This post is not about taking the law into our own hands but at the heart of the dynamic of a vigilante is a sense that something has to change and someone should do something about it. Their frustration with the ruling authority’s inability or reluctance to act drives them to action. These thoughts are all contained within the 23rd verse of Proverbs 4 –
“Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts!” The Message
The ruling authority, God, is informing us that He is not going to do what only we can do – it’s ‘our heart!’
The short three-word sentence; keep vigilant watch, translates this way –
keep with more vigilance than you would use for anything else. Barnes commentary.
The NIV puts it this way – “above all else!”
The number one priority and discipline is to guard our heart as if it were the most valuable resource, commodity or treasure. The language of this verse seems over the top but actually, it is the language of a very concerned Father, who is seeking to help a beloved child, as they take their place in this world. Chapter four starts with this counsel – listen and pay attention to a father’s instruction. God as our Father, is trying to get us in the loop and see what’s vital and important, as we start out into adulthood – Guard your heart.
The last part of the verse – for that’s where life starts, carries the idea of the fountainhead or spring, i.e. the starting point of a river. Just as the spring of a river has its starting point deep within the ground, so too does the ‘downstream of our lives!’ The state and condition of the river are directly affected by the state and condition of the source, that is the spring. Making sure the spring was fenced off and protected from debris and dead animals would result in the downstream river quality being at its best. So, it is with the heart!
I have learnt, the hard way, that I cannot change me or my circumstances without first making the effort to go to the source and see if I have allowed anything in into my heart, that is directly affecting what it is I am seeking to change. This is vitally important because if I take new actions but still hold the same heart attitude, eventually my heart will win and my actions will wane and I will be discouraged.
Life, literally in the Hebrew, means boundaries and they are set within our heart and so, real transformations have to begin in the heart!
The context of verse 23 is from verse 20 to 25 and contains hints and warnings about how debris and death will try to get into the heart, so as to affect the downstream –
- Ears – Pay attention, to what it is our ears are listening closely to v 20
- Eyes – The words we continually focus on will get into our hearts
- His Words are life & health to our downstream life v 22
- Lips – put & keep far away perverse & corrupt speech v 24
God, as ruling authority, as our Father, is letting us into how He set up the system and informing us of our part. How vigilant we are, is our decision because love does not insist on its own way. However, love desires the best for us and as a father, He is not a passive observer regarding our life. Therefore, He will try to influence us for good and for change.
His influence centres around the event that lead to the ongoing discipline called self-discipline. The event is to show and reveal any perceptions, thoughts & attitudes that are in our heart. The saying is often true: the way we see the problem is the problem! Biblical transformation begins and only happens by the entire renewal of the mind. Roms 12:2.
After event number one comes to the ongoing process which will regularly lead to more of event number ones, and that is self-discipline or self-control. This is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit and He longs to help us through this ongoing event and process of transformation.
When the spring that’s producing our downstream is cleared of debris and death, the water and flow of our lives will run clearer.
David was honoured for his decision to allow God to search and try his heart, even when the going got rough and David went walkabout! His son would learn, in some way, from his father’s struggles with his heart and would come to this understanding –
“above all else, guard your heart. Prov 4:23
The state and condition of the heart cannot be separated from the state and condition of our lives, after all, the reason Solomon and the Holy Spirit were so adamant about guarding our hearts is this: that’s where the issues of life spring from. Prov 4:23. This final blog on God as a committed and highly proficient cardiologist, concerns guarding against developing a double heart Ps 12:2 and an unbelieving heart Hebs 3:12
A Double Heart. Ps 12:2
The word double here literally translates as ‘a heart and a heart!’ What David has learnt from his experiences with Saul and his own son Absalom, he pens here. His hard-learnt advice is – watch out for deceiving and flattering words because they reveal a double heart. Saul used lies and deception in his attack against David and David’s son used flattery to influence people against his father. A heart and a heart, a double heart, speaks of a person who is saying one thing but internally they hold an entirely different sentiment or attitude. See Prov 23:7
A prime example of this is reality TV!
Seven Psalms later David would write these words – may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. Ps 19:14
may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. Ps 19:14
Contemporary words for this double heart condition would be incongruence or lack of integrity.
An Unbelieving Heart. Hebs 3:12
Context is king, and the context of Hebrews 3 is important to what an unbelieving heart is, and it is all about not responding in faith!
Hebrews 3 is a summary of servants who hear the Holy Spirit speaking and, act accordingly in faith and accomplish what the Father is commanding. The servants in this chapter are Jesus vs 1-6, Moses vs 3-5, the Founding Father’s generation vs 8-11 and the present generation of covenant servants! Vs 12-19
The overarching narrative of God to all these servants has three parts to it – out of Egypt, through the wilderness and into the promised land and the umbrella word for this in the New Testament is salvation. At the core of this epic journey is the leadership of the Holy Spirit, seen through the pillar of fire and cloud, the ark of the covenant and leaders!
In this summary chapter of their Exodus journey the Holy Spirit speaks and some of the servants are described as having an evil unbelieving heart which one commentator describes as a ‘lack of confidence in God!’ Review the Exodus generation’s journey and you’ll see that God asks some pretty big stuff of them but always He backs it up with a re-occurring promise –
“I will be with you! The classic example is the twelve spies. See Numbers 13.
The journey of salvation always includes crossing boundaries or borders! When the people of God left Egypt, it is implied that they are headed to another boundary or border. At these border crossings, there are attended guards – fear and discouragement. See Joshua 1:8&9. All God asks is that we trust Him and enter in, no matter what or whom might be in the way. Ten spies gripped by fear and having no confidence in God’s promise shrank back and spread their contagion throughout their tents. See Number 13:31-33
Only Caleb and Joshua had a believing heart, and they and their kin went and saw the provision of God in the next part of their salvation journey. David understood that he would face border and crossing-over opportunities –
“the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Ps 16:6
So, lets us continually guard our heart, so we are ready for those boundaries, crossing over moments and, to especially guard them if we successfully negotiate the crossing over point! Read Deut 8
A pathological and extremely efficient cardiologist, is my working definition of God my Father, as a heart expert! His words to Samuel when Samuel was discerning which one of the seven sons who stood before him was the new king are a helpful reminder –
“Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Sam 16:7
Eliab, was the eldest of the seven and Samuel when he saw him, made a decision – surely the Lord’s anointed stands before me!
Samuel saw but God looked and Eliab was not the one.
Fast forward a few years to the encounter with Goliath, the man mountain and Eliab and David’s other brothers would stand frozen for forty days and nights before Goliath’s challenge.
The day David arrived, he went out to meet Goliath. God saw the difference and chose David.
It’s worth remembering that the challenge of Goliath was for everyone and everything, because all the people, their land, houses and goods, would be to be given to the victorious one and vice versa.
David’s answer to Saul gives us a real insight into what is the opposite of a hard or a cold heart – “your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep…1 Sam 17:34. David had a sense, to be more precise, he was sensitive to the prompts of the Spirit of Almighty God. He knew that today, as he delivered the cheese butties, was going to be a life-changing day!
A hard heart, as described in Proverbs 28:14 and a cold heart, as described in Revelation 3:15 are about love for God and His purposes. In both of these verses, the love of the servant is under attack from outside forces, who are seeking to stop the servant from taking action, prompted by love and supported by faith, so that Father’s kingdom would come.
David’s heart was not perfect but it was maturing and central to this maturity is an attitude David adopted throughout his life which he wrote about in Ps 37:4 –
“delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
The word David and the Spirit chose for delight means to live tenderly and delicately at heart, to be sensitive at the core of our being to His love – delight yourself in the Lord. Our being should have its being and becoming in His love, His friendship, His purposes. The Father and His ways should be our greatest desire and from this starting point, He will give us the desires of our heart, that He has placed there!
An illustration might help us – being and remaining like putty in His hand. Pliable and responsive is the baseline and our Father who is a master potter will push and work, at our pliable heart level to form and mould us, ready for the purposes He has already prepared ahead of time for us. Eph 2:10
Hard and cold putty is anything but pliable and as a result, it becomes unworkable.
So, what can we do to remain pliable at heart and avoid the state of being unworkable?
- Adopt David’s attitude & approach – “Search me O God, & know my heart
- Know that His adoptive love already accepted & approves of in Christ.
- The primary role of the Holy Spirit, is to testify WE ARE HIS!!!1
- His agenda is that His perfect love would drive out fear within our hearts
- Fear keeps us in, holds us back and stops us taking on our Goliath
- Worship and Word, keep us pliable at heart.
- Worship gets us of ourselves and over ourselves
- His Word gives us the insight into the height & depth & the width & length of His love
- His Word reveals how we can serve Him & obedience to His Word shows our love for Him
The final action is taking action, as He prompts us, towards the people and purposes He has in his heart and mind.
I began this mini-series on the heart by describing God the Father as a committed, efficient and expert cardiologist, knowing the structure, functions and disorders of the heart. I highlighted King David’s heart attitude, towards the heart, summarised in the words of Ps 139 v 23 – “search me O God and know my heart.” God answered David’s prayer many times and at different seasons throughout his life. David is the only one the Father said these words about –
“a man after my own heart, who will do my will.”
Whatever feedback God gave to David about the state and condition of his heart, David responded accordingly and stayed after the heart of God. The Scriptures reveal six disorders of the heart and in this blog, we’ll look at having an unclean heart Ps 51:10 and a proud heart Prov 21:4.
Unclean heart. Ps 51:10
Context is king and so it’s important to get some knowledge of what has gone on, to understanding why David is making this request of God – create in me a clean heart.
Clearly, David is describing his heart in this moment as being unclean. Psalm 51 is David’s response to Nathan the prophet’s delivery of a story, who’s punchline convicts David of his sins with and surrounding Bathsheba – disobedience, lust, adultery, murder, pride!
The word clean primarily relates to animals being ‘clean; for sacrifice but it also describes being morally clean i.e. free from guilt! However, although David is asking God to forgive his actions, those times when he missed the mark, he is also asking for a deeper, more profound work to take place with his heart. David’s uses create, bara, in Hebrew which always refers to God creating, as in Gen 1:1.
David realises that the source of his sins, his actions, was his heart and if someone did not create a new clean heart within him, history would repeat itself. He came to the truth that his heart had a disorder and only He who created Him had the power to change his heart within him. David is asking for a re-creative work within his heart, he’s asking for God to re-incline his heart.
Not a re-set of his heart but to utterly re-calibrate it! To create within him new desires, new focuses, new priorities.
David came to understand, and we must too, if we haven’t already that ALL of life’s issues spring from the heart. Prov 4:23. David was not just asking for water to cleanse him outwardly, but that the spring that flowed from his heart would be completely re-directed and re-coursed!
God loved David’s response, answered his prayer and changed the course of the reminder of his life. He’ll will change the course of our lives too, if we have the same attitude and approach to our hearts as David did!
Proud Heart. Prov 21:4
The entrances to the heart are our ears, eyes and words, Prov 4:20-25 and here in 21:4 the eyes and the heart are intrinsically linked and as one commentator puts it – “the former [haughty eyes} are a sign of the latter [proud heart]. The word proud literally means broad or wide.
I like the Targum’s paraphrase – ‘the swelling of the heart!’
I am sure we’ve heard the phrase – their eyes are bigger than their belly!’ The life in Prov 21:4 has eyes and a heart that are synched at the setting – ‘swelled up opinion of themselves’ with respect to others. Synonyms would be conceited, arrogant, superior and vain. In the New Testament this proud, swelled up opinionated heart is revealed in the Pharisee and the tax-collector parable –
He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’ 13 “Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’ 14 Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” Lk 18:10-14
God has said that any life that has a proud, swelling heart, He will not endure and actively oppose! Cf Ps 101:5 & I Pet 5:5
God as cardiologist, is pathologically committed to the transformation of our hearts, by revealing to us the state and condition of our hearts, so that the change and transformation we long to see in our lives can be realised.
Years ago, an entire village in the Himalayas went down with sickness and diarrhoea, except one elder and no one could figure out the problem. This wise elder left the village and began to climb the mountain, to the bewilderment of the villagers. Eventually, he reached his destination – a spring, that was the source of the river than ran through the village. There he saw that a sheep had fallen into the mouth of the spring and died and its decomposing body was releasing bacteria that were flowing into the village. He removed the carcass and within a day, the sickness and diarrhoea disappeared from the village.
Keep vigilant watch over your hearts; that’s where life starts. Prov 4:23 The Message
The spring that is the source of all the issues of our life, is in the heart and whatever state that spring is in, is determining the flow downstream and out into our lives and contexts.
An unclean or proud heart, like the dead sheep, will affect the downstream of our lives and contexts!
Cardiology is the medical study of the structure, function and disorders of the heart. In this mini-series of four blogs I want to share some thoughts around the importance of the heart, as revealed in scripture. The state of our hearts, is right up there as a subject matter to our Father, in fact it is His number one subject – above all else, guard your heart! Prov 4:23.
God the Father is a committed and highly proficient cardiologist!
The heart has the ability to have affections, to think, to guide and set our life’s boundaries. It also has an overflow; the mouth which in turn has the power of life and death attached to it, namely the tongue.
The heart is so strategic to all of life, we are commanded to guard it, (Prov 4:23) as if it contained the crown jewels. The thought behind the word is to show vigilance more than over anything else we have or own. One commentator refers to it as the master-controller!
One man in Scripture understood this and that was David. He was after all, described as a man after God’s own heart! Acts 13:22. This king, warrior and minstrel penned these words –
“search me O God and know my heart…Ps 139:23”
David had the confidence, prior to Christ and Calvary’s grace, to ask God to know his heart. This is high level trust and a little risky but is the kind of prayer Father loves and will answer. David was asking His God and creator to know his heart through observing, experiencing and reflecting. All of these are the core dynamics of what the word know depicts. David was also saying “let me in,” on your observations, experiences and reflections.
For David, there were two aspects of his heart that he wanted His Father’s feedback on – the thoughts and the ways within his heart and that through these reflections Father would lead him in the way everlasting. This word everlasting means the old path and is made of two words that differ slightly. One means the right way, the way a man should go and the other, the way a man goes by habit. David’s son would learn this from his father and his own experiences –
“there is a way that seems right to man but its end is the way of death. “Prov 16:25
Here’s my attempt at paraphrasing David’s request from within this verse Ps 139:23
“I want you God to test through observation and experiences the thoughts and ways within my heart and reflect back to me, any habits that are not leading me in the well-established path of life which is Your desire for me!”
David’s prayer would be answered, numerous times and some of these were not good feedback but every time God spoke into David’s life about the state and condition of his heart, David responded with humility, transparency and faith! It is for this reason I believe God defined David as a man after my own heart, who will do my will.
David was far from perfect, however, he always, apart from sixteen months of complete madness, went after and stayed after God’s heart! Like David I have prayed his prayer and invited God to search and try my heart and give me feedback because I want what David had and I can only have that, if I do what he did!
God is a proficient cardiologist understanding the hearts structure and function like no other, he designed it but He also knows the disorders of the heart and these fall into six categories –
- unclean heart Ps 51:10
- proud heart Prov 21:4
- hard heart Prov 28:14
- cold heart Matt 24:12
- double heart Ps 12:2
- unbelieving heart Heb 3:12
The beginning of the answer to that part of us described as deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jer 17:9 NIV Is to humble asks God to do in us what He did in David – search me and try me and give me feedback!
The next three blogs I’ll take two disorders from the list and share some thoughts.
Mel Gibson portrays Col Hal Moore, in the film, We Were Soldiers. As he moves into his digs on camp, one of the soldiers talking to his mate calls Moore a ‘Harvard man!’ His sentiment is that his new Colonel is a book worm and a desk dweller. One of the most compelling parts of the film for me, was the preparation this new Colonel put in, before he engaged his enemy. Gibson is seen pouring over books about previous battles, including the massacre of the French forces, eleven years previously by the enemy, this new Colonel is about to face.
I remember, as I watched this character develop, how many aspects of his world related to principles found in Scripture. Colonel Hal Moore understood leadership and the tactics of war, and that all began with knowing your enemy.
In Ephesians 6:11 – Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
An event-minded believer will believe that just putting on the full armour of God is enough to stand successfully against the devil’s schemes. However, it’s also important to know his schemes. How he operates, so we can effectively and efficiently use our armour and defeat his advances.
The word schemes, literally translated means ‘with a road,’ which makes no sense grammatically but the picture behind this, is that of a traveller on a road, heading towards a decided upon destination. The Greek word for schemes is methodos, from which we get our word method. Just as the enemy that Mel Gibson’s character was facing had methods of engagement, strategy and tactics which Gibson needed to know and understand. So too, do we as sons of our father. Who incidentally, is described as “a man of war!” Ex 15:3
In fact, we are commanded not to be ignorant of his schemes, 2 Co2:11. And this verse gives us an important truth about the devil’s strategy – that Satan would gain an advantage over us. Eph 4:27 builds us a clearer picture of what the scheme of the devil is – give no place to the devil. The word place, is topos and is about giving space or room to another. Interestingly, topos is also relegated to maps or areas i.e. topography! Eph 6:13 commands us to stand your ground which again speaks of an area we have dominion and authority over.
This ground, this area he is after, is our HQ and the Bible calls it our mind or intellect.
This truth is gleaned from the use of the word for schemes in 2 Cor 2:11 is noemata which is s form of the word nous which describes the mind or intellect. The devil’s destination is our minds, our HQ in this war we face and he has a threefold purpose, which Jesus revealed –
the thief comes to rob, steal and destroy. Jn 10:9 In a word destruction!
Whoever captures our HQ, will preside over our imaginations, thoughts and emotions and these will fill our hearts and begin to overflow and flood our lives! He cannot do this just to anyone he likes because he is like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Pet 5:8. Interestingly, the context of this verse is about strong negative emotions and attitudes of mind and the word for devour, speaks of the devil’s desire to so frighten a person in mind and emotion, that he can simply lick them up, as a lion would do after the kill.
There is a war on and we do have a HQ, that we need to defend and protect and the how of this, is the content of my next blog.
‘No pain. No Gain.’ Is simply not true! Many times, in my personal life and pastoral ministry I have experience and seen pain, that has not led to gain. This is in part due to the deception called event-mindedness which says that just experiencing pressure and pain will lead to gain. It will not!
Some learnt wisdom from Arnie –
“The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion. That’s what most people lack, having the guts to go on and just say they’ll go through the pain no matter what happens.” Arnold Schwarzenegger
“The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow,” Boom!
It’s not just experiencing the pain that leads to gain, it is what we do within the pain, that leads to growth. Not just physical muscle but mental, emotional and spiritual muscle. As we push, rep-eatedly, against the weight we submit to a process and resist the cry of our emotions to quit and go back to comfort!
The word for suffering in Roms 5:3 is pressure and the writer says that pressure produces perseverance, perseverance character and character hope, which does not disappoint because it is attached to the love Father has already poured into our hearts, who we be! On the surface, this scripture seems to support event-mindedness. However, the best interpreter of scripture is scripture. So, let’s bring James 1:2-4 alongside, to build the complete thought –
“consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials [pressure] of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Because you know that testing [pressure] develops perseverance! Do we know this? As a revelation and a principle, do we get this? These verses are a great synopsis of what an event leads to, which is always an invitation to work a process. So, the pressure comes [event] and we have an opportunity to develop [process word] perseverance. We take this invite and our first event of preserving, begins the much-needed process of becoming mature and complete.
No pain. No Gain, is a deception, mostly borne out of our emotions which are kick in when the going gets tough.
What if the Father has designed events that will trigger a much-needed process, so that our potential grows and meets the demand we are facing. The bridge between our potential and the problem is called pressure. What we do, rep-peatedly in this pressure is who we become!
“Because we know that…….
Perhaps, some of the pain and the pressure we are experiencing at the moment, has been purposely factored in by the Father? Maybe, this is His version of gym time? A divinely inspired opportunity to enter that area of pain that will develop us into champions?
All I know is this – life will bring pressure! Jesus, who I trust the most said so –
“In this world, you will have trouble [word is pressure] but take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jn 16:33
There are two emphatics in this verse: you will have and I have overcome! And there is one command: take heart which to paraphrase means locate and lock onto your courage. Courage is acting in the face of fear. Jesus is asking us for something in the face of fear; to be courageous and act! Not turn and run! For those who stay and face the pressure, He promises overcoming power. Cf Roms 8:37; Eph 6:10 & Phil 4:13
I am learning to use, and I’m enjoying, lose weights in my home gym. But one of the vital lessons is knowing the signs when you are in that area of pain where if I push through and do two more reps, I will gain what I set out to do: develop muscle and strength.
I am not there yet – turning my bay window [stomach] into Baywatch!
But I am on the bridge called pressure and I know what to do and what lies ahead is a ‘enduring walk of faith’ and I will inherit what’s on the other side of the bridge. See Hebs 6:12
Disciple means disciplined learner and is a definition and dynamic Jesus gives to all who return to the Father through him. It’s also a title that will not be revoked, unless we choose, until we exit life and enter eternal life.
Therefore, we are lifelong learners whose only constant is change!
The biblical word for change is transformation, meaning transform or transfigure and appears only four times. Twice concerning Christ appearance on the mount of transfiguration. See Matt 17:2. And the transformation of the believer into the likeness of Christ, through the renewing of their minds. See 2 cor 3:18 & Roms 12:2.
One of the core changes that needs to happened to all disciples of Christ can be seen in the changing of the name, by Jesus, of Peter. Before Jesus re-named him, he was Simon, meaning reed-like. Peter means rock. His previous name infers he swayed and his latter name infers being solid. The name change was a outworking of an invisible truth – Peter’s substance had transformed. He appeared the same but in his words and actions, he was different. These words and actions would take time to fully develop, he would go on to deny his master, but when Jesus said He was now ‘Rocky.’ He was!
The context of this re-naming is very important –Peter had just received revelation directly from the Father regarding who Jesus was. Immediately, Simon is given a new name and his substance is changed. This dynamic is clearly highlighted in John 1:12 –
to “all who received Him (Jesus, the Word) to those who believe in name (work) he gave them power to become children of God!”
Formulaically – receive + believe = become.
The core of Simon was changed by receiving and believing the released Word of God, and so, he went from being easily swayed to becoming rocky. The biblical word which is also an ongoing process, for this, is stable!
Dynamically, stable means established and strengthen, something or someone, who has become and is becoming. They are fixed and becoming firm, established and strengthen! These works are within a person’s life and primarily refer to the state and condition of their faith and their mind! Col 2:5&23; 2 Pet 3:17
In these verses, the word stability and steadfast are being used and the pictures behind them are – to make stable, place firmly, set fast, fix, a firm foundation. These refer to the state and quality of the heart and mind of the believer, and they are also a litany of what the Spirit desires to continue to do in and through us!
Central to our hearts and minds being and becoming more stable is pressure or testing. When the pressure is on, we are close to an opportunity to become more stable, as James, puts it –
“that you may be complete and mature, not lacking anything.” James 1:4.
‘That you may,’ is the language of someone responding, doing their part and so the principle imparts what it contains. The principle here in James is perseverance which is the expected out working or fruit of a life under a time of testing v3. Verse three begins with an assumption – ‘because you know that’ the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Isn’t that just an annoying word, develops?
I say this sarcastically because I have met many believers who have experience and gone through pressure, testing times, and yet they have not become stable. Quite the opposite actually!
This is due, in part, to a wrong paradigm which is called event-mindedness, that simply believes the event will change them. It will but not for the better, unless they respond to what every event offers: an R.S.V.P. And that, is always to understand and work the process being offered – mature and complete not lacking anything.
If our substance is going to transform we need to have, like Peter, a revelation from the Father. As we respond to that revelation by doing our part, consistently, we will see constancy develop and grow in our hearts and minds, and as a result flow downstream into our lives and contexts!
The process of becoming stable I call gym time or road work and in part two of this blog, I share some thoughts about this necessary discipline. Until then some wise words –
“Champions aren’t made in the ring, they are merely recognised there. What you cheat on in the early light of morning [road work/gym time] will show up in the ring under the bright lights!” Joe Frasier [parentheses mine]
Psalm 112 reveals the benefits of a life that respects and is in awe of Father- God. It also reveals that these benefits are not handed out will-nilly but are the promised consequences of a covenant agreement, entered into by God the Father and His sons and daughters.
The results of respecting and being in awe of Father are what one commentator describes as, “uncommonly profitable,” – uprightness, righteousness, graciousness, compassion, generosity, integrity, steadfastness, benevolence. (the synonyms of these make an inspiring glossary)!
These new attitudes of heart flow down steam into their lives but the individuals consecration also benefits their children – they become influential; mighty in the land, and are empowered to succeed. V2.
As for the individual they prosper – wealth and riches v3, have illumination even in darkness v4, good comes their way v5, they are not shaken v6, they become and remain steadfast and secure v8 and their dignity, symbolised by their horn being lifted up, grows and is acknowledged v 9.
The whole psalm pivots on the understanding the individual holds regarding the word fear. The Psalm seems to have a contradiction within it because it says at the beginning that he, the palmist, fears the Lord and in verses 7&8 it says; he will have no fear?
The fear of vs 7&8 is that classic fear or dread of something bad happening or occurring: Future, Events, Appearing Real! However, in verse one fear is not about dreading or cringing before the Lord but about awe-inspiring respect for who He is and great delight at all He’s said and promised, through His Word!
If we embrace the right kind of fear, as spelt out in verse one and resist the fear of vs 7&8, in all its forms and foes, then all the benefits for us and our children are ours!
This battle is won or lost in the heart which pictures who we be. Who we be, is all about the thoughts we entertain, that become beliefs and the interpretations we make about the experiences we have had. This combination of beliefs and experiences forms who we BE and life begins here and responds accordingly.
The psalmist reveals two attitudes of mind and heart, that have to become daily habits of thought and disciplined responses to all aspects of our life – steadfast and secure!
They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
8 Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
in the end they will look in triumph on their foes
In simple outline form, we see that –
- fear which is a spirit, trying to gain access to our hearts through bad news!
- Steadfastness is the barrier to fear entering in.
- Steadfastness is rooted in trust
- Steadfastness is also attached & supported by an inner heart security
- In the end, after the season is over (1 Pet 5:10 NKJV) they’ll enjoy the vista called triumph
The battle here is about whose thoughts are authoritative in the individuals heart?
This is a vital dynamic because authority cannot be separated from power. Words contain definition and power and in Hebrew thought and language, thoughts and things share the same word –dabar!
Therefore, as a man thinks in his heart so shall he be. Prov 23:7
Thinks suggests focused thinking, not a passing thought but one consistently visited!
The Holy Spirit, speaking through the psalmist is alerting us to the “battle for the benefits!” To triumph in this battle, securing Father’s benefits for us and our children, we have to consider and answer this vital question –
“Who’s words are authoritative in my life?” Our answer will immediately reveal the power we believe IS available to us, for us and toward the issues within our lives and context.
From the outset, Satan went after the benefits the father had given Adam and Eve -the authority they had over the earth and as a consequence the power that came with it, by using words and presenting thoughts, to their hearts and minds! It is still his number one method.
Steadfast speaks of being erect, firm, stable & established. So, my question is established, stable, firm and erect in what? Secures pictures something being propped up, reinforced or strengthen. Again, I ask the question by what?
The answer is words. His Word.
The battle is over words and who’s are authoritative in our hearts and minds, and therefore in our life and issues!
These authoritative words are our anchor, and Jesus said that the storms of life will come and the house, depicting a life, that stands and remains is the one who hears and practices His Words! Matt 7:24-27. Jesus teaching in a word – anchorage! Cf Eph 3:17; Col 1:23 & Hebs 6:19&20
The benefits are free, already given and part of our inheritance, and yet, there is a price to pay which is the discipline of anchoring ourselves in the Word, Jesus. And in the Words of God which are established in the heavens and are eternal. Ps 119:89