The Heart Issue

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As we celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus yesterday, I was reminded of how several people can witness the same thing and yet understand or interpret it differently. This was so with those who witnessed the empty tomb of Jesus in His day, and it is so with all of us today, as we ponder the empty tomb and its implications for our lives. Some will see or hear of it, and dismiss it as a mystery. Some will encounter the story and decide it is a myth. Still others will testify that it is truth, because their lives have been changed by it.

I fall into the latter category. Of course, it wasn’t always so. I have, in all honesty, held all three perspectives. But by the grace of God, I have landed and settled on believing it is truth, because I have been transformed by its reality.

There are many who can say the same thing, and yet each of us will still have a different perspective on why, on how the resurrection of our Saviour has impacted our lives. This doesn’t change the factual reality of the resurrection any more than the disciples’ reports, with varying details being mentioned by each, changed it. It does, however, add dimensions of depth and beauty to what I hold as the most beautiful event in history.

Since I have the platform this morning, I want to share my report about what I see as one of the greatest impacts of the resurrection. I see the outworking of the cross and the resurrection as, first and foremost, a heart issue.

Just as they did in Jesus’ day, people are always looking outside of themselves, to their circumstances, for visible change and deliverance. I know so many people who lose heart and faith – if they ever have it to begin with – because they can’t or don’t see Jesus doing anything about the outward things they struggle with. Things like financial pressures, difficult marriages, past abuses, current troubling circumstances.

They think that if they don’t see these things change, then God isn’t really alive and isn’t really able to keep whatever promises He made when He claimed to die for their freedom. I saw a sticker on someone’s refrigerator once that said, “If Jesus died to pay my debt, then why is PG&E still sending me bills?” This reveals a heart rooted in its own perspective, and our perspective matters a great deal more than I think we give it credit for.

The people who were alive when Jesus went to the cross thought He had come to save them from the cruel rule of the Roman Empire. Their lives were difficult and miserable. Surely God would send the promised Saviour to pull them out of such oppression. But, in truth, God sent Jesus to pull them out of an even greater oppression – one they weren’t even aware they were stuck in. And yet, because they didn’t see their outer circumstances – what they perceived was their greatest need – change, many struggled to believe that He was who He said He was.

God sent Jesus to deliver us from more than just difficult circumstances. He sent Him to deliver all humanity from the power of a sinful nature. He came to give us new hearts, that would no longer choose ways that were not like God’s ways. He came to give us lives that were rooted again in the truth that keeps us free from the kind of oppression that ends in eternal death.

He did this by first conquering death. He rose up from out of the grave! Then He returned to Heaven and sent His Spirit to fill all those who would choose to believe in what He accomplished for us. As we put our faith in Jesus, we receive a new life, a new heart, and a new Spirit – literally His Spirit – Who helps us to live as were first created to. A heart that helps us to love God and His ways.

It is, in fact, quite a mystery. But it’s a mystery He has chosen to make known to all who believe in Him. He has revealed it to us, so that we can embrace it…so that we can be changed by it.

Sometimes this means that my outer circumstances change. Having a purified heart means I have new desires. Having new desires means I will choose to spend the money I have on things with Heavenly values. It means I won’t waste money on things that will not benefit me, which means much of the financial pressure I knew before Jesus will be relieved. I have have new values, and therefore I will experience a change in my financial circumstances.

Sometimes my circumstances won’t change, despite that I have received a new heart. Because I am in relationships with other humans, who don’t always choose to believe in the resurrection of Jesus and therefore don’t also have a new, pure heart, I may still experience difficulty in relationships. And because I have a new heart, with new values and new desires, I may be compelled to struggle through those relationships, rather than walk away from them, because God’s love in me wants to show them a better way. Because God’s love in me wants to show me a better way. This may actually make my relational circumstances more difficult.

These are just a couple of common examples, of tangible realities I think people tend to measure up against the story of the resurrection. But the most important, and I believe foundational reality of the resurrection, from my perspective, is that, in receiving a new, purified heart, we are given spiritual eyes to see God. Matthew 5:8 says that the pure in heart are blessed because they will see the Lord. They will see Him in every situation, and be able to see with Him, to navigate through the things that are difficult. They will also see Him in eternity, because they have hearts that will choose to live His way, rather than their own. Having a pure heart means that we will see things differently, because we see God differently, accurately. That changes things, because it changes us.

Yes, my outer life has changed since I have believed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But most of those changes have been the outflow of the inward change that took place the moment I believed. The moment I received a new heart. The moment my sights beheld the glory of God in the face of Jesus, and I was purified. It is an ongoing renewal that continues to change my life, from the inside out.

In every difficulty I face, my heart is freshly exposed, and has yet another chance to be even more purified. Life in a world like ours has the potential of creating an impure and jaded heart. But the life of Jesus, the life of His Spirit within me, is always working to create in me a heart that sees God, and therefore the rest of the world I live in, through a pure lens. This makes me different. It makes my responses different. It makes the way I live different. And that is the change the resurrection produces in me, in us, daily. That is the witness my life offers as proof of the resurrection of Christ.

I am different. I’m a different kind of human than most people are used to seeing. Not because everything in my life is miraculously healed or changed, although it can be. There have been some real, outwardly visible miracles in my body, in my circumstances and in my life. He is a powerful God, and believing in Him means believing in His power to do the visibly miraculous.

But even when He doesn’t, I am still changed by His resurrection. I am still new. I am still a different kind of person than I was before. Even when He doesn’t heal, doesn’t change, doesn’t deliver, I am no less new and He is no less God. There is still a fellowship between my heart – my new, pure heart – and God’s, which produces a hope in me that no unchanged circumstance can destroy. It brings a peace which no amount of shaking or breaking can take away. In fact, much of the shaking and breaking actually serve to prove that I am indeed new. That I do, indeed, have a purified heart. That He has and is still changing me by the power of His resurrected life within me.

See, the Bible teaches us that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead now lives inside of every person who chooses to believe in Him. Therefore my life is a direct testimony of the empty tomb. He’s alive! And because He’s alive, and has shown me His grace, I’m alive! Alive with purpose. Alive with joy. Alive with peace. Alive with promise. Alive with a strength that is not my own – a strength that operates best when I feel weakest.

I

am

new.

And so can you be, too, dear Woman of Breakthrough. I want to remind you today to return to the heart that Jesus died and rose to give you. If you haven’t ever experienced this, if you haven’t said “yes” to Him, you can do it right now. It’s as simple as confessing the belief you feel in your heart – acknowledging that He died for your sins and rose for you to have a new life. He will lead you from there. His Spirit will remain with you, helping you to see Him and know Him in every part of your life and world.

If you’ve maybe forgotten, or maybe never recognized that the point of receiving a new life in Christ is possessing a new heart that loves and follows after God and His ways, it’s not too late to reorient yourself to this truth. Faith in God isn’t a magic formula for seeing everything in our lives go the way we hope it will. It is an invitation to a new life, often full of pain and troubles, but also full of hope and promise. In your pain and troubles, you can learn to see God, and you can live and respond differently, so that others will see Him, too.

May you be freshly inspired to understand that your life is a witness. And that all of your life springs from the issues of your heart. This is why He came: to give us a new heart, and a new Spirit, within which are found all the treasures of Heaven!

{Photo images courtesy of http://www.pixabay.com}

 

 


4 thoughts on “The Heart Issue

  1. Hey!! Your post has truly ministered to me. I felt so touched and may God continue to reveal Himself to you and through you, in Jesus’ Name, Amen!
    i too have recently begun a blog , if time permits, do pay me a visit. If not, no worries. Lots of love and God bless you!

    Like

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