Pastor's Blog

Listening to Jesus Will Inflame Your Heart in a Good Way

King’s “I Have a Dream” speech stunned an entire nation to self-examination. Reagan’s “Boys of Pointe du Hoc” D-Day tribute still makes me weep, 34 years later. Great speeches do more than inform: they inspire.

It is not enough for inspirational communication to stir the heart to action. The paramount question is always, “Towards what end?”.  Inciting a mob is not hard. Any person appealing to base fears can do it. We’ve seen it done often. We have become reflexively cautious about anyone able to stir our hearts to action.

Two men talked with each other in an effort to sort out the violence which had compromised their religious observance. Their Sanctuary had experienced a riot. The local authorities had cracked down and, in the name of ‘peace and stability’, three men had died. Well, more that “died.” The three men had been executed on the whims of an angry mob seeking a scapegoat. It was all very confusing to the two men as they walked together.

But a stranger entered into their dialogue. After a few questions this stranger did something phenomenal. He made sense to them. He showed them the larger picture of their religion. Yet, the stranger intrigued and provoked them without saying anything new. He made them see what they already knew from a profoundly different perspective.

Eventually, after the stranger left, the two men said, “Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Lk. 24.32)

Jesus did not write new Scripture on that day.  He interpreted known Scripture through Himself. Jesus coming alive in Scripture is the best “heart-burn” there is! We should not fear it. We should welcome it.

When was the last time Jesus made your heart race?

 

Posted by Tim Alexander with

Listening to Jesus might just get you over yourself

The Bible teaches I have a huge capacity for self-deception. 

  • Psalm 36.1,2 describes how transgression speaks deeply in the heart while there is no fear of God in the eyes.
  • Proverbs says the way of a fool seems right —he thinks himself clean— but doesn’t know his own sin (12.15; 30.12).
  • Jeremiah asks, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” The answer: “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind.” (Jer. 17.9,10a)

  • Isaiah pictures the tragic irony of the man who cooks his meals and makes a ’god’ from the same piece of wood, (Isa. 44.9-20).
  • Paul unpeels the hypocrisy of those who feelingly claim to know God and yet, by their behavior, give occasion for Gentiles to blaspheme the name of God. (Rom. 2.17-24).
  • Paul warns the Galatians, “For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” (Gal. 6.3)
  • John sums it up: “If we say we have not sinned we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” (1 Jn. 1.10)

The Bible teaches me I am not the best judge of my own heart.

Among its many profound truths, "The Prodigal Son" (Lk. 15.11-32) exposes the heart for how it deceives. 

The younger brother saw himself a victim of circumstances and sought his “freedom”. He was not a victim and his freedom was a mirage.

The older brother saw himself a monument to righteous duty and was outraged at the naïve laxity of his father. He was not dutiful as a loving son but begrudging as a beat-down slave.

And he simply didn't know his father.

The Prodigal Son teaches how easy it is to justify ourselves until God makes us truly see ourselves.

For the younger brother, becoming a part of the swine herd was a moment of humbling clarity. “I will go home to my Father.” For the older brother, his Father’s celebration was a moment of smoldering resentment: “I have slaved for nothing!” One brother melted into repentance. The other brother hardened, even more, in self-righteousness.

Your “heart” is not a good guide. Like the younger brother, you may see yourself as beyond redemption when you are near to it. Or like the older brother, you may see yourself as reliably righteous when you are far from it.

At either extreme, you must trust God more than you trust your heart. Only God's assessment of you matters. Only God can help you get you over your own self. 

 

Posted by Tim Alexander with

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