Six Signs of a Spiritually Divided Heart

**Originally Published on Encourage 365, October 1st, 2012**

A cursory glance through Psalm 119 reveals the heart of an author wholly enveloped in the words of God. It is blatantly obvious the Psalmist not only read the word of God on a regular basis, but lived its truth in his every-day life. Psalm 119 provides all the answers we could ever hope for in regards to approaching the Bible with an undivided heart.

So how do I know if I’m seeking God with all my heart? How do I know if I love God with all my heart? How do I know if I believe God with all my heart? How do I determine if my heart is divided or united to fear God’s name in truth (Psalm 86:11)?

1. A spiritually divided heart is emotionally unstable.

“Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.” (Psalm 119:2) The Hebrew word for “blessed” in this passage is ‘esher (eh’-sher) which translates “happy”. Blessed does not mean wealthy, successful, powerful, popular, or prominent though it may certainly be a blessing to have those statuses. A divided heart is revealed in a saddened or discouraged countenance. Is my life characterized by happiness and peace or worry and confusion? Am I tossed into the depths of despair through every undesirable circumstance or have I entrusted my innermost source of happiness to God’s word? The only way I can have lasting happiness is to walk by and believe God’s word of truth.

2. A spiritually divided heart is wandering.

“I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.” (Psalm 119:10) God’s word is not a list of rules keeping me boxed in under the heavy thumb of dictatorship. God’s word was inspired and written for my greatest good. The Bible clearly outlines and defines what path to travel, what attitude is appropriate, and what ministries to pursue. When I start to rely on my own reasoning, logic, and understanding, I stray from God’s perfect knowledge of His creation—me.  My heart is divided when I fight against the truth of God’s revealed word and willfully or ignorantly choose my own path.

3. A spiritually divided heart is selfish.

“Turn my heart towards your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.” (Psalm 119:36-37) Left to my own devices I am bent towards selfishness. When I argue with my spouse over where to eat dinner I put my needs in front of his. When I am offended by the opinions of others, threatened by the status of a peer, or hesitant to give of my abundance to someone in need, I am selfish. I have strayed from God’s word and will and allowed my flesh to take over. My heart has been divided. I have failed to esteem others as better than myself (Philippians 2:3).

4.  A spiritually divided heart is inconsistent.

“This has been my practice: I obey your precepts.” (Psalm 119:56) Can I truthfully proclaim that I obey God’s word without falter every second of every day? Not a chance. However, the undivided heart, or the heart walking through life believing God’s word, will be swayed towards obedience. Willful rebellion will be the exception, not the rule. When my daily practice is devoted to knowing and following God’s word, my heart is united in truth.

5. A spiritually divided heart is malnourished.

“How sweet are your words to my taste; sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103) When I am hurt, angry, confused, or otherwise afflicted, where do I turn for guidance and comfort? Do I seek the opinions of friends, family, pastors, and teachers first or do I seek the counsel of God? The more of his words I consume, the more nourished I will be. When I neglect his guidance and first seek help from human sources I am left hungry and malnourished. If I don’t know the word of God, how will I know if the advice I’m given is biblical? Like the prophet Isaiah so eloquently stated: “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.” (Isaiah 55:2)

6. A spiritually divided heart is fearful.

“I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame, for I delight in your commands because I love them.” (Psalm 119:46-47) If my Monday through Saturday life does not line up with my Sunday life, I should be afraid to speak of my faith. Without a living, active gospel displayed through my life, I will be put to shame when I witness to others. How can I preach to someone when my life is the opposite of my message? When I hear of terminally-ill loved ones, if unsure about their eternal destiny, I am motivated to witness to them before it’s too late. But was I motivated to witness before I knew they were sick? Shouldn’t every day be an opportunity to love God, live God, and display God in everything I do?  If I am not displaying the love of God by witnessing to my lost friends and neighbors, I am living in fear. I want my life to always back up my message and never distract from the wonderful, freeing truth of the Gospel of Christ.

Every time I read Psalm 119 I am reminded to check my heart-status. Am I whole-heartedly seeking God and his word or am I offering up only the pieces I prefer? Can I stand beside the Psalmist and before God, unashamed and fully exposed and still declare, “My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times. Your statutes are my delight and I have chosen the way of truth.” (Psalm 119:20, 24, 30) That is my desire; to live with an undivided heart wholly united with God’s word.

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Festering Wounds

Psalm 139:21-24

Festering Wounds

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: “Search me, O God…point out anything in me that offends you.” Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT)

I’m a self-admitted Band-Aid fanatic. As a child I fainted at the sight of my own blood, so I learned to cover my wounds with Band-Aids, no matter the severity. It’s a habit that continued into adult-hood, despite being told it was “all in my head”.

Recently I had a surgical procedure to remove a tumor and after surgery I did what I always do, covered the wound with ointments and Band-Aids. In a matter of weeks the incision site was infected. I couldn’t understand why, after all, I had taken excellent care of it with creams and dressings.

A good friend of mine suggested I leave the incision uncovered, open to air. As much as I hated the thought of seeing my wound exposed every day, I gave it a try. Within days the incision began to heal properly.

About as much as I enjoy seeing my physical wounds, I enjoy facing my sin. But the only way it can be eradicated is with the healing air of the Holy Spirit. When I keep Band-Aids on my spiritual weaknesses, deep infections develop in my life and I have to rip off the blinders of denial to let God reveal diseases that need healing. This is the essence of inviting God to search my heart.

PRAYER: Make me uncomfortable with what offends you, Lord, healing my heart with your Spirit of truth.

 

Positive Life Principles for Women by Karol Ladd

Karol Ladd, bestselling author of over 25 books, will be releasing her latest work, Positive Life Principles for Women, in February 2013. Positive Life Principles for Women is short, sweet, and easy to read, but by no means is shallow. Quite the contrary, actually, this book is full of convicting spiritual truth. If you have lived a less-than-perfect life wondering how or what God could possibly do with your spiritual ugliness, then you will find great encouragement in this book.

Positive Life Principles is unique in many ways. Each chapter includes a section titled: Powerful Truth, Plan of Action, Pay it Forward, Place it in Your Heart, and Discussion Starters.  Powerful Truth is just that, a powerful one sentence take-away from the text covered. Plan of Action outlines several easy steps to put what the reader learns into visible action. Pay It Forward describes simple suggestions to reach out and touch someone else’s life and get the focus off of self. Place it in Your Heart provides a suggested verse for memorization, to further aid the reader in internalizing and living out spiritual truths. Discussion Starters includes a few thought-provoking questions at the end of each chapter perfect for group study or even individual use.

Within the text, Ladd addresses several key issues in many women’s lives; negative thinking, dealing with fear, being flexible, being an encourager (versus a discourager), and much more. Overall this book far exceeded my expectations. I have read many books addressing these issues, but Ladd approaches them in a new, creative way. My eyes were opened to personal areas of needed spiritual improvement, without making me feel like a reject or a failure. In fact, the only negative thing I can say about it is that it wasn’t long enough (the book is only 120 pages).

If you’re a Christian woman (perfect or not), or if you know one, this book is a must read. I have no doubt it will be used in many churches as a group study once it is released.

You can read more about Karol Ladd, her books and her ministry, at http://www.Positive LifePrinciples.com. Her newest book, Positive Life Principles for Women will be released on February 1, 2013.

(I received Positive Life Principles for Women by Karol Ladd from Harvest House Publishers for review purposes only. I was not required to give a positive review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own.)

Promises of Hope for Difficult Times by Jane Kirkpatrick

Jane Kirkpatrick is a New York Times bestselling author having written nineteen novels and four non-fiction titles. In her latest book, Promises of Hope for Difficult Times, Jane Kirkpatrick draws on her experience as a mental health care professional and personal caregiver to offer 140 inspiring devotions for the weary heart seeking restful encouragement.

Promises of Hope offers a variety of pleasant devotions clearly inspired by the author’s personal experiences with death, illness, life changes, and aging.  Each devotion is short and sweet, with a verse included for reflection. Off the top of my head I could think of several people in my life who may enjoy such a devotional.

On the downside, I had a difficult time applying the concepts to my own life, as a woman not yet thirty. Most of the author’s experiences are written, it seems, for the person approaching the later years of life. I certainly believe any middle-aged woman or older could relate well and appreciate the devotions. Despite the generational gap, I found a few spiritual takeaways applicable to my own place in life and would definitely recommend this devotional to family and friends experiencing the specific challenges addressed in this book.

“How we carry our load makes such a difference in how long we can endure the burden…Allowing others to see our burden is not a sign of weakness but of courage.” (pg. 138)

Promises of Hope for Difficult Times by Jane Kirkpatrick will be available for purchase on February 1, 2013. You can learn more about Jane’s ministry by visiting her website at http://www.jkbooks.com/

**I received Promises of Hope for Difficult Times by Jane Kirkpatrick from NetGalley for review purposes only. I was not required to give a positive review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own.**

Dealing With Discouragement

**Published with Encourage 365, September 2012**

Have you ever been discouraged? For some of us we find ourselves so saturated in helping and serving others that our own encouragement tank needs refueling. But who is there to encourage us when our tank is empty?

Discouragement usually comes in two forms: circumstantial discouragement and spiritual discouragement…

Click HERE to read the rest of this article on Enocurage 365.

Many are the Plans…

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

Many are the plans…

I’ve waited patiently for three years (ok, not so patiently) to enroll in Bible college. I’ve wanted to transform myself from the uneducated hack to the educated hack. It’s taken this long for the finances and timing to be just right. Finally I was able to enroll at Liberty University in a two-year program to receive a diploma in Biblical studies; I also decided to take a hermeneutics elective. Once the transaction was completed, confirmation in hand, I was overwhelmed with excitement.

Then the door-bell rang.

Oh right, the home-school curriculum for my daughter arrived.

As I pulled out the books, manuals, instructions, and lesson plans I was overwhelmed. “Many are the plans” sang ominously through my head. Indeed. I was planning on spending the day finishing my other year-long course in journalism. I had one lesson left and was super-pumped to complete it. Searching through the instructions, guides, manuals and products-to-buy lists included in the box of curriculum materials, I realized it would take at least 3-5 days to sort through it and develop an organized lesson plan. Whoever thinks home-schooling is easy, or lazy, or whatever, they are sadly mistaken. It’s like being a “real” teacher minus the pay (when done appropriately).

Many are the plans…

On top of home-schooling and being a student myself, I was reminded of all the things I still had “to do”. The list was endless.

A 45,000 word manuscript to finish before Novemeber’s conference; 6 books to read and review in the next month; articles to write for two different websites (besides this blog); a backyard landscaping project; church ministries and other activities…my head was spinning. Oh, and I almost forgot, there is approximately 500lbs of dog poop (a rough estimate) in the yard calling out to me, “Scoop! Scoop!”

So so so many are the plans…

But—it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. I can make all the plans I want, I can sign up for every ministry, activity, conference or course but it is only through God that my plans prosper. If indeed they are HIS plans. Otherwise, I don’t have a prayer.

So, this morning I found myself taking a step back. Instead of attacking my “to-do” list, I listened to Psalm 118-119 on audio, read from Isaiah, and spent some quiet time with God asking Him what HIS plans were.

My new plan consisted of listening to the Holy Spirit as he guided each step of the day. I pray the Lord’s purpose prevail in each moment of each day of my life for His glory and my freedom.

Lord, I want your plans and purposes for my life. Thank you for providing wonderful opportunities, answering prayer, and giving me the desires of my heart. Keep my eyes focused on you every minute of every day. Let your plans alone prevail over my life.

A Little Inspiration from Isaiah

“Don’t fear anything except the Lord of the armies of Heaven! If you

fear Him, you need fear nothing else.”

Isaiah 8:13

 

“See, God has come to save me! I will trust and not be afraid, for the

Lord is my strength and song; He is my salvation. Oh the JOY of

drinking deeply from the Fountain of Salvation!”

Isaiah 12:2-3

“But the Lord of Hosts is exalted above all, for He alone is holy, just,

and good.”

Isaiah 5:16