank you for your life-giving word.  Enable us to keep our mind set on you. Help us to seek you in all things and store good treasure in our hearts that our words may be helpful to the hearers.  In Jesus’ name Amen.  

© Elizabeth Marks, author of ThinkOnIt Devotions and has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.  For more articles, devotions and book reviews, visit http://www.ThinkOnItDevotions.com today.

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Careful with Comparisons

 

Do you ever compare your self to others?

 

Let’s say someone wrongs you.  In your heart you think “I would never do such a horrible thing.”  Are you not comparing your self to the person who did wrong?  What do you gain through this comparison?  Do you feel better than them or self-righteous?  Watch out, that’s how judgmental attitudes are formed.

 

Maybe you wouldn’t do exactly what they did, but guaranteed you let someone down before.  We all have made mistakes.  In the chapter on suffering in the Peace Making Women book it says we are more like the wrong-doer than unlike them.  Think about that.  It’s good to remember when we’re wronged by someone we are more like them than unlike them.  Instead of allowing thoughts of “I’d never do that”, try to remember you’ve failed at times too.  Then let God’s grace and mercy shine through.

 

How about when a neighbor has a better car, nicer lawn and more beautiful house than you?  Compared to you they have the best of everything.  Have you ever compared your things to their things?  What good can come from such a comparison?  Why do you suppose God included coveting as one of the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 5:21)?  In all likelihood, it’s because He knew we’d be tempted to be envious of others.  Envy left unchecked turns into bitterness.  Bitterness clouds our judgment and grows into resentment. 

 

Instead of envying try thanking God for blessing your neighbor so richly and asking God to help them be good stewards of all He’s giving them.  Stay focused on God to avoid our self-center stinking thinking.

 

When comparisons start, be careful because that’s when we start developing judgmental, condemning or bitter attitudes.  That’s certainly not God honoring.  The only comparison we need is that of Christ.  How well do we respond like Christ in each situation?  Even then we need to be careful because it is not about being perfect by our own efforts.  Isaiah 64:6 tells us our efforts towards righteousness are like filthy rags.  It’s more about allowing Christ to live through us changing the way we react to what life throws at us.

 Lord thank you for your amazing mercy and grace towards us.  Help us remember to extend the same mercy and grace towards others.  Enable us to keep our eyes on you rather than others around us.  In Jesus’ name Amen.   © Elizabeth Marks, author of ThinkOnIt Devotions and has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.  For more articles, devotions and book reviews, visit http://www.ThinkOnItDevotions.com today

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Pure in Heart

Read Psalm 73

 

Truly God is good to Israel, to such as are pure in heart.  But for me, my feet had almost stumbled; my steps had nearly slipped.  For I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. (Psalm 73:1-3)

 

The pure at heart will see God (Matthew 5:8).  Does this mean physically see God, as we see another person? No, I don’t think so.  Instead it’s about having spiritual eyes to see God in the middle of everything.  It’s a spiritual discernment that comes upon the child of God who is pure at heart. 

 

This spiritual discernment helps us keep our eyes on what’s most important and not be caught up in the temporary things of every day life.  After Jesus died and rose again, He had a conversation with Peter.  During this talk Peter asked “What about him?” referring to John.  Jesus said “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?  You follow Me.”  Jesus is showing Peter the importance of focusing on Him alone.  A lesson we could all use.

 

Apostle Paul wrote much about focusing our minds on Christ.  Think on these things… Philippians 4:-7-8.  Keep our eyes on the eternal, not the temporary… 2 Corinthians 4:17-18.  Renew our minds…Romans 12:2.

 

Does being pure at heart mean we are to be sinless?  Absolutely not, for no man or woman could ever be sinless this side of heaven (Romans 3:23).  Just look at David’s example.  He was called a man after God’s own heart, yet he was an adulterer and a murderer.  How could he be a man after God’s own heart?  It’s because when he fouled up, he always returned to the Lord.  Yes, he sinned – we all do.  David turned from his sin and turned back to God.  In turning, he received God’s mercy and so can we.

 

Envy distracts us and takes our eyes off Jesus.  Just as David experienced we will also stumble, slip, and fall if we start looking at anything or anyone other than God.   Don’t worry about what others are doing and saying. Live your life for an audience of One. Live for God’s approval then you will win favor of not only God but man.

 

What did we learn today?  We learned being pure at heart gives us spiritual discernment to keep our eyes laser focused on God no matter what.  Envy is a sure sign we’ve gotten our eyes off the Lord.

 Lord thank you for your constant leading us back on track with you.  Thank you for your precious Word of Truth.  May we apply what we’ve learned in our lives today.  In Jesus’ name Amen.  

© Elizabeth Marks, author of ThinkOnIt Devotions and has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.  For more articles, devotions and book reviews, visit http://www.ThinkOnItDevotions.com today.

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