Claim Ownership


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It would sound very outrageous if someone were to claim that they are too good for God. That they are too accomplished to need God. But the truth is, even while they may not always make public proclamations of it, people sometimes act as if they do not need God. As if God is for a certain class of people. Sometimes we do feel like we are “too good” in our minds; as if God should be the one levelling up to our standards and not the other way round. We approach God with an unconscious indifference. Almost as if we have forgotten that He is the living, Almighty God. That He deserves and demands absolute reverence from us. We have been reading from Revelations 4 over the past one week, and from verse 6b-7, John tells us that around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. Apostle John provides here a rather vivid description of the four creatures on both sides of God’s throne: And beyond their physical appearances, John’s description offers deep insight to the nature of these beings. He paints an image of super-intelligent creatures. Beings with great understanding given their heightened perception. This, on one hand, means that our worship must be reasonable and intelligent; that our worship must be informed by what we know about our God and that we must be willing to spend time in His courts. To understand and know Him more intimately so that our worship is not blind. On the other hand, this means that however excellent we, or anyone else, may consider us to be, there is no one among us that is too excellent to render worship to God. There is no created being so elevated that they are exempted from bowing before the living God. John goes on to explain that one of the creatures had a face like a man, another like an ox, one like lion, and one like an eagle in flight, and all these creatures are representatives of their respective spheres of dominance. Each represents the magnificence of their kingdoms, yet all they take their place under the throne of God. Exalted as they are in the world, they recognize that there is a kingdom above all other kingdoms. With all their endowments, they discharge of their duty of worship before the living God. They acknowledge the majesty of God. They acknowledge God’s divine command and governance over all intelligence and wisdom and His dominance and strength over all that exists. There is not a created being that is sufficient by itself. However courageous, however patient however prudent or wise we might be, our place is before the throne of the Almighty. We are created to render our services to our God. We are called to render worship before the throne of mercy. Even at the height of our blessings. Even at the height of success, our place is before our God. Our blessings are for His glory. We are elevated in status so that we may have even more reason to worship Him. Our blessings should not drive us further away from God. They should be employed in the service of our God whose dominion is absolute; whose design of things is for the purpose of drawing us closer to Him. And John goes on to say from verse 8-11 that the four creatures never cease to say “Holy hoy holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” And whenever the cherubim give glory to the Everlasting One that is seated on the throne, the twenty four elders fall down before the Lord God and cast their crowns before His throne saying “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” They never stop proclaiming the transcendence of the Lord. They never stop proclaiming that He is worthy of all honor. That He is worthy of power and glory. They spend all their time worshiping God. --- Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:
I have heard so many people ask; is the God of the Old Testament the same God in the New Testament. You know, we believers say that our God, the God of Israel, is consistent. He is invariable in nature and the Holy Scripture speaks widely on this. But it is also irrefutable that in the Old Testament, God’s presence inspired fear. His glory was nothing short of terrifying. Boundaries often had to be set to keep people off and safe when He came down to them. There was a section of the temple that only the serving high priest was allowed to enter because the glory of the Lord dwelt there. God’s presence was almost always signified by lightning, thunders, thick clouds, fire, smoke, earthquakes, and loud trumpet sounds and this terrified people. Everyone who witnessed these manifestations trembled to their cores. The writer of the book of Hebrews in chapter 12:18-21 reflects on these manifestations when he says: For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” You have probably heard people say that our generation is living in the times of grace. Or that God is a little lenient with us than He was in the Old Testament times. But does this mean that God has changed over time? Our God is indeed a loving, patient God. But the absence of those dreadful events does not mean His presence is any less fearsome. His glory ought to be regarded with awe. He is still the Law Giver. He is still the eternal Judge. His power and holiness ought to terrify the hearts of men. It ought to inspire reverence for the majesty of God. And those who have beheld the highest physical manifestations of it understand that. This is why when the Israelites stood by the Mount Sinai and witnessed God in His full majesty they begged that no further word should be spoken to them directly. This is why Moses Himself says I trembled with fear!” They were terrified. Although the Gospel that was delivered to us is kind and we are encouraged to approach God’s presence with boldness, it should never be lost to us that we are approaching the Almighty God. The mercy and resplendence; the sublimeness of the new covenant does not exempt us from the obligation of regarding the splendor and the power of the Lord with as much reverence as it deserves. The dispensation under the new covenant only gives us even more reason for allegiance and fidelity to God. The grace under the new covenant; the greater revelations following Christ should inspire more obedience in us than the law did for the Old Testament generations. It should win and hold our affections for God. It should prompt the deepest desires for righteousness. We may not have something palpable; something material like a tempest or a mountain surrounded with smoke; or thunder and lightning to call us to attention when the Lord is among us because we have the Spirit of God who is able to reach beyond our external senses to give us an even greater experience; a better knowledge and understanding of our God that would over-awe our hearts. But the glorious privileges bestowed upon us by the Gospel calls for an even greater reverence for God. The superior excellence of the Gospel to the law demands that we must be upright in our walk in the ways of our God. That we must hold the consideration for greater spirituality in our hearts. The doctrine of holiness must be at the core of our worship. We must learn to approach the presence of God; we must enter the holy of holies knowing that we are approaching the presence of the living God. Yes, we are heirs with Christ and we have been accorded the privilege of the first born through Him, but we must answer the call to join the g --- Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:
We are surrounded by both the visible and invisible tokens of the glory of God. His presence is undeniable even to the ignorant mind and apparent to us believers whose faces have been unveiled by the salvation and grace of our Lord Jesus. We have been invited to behold and to share in the communicable, comprehensible splendor of the absolute divine perfection of the Lord God. The glory of He that is clothed in grace and truth. The glory of He that is faultless. We are invited to know the infinite God by His truth. To know His love in our hearts. To be in contact with and experience His gracious aura. To know the Lord with certitude. By the blood of Jesus we are invited across the bridge of the flesh so that there stands nothing between us and our God. So that our spirits are enjoined with His. So that our hearts may know His heart. God has revealed Himself to us so that we may know Him, and know Him intimately. It is in His nature to elevate His people. To lift them to levels where they can know and experience Him beyond man’s surface understanding of God. This is why the Bible is filled with people who had extraordinary experiences with God. People who got to see a side of God not many people in their generation got to see. And over the past four days, we have been reading of such an experience from Apostle John in revelation chapter 4. In verses 5-6, John says: From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. This is the extent of the power of God. And he invited a mortal. A mere man to bear witness to His glory in its fullness. And this is the God we serve. A god who does not alienate Himself from us by virtue of being God. He initiates relationships with mankind. He says come and I will show you who I am. Walk into my presence and I will show you the secrets of my dwelling place. We are not strangers to Him and this is why He took Apostle John to the throne room and displayed the very symbols of His righteous power to him. The very tokens of the power of God that adorn His throne and symbolize His righteousness and judgment. How majesty is He that sits on the throne! Imagine the sublime scene before Apostle John. The intense, glorious appearance of God. The Holy Spirit of God in His seven-fold dispensations. Imagine witnessing the omnipotence of the everlasting God firsthand! Both the manifestations of power and life. The awe and the fearful presence of the Lord and His calm, unremitting influences at the same time. I can imagine the overwhelming feeling in John’s heart when he stood by the shores of that calm crystal-like sea. The very symbols of God’s absolute counsel, His just, holy ways, and His pure love and righteousness. The manifest foundation of God’s throne on grace. You know, these phenomenon communicates the virtual unapproachability of God. The lightning and rumblings are like warning signs. Symbols of the terrifying holiness of God. This is enough to keep anyone away. And yet the Lord says, come to me. Come and I will show you things never seen before by the eyes of man. And this is why we said at the beginning that God does not alienate us. He does not wish that we should remain as strangers with Him. In Genesis 33:18-19 when Moses beseeched the Lord to show him His glory, the Lord replied: “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose. Moses wished that he may see the glorious majesty of the Lord; the brightness of His countenance; a manifestation of the Lord’s excellence. This was after Moses had been in the mountain with God. He had sought intimate communion with God. He thirsted for an even deeper acquaintance. He was earnest with God. And how does the Lord reply? The me --- Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:
We are talking about the splendor of our God’s holiness: And two days ago, we said that we do not approach the throne of mercy to only receive but also to render to the Lord the glory that is due to Him. But what exactly do we mean when we talk about receiving? What do we seek to get when we go to that place of glory? Today we are going to continue with Apostle John’s description of his vision of heaven. In verse 4 of Revelation chapter 4, John says that he saw twenty four thrones, and seated on these thrones were twenty four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. As you know, there were, or are, twelve tribes of Israel. And so someone might ask; ‘why twenty-four elders and not twelve?” My understanding of this is that the two sets of twelve allude to or represent the church of the Lord in its complete form. They represent both the past and the future. The union of the gentiles and the Jews. The patriarchs and the apostles. This is the united church that John was looking at. And the way John explains their sitting demonstrates a people who have been elevated to a state of honor. A people who have found their rest. A church that has found satisfaction in the presence of the Lord. It shows the relationship of this church to the Lord. Their closeness to Him and the joy they derive from the relationship. These are the fruits of our intimacy with the Lord. This is what we inherit from the Lord’s presence. There is honor in our salvation. There is rest in the Lord Jesus. There is a satisfaction in Him that we cannot get from anywhere else. A level of contentment that can only be felt when you are in the presence of the Lord. When you dwell; when you worship Him in the splendor of His holiness. The next thing that Apostle John notices is how the twenty four elders are dressed. They were clothed in white garments. A symbol of both the attributed and inherent righteousness of that place and of those who dwell in the throne-room of the Lord. A symbol of not only how we should approach the splendor of God’s holiness but also the attributes it bestows upon us. This is what we present before the Lord and also what is added upon, multiplied tenfold for us. And John goes on to say that the elders had on their heads crowns of gold; symbols of honor. Symbols of the authority and the glory that the saints have with the Lord. This is the greatness that we are called into. This is what we get when we walk with the Lord. This is what is promised those who dwell in the presence of the Lord. These are the gifts of this dimension and we have been made heirs of them with Christ. And not only in this life, but it is our inheritance in the everlasting kingdom of God. This is our inheritance when we pay homage to our God. This is the place of those who have walked in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus. A place of special service to our God. A place of blessing and favor. A dwelling place where Christ walks among us because when we walk into the splendor of His holiness, when we walk in the glory of the Lord, we become a part of it. His righteousness rubs off on us. When we seek to understand the ways of our God, he infuses us with understanding. He elevates us to the level of the saints. He crowns us with honor. He makes us stable and fixed under His shadow. This is the beauty of taking residence in the secret place of the Lord. Our relationship with our God is not a trial and error thing. His dwelling place is not just a place we need to frequently visit or pass through but a place we need to inhabit and settle in. This is the only place where our identity as believers is affirmed. It is only in the splendor of the glory of the Lord that we are assured of who we are in Him. We are supposed to dwell in it. We are called to live in it. And this calls for a permanent attitude. A choice to embrace and maintain the Lord’s standards of righteousness. A decision born out of absolute surrender. Out of willful yielding to the o --- Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:
Glorifying God, requires us to connect with Him and to understand His holiness and character, and the significance of these things in a believer’s life. Exalting God’s glory is indeed one of the core goals of our salvation. We are made to glorify and enjoy God forever. His infinite perfections, His greatness and worth are the manifest beauty of His holiness that set Him apart and He has them in superabundance. His glory is more than a mere reputation; it is a solid, substantial quality. An embodiment of His essential nature that exists independent of anything else. His splendor is the essence of who He is. The infallible beauty of His spirit. These are the qualities of our God that the Bible talks about when reference to His splendor is mentioned. And we are called to do more than envision or form a mental picture of it; we are meant to experience this beauty. You know, if you read the descriptions of the people in the Bible who beheld this beauty, it is always a description of something surreal. A beauty out of this world that even the writers seem to struggle to find befitting words for it. John the revelator says in Revelation 4:2-3: At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. John, here, describes the majestic form and appearance of the Lord and the emblem of His glory and universal dominion. Symbols of the divine and excellent nature of our God. Emblems of His wondrous justice and eternal covenant. If you have read the parts of the scriptures written by John, you notice that he is always very particular with his descriptions of what he saw and experienced. There is barely anything that is lost to him. He is totally engrossed in his experiences. He takes in every sight, every expression, like a man looking straight into heaven. You cannot be this involved in an experience and ever forget its details. If you behold God in His throne like John did, that is an experience that is permanently impressed on you. Whatever experience you may have after that moment, however difficult your trials might be, you will always remember that the heavenly throne is not empty. It is rightfully occupied and the one who sits on it reigns supreme over everything. This is the fundamental truth and the essence of the divine experiences that God exposes us to. To give us assurance that He is our God: That we are not orphaned. This is the reason He invites us to His throne room. For us to behold the self-evident truths of His glorious existence, and to remind us that He is at the center of everything. To elevate us to a new level of confidence and conviction in our faith. You know, this text carries on further evidence to what we have talked about in the past two days: That everything about and around the Lord testifies to His nature. John says that the one that sat on the heavenly throne was like jasper and ruby. Jasper especially the green one is one of the gems regarded as being both beautiful and agreeable to the eye and is therefore considered a symbol of divine consolation. The fiery color of ruby communicates both judgment and the dazzling appearance of the Lord and so the divine nature of God in His glory, justice, holiness and righteousness is represented in John’s vision. John witnessed the radiance of the glory of God and the setting of His throne as the center of sovereignty, power, and glory. He beheld the covenant of mercy. A testament that God limits Himself by His promises. That He is not man that He should go back on His word. John tells us so much about the character, the nature and the splendor of the glory of our God in just two verses. And, yes, we may not see jasper and rubies and rainbows when we approach the throne of God in our worship but we sure are invited to the most beautiful of experiences. This is exactly what we sign up for when w --- Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:
In our God, lies all that is glorious and beautiful. All that is elegant and beautiful. His elegance and transcendent excellence ought to make us regard Him with the highest veneration. Honor and majesty accompany His presence. The whole universe displays His glory. Justice, holiness and mercy light His courts. He adorns Himself in holiness. His very nature diffuses a pleasantness, a gentleness over those that dwell in His presence. These are the symbols of His style. The uniqueness that testifies to His praiseworthiness. These are the qualities of our God that the Bible, almost in its entirety, calls us to acclaim, to resound and bless our God for. This is the wisdom in the psalmists’ words in Psalm 96:6-10 when he says: Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength! Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns! And this is a constant theme throughout the Bible: that our God is worthy of praise from every created being. That we must recognize and declare, not as a people conferring a new attribute to God, but a people acknowledging his glory and strength. This is an imperative call. A call demanding compliance from God’s people to give Him both time and attention. To approach Him with absolute surrender and service. To present ourselves before Him, not just to receive, but to give the Lord the honor that is due His name and to acknowledge his just, holy and true nature. The psalmist’s words are a call to us to present to the Lord an offering befitting the one true and living God. A holy, living and acceptable sacrifice. A sacrifice of prayer, of praise and a broken heart. A token of our own submission. This is what it means to worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness. To bring to Him what is due to Him because of His nature and perfection. To confess the Godness of our Lord Jesus and to worship God in the manner in which He Himself has prescribed. And how do we know what kind of worship the Lord demands of us? By being intimate with Him. By staying in constant contact with Him. And this is why we said yesterday that we can never fully appreciate the splendor of His holiness until we have experienced it. And we cannot claim to have experienced it until we have lived in His presence. Until we immerse ourselves into the worship of the Lord without reservations. The testimony of our experience of the Lord’s holiness and greatness makes the matter and the motive of our worship because it does not leave a heart that has beheld it empty. The divine presence invokes a profound reverence for the Lord. It makes hearts tremble with awe. It breaths a life into our hearts. It triggers a provocation in a believer that cannot be contained until all we want to do is proclaim it to the world. To shout for all to hear that we have seen the goodness of the Lord. That we have seen His favor and mercy. That we have tasted of the Lord and we know that He is good. This is why the psalmist says in verse ten of the text we have read today; Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns! This proclamation comes after the people have worshiped the Lord in all His splendor. After they have experienced the fullness of His glory. And this draws the implication that it is only where the Lord reigns that He can be worshiped in spirit and in truth. That the profession of our faith relies deeply on our worship. We proclaim and invite people into a kingdom that we have dwelt in and whose goodness we have experienced firsthand. Our experience of the Lord’s goodness, His majesty, and holiness lays the foundation for our testimony. You see, you cannot walk in the splendor of His holiness and stay the same because it is a life-altering, a chain-breaking, freedom-giving presence --- Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:
Our God, in His very nature, is infinite. He is an eternal, self-existing God and by nature, beyond our imagination and comprehension. His thoughts transcend our own. His power transcends our power, his ways eclipse our ways and His wisdom by far outmatches our wisdom. The fullness of His essence surpasses any human experience. This is the nature of our God that makes Him deserving of all adoration and the glory in our praises. Our association with this greatness places upon us a special responsibility to proclaim His name, to praise Him, to edify the world and to lead the people to adore Him. His love and grace, His justice and majesty are nothing short of beautiful. It is, without doubt, a terror to the wicked, but to the righteous it is a treasure. An irresistible drawing power that calls us from the darkest of valleys into an endless admiration. A constant delight for the heart that has tasted of the beauty of the Lord’s holiness. Our consciousness to the sublimeness and the splendor of His beauty becomes an invariable, a constant quality in our songs, in our lives, in what we say, and in the design of our worship. It is this awareness that we see in David’s words in 1 Chronicles 16:27-30, when he says: Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place. Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. As we begin the series we’re calling “The Splendor of His Holiness”, we are going to dwell pretty much on this aspect of the Lord’s essence or nature and we will seek to understand what the Bible means by this phrase. You know, how does our own experience of this beauty influence our worship? How are we supposed to experience this beauty and how should this experience help us render to the Lord worship that is genuine and relevant, and transformative in our lives? How can we as believers transcend the mundane, fleshly realm of worship into the realm of the Lords splendor? You see, we must rise above the realm of earthly blessings and realities. Above the visual and musical aspects of worship. Above the sounds and motions around us and into the realm of stillness where we can focus and behold the one on the seat of mercy in the fullness of His glory and strength. It’s only when we dive that deep in our worship, deep enough that we feel light enough to let go of everything that tethers us to the world, only then do we experience the splendor of His holiness in full. It is only when we reach into this realm that our reservations are broken and the conflicts within us resolved and only then can we say with the conviction that David had, that splendor and majesty are before our God. That strength and joy are indeed in His dwelling place. Because it is no longer a rumor. It is no longer something we have heard someone say. It is no longer something we read in the Bible; it is something we have beheld, an intimacy we have experienced. You know, sometimes we read the Bible and imagine that such intense intimacy and experiences with God are mysteries of the servants and prophets of old and apostles like John the revelator. But the fact is, a way into this realm was opened for us when the Lord Jesus became flesh. A way that is lit by a worship rendered in spirit and in truth and we really are capable of experiencing this holiness the way they did. And when we embrace and appreciate the beauty and magnificence of it, how could we not be prompted to cry out with the heavenly beings that Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty? We are not called to mere outward actions but to explore an even greater depth of worship. To reorganize our attitudes and submit to a higher standard of holiness and worship that makes it possible to walk in the footsteps o --- Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:
I’m sure we’ve all gone through that time when people make unfair judgment about us. You, know, you’ve been months without a job and people assume you’re just lazy, or you make a mistake and people assume it was intentional… it hurts. You wish people understood you. But are we any different from them?  We put people through the same thing every day. We make snap judgments and assumptions, we stereotype people even when we know nothing about what’s going on in their lives. We so often reduce people to a handful of characteristics. We label them without consideration for their circumstances. You see, there is enough pain and bitterness for every heart. The distress of the conscience and the anguish of mind can only be known by the person going through it. And this is why the Bible tells us in Proverbs 14:10 that only the heart can know its own bitterness and no stranger can share its joy. You know, we can say that we understand because we’ve probable seen someone in a similar situation or we ourselves have been there, but people are as unique as snowflakes. It takes a lot of sympathy and open-mindedness to fully appreciate the depth of the pain and the height of the joy in the heart of another person. Our sorrows and joys are in their entirety beyond the insight of strangers. There is no one in so intimate a relationship with us that they can perfectly put themselves in our shoes to feel what we feel. It’s only Jesus, who put himself up to bear our griefs and carry our sorrows has that capacity. And so what does this mean for us as brethren, as people yoked together to Christ? How then do we deal with the ultimate solitude of each other’s souls? You see, we need to develop a great deal of sensitivity and tolerance towards each other because there is always more than meets the eye. Hearts are breaking right in front of us. Someone is crumbling down in the midst of that brotherly after-church hug.  But are we close enough to feel it. Are we close enough to each other that they can share their burdens with us without fearing that we’ll judge them? Have we ourselves established a relationship intimate enough with our brethren that we know we have someone to lean on? Someone we can share both the joys and the pains in our hearts? Has anyone gained your confidence enough that you have the desire and the courage to share your heart even to the very depths of it? Yes, we may never fully grasp the burden of another’s heart, but we must keep our hearts and arms open for them. We must practice sympathetic empathy with each other. We must learn to slow down and look deeper, to listen better, to care more about what’s going on in the lives of our brethren. We must learn to open our hearts to the love of others. To reciprocate with love and trust when it is offered to us. May we strive to never censure the grief of others when we have not made any attempts to understand the heaviness of their blows. We have a responsibility towards each other as parts of the same body. The Bible tells us in Galatians to carry each other’s burdens, and in this way we will fulfill the law of Christ. The word of God obliges us to mutual forbearance and compassion towards each other. This is the law of love. It is the law of brotherhood. May we be one in our griefs as in our joys. May we reach out with open arms and open hearts. With trust, with tolerance, and without judgment in Jesus’ mighty name.  --- Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:
We live in a world where everyone is trying to maintain an image of themselves. Whether real or imagined, I think we all want to be known or to be remembered for something. And I think we could agree that under the right conditions, who or what we are eventually comes out. Whether you’re a bad person pretending to be good or a good person pretending to be bad, the right circumstances, the right conditions eventually draw the real us out. The feelings and thoughts in our hearts eventually become evident through our words and actions. The truth is, we try as much as we do to maintain certain characters and images of ourselves because what others think of us matters to us. But as believers, what we know about ourselves, our affections, our intentions, our thoughts and feelings also counts because that’s what the Lord searches for. That is what He weighs us by. And this is why we’re talking about matters of the heart because at the end of the day, this is what matters. But the fact is, sometimes we look inside and all we see is what we have painted and justified on that internal mirror as true. We put so many layers of paint on that internal mirror that it can no longer reflect back our real selves to us. We flood our hearts and conscience with so much noise that it cannot echo back what really lies within us. We mask our intentions, our thoughts and feelings until we can no longer tell which ones are true. But the Bible tells us in Psalms 27:19 that as water reflects back a man’s face, so does the heart reflect man to himself. And this is where I want us to focus our talk today. How do we examine and judge our own character? You know, how do we defog the looking glass that is our heart so that it does not reflect back a distorted image the way turbid or disturbed water does? You know, when we become believers, when we let the Holy Spirit take possession of us, that is when the defogging process begins. Because we get a new standard, a higher standard, like we said the other day, to weigh ourselves against. The spirit of God, the word of the Lord, becomes the silver backing of our hearts, a medium of vision through which we can see our own true selves. A medium through which we can discern our sins and the plague of our hearts. The spirit of God sets a true light before our hearts. You know, we said the other day that the human heart is wicked. Our wills are averse and our consciences defiled. And so it’s only when we weigh ourselves against the word of God and the counsel of the Holy Spirit that we can really discern our sins. It’s only by having the word of God as a standard that we can get a clear echo of the condition of our hearts. It’s the only way we can get a true understanding of how our hearts are. And this understanding, this discernment is what underlies genuine, conscious repentance. It’s my prayer that we may have the grace to open ourselves to the scrutiny of the Holy Spirit. That we may be able and willing to look deep into ourselves for what contradicts the will of the spirit of God. That we may be led by truth in our assessment of ourselves. In Jesus’ mighty name. Amen. --- Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:
Yesterday we read from the book of psalms where David prayed that the Lord creates for him a clean heart and a steadfast spirit. And we said that the reason for this prayer, was because he did not just want to simulate virtue or appear to do right before people. He wanted a genuine change of heart. That his morals and virtues may be founded in God. He wanted something we all wish we could have every time we mess up. A fresh start. A clean slate. And psalms 51:17 paints for us a picture of the heart that was making this request for a clean heart. David says that the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart. And God does not despise such a sacrifice. You see, the kind of prayer that David made in verse 10 is not made in a vacuum. Just because we have that provision from God as His children to ask for a clean slate does not mean that God is just sitting there waiting to dish out new hearts every time we mess up. Such a prayer needs to be accompanied by a genuine desire for change. By a conviction of the heart. By humble and penitent faith. A prayer for penitence or forgiveness is an offering; a sacrifice of the broken heart and remorseful spirit. Such sacrifice requires more than the external sacrifice of simply giving up the old ways. It is not just a formality. David offered his broken heart and a fully penitent spirit first, and only then did he follow up with external acts of penance. Internal repentance always comes first. The spirit must first be emptied of all vainglory confidence. It must be brought to acknowledge that it is empty without God. The inner man, the mind, and the will must be transformed first. They must be humbled. They must be drawn into submission before God, before He can remake them. The heart must first become tender and pliable to the word of God. The soul must accept to bear the burden of conscious guilt until it is broken. Until it is melted down and subdued under the sense of God’s displeasure. It must thirst for reconciliation with God. A broken heart mourns for its sinfulness. It does not seek to lessen its guilt. It acknowledges its sin. It calls it by its right name. It melts at the thought of the pardoning grace of the pierced and wounded savior. This is the kind of heart, the kind of sacrifice that the Lord says He does not reject. This is the kind of heart that mercy lifts up. The kind of heart that the Lord regards and accepts with pleasure. The kind that He binds up and mends. The kind of heart that He looks upon. The kind of hearts that the Lord looks to come and dwell among. This is the kind of heart, the kind of spirit that we should present before the Lord. He looks upon such hearts with favor. May we desire to have such hearts. To approach the Lord in our brokenness and bereft of our own self-importance that we may receive in full the joy and gladness of His salvation. That we may fall upon His tender mercies and grace knowing that He shall not turn us away. In Jesus’ mighty name. --- Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:
One of the reasons why we are talking about matters of the heart this month is so that we may develop a consciousness, a conviction that will lead us to see the impurity of our hearts and nature. We have said over the past couple of days that the affections, the feelings and thoughts of the carnal mind are corrupted. They alienate us from God. And to rid ourselves of this veil, we would need to have our affections and thoughts made right. We would need to have the crudeness of our hearts replaced by something better. Something that is firm in the purposes of righteousness. Something that is steadfast in the service of God that it will not yield to the temptations we have yielded to before. We need something new. A new heart. The kind of heart that David hungered for when he said in Psalms 51:10, create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right and steadfast spirit within me. You see, David looked back at his life and realized that he had been wrong all along. He had a wrong spirit. He had a wrong attitude. And he needed a new one. A new heart and spirit that would be more faithful to God than the inclinations that drew him away from the Lord. He needed a clean implantation of grace. A clean installation of faith. And this is why, after realizing how far away he had wandered from God, he sought a radical change of heart and spirit. He desired to have a heart that however hard it was assaulted by temptation, it would remain fixed and resolute in its allegiance to God. He prayed for a renovation of his inner essence. Of both his mental and moral nature. He did not just ask that he be forgiven of his sins. He did not just ask that he be changed so that he does not follow his old path anymore. He desired something more. Something deeper than a mere change of heart. He did not just desire to be separated from sin, he wanted to be separated for God. To have a relationship with Him. To have the spirit of God dwell in him so that his would be a conscious devotion to God. You know, so often we seek after outwardly change. We stop doing the wrong things that we were doing. We so often seek after the constructs of human conduct and goodness or what we call morals or virtue without necessarily committing to God. But we see that David’s plea was to be led back to the path of righteousness. That he does not just have a change of conduct. His prayer was that the Lord may lay a new foundation in his heart. A clean heart and a steadfast spirit! David was yielding himself to be God’s instrument. He understood that he could do what was right by men and simulate virtue the way irreligious moralists do. But the blossom of this would still be vain because the only true perfection of morals and virtue is that which is founded in the spirit of God. And this is what we pray for when we pray for a clean heart. This is what we plead for when we pray to be filled with the holy spirit of God. To be changed not just to appear right before the eyes of men, but that we may stand right and justified in the sight of God. To be possessed through and through by the spirit of God. To bear fruits that are evident of the gracious influences of the Holy Spirit. --- Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:
For the past four days, we’ve been talking about what we’re calling Matters of the Heart. You know, the heart, in this sense, is called the seat of emotions. It is the seat of will and intellect. The seat of understanding, intent, and thought. Now, if the heart is all these things, it only makes sense that it should be protected. That extreme care needs to be directed to this inner self. The heart, being the center and fountain of our actions, needs to be guarded. It needs to be protected. And to control our thoughts, intentions, and actions, this control needs to be exercised at the source and with more caution and vigilance than we do with our most precious possessions. Our human nature draws us towards our blind impulses and avid desires and thoughts which heed to no law but that of their own satisfaction. And if these untamed tastes and predilections are not curbed and held in place, if they are not subordinated to our second nature, the nature of Christ, then every area of our lives will definitely be thrown into chaos. And this is why the Bible tells us in Proverbs 4:23 to watch over our hearts with diligence. To develop harmony between will and conscience. Our will needs to be governed because this is the only way we can control the tendencies of our nature, which is to seek gratification even against the most obvious prohibitions. The Bible is telling us to guard our hearts. To shield it from the world around it that is constantly appealing to its needs and desires. You see, a believer who does not watch over their heart, who does not rule over his own spirit is like a city without walls. Anything can come in or go out of that heart because it is not guarded. But remember we said yesterday that the heart and the mind of man are weak. It’s frail and wicked in nature. And so, someone might ask, how then are we supposed to watch over the heart of the watcher and the one being watched over are one and the same? You know, putting our carnal mind to stay guard over the heart is no different than putting traitors guard over the fortress. The carnal mind is as weak as the heart itself. And so it needs to be anchored to something with a higher bar. Something that cannot be deflected by the frailty of the nature of man. A stable and fixed light that we can steer towards. A higher standard of right and wrong. A standard that cannot be warped, and perverted, or silenced by the energy flowing from without and within. And this standard is the word and the light of God. This is the standard we need to subscribe to and submit to. This is the only standard, the coercive power strong enough to oblige the heart of man. It is the submission to the will and purpose of God that hands us the reigns over our own hearts. It gives us a new and stronger motive that stirs from within us an effort to tame our wills. And this is what keeps us from yielding to even the strongest charms and appeals of our hearts. Because we have an even mightier appeal, which is to let in and let out only what is pleasing before the eyes of the Lord. It is my prayer today that we may open ourselves to the world of the Lord. That we may let the Holy Spirit take possession of the heart He wills to defend. Because there is no other way by which the heart may be guarded but by that which is incorruptible. There is no other way that the heart of man can be tamed but by submitting fully to the will and the purpose of the Lord. This is how we guard our hearts; by flooding it through and through with the inexpungible light of the word of God; by weighing it against a higher standard. The standard of He in whose name we are called, Jesus Christ. --- Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:
We said a few days ago that the affairs of the heart are open to the gaze of the Lord. There is nothing therein that is hidden from Him. All the complexities and subtleties of our hearts are known to Him to the tiniest details. You see, the muddles and devices of the human heart when it is not rooted in God are not to be entirely trusted even by he that holds them. Our hearts are not just weak and frail, they are wicked and deceitful. Even when we think that we are on the right, there still lies sin in our hearts. More than we are aware of. Our hearts, in their apprehension of things, are deceitful in nature. A man’s heart is capable of coloring things to fit its narrative. It declares to those to whom peace does not exist that there is peace. A  heart lures one to their ruin. This is the state and the nature of the human heart. And it is impossible for someone to search their own heart through all its windings to reveal what is at the very bottom of it. No one can neither fully know his own heart nor that of his neighbor. It is unsearchable. And this is why the Lord tells Jeremiah, in Jeremiah 17:9-10 that the heart of man is deceitful above all things. That none but the Lord can understand its motives. None but the Lord can search and know the mind of man. Only the Lord is fully acquainted with the affairs of the heart and mind of man. The thoughts and designs, the counsels and intentions the affections and determinations of humankind are only fully open to the inspection of the Lord. It is only He that can pass a just judgment on what He discerns. It would be to fool ourselves if we think we can rely on our own righteousness. And it’s my prayer that we may be cautious of the inclinations and direction of our hearts. May the Lord give us the grace to challenge our own hearts and minds and to judge them by the measure of God's truth. May we have the wisdom to trust God's testimony on the matter of our hearts because it is only from Him that we can receive instruction by which we can measure ourselves. You see, the truth is that the only way we can truly escape the deception of our own hearts and minds is by abiding in the Lord because the heart that is alienated from Him is sick and unreliable. Yes, sin has made a mark in our hearts even with the depth of a diamond point, but we have been called and grafted to He that can overwrite those marks. Yes, we live under constant temptation from without and from within. But we have been called to drink from the fountain that purifies the heart. And it’s my prayer that we may desire to drink from the very fountain of righteousness. That its waters may flow even to the deepest ends of our hearts and rid them of all deceitfulness. That the light of God’s word may shine even to the darkest corners of our hearts until no shadow of wickedness is left therein. May we surrender to Christ. May we let Him dwell in our hearts so that we may be rooted and grounded in Him that is righteousness itself. He died and rose so that the old self may die and we may receive a new nature. He was stricken so that our hearts may be healed. May we lean on Him. May we let Him search through our hearts and uproot all that is of the old nature until we are in sync with His nature. Until our will, our intentions, and thoughts are in sync with His. Because only then are we safe from the deceptions of our own hearts. --- Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:
I don’t know if you have ever looked at someone; maybe they are being recommended for a certain position, or you have heard something about someone and you’re meeting them for the first time, and the moment you lay your eyes on them, you’re like they definitely look the part! You see, we often make the mistake of judging people by their appearances, or the uncommunicated impression they make. It’s a natural inclination, a natural fault in us because we cannot read the secrets of another’s heart. But the sad thing is that the value we attach to semblance in this generation is almost to the level of idolatry. But not everyone that has a noble aspect has a noble spirit. And this doesn’t just apply to our judgment of the rest of the world. We make the same error of judgment even towards ourselves. Sometimes we also hold ourselves in such high regard that we manage to convince ourselves that we’re doing okay. We listen to what everyone else says about us and let it get into our heads that we are without error. We blind ourselves to the faults in our faith. To the faults in our relationship with God. Because we have projected a certain image to the world and the world reflects it back to us. But we said that this month we’re addressing the state of our hearts. We want to pursue something deeper than countenance and stature. We are seeking to polish not just how we look in everyone else's eyes but who we are. Our concern is how we appear before the God who judges men by the heart. Our question this month should be, can God esteem us by the goodness of our hearts? Is He pleased with the inward condition and the endowments of our minds? Does our outward briskness and liveliness match what is within our hearts? You see, the Lord looks deep into the core of our hearts. His light searches deep for the integrity, the mercy, and goodness that is expected of those that have the fear of God in their hearts. And this is why He cautioned Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:7, against looking for the countenance and stature of the man that was to be king because He, the Lord looks at the heart. He looks at the raw potential. That which cannot be dressed up to look pretty. He looks at what one is. He measures someone on a different scale. He looks for the part of us that identifies with Him. The part that does not change whether we’re stripped down or added to. That which we cannot conceal from Him even if we managed to conceal it from the world. He searches for the foundation of our lives. And so as we continue with the discussion on the Matters of the Heart, I want us to ask ourselves; what sort of hearts do we have? If your heart was laid bare before the Lord, what would He find there? What lies in the closet of your soul? Beyond the peripheral things and the externals of this life, who are you? Is God satisfied by the condition of our hearts? Would God vouch for who we are on the inside? It is my prayer today that we may seek to be right in the sight of God. That we desire to develop the kind of spiritual character that God is looking for. The kind of love for God and attachment to righteousness that sets us apart. That disposition of the heart where everything else becomes subordinate to God. May we desire to have hearts that are set upon truth and righteousness. Hearts that are set upon God. Hearts that are right with God. In Jesus’ mighty name. Amen. --- Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:
Some of the most basic components of identity include language, values, customs and expectations of the world around you. You see, when you say you’re an American, there are those things that people automatically ascribe to you. When you say you’re an African, an Asian, there are those things that people, expect you to be familiar with or to be doing. Some biases and assumptions. Identity inspires in us a sense of who we are and who we relay to others that we are. Our identity forms a stable core and an anchoring point to our individuality and values. And that identity or in other words, who we are, is what determines what we do. We are doing a study in Tweens and Teens this Season and one of theme focuses on Identity. If you read the book of Samuel and Psalms, or anywhere else that David is mentioned, you’ll realize that he was not called a man after God’s own heart for no reason. As imperfect as he was as a man, David is portrayed in the Bible as a kind man, a generous and noble man. He was a repentant man. A man who had unwavering faith in God. Psalms 78:72 describes another character of this man, and this is what I want us to talk about as we continue with this month’s topic of Matters of the Heart: he is described as a man of integrity, who governed Israel, by the skillfulness of his hands. David aimed at nothing else but the glory of God during his reign. Integrity and the fear of God were the maxims of his government. This was a man who was humbled first before he was exalted. His beginnings were as small as it could get, but at the height of his achievements, the heart he had when he was a shepherd did not leave him. This is a man whose character was shaped by his relationship with God. He remained upright before God, never swerving in heart from the obedience of God. He was sincere in his allegiance to God and he shepherded His people with an honest heart. He avoided and abhorred the counsel and courses that were contrary to the will of God. He acted in singular prudence and sought the good and welfare of his people. He did not seek his own honor and interest or the advancement of his family. David fulfilled his vocation with a pure heart. He realized God’s design and followed it to his last day. As we talk about matters of the heart this month, I want us to assess our hearts and ask ourselves if our hearts can be described in the manner that David’s heart was described. Does our relationship with God inspire a sense of identity in us? Does what we relay to the world reflect a people who know God? You know, we said at the beginning of today’s podcast that our identity is what determines what we do. Our values, our thoughts our actions… all these are anchored to a certain core. And if that core is not stable, if what lies in our hearts is not founded in God, we can only maintain some characters for some time before we slide back to our real selves. And so I want to challenge us today. Let us desire to have the kind of heart that David had. A heart that seeks for nothing less than the glory of God. A heart that has unwavering faith in God. May we desire to let our relationship with God shape our characters. Until those who interact with us can say these are a people of integrity. This is a man, a woman with an honest heart. This is a young man, or a young woman whose obedience and allegiance to God has not wavered because what is in their heart is solid. In Jesus’ mighty name. Amen. --- Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:
“Matters of the Heart.” You know, the heart, the soul contains layers of thoughts, feelings, and intentions; some are known to us, and some are not really conscious of. The depth and detail of one's character are so far-reaching that we sometimes don’t even understand our motivations, interests, purposes, and plans. Sometimes we don’t even understand our own decisions. And this is why David, in Psalms 139:23-24, got to that point in life where he realized that he didn’t know himself that well. So he figured out that he needed someone who knew him better than himself. One who could be trusted to search him. To know him at the deepest levels. Let that sink, David knew that he could not afford to content himself with generalities. He knew the danger of giving himself over to the judgment of self-delusion. And so he gathered himself before the divine light of God that it may penetrate even to the deepest ends of his heart. He laid his heart bare, before God, with all its outward manifestations. He desired that the divine light may penetrate him and cleanse him of all that cleaved onto him that was evil. And this is the prayer we see in verses 23 and 24: the prayer and the yearning of a devout heart that craves nothing short of purity. A heart that wants to be separated from its former times and ushered into the way of endurance. The way of righteousness. The way everlasting way of God. And this is the desire I seek to stir in us, to have in our lives as believers. A desire for righteousness at any cost. A desire so deep that even when we’re conscious of our fallen nature, we can still go before the Lord with a longing for His light and ask Him, “Search me, O Lord. To the deepest parts of my heart. Search even to my inmost self. I know you will find evil in there, but such me still”. You know this is more than a desire. It’s a frank acknowledgment of the state of our hearts. It’s a confession. It is a bold acceptance of a terrible fact to the carnal mind. The fact that God knows us altogether. That He sees what lurks at the center of our being. Yes! He sees all that lurks within us. But He looks not with an eye of condemnation. Instead, he looks with a loving eye. This is the secret that the psalmist knew. The conception of his relationship with God was evident, and this is why he was willing to turn himself inside out before Him. This is a demonstration of confident love. A love that knows it is surrendering to the greatest of loves. This is the prayer of a heart that knows its sinfulness and is willing to submit it to the heart that bears it all away. This is a heart that’s willing to submit to the search process. Not so that the God who knows all may know something new. But that the man may know the condition of his own heart. Even what lies hidden from his conscious mind may be unveiled until he is no longer ignorant of it. This is a prayer for enlightenment even to the sins we may consider minute. It is a prayer for deliverance. Pray with me now. Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way. Amen. Shalom Pastor Lucy Paynter with your Daily Insights Matters of the Heart Part 1. --- Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:
Recalling the past, in Biblical context, is an act of being honest to ourselves and to God in reconciling the past and the present and surrendering them to God. This is why Moses cautioned the Israelites in Deuteronomy 8:14-16 that they should not forget that it was God who brought them out of bondage. That they were once in a wilderness with serpents and scorpions. That they were once without food and water and God provided for them. The greatest test of their prosperity is that they were likely to focus on their present affluence and forget the God who made it possible. --- Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:
We’re like mustard seeds planted in the Lord’s garden. We have the potential for a magnificent growth. But our growth does not stop when we sprout. There are even greater heights to be conquered. And the same way a plant doesn’t stop digging its roots deeper into the soil that provided the conditions necessary for it to germinate, so should we also not forget that it is the Lord who makes it possible for His people to prosper. --- Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:
God might fulfill our wildest dreams and we still might fall to the sin Eve fell to. Because as luscious as Eden was, she just couldn’t take her focus away from the one fruit that she couldn’t have. Everything she could have needed was right there but she took it for granted because she looked at it through the lens of deprivation not gratitude. And this is what I want us to talk about today as we continue on the talk about the tests of abundance. Because it doesn’t matter how many of our prayers are answered, it will never be enough. It will never mean anything to us as long as there’s no gratitude in our hearts. We will always focus on what is missing. And this is why Deuteronomy 8:10 tells us that we shall not take for granted even the fact that we have eaten and are full. --- Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:
Abraham did not consider worth the conflicts that were being bred by their abundant wealth. At the height of his communion with God, he sought after peace. He did not yield to Lot in weakness. He could have fought for his property. He could have stood on its dignity. But he chose to leave it to God because he knew that he could prosper anywhere. And we see later that it all played out to his advantage because Lot, in his application of logic and sense chose a land that would later fall under God’s judgment. --- Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:
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