Monday, February 25, 2013

Lord, Melt this Heart of Stone

Passage: Deuteronomy 10:12-22
 
Image from http://bestfriendlibert.wordpress.com

We know that the word is true and inspired by God, and that His letter to us contains His will for how we are to live a life after God’s own heart. Therefore, we can see from Deuteronomy 10:12-22 that we are to fear the Lord, walk in all His ways, love and serve Him with all our heart and soul, and observe His commandments and decrees (v. 12-13).

v. 12-13 (The Message): So now Israel, what do you think God expects from you? Just this: Live in His presence in holy reverence, follow the road He sets out for you, love Him, serve God, your God, with everything you have in you, obey the commandments and regulations of God that I’m commanding you today – live a good life.

I’m going to be very transparent with you - there are many times God “calls me out” on my faults through time in His word and prayer, and this passage was one of those times. Slowly and one-by-one, I began to go through the commands we find in verse 12-13.

- Fear the Lord.
- Love Him.

Respect Him. Love Him. Know that He is just and merciful, which means we are to accept consequences for our sinful actions. If we love Him, we will learn from our mistakes and repent (ask forgiveness and change our ways), and we will know that He disciplines us for our ultimate good – to conform us to His image.

- Walk in all His ways.
- Serve Him with all your heart and soul.

Follow His will for your life - no matter the cost. Be willing to serve in anyway, anywhere, and anytime. This is an area where I truly need the Master to chisel me into His masterpiece. Continue to conform me to Your image, Lord.

- Observe the Lord’s commandments & regulations.

Obedience…simple obedience. Keep in mind that partial obedience is complete disobedience.

Looking at the five commands from these verses, we can respond in two ways:
- We can be calloused to the call of our Lord to grow in these areas.
- We can be conformed to His image.
We can obviously choose which answer is the “right” one, but which response is genuine in where you and I stand today? We will always be a work-in-progress, which means there is always an area where the Master can continue to chisel. However, if we are unresponsive and show no effort to change, we have become calloused in heart and spirit.

v. 14-18 (The Message, emphasis mine): So cut away the thick calluses from your heart and stop being so willfully hardheaded.

Have you ever seen callouses? They aren't the prettiest things to look at. They are very common in those who do physical labor as a hobby or occupation. My husband has them on his fingers from playing the guitar. They form after the skin is frequently exposed to friction in an effort to protect the skin from further damage. Callouses are layers of dead skin that cover the healthy skin. Figuratively, our hearts form callouses when there is friction between good and evil - God and Satan. We have options:
- We can cut those callouses off and expose the healthy skin, which allows us to be sensitive and flexible to the Holy Spirit's guidance and correction in our lives.
- We can easily let the callouses (layers of dead skin) remain, which means we will remain dead in our spiritual lives - insensitive, unmoved, and unchanged by the Holy Spirit's conviction. 

We see the results of those with calloused hearts in Matthew 23:23-24. The people tithed, but they had the wrong attitudes about the act of giving. They lacked the Christ-like characteristics of justice, mercy, and faithfulness. In present-day, we would call them hypocrites. Churches are full of them.

On the other hand, we see in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 that Paul was flexible. As a result of his sensitivity and un-calloused response to God's calling on his life, he (through Christ) could be a vital tool in reaching the lost.

I am so grateful that we serve an Almighty God that can soften a heart of stone!
After all, why wouldn’t we want to choose to obey the God that is our praise? It is a privilege to have breath, let alone to be able to serve and obey the “Master of all masters, a God immense, powerful and awesome” (v. 17, Message)!

v. 21 (NIV) – He is your praise; He is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.

It seems so easy to say "I will obey You, Lord," but when it comes to following through in action, we find it much more difficult. God has guaranteed us that he will always give us the strength and wisdom to obey if we seek Him. Once we decide to nurture our faith through obedience and constant growth, we will rid the heart and spirit of callouses – we will begin to be conformed to His image.

When we act in obedience to Christ's mission of growing Himself in us and sharing the gospel across the world,
we will have calloused hands & feet and a spiritually-healthy heart
rather than healthy hands & feet and a calloused heart.

Ezekial 36:26 (NASB)I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.


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