Should I Follow My Heart? 

Jeremiah 11:8
“Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone followed the dictates of his evil heart…”

It is very common today to hear phrases like, “follow your heart.” This seems to be the most common counsel given as it relates to decision making today. When someone is trying to determine if a relationship is good or not, or whether they should take a job, or change careers, the most common advice seems to be, “follow your heart.” It’s as if the most trustworthy guide for human behavior and decision making is an inner compass called the heart. There are some significant problems with that advice.

First off, when we refer to the heart in this context, we are not speaking of an actual organ or even mechanism, instead we are making reference to what philosophers define as the seat of emotion. Some cultures refer to the bowels, kidneys or stomach to speak of the same thing. What a person is actually saying when they advise you to follow you heart, is to follow your emotions. The question we must ask is, “Are the emotions a trustworthy guide for living?” Have your emotions ever confused you or led you astray? Have you found that your emotions change drastically from day to day or even moment to moment? I think we all would concede that emotions are a poor compass to guide us through life.

Second, the Bible warns us that the heart is wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). That means our heart or emotions will not always guide us toward what is best. There are times when we knowingly do things that are harmful to ourselves, the people we love, and our relationship with the Lord. To allow our heart to be our guide is like using a broken compass or a faulty map. Years ago my wife and a group of ladies from the church traveled to Washington DC. Having downloaded a map offline, they proceeded to drive through the city. They found a large public building had been built where a road was supposed to be. Following the heart is like following a faulty map, you will not get where you desire to go.

Instead of letting emotions be our guide, Jeremiah exhorts us to use the Word of God as the principle force to direct us through the journey of life. Decision making should lead us to the Word, where we will find the things that matter to God. The Word of God will help us determine the best course of action, given the circumstances we are facing.

Let’s allow the Word “to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our paths.” (Psalm 119:105)

Pastor Jim

 

Temple Of God 

2 Corinthians 6:16
“For you are the temple of the living God.”

Although this verse is tucked away in a passage not well trodden, this portion of the text is fairly well-known. It is not uncommon to hear this verse quoted, even among those who have not chosen to surrender their lives to Christ. When donuts are on the table and we are about to indulge, we might hear someone say, “You know our bodies are the temple of the living God, we should not defile the temple.” While it is true, what we eat can have an effect upon how we feel, and thus distracts from what we are capable of accomplishing, that is not the primary message of this passage. Paul is talking about the danger of establishing relationships that will lead us astray. He wrote,

“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14

Then he went on to quote from Isaiah,

“Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” Isaiah 52:11

The greatest pitfall for the children of Israel, was establishing relationships with those who did not follow the ways of God. Once those relationships were started, it was not long before the people of God were departing from the Word of God, and practicing the ways of the ungodly. While this is a danger in any type of relationship, it is especially deadly with romantic relationships. Too often, Christians who are single, will settle for someone who is not really committed to the Lord, rather than being lonely and alone.

Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

When it comes to relationships, this verse is especially critical. Instead of making a relationship our goal, and seeking to find someone, we should spend our energies seeking the Lord and trusting His promises to provide all that we need. I remember hearing Pastor Jon Courson sharing on the idea of trusting the Lord, when it comes to finding the right person. He used Adam and Eve as an example. When it came time for Adam to find his mate, the Lord had him go to sleep. There, as he rested, the Lord brought along the only person designed especially by God, just for him. Jon went on to say, “had Adam not rested, and ran around looking, he would have ended up with an ape.” Some are seeking a relationship, instead of seeking the Lord. Loneliness is pushing them to seek in places where they are only going to find the wrong person, and ultimately get hurt. Remember, you are the temple of the living God, and there are places where your feet should not take you, and relationships that should never start.

Paul is not suggesting Christians all huddle together and avoid contact with anyone who is not a follower of Jesus. In fact, Paul spent his life making relationships where he could share Christ with others. The difference is influence. We should establish relationships with those who don’t know Christ, and seek to win them to Christ (dating is not the way to do that.) At the same time, we should establish relationships with those who have committed themselves to Jesus, and seek to pattern our lives after them. Paul said, “follow me as I follow Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

Be careful!

Pastor Jim

 

Achilles Hill 

2 Chronicles 18:31
“So it was, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, ‘It is the king of Israel!’ Therefore they surrounded him to attack; but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the Lord helped him, and God diverted them from him.”

Greek mythology tells the story of the great warrior, Achilles, who survived many battles. As a baby, the legend foretold he would die young. To prevent his death, his mother took him to the River Styx, and dipped his body into the water. She held Achilles by the heel, so his heel was not washed over by the magical waters. Later in battle a poisonous arrow struck him in his heel killing him.

It seems that Jehoshaphat had an Achilles’ Heel of his own. We know him to have been a very godly man, who walked in the footsteps of the godly kings who reigned before him. We also know he was responsible for bringing spiritual reforms to Judah, and for sending teachers throughout the land to instruct the people in the ways of God. With all that, Jehoshaphat thought it was a good idea to befriend wicked king Ahab of Israel. A relationship that almost cost him his life. It wasn’t until he was surrounded by an enemy army, and face-to-face with his own death, that he realized the folly of this union and cried out to the Lord.

We need to be very careful. An ungodly relationship, or a compromise with sin, can undo years of walking with the Lord. It is not enough to wear some of the armor of God, we must wear all of it. If you have made steps toward walking with the Lord, but you are leaving one or two doors open to your old life, they will ultimately be your demise. Paul exhorted us to leave no provision for the flesh.

Perhaps it is time to reconsider some of your relationship choices. Are you being led away from the Lord by the company you are keeping? If so, make a break before you find yourself under a barrage of attacks too great to overcome.

Pastor Jim

 

It Must Be The Lord

Genesis 27:20
“But Isaac said to his son, ‘How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?’ And he said, ‘Because the LORD your God brought it to me.’”

Unknown-1.jpegIsaac was ill and thought death was at his doorstep, so he sent his son Esau into the field to hunt and make him his favorite meal. It was his intention, at the meal, to pass a blessing on to Esau. When Rebekah heard his plan, she came up with a scheme of her own. She knew God intended this blessing for Jacob, so she got an animal skin, prepared a meal, and attempted to deceive her husband. Jacob dressed for the part and brought the meal to his father. When questioned as to who he was and how he had acquired the game so quickly, he replied, “it is me Esau, and the LORD brought it to me.”

Let’s examine that statement. Was this actually the LORD ? There is no question, it was the LORD’s intention for the blessing to be given to Jacob, not Esau. However, the way these events transpired was anything but the LORD. Lying, deceiving, and manipulating are never the pathway leading to the will of God. Instead of scheming, the proper response should have been praying, trusting, and submitting to the Word of God.

It seems to me, many are guilty of these same sins today. We realize God has made us promises, but rather than trusting and obeying, we stray from Him, in order to get what we desire. This is most common in relationships. A lonely Christian will venture out, get involved in an unhealthy relationship, and convince himself it must be the LORD. Circumstances, emotions, and coincidence, are inaccurate tests to determine God’s best for our lives. Looking into the Word, and living in obedience, is a much safer approach to walking in the will of God.

Be careful not to go your own way, then blame the results on God.

Pastor Jim