Pure in Heart

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

There is a saying in our culture, “Follow your heart.” It sounds nice and makes for neat home decor signs, but, unfortunately for the Christian, it is not accurate. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things…” The Bible indicates the heart is something not to blindly follow, but to tame and guide. As Christians, we are not called to “find ourselves” but to “deny ourselves.”

So, how do we develop a pure heart? Psalm 12:6 says, “The fear of the Lord is pure.” Psalm 119:9 says, “How can a person stay pure? By living according to Your Word.” Psalm 20:11 says, “Even small children are known by their conduct, if their heart is really pure and upright.” Proverbs 15:26 says, “God detests the thoughts of the wicked, but gracious words are pure in his sight.” We can see through these verses that by living according to God’s word and watching our conduct and our words we can develop a pure heart. And there’s good reason! Psalms 24:4-5 says those with pure hearts will “receive a blessing from the Lord” and “righteousness unto salvation.” We are also told in Matthew 5 the pure in heart will see God and that our purity is the “fine linen of the righteous deeds of the saints.”

The bad news? One of the ways we are made pure is through tests and trials (Proverbs 17:3). Sometimes God puts us through the refiner’s fire to rid us of impurities and make us shine. Don’t fret the unwarranted trials and tests, friend. It is all a part of the journey.

It’s All About Perspective

1 Samuel 17 is the account of David and Goliath. We all know how young David challenged the giant Goliath and God gave him the victory, but there is a pre-story. David had been sent to the battle not to fight, but to merely deliver food. But when he heard the Philistine insulting God, he could not turn away. David’s brother, a soldier, was insulted. “You are nothing but a lowly shepherd. Go home!” he essentially said. David’s brother tried to put him in his place, insulting him with his job status. This did not have the impact the brother was hoping for, because David did not leave. As a matter of fact, David used his job as an example to King Saul.

“Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion(AI) or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock,35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized(AJ) it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion(AK) and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.37 The Lord who rescued(AL) me from the paw of the lion(AM) and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Sam. 34-37)

The same thing the devil will use to try to discredit us is the very thing God will use to bring the victory! God does not see as man sees. He uses everything – even our scars and failures – to His glory. It’s all about perspective.

Living in Remembrance

I love the stories of David, and the account of him and Goliath is still one of my favorites. I love the idea of the underdog gaining victory over God’s mocker. I noticed that when David challenged Goliath, everyone was doubtful, even his brothers. King Saul himself even tried to give young David his own armor! There was one who did not doubt: David. David did not doubt because he remembered God giving him victory over not only a lion, but also a bear. When these happened, his friends were not around. They had not yet perhaps seen the mighty hand of God bring the victory. But David lived in his remembrance. Perhaps you have been in a similar situation, where well meaning and supportive friends aren’t quite so supportive. Know this: their lack of support is based on their level of faith. Many people do not think God can bring the victory because they have never seen it before. But you have. Perhaps you have had God kill the symbolic lion and bear in your past, so you know he can do it again. Don’t fully listen to the whispers of your friends. They might not yet have stood with feet mired in mud, watching as God parted the sea. But you have. Remember those times. Cling to those times, knowing that the same God who brought you through the fire first time can bring you through again! Live in full remembrance, friend, of all God has done for you!

The Sacrificial Lamb

When studying for this week’s devo I learned about astonishing correlations between Jesus and the sacrificial lamb that was used for sacrifice:

1. After being selected for sacrifice, the sacrificial lamb was wrapped in swaddling clothes. This places new significance on the mention of Jesus being wrapped in swaddling cloth when found by the shepherds. And these were not ordinary shepherds. These shepherds were, specifically, Levitical shepherds who took care of the lambs for the temple sacrifice in Jerusalem. This had significant meaning and symbolism for both them and us.

2. The sacrificial lambs used for sacrifice in Jerusalem came from Bethlehem. Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

3. The sacrificial lamb had to be male, just like Jesus.

4. The sacrificial lamb had to be perfect, without blemish. Jesus was our sinless, perfect sacrifice.

5. The sacrificial lamb had to be in the prime of his life at 1 year of age. Jesus died in the prime of his life, at 33.

6. 6 days before sacrifice, the sacrificial lamb was presented to the high priest. 6 days before the Crucifixion, Jesus was presented to the people on an unridden donkey and rode through the city gates (a rite reserved only for kings).

7. 6 days before slaughter, the sacrificial lamb was inspected by the priest and his feet were anointed with oil. 6 days before the Crucifixion, the “Immoral Woman” anointed Jesus’ feet with oil in the house of Simon the leper.

8. 2 days before Passover, the sacrificial lamb was given a final inspection by the priest and his head was anointed with oil. 2 days before the Crucifixion, Jesus’ head was anointed with oil by the woman at Bethany.

9. Just as the sacrificial lamb was sacrificed at the ninth hour (3:00), Jesus, too, died at the ninth hour.

10. A blood sacrifice was required for the Passover, and Jesus shed his blood for us.

11. The sacrificial lamb is to have no broken bones, even after death. Jesus bones were not broken (even though it was customary to break the legs of the crucified men).

12. There were to be no leftovers of the sacrificial lamb. Jesus body was taken off the cross before sundown. -April Estes, sweetmimosa.blog

Amazing the similarities! But we do not serve a God of chance, but a God who is deliberate, thoughtful and a lover of symbolism. He shows us proof even without asking! Praise be to God!

How Audacious!

My third book, Audacious Women of the Bible, just came out and I have been amazed at all the women I’d never even heard of! Jehosheba, Abigail, Zipporah…the list goes on & on. What seems to be key is “audaciousness” is neither good nor bad, but how you use it. A lady, like Esther, could be audacious enough to go before a king uninvited to save a nation or be like Delilah and use her audaciousness for her own, personal gain. Many things in life are like that. They are neither good nor bad, but the way they are USED determines whether they are good or bad. Today, Let’s determine to use our audaciousness and boldness and all our other traits for God’s glory, for the good!

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Seeing His Glory

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (1 Pet. 4:12–13)

I love words. I guess as a writer, that is an obvious statement, but my whole life I have been intrigued with lyrics and quotes. As early as nine, I would run to the mailbox the read the “quotable quotes” in the Reader’s Digest. I had books filled with quotes and bible verses and country lyrics from Dolly to Chesney. Along the way, I learned how to decipher verses. Some Bible verses (especially the apostle Paul) can be long winded and need to be “chunked” to understand fully the message and implications. The verse (above) is one of those. One day, when “chunking” this verse I was surprised, because It could literally be read “His glory will be revealed when you share in His suffering through fiery trials and suffering.” Sometimes the best blessings come in the pit. Suffering is horrible. Trials are the pits. But that is where we see His glory. Pray for eyes to be opened to see His hand and glory around you.

The God Who Sees You

One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is I Kings 19. There are so many good points in that one chapters but my absolute favorite is in verse 18. In this chapter, Elijah is scared and depressed. His nemesis, Jezebel, had promised that she would kill him by the next day – and she was the type to keep her word on that! (This was the same woman who killed all her grandchildren so she could remain in control). Afraid and alone, Elijah ran to a cave and fell asleep. After an angel fed him, and he rested a second time, God himself comes to speak to him. Elijah tells God the problem and the Lord tells him how He is going to fix the problem, Then we come to verse 18:

“Nevertheless, I have reserved 7,000 in Israel who have not bowed their knee to Baal (to save).”

This verse is so reassuring, because it reminds us that we are not alone. What’s more, God sees each and every one of us. He is the God of the Individual who sees each and every one of us. We might think we are all alone, but God knows better. His followers are all around – perhaps scattered, but still present – and God saves them, just as He promised. If you are feeling alone, ask God to open your eyes or bring one of His “7,000” to you. They are all around!

(Free) Ladies Day!

Need some encouragement? Join me for an online women’s retreat “SUMMIT OF HOPE!” 13 women who have walked through the fire will be speaking for Wavemakers on
MARCH 25-27, 6:30-9pm CST, sharing PRACTICAL and USEABLE advice to help get you through the hard times!
**I will be speaking Mar 26 at 7 (8pm EST) To participate in this FREE event, PM me your email address so I can send you the invite! Yay!! 💕

Tamed

I like to read well-known authors to keep informed of what is popular in the present. This month my book journey led me to “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle. Her message of letting go of others’ expectations and “living in the moment” is alluring. She uses the word “free” often, as in “free from” chains that hold us. Her 21st century philosophy of “finding yourself” and “living free” is an enticing message. Her self review is honest, encouraging readers to embrace themselves and break out of the “cages of conditioning” that thwart our growth and happiness. It is a popular message to the masses.

But there’s a problem.

As Christians we are not called to embrace ourselves, but to deny ourselves. It is an unpopular view, as well as feeling, because, honestly, it’s not easy. It takes for-thought and perseverance and gumption to deny one’s self daily. It’s hard.

But so was the cross.

The second fallacy is that one is “free” when following Doyle’s philosophy. In this world, you’re going to be a slave to something. If one grasps the philosophy proposed in the book, they are merely swapping one set of “shackles” (self denial) for another (“happiness”). Happiness now becomes the slave driver, changing moment to moment and at the whim of each person. It never fills because it is ever changing.

But there is One who is never changing. His message is also a message of freedom, but it is not clothed in “easy” or “wreckless abandon.” It is real and honest, warning the listener to carefully weigh the costs before jumping in.

Why?

Because self denial is not natural. It is not human nature to “reel oneself in.” We WANT to say what we want to say and do what we want to do without having to think of the heavy weight of consequences or what pleases God. It’s so much easier and feels so much (fleshly) better to just “do what feels right” and be the master of our own fates. But the Bible warns us that the heart is deceiving. So, what is one to do?

Cling to Him. Choose to live Tamed. Jesus said those who love Him will keep His commandments. Revelation talks of those who are saved as those who fed the hungry, visited the lonely…did the hard, self denial stuff. It’s not a life that sounds very enticing or romantic, but it is the only way to true freedom.