Whose heart are you following?

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick [incurable, desperately wicked, malignant] who can understand it? I the LORD search the heart and test the mind…

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes.

…The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart– And [Jereboam] walked in all the sins of his father…his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David.

David: Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Oh, that my people would listen to me! Oh, that Israel would follow me, walking in my paths!

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.

Caleb: For my part, I wholeheartedly followed the LORD my God.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you.

Then [Jesus] said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”

And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

Prov.14:12 ESV; Jer.10:23 ESV; Jer.17:9-10 ESV; Prov.3:3,5-7 NKJV; I Sam.13:14 NKJV; I Kings 15:3 NKJV; Ps.51:10 NKJV; Ps.81:13 NLT;  Ez.36:26 ESV; Joshua 14:8 NLT; Ps.32:8-9 NKJV; Lk. 9:23 NLT; Rom. 6:13 NKJV; Jn. 8:12 NLT; Jn.10:27 ESV


FOLLOW YOUR HEART is trendy advice. Given the post-modern penchant for embracing whatever ‘truth’ works for you, it’s fitting and certainly heart-felt. But beware the comely brush-script abloom with floral loveliness. Such flourishing is only truly found in pursuit of God’s heart.  To follow His heart is to discover the fruitfulness for which you were made!

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Ps.37:4 ESV

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.
Ps.36:7-9 ESV


The beauty of Joy

Make special clothing for Aaron to show his separation to God–beautiful garments that will lend dignity to his work.

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to console those who mourn… to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…that He may be glorified.”

Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.

Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines…Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength!

Ex.28:2 NLT; Is.61:1,3 NKJV; Neh. 8:10ESV; Jn.16:33 NKJV; Ps.55:22 NLT; Hab.3;17-19 NKJV

I so easily slip into the trough of sadness. Despite all that is beautiful and wonderful, and all God’s abundant goodness to me, there are things that make me sad. Disappointments. Things I wish I could change. Regrets that gnaw at hope…The world is full of troubles. If yours aren’t weighty right now listen in on your neighbor’s heart. Take a walk with a friend and let them share their pain… There are burdens aplenty to share. But sometimes in taking them on I lose sight of the bedrock of joy that is ours in Jesus. I become somber at heart instead of hopeful.

The Word never fails to lift my eyes to bigger realities than those that gloomify my heart. ‘God works in ways we cannot see’ is more than a trite chorus. It’s a truth woven through every story in Scripture. Have a look. Consider Ruth and Naomi, Samson, Jonah, Peter or Paul. Whether you’re in the Oldest or the Newest books, history, proverb or epistle, God is weaving a tale that reflects His Glory and Might.

Our own stories are not finished yet. And even if they never read as we had hoped, no matter if trouble dogs us to the finish, God has the upper hand and all things will turn to His purpose and praise. He will be glorified in His people.

My prayer of late comes from the words of Psalm 138 which I’ve been memorizing…

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Ps.138:7-8 ESV

I highly recommend finding a passage for yourself that reflects your prayer to God or reminds you of the truth you most need. It can be a joy-preserver!

Blessings on you. May Spring’s beauty lighten your heart as you cast your cares on the One who has given us the seasons of life through which we walk.


This is the LIFE!

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly–And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.–Beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses–Charge them not to…set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy–take hold of that which is truly life!

I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to Him, for He is your life!

Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today…For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess–And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory…And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Long ago…God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son!…Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it…how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?!–I am the Resurrection and the Life!

Jn.10:10 ESV; Jn.17:3 ESV; Lk.12:15 NKJV; I Tim.6:17,19 ESV; Deut.30:19,20 ESV; Deut.32:46,47; Jn.1:14,16,17 ESV; Heb.1:1,2;2:1; Jn.11:25 ESV

What’s the secret to the best of life? Ads promise life-enhancement through adding or subtracting one more thing. Start a new habit. Throw out what doesn’t spark joy. Buy this car/appliance/book or gizmo. Try a leaner, cleaner diet…There’s no end of appeals. The pursuit of LIFE can preoccupy a lifetime only to end in death. Not so, the pursuit of Christ!

The trendy ephemera of modern culture competes with this pursuit, promising life but serving only to distract from its true Source. Jesus alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life! As winter inexorably gives place to spring, shoots will rise where ice and snow reign for a season. Flowers will bloom again. Even so God’s Kingdom will come and Satan’s power to deceive and enslave will once-and-for-all be vanquished. This is a hope on which we can build our lives and arrange our days. No matter the state of our bank accounts, the culture savvy of our lifestyles, or even the health of our bodies, the best of life is ours in Christ, for today and forever after!

How does your pursuit of Him dictate the shape of your days? These are thoughts I’m pondering today in my still snow-capped part of the world as I enjoy the lengthening hours of sunshine with their promise of spring!

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”

–Paul, Phil.3:8 ESV

Enjoy the words to this old hymn which says it all in rhyming verse!

Jesus lives, and so shall I;
Death, thy sting is gone forever!
He who deigned for me to die
lives, the bands of death to sever.
He shall raise me with the just:
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives, and reigns supreme,
and, His kingdom still remaining,
I shall also be with Him,
ever living, ever reigning.
God has promised: be it must:
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives, and God extends
grace to each returning sinner;
rebels He receives as friends
and exalts to highest honor.
God is True as He is Just;
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives, and by His grace,
vict’ry o’er my passions giving,
I will cleanse my heart and ways,
ever to His glory living.
Me He raises from the dust;
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives! I know full well
nought from Him my heart can sever,
life nor death nor pow’rs of hell,
joy nor grief, henceforth forever.
None of all His saints is lost;
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives, and death is now
but my entrance into glory.
Courage, then, my soul, for thou
hast a crown of life before thee;
thou shalt find thy hopes were just;
Jesus is the Christian’s Trust.
–Christian F. Gellert


Trust and Obey. There is no other way…

I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding… Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Ps.119:32, 34-35 NIV

“Be even more careful to put into action God’s saving work in your lives, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases Him.” Phil.2:12 NLT

…for it is God who works in you both to WILL and to do for His good pleasure. Phil. 2:13 NKJV

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you WILL, and it shall be done for you. … If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. Jn.15:7, 10-11 RSV

Now glory be to God!  By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.  Eph.3:20 NLT

I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God’s law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. As a result I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead! Phil.3:9 NLT

…the LORD God Almighty, the LORD is his name!  So now, come back to your God! Act on the principles of love and justice, and always live in confident dependence on your God. Hosea 12:5,6 NLT

Today you must listen to His voice.  Don’t harden your hearts against Him…For the word of God is full of living power. Heb.3:15; 4:12

Ok, so that was a long string of verses.  But they have spoken to me this morning. Sometimes I struggle, often I struggle, to make decisions.  Opportunities come.  I’m asked if I’d like to do this or that and I wonder, should I?  For Jim this is straightforward.  “Well, do you want to? If you don’t want to, don’t do it!”  He has a strong faith in God’s ability to direct him in the path he should take. But I know me, and I know I’m disinclined to do anything new and untried. So I waffle.  I hesitate to say NO thanks, not because I find it difficult, but because it is so very easy for me to slam doors of opportunity. So should I or shouldn’t I? 

What is God calling me to do?  When I’m tormented by doubt even this crucial question is a stickler.  There is no formula for knowing in every situation what God is calling me to. But faith calls me to pause and ask, and then to say YES or NO based on God-confidence not fear. The God who calls me to His service knows me through and through. He resides in me and is well able to direct my heart according to His good pleasure.  By trial and error I am learning this kind of faith.

I admire David’s grasp of the goodness of God’s laws (See: Psalm 119!). He found delight in knowing and doing God’s will. Not perfectly of course.  Sometimes his flesh pounded so loudly in his ears he took no thought of God’s commands, and had to come the long and painful way around to listening…But the trajectory of his life was one of listening and obeying and finding JOY in God’s designs for him.

I am particularly  grateful for the clarity of Paul’s letters in piecing together the connection between faith and obedience… He says, and I paraphrase: Work out this great salvation that God has accomplished in you.  Act on it with reverent fear.  For the God who saves you is at work in You.  He will shape your will and energize your service as you feed on His Words…He will accomplish in you this salvation He has begun, through the process of your faithful service for His Kingdom’s sake.  

My take away is that I am free to walk in confident obedience–not on eggshells of indecision paralyzed by the fear of missing an opportunity or making a poor decision. By faith I can give say Yea or Nay looking to God to make my way perfect, trusting that He sees and knows and works in me for His good pleasure. Trusting too that He will work in me and through me for His kingdom’s sake and His glory!

May He grant us all joyful obedience in doing what pleases Him! Thanks for sharing my morning’s ponderings ( :


Out of Weakness made STRONG!

The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor–Go in this might of yours and save Israel…do I not send you? –the LORD

Please, Lord, how can I save Israel–my clan is the weakest…and I am the least in my father’s house.  –Gideon

‘But I will be with you…’ My power is made perfect in weakness. And the Spirit of the LORD clothed Gideon… –the LORD

Judges 6:16; II Cor.12:9; Judges 6:34

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me…for when I am weak, then I am strong–Be strong in the LORD and in the strength of His might!  –Paul

II Cor.12:9,10; Eph.6:10

I’m studying the life of Gideon these days.

Timid Gideon–hunkered down in a wine press threshing wheat so there will still be food to eat after the hordes of Midian have descended once again on the harvest fields.

Chosen Gideon–“O mighty man of valor, go in this might of yours and save Israel!” An unlikely selection from any vantage point but God’s!

Cautious Gideon–tearing down his clan’s idols by night because this was the first step before God would step in to vanquish the enemy (and he hadn’t the courage yet to do such a thing in broad daylight!) Then, Double-checking and Triple-checking that God really intended to use him to save Israel…

Confident Gideon–(at last!) having seen pyro-technics, having exhausted tests with fleeces, and having overheard a bizarre nightmare as told by a terrified enemy, Gideon is now ready. With trumpets and torches and clay jars for weapons he and his 300 Hand-selected men ambush the enemy declaring “a sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” though there are no swords in sight but those of the enemy.

This is as far as I’ve gotten in the story. It has been plenty to ponder. Clothed with the Spirit of the Lord, armed with the Sword of the Spirit, equipped with faith in Almighty God, there is no exception clause for whom God might use and there’s no telling what He may yet do through me and you as we move forward one Spirit-led step at a time in this our/His strength!

Let’s be listening and watching, praying and hoping. And who knows if the LORD may use us to be solutions to the problems that most vex us!

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. … These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

Heb.11:32-34, 39-40 NIV

There is yet room for us in the annals of faith, by God’s grace!