Tuesday, May 5, 2020
Life declines when its blessings refuse to bless. Despair does not lie in being weary of suffering, but in being weary of joy. Despair comes when the blessings around you no longer bless. For the Christian blessings always abound, and for the world they are always there since God and His gospel are everywhere present, but when blessings no longer bless, despair creeps around the heart.
The energy of life, depth or center of life, and emotion.
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation [asotia = riotous, abandoned, wasteful living], but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
The heart is the seat/depth of spiritual and moral life, grief, joy, desires, affections, perceptions, thoughts, understanding, reasoning, imagination, conscience, intentions, purpose, will, and faith.
Heart in the NT denotes (a) the seat of physical life, ACT 14:17; JAM 5:5; (b) the seat of moral nature and spiritual life, the seat of grief, JOH 14:1; ROM 9:2; 2CO 2:4; joy, JOH 16:22; EPH 5:19; the desires, MAT 5:28; 2PE 2:14; the affections, LUK 24:32; ACT 21:13; the perceptions, JOH 12:40; EPH 4:18; the thoughts, MAT 9:4; HEB 4:12; the understanding, MAT 13:15; ROM 1:21; the reasoning powers, MAR 2:6; LUK 24:38; the imagination, LUK 1:51; conscience, ACT 2:37; 1JO 3:20; the intentions, HEB 4:12, cf. 1PE 4:1; purpose, ACT 11:23; 2CO 9:7; the will, ROM 6:17; COL 3:15; faith, MAR 11:23; ROM 10:10; HEB 3:12. [from Vine’s Expository Dictionary]
The heart can be filled with joy and understanding and unshakeable faith or it can be lacking these qualities. Only the believer can possess such a heart, being made a new man within and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but while having a heart ready and able to be transformed, he may have neglected his heart and so it lacks as does his life lack the life of Christ in fulness. God will reveal the condition of the heart to each believer. This is nothing to be feared and should be expectantly embraced, for God will always do this in grace.
If you find that your joy is frail, meaning that it is easily lost when circumstances are not to your liking, then joy and likely other virtues are not grounded in your heart. They are not unshakeable.
God always has solutions for His children and never wrath. He will graciously build a heart of virtue.
The solution is reading and hearing the word of God and by faith trusting the way and action of your life to its instruction. All of God’s children have been equipped to do this because they have been called to do this, and when God elects a person, He doesn’t ever make a mistake.
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
There is nothing about this calling to be feared. Put your faith in what God says you are in Christ.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
Can we walk in the manner of our calling? Can we show forbearance to one another in love? Can we be diligent to preserve the unity of the body of Christ that the Holy Spirit built? The answer is yes for every believer, for all have been made for just this. It is our seeing these things and our faith in these things that makes them a living reality or a dream never realized.
And yes, this takes time. It is worth the investment. We could confidently say that a Christian who does not have deep seated joy and peace and strength is one who has not invested years of perseverance in learning and living God’s word. And don’t miss what that also means. If it takes years of diligent investment to develop a heart that is like Christ’s, then none of us start out with one, and also, none of us can say we have fully achieved it. Don’t ever quit on it. When you keep striving God can and will show you what He can do, and remember, you are completely forgiven of all sin.
Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; 16 however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.
Hence, the word of God that is alive and powerful, judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart, and that is a wonderful gift if we have humility.
It seems that the heart has all the same characteristics that the spirit and the soul do. But the nuance is that the soul is the person or type of person, the spirit is the motivation or passion for that type of person and the heart is the hidden depth or seat of that type of person.
The tender heart of king Josiah
The Temple had fallen into disrepair because the heart of the people towards God had fallen into disrepair.
King Josiah set his mind to repairing the house, giving the money in the treasury to workmen; carpenters, builders, and masons.
Then we find that the Book of the Law was found, meaning the Pentateuch.
Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, "I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord."
The fact that its finding is mentioned in the context of construction leads us to think that it was uncovered. Yet, that is not stated. It is also not stated that there were no other copies of the Law among the priests or the king or the scribes. It is more than likely that there were several copies of the Law in the possession of the scribes, the priests, and even the king himself; but were they on a shelf somewhere gathering dust.
The copy that Hilkiah found in the Temple was probably the Temple copy. The narrative seems to imply that he didn’t have much familiarity with it and that it too was somewhere in the Temple on a shelf unread and unloved.
If a heart comes to be in disrepair, like the Temple, and it is obvious that repair must begin, God will reveal the reason - His word has not been loved in that heart.
And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan who read it. 9 And Shaphan the scribe came to the king and brought back word to the king and said, "Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the Lord." 10 Moreover, Shaphan the scribe told the king saying, "Hilkiah the priest has given me a book." And Shaphan read it in the presence of the king. 11 And it came about when the king heard the words of the book of the law, that he tore his clothes. 12 Then the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, Achbor the son of Micaiah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah the king's servant saying, 13 "Go, inquire of the Lord for me and the people and all Judah concerning the words of this book that has been found, for great is the wrath of the Lord that burns against us, because our fathers have not listened to the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us."
In English, we read “this book” and it sounds like Josiah had never heard of it, which is very unlikely. There were likely many copies of the Law of Moses among the elite (priests, scribes, king). The king likely had a copy, but it seems that he either didn’t read it or only read it superficially. Perhaps he was taught about the Law by those who were not very passionate about it and who didn’t know much of its contents either, but the king never felt the impetus to grab the scroll and read it himself.
He mentions the wrath of the Lord burning against them. God so works it so that the king hears the curses of breaking the Law, perhaps Deu 28 or Lev 26, and as he heard these, especially in the circumstance of a failing Temple and failing kingdom, his heart burns within him.
The reason for deserved suffering is revealed when we seek it. What will you do with it when you find it? Reject, defensiveness, blame, justify, or accept in humility and seek grace.
So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe [of the priests or the royal house] (now she lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter [lower city]); and they spoke to her. 15 And she said to them, "Thus says the Lord God of Israel, 'Tell the man who sent you to me, 16 thus says the Lord, "Behold, I bring evil on this place and on its inhabitants, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read. 17 Because they have forsaken Me and have burned incense to other gods that they might provoke Me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore My wrath burns against this place, and it shall not be quenched."' 18 "But to the king of Judah who sent you to inquire of the Lord thus shall you say to him, 'Thus says the Lord God of Israel, "Regarding the words which you have heard, 19 because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you," declares the Lord. 20 Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, neither shall your eyes see all the evil which I will bring on this place."' "So they brought back word to the king.
Josiah would rule a kingdom in peace because his heart became tender towards the Lord, and it was the word of the Lord that did it.