Heart Test

Journal Entry // May 12, 2022

And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.

Deuteronomy 8:2 ESV

What’s the purpose of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for forty years after being brought of the slavery of Egypt by a great and powerful showing of God’s mighty right hand? I’m sure the answer is multifaceted if you do an in-depth study, but a good summation of the wilderness wandering is here in this passage. The Lord used the 40-year wandering in the wilderness to humble the Israelites. To test their heart’s desire for obedience. To know what was in their heart. This feels so familiar to me because the Lord is truly leading me through my own wilderness in order to humble me.

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Murderous Pride

Journal Entry // April 23, 2022

And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.”

Numbers 22:29 ESV

Pride is such a deceptive and pervasive part of our hearts that left unchecked it will bring about reckless disobedience to the Word of the Lord and even possible abandonment of the faith. The story of Balaam sounds an awful lot like the story of Jonah. With Balaam there is an overwhelming sense of unchecked pride in his life. Here is a man who has been granted visions from the Lord and is allowed to prophesy in the name of the God. Here is a man that has a ministry and calling from the Lord to share the word of these visions and to be the mouthpiece of God. Yet, Balaam was a man that also struggled with pride even in the midst of the amazing revelations and good works that he was allowed to be part of.

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Displaying Glory

Journal Entry// April 21, 2021

Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.

John 9:3 ESV

We always want to know and understand the deeper meaning to our present situation, especially when God has placed us in difficult situations lined with trials, adversity, pain, suffering, lowliness, and weakness. It goes against our desires to be placed in a state of humility. When these situations arise, we naturally assume that something is wrong. This must be a punishment or a response from the Lord to sin in our heart or lack of faith and understanding within us.

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Prideful Knowledge

Journal Entry // April 17, 2022

Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.”

John 7:48-49 ESV

This is always one of the passages that brings a bit of concern to my mind as I read. It’s difficult reading these passages about the leaders and Pharisees because they are a lot like me at times. As I read these accounts, I see my hard heart being represented in their decisions and statements to Jesus and about Jesus. These are the men who spent their entire life studying the Scriptures and desiring to be obedient to the Law of God found therein. These men who knew the Scriptures backwards and forwards were not only missing the Christ set before them, they were actively working against him. They were missing the very one that the Scriptures themselves pointed to.

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Life of Humility

Journal Enry // April 3, 2022

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

1 Peter 3:8 ESV

This verse is a good reminder to me of what I am aiming for in my quiet time of reflection after reading God’s word. In this verse there is a call to engage my heart, soul, mind, and strength to love both my God and my neighbor. At the center of this verse is humility. And humility is the singular concept that the Lord has been beating into my head for the past couple of years. That probably sounds a bit harsh, but I feel it is definitely true. It’s true because of my extremely think head and heart. My mind and my heart continually rebel against this pattern of life. A life filled with humility is so contrary to the world and my very own nature. Yet, humility is what I need to embrace if I want to be like Jesus. He is my model of humility and if I want true joy and happiness in Him, then I will be humble in all areas of my life.

Unity of mind calls me, in humility, not to uniformity of thinking but to cooperation in the midst of diversity. In humbleness, I am to be mindful of other’s thoughts and opinions and work together with those who may differ from me in matters of how things are to be done. The how is not nearly as important as the what and the why. Humbleness calls me to value my fellow believer’s opinions and convictions, even when I do not agree with them completely. We can work together for the building up of God’s kingdom.

Sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart. These are all the outworking of a humble heart. A heart that places others ahead of itself. With unity of mind, I will have sympathy. With a humble heart, I will have brotherly love. And a tender heart always places the needs of others as a priority. I love the thought of a tender heart and this is the phrase I most often associate with Jesus. As I read the gospels, the tenderness of his heart just leaps off the page at me. I want this! I want to be known as a tender hearted person. This starts with humility.

If I am going to be humble, it must be in my heart but it must be in my mind as well. My thoughts inform my heart and my heart informs my thoughts. As I review the thoughts in my mind from yesterday or even last week, I realize that I have a long road ahead of me toward humbleness. Such a long road. My heart and mind crave to be the priority. My heart and mind desire to be the center of life. It is a constant battle to be humble. To be content. To be patient. To be kind. To have a tender heart. To have a gentle heart, just like my Savior.

Grudging Obedience

Journal Entry // March 11, 2022

And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.”

Luke 5:5 ESV

How often do I have this same reaction that Peter does to the command of Jesus. It is a simple matter of trust and obedience, yet I find it so extremely difficult at times to believe that Jesus actually knows what he is doing. Think about this passage. Peter was a professional fisherman who had just finished a night of fishing with his partners with no results. He was probably tired and on edge since they did not catch anything all night. As they are cleaning the nets and preparing to leave, Jesus comes over and tells him to go out to the deep part of the water and cast his net. I can almost hear the incredulous snickers coming from his partners behind Peter. Here is a carpenter/teacher telling trained professional fisherman how to catch fish. It sounds absurd. And that is Peter’s response. And mine…

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The Humbled Exalted

Journal Entry // March 30, 2021

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 18:14 ESV

Here it is again… Humility. I assume this is going to be the running pattern this week. That the Spirit is even now preparing me for a deep lesson in humility. I feel as though I have been learning this lesson for quite a while now, but obviously there is still much to learn and my heart is still in desperate need of change. I don’t doubt that for one moment. I know my heart is nowhere near the point of having learned the lesson of humility. My heart is still proud and arrogant. It still seeks after the fleeting things of this world that give a false pleasure. My heart still wants to show itself as the center of all creation.

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Hidden Mercy

Journal Entry // February 20, 2022

But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle.

Exodus 13:18 ESV

The mercies of the Lord sometimes seem not quite so merciful when we are experiencing them, but our heavenly Father is full of ever increasing mercies in dealing with his children. On first reading, this seems a bit harsh to see that the Lord is going to lead the people on the longer route through the wilderness and toward the Red Sea. We might be tempted to question why the people had to be led through the longer harsher route. The previous verse tells us that God led them this way because if they went the shorter route through the land of the Philistines, the people were not prepared for war and would be tempted to flee back to Egypt.

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Humble Prayers

Journal Entry // February 16, 2022

So Moses went out from Pharaoh and prayed to the LORD. And the LORD did as Moses asked, and removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; not one remained.

Exodus 8:30-31 ESV

There is always so many interesting and intriguing aspects to the account of the Exodus. It brings to life the character of God and the sinfulness of man so vividly. You can read through this account as you would any story and walk away thoroughly satisfied with the tale. If this is your normal reading then you are missing so much. I miss so much most of the time, even when I’m reading it slow and contemplating what God is revealing. There is something to learn from all four main characters (Moses, Aaron, Pharaoh, God) and sometimes I’m not ready to see and learn. Then sometimes, like today, I see things that have escaped my attention through the many other readings.

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False Appearances

Journal Entry // February 5, 2022

So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Matthew 23:28 ESV

The mask of righteousness is a dangerous and addictive lie and deception that will ultimately bring about our downfall without true spiritual, heart changing correction. This mask of righteousness that we wear is all about self-righteousness and the approval of people. We wear this mask because we desire the approval of man above the approval of God. We want people to like and approve of us to the point that we want to remove the righteousness of Christ that covers us and expose our inward hypocrisy and lawlessness. In so doing, we must then cover ourselves with this mask of outward appearance of personal righteousness. Performing for the crowds, but allowing sin to run rampant inside.

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