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Entries in How to Prepare Your Heart (3)

Monday
Jan232017

A Heart with Room for Him

A long time ago, my mother purchased a portrait of Jesus walking on water. That image has always captivated me. His serene countenance contrasts dramatically with the tempest around Him. It’s an image of the God-man making the supernatural look natural. It’s a portrait of a life that was marked by love, signs, and wonders, a life that brought heaven to earth.

In the Old Testament, after King Nebuchadnezzar came to his senses, he gave praise to God, saying, “I thought it good to declare the signs and wonders that the Most High God has worked for me. [3] How great are His signs, And how mighty His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And His dominion is from generation to generation” (Dan. 4:2-3, New King James Version). King Nebuchadnezzar personally experienced God’s signs
and wonders.

By contrast, in the New Testament, when a group of scribes and Pharisees (the religious leaders of the day) asked Jesus to perform a sign, His answer was an emphatic NO! Why would Jesus answer them this way? Why would He deny anyone a manifestation of His power? Yet we find here that He not only refused to grant their petition, but He also rebuked them, saying, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Matt. 12:39, New International Version).

They asked for a sign but were instead given a wake-up call, alerting them to the wickedness of their own hearts. It’s not our backgrounds or circumstances that bring us close to God; it’s the condition of our hearts. Jesus accused them of being wicked and unfaithful because, in reality, they were not seeking Him with all of their hearts. A wicked heart stands in the way of God’s
mighty wonders.

You and I can think that this doesn’t apply to us. We’re the righteousness of God in Christ, right? However, Andrew’s How to Prepare Your Heart teaching puts things in a different perspective. Andrew says, “A person [who] doesn’t have God in all of their thoughts is a very proud person, a very self-centered person.” It’s the kind of person who is too busy for God. Andrew references the NIV, which says, In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God” (Ps. 10:4). It implies that this person is too busy with everything else, to the point that there is no room in their life for God. This describes a self-centered person. Andrew goes on to say, “You can’t have two people on the throne of your life. You cannot be sitting on the throne of your life and have God on the throne of your life at the same time.”

Maybe we can’t relate to the word wicked, but in our modern societies, we all can relate to the idea of self-centeredness. Being absorbed with our own agendas can numb us to the point of being unfaithful to God because we’re not giving Him first place in our lives. The result is, we can’t see Him because our hearts are blind. We could be asking Jesus for a sign while not giving our hearts to Him, and then wonder why we don’t receive.

If you have allowed something to take the place of God in your life, you can change that right now. Andrew says the key is humility, and this teaching will show you how to make room in your heart and give God the place that belongs only to Him. Take time to prepare your heart. Preparation time is never wasted time!

For more on this teaching, watch the Gospel Truth television program. How to Prepare Your Heart is airing right now. Or you can order the teaching from our online store or through the
Helpline: 719-635-1111.

Please comment below if you’d like to add to the discussion. We love hearing from you!

Monday
Jan162017

The Ultimate Measure

“The world in which we live is geographically one. The challenge that we face today is to make it one in terms of brotherhood.”1

- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is remembered for leading the Civil Rights movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his assassination on April 4, 1968. He was an advocate for African Americans, women, and veterans. What is even more honorable about him is that he protested peacefully during socially and politically hostile times. In love and strength, he transformed American culture and politics.

In a lot of ways, today’s cultural climate is not much different from what it was then. One thing I admire the most about Dr. King was how he fought for freedom and equality peacefully and in love, without wavering in his message. With tensions of all kinds stirring today, it’s more important than ever for us to walk in that same strength. But the only way to walk in God’s kind of love is to surrender to the Holy Spirit.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Galatians 5:16, English Standard Version

God doesn’t see the color of our skin. He sees the state of our hearts. If we’ve given our hearts to Him, all He sees when He looks at us is Jesus. That’s our unifying factor in Christ. Galatians 3:28 (Amplified Bible) reads:

There is [now no distinction in regard to salvation] neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you [who believe] are all one in Christ Jesus [no one can claim a spiritual superiority].

Dr. King championed equality, and in doing so, he left a legacy for unity and a vision for a better future. We as the body of Christ have a similar vision. So, how can we carry that out today? The answer is simple, although it maybe not always be easy.

I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore, you shall choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.

Deuteronomy 30:19 (emphasis mine, AMP)

Choose life in your words. Choose life in your treatment of people. Choose life in your thoughts. And choose life even in your feelings. As you walk in the Spirit and not your flesh, the power of God will empower you to live like He did, laying down your life for others while not compromising the
truth (Luke 6:28).

Character is tested in times when walking in love and forgiveness is not the easiest path to take. But as sons and daughters of God, we must guard our hearts against our love growing cold and bitterness taking root. Otherwise, our effectiveness as Christians will be compromised (which is exactly what the Enemy would want). Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. understood this struggle and described it this way:

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge
and controversy.”2

So, what is the “ultimate measure” of your character going to be? You get
to decide.

Please share a comment below if Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life has
inspired you.

1 http://www.thekingcenter.org/archive/quotes
2 http://www.thekingcenter.org/node/554

Monday
Jan092017

A God Secret—Drop the Rope!

During my middle school years, there was a lot of “tug-of-war” between my younger sister and me. I was under the mistaken impression that being a year older gave me certain rights. Our conflicts often ended in her walloping me. After one such incident, I remember a picture came into my head. It was of a tug-of-war game when, suddenly, one person simply dropped her end of the rope. Ah-ha, I thought. Game over.

The next time we got into a fight, I thought of that tug-of-war picture and decided to try it out. I simply said, “Okay.”

“You can’t do that!” she insisted. I asked her why, and she said, “Because it’s not fair.”

Fast forward six years, I became born again as a college freshman. I read John 10:18 where Jesus was explaining this same “drop-the-rope” principle as it related to His laying down His life: No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” Later in John 19:10-11 (New King James Version), Pilate said to Jesus, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” Essentially, he wanted Jesus to pick up the other end of rope and struggle with him. Jesus simply said, You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.”

In Hebrews 12:2, Paul wrote that Jesus “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.” His heart was fixed. He had learned not to get in a power struggle with anyone’s flesh. Instead, He kept His purpose and His Father’s will before Him. He had prepared to succeed.

You may be thinking, That was Jesus, the Son of God. Of course, HE prepared and fixed His heart! However, Jesus wasn’t the only one who was prepared for difficult circumstances. Joseph, when propositioned by Potiphar’s wife, said, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:9). He had obviously hidden God’s Word in his heart because it came up like a force field to protect him.

And then there was David. Saul was trying to kill David—he had been for years after David had been anointed king in Saul’s place. In 1 Samuel 24, David could have killed Saul, believing God had delivered his “enemy” into his own hands. But David’s heart was fixed (Ps. 57:7). He penned it himself in Psalm 105:15: Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.”

In his How to Prepare Your Heart teaching, Andrew says that King Rehoboam “did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord” (2 Chr. 12:14). Andrew explains that when people don’t prepare their hearts before they are faced with a circumstance, they respond to their situation based on how they feel at the time.

Joseph and David prepared for success, and they weren’t even born again. They sought God and hid His Word in their hearts long before they faced their trials. If you recognize that you have been unprepared and have ended up in a tug-of-war in some of your circumstances, then Andrew’s How to Prepare Your Heart series will change your mind and give you the practical wisdom you need to prepare for unforeseen obstacles that may come your way.

Please consider sharing your experiences of when you may have been in a tug-of-war with your circumstances. Comment below.