Matters of the Heart Pt 8
We live in a world where everyone is trying to maintain an image of themselves. Whether real or imagined, I think we all want to be known or to be remembered for something. And I think we could agree that under the right conditions, who or what we are eventually comes out. Whether you’re a bad person pretending to be good or a good person pretending to be bad, the right circumstances, the right conditions eventually draw the real us out. The feelings and thoughts in our hearts eventually become evident through our words and actions. The truth is, we try as much as we do to maintain certain characters and images of ourselves because what others think of us matters to us. But as believers, what we know about ourselves, our affections, our intentions, our thoughts and feelings also counts because that’s what the Lord searches for. That is what He weighs us by. And this is why we’re talking about matters of the heart because at the end of the day, this is what matters. But the fact is, sometimes we look inside and all we see is what we have painted and justified on that internal mirror as true. We put so many layers of paint on that internal mirror that it can no longer reflect back our real selves to us. We flood our hearts and conscience with so much noise that it cannot echo back what really lies within us. We mask our intentions, our thoughts and feelings until we can no longer tell which ones are true. But the Bible tells us in Psalms 27:19 that as water reflects back a man’s face, so does the heart reflect man to himself. And this is where I want us to focus our talk today. How do we examine and judge our own character? You know, how do we defog the looking glass that is our heart so that it does not reflect back a distorted image the way turbid or disturbed water does? You know, when we become believers, when we let the Holy Spirit take possession of us, that is when the defogging process begins. Because we get a new standard, a higher standard, like we said the other day, to weigh ourselves against. The spirit of God, the word of the Lord, becomes the silver backing of our hearts, a medium of vision through which we can see our own true selves. A medium through which we can discern our sins and the plague of our hearts. The spirit of God sets a true light before our hearts. You know, we said the other day that the human heart is wicked. Our wills are averse and our consciences defiled. And so it’s only when we weigh ourselves against the word of God and the counsel of the Holy Spirit that we can really discern our sins. It’s only by having the word of God as a standard that we can get a clear echo of the condition of our hearts. It’s the only way we can get a true understanding of how our hearts are. And this understanding, this discernment is what underlies genuine, conscious repentance. It’s my prayer that we may have the grace to open ourselves to the scrutiny of the Holy Spirit. That we may be able and willing to look deep into ourselves for what contradicts the will of the spirit of God. That we may be led by truth in our assessment of ourselves. In Jesus’ mighty name. Amen.
May 12, 2022
Matters of the Heart Pt 7
Yesterday we read from the book of psalms where David prayed that the Lord creates for him a clean heart and a steadfast spirit. And we said that the reason for this prayer, was because he did not just want to simulate virtue or appear to do right before people. He wanted a genuine change of heart. That his morals and virtues may be founded in God. He wanted something we all wish we could have every time we mess up. A fresh start. A clean slate. And psalms 51:17 paints for us a picture of the heart that was making this request for a clean heart. David says that the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart. And God does not despise such a sacrifice. You see, the kind of prayer that David made in verse 10 is not made in a vacuum. Just because we have that provision from God as His children to ask for a clean slate does not mean that God is just sitting there waiting to dish out new hearts every time we mess up. Such a prayer needs to be accompanied by a genuine desire for change. By a conviction of the heart. By humble and penitent faith. A prayer for penitence or forgiveness is an offering; a sacrifice of the broken heart and remorseful spirit. Such sacrifice requires more than the external sacrifice of simply giving up the old ways. It is not just a formality. David offered his broken heart and a fully penitent spirit first, and only then did he follow up with external acts of penance. Internal repentance always comes first. The spirit must first be emptied of all vainglory confidence. It must be brought to acknowledge that it is empty without God. The inner man, the mind, and the will must be transformed first. They must be humbled. They must be drawn into submission before God, before He can remake them. The heart must first become tender and pliable to the word of God. The soul must accept to bear the burden of conscious guilt until it is broken. Until it is melted down and subdued under the sense of God’s displeasure. It must thirst for reconciliation with God. A broken heart mourns for its sinfulness. It does not seek to lessen its guilt. It acknowledges its sin. It calls it by its right name. It melts at the thought of the pardoning grace of the pierced and wounded savior. This is the kind of heart, the kind of sacrifice that the Lord says He does not reject. This is the kind of heart that mercy lifts up. The kind of heart that the Lord regards and accepts with pleasure. The kind that He binds up and mends. The kind of heart that He looks upon. The kind of hearts that the Lord looks to come and dwell among. This is the kind of heart, the kind of spirit that we should present before the Lord. He looks upon such hearts with favor. May we desire to have such hearts. To approach the Lord in our brokenness and bereft of our own self-importance that we may receive in full the joy and gladness of His salvation. That we may fall upon His tender mercies and grace knowing that He shall not turn us away. In Jesus’ mighty name.
May 11, 2022
Matters of the Heart Pt.6
One of the reasons why we are talking about matters of the heart this month is so that we may develop a consciousness, a conviction that will lead us to see the impurity of our hearts and nature. We have said over the past couple of days that the affections, the feelings and thoughts of the carnal mind are corrupted. They alienate us from God. And to rid ourselves of this veil, we would need to have our affections and thoughts made right. We would need to have the crudeness of our hearts replaced by something better. Something that is firm in the purposes of righteousness. Something that is steadfast in the service of God that it will not yield to the temptations we have yielded to before. We need something new. A new heart. The kind of heart that David hungered for when he said in Psalms 51:10, create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right and steadfast spirit within me. You see, David looked back at his life and realized that he had been wrong all along. He had a wrong spirit. He had a wrong attitude. And he needed a new one. A new heart and spirit that would be more faithful to God than the inclinations that drew him away from the Lord. He needed a clean implantation of grace. A clean installation of faith. And this is why, after realizing how far away he had wandered from God, he sought a radical change of heart and spirit. He desired to have a heart that however hard it was assaulted by temptation, it would remain fixed and resolute in its allegiance to God. He prayed for a renovation of his inner essence. Of both his mental and moral nature. He did not just ask that he be forgiven of his sins. He did not just ask that he be changed so that he does not follow his old path anymore. He desired something more. Something deeper than a mere change of heart. He did not just desire to be separated from sin, he wanted to be separated for God. To have a relationship with Him. To have the spirit of God dwell in him so that his would be a conscious devotion to God. You know, so often we seek after outwardly change. We stop doing the wrong things that we were doing. We so often seek after the constructs of human conduct and goodness or what we call morals or virtue without necessarily committing to God. But we see that David’s plea was to be led back to the path of righteousness. That he does not just have a change of conduct. His prayer was that the Lord may lay a new foundation in his heart. A clean heart and a steadfast spirit! David was yielding himself to be God’s instrument. He understood that he could do what was right by men and simulate virtue the way irreligious moralists do. But the blossom of this would still be vain because the only true perfection of morals and virtue is that which is founded in the spirit of God. And this is what we pray for when we pray for a clean heart. This is what we plead for when we pray to be filled with the holy spirit of God. To be changed not just to appear right before the eyes of men, but that we may stand right and justified in the sight of God. To be possessed through and through by the spirit of God. To bear fruits that are evident of the gracious influences of the Holy Spirit.
May 10, 2022
Matters of the Heart Pt.5
For the past four days, we’ve been talking about what we’re calling Matters of the Heart. You know, the heart, in this sense, is called the seat of emotions. It is the seat of will and intellect. The seat of understanding, intent, and thought. Now, if the heart is all these things, it only makes sense that it should be protected. That extreme care needs to be directed to this inner self. The heart, being the center and fountain of our actions, needs to be guarded. It needs to be protected. And to control our thoughts, intentions, and actions, this control needs to be exercised at the source and with more caution and vigilance than we do with our most precious possessions. Our human nature draws us towards our blind impulses and avid desires and thoughts which heed to no law but that of their own satisfaction. And if these untamed tastes and predilections are not curbed and held in place, if they are not subordinated to our second nature, the nature of Christ, then every area of our lives will definitely be thrown into chaos. And this is why the Bible tells us in Proverbs 4:23 to watch over our hearts with diligence. To develop harmony between will and conscience. Our will needs to be governed because this is the only way we can control the tendencies of our nature, which is to seek gratification even against the most obvious prohibitions. The Bible is telling us to guard our hearts. To shield it from the world around it that is constantly appealing to its needs and desires. You see, a believer who does not watch over their heart, who does not rule over his own spirit is like a city without walls. Anything can come in or go out of that heart because it is not guarded. But remember we said yesterday that the heart and the mind of man are weak. It’s frail and wicked in nature. And so, someone might ask, how then are we supposed to watch over the heart of the watcher and the one being watched over are one and the same? You know, putting our carnal mind to stay guard over the heart is no different than putting traitors guard over the fortress. The carnal mind is as weak as the heart itself. And so it needs to be anchored to something with a higher bar. Something that cannot be deflected by the frailty of the nature of man. A stable and fixed light that we can steer towards. A higher standard of right and wrong. A standard that cannot be warped, and perverted, or silenced by the energy flowing from without and within. And this standard is the word and the light of God. This is the standard we need to subscribe to and submit to. This is the only standard, the coercive power strong enough to oblige the heart of man. It is the submission to the will and purpose of God that hands us the reigns over our own hearts. It gives us a new and stronger motive that stirs from within us an effort to tame our wills. And this is what keeps us from yielding to even the strongest charms and appeals of our hearts. Because we have an even mightier appeal, which is to let in and let out only what is pleasing before the eyes of the Lord. It is my prayer today that we may open ourselves to the world of the Lord. That we may let the Holy Spirit take possession of the heart He wills to defend. Because there is no other way by which the heart may be guarded but by that which is incorruptible. There is no other way that the heart of man can be tamed but by submitting fully to the will and the purpose of the Lord. This is how we guard our hearts; by flooding it through and through with the inexpungible light of the word of God; by weighing it against a higher standard. The standard of He in whose name we are called, Jesus Christ.
May 09, 2022
Matters of The Heart Pt.4
We said a few days ago that the affairs of the heart are open to the gaze of the Lord. There is nothing therein that is hidden from Him. All the complexities and subtleties of our hearts are known to Him to the tiniest details. You see, the muddles and devices of the human heart when it is not rooted in God are not to be entirely trusted even by he that holds them. Our hearts are not just weak and frail, they are wicked and deceitful. Even when we think that we are on the right, there still lies sin in our hearts. More than we are aware of. Our hearts, in their apprehension of things, are deceitful in nature. A man’s heart is capable of coloring things to fit its narrative. It declares to those to whom peace does not exist that there is peace. A heart lures one to their ruin. This is the state and the nature of the human heart. And it is impossible for someone to search their own heart through all its windings to reveal what is at the very bottom of it. No one can neither fully know his own heart nor that of his neighbor. It is unsearchable. And this is why the Lord tells Jeremiah, in Jeremiah 17:9-10 that the heart of man is deceitful above all things. That none but the Lord can understand its motives. None but the Lord can search and know the mind of man. Only the Lord is fully acquainted with the affairs of the heart and mind of man. The thoughts and designs, the counsels and intentions the affections and determinations of humankind are only fully open to the inspection of the Lord. It is only He that can pass a just judgment on what He discerns. It would be to fool ourselves if we think we can rely on our own righteousness. And it’s my prayer that we may be cautious of the inclinations and direction of our hearts. May the Lord give us the grace to challenge our own hearts and minds and to judge them by the measure of God's truth. May we have the wisdom to trust God's testimony on the matter of our hearts because it is only from Him that we can receive instruction by which we can measure ourselves. You see, the truth is that the only way we can truly escape the deception of our own hearts and minds is by abiding in the Lord because the heart that is alienated from Him is sick and unreliable. Yes, sin has made a mark in our hearts even with the depth of a diamond point, but we have been called and grafted to He that can overwrite those marks. Yes, we live under constant temptation from without and from within. But we have been called to drink from the fountain that purifies the heart. And it’s my prayer that we may desire to drink from the very fountain of righteousness. That its waters may flow even to the deepest ends of our hearts and rid them of all deceitfulness. That the light of God’s word may shine even to the darkest corners of our hearts until no shadow of wickedness is left therein. May we surrender to Christ. May we let Him dwell in our hearts so that we may be rooted and grounded in Him that is righteousness itself. He died and rose so that the old self may die and we may receive a new nature. He was stricken so that our hearts may be healed. May we lean on Him. May we let Him search through our hearts and uproot all that is of the old nature until we are in sync with His nature. Until our will, our intentions, and thoughts are in sync with His. Because only then are we safe from the deceptions of our own hearts.
May 05, 2022
Matters of The Heart Pt.3
I don’t know if you have ever looked at someone; maybe they are being recommended for a certain position, or you have heard something about someone and you’re meeting them for the first time, and the moment you lay your eyes on them, you’re like they definitely look the part! You see, we often make the mistake of judging people by their appearances, or the uncommunicated impression they make. It’s a natural inclination, a natural fault in us because we cannot read the secrets of another’s heart. But the sad thing is that the value we attach to semblance in this generation is almost to the level of idolatry. But not everyone that has a noble aspect has a noble spirit. And this doesn’t just apply to our judgment of the rest of the world. We make the same error of judgment even towards ourselves. Sometimes we also hold ourselves in such high regard that we manage to convince ourselves that we’re doing okay. We listen to what everyone else says about us and let it get into our heads that we are without error. We blind ourselves to the faults in our faith. To the faults in our relationship with God. Because we have projected a certain image to the world and the world reflects it back to us. But we said that this month we’re addressing the state of our hearts. We want to pursue something deeper than countenance and stature. We are seeking to polish not just how we look in everyone else's eyes but who we are. Our concern is how we appear before the God who judges men by the heart. Our question this month should be, can God esteem us by the goodness of our hearts? Is He pleased with the inward condition and the endowments of our minds? Does our outward briskness and liveliness match what is within our hearts? You see, the Lord looks deep into the core of our hearts. His light searches deep for the integrity, the mercy, and goodness that is expected of those that have the fear of God in their hearts. And this is why He cautioned Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:7, against looking for the countenance and stature of the man that was to be king because He, the Lord looks at the heart. He looks at the raw potential. That which cannot be dressed up to look pretty. He looks at what one is. He measures someone on a different scale. He looks for the part of us that identifies with Him. The part that does not change whether we’re stripped down or added to. That which we cannot conceal from Him even if we managed to conceal it from the world. He searches for the foundation of our lives. And so as we continue with the discussion on the Matters of the Heart, I want us to ask ourselves; what sort of hearts do we have? If your heart was laid bare before the Lord, what would He find there? What lies in the closet of your soul? Beyond the peripheral things and the externals of this life, who are you? Is God satisfied by the condition of our hearts? Would God vouch for who we are on the inside? It is my prayer today that we may seek to be right in the sight of God. That we desire to develop the kind of spiritual character that God is looking for. The kind of love for God and attachment to righteousness that sets us apart. That disposition of the heart where everything else becomes subordinate to God. May we desire to have hearts that are set upon truth and righteousness. Hearts that are set upon God. Hearts that are right with God. In Jesus’ mighty name. Amen.
May 04, 2022
Matters of the Heart Pt.2
Some of the most basic components of identity include language, values, customs and expectations of the world around you. You see, when you say you’re an American, there are those things that people automatically ascribe to you. When you say you’re an African, an Asian, there are those things that people, expect you to be familiar with or to be doing. Some biases and assumptions. Identity inspires in us a sense of who we are and who we relay to others that we are. Our identity forms a stable core and an anchoring point to our individuality and values. And that identity or in other words, who we are, is what determines what we do. We are doing a study in Tweens and Teens this Season and one of theme focuses on Identity. If you read the book of Samuel and Psalms, or anywhere else that David is mentioned, you’ll realize that he was not called a man after God’s own heart for no reason. As imperfect as he was as a man, David is portrayed in the Bible as a kind man, a generous and noble man. He was a repentant man. A man who had unwavering faith in God. Psalms 78:72 describes another character of this man, and this is what I want us to talk about as we continue with this month’s topic of Matters of the Heart: he is described as a man of integrity, who governed Israel, by the skillfulness of his hands. David aimed at nothing else but the glory of God during his reign. Integrity and the fear of God were the maxims of his government. This was a man who was humbled first before he was exalted. His beginnings were as small as it could get, but at the height of his achievements, the heart he had when he was a shepherd did not leave him. This is a man whose character was shaped by his relationship with God. He remained upright before God, never swerving in heart from the obedience of God. He was sincere in his allegiance to God and he shepherded His people with an honest heart. He avoided and abhorred the counsel and courses that were contrary to the will of God. He acted in singular prudence and sought the good and welfare of his people. He did not seek his own honor and interest or the advancement of his family. David fulfilled his vocation with a pure heart. He realized God’s design and followed it to his last day. As we talk about matters of the heart this month, I want us to assess our hearts and ask ourselves if our hearts can be described in the manner that David’s heart was described. Does our relationship with God inspire a sense of identity in us? Does what we relay to the world reflect a people who know God? You know, we said at the beginning of today’s podcast that our identity is what determines what we do. Our values, our thoughts our actions… all these are anchored to a certain core. And if that core is not stable, if what lies in our hearts is not founded in God, we can only maintain some characters for some time before we slide back to our real selves. And so I want to challenge us today. Let us desire to have the kind of heart that David had. A heart that seeks for nothing less than the glory of God. A heart that has unwavering faith in God. May we desire to let our relationship with God shape our characters. Until those who interact with us can say these are a people of integrity. This is a man, a woman with an honest heart. This is a young man, or a young woman whose obedience and allegiance to God has not wavered because what is in their heart is solid. In Jesus’ mighty name. Amen.
May 03, 2022
Matters of The Heart Pt 1
“Matters of the Heart.” You know, the heart, the soul contains layers of thoughts, feelings, and intentions; some are known to us, and some are not really conscious of. The depth and detail of one's character are so far-reaching that we sometimes don’t even understand our motivations, interests, purposes, and plans. Sometimes we don’t even understand our own decisions. And this is why David, in Psalms 139:23-24, got to that point in life where he realized that he didn’t know himself that well. So he figured out that he needed someone who knew him better than himself. One who could be trusted to search him. To know him at the deepest levels. Let that sink, David knew that he could not afford to content himself with generalities. He knew the danger of giving himself over to the judgment of self-delusion. And so he gathered himself before the divine light of God that it may penetrate even to the deepest ends of his heart. He laid his heart bare, before God, with all its outward manifestations. He desired that the divine light may penetrate him and cleanse him of all that cleaved onto him that was evil. And this is the prayer we see in verses 23 and 24: the prayer and the yearning of a devout heart that craves nothing short of purity. A heart that wants to be separated from its former times and ushered into the way of endurance. The way of righteousness. The way everlasting way of God. And this is the desire I seek to stir in us, to have in our lives as believers. A desire for righteousness at any cost. A desire so deep that even when we’re conscious of our fallen nature, we can still go before the Lord with a longing for His light and ask Him, “Search me, O Lord. To the deepest parts of my heart. Search even to my inmost self. I know you will find evil in there, but such me still”. You know this is more than a desire. It’s a frank acknowledgment of the state of our hearts. It’s a confession. It is a bold acceptance of a terrible fact to the carnal mind. The fact that God knows us altogether. That He sees what lurks at the center of our being. Yes! He sees all that lurks within us. But He looks not with an eye of condemnation. Instead, he looks with a loving eye. This is the secret that the psalmist knew. The conception of his relationship with God was evident, and this is why he was willing to turn himself inside out before Him. This is a demonstration of confident love. A love that knows it is surrendering to the greatest of loves. This is the prayer of a heart that knows its sinfulness and is willing to submit it to the heart that bears it all away. This is a heart that’s willing to submit to the search process. Not so that the God who knows all may know something new. But that the man may know the condition of his own heart. Even what lies hidden from his conscious mind may be unveiled until he is no longer ignorant of it. This is a prayer for enlightenment even to the sins we may consider minute. It is a prayer for deliverance. Pray with me now. Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way. Amen. Shalom Pastor Lucy Paynter with your Daily Insights Matters of the Heart Part 1.
May 02, 2022
The Heart ❤Day 5/ The Essence of Growth
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. John 15:1-8 KJV
March 18, 2022
The Heart ❤Day 4
But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Matthew 13:8, 23 KJV
March 17, 2022
The Heart ❤Day 3
And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. Matthew 13:7, 22 KJV No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Matthew 6:24 KJV
March 16, 2022