The Heart Needs Prostrating
Over and over again, we are told in Scripture to worship God with all the heart. This stresses the need of total involvement with God, an involvement that includes the mind, emotions, and the will. So, note the following passages of Scripture: With all our heart we are to:·
Love God (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37; Mark 12:30).·
Search for God (Deut. 4:29; Jer. 29:13).·
Return to the Lord (Joel 2:12).·
Rejoice and exult in the Lord (Zeph. 3:14).·
Give thanks. This means learning to live by praise and thanksgiving with one’s focus purely on the Lord (Ps. 9:1; 86:12; 119:7; cf. Rom. 1:21).·
Believe God and His Word (Acts 8:37).
The heart is purified by being renewed. The mind needs renewing in its ideas, values, motives, and beliefs. The thoughts and intents of the heart need to be changed through storing and meditating on the Word. Included here is the idea of exchanging our viewpoint for God’s (Rom. 12:2; Isa. 55:8f; Ps. 51:10; 119:9-11; Pr. 3:3; 7:3; 2 Cor. 4:16; Eph. 2:23).
Giving the heart means involvement: Involvement with God, involvement with family, involvement with other Christians, and involvement with non-Christians. And what does involvement include? It includes: sacrificial love, walking by faith rather than sight, spontaneity rather than rigidity, the risk of vulnerability, and a willingness to become accountable.
Proverbs 28:26 warns us, the heart of man is not a safe haven, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered.
Giving the heart means risk, entanglements, becoming vulnerable: It means having to step out in faith, believing God rather than one’s own strategies. It means having to give up something … sometimes a lot. It can even mean having your heart broken and wrung like a towel. But to fail to give it means to lock it up safely in the casket of selfishness. And like a body laid to rest in a casket, the heart will change; though safe, dark, and motionless, it will rot and become a bag of bones.
Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote, Therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous” (Isa. 29:13).
Obviously, withholding the heart means our inability and our unwillingness to give our hearts to either God or to others. Certainly, since we never arrive at ultimate maturity in this life, there will always be room for growth in giving the heart because it is so difficult to give up our various methods of self-protection.
Psalm 78:8 And not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not prepare its heart, And whose spirit was not faithful to God.
This word is used in Psalm 78:8 of preparing the heart to be firm, focused, and fixed on the Lord in the sense of trust and rest in God’s love, goodness, wisdom, grace, and power (cf. Ps. 112:7-8). The point here is that the heart can only become steadfast, stable, when it has been properly prepared in a biblical sense.
The Heart Needs Purifying
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?
The heart is purified by being tested (Deut. 8:2; Jer. 17:10; Ps. 139:23-24). One of the reasons for suffering and trials and the varied irritations that God either brings or allows is to reveal the condition of our hearts, to show its true colors that we might see our sin and deal with it through confession and faith in God’s provision.
The heart is purified by confession or repentance
The Heart Needs Cheering, Encouraging, Comforting
Proverbs 15:13,15 A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, But when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken. … All the days of the afflicted are bad, But a cheerful heart has a continual feast.
2 Corinthians 9:7 Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.
John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me …
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
Life is full of pain and disappointments which bring sorrow and discouragement, so the heart needs to be cheered, comforted, and encouraged. But our tendency is to seek to cheer and comfort our hearts with the methods of the world—through our strategies for happiness, through the details of life as with the pursuit of power, pleasure, possessions, position, and the like. God has given us all things to enjoy, but God’s plan for lasting joy and encouragement comes from a heart that has been prepared and fixed to trust the Lord (Jn. 16:27; Ps. 37:4).
The Heart Needs Strengthening
Psalm 37:31 The law of his God is in his heart; His steps do not slip.
Psalm 40:8 I delight to do Thy will, O my God; Thy Law is within my heart.
Psalm 119:11 Thy word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against Thee.
The Heart Needs Biblical Desires and Longings
One of the most fundamental and life changing needs of the heart is to have biblical desires and longings. Please note the emphasis in the following passages:
(1) Psalm 37:4: Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart
“Delight” is anag which means (1) “to be soft, delicate, dainty.” In Arabic, a sister language, it meant “to allure” and “to entice” and was used of the amorous gestures of women in their looks and walk. There is a certain feminine quality to this word and it fits with the nature of God’s dealings with believers. Israel was the wife of the Lord and the church is the bride of Christ. As it was with Israel, so we are to respond to the Lord as His chaste bride and to be sensitive to His love and care. Knowing Him as such should build our trust and commitment and keep us from being lured away from Him. In the Hebrew text, the verb “delight” is in a reflexive stem which came to mean, “to take exquisite delight, to delight yourself in an exquisite manner.” So the Psalmist says in effect that God is to be our most exquisite source of joy. We are to delight in His person and being. He is calling us to pursue God that we might know and revel in His divine person and being.
Second, the Promise. “Desires” is the Hebrew mishalab which may mean, “prayers, requests, petitions.” Our requests are usually based on our desires, wants, or what we see as our needs, though this is not one of the major Hebrew words for desire. “Of your heart” points us to the source of the requests, our inner person through the function of the mind, emotions, and will. “Desires of your heart” refers to the results of the function of the mind, emotions, and will in the formation of aspirations, desires, and longings.
When our delight is genuinely in the Lord, our requests, the product of our desires, will be transformed and conformed to the will of God. When we start truly delighting in the Lord and trust in Him for our needs and desires, we will then stop depending on our own devices for security or significance. It is then that our desires and requests will naturally begin to change.
Therefore, God promises to give us those requests, as the context suggest, according to His timing.
Psalm 94:19: “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Thy consolations delight my soul.”
Anxious thoughts multiply when a man’s delight is off the Lord. When this occurs, his trust will also be off the Lord and on his own devices and solutions to life. So what does the Psalmist say? “Thy consolations delight my soul.” What is God’s greatest consolation or source of comfort? It is God Himself. When Christians fail to delight their heart in the Lord by seeking Him as their number one source of comfort, they will begin to unravel and they will turn to their own devices.
Problems of the Heart
A wrong focus or thought pattern.
· In Psalm 19:14 the Psalmist prayed for a right focus and thought pattern. He recognized the danger of a wrong focus or center.
· The heart, when dominated by the sinful nature and man’s viewpoint, gathers wickedness to itself like impure imaginations, slander, false beliefs, false aspirations and solutions, impure desires, and deceit, etc. (Psalm 41:6).
· Because the heart is the wellspring of life, and because the heart is incurably wicked, unrighteousness begins in the heart (cf. Ps. 36:1; 58:2; Matt. 15:18-19). Remember, the flaming missiles of the evil one, as with Eve, are aimed at the heart (the mind, emotions, and will) (Eph. 6:16).
An unbelieving heart (Heb. 3:12). An unbelieving heart is what causes us to pursue our own solutions to life. This is what happened to Eve.
Fear and anxiety (Isa. 35:4; 51:7). Fear or anxiety is removed through a believing heart or trust in God’s plan and supply regardless of the problems or how things look from our perspective (Ps. 112:7; 13:5; 27:3).
Agitation, frustration of heart. The absence of peace because the heart is not truly centered on the Lord (Ps. 38:8-10).
Fainting, depression, losing heart. The absence of endurance (Ps. 40:12; Lk. 18:1).
Turning away from the Lord. Turning away into sin, unfaithfulness, backsliding (Deut. 17:17; Ps. 44:18; Pro. 7:25; Heb. 3:12).
Trusting in the wrong sources of hope as human strategies for security, significance, or happiness (Ps. 62:10; cf. 64:6 with vs. 10; 73:25f. Also cf. Ps. 81:12, “to walk in their own devices”).
Loneliness and brokenness of heart (Ps. 69:20; Pro. 15:13; 17:22).
Bitterness of heart (Ps. 73:21; Pro. 14:10; Ja. 3:14).
(10) Stubbornness of heart (Ex. 7:14; Ps. 78:8; 81:12; Jer. 3:17).
Divided heart, the opposite of singleness of devotion (2 Chr. 25:2; Ps. 86:11; Matt. 6:21-24; Ja. 1:6-8).
Arrogance or pride of heart, the opposite of a humble heart (2 Chr. 32:26; Isa. 9:9; Ps. 101:5).
False values of the heart (Matt. 6:21; Phil. 3:8).
Hardness of heart (Pr. 28:14; Heb. 3:7-13).
Is it any wonder then, that Solomon challenges us: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23, NIV).
As emphasized previously, the heart is where our character is formed and maintained, the place that determines who we are, and what we do. As Scripture warns us, issues of life flow from the heart. It alone holds the secrets of true success or meaning in life. If our heart is filled with what is good, our actions and words will follow. If it is filled with what is evil, so will be our actions and words.
So then, the treasures of our hearts are priceless, but as stressed, they can be stolen. We face three thieves, the world, the flesh, and the devil, and these three stalk us always seeking ways to steal the good treasures of the heart and to replace them with what is evil and worthless, or at least, with those that are not the best.
How well am I guarding my heart? Is the condition of my heart my greatest concern? It should be because it is so determinative of every aspect of life. It ultimately determines my love for God and for others. It determines who I am and what I do.