The Call to the Heart

We are all called to the wise use of our hearts.

23  Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV)

Recently while reading through Job something caught my attention. Just a little phrase in a verse as Job spoke, “Or my heart walked after my eyes.” Sometimes lyrics in a song or verse arrest our hearts, this one arrested me.

In context, Job had earlier addressed how he had made a covenant with his eyes. In proclaiming his commitment to walk in righteousness Job made the connection between his heart and where his eyes go. Implicit in Job’s statement is the idea of choice and responsibility, or if you will, our respond ability.

Jesus said many things about our heart and some of what He said reinforces what Job said.

8  Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Matthew 5:8 (NKJV)

21  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21 (NKJV)

35  A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. Matthew 12:35 (NKJV)

Jesus calls us to purity of heart and points out that what comes out of our hearts is dependent on what we treasure in our hearts. While this may be easy to say, yet hard to do, Job’s simple phrase seems to capture the how. Embracing wisdom is seeking to keep our eyes focused on things that our heart can walk after.

7  If my step has turned from the way, Or my heart walked after my eyes, Or if any spot adheres to my hands, Job 31:7 (NKJV)

Stewarding Creation

One friend noted that my last post seemed to conclude, “Don’t worry – be happy.” While that was not the intent it is a fair comment based on what I wrote. Let’s look at how we should respond to the environmental issues. First, we are not to worship creation we are to steward it. This command was given in the garden.

26  Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:26 (NKJV)

15  Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. Genesis 2:15 (NKJV)

Our calling is to exercise dominion or authority and to tend and keep creation. This means using things for useful ends without abusing them. In the original creation this would have been a simpler process. Once sin entered we nor the rest of creation were in harmony with our original purpose.

Paul said to Timothy that God, “gives us richly all things to enjoy.” (1 Tim. 6:17 NKJV). Part of the enjoyment is following His instructions on how to steward creation. There are for example OT instructions on how to manage crops and use the land. God enforced a 70 year ‘Sabbath’ rest for the land by exiling the nation because they had not followed His laws regarding the land (2 Chron. 36:21, Jer. 29:10-14).

The principle inherent in the command regarding a rest for the land was use versus abuse. God commanded a rest every 7th year to teach two things. One, we are to use not abuse creation. Two, to look to and trust Him.

In our North American culture it is easy to do things like recycle, it is harder to reduce consumption because we are surrounded by inducements to do just the opposite. Yet, if we are to be good stewards we need to both enjoy creation and appreciate and not abuse it. We must also avoid the worship of creation by deifying nature, both flora and fauna.

Consider the many ‘rights’ issues in our culture. Many who march to save the trees, the whales…(pick your favourite) have no issue with taking life through abortion. These are skewed priorities at odds with God’s plan and purpose. Jesus summarized it very well.

23  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Matthew 23:23 (NKJV)

In conclusion, whether we drive electric cars, fuel efficient vehicles or live consumptive lifestyles, we should prayerfully consider our stewardship of creation as we will eventually give an account to our creator, and Jesus will ask tough questions. As David said,

1  The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Psalm 19:1 (NKJV)

Let’s do our part to align with this perspective.

The Whole Creation Groans

There is much talk of climate change and conflicting positons on the role of fossil fuels, alternative energy and our responsibility to save the planet. The scriptures have something to say on this matter.

 20  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21  because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22  For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Romans 8:20-22 (NKJV)

16  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (NKJV)

Creation came into bondage to corruption due to the fall in Eden. Sin affected not just humanity but all of creation. As beautiful as many parts of the world are they are but a shadow of what creation was and will be again. In relation to the fall of creation we have this promise in the Romans passage, “the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

We also see that the Father “so loved the world.”

Our Father’s plan through Jesus sacrifice was not just to redeem humanity. All of creation will eventually come into right order. We are right to love, appreciate and seek to wisely steward this present creation – Jesus died for it, but we cannot ‘save’ the planet. Jesus will do that when we see the fullness of His redemption realized.

To be wise stewards of the creation He has entrusted to us, the greatest thing we can do is heed the advice of Peter.

11  Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12  looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13  Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:11-13 (NKJV)

While there is debate about whether this will be a qualitatively or quantitatively new heavens and earth, what is not in debate is that this is where righteousness will dwell.

Come Lord Jesus!  

Groanings Which Cannot be Uttered

Most of us are familiar with the passage below. To understand how it applies to our lives two key words need to be examined: helps and groanings.

26  Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27  Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27 (NKJV)

The key to understanding the passage is whether the Holy Spirit is interceding for us to the Father or His intercession is through us. The answer is found in the word helps. The word means, “Help, assist, take hold of together, help in obtaining.” (The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary). One interlinear translate it as “jointly helps.” What this communicates is that when we are overwhelmed and don’t know where to turn or how to pray, He does. The Holy Spirit dwells in us and is stirred by our needs as He works to conform us to the image of Jesus. Thus He responds by stirring up intercession deep within us. When we look to Him He doesn’t take over, He helps.

The passage says this intercessory help is expressed through, “groanings which cannot be uttered.” For those of us who have seen someone in the grip of intercessory travail it is evident what this passage means. While some interpret it as tongues that does not do justice to the passage. The Greek word is used twice in the NT. Here and in Acts 7:34 when Stephen said the Lord heard the groaning of the Israelites in bondage in Egypt. It carries the idea of deep painful sorrow. 

 So, when we are in a deep struggle we can look to Him and let Him move through our spirit and express our heart in ways we can’t normally release!