Chapter 2. Faith (Whole Hearts) — Capturing God’s Heart #Volume 22
When I think about faith I think about our hearts. The core of our lives comes from our hearts. Our hearts experience many things. It is with our hearts that we feel and decide and go forward in life.
It is also in our hearts that we find darkness and lies and fear.
In essence life springs from our hearts. In Proverbs 4:23 we read, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” ESV
Every part of our lives is an outworking of our hearts. It is why it is so important that we get our hearts right with God and that we align our hearts with God’s heart.
The Psalmist says it well, “Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart.” Psalm 119:2 ESV
It is in pretence that we come to God with only part of our hearts. For we are told over and over that to really walk with God we must do so with our Whole Hearts.
In fact, in Mark we are told that even when we make sacrifice and offerings, if these things are not done in whole-hearted love for the Lord they mean nothing. (5)
“And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbour as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Mark 12:33 NKJV
Earlier in this same chapter of Mark we read that the greatest commandment of all is,
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30 ESV
Sometimes when we have known about God for a long time, we can think that to bring a part of ourselves is okay and that we can get away with a half-hearted life. But this doesn’t work.
And so we also find in the Bible many promises of God to help us with our hearts. For instance in Jeremiah we read this,
“I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.” Jeremiah 24:7 ESV
Faith then is simply giving over our whole hearts to God, accepting the love of Jesus Christ to change our hearts, and then living out the truths about God through our hearts and lives.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 ESV
In Ezekiel we read a great verse and another amazing promise from God,
“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” Ezekiel 36:25-27 ESV (6)
What we find is that we give God our whole heart and then God takes care of our whole heart.
We ourselves cannot change our own hearts. There are parts of our own hearts that we cannot even access and do not even know about. But God does. And so it is God who takes on the care of our hearts when we invite and accept and live in the life of Jesus Christ given over for us.
And in Romans we find more of God’s promise for us,
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:26-28 ESV
Because God can take all of our lives, the good and the bad, we offer up to the Lord all of our lives. Even the bad things, even the sad things, even our broken places and our failures are used by God for good when we give them over to the Lord. (7)
So we simply bring God all of us. We do not hide any parts of our hearts. We do not need to hide in fear or pretend that we are something we are not. Rather we come in honesty and openness and with our whole hearts.
And when we do this we will find that God is big enough for all of our lives and our hearts.
“God we come to you today in the name and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. We acknowledge you as Lord and Saviour of our lives. We say yes and amen to your work in our hearts. We thank-you.
Today we bring to you the things we have been afraid to bring to you. We bring you our bitterness, we bring you our hatreds, we bring you our fears and our worries.
We declare our trust in you God and declare your love for our hearts. Thank-you Jesus for dying for our hearts, for our lives, and being the one who carries all our darkness and the evil in our hearts. We give you our whole hearts today. Amen”
May you be encouraged today to not keep any parts of your hearts from God. For God passionately loves you and will make you whole and strong from the depths of your heart.
“I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise.” Psalm 138:1 ESV
As leaders in the Kingdom of God we want to come to an understanding and faith that God is working in the hearts of people at all times. We may have those in our congregations that concern us with how they are living their lives but regardless of other people’s choices we want to deal carefully with people at all times.
In all situations the best first thing to do is to go to prayer regarding those we are concerned about. In prayer we can take our own frustrations to the Lord regarding those ones we are trying to lead. In prayer we can, for example, forgive people (general or specific) for being difficult. It is important to go before the Lord in prayer in this way. As leaders you carry a lot of responsibility and it is easy to become weighed down and bitter about the problems and the problem people around you.
Therefore, take the time to empty your heart to God. Bring Him all of your concerns and confess to him your own hearts responses as you are trying to lead. As you bring your anger and frustrations to God he refreshes you and enables you to lead in a new way.
It does no good to lead out of a heart of bitterness, envy, anger, frustration — when we do this our leading becomes a weighty thing upon people; instead of blessing we become part of the enemies plans for condemnation. We don’t want this. We want to be a blessing to those we serve and lead.
And so, in prayer and time spent with God, we pour out our concerns and our heart for his people, and we agree with God for their good futures. We set aside our frustrations and we take on his good heart for others. To lead well we need to bring our whole hearts to God in this way so that we may lead even better.
“God, today I come with my frustrations and my anger about the state of the people in my church. God I often do not know what to do. But you do. And so first I leave my frustration, anger, and bitterness at the cross of my Lord Jesus Christ. I take on your gentle spirit and I ask that you would increase my confidence and my faith that you are working in all of our lives. I commit my own life to your heart once more, and I say yes and amen to your continued good working in the lives of those you have called me to serve and to lead. May we all find your good grace together. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen”
Summary – faith (whole hearts)
We come to God with our whole hearts. Mark 12:30
A divided heart and mind gains nothing. James 1:8, James 4:8, Isaiah 29:13
God is the one who gives us a new heart. Jeremiah 24:7, Ezekiel 11:19
We must be faithful to bring him our whole hearts.
Jeremiah 17:10, Proverbs 3:5-6, Matthew 22:37
(note, footnotes run concurrent through the entire course. in other words, footnotes 1-4 were in last months chapter)
5. A divided heart bears no fruit. James 4:3, James 1:8
6. Our justification is in Christ, but so too our sanctification. We are freed unto God’s ways because of and through the work of Jesus Christ.
7. Remember that there is no shame or condemnation in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1. As we bring our entire hearts to him we find this true and that he is the lifter of our heads. Psalm 3:3