Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for Your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in Your truth.Psalm 26:2
Being in God’s Word is not an obligation, but a journey. A sifting of your life through the passages of Scripture. A place to work on you. How you relate to God, how you engage those you love, how you treat those you may not be fond of, and how you interact with the other souls that grace this world.
See to it, brothers, that none of you have a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, so long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.Hebrews 3:12-13
One of the most subtle of sins is the temptation to read Scripture as if it applies to everyone else. To see it as if it does not possibly apply to you, just because you do not see it at first glance. Then, there is the problem with application when you believe you already know all about it and have nothing left to learn. Both of those heart attitudes mislead you from digging deeper. Know now, there is always more to learn…as life is a continuous intersection of stages, times, and everchanging moments that prevent you from possibly knowing all there is to know about anything.
Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path.Proverbs 23:19
There is so much to learn about the heart. In society, we romanticize our hearts as being automatically pure, full of love and overflowing with grace. But according to Scripture, that is not really true. Again and again, we are instructed to check our hearts, go deeper into them and search out where we are not being completely honest with ourselves.
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
I, the Lord, search the heart…Jeremiah 17:9-10
It is a marvelous promise that God searches our hearts and knows exactly what we need to work on. For those with a willing mind and a heart softened to God’s leading, studying His Word can be transformational. It is not that the “old” you ceases to exist and you become someone totally different. Rather, the journey with God in His Word unlocks those things that need to improve, need to be dealt with, or need to be further developed in our character and lives. His Word helps our hearts to soften, open and become more receptive to the changes that develop the holy character that is becoming of those who call themselves by His Name.
Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your Name.Psalm 86:11
According to the Hebrew language, the heart is the seat of emotions. It is where life becomes more than a series of passing moments on a timeline. Our experiences generate emotions and memories, and the heart is the door to where those are stored and how they are held onto. What we store in our hearts is of the utmost importance to God and it is central to the refinement that each of us needs.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.Psalm 51:10
And you…acknowledge the God of your father, and serve Him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts.1 Chronicle 28:9
The mind seems like an easy thing to recognize. It is our thoughts, ideas and decision making center. But, it is so much more. It includes your memory, your inclinations, your opinions, your intentions, your purpose, your understanding, your intelligence. It is your will, your affections, and where your heart takes seat and reflects through your actions and inactions.
God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.Psalm 53:2
Life is full of intricate patterns. Even the most seemingly random thing is often not as random as it seems. Raindrops have a distinctive roundness to them when they pool on surfaces. A pattern that they display wherever they fall. Leaves of plants replicate a nearly identical pattern as they grow out on a tree together, in a forest of trees with similar foliage.
God’s Word, too, contains patterns. Jesus spoke in parables. Prophets were not listened to by the masses. People repeatedly rejected God’s messages and continued on in their stubborn ways. A faithful remnant always survives the hard times that befall society.
But patterns are not restricted to just nature and His Word. They exist in our lives, our daily routines, our responses, our behaviors, and our relationships. Even more important to understand are the patterns that come from our past, as they have helped shape and frame us; the ones that have become generational within our families. Harmful patterns are pretty much guaranteed to travel three to four generations; while good ones positively impact more generations than we will ever see.
The more we work with God regarding these things, the more we will improve this world.
No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.Robin Williams, Robin Williams Quotes. (n.d.). BrainyQuote.com, Retrieved October 31, 2020 from BrainyQuote.com Website.
You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.Exodus 20:5-6
According to Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary, hate in Scripture signifies to love less. To bow can mean to sink under pressure. If we are unwilling to change or look at how we may need to do things differently to come in line with God’s Words, how can we say that we truly love Him more than what we have long been doing? When we cave to those patterns, we are actually loving God less and likely others too.
Loving God less has natural consequences, just as it does when we choose to love others poorly. On the other hand, loving Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength leads to blessings over an extended period of time that we cannot fully comprehend.
Families were inherent from the beginning of God’s design. In fact, childbirth was mentioned even before the first child was born. Eve was told that the consequence of her sin would result in pain with childbirth, for all women. Sin can result in consequences that have unforeseeable ramifications.
And every family has a set of patterns that operate in and through it. You can call them tendencies, reactions, or whatever you like…but each of those have a pattern to them. The key to bringing blessings to our families is to root out the sin by loving and obeying God with all of our hearts and in all of our ways. Read more.
Many times people confuse coping mechanisms for family patterns, but the best way to think of them is by understanding that everyone develops ways to deal with what is before them.
Family patterns are different in that they are like a road map, training, conditioning in how life is seen and lived out. Coping mechanisms, on the other hand, are usually triggered by some interaction that causes us to employ certain reactions and maneuvers to deal with a stressful situation at hand. Mechanisms are often silent until something triggers them, while patterns are almost always present and active. Read more.
in His Word
Oftentimes in His Word, you will find noticeable patterns–in sentence structure, word usage and topics. But more than that, as you dig into His Word, you may also find themes that connect and run between Scriptures.
Pursuing those patterns can alert you to pressing matters you may want to consider. Repeatedly seeing the same topic, Scripture or words is an indication that you really need to dig further. Trust that patterns are placed in His Word for a reason, and exploration of their placement and purpose can yield more wisdom and discernment to the benefit of you and your loved ones. Read more.
in his world
Finding and exploring the world in which we live is a great way to better understand the examples God uses in Scripture.
As created beings, learning about the design of His creation can shed new light on what is shared in His Word. The more we know about the patterns in our world, and what is involved with them, the more we will begin to grasp what works together and what does not. Read more.
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.John 10:11
I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay undiscovered before me.Sir Isaac Newton, Isaac Newton Quotes. (n.d.). BrainyQuote.com Retrieved October 31, 2020, from BrainyQuote.com Website.
Take on My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. My yoke is easy and My burden is light.Matthew 11:29-30
Session Four’s Assignment
- Read Connecting the Dots and follow buttons to relevant sections
- Think on Matthew 12:1-8 and look into your life. Consider where you have made quick judgments. Contemplate how often you are merciful, and where you think you do not need to be. Why? Are you understanding the true meaning behind what you believe supports you?
- Have you applied a standard to others that was unnecessary or wrong? Have you experienced being condemned when you were innocent, and have you ever made the wrong assumptions about another? What standards or rules were you applying that allowed or encouraged your presumptions?
- Explore what mercy means? What condemnation means? What sacrifice means? How may these themes relate to your life and those you come in contact with?
- Session Five will be released next week.