The Heart of the Matter
The Heart of God, David, Paul and Jesus
In the beginning is the Secret. Understanding spiritual secrets is a matter of the condition of the heart. Thus began a meditation of the heart of man. The revelation began of a series of clean and right hearts – studies of which are presented here.
It was a few weeks ago that a slogan straddled on an acronym was laid on my heart: COVID UNSTUCK! The UNSTUCK broke up into staying unstuck with COVID through Understanding the Secret behind it-Turning to Jesus-building Unity of the Body of Christ-Care & Cash to the Neighbour-Kitchen & Kingdom on a journey of Nation Building.
And the Lord will reveal His secret in due time! Amos 3:7 promises that: Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but He reveals His secret unto His servants the prophets. However, it requires that you get into the closet with Him, and the Father who sees in secret will reward you openly!
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF ‘HEART’ IN SCRIPTURE?
The Bible uses the word ‘heart’ primarily to refer to the ruling centre of the whole person, the spring of all desires. The heart is seen as the seat of the will, intellect and feelings. ‘Character’, ‘personality’ and ‘mind’ are approximate modern terms for the biblical meaning of heart.
The heart is the centre, not only for spiritual activity, but of all operations of human life. ‘Heart’ and ‘soul’ are often used interchangeably (Deut 6:5).
THE HEART OF GOD
Let us begin with the heart of the Father. Psalm 33:11-12. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. While the counsel of the Lord refers to His mind, it is wonderfully comforting to know that His plans are a wee bit lower in origin – His heart! This missionary heart is the origin of love and this love loads us with benefits, our very selves being engraved in His palms. His love overcomes us and constrains us. We love Him because He first loved us. We love our neighbour because He showed us His love on the cross while we were yet sinners. His love has forgiven us at the cross – a price He paid through the life blood of His only Son Jesus Christ.
“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life”
The marvellous thing about the heart of God is that it is not abstract or distant. It is replicable in human flesh and blood. An example we revisit is the heart of David. Please read 1 Samuel 16:1-13. What a sobering fact that the great man of God, Samuel, was not looking at the men the way God was looking. David, who was not even in the reckoning, away keeping sheep, was the only one who had the heart of God. And very significantly, David did not need any instant sanctification which his brothers needed! He was called from the field and rather was instantly anointed! He was ready.
The last verse of Psalm 78 hints at the reason: INTEGRITY. David was not a man of double or doubting heart. He was bowed or swayed by the Word of God and the Spirit of God. There was nothing more precious in his life than the presence of God. He spoke in his integrity based on the word of God when he faced Goliath as well as when he had to woo back the people of Judah after he suffered setbacks due to Absalom. 2 Sam 19:11-14. Bowed by the Word and the Spirit, he was able to bow the hearts of the people.
No wonder he had such men of integrity as Uriah the Hittite in his army. This man did not allow the heart of his earthly backslidden king who was once called a man after God’s own heart, to lose his loyalty or indulge in pleasure when the war was on. In the process, he even lost his life!
THE HEART OF DAVID
Nevertheless, let us stay further on David. In Psalm 119:145, he states, ‘I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O LORD: I will keep thy statues.’ He prayed with his whole heart. The next verses continue with his cries. I want you to connect the dots between the whole heart and the intercessory heart. Many times, the way in which we pray is not serious enough to deserve answers, especially when it comes to the core matter of revival, and the reason for this is we do not completely and effectively argue the case with the Lord.
Charles Finney was a lawyer before he was saved and became a revival-centric person. He was a skeptic though he was the church choir director. He often challenged the pastor. Why? Because of the way in which the people prayed in the church! They prayed as though they did not expect any answers and they continued to complain and grumble. But when he encountered the Lord, you can imagine his prayer life was the most powerful instrument in his ministry. I daresay he practiced his skills as an advocate and lawyer with God Himself and did not let God go till he won the case. He knew how to argue for the lost and he virtually pinned God down at His word. There were globe-shaking results.
We must learn to pray with the whole heart and whole Word as we intercede. This is the most crucial lesson which has impacted me in these days and I want to escalate its importance as one of those who has been praying for revival for several years. I believe the time has come.
My friend Festus Ndukwe says the word of God has operational power to loose men from bondage. An intercessor must know God’s Word, and take advantage of the good case (that God desires all men to be saved, with Christ having paid the price of salvation) we have in Christ to bring souls into His kingdom.
An apt appropriation of the word for this moment is found in Zechariah 12:10-14. Let us claim that every house in our country may look at the One whom they have pierced and turn to Jesus for salvation. Thus will we bring the Word into operation.
THE HEART OF PAUL
My heart stopped at verse 19 when I was hearing the reading of Acts 20 from the audio bible during my morning meditation recently. Paul says, he was ‘serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations…,”. A new revelation of the heart of Paul dawned, to show how much he cared for the churches he had planted and others he was ministering to, even those whom he had never visited. Here, we get a unique picture of Paul the pastor, and what really mattered to him as a leader and shepherd of God’s people. In verse 31, he emphasises he did this for 3 years, that he did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.
Tears cannot happen unless something touches the heart. If you delve into Romans 9, Paul reveals more of his heart for his own people, the Israelites. He was willing to be accursed for them, if they would be saved. This echoes the spirit of Moses, who interceded on behalf of Paul’s ancestors some thousand years before.
I was challenged: Am I “tearing” up for my people, my fellow Indians? Am I conscious of their lost state and the impending wrath of God upon them, leave alone the preying wolves which would gladly steal, kill and destroy them under the aegis of the Lawless one? Can I stand in the gap and have a taste of the spirit of Moses and Paul which damned their own selves so that the majority may be saved?
If we desire in our inner man, that India ought to see a revival in our times, our hearts must “tear” up!
Digging deeper into the heart of Paul, we see him testifying in two instances:
2 Corinthians 2:4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you and Galatians 4:19. My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you…
Affliction and anguish of heart paint violent pictures of pain and sorrow. How closer can you get to the heart of Christ?
Out of such squeezing, out of that love, came the desire to impart some spiritual gift (Romans 1:11), some sacrificial service (Philippians 1:24-26) and prayer (Colossians 2:1). The ultimate goal was that Christ be formed in them. Not Paul, not his personality, not his pattern, not his specialties. Only Christ and His person, His spirit of grace and truth.
Oh how lofty the desire and how deep the process crushed his heart! Let us keep these as guideposts in our ministry.
THE HEART OF JESUS
A mural of memories moves by in a blur
His prayers all seem unanswered and unheard
His pleading petitions, his loud cries and tears
A last reprieve will simply not appear
Most willing of victims, and with His final breath
Destroyed the one who holds the power of death
The hate heaped upon Him, scorning all the shame
But all for love He died and overcame
In all of time no one had ever heard
And to the world the thought seemed so absurd
Beyond their wildest dreams no one could ever tell
Of a high priest who would sacrifice Himself
So ruthless He loves us, so reckless His embrace
To show relentless kindness to a hardened human race
The joy that was before Him
On the Man of Sorrow’s face
And by His blood he bought a violent grace
These words are what Michael Card wrote in his song ‘A Violent Grace’. I cannot convey the heart of Jesus better.
While the KJV writes Hebrew 5:7 as Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared.
The Aramaic Bible in Plain English states: While also he was clothed in the flesh, he offered prayers, supplications, strong shouting and tears to him who was able to give him life from death, and he was obeyed.
Jesus’ cries of blood sweat were not heard for the physical but spiritual. The greater cry ‘Not My will but Thine’ was heard above His cry to take away the cup of suffering.
Two things need to be remarked: Jesus knows our every suffering. He has been there and was and is afflicted in our every affliction. Secondly, we are supposed to see this example to arm ourselves with the same mind. 1 Peter 4:1.
Peter goes on to say in the next chapter v10 that this is the way to perfection. We will not only be perfected but also stablished, strengthened and settled.
The revelation of secrets is dependent on the condition of the heart. It was the disciple John whom Jesus loved. Leaning on Jesus’ breast, the same John who heard whispers and whispered in the gospel, eventually heard the loud cries and shouts in his book of Revelation.
The pandemic has revealed many hearts. Suffering has torn some while suffering has endeared some.
Where does your heart line up in this list?