Sunday, March 23, 2014

A softened heart is a yielded heart, full of peace.

   This past week has been full of wonderful things happening in my family, some stretching things in my family, and for me personally a bit of a stretch in my own life. I have been truly seeking God on a decision I must make, and I can’t seem to get direction. While praying earlier this week I realized I was operating in pride. I had a certain city I thought would be nice to have on my diploma when I graduate next spring, and I am able to attend there. It just so happens I love that particular city and would have no problem doing my Practical end of finishing my degree there. I will need to be on campus and that will require moving. If that is where God would have me to graduate then so be it. If not I do not want to be there; I do not want to be anywhere He does not have in His plan for my life. I was however not being as open to that as I thought I was. Once I realized pride was blocking any direction I would ever get from God, I repented, laid the notion down and pressed into my relationship with, my Father. I had been sensing a lack of peace when considering certain avenues, and knew to stop going down that those thought paths, and have done so. Still overall, I don’t seem to be able to hear what I need to hear, and there is a time frame on this decision. 

   Mark 6:45-52 and Mark 8:8-38, are good passages to refer to if you are having trouble discerning things, remembering things, or hearing from God. We can see in those passages the matter of allowing our heart to be hardened in some way where God is concerned. So, after studying Mark 8 some on Wednesday evening, I took a nice 3 mile, 1 hour walk Thursday morning to sort that out. I thought I would share some of that walk here.

   Friday evening it occurred to me I might be struggling with hearing from God because I was constraining Him to the box we call a calendar. Yesterday morning I realized that was true, but the real box I was putting Him in was the whim of my personal preferences. Breakthrough! I love it when peace flows.

   Had you asked me before this week if my heart were hardened to God I would have have told you my heart was sensitive toward God, and that I did not have a hardened heart. That answer needs modified. I do have a heart that is sensitive toward God. I have had a bent toward the Word of God since I was a young girl. However, there is some hardness in some areas. I was devastated to realize that, but it did not take me too long to see the blessing in it that realization. 

   We all have areas that we have hardened our hearts toward God. Having a heart that has been hardened in some way, or ways, is not always a result of sin. God’s heart is never hardened toward us because of our sin, but our heart is hardened toward Him when we sin. That is pretty self explanatory and there are plenty of opportunities to hear those sermons so I will leave that there. Some hardening comes from another source. There are two accounts of Jesus miraculously feeding a multitude of people with barely enough to feed a handful. I am going to address the one in Mark 6:37-44 where Jesus fed 5,000 men with five fish and two loaves of bread with baskets leftover because I want to use some of  the remaining passage in Mark 6. Mark 6:45-52 happens immediately after this and is the account of Jesus walking on water out to the boat where the disciples were struggling in a storm. In verses 50-52 it says, “50 ...for they all saw Him and were troubled. But immediately He talked with them and said to them, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” 51 Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled. 52 For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened. Let’s take a quick look at those last few verses. “... and they were utterly astonished,...” The disciples had just seen Jesus miraculously feed 5,000 men, who knows how many women and children, and yet “...they were utterly astonished...”. And why was that? The answer is in the last four words of verse 50, “do not be afraid.”, and verse 52, For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened. Fear is not a lack of faith; it is putting faith is something God did not author. Fear is a result of a hardened heart and will keep us from living the life of victory Christians should be enjoying. Verse 52 clearly shows us the crux of the answer. The disciples saw Jesus multiply the fishes and loaves. They knew it was a fact that happened, but they did not consider the spiritual meaning whatsoever. The Amplified Bible records verse 52 as saying, For they failed to consider or understand [the teaching and meaning of the miracle of] the loaves; [in fact] their hearts had grown callous [had become dull and had lost the power of understanding]. To consider means; think upon, deliberate, study, examine, ponder, or meditate on. The disciples did not give any attention to, or focus on, the miracle and the power of that miracle, or the meaning of how Jesus fed the multitude. They knew of the event, they had no understanding of it spiritually. Simply put, a hardened heart is a result of a person thinking more about, and relating better to the natural world than the spiritual world. That heart is a result of thinking about, considering, pondering or meditating more on what the world says about an issue than what God says.

   Hardening of our hearts toward God is a process. It happens one act of disobedience, one thought of doubt, one thought of unbelief at a time. It can be a result of sin, rebellion or in the case of an unbeliever, it can be hatred toward God. Often it is just continuing to see things from a carnal, natural viewpoint. To keep our heart softened from God we must stay focused on Him. Proverbs 23:7 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. We can know plenty about what the Bible says, we can believe it is God's Word, but it is what we think on that determines whether our hearts are soft or hardened toward God. If you are on the internet looking up any possible disease you think you might have by studying the symptoms and how they may add up to something in your body, that is what you are thinking about ~ even after you get off those web sites. If you are reading what God has to say about disease and sickness in His Word, that is what you will be thinking about. The first venture will layer by layer callous your heart toward what God says about your body. The latter will develop your faith and soften your heart toward what God has to say about your body. That is an across the board principle. You can apply it to business ventures, finances, employment, choosing a field of study in college, a marriage partner... every area of you life. In my case I have been "spinning" about where I will be in the autumn to finish college. After a week of asking God to prune me, I am no longer spinning. I do not have my answer yet but the door of communication is wide open because I am not blocking God with my notions, concerns and whims. I am focusing on, and pressing into my relationship with God, and leaving it there. He will show me exactly what His plans are for me. And, He will speak His will for your life into you, just keep your focus on Him, not the world.

   Are there areas in your life that you think about that you find yourself weighing out all of the tangible and natural potentials. but neglecting, or at best minimizing any input from God? I would love to encourage you to turn that around and enjoy the peace that is so very available to you. 

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