A Heavy Heart

www.bible.com/1713/pro.21.2.csb

How is it we associate weight with our heart? Where does this come from? It might come actually from the ancient Egyptians who proposed that a man’s heart would be weighed against a feather in the afterlife. If a man’s heart was heavy, he would be consumed by a crocodile. If it was lighter than a feather, then he would be welcomed to the joys of the afterlife.

Some scholars propose that this is the idea behind Solomon’s statement here in Proverbs. Perhaps Solomon was borrowing from ”pop culture” much as we do when describing death, like ”buy the farm” or ”six feet under” or something else to cushion the reality that is death. His use of ”weigh the heart” could be a sidelong reference to the Judgment which all men must face after death, as in, ”it is appointed unto men once to die, and after that, the Judgment.”

However, if we take that route, Solomon is referring to something we can do nothing about until it’s too late. Perhaps he is offering a warning. We think our ways are right and good, until they’re not. We need to remember that we are accountable for our actions. There is a higher authority to whom we must answer to.

Other translations interpret rather than translate, saying that the Lord ”examines” the heart, or ”ponders” it. This makes the statement more immediate rather than final. It makes the Lord’s activity more present. He is now examining and we can learn from this examination. There is the chance to repent here from wrong-headed thinking. So that when we challenge our thinking with God’s examination, we have the chance to change.

I believe this is how Solomon is intending this statement. Interpreting this passage for us rather than simply translating it robs us of the cultural thought process of his time. Tell me what the Hebrew says instead of telling me what it means. Let the commentators tell me what it means, not the translation. I doubt Solomon believed in a soul-eating crocodile or a set of scales weighing hearts against feathers. But he employs the picture to remind us of God’s authority over us. We are not our own. We all must answer to our Creator.

Heavenly Father, remind me today of Your authority over my life. I need those reminders because I am naturally rebellious in my thinking. I hate for anyone to tell me what to do. But help me to be humble of heart before You and others. Remind me that I am often wrong and need correction. Help me to see your truth in everything I do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

All-Day Praise

www.bible.com/1713/psa.113.3.csb

Is there a bad time to praise? Apparently not, since from dawn to dusk appears to be a good time for worship. Does that rule out the night-time. Nah. Nights are good for meditating in His precepts, or for, you know, sleep. Really there isn’t a bad time to praise the Lord and that’s a good thing.

All around the world, people are praising the Lord. It is daylight somewhere on the earth at all times. I think that’s why God wanted Noah’s children to scatter over the face of the earth. Someone somewhere is praising the Lord, and the sun does not go down on His Name.

So what could you do today to make today a day of worship? How could you approach your work or tasks today to offer then before the Father as acts of service to the Name? Maybe you could dedicate each act, each work as unto the Lord. Maybe each hour could be heralded with prayer. Perhaps even right now could be a moment of worship even as you read.

Heavenly Father, please remind me to worship today as I go about my daily tasks. Help me to see the holy work in which I engage because each day is Yours and I am working for you. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

Level Ground

www.bible.com/1713/psa.143.10.csb

I like level ground. Its so much easier to travel, but, it’s also pretty boring. If you’ve ever been on  a trip, traveling through hills and valleys, over rivers and even mountains is far more interesting than driving across long, level ground. My family and I had the chance last year to drive across Kansas on I-70. It is the very definition of level ground, and Kansas knows this. They’ve tried to spruce it up with several roadside attractions and tourist traps. I’ve not driven anything quite like it before.

So why would we want to Spirit of God to lead us across level ground? Simple. The same mountains and valleys that make travels interesting are the very things we want to avoid in our spiritual life. We’ve had the mountain-top experiences, and those are great, but we’ve also traveled through the valley of the shadow of death. Not so nice. In short, we would prefer the long, evening boring road led the Spirit to free us from the extremes of emotional and spiritual travel. That being said, we truly appreciate the highs and lows for those shape us to be who we are.

All of this is to teach us to do the will of God. I would much rather God teach me His will than have to force me along it. Let me learn by His gentle instruction than to have to be broken again and again until I listen. So as I live, let me learn what Your good, pleasing, and perfect will is.

Heavenly Father, I know I’ve messed up, and often. And often you have to teach me in ways I don’t like. Sometimes I have to take dark paths of sorrow and misery before I open my eyes enough to see the lessons you would have me learn. Help me Father to have open eyes and delight of heart when You bring me along Your will. Help me the path you would have me go, so that I will not wander but travel on the level ground you have prepared for me. Thank You Lord, In Your Son’s Name, Amen.

True Worship

www.bible.com/1713/rom.12.1.csb

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:1‬ ‭CSB‬‬

https://www.bible.com/1713/rom.12.1.csb

What is true worship? Do you try and capture it on Sunday morning as the instruments play and the bodies sway in time? Is it when the worship leader says, ”Everybody stand!” or when she says to the band, ”Let’a just song this without the music now” and we don’t acapella, with just the power of our own voices?

None of these things seem to be in view of the text. Rather it seems true worship takes place everyday in little moments. While you are working and eating, thinking and serving, worship can take place. True worship dossn’t need a name. It needs a heart devoted to God so that even in the mundane, there is God.

What would you have for worship like that? What would it be worth to make every opportunity a place of worship? Apparently the cost is also included here, make your bodies a living sacrifice. It costs you to worship Him who spent His life and blood on you. It is a more than even exchange. All of Him for all of you. What can you offer Him today?

LORD, help my everyday be the Lord’s day. Make my every waking moment be yours, for I am yours. Help me to remember throughout my busyness that this world is not my home. That greater things are coming that this, and that I can endure all these things for You give me strength. Lord help me remember today that I am not my own. In Jesus Name, help me to worship you today. Amen.

Hearing and Doing

www.bible.com/1713/jas.1.22-24.csb

It’s Sunday. You and yours just made it to church. No breakfast. Through the hymns and the choruses, offering and message, thoughts of lunch come to mind, and finally being able to settle into your easy chair for a long afternoon nap. The words of the sermon drift over you without really making an impact, because that’s not where your mind is. We’ve taken the whole service and sermon for granted. It’s ok, you think, I can just pick it up later in the week on the app. We hear it, but it doesn’t register. It’s just noise.

That may not be the extreme to which James referred, but it is often the case in our modern church. We may demand the preacher spend all week putting together a riveting message to tickle our ears, but when the time comes it attention is elsewhere. We hear, but seldom do.

I happen to have a really good preacher that I listen to every week. He is available to listen to at betterlife.church every week. What engages me work him isn’t his scholarship, though he does come up with something interesting almost every week. He is passionate, and jas that ability to speak directly to your soul, where you are, just enough to make you uncomfortable. I feel that is the mark of a good preacher.

I would be curious if you feel the same way about you preacher. Feel free to shamelessly plug him or her in the comments below. But a preacher is only as good as his listeners. A mark of a good listen is one who puts into practice what they hear. And this is James’ point. Don’t just be a hearer. Practice what you’ve learned. Put this good message into life so that it is not lost between your ears.

Heavenku Father, help us to put into practice what we’ve heard and read. We know it’s not all on our preachers to incite us to Christian Service. That ability comes from our love and obedience to You. Help us every day to be more willing and able to serve you in our calling. Thank you Jesus for calling us out of the world into your glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Guide my Feet

www.bible.com/1713/psa.119.105.csb

Not sure where your life is going today? It’s Monday morning and you are back to the same ground you’ve been doing for years. Nothing has changed. Monday is a painful reminder that your life has been put on hold indefinitely. Yes. It’s a job. Your family is cared for. Your needs are met. Your marriage is good. But it’s Monday and life is dull. It’s been this way for years and you just don’t know how to get out of this rut.

May I suggest something? The excitement you at looking for will not be in a new location, job, or marriage. It doesn’t really matter when you are the same. What needs to change is you. If you keep looking at the world through your own lenses, it will only be as exciting as you can imagine. Take a look at your world through God’s vision. What do you see?

God sees relationships and work that He is blessing. God sees a great foundation for ”greater works than these.” Imagine the contrast of a family if one element of your blessed life is removed. Good job but bad marriage. Good house but unreliable work. Food on the table but one child is hooked on drugs. Imagine if one thing was knocked out of your perfectly boring world. Doesn’t seem so bad now, does it?

Yeah, but I’m still bored. I’m sorry others aren’t as blessed as me, but that doesn’t change my situation. Maybe remind you of one verse in Philippians? ”Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Both of these drivethe engine of joy. Are you godly? Are you striving to be more like God every day? Do you appreciate and thank Gid for the blessing you enjoy every day? Do you bring the needs of others before God? Do you see others as God does? If you feel you have reached a plateau in your spiritual life, that’s not God’s fault. The depths and mysteries of God cannot be fathomed. If that doesn’t at least pique your curiosity, then you seriously need to work on your faith. Read more. Listen more. Get out of your own head. You already know everything in there. Submit to God in your daily activities and see what He can do with them. It’s not all about you.

Heavenly Father, being back to Monday isn’t what I had in mind for a good time today, but You remind me that life is more about my own needs. You remind me that I was put on this earth for You and Your purposes. Show me today what I can do to grow in my faith and not be so consumed my my own little world. Help me to grow past the dull and into the light. Show me the path. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Slow

www.bible.com/1713/jas.1.19.csb

My wife will tell you that I do not move very fast. In fact this morning we arrived at church 20 minutes late and couldn’t find a seat. Good problem to have I guess. I have been told that my superhero name ought to be ”Sloth-Man”. While I happen to admire sloths, but I don’t have an affinity for them.

And maybe being slow is a good thing. This is one text that I can get behind. For I am always quick to listen, anger and speaking tend to be slower. I like to think before I say anything because my mouth has often gotten me into trouble. And since I’ve often made my living from the words I say, you can see how that would be a problem.

That’s not something that I knew right off. And it’s not a skill you can easily acquire. It takes time, experience, and patience, lots of patience. It takes maturity, which is why I think this book is later in the Bible. The books written here toward the end of the New Testament tend to be more difficult to understand and practice than the earlier ones. And they are more geared more for mature believers. This is a skill that Christians work up to as they grow to be more like Christ. This is something that is expected of you, but that you will need to grow into it.

Dear Lord, we pray this morning that as Christians you continue to call us forward in our faith. Help us to grow and mature as believers and become your disciples. You have called us to be salt and light in this world. May our witness reflect that. Help us to be quick to listen. Help us to be ready to listen and to hear first without judgment, that we may understand each other. Then Father give us the patience to work through what we have heard. And only then Father when we have heard and thought may we speak your truth, and apply anger when necessary. Let us give fair hearing and sound judgment when we speak and act. Thank you Lord for your grace in us. Let us be at least as gracious to others. In Jesus Name, Amen.