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Do you have heart failure?

Carl is a biblical scholar, minister, husband, father and life coach. In his mid-twenties he had a powerful encounter with God and saw miraculous healings as a result. He passionately shares these stories and empowers others to fulfill their God-given potential.

I’m not talking about the physical blood pump that beats relentlessly in your chest cavity. The heart I’m talking about, is referred to as the ‘inner man’, in Holy Scripture. The word, ‘heart‘ is mentioned 954 times in the Bible and more specifically 787 times in the OT and 167 times in the NT, so the heart cannot be ignored.

The Hebrew word for heart is לֵב (lēḇ), meaning, “the source of life of the inner person in various aspects, with a focus on feelings, thoughts, volition, and other areas of the inner life.”[1] In the NT, the most replete Greek word for heart is καρδία (kardia), which also means ‘inner-self’ (i.e. the mind and desires etc.) but never the literal body part.[2]

One could surmise the heart effectively equates to the soul and spirit of man combined; which includes our mind, will and emotions.

Scripture reveals we are tripartite beings, i.e., comprised of three parts. We are a spirit, we have a soul, and we live in a physical body (1 Thess 5:23). When we die, both our spirit and soul will depart to either heaven or hell and our sinful body will return to the dust from whence it came (Dan 12:2, Eccl 12:7).

One glorious day in the future, we’ll receive our resurrected and glorified bodies of flesh and bone. Don’t forget, the rich man in Hell (Luke 16:19-31), could remember his brothers, experienced torment and expressed regret, so we know the soul is present in the afterlife.

The Inner Life

So, let me ask you this, “How’s your ‘inner life’ coming along“? Because the answer to this question is pivotal regarding your walk with the Lord and getting your prayers answered. Your heart is literally the epicenter of your being. It represents your ‘inner life’ and needs to be guarded continually because the issues of life stem from it (Prov 4:23). These ‘issues’ can become burdensome if left unresolved.

If our heart becomes desensitized to God’s leading, we get into trouble. Jesus took time to expound upon the importance of our heart’s condition in all of the synoptic Gospels (Mt 16:1-9, Lk 8:4-15. Mk 4:1-32). He revealed four types of soil, and the quality of soil, (i.e., our hearts condition), heavily impacts the fruitfulness of our crop. I will let you study these passages for yourself.

Christ’s aim is that we produce a harvest of ‘thirty, sixty or one hundredfold’ (Mt 13:23). The measure of our harvest is dependent upon the purity of our heart, not the quality of the seed, because there’s nothing wrong with God’s Word. If we have a crop failure, we need to look in the mirror!

Prevent your crop failure

The Parable of the sower (Mat 13, Mk 4) reveals that If our wounded heart remains unchecked, crop failure will result. Let me repeat; It’s the heart’s condition (not the Word of God) which determines the abundance of our harvest, in this life. Therefore, it’s imperative you take inventory of your heart on a regular basis and make adjustments where necessary.

Recently the Lord led me to Psalm 32 and asked, if I considered myself to be an animal? I was a bit surprised at first, and then He said, “if you’re not an animal then why do you choose to be led like one?” I wasn’t sure what the Lord meant at first, but the verses below offer insight. Let’s briefly review this psalm together:

7“Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; Thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.
I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, Or as the mule, which have no understanding: Whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, Lest they come near unto thee.
10Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: But he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about. “ (Ps 32:7-10)

Here is the crux of the matter; in this Penitential Psalm authored by David, the narrative switches back and forth from David to God. Some scholars believe this Psalm follows on right after Psalm 51 where David expresses the relief of being forgiven by God for his transgression with Bathsheba.[3]

Sadly, David paid a heavy price for his indiscretion. In the years following, he paid fourfold, for his sin. His baby died, Tamar his daughter was raped, Amnon (his son) was killed and finally, Absalom (his son), was also killed. It just goes to show how devastating one night in the wrong sack can be to a man of God. For a few minutes of fleshly pleasure, David would be paying for it, for the rest of his life. This was the zenith of his ruler-ship and he never recovered.

However, in response to the death of the newborn, David returned to God, with renewed purity of spirit and zeal. David was feeling very vulnerable at this time in his life but instead of running from God as many of us do, he ran into His bosom.

God wanted David to be led the right way and instructed how a man of God should be led. Verses, 8 and 9, reveal God’s desire. God swiftly reminds David that He will instruct and teach, in sharp contrast to how animals are prodded with bit and bridle, to keep them on track. We must be sensitive to the leading of God’s Spirit, attentive to His still, small voice, rather than having to be ‘poked’ or ‘prodded’ like an insensitive animal, who has no clue where he’s going unless buffeted.

Don’t place the onus on circumstances for guidance

Here’s the rub. I was looking to circumstances to guide me, instead of the gentle leading of the Holy Spirit within my heart. I had it the wrong way round. My thoughts were, “If this happens then God must want me to do this etc.” Don’t get me wrong, God can use circumstances to lead us, but it’s not His preferred method of guidance (1 Kgs 19:12, Jn 16:13).

The ‘poking’ and ‘prodding’ of life’s circumstances shouldn’t be our guide, the Holy Spirit is! And we can only receive spiritual guidance if we spend time with our Heavenly Father, seeking His desire for our life.

For those of us who perhaps aren’t as sensitive to God’s leading as we should be, He can lead us by circumstances as a last resort, but this is how animals are typically controlled. We need to be led like men and women of God, not trained beasts like mules or horses! Using God’s metaphor, we don’t want to be prodded with a whip or bridle like animals. We don’t want to be jostled back and forth by life’s circumstances. This brings discomfort and even pain.

Instead, we can avoid this altogether by making our heart receptive and responding to the gentle leading of the Holy Spirit. It’s Gods intent that we’re guided by His Word and ‘still small voice’ rather than by sharp circumstantial jolts. Taking the time to read God’s Word on a daily basis is essential if we want to be led down His path.

Holy Scripture identifies three heart issues that can potentially forfeit our harvest:

  1. A lack of confidence toward God because our heart condemns us (1 Jn 3:21-22).
  2. A lack of sensitivity to God’s leading, due to our imaginations becoming darkened (Rom 1:21).
  3. Opposing ourselves with our thoughts, words and actions (2 Tim 2:25).

Let’s look at these issues individually:

Issue #1 (A lack of Confidence) – “Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. 22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.”
(1 Jn 3:21-22)

Is your heart condemning you? If so, there’s a reason. If God admonished Peter to forgive, ‘seventy times seven’ (Mt 18:22), then clearly, He wouldn’t ask Peter to do something He wasn’t willing to do Himself. We serve a forgiving God, and we need to act with clemency also! We must be quick to forgive and quick to repent. The need to forgive people, is often overlooked. Check your heart’s condition today and get right with God, in doing so confidence will return and your prayers won’t be hindered. If you want to learn more about how your prayers can be hindered, click here.

Issue #2 (A lack of Sensitivity) – “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (Rom 1:21)

Our heart can become progressively hardened if we don’t discipline our imaginations. Our imagination and heart are tied together because it’s another faculty of our intellect. We tend to think with images not words. This scripture in context refers to those on the road to reprobation, but Christians can harden their hearts also if they’re not careful. How do we turn it around? Start glorifying God and thanking Him for the many blessings in your life! As you do so, your thoughts and imaginations will turn towards Him, from darkness to light.

The word ‘darkened’ here in the Greek means, “unable to understand“, or more precisely unable to understand ‘spiritual things’. Remember, we don’t want to be like the horse or mule which fails to perceive spiritual things, ignoring God’s ‘still small voice.’ We want our senses exercised to discern between good and evil (Heb 5:14). So, turn the light on today!

Issue #3 (Opposing yourself) “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth. 26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”
(2 Tim 2:25)

Do you oppose yourself? We often do with our thoughts, words and unrealistic expectations. It seems like an odd question, but scripture reveals that some of us actually do oppose ourselves. It’s time to pay close attention to your self-talk, i.e., what you say when no one is watching. Some people are always speculating negatively about outcomes in their life, but they have no way of knowing or proving how things will turn out negatively as they predict. This is faith in reverse. Instead of speaking God’s Word proactively over their lives, they speak against themselves by spouting false predictions or worries.

Why not expect good things and use your words and imagination positively instead? By doing so, you will stop opposing yourself and facilitate God’s plan without hindrance.

Expect Good Things!

Someone once said, “90% of what you worry about won’t come to pass anyway, so why worry about the other 10%?” The point is, we should expect positive outcomes in our lives. Jesus said, ‘you have what you believe’ (Mk 9:23), so we need to make sure what we believe lines up with scripture.

Positive expectation is also known as ‘hope’. Hopeful people believe for good things to happen to them. This may seem rudimentary, but I urge you to take inventory of your thoughts, words and imaginations right now and expect the best, not the worst!

As your focus becomes the Lord, you’ll become more receptive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek after Him (Heb 11:6), so regardless of your heart’s condition presently, it can be turned around as you seek Him.

Have you believed on the Lord Jesus Christ? If not, click here to find out more…

Author – Carl G.M. Joseph

Bibliography:

1 James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

2 Ibid.

3 Barnes, Peter D.R. and Deffinbaugh, Robert Layman’s Bible Commentary (Vol. 5) (Barbour Publishing, Uhrichsville, OH., 2008), 31.

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