Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Heart, by Heidi Avery

“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” Ezekiel 36:26

The heart is kind of like a peach. We all know what a treat a perfectly ripe peach is, don’t we? Soft, sweet and juicy deliciousness at it’s best. The peach, before it is ripe however is quite a different story. It is sometimes still a little green, very hard to the touch and produces a taste nearly void of flavor. Given the right amount of time to bask in the warm nurturing light of the sun it will turn into that soft, sweet, juicy perfection that we all know and love.

The hardened heart is similar to the un-ripe peach in many ways. Though we can not physically give the heart a squeeze, we know it is hard by the sort of attitude it is producing in a person. A hardened heart produces, anger and bitterness and is driven by selfishness. It has an overall attitude that is sadly void of the Spirit. When my heart is hardened it is often a result of specific disobedience in an area of my life. If I am entertaining my own feelings and desires, my own will and glory over His, God can and has allowed my heart to harden.

Remember Pharaoh? He never seemed to learn his lesson, after he hardened his own heart so many times against God; God eventually caused it to continue to be hardened so His glory could be seen. I know that if Pharoh had had the Spirit in him that God would have seen a change in his heart and things may have played out a little differently. The difference between us and Pharoh is that the Spirit does live in us and if our hearts have become hardened over anything God graciously provides a way of escape. However, the timing is still his and the consequences are still ours to deal with.

When God does give the mighty order to soften a believer’s hardened heart that beautiful transformation takes place once again. What was once angry becomes joy-filled. What was once bitter becomes sweet and delightful. What was once consumed with selfishness becomes self-less. When a heart has been softened by the heart healer himself, it is quickly filled with the Spirit again and it can do nothing more than produce the precious attitudes of the Spirit… peace, joy, patience, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness and love.

My own salvation comes to mind when I think of the condition of the heart. I was like Pharoh with a hardened heart towards God. If you had known me before I was saved you would have known that I detested anything to do with God. I thought Christians were crazy, you would have considered me a lost cause. Fortunately for me, unlike Pharoh, God had mercy on me and melted my heart into him and it is my desire to keep my heart in his hands for eternity.

A soft heart is always ready to receive the Lords pursuing and guiding. When my heart is softened my feelings are kept in perspective because I relate to the Spirit more than myself. I desire His will and His glory over my own. Maybe your heart is hardened and you know it shouldn’t be, but you feel powerless to change it… I’ve been there. You’ve got hurt feelings and resentment has been festering and building inside it, but conviction lies around the edges trying to penetrate. Hard as we try we can not change our hardened hearts. But, if it is our true desire to be changed and we seek God for help, He will indeed change us. He will always do that which is in His will and it is His will that are hearts are softened.

It may be a process getting there and God doesn’t just let our hearts be hardened to hurt us, but there may be a lesson that will be learned along the way and there may be consequences too. One thing I know for sure is that God will use it. He will change us through it and we will be stronger and better equipped for His great purposes. Our testimony of His boundless grace and mercy on us and His great love for us will continue to increase showing His glory ever bright and more brilliant than before.

Just as the sun causes the hard and un-ripened peach to move into its sweet, soft and edible state, so does The Son, in His perfect time cause a heart to move into a softened, pliable and love filled state.

Father, thank you for loving us and giving us the Spirit that directs our hearts, keeping them soft and ready to receive you. Forgive us for giving our hearts over to our flesh at times and allowing it to become hardened. Thank you for the lessons you teach us in that place and for the way of escape that you lovingly and faithfully provide us when we are there. We are so imperfect and we need you God. Keep us safe from Satan’s temptations to invest in our flesh. This is the body we live in physically, but it is the Spirit within us that keeps us alive.

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