May 19, 2011

               “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:”

   1 Timothy 1:5 KJV

   There is a very serious heart disease we should all know about, it is called “the disease of hard-heartedness.” Many times in the Old Testament, we read that God accused the people of Israel of being hard-hearted.  In the New Testament, Jesus would sometimes tell the religious leaders, and even His own followers that their hearts were hard. Jesus told a parable of a farmer who went out and sowed seeds.  You don’t have a to have a green thumb to know that the object of sowing seed is to get it into fertile soil so it can take root and produce fruit.  Jesus pointed out that often when a farmer would throw seed, some would land on hard-packed soil.  That seed was wasted; it would never grow.  Jesus went on to explain what He meant by this agricultural story.  Some people’s hearts are impenetrable, hardened, unresponsive, and callous.  The Word of God just bounces off.  It doesn’t even take root. One biblical character who had an iron heart was the man who was crucified next to Jesus.  When Jesus was nailed to the cross, there was a criminal being executed on His right and another on His left.  One was a repentant thief.  In the last moments of his life, he softened his heart and said, “Oh Lord, would You remember me?”  Jesus said to him, “Today you’ll be with Me in paradise.”  But the other thief, who was being crucified for a life of crime and violence, had a hard heart.  He was minutes from death, inches from the Savior, but his heart was like stone.  He was busy hurling abuse and insults at Jesus. And this is what will happen ultimately to those people who spend their whole lives with an attitude of hard-heartedness. In the Bible, “hard-heartedness” refers to the unresponsive, stiff, angry, insensitive, rebellious, and independent attitude ruling our hearts.  This attitude is first directed toward God, but also toward other people.  People in Jesus’ time, like those in the time of Isaiah, would not believe despite the evidence. As a result, God hardened their hearts. Does that mean God intentionally prevented these people from believing in him? No, he simply confirmed their own choices. After a lifetime of resisting God, they had become so set in their ways that they wouldn’t even try to understand Jesus’ message. For such people, it is almost impossible to come to God, their hearts have been permanently hardened. Other instances of hardened hearts because of constant stubbornness are recorded in the Bible here, “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was met. And even as they did not like to keep God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;” Romans 1:24-28 KJV  The Bible tells us that sin is a root cause for hard-heartedness. “But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:13 KJV  We learn to sin at a very young age.  We have a sin nature, and we make sinful choices.  Our sins can build up and harden our hearts. When our hearts become hard, Jesus is distressed or grieved.  He is hurt.  The result of an unrepentant heart is the eventual wrath of God.  Although God doesn’t always punish us immediately for our sins, his eventual judgment is certain. Our hearts are important to God.   What is the heart?  The heart is the soul or mind of man.  It is the foundation of our thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, and endeavors.God wants our hearts to be right with Him and not just our outward appearances and actions. In the Bible, “But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 KJV  God told Samuel to go to the house of Jesse and anoint one of his sons to be the next king.  Samuel saw one of Jesses’ sons, Eliab, and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  It’s the heart that matters to God.In the New Testament, Jesus condemned the Pharisees and religious leaders for outwardly appearing saintly and holy but inwardly remaining far from God. In the Bible it says, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” Matthew 23:27-28 KJV  Brethren, it’s what is on the inside that matters to God.  Since we are sinful people, we cannot create by ourselves the kind of heart that God wants us to have.  David recognized this when he wrote in Psalms, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalms 51:10 KJV  We need to go to God in prayer and ask Him to change our hearts. As Saul was being made the King, “As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart.”  Regardless of how far a person’s heart is from God; God can change it. Sin separates us from God.  If sin reigns in our hearts and lives, then we are alienating ourselves from God.  We have a heart problem when there is sin reigning in our lives. The Bible says, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” Isaiah 59:2 KJV  So what do we need to do to get our hearts back right with God?  We need to confess our sins to God. The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 KJV  We can’t hide our sins from God, we must acknowledge them before God. When should we confess our sins?  Right when the sin is committed.  We must confess our sins immediately to guard our hearts from sin.  A Proverb writer once wrote, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23 KJV   We shouldn’t commit a sin and let that sin dwell in us all day.  No, we need to guard our hearts from any type of sin that is trying to invade it!  We need to turn away from our sins.  Stop doing what God does not want us to do. The Bible says, “But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?” Ezekiel 18:21-23 KJV  This passage teaches that if we turn away from our sins, then God will forgive us and He will remember our sins no more.  Isn’t that wonderful!  That’s the kind of Loving God that we have.  If we stop the sinning, then our hearts can be brought back to God. The heart is very important to God.  It is the wellspring of life. We must guard our hearts against hardness and always have an open and healthy heart towards God.  When you have a new heart, you have a desire to be submissive to God.  Every morning you need to say, “I give You my life today, Lord.”  You can start your day singing, “Have Your own way, Lord.  Have Your own way.  You are the potter, I am the clay.”  You begin to pray, “Mold me, make me, do whatever you want with my life, it’s Yours.”  It’s a submission issue, a flexibility issue, a surrender issue.  Your life motto becomes: “Just say the word, Lord.”  Your soft heart says, “Whatever the Scriptures teach, that’s what I want to do.”  A responsive heart is one that always says yes to the Lord. Just be a donor and give your heart to Jesus ! We may fool others who see us only on the outside, but God sees the reality of our hearts, whether good or bad. It is wise, therefore, to humbly confess our faults to the Lord. He desires that we admit the truth. The only way to escape the sin and restore our fellowship with God is to acknowledge and confess it to Him. So why not today open up your heart to Jesus Christ, because He is the One that died on the cross and shed His blood and paid the penalty for your sins so you could have that free gift of eternal life. Amen

By: Jeff Ellinger


April 11, 2011

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

Deuteronomy 6:5 KJV

Many people wonder what the Bible has to say about the heart. The word “heart” is mentioned 762 times in the KJV Bible, and it is used in various contexts. The references that have the most significance for Christians involve the heart representing a person’s will or desires. God wants people to love Him with all of their hearts. When they stray, God wants them to return to Him with all of their hearts. Circumcision began at the beginning of the Bible in Genesis. The Bible says, “And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.” Genesis 17:9-10 KJV  God revealed to the apostles that, under the New Covenant, He makes no distinction between Jew and Gentile. Regardless of race or ethnic origin, He extends the promises of salvation to any and all whom He chooses to call. Under the New Covenant, physical descent from Abraham no longer matters because God is concerned only over the person’s repentance and faith in Christ. Those who receive the Holy Spirit after repentance and baptism become “the seed of Abraham.” Additionally, because the purpose and meaning of physical circumcision have been superseded by the New Covenant, there is no need to inflict pain and possible psychological distress on an adult male through this operation. God looked upon the hearts of the Gentiles and saw their repentance. Although they were not circumcised, God forgave their sins because of their repentance and faith in Christ and granted them the gift of the Holy Spirit. They were, therefore, justified by faith and spiritually circumcised, that is, in heart and mind. The Bible says, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Romans 2:28-29 KJV  So if you really want to know God, you need to have the desire. The desire to need Him. The Bible says, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 KJV  The second thing you will need if you want to fellowship with Him is a pure heart. So what is this ? This is when you have come to know Jesus Christ as your Savior and there is no sin in your heart. Christians are not perfect. We all sin. If we didn’t Jesus wouldn’t have to have died on the cross. He came to save sinners through grace and faith. But if you come to know Jesus Christ as your Savior you are born again. And you are not allowing a sinful way to rule your life. The Bible says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:” Psalms 66:18 KJV  So if you are living in sin, you will not have fellowship with the Lord. A pure heart is also a single-minded heart. The Bible says, “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:22-24 KJV  You can’t serve God and money. People get so focused in shopping, entertainment, money and investments, clothes,  that their minds get distracted. They are no longer single-minded. It’s okay to have nice things, just keep focused. Third thing you will need to fellowship is a circumcised heart. What is circumcise mean? It means cut away or roll away. This means a life that has cut away the unnecessary things that crowd out God. Things that get you so busy and distracted that you don’t have time for God. What would we have to cut away to make time for God ? Change your schedule, get you life in order for God. Put God first. The fourth thing to fellowship with the Lord is to have a listening ear. That starts with a circumcised heart that has cut away the unnecessary things that don’t crowd out God so you can sit down and listen and hear. The fifth thing you will need is time. You will always say I don’t have the time. Your clock has the same amount of hours as mine. There are 24 hours in a day. But you will have to make the time to get along with God or you will never will find the time. And the last thing you will need to fellowship with the Lord is a plan. Any relationship that is going to deepen will have thought, time and a plan. In the plan you are going to need a quite place. To grow in grace you must be much alone. The Bible says, “But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities. And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.” Luke 5:15-16 KJV  Even Jesus with drew to lonely places to pray after ministering to His people. He didn’t keep the demand of His ministries or His people keep Him from going off to quite places to talk with His Heavenly Father. You need a quite place to get along with God. In the plan should you do it every day ? That would be great ! Just find a quite place, especially in the morning. That way you can use God throughout the day instead of using the night for a quite time and giving God the left overs. Start out with a realistic time to spend with God, like 20 minuets. The other essential plan for God is the Book. I am talking about the Bible. It is like no other book. It is the word of God. It is breathed by the spirit of God. Before you know it, you will have read through the whole Bible in a year with some good Bible reading plans. The word of God is essential to have fellowship with God. Also in the plan is prayer. Prayer is listening as well as talking. And in the plan is the response. You need to respond to god. The more you read about God and the more you take in and do, the more focus you will be and you will respond to God’s word. Then God will take care of you and your mind won’t be on all the other stuff. The Bible says, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” John 5:39-40 KJV Jesus was Saying, these are the scriptures, but you fail to come to Me. In other words they didn’t respond to the word. It’s not how much you know, it’s better to know one scripture than to know 2,000. Responding is so important. The Bible says, “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” John 13:17 KJV  Once you come to Christ for salvation, you can enjoy unrestricted fellowship. So why not ask Jesus Christ now to forgive your sins and open your heart to Him. He is the One that died on the cross and paid the penalty for your sins so you could have the free gift of eternal life. Amen

By: Jeff Ellinger


March 4, 2011

When you think of worshiping idols, what comes to your mind? Golden calves? Giant statues? Here’s a sobering look from The Skit Guys at what we often look like when we bow down to our own idols.

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