A Heart for God

In the old testament, one of the things that I think God was trying to stress the most is that he wants our hearts. He wishes for us to have a need to serve him; not because we’re scared of hell, or because our parents said so, but because we have a need for God, and because we’re nothing without Him.

Isaiah makes it clear when he speaks the words of the Lord, “‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men” (Isaiah 29:13). They enforced the details of the law, and only followed them out of tradition. Their worship and praise was meaningless.

Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, basically makes a point that the law isn’t the important part of following God. If you read through it, you’ll find multiple, “You have heard… but I tell you” phrases. “You have heard… ‘Do not murder’… But I tell you… anyone who is angry… will be subject to judgement” (Matthew 5:21-22). “You have heard… ‘do not commit adultery’… but I tell you… anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28).

I’m not saying that the law isn’t important, because it is given to us for a reason. Jesus states to the woman at the well that people would worship in “Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23). Without spirit, our life in Christ will not last, but without truth, our life in Christ will be in vain. We have to follow God, both with our hearts, and by the Word of God.


Choosing God or Self

In early Israelite days, God chose for the people to have judges. These judges would direct the people in the ways of God. But the people were unhappy with this system of rule. They looked around at the other nations and saw how all the nations around them had a king. They said to Samuel, “‘Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations'” (I Samuel 8:5). They rejected the will of God. “The LORD said to Samuel, ‘Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them'” (I Samuel 8:7). They went by their gut-feeling rather than trusting in God.

In many, many churches today, we see a lot of gut-feeling decisions. They’re not based on the Word of God, but rather, what they feel should be done. God does have a will, and even though people may believe that the Bible is a guide for us to pick and choose what to follow, there is no foundation in that belief. “…Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). The will of God, as stated here is “good”, “acceptable”, and “perfect.” Divisions in the Church were created by people who pick and choose what they want to follow. A verse here, a verse there, and they’ve created a new Church.

Sin in our personal lives occurs because of our own selfish desires. We look around, and are jealous of others living in sin. It’s appealing on the outside. But in Romans 12:23, it tells us that “the wages of sin is death.” But we have hope in Jesus Christ, because “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We cannot live in sin and be in Christ Jesus.

God is a forgiving God, and if it were not for that, we would have no hope. After the Israelites had chosen a king, Samuel confronted the people, and they repented.“Then all the people said to Samuel, ‘Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, so that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil by asking for ourselves a king.’ Samuel said to the people, ‘Do not fear. You have committed all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. You must not turn aside, for then you would go after futile things which can not profit or deliver, because they are futile'” (I Samuel 12:19-21).


Wisdom From Above

In a recent class I was in, we discussed Godly wisdom. In everything wordly, we see “bitter jealousy” and “selfish ambition” (James 3:14). These lead to destruction. But with Godly wisdom, when a person is no longer seeking glory for themselves, the world becomes a better place.

So how do we get wisdom from above? David tells Solomon to “seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures” (Proverbs 2:4). We are told to pray for it in James: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).

In James 3:17, this wisdom is summed up: “…The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.” With wisdom from above, life is more fulfilling.


Vain Belief

We can learn many lessons from the life of Paul. We originally see him at the stoning of Stephen, watching over the coats of the witnesses (Acts 7:58). A friend of mine recently pointed out the fact that Paul’s vain beliefs, when he was Saul, can be compared to many people today.

Paul, originally known as Saul, was zealous for what he believed. He followed his heart in everything, and took action for what he believed. He knew that Christianity was only a cult following a maniac. He was one of the most enthusiastic to see that it was stopped. But what he knew to be right, what he believed, was wrong. He was rebuked by Jesus Himself in a vision (Acts 9:1-18). Saul’s life would have been in vain had he not known the truth. He became a Christian, and wrote over half of the New Testament books.

I would guess that over nine of ten of Christians take everything the preacher says as truth. They accept traditions and habits as Biblical. People chase after what “feels good.” They accept anything for truth as long as it sounds good. But, as Solomon writes over and over in Ecclesiastes, “Everything is Meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 12:8). But, “the conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

If you look for what feels good, even if you’re doing it to serve God, you will come up unsatisfied. The way of true worship can only be found in the Bible.