Setting The Course

Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” The Greek is to direct the mind. How do we do this? First we need something to direct it towards.

Picture this: on a blackboard there is a dot far to the left and a dot far to the right. When you draw a line from the left to the right is it straight? Not if I was drawing it. I need a ruler to connect the dots.

Truth within our heart is the ruler. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” We read about Job’s issues as they spring up through his questions. Yet in all the weaving back and forth he finds truth. Like a compass, his heart hones into true-north which is truth.

A cardiologist will use a heart monitor on their patient to find any heart irregularities. A dedicated believer has something far superior. The Holy Spirit is our Heart Monitor. When we are attentive to Him, He will reveal any irregularity in our heart’s beat.

What causes it to be irregular? Our negative thoughts, digested morsels of gossip, hidden unforgiveness, or buried emotional pain are classified as unresolved issues that spring forth when we least expect them.

Psalm 119:11 is a very familiar verse. It says, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” When we dissect it, gems of truth are revealed.

God’s word is truth. Jesus said that it sanctifies our heart, or sets it apart for holiness. It is His word hidden in our heart that will spring up instead of unresolved issues when we are stressed, or emotionally hurt. May this encourage you to release your hidden issues to the Lord so He can truly be your Heart Monitor.

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He Drew Me Out of Deep Waters: encouragement for hard trials

Emotional Freedom: releasing the heart

Daily Thoughts: rich insights from my quiet time

Conversations With Impact

As I read through the book of Job this time, I have noticed something I wasn’t aware of before. Job is in the present. He is pouring out his heart to the Lord. Yet, his ‘friends’ are dragging things in from the past. They are questioning Job’s heart-words.

Yet Job’s questioning brought his heart back to stability through truth. Job 23:6 says, “Would He contend with me in His great power?…” The answer would be no. No one or thing can stand under God’s power. Job went on to say, “…No! But He would take note of me.” Aren’t those precious words?

Job 7:17-18 says, “What is man, that You should exalt him, that You should set Your heart on him, that You should visit him every morning, and test him every moment?”

God walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. At 5:30 this morning I was walking in the cool of the day. Everything was quiet. I was the one to break through the cobwebs. I was enjoying the sun’s blush of light. I was walking in the Presence of the Lord.

Job 10:12 says, “You have granted me life and favor, and Your care has preserved my spirit.” The word preserved in the Hebrew means: to guard, keep, protect, watch over, care for, and safe keep.

At every moment of Job’s complex trial, the Lord was preserving him. He never took his eyes off Job. He did not get angry at Job’s questions like Job’s ‘friends’ did.

Here is what I noticed. When someone is upset, and they are pouring out their heart’s woes to us, we need to remain in the present. We will not be able to hone in on their present pain if we are reaching back into what we know about them in the past.

When we are not present with them, we will pull data from their past experiences which will cloud the moment. Our words, like Job’s ‘friends’ words, will tear them apart, rather than build them up. Their past does not define them. We need to hear their words in order to minister in the now to their heart through God’s stabilizing truth.

Processing In The Present

Though Job was in a deep trial, he processed his present through the hope of what he knew. Job 19:25-27 says, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”

Job did not allow his calamity to define him. Neither does anything in our past define us. We can change our present thought through truth that will bring inner transformation.

We reinterpret our past through Jesus’ death. Here is what we know. Our past, present, and future sins are forgiven. They are cleansed through Jesus’ shed blood. We are freed from our slave block of sin.

Sin’s record against us was nailed to His cross. He took our place, paying the full penalty of our sin. Our past is passed. If you still feel bound to something from your past it’s only in your mind.

We have been set free to live in the present through our thoughts. Our old thought patterns will be transformed when we bring His freedom-truth to reside in our heart.

Even though Job was in absolute misery, he brought truth into his heart. Truth was his focus. Through his truth-focus he processed his past through his present. Let us do the same. Remember, a few minutes ago is now our past. We can’t change it, but we can change our attitude towards it.

What Do You Think?

Everyone has an opinion based on their past experiences. Job was hounded by his ‘friends’ because of what they thought they knew. Job 13:2 says, “What you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you.” Verse 4-5 says, “But you are forgers of lies, you are all worthless physicians. Oh, that you would be silent, and it would be your wisdom!”

These are words that we need to take to heart. Human (flesh) nature is quick to judge. Why? Romans 2:1 is the answer. It says, “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.” Hmm.

God’s judgment is what counts. At the beginning of the book of Job we read His judgment. In Job 1:8 God called Job His servant. He went on to say, “…there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil.”

Psalm 15 is a great Psalm for us to adopt as a lifestyle that pleases the Lord. You can read it for yourself. I’ll recap: walks uprightly, speaks truth in his heart, does not backbite, does no evil to his neighbor, takes up no reproach against his friend, despises vile people, honors those who fear the Lord, stands by their word, and doesn’t exploit others.

I want to go back to ‘speaks truth in his heart’ because that is the key to sound judgment. Micah 6:8 says, “…what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” What we think becomes our words, actions, attitudes, and then habits.

What do you think? If it isn’t based on the truth of Scripture, it is your opinion based on your own erroneous belief system. A judgmental spirit is critical in their assessment, because they first judged in their heart against another. Beware of being a faultfinder. Your words will be void of heart and therefore not able to reach another’s heart.

Present In His Presence

David was called a man after God’s own heart. When did this happen? It was during Saul’s reign. Saul had disobeyed the Lord. Samuel told him that God had sought for Himself a man after His own heart.

Where did Samuel find him? 1 Samuel 16:11 was David’s father’s answer when Samuel asked if there were any other sons. It says, “…There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep…”

In 2 Samuel 23:1 David was called the sweet psalmist of Israel. I can only imagine from his psalms what he did when he was keeping his father’s sheep. He also played the harp in a way that gave Saul peace from a distressing spirit.

David knew how to be present in the Presence of the Lord. Listen to his passion in Psalm 63:1. It says, “O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.”

Psalm 18:1 says, “I will love You, O Lord, my strength.” Psalm 27:4 says, “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.”

Here is the first verse of a new song called Womb Of The Morning. I come to You O Lord in the womb of the morning. To sit and worship You and call upon Your name. You answer me with a sweetness that melts my heart. And opens me to receive Your words.

We present our heart before the Lord, and drink in His Presence. Our singular focus delights Him. We behold Him as He beholds us. Here is the first and third verse of another new song called Extravagant Oil Of Joy.

I lift my unveiled face to gaze into Your face. Face to face I behold You as You behold me. No veil separates us. No fear of being known. We have intimate communion. Our hearts are knit as one.

With joy I lift my heart in song. A song that flows through me like a river. A song that cascades and rushes to be expressed. In pure worship knowing Your joy as You behold me.

Being present in His Presence is intimate communion. As the Amplified says, it is being vitally united. We drink deeply of His love, our hearts are knit as one, and we carry a fragrance that attracts others to Him.

Being Present

It is easy to do things by rote. I do. I have exercise routines that I don’t have to think about. When I am doing my dishes I can think about other things. When it comes to reading my Bible, praying, or being still before the Lord, I need to be present.

What happens in relationships when we nod as though we are listening, but really we are not present? I was reading Job yesterday and this verse just stopped me. It caused me to reel in my mind and be present. What did the Holy Spirit want to speak to me?

Job 4:6 was something Eliphaz asked Job. It says, “Is not your reverence your confidence? And the integrity of your ways your hope?” Eliphaz was questioning Job’s true reliance.

Psalm 62:5 says, “My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.” I asked myself: is my hope truly in God alone, or does it cross over into what He might do for me?

I think it can easily become a trap of the enemy. Proverbs 25:19 addressed the issue of reliance on someone or something. It says, “Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint.”

Psalm 31:24 says, “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” When we hope in God alone, He will support and stabilize our heart in times of trouble.

Being present is being fully aware of our thoughts. When they start to look at man or things, we need to reel every thought back in. Moses allowed the symphony of complaints to fill his mind. He acted on his thoughts. He was not present with what the Lord had specifically instructed him to do. It cost him dearly.

Jeremiah 17:7 says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord.”

God’s Way Is Perfect

I love Psalm 18:30. It says, “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.” Yesterday morning our pastor was speaking from Romans 9. He reminded us that in all things God is perfect. Some He allows sickness, and some health. Yet in both He is perfect in all of His ways.

Even though we may make our own wilderness through disobedience, He will use it in His perfect way. Psalm 18:32 says, “It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect.” Nothing is in vain in God’s economy. He will do whatever it takes to conform us to His image.

Yesterday I read Philemon and Esther. In each book I read of God’s miraculous way. He doesn’t change His ways to fit our situation. Rather, He changes us to fit His ways.

As I ate my breakfast this morning I was dwelling in His Presence. I was thanking Him for His perfect way through my trials. He intercepted my thoughts with this: when you don’t know, stand in what you do know. So profound.

God uses everything in our lives. He perfectly orchestrates times, people, circumstances, spiritual barrenness, or mountain top experiences. In Psalm 138:8 David said, “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever…” To perfect means to fulfill. As we face what we don’t know in our nation, may we stand steadfast in what we do know about the Lord.

Two Wildernesses

There is the wilderness of our own making. It is uncharted, and we are on our own with our fleshly choices. Proverbs 13:15 Amplified aptly described it. It says, “Good understanding wins favor, but the way of the transgressor is hard (like the barren, dry soil or the impassable swamp).”

Proverbs 29:1 says, “He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” Stiff-necked means stubborn. 1 Samuel 15:23 says, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord…”

There is God’s purposed wilderness. It is also uncharted to us, but the Holy Spirit is there to lead us through. 1 Corinthians 10:11 says of the children of Israel, “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition…” Romans 15:4 says, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

Exodus 13:17 says that God took them the long way because they were not ready for war. Verse 18 says, “So God led the people around by way of the wilderness to the Red Sea…” The Red Sea was their first obstacle. What did they do? Panicked. What did God do? He used the impossible as His vehicle to destroy their enemies!

There are no street signs in the wilderness, nor are their street lights. It is all barren land that looks the same. Yet God miraculously provided for their every need. He was a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Their clothes and shoes did not wear out, and He fed them with manna for forty years!

Deuteronomy 8:2 says, “…the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”

God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He has not changed His method of testing our heart. Our trials are like a wilderness. They are full of obstacles, hardships, and impossibilities designed to expose our hidden dross. God’s wilderness is a refiner’s fire. His purpose in them is to train us for war, develop His character in us, that we may endure and He is glorified.

Forfeit Or Fulfill

Aaron and Moses forfeited the opportunity to go into the promised land. They were not the only ones. Ten of the twelve spies died right away as a result of giving a bad report. They forecasted defeat because of their fears. It caused all of Israel to complain.

Numbers 14:29 says, “The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above.”

Their consequences carried over to their children. Verse 33 said that their sons would bear the brunt of their father’s infidelity, until the father’s carcasses were consumed in the wilderness.

What a warning to us. I do not want to waste my life wandering in a wilderness of my own making. Paul is a great example for us. He started out persecuting the believers. God intercepted his way to redirect him into His way.

We continually feast on the harvest of good fruit from Paul’s life. 13 books were written by him. He fulfilled God’s purpose for his life. 2 Timothy 4:7 says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

My cousin gave me a verse when I was in high school. I am going to write it out. I encourage you to turn it into a prayer for yourself and for those you know.

Psalm 20:says, “May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose.” God’s purpose to be fulfilled in our lives is being accomplished through progressive sanctification. The more our trials conform us to His character, the more our desire changes to fit His calling on our life.

Fulfill, to me, means to carry out to the finish. We have that promise from God in Philippians 1:6. It says, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in your will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Yet, as in salvation, it is all by grace and faith.