From the Archive: Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing (9/9/13)

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Hey guys! I’m reposting a post today because I feel that it fits with this week. Also I wanted to let you guys know that I will not be posting the rest of this week.

See you guys on Monday!

The story for the man who wrote this hymn, Robert Robinson, was actually quite inspiring. After the death of his father, his mother sent him to London to become a barber. Instead he learned to drink and became a gangster. After an unsettling encounter with a fortune teller, he and his buddies attended a meeting being held by George Whitefield, a very prominent evangelist. Three years later, after being haunted by the preachers words, Robinson gave his life to Christ. He then entered into the ministry. He wrote this hymn in order to accompany a sermon he was giving, and it has been a Church favorite ever since.

The last couple strains of this song really hit me this week, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal its, seal it for Thy courts above.” It speaks to our sinful nature and how we constantly feel a need to run from God. But then we can turn around and give our lives to God. Not only is this an autobiography of Robert Robinson, but it is also a simple statement on the human relationship with God.

What About Things?

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I’ve started reading this book called The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. There is a paragraph that I would love to share with you as we lead into Thanksgiving and subsequently, Black Friday.

“There is within the human heart a tough fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to posses. It covets ‘things’ with a deep and fierce passion. the pronouns ‘my’ and ‘mine’ look innocent enough in print, but their constant and universal use is significant. Thy express the real nature of the old Adamic man better than a thousand volumes of theology could do. They are verbal symptoms of our deep disease. The roots of our hearts have grown down into things, and we dare not pull up one rootlet lest we die. Thing have become necessary to us, a development never originally intended. God’s gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution.”

The meat of this paragraph is found in the last sentence, “God’s gifts now take the place of God”. We get so consumed in our culture with going and getting the best thing. Thanksgiving brings this out in us, because we want to bring the best recipe. Or we get upset when a family member doesn’t bring their “world-famous” whatever. Then of course there is Black Friday. People have died trying to buy the perfect gift!

Things have become the god of our culture. God does not wish this for anyone. Simply look at the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17; Deuteronomy 5:7-21). The first two are to not put anything above God and to not make physical things our focus of worship!

Don’t get me wrong, gift giving is great. It’s an awesome way to show people you care about, that you care about them. I just encourage you not to let it be your focus of this upcoming holiday weekend. Spend time being thankful for what you have. Spend quality time with your family, not just begrudgingly go. Thank God for His many blessings, and start to prepare your heart to celebrate His ultimate gift!

Everything Else Is Worthless

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So yesterday, I had a Scripture on my mind all day. I woke up early and read Paul’s letter to the Philippians. There is a statement he makes, that just floored me.

“Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become on with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.” — Philippans 3:8-9, NLT

It took me awhile to wrap my head around such a statement. So I dug around Scripture for some time, really trying to understand this issue. To me, my family is a rather large priority. At times I can get my priorities messed up, and place them before God. So I started to question how they could be worthless in comparison to Christ, and God lead me to another passage from Paul.

“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body to be burned; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” — 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, NLT

But I do love others. I honestly could do a better job loving you, if you aren’t my wife or children. So I didn’t quite understand yet what God was trying to piece together for me. So He lead me yet to one final place.

“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.” — 1 John 3:16, NLT

There it was! The only reason I know how to love my family is because of Jesus! There are so many other things that come from a relationship with Christ, like salvation from my sins. But yesterday, I discovered that it is only because of my relationship with Christ, that I have the life I do, and I am so thankful for it. I can now see that it is worthless when standing next to Jesus. He is my God and my Savior. There is no higher relation to me! This doesn’t mean my family is no longer important. It just means that I have a higher priority than them.

The way Paul says it in Philippians shows us that we must keep Christ at the center of our lives. He must have the highest place in our hearts for worship. Everything must pale in comparison to Christ! If this isn’t true for you, I encourage you to seek Scripture and pray for God to show you how you have given Him a lower priority than He deserves, and how to change that. Our lives are meant to be Christ-centeric, not anything else.

Going Into Battle

For the past seven weeks, I have been doing a Bible study on worship with my church’s praise team. It has been a pretty great study so far, and I look forward to the last two weeks of it. The study, while going throughout the Bible, focuses on one story. It can be found in 2 Chronicles 20.

In this story, Judah is being threatened by 3 different invading armies. King Jehoshaphat orders a time of fasting and prayer. The prophet Jahaziel then delivers a message to the king and all Judah, “thus says that Lord to you, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley in front of the wilderness of Jeruel. You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the Lord is with you.” (2 Chronicles 20:15b-17, NASB).

After receiving this message, the people fast and pray. In the morning the army marched out to station itself for battle, but leading the charge were the priest and holy worshipers (a choir!!!!). These people lead the people of Judah is a praise song that went like this, “Give thanks to the Lord, for His lovingkindness is everlasting” (2 Chronicles 20:21, NASB). During the praise, God made the armies confused and they destroyed themselves!

Isn’t that a great story? But it has a point that I’d like to share with you.

Life gets hard. The people of Judah were experiencing this (3 armies at once!). But no matter how hard life can get, we should lead the charge with praise and worship. As we’ve been discussing this week, praise is important (especially when we are waiting on God’s promises). The people of Judah showed us what can happen when we place our trust in God. They didn’t have to lift a sword in order to defeat the three armies, all the did was sing. God did the rest of the work. The story goes on to show that they went on to plunder for three days! It must have been a massive gathering against them. But the listened and trusted in God. They went into battle praising Him, and He provided for them.

God wants to do the same for you. All you have to do is surrender your life completely to Him. Then, go into battle singing His praises. We can’t go into the “battle” of the day saying “Let me figure it out, then I’ll ask God.” Give it to God first! He can handle it.

I thought of a couple songs that would be appropriate for this post. So please take a listen, and give your battles over to God.

From the Archive (9/16/2013): O Praise Him

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I promise guys. One day I will figure this whole blogging thing out and actually post stuff when their supposed to be posted.

Any way, this week I though I would post about O Praise Him by David Crowder* Band. The song often asks worshipers to turn towards heaven and praise Him. Praise is defined as the offering of grateful homage in words or song, as an act of worship. That’s all this song is asking of us, to simply turn and worship the Lord with praise. A good way to also look at this song is through the lens of Psalm 148:

“Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens!
Praise him from the skies!
Praise him, all his angels!
Praise him, all the armies of heaven!
Praise him, sun and moon!
Praise him, all you twinkling stars!
Praise him, skies above!
Praise him, vapors high above the clouds!
Let every created thing give praise to the Lord,
for He has issued his command, and they came
into being.”
-Psalm 148:1-5, NLT

I love this song as a way to get worship started. Its a good way to get people to be thinking upwards, right from the beginning.

So have a listen below.

Believing in God

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Yesterday I talked about waiting on God. I know that waiting is extremely difficult, especially when you are impatient. Yet waiting is important because God operates on His time, not ours. Peter tells us, “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:8-9, NASB). This just goes to show us that God’s time table is nowhere near ours. To him, time over the last 2000 years could seem anywhere from 2000 to 730,500,000 days (or 5.5 to 2 million years!!). Our time table is meaningless in God’s eyes, it’s only His time and will that matter.

Bu this doesn’t help us wait any. Knowing that God doesn’t provide in our time, it actually kind of makes me worry that it will never happen. So simply waiting on God isn’t enough. What is it that will get us through the waiting? What is that one thing that will help us enjoy God’s blessing, despite all the waiting around we had to do?

I believe that that one thing is belief. Believing in God and His promises is what helps us get through such hard times. The belief I am speaking of is best defined in Hebrews, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1, NLT). I was reading in the book of Numbers today. There is a story in there that speaks perfectly about this topic.

In chapters 13 and 14, the people of Israel have been brought to a place just outside of the promised land. God told Moses to send 12 men into the promised land to spy it out for them. The men were gone for forty days. They traveled all over the promised land, and brought back many samples of what the Israelites were going to find. When they returned, ten of the men gave a report that the Israelites could not possibly overcome the inhabitants of the land. They thought that they would surely all die. But Caleb and Joshua (the other two) spoke up saying that they could because they had God, and He promised them the land. The people ultimately sided with the 10 men and rebelled against God. He chose to punish them with 40 years of wandering in the wilderness and that none of the adults would be alive (except Caleb and Joshua) to enter the promised land.

I suppose what I’m getting at is that we have to hold onto our believe that God will come through for us. He has promised to provide for us and so much more (Jeremiah 29:11 and Psalm 27:4). We can get a little doubtful when it “takes too long” (which was my point yesterday). But we have to believe in our God. He is ever faithful, so we must be faithful in Him. Holding onto that belief is counter-cultural. God said to Moses, “But my servant Caleb has a different attitude than the other have. He has remained loyal to me,…” (Numbers 14:24, NLT). Being counter-cultural is hard, but we have to do it if that means we hold onto our belief that God will provide in His time.

We’re Just Waiting Here For You

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Have you ever been ready to move on, but it seems that God won’t let you? For instance, you’re ready to go out and get a new job. You try several different places for a long period of time, but you either never get called or when you do you still don’t get the job. Or maybe you want to change locations, but every house opportunity seems to fall apart at the last minute. Well if you’re like me, you just don’t understand why God isn’t helping you out.

You think of verses like Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘Thy are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'” (NLT), or Psalm 27:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart” (NASB). You ask why God isn’t fulfilling these promises, and can’t understand what is wrong.

My wife and I have been in this situation a lot here recently. It is certainly a hard place to be, especially when all you want is to be doing better for yourself, family and God. But I came by a verse today that has helped me out quite a bit:

“Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord”
— Psalm 27:14, NASB

I think that’s our problem, the waiting. I know that we aren’t the only one’s that have a problem waiting. We live in a culture of gotta have it now. My wife and I were talking about Blockbuster closing. We said that the main reason Blockbuster’s business went bad was because of businesses like Netflix and Hulu that allow you to get these things instantly. We no longer need to go to a store to buy things, just simply get on Amazon and order it (unfortunately you still have to wait, but I’m sure somebody is coming up with a way to fix that).

So I think that the reason we have issues with seeing God fulfilling His promises lies around our patience. We must wait for Him. He has perfect timing and knows what is best. We may think we know, but we don’t. So if you find yourself in this situation, I encourage you to wait on the Lord, be strong in your faith, and wait.

Just Give Him Some Praise Today!

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So I sat down to write the post for today and questioned what I should write about. I really didn’t have anything on my mind. So I did a Bible Study that I have been leading my praise team through, hoping that might trigger something. It didn’t. So I thought about it and went to Psalm 119. I knew that this was a long psalm (the longest in the Bible), so I figured I might be able to pull something out of there. But God drew me somewhere else because right on the other side I noticed another psalm. This psalm is quite the opposite of Psalm 119, in that it is a very short psalm. It reads:

“Praise the Lord, all you nations.
Praise him, all you people of the earth.
For he loves us with unfailing love;
the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever.

Praise the Lord!”
–Psalm 117, NLT

Two verses, and it says everything that I could ever say. It’s a good reminder that when you don’t know what else to do, give God praise and worship (not the music, the actions). So I’ll list a few things that I am praising God for today.

  • That He loves me enough to come to this place to save me
  • For the beautiful family He has blessed me with
  • The job that He has given me, so that I may be able to care for my family
  • The car that He has given me so I can get to my job
  • That I live in a place where I can praise him openly without fear or persecution
  • For my Bible (all 9 of them), and the fact that I have the ability to read it
  • My loving friends and extended family that love and support me

The list goes on and on. I know that this sounds a little like an exercise in listing on thing you are thankful for as we lead up to Thanksgiving, but I encourage you to give this a try. Give God thanks and praise for the things He has blessed you with, even if you don’t understand why or how it’s a blessing.

 

Also, I just had to post a song!

From the Archive (7/9/13): Qualifies the Called

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So after this weeks study on Jonah, I thought I would give a posting that reflected the very first post I ever wrote here on the Heart Man. Then as I got thinking I decided to just repost that post. So here you go friends, the very first post written on this blog!

“Well friends! I’m not starting this journey on becoming “The Heart Man”.

I figured in order to prepare for this blog I would start reading the story of the man I take this blog’s name from, King David. So I started reading 1 Samuel, and wouldn’t you know it, I came across something to discuss before I even got to David.

You see at the start of the book Israel is without a king. It’s not because their previous king had died or anything, they just simply didn’t have one. Instead they were lead by God through His prophets. Eventually the people of Israel decided they needed a king, “… just like all the other nations have.” (1 Samuel 8:5 NLT) So after consulting God, Samuel anoints for them a king, a man named Saul from the tribe of Benjamin. At first Saul is astonished that God would choose him, “But I’m only from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my family is the least important of all the families of that tribe! Why are you talking like this to me?” (9:21 NLT)

God calls His leaders despite what we think our qualifications are. I once heard it put this way, “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” When leaders are called, we often first say “No, not me!” Moses certainly did at the burning bush. So looking at my own call to be the leader that I am, I realize that I reacted similarly. But through the grace of God I have become more “qualified” in my leadership roles.

My encouragement to any readers out there is that if you feel called, pray and practice! When I became a worship leader, I definitely had no business singing, playing guitar or piano. But I have gotten better with work, and am now more confident in fulfilling my call. So I encourage you to keep going, it all gets betters (and the butterflies in your stomach go away a little more each time).”

God Cares (Jonah 4)

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In this final chapter of Jonah, Jonah gets mad at God. His anger comes from the fact that the message he gave to Nineveh was the same message he was giving at home. God’s response is “Have you any right to be angry?” (4:4 NIV). At that Jonah travels just outside of Nineveh and builds himself a shelter, while God provides some shade by causing a vine to grow. Then during the night, God caused the vine to shrivel up and die. So Jonah became angry at that as well, and God responded in the same way. Then God says to Jonah, “You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight an died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?” (4:10-11 NIV).

I believe that God is saying to Jonah, “It’s okay for you to care about something you’ve put no work into, but it’s wrong of Me to care for this city I’ve raised?” Even though Nineveh rejected God and His ways, He still wished from them to come to know Him. God sent Jonah to them, so they would have this opportunity.

It’s an idea that still exists today. Honestly, I have no business being a child of God. I am most certainly guilty of sin, and I am obviously not a Jew. Before Jesus, I had to have the opposite of both those things in order to be saved. Paul writes in his letter to the Romans, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;…” (Romans 3:23-24 NASB). God sent His son so you and I can be reconciled to Him.

God cares for humanity. He doesn’t just sit idly in heaven, watching events happen. Our God is one that intervenes in history; the Bible is full of those experiences, from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22. He wants us to be with Him. I think that’s the underlying point to Jonah. We can read the book at face value and say that it’s all about obeying God, even if we don’t want to. But the deeper meaning is found here. God did everything possible to get the message to Nineveh. Jonah did want to listen, but God turned him around. When the message reached the people, they repented and came back to God. That’s what Jonah is about. God will come after you with everything in his arsenal. All you have to do is repent and believe!