'Christ in You...'
by Dale Krebbs
"Friend, how would you feel, if your heart were made with a window on each side? - So that all could see, not just outward charm, but detect if in were harm? - People always see you as you are outside - Jesus really knows you, for He sees inside. How about your heart? - Is it right with God? - Is it black by sin? - Is it pure within? - Could you ask Me in to stay? - How about your heart? - Is it right with God? - That’s the thing that counts today!" - (Gospel Song: Author Unknown)
It seems sometimes that the distance between the head and the heart is about the same distance as between Hell and heaven. Somewhat of an exaggeration, I suppose...(Jeremiah 17:9).
Of all our faculties, it is our heart that must receive the greatest attention and concern. "Keep your heart with ALL diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life!" (Proverbs 4:23 NKJV). Every thought (Proverbs 23:7), every word (Matthew 12:34), every action has its origin from this heart. The Hebrew word for heart here means the "inner man, mind, will, heart, understanding". In other words, that within which determines and defines who we really are - this "heart" IS who we really are - that which Jesus "really knows..." Mankind’s trouble is "heart trouble"!
The daily vocabulary we use is filled with expressions containing references to our heart (not the organ). Such expressions as "my heart just wasn’t in it", or "have a heart!", "they died of a broken heart", or some had a "change of heart", etc. And of course there is one we all know as just one word: "Sweetheart". We are reminded of this heart every Valentines Day. In spite of a great deal of popularity, the needed emphasis on this Proverbs-kind heart is sadly lacking for most. We also hear about those who are "hard hearted", or calloused, meaning without feeling, or compassion. The "soft hearted" generally refer to those who are pliable, considerate, easily moved to be sympathetic and caring, sometimes referred to as the gullible ones. The Bible is not lacking emphasis on this heart! Pick any Bible concordance and look up the word heart. I have not counted them, but there must be hundreds of references to "heart" (again, not the organ one)!
Much attention is given in God’s Word to the CONDITION of the heart. "Hardness", a hardened heart as opposed to a soft heart is expressed often in the Bible (Mark 16:14). Notice Jesus’ statement: "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies." (Matthew 15:19 NKJV). Consider the magnitude of this statement by Jesus Christ, the Son of God! Based on His statement, if the heart can be CHANGED, this could change the world! (Romans 10:10). Mankind has a very serious condition - "heart trouble". And this is precisely what God has set out to do - CHANGE THE HUMAN HEART! With this will come reconciliation, then will come RESTORATION - between us and God, and between us and others. Restoration is the return of something to its correct state. But none of this is possible when hearts are hardened. Hard heartedness proceeds from the deception that sin works in us (Hebrews 4:13). Our hearts at first are blindsided, then become unable to see what is going on inside, and consequently never question what is really in our hearts. Hard heartedness has now become heart - BLINDNESS. Reconciliation and restoration between family members is virtually impossible while there is hard heartedness between members. Some families have refused to speak to each other, and even refused to attend the funerals of other family members, because of hard heartedness - even hatred - between each other! In some instances, this has persisted for a lifetime. All because, basically, of unrelenting hardness of heart.
Nothing will change for you or me, or the world unless and until THE HUMAN HEART IS SO RADICALLY TRANSFORMED as to be, in Gods‘ sight, NEW! We have all had OUR old hearts so long, that they have become hardened. So hardened in fact, that spiritual ATROPHY has set in and is irreversible unless God intervenes to reverse it. Atrophy is a term for the universal law of the universe which dictates that everything is decaying - getting worse, not better, to use the vernacular. This heart is also referred to sometimes as "human nature", which is basically also correct. Some who have thought more deeply about the human condition, say that "well, human nature must be changed", which again, is true. Most, however did not know the answer or even have an answer of their own. But they could see the problem, just by logical observation. Most, because of the "hardness" of THEIR hearts, were not willing to turn to the only ONE WHO HAD THE ANSWER! The "god of this world" has blinded the hearts of most (2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2). Most of those in this condition do not know, but are WILLINGLY not knowing. Others do not know, and do not know that they do not know. There is more hope for the latter that for the former, because the former are without excuse (Romans 1:18-22), and have hardened their own HEARTS (Ephesians 4:18). But having this type of heart surgery is a very difficult thing for most. It is very difficult to even "see" in ourselves, especially if we feel that our "heart" is in good shape already. Seeing our own hard heartedness is SO painful - depending on our pride quotient. Becoming SOFT hearted today is so HARD to do, even when we realize our hearts need softened (Proverbs 28:25-26). Hard heartedness is a root of racial conflicts, and human conflicts in general, from playground antics to corporate conspiracies, to international intrigues. Hard heartedness is a very dangerous business (Matthew 18:33-35), in God’s sight! This strain of "heart trouble" is difficult, but not impossible, to cure.
But God has a plan for healing this strain of "heart trouble"!
Like the lyrics to the song above, it begins with being willing to see ourselves AS GOD SEES US. This is the first step for any spiritual problem - WILLINGNESS! If we never begin to see through the eyes of Jesus Christ, as "He sees inside", we will always have spiritual myopia. We will see ourselves, others, our life, and all the world through a prism, distorted, and lacking reality. Having a heart "right with God" will never be, until we see ourselves as He sees us. This can be a very humbling, even crushing process. But it must be gone through, because the old hardened heart is VERY hard sometimes, and may require a painful crucible to soften it. If the heart is so, this may not be pleasant (James 4:7-10) Often it requires a complete brokenness of heart and spirit.
There must come a time - it varies according to each individual life and circumstance - when our old heart must be stopped. It must die. This will not occur until we are ready and willing to receive a new heart, transformed in Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit (Psalm 10:17). Only God can cause this to happen. His way. His timing. But when it happens, everything begins to change. For some, this occurs almost instantaneously upon repentance and confession of sin, and profession of belief in Jesus Christ. For others, although they are true Christians, the old troubling heart is struggled with, treated, and medicated in various ways for many years. Gradually, almost imperceptibly, the old harden heart begins to become transformed and made NEW. They endure and wait upon God as the Holy Spirit patiently, lovingly, continues work on a "new heart"! (Jeremiah 31:33). For others, the Holy Spirit may do in a very TRAUMATIC way. He may use a crisis or a tragedy, or some other very out of the ordinary event in their life. Through enduring this experience, their life, their HEART changes - almost overnight it may seem. For some, the change is so complete and dramatic as to change the personality (for the better). Even personal physical preferences are altered, such as tastes in music, foods, entertainment, and other elements envolved in daily living change. Priorities, goals, and various other interests change. Even the "reality" of the past, may now be perceived differently. Things that before seemed important no longer seem so. Things that once were unimportant are now pushed toward the top of the list! However it may happen, IT IS OF GOD, which may or may not be fully understood. It may occur dramatically AFTER many years, or as the RESULT OF those many years progressively. So the wonderful, mysterious ways of God are past finding out! But whenever and however He does it, everything BEGINS TO CHANGE! (Ephesians 4:18-24). Sometimes even the "around" - the environment, normally familiar places, etc., somehow seem different, even strangely UNfamiliar. WE have changed - not the around.
Then what will our "new" heart be like, with "a window on each side" so that all can see? Would it be different from our "outward charm"?
This picture of our heart having a window on each side symbolizes something else. If there were a window on each side, we would be TRANSPARENT. Transparency! It is hard to find transparency of heart in a hard heart, although we know there was at least one (John 1:47). In an age where image is everything, it is very rare to even find an individual who seems to be transparent. We know the expression "what you see is what you get" - sometimes this is true, but more often not. Our new, transformed heart that God is creating in us will become more transparent (1 Peter 2:1). The inside begins to realign the outside, until both harmonize into ONE REAL HEART. The blinds in the windows of our heart are being raised - slowly perhaps, as more of the Light shines in. Since the Light of Christ is living there more and more, and the windows are open, more and more of the REAL can be seen, and the real is becoming better. Less compulsion for wearing masks. No more need for window blinds. What God sees and what others would see would be more and more the same (2 Corinthians 5:12).
We would certainly see a more "pure heart" - Jesus said "BLESSED are the pure in heart!". Purity of heart says much. Without a pure heart, we will never see God. There are few things in this world we could even begin to call "pure", much less the human heart. But our hearts must become increasingly pure, wholesome, untainted, uncorrupted (1 Timothy 1:5). It will become a "clean heart"! Moral cleanliness is difficult to find today. But we must allow the Holy Spirit to sweep clean our hearts by creating in us a new cleanliness of heart. "Cleanliness" may not be "next to Godliness" on the outside, but cleanliness of heart inside is (Psalm 51). We would see more of the laws of God written there (Psalm 37:31; Proverbs 3:1)), along with added desires that God can now give us because our new heart is delighting more in the things of God, and our desires are now more in line with His (Psalm 37:4). It will become humble in attitude, our words which come from our heart (Matthew 12:34) will be different. Our speech is different because our hearts are different (Matthew 12:26). We come to believe and trust more deeply in Jesus Christ, with a new whole heartedness (Acts 8:37; Romans 10:10).There will be singleness of purpose and focus that was not in the old heart (Ephesians 6:5). The list is almost endless.
Do not be discouraged when you experience setbacks. You have NOT "fallen from grace". You are not condemned anew. The evil spirit of this world would like to set us back permanently, but he cannot - we are sealed by the Holy Spirit. We are in the palm of God's hand. Underneath us are His "everlasting arms"! (Deuteromony 33:27). If you feel somehow condemned in your heart, GOD IS GREATER THAN YOUR HEART! (1 John 3:20-21). These are heart-growth pains. It is temporary. Just keep on keeping on! A soft heart, a humbled heart, a moldable and pliable heart, is God's purpose. However, even during this change and transformation of heart, there remains an on going struggle with the old heart (1 Peter 5:8). We will all sometimes take one step forward, and slide back two - and visa versa.
In whatever we face, whatever experiences we encounter, whatever trials we may enter into, please remember: the softer your heart becomes, the more merciful and gentle He will be in His dealings with you. Whatever you may feel or do, do not maintain a hard heart! God must and will deal with a hard heart - sooner or later. If it is softer, He will be softer. To the degree - and only to that degree - will God need to apply pressure to mold and shape your new heart (Luke 12:47-48). He is absolutely perfect in his evaluation of what we need. If we will humble ourselves to be willing - truly willing - to give up our hardened old heart, His mercy and forgiveness is endless, and the gentleness of a loving Savior we will come to know. But if we retain our satisfaction with our hearts the way they are, He will respond accordingly (Hebrews 4:7). Gods' attitude in working with our heart will be exactly as our attitude is toward our hearts. No matter what method God may use to accomplish this, He will do it - because He wishes to share His glory with us. In order for Him to do this, we must come to have a heart like His...(Matthew 11:28-30).
That is the reason that BROKENNESS is so essential for forgiveness and belief to occur - even for some true Christians who have not been through it - yet. I say "yet", because I believe that it must happen at some time, in some manner, to some degree, to every true child of God. When our hearts are softened, Christ can begin to dwell there and effect the cure (Ephesians 3:17). Once our hearts are softened, we must strive of course, to not let them become hardened again (Hebrews 3:7-12). With a softened, and a moldable heart, now so many wonderful things are possible - reconciliation, restoration, peace of mind and heart... with a NEW unbroken HEART! (2 Corinthians 5:17). May the whole world come to have this new "change of heart" in Christ!.
May it begin with me, and with you...
"My sacrifice [the sacrifice acceptable] to God is a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart [broken down with sorrow for sin and humbly and thoroughly penitent], such, O God, You will not despise" (Psalm 51:17 Amplified Bible).
How about YOUR HEART? - Is it right with God? - that’s the thing that counts TODAY...!
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