VIDEO Above and Beyond Living: Have a Clean Heart

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9

The Bible distinguishes between the externals and the internals of a human life. For example, when the prophet Samuel was choosing a king to replace Saul from among Jesse’s sons, God told him not to look at the outward appearance but at the heart of the candidates (1 Samuel 16:7). Likewise, when the Pharisees criticized Jesus’ disciples for not washing their hands and utensils at mealtime, Jesus said it was not the outward condition of a man that made him unclean, but the heart (Mark 7:1-23).

Jesus said, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts” and much more (Mark 7:21-23). His words call to mind the words of one of Israel’s greatest prophets, Jeremiah, who said that above all the human heart is deceitful “and desperately wicked.” The solution to a deceitful heart is not to wash one’s hands but to receive the gift of a new heart from God. Such a gift comes when one is born again by the Spirit of God.

Above all, seek the “clean heart” that can only come by the grace of God (Psalm 51:10).

Nothing is more contrary to a heavenly hope than an earthly heart. William Gurnall


The God Who Knows All, Jeremiah 17:9-10 – Pastor Chuck Smith – Topical Bible Study

Plans and Providence

If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that. James 4:15

In 2000, an upstart company operating on a movie-rental-by-mail system offered to sell their company for $50 million to Blockbuster, the home movies and video game rentals king at that time. Netflix had roughly 300,000 subscribers, while Blockbuster had millions and millions of them. Blockbuster passed on the opportunity to purchase their little competitor. The result? Today Netflix has more than 180 million subscribers and is worth nearly $200 billion. As for Blockbuster, well . . . it went bust. None of us can predict the future.

We’re tempted to believe that we’re in control of our lives and that our plans for the future will succeed. But James says, “You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (4:14). Life is brief, quick, and more fragile than we often realize. Planning is necessary, but the sin of presumption is in the assumption that we’re in control. That’s why James warns us not to “boast in [our] arrogant schemes,” for “all such boasting is evil” (v. 16).

The way to avoid this sinful practice is through grateful participation with God. Gratitude reminds us that He’s the source of every “good and perfect gift” (1:17). Then when we come to God, we ask Him not to simply bless our present and future plans but to help us join Him in what He’s doing. This is what it means to pray, “If it is the Lord’s will” (4:15).

By:  Glenn Packiam

Reflect & Pray

How are you tempted to be in control of your life? What will it mean for you to surrender to God and participate with Him?

Dear Jesus, I relinquish my plans to You. Help me to put my trust in You, because You never fail. 

Sharing Jesus With Others

Ask the Lord to make you aware of the people you can love and serve today

Galatians 6:1-2

Jesus told us to continue His work on earth—to share the good news about God’s saving grace (Matthew 28:18-20). Following this command, however, isn’t always easy—especially with people who might be different from us. It may feel easier to befriend someone who shares our values, yet Jesus told us to “make disciples of all” (Matt. 28:19, emphasis added). While some opportunities may look like a waste of time from human perspective, the truth is that we never know who may be led to Jesus through our obedience.

Just look at Jesus’ life: He ate dinner with hated tax collectors (Matthew 9:10Luke 19:5) and gently spoke His message of hope to an adulterous woman (John 4:7-27). And to anyone—disciple or Pharisee—shocked by His associations, He explained that He “did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). We are to tenderly point men and women of all nationalities and backgrounds toward our forgiving God.

If Jesus were on earth today, He’d be ministering to the needy, the addicted, and the downtrodden. To be like our Savior, let’s love others and help them meet Him.

A Colony of Heaven

“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20)

The term “conversation” in this verse is from a Greek word (politeuma) used only this once in the New Testament. It is related to the word for “city” (polis) and has to do with the proper behavior of a good citizen. Consequently, some translations render the word as “citizenship,” stressing the fact that our true home is not in any earthly city but in heaven.

Since we are now stationed here in a foreign land, as it were, one particularly picturesque rendering calls us “a colony of heaven.” We are pioneering settlers, attempting to establish a beachhead for our homeland in a distant, dangerous country. The Lord Jesus prayed to His Father, “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world” (John 17:18). “Go ye into all the world” was His commission, “and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

A similar figure is used in 2 Corinthians 5:20: “We are ambassadors for Christ.” As such, it is vitally important that our “conversation” (i.e., “lifestyle”) be one that honors the heavenly kingdom and our great King.

Then, when our colonizing efforts succeed and new citizens are added to the heavenly kingdom, they can testify with us: “[The Father] hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:12-13).

As citizens, and colonists, and ambassadors from heaven, we are here only temporarily, of course. Our real home is with our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, and we are looking for Him to establish His eternal kingdom here on Earth as it is in heaven. HMM

True Christian Equals Practicing Christian

We have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.2 Corinthians 5:1

The supreme purpose of the Christian religion is to make men like God in order that they may act like God. In Christ the verbs to be and to do follow each other in that order.

True religion leads to moral action. The only true Christian is the practicing Christian.

Such a one is in very reality an incarnation of Christ as Christ is the incarnation of God; not in the same degree and fullness of perfection, for there is nothing in the moral universe equal to that awful mystery of godliness which joined God and man in eternal union in the person of the Man Christ Jesus; but as the fullness of the Godhead was and is in Christ, so Christ is in the nature of the one who believes in Him in the manner prescribed in the Scriptures. OGM063

It appears that too many Christians want to enjoy the thrill of feeling right but are not willing to endure the inconvenience of being right. ROR052-053

Divide and Conquer

What comes from God’s Spirit … is evaluated spiritually.1 Corinthians 2:14

Only the Holy Spirit can help us properly to interpret the Word of God. A person may have a fine mind, a good seminary training, even a theological degree, but none of these is a sufficient foundation on which to attempt to interpret the Word of God. Truth, as the above text tells us, is “evaluated spiritually.”

But there is one more thing we need to understand—only the Holy Spirit can show us how to use it aright. Doubtless, this was the consideration in the mind of the apostle when he penned this statement: “the sword of the Spirit … is God’s word.” It is one thing to know the contents of Scripture; it is another thing to know how to use those contents in a way that defeats the Devil. Only the Holy Spirit can enable us to do this.

The relationship between the Holy Spirit and the Word of God is an important one. Some tend to put the emphasis on one side or the other. But the moment we separate the Spirit and the Word, we are in trouble. The late Donald Gee once said: “All Spirit and no Word, you blow up. All Word and no Spirit, you dry up. Word and Spirit—you grow up.”

Without the Spirit, the Word is a dead letter; with the Spirit, it is a living and powerful force. The Devil has a policy of “divide and conquer.” And if he can get us to separate the Word from the Spirit, then he has us just where he wants us.

Prayer

My Father, I see that when I separate the Spirit from the Word and the Word from the Spirit, I am in trouble. Help me to be as open to the Spirit as I am to the Bible, and as open to the Bible as I am to the Spirit. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

2Co 3:1-6; Jn 6:63; 1Pt 3:18

What “gives life”?

What made Paul an able minister of truth?

Humble Yourself

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”—Luke 14:11

There are two ways to attain high esteem. One is the world’s method: Take every opportunity to promote yourself before others; seize occasions for recognition and manipulate your way into the center of attention. The other way is God’s way: Humble yourself. Rather than striving for recognition and influential positions, seek to put others first. Cultivate humility, for it does not come naturally. One of the many paradoxes of the Christian life is that when God sees your genuine humility, He exalts you.

Proverbs 16:18 warns that if we put our efforts into promoting ourselves, we will be brought down. Jesus told of a man who tried to enhance his own image (Luke 14:7–11). While attending a banquet, he immediately claimed the seat of honor. When the host saw this, he humiliated this man by asking him to move to the least honorable place to make room for a more distinguished guest. Jesus said the wise thing to do is to seek the lowest position and allow others to exalt you if they feel you are worthy.

There is an enormous difference between the way the world honors you and the way God does. Proverbs 25:27 indicates that glory is not legitimate if you seek it yourself. When the world exalts you, you are the one who receives the credit. When God exalts you, others will praise Him for what He has done in your life. If you honor God, He will honor you (1 Sam. 2:30). Strive to humble yourself and bring glory to God. Allow Him to be the One to honor you in the way that pleases Him!