Psalm

Pour out your heart to the Lord

I’m reading through the Bible using the Bible Project’s reading schedule with my church. It has been great. We are at the end of Zechariah and beginning Malachi. As I read today, I was struck by Zechariah 14 and the accompanying Psalm, which is Psalm 62.

Combined with our recent reading in Zechariah 14 regarding the day of the Lord, we find that we can place our trust in the Lord. Zechariah prophesies in verse 9 “And the LORD will be king over all the earth. On that day the LORD will be one and his name one.” – (Zechariah 14:9).

Do you trust in the Lord? Is He your refuge in times of trouble? Do you pour your heart out to Him? Or do you seek comfort, refuge, protection, purpose in someone, or something else?

Do not seek comfort from the world’s false idols. They can’t and they won’t provide you the comfort you seek. Put your card back in your wallet, the snacks back on the shelf, the ice cream back in the freezer, let the selfie remain in your camera roll, and your posts about your performance go unposted.

Instead, drop to your knees and seek the Lord in prayer. Pour out your heart to Him and trust Him to act. He is the King over the whole earth now and forevermore.

How to Win the Battle for Your Heart

Christians are in a battle with the world. A battle that rages continually as we are confronted with promises of pleasure, joy, and satisfaction at every turn. These messages are often subtle, chipping away at our defenses little by little. A billboard on our commute to work, prompting us to book a bliss filled spur of the moment weekend getaway. A commercial as we relax after a hard day at work, telling us to treat ourselves to luxury by driving their latest release. Little by little the world chips away at our defenses until one day it breaks through, capturing and stealing us away from God. I know this to be true because it has happened in my own life. When I was in college, the world captured me for a time. Instead of living for God, I lived for the promises of the world. I am sure many of you have experienced the same.

The battle we fight and the captivity we endure as Christians is real. If that is true, how do we guard ourselves and break free?

Love, the Greatest Commandment

If you remember, in the book of Matthew, the Pharisees and Sadducees tried to trap Jesus in order to discount Him with the people, so they could rise to prominence once again. One of the Pharisees — a lawyer — asked Jesus what is the greatest commandment. Jesus responds by saying:

“You shall love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

Then comes the second greatest commandment.

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments [He tells us] hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:37-40)

Jesus’ commands tell us our heart is the place from which our affections and our love for God and others arise. When we love ourselves, or the things of the world, more than God, we won’t sacrifice our desires for God’s. Instead we sacrifice God’s desires for own, resulting in us sinning against Him. When we love ourselves more than others, we won’t be able to sacrifice our desires, rights, freedoms, and resources for others either, which could result in us sinning against them or using them for our own gain or pleasure. So our hearts are the castle we must guard and the key to the cell in which we sit.

How Do We Guard Our Hearts and Escape Captivity?

I have been reading and studying the book of Colossians lately during my devotional time. It is fast becoming one of my favorite books in the Bible. One of the things I have noticed throughout the book is Paul’s gospel-centered nature. I understand Paul is gospel-centered throughout his writings, but it seems it is more apparent and condensed in the book of Colossians.

Time and time again he comes back to Christ as a way to motivate the Colossians to resist false teachers, press on in their Christian faith, and love one another. In the same way that Paul uses the gospel to motivate the Colossians to action, we should use the gospel to guard our hearts against the attacks of the world. We do that by preaching the gospel to ourselves, reminding ourselves of God’s love and sacrifice for us. As we preach the gospel to ourselves, our love for God should increase while, at the same time, our love for the world should decrease.

So the gospel is our God-given battle strategy against the world’s constant barrage of attacks, and our escape route from captivity. Preaching the gospel to ourselves, then, not only fortifies our heart against the world’s attacks, but it also forges a key to the cell in which we sit.

Christian, do not underestimate the gospel. It not only has the power to save and sanctify, but also to protect and release. Preach it to yourselves often.

Question for Reflection

  1. Are you guarding your heart with the gospel?

Resources

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Sermons, Cultural Studies, and the Heart

Heart and the City

Studying culture is necessary when preparing a sermon. Pastors, including myself, read and devour everything in culture to ready themselves for their sermon. While it is profitable for pastors to know what is going on around them, I think we have to be careful what we take in. Consuming everything is not profitable, and it may even be a subtle way for us to make way for our sin.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his Studies in the Sermon on the Mount tackles these subtle sins of the heart. Here is what he has to say:

You have never been guilty of adultery? All right. Would you then answer me this simple question. Why do you read all the details of divorce cases in the newspaper? Why do you do it? Why is it essential that you should read right through these reports? What is your interest? It is not a legal interest, is it? or a social one? What is it? There is only one answer: you are enjoying it. You would not dream of doing these things yourself, but you are doing them by proxy.

You are sinning in your heart and mind and in your imagination, and you are therefore guilty of adultery. That is what Christ says. How subtle this awful, terrible thing is! How often do men sin by reading novels and biographies. You read the reviews of a book and find that it contains something about a man’s misconduct or behavior, and you buy it. We pretend we have a general philosophical interest in life, and that we are sociologists reading out of pure interest. No, no; it is because we love the thing; we like it. It is sin in the heart; sin in the mind!

Could we actually be making way for sin in our sermon preparation? Could we be disguising our cultural studies as a way to make room for our heart to fulfill it’s lusts and desires? I don’t believe that is always the reason we study our culture, but these paragraphs gave me reason to pause and consider the reasons behind the cultural studies I do. It gave me reason to check my heart and see what sin I may be feeding. I hope it gives you reason to do the same.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Why do you study culture?
  2. Have you ever stopped and considered that some of your studies might be done to make way for sin?

Resource

Martyn-Lloyd Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 239.

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