Careful, that Fence Could Give You a Massive Wedgie: CHOICES {Part 2}

Surely God understood my plight, after all, He knew my heart, He knew our financial situation, He knew we wanted to get married—eventually, so did it really matter that we were living and sleeping together at this point? I mean, we’d been sleeping in the same bed for a couple of years by this time, we even had a child together, it’s not like we had much to “save” ourselves for.

 
It was quite the dilemma. I had recently “come back” to God, after nearly a decade of “debauchery” and rebellion. Our situation wasn’t the greatest, either; we had a new baby, debt out of our eyeballs (tens of thousands of which I hauled along from my first marriage), we lived in a roach-infested apartment, had to spend oodles of money on special formula for our daughter who had digestive issues…it wasn’t the most “fun” we’d had in our relationship.

 
Many times I prayed—begged—God to help us. I was sorry, so sorry for the mess I had made of my life. Please, God, please help us, I want to do what’s right. But rather than answer that request, God began to convict me. He started with the “big” things and immediately my dedication to obedience was tested. I wrestled with the issue for a little while, even calling my dad (who had been a Pastor) to ask his advice, I remember reasoning with him, “We’ve had sex so many times, I mean, we have a kid together! God knows my heart, He knows how I want to do the right thing, but we just don’t have the money for a wedding. What would you tell someone in this situation, if you were counseling them?” He sympathized with me, but still told it like it was. The Bible was clear about sex outside of marriage. It was simply not acceptable, and God would not bless me with peace, and other spiritual blessings, until I was obedient.

 
Keep in mind, at the time I chose to come back to God (or rather, develop a new relationship with Him), my husband was not what you’d consider a man of faith, nor did he care to be. So, you can see how tricky this situation was. But I knew what needed to happen. I informed him that I would have to sleep in a separate room, and we could no longer have sex until we were married. As you can well imagine, the response wasn’t super great.

 
Ultimately, my husband (still “fiancé” at the time) respected my faith and that I wanted to change, so he complied without too much of a fight. Of course, it wasn’t long before we found a way to get married. Six days after our daughters first birthday, a deacon from the tiny Baptist church next to our apartment married us and signed our marriage license, with the mandatory two witnesses in our presence (thanks Mom). The peace I felt once we were officially married can’t be described. It’s the kind of peace you experience when you know you’re walking in God’s will. It was a difficult choice to make, and I had plenty of good reasons (excuses) as to why I shouldn’t obey what I knew was right, but in the end, the desire to walk with God and be at peace won over my physical desires.

 
I can’t emphasize enough just how difficult it is to make the right choice, to follow God’s word, to be “sold out”, recklessly abandoned to Him and His will—it’s not an easy path. The above example is only one of many difficult things God required of me in order to walk in His will. After all, He was taking me from the “world” and re-shaping my thought life one thing at a time, which of course, systematically changed my behavior. This brought about new challenges, especially within my marriage. We were “unequally yoked” now, and our worldviews were significantly different. Each choice I made was not only about my desire to obey God’s word, but also my desire to show my husband that the change in my heart was real, not a “phase” that would pass like so many others (I had previously tried out a Jehovah’s Witness church as well as Wiccan practices…I was searching for something to fill a void only God could fill!). I wanted to live the kind of life and have the type of attitude that was attractive to my husband. It didn’t happen overnight, it took many years of trial and error—but mostly prayer for God to continue to change me (not my husband).

 
In this entire journey, one thing was not an option for me—fence-sitting. I had seen plenty of that growing up, Christians who behaved one way on Sunday but lived an entirely different life Monday through Saturday. I never understood it. Many of these people were quick to judge the lives and choices of others, while failing to see their own issues for what they were. They believed themselves to be “sold out” God-fearing Christians when, in fact, they were nothing more than Pharisees.

 
On the other hand were the “worldly” Christians. They were the ones that looked, talked, and acted like everyone else. There was no noticeable difference in them, other than the fact that they went to church. They could say all the right words, teach Sunday School, quote the verses, and dress the part, but on a day to day basis, God was nowhere to be found. One foot in the world, the other in the church. That was not the Christianity I was “returning” to. So repeatedly I found myself praying in earnest that God would teach me how to love Him with my whole heart.

 
It was during this time God led me to Psalm 119, and I began writing my thoughts (which eventually turned into a short published  Bible study). I wanted the words of that Psalm to be true in my life, so I dedicated over a year to studying it, which served to completely change my heart in ways I never thought possible. Still though, God is not “done” with me. Every time I ask him to cleanse my heart or show me where I need “work” He reveals more. I am thankful He doesn’t show me all the crud in my heart at once, but gently works on me one small step at a time. Some days I choose to follow, and some days I sit on the fence. Sometimes I’m on the fence so long, the painful realty of the spiritual wedgie drives me to one side or the other. Ultimately I just can’t go the other way again because it led to nothing but heartache and pain, and a complete lack of peace and purpose. So, I fall back over the side of Truth and dust myself off and try again.

 
I’m convinced that this “fence-sitting” is an epidemic in the Church today, that and the judgmental segment of Pharisees that are certain everyone except for them are going to hell. Both extremes are equally damaging and have only helped the church look like more of a joke than anything. We need to choose this day who we will serve, but for goodness’ sake, stick with whatever we choice we make instead of oscillating back and forth. Either we’re for God or against Him; either we’re willing to follow Him at all cost, or we need to jump back over to the other side of the fence and abandon our faith, ’cause this fence-sitting crap has got to stop.

 
One of my husband’s chief complaints about Christians (and why he didn’t want to go to church) was how much they “judge” everyone while failing to see their own faults. Or, that they were quick to preach about “heaven” while living like the “devil”. We actually experienced people close to us falling into this category. They would go to church on Sunday and drink and party Friday nights. There was an enormous disconnect from what they said they believed to how they actually lived. These same people were extremely bitter towards God for the hardships He allowed in their lives. Yet, they were never willing to “forsake” the world and cling to Him 100%. This type of thing is killing Christianity, seriously, (our persistent fence-sitting could even be the very thing that keeps someone from coming to Christ!); regrettably, I have been guilty of both extremes.

 
I’m not saying that obedience to God automatically results in perfect circumstances and material blessings. Not at all. In fact, I think I showed with an example from my own life that making the right choice is often much more difficult and can even result in conflict or loss. But choosing the “hard” path of a life completely (like, actually 100%) is much more rewarding both here and after our lives have ended. We shouldn’t ride the fence and then whine about how God isn’t blessing us. He wants to bless us, but He will not reward our complacency and indifference to His word and will.

 
Has God been convicting you of a change? Have you been straddling the fence with a list of reasons why it’s ok to do so? Do you have children or loved ones watching you? (Of course you do, whether you realize it or not). The world is watching us, and we’re kind of sucking at the mission here, folks. Either we want to follow Him or we don’t. Often we’re like Lot’s wife, we turn back with longing, unable to give up something good, or even “fun” for something much greater—abundant life, freedom from bondage, true lasting peace, (and maybe even the opportunity for our lives to be the very thing that influences someone to choose eternal life through Jesus!).

 
I no longer want to contribute to this problem but I can’t make choices for anyone else other than myself. One day I hope my daughter will be able to say with conviction that her mother stood for something, and had a purpose—mainly to share the love of Christ with others through her life. That her mother not only said she believed something, but demonstrated that belief through her choices. That her mother wasn’t perfect, but admitted quickly when she was wrong and asked for forgiveness. That her mother was honest about her struggles, and didn’t take pleasure in pointing out the wrongness in everyone else, but rather chose to seek God’s change in her own life. That is what I hope my daughter will say about me some day. One thing I know I don’t want to hear, “My mom, she said she believed and she took me to church, but during the week, she wasn’t any different than anyone else. I don’t understand what good her faith really did.” Or perhaps even worse, “My mom was always talking about what was wrong with everyone. She couldn’t drive to the grocery store without complaining about all the awfulness in everyone else. Everyone was going to hell, according to her. She seemed to think she had it all together, but she was the only one who couldn’t see herself as she really was.” I can’t think of which scenario terrifies me more.

 
God, help me avoid both extremes and find balance within your grace. Let my life be something my daughter wants to emulate, not because she admires me, but because she wants to emulate You, who she sees in me.

 
Be careful how long you choose to sit on that fence, the wedgie gets worse the longer you let it go on, and the results are far more painful for both you and the ones you love most. Choose today who you will serve, and pray for the will to do it with all your heart, mind, and soul.

 

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and truth. This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence.” (1 John 3:18-19, NIV)

“With my whole heart have I sought You; Oh, let me not wander from your commandments! (Psalm 119:10, NKJV)

“Make me walk along the paths of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found.” (Psalm 119:35, NLT)

 

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See also CHOICES PART 1: Freedom to Choose

 
I will be continuing this series on choices in much greater detail, if you haven’t already, please enter your email under the “Follow” tab to receive new posts in your inbox. No spam! Just new posts, (usually two to four posts a month at most). If you found this website to be of encouragement to you, please share it with your friends!

Rebuking the Devil’s Deadly D’s (Part 5)

Rebuking the Devil’s Deadly D’s (Part 5)

Rebuking the Devil

 

To review the previous deadly ds of the devil, simply click on the “d” of your choice:

#1—Disappointment

#2—Discouragement

#3—Despair

#4—Doubt

#5—Disbelief

#6—Distraction

#7—Double-mindedness

8. Dishonesty

Lies are lies whether they are outright blatant deceptions, careful manipulations to overstate or understate a situation, or words that have been omitted to avoid a particular consequence. Many times I have been advised by Christians to not tell my husband something that might upset him. Usually this is justified in their minds because of our faith differences, “He won’t understand because he doesn’t have the same faith as you.” But no matter how good the intentions behind the advice, I know I am to respect my husband, and part of that involves being honest with him, even if it means I may get a response I don’t like.

Dr. Willmington wisely states, “To be less than we should be as pastors, parents, or workers is to cheat our people and children and thus become dishonest.”

When we choose to believe the word of God and walk by faith, the people around us will be blessed (<<< Click to Tweet)—especially our children and immediate family members. Likewise, when we fail to trust God or walk by faith, the relationships around us will suffer, cheating those people of the blessings God wants us both to receive. It’s an issue of spiritual integrity that needs to be addressed and dealt with in each of our hearts.

“To be dishonest is to forget 2 Corinthians 4:2,

‘But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.’”¹

If you recognize a spirit of dishonesty within your heart, pray out loud: “Lord, thank you for bringing this issue of honesty to my attention. I realize I have been dishonest by __________ (not speaking the whole truth, exaggerating circumstances, minimizing feelings/circumstances, omitting details, etc.). In the name of Jesus I now renounce the spirit of dishonesty and choose to embrace a life of spiritual integrity. From now on I will concern myself with having a clean conscience before you, God, rather than worrying about how I am seen in the eyes of people. Lord, continue to teach me how to walk with integrity in both word and action as I seek to glorify you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

9. Deceit

Deceitfulness is yet another one of Satan’s weapons of mass destruction, not only for unbelievers but for the Christian as well.

•Non-Christian (Unbelievers)

Many of us know people who are living according to the deceptions of the god of this world through cults, New Age teachings, astrology, atheism, indifference to God, or false doctrines of salvation, and we need to pray for them:

“Lord Jesus, I come before you believing that if I ask anything according to your will, you will hear me.² I know you desire that none would perish but that all would come to repentance³ but I also understand that your gospel is veiled to those who are perishing because the god of this world has blinded their minds. In the name of Jesus I now ask that this veil of deception be lifted, and all demonic interference hindering ________ (name of person) from coming to a saving faith will be disrupted and abolished. Give _________ (name of person) a hunger and thirst for righteousness that will bring them to a complete freedom through Christ. I ask this with the authority of the blood of Christ, Amen.”

•Christians

When we contort the word of God to fit into our ideologies and human reasoning then go and teach that message to others, we are both deceived and deceitful. We have the will, as humans, to agree or disagree and to obey or not obey God’s written word. But we do not have the authority to add to, or subtract from the Word of God. And that is exactly what occurs when we twist the meaning of Scripture to fit our purposes.

As a writer and Bible teacher, it is my responsibility to accurately interpret the word of God to the best of my ability (see 2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16-17 and James 3:1). This includes careful preparation and research before I write/teach on a subject. I am not to grab a random verse and try to squeeze a devotional out of it, or worse yet, take a verse out of context and develop a doctrine out of it! I am to take what is clearly stated in the word of God and make it more easily understood and applicable to those I share with.

Each one of us will be held accountable for how we treated the word of God in both personal application and teaching (<<<Click to tweet!)—it’s serious business! In that light, we are to remember to ask the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth, and not to add to or subtract from it. We are not to be deceived nor are we to deceive others.

“To be deceitful is to forget Jeremiah 17:9,

‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?’”¹

Don’t follow your heart, your feelings, or your ideas of God. Follow the facts as presented in the Bible. (<<<Click to tweet!)

Accept the word of God for what it is and don’t twist it to fit into your human reasoning. His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts (see Isaiah 55:8). (<<<Click to tweet!)

If you have been deceitful, whether intentionally or unintentionally, pray out loud: “Lord, I confess I have tried to twist your words into something more comfortable for me to accept. In the name of Jesus I now renounce the spirit of deceit and choose to live by your word alone, not my ideas of your word. I will accept the authority of the Bible as a whole instead of picking and choosing what I want to believe while tossing aside the less palatable portions. Guide me into all truth and convict me when I stray from, or misuse your precious Word.”

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1- Dr. H.L. Willmington, Willmington’s Guide to the Bible, ©1981, 1984 by H.L. Willmington–all rights reserved.

2- “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” 1 John 5:14-15

3- “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

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profilepic3Rebecca Aarup is a redeemed prodigal, set free from over a decade of mental illness, eating disorders, addiction, and more. She now enjoys sharing her story of freedom and transformation with a lost and hurting world, as well as teaching about spiritual warfare and the importance of understanding our identity in Christ.

Rebecca is also an author and freelance writer, having written devotionals and teaching articles for a variety of publications including The Secret Place (Judson press), Evangel (Light and Life Communications), and Mustard Seed Ministries. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and daughter, Samantha.  You can read more from Rebecca by following her on twitter and facebook.

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Grasping Straws

Suggested Reading: Psalm 131

“I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself.” Psalm 131:1-2 (NLT)

I enjoy surfing the web discovering other writers with a passion for Jesus; I find this both rewarding and daunting. I often come across unique and well-written blogs causing me to take pause on my own abilities. Maybe this is how the Lord keeps me humble.

One particular blogger writes about deep theological issues, and he writes them in such a clear, easy to understand manner. I enjoy his writings immensely (and you may as well, so I included the link to his site), but at the same time I have been tempted to run off on rabbit trails researching issues I may never understand. (Predestination, election, the trinity, soteriology…what I can understand continues to blow my mind.) This morning as I listened to Bible on audio I was struck by Psalm 131.

David starts with, “Lord, my heart is not too proud; my eyes are not haughty,” and my spiritual light-bulb goes on. True humility comes with understanding my own calling, and walking in it with confidence, rather than pursuing what I haven’t been given a mind for.

God has not called me to be a seminary grad (at this point), nor has He called me to try in my feeble attempts to understand the deepest mysteries of doctrine. He has only called me to draw on his word and apply it to my life, sharing how marvelously freeing his truth can be for the soul who believes and lives it. This is how my soul is quieted and finds peace; knowing who I am, what my purpose is, and not straying from that path.

Some are theologians, preachers, or missionaries, and some are just regular folks like me, redeemed sinners rescued from a pit of hopeless despair and called to live the liberating life of Jesus.

Free to Fear

Suggested Reading: Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

“Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.” Ecclesiastes 11:9b

The decisions of today affect the experience of God’s kingdom tomorrow. We weren’t created for this moment, we were created for eternity. Likewise, our choices have an eternal weight. Life is fleeting, our youth wanes, but His word endures for all time.

We are free to choose fun, free to choose hobbies, free to choose jobs, and free to do as we please but God, enthroned above all, is free to judge His creation.

“Fear God and keep his commands” is undoubtedly the wisest advice ever penned in Scripture. Obedience in this point will result in obedience in all points. One choice stands between mercy and wrath; judgment and reward; ruling on high or regret down low.

Freedom for pleasure or freedom to fear; I choose the latter.

Why…why…why?

Why….why…why?

As a mother of a toddler I couldn’t possibly recount all the times I have heard this question, “Why, mommy?”

“Because I said so,” I have caught myself replying.

However, the Holy Spirit began to convict me that my curt reply was not good enough. He brought to mind my own childhood, and how I felt about such responses. I know my parents did the best they could with what they had, and I certainly don’t blame them for my own choices, but I do wish I had been given better answers to the “whys”.

As I stood outside this morning I felt the Spirit prompting me to make a list of my purposes. He asked me, “What is your purpose?” I would think, as God, He would know! Of course he knew, but I am the one that didn’t really know, and my lack of effectiveness showed that I didn’t know. I needed to unpack my purpose and define it. I needed an answer to the “why”.

Immediately He began speaking to me, and I couldn’t write fast enough. Not just another list of dos and don’ts that I will never be able to live up to, rather a list of purposes, and why they are my purposes.  I’ll share some of them….

My first purpose was easy, “To love the Lord with all my heart, mind and strength.”

Why?

Because:

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and all your strength; and you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands.” Deut. 6:5-6

Next I wrote under my purpose and verse:

What have I done to accomplish my purpose today? And then I left myself several lines to record what I am doing today (and every day for a week) to reach this life goal.

Having goals is good, but knowing why you have these goals is better, and pursuing God’s goals for your life is the absolute best.

Why did God command me to love Him with all my heart? Because He created me, He knows me better than any human could ever know me, and He knows what is best for me. He also knows the only way I will ever be truly happy is to walk in His will (Psalm 1:1-2), and I need to pursue him with all that I am in order to uncover his will. Notice I didn’t settle with, “because God said so,” (Even though that statement is perfectly valid.)

This isn’t just my purpose; this is the purpose God has given to all His creation. Every human being on this planet has been given this command. It’s universal and personal.

My next purpose is another universal purpose, but also very specific for me.

“Honor my husband through becoming a true woman and wife of God, as He has commanded.”

It was challenging for me to put this next on the list. I was tempted to put a host of other things there, like loving my daughter or getting healthy (which are elsewhere on my list), but God has said in his word He is to be first, and our spouse second before the children. Ok, I need to trust God has a reason for this. (Maybe that reason is that honoring our spouses happens to be one of the hardest things to do naturally.) My “why”:

“You wives must accept the authority of your husbands…you should clothe yourselves with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” 1 Peter 3:1, 4

Next one:

“Serve my daughter as a good mother, defined by God’s Word.”

Why?

“That they may learn to fear me all the days that they live upon earth, and they may teach their children.” Deu.t 4:10

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Prov. 22:6

Why wouldn’t any parent want what is best for their children? The key to teaching our children comes with our primary purpose, loving God with all our hearts. Out of that first purpose will flow the rest; our children will witness us living our God-given purposes, see the blessings and reward (Psalm 37:4), and want that for themselves.

My list has nine purposes, all with a verse to answer my “why” and space to write how I am living out my purposes every day. This process has really helped me break down the questions and work to find the answers in God’s Word, rather than in man’s philosophies. Being positive and motivational is great, but it takes on a whole new meaning when we find from God’s Word why He wants us to be that way (encouraging rather than discouraging). There is a reason for the commands we are given, and it isn’t simply “Because God said so”. It is so much deeper than that. I believe this is why I have failed at so many attempts to “do” certain things. I never really unpacked my purpose and discovered why I am doing those things or how they will benefit me. It is important to find out the “why” of obedience and share that with our children, spouses, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.

Why do I have my daughter help me clean at such a young age? Because God has commanded that we be good stewards of our earthly possessions, and I not only want to show my thankfulness for Gods provision by taking care of it, I also want to teach that to my daughter.

Why do I want to eat healthy and exercise? Why do I encourage my daughter to do this? Is it so I can be liked and admired? What’s my motive? It’s because God has told me my body is a temple, and I am to honor that temple as the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. That purpose should motivate my daily decisions regarding food, activity, and what I allow my child to eat and do. When she asks me “why”, I want to give her a good reason, the best reason. This is what God says and this is why; he loves us and wants us to be fulfilled in the purposes he gave us.

When I was growing up, I really got tired of hearing, “because I said so.” Once I became a teenager that reasoning no longer held any weight with me. I wish I had fully understood how much God loved me and why he wanted me to stay abstinent, be pure, love him, and remain in church fellowship. Unfortunately I never understood those “whys” and decided my own reasoning’s were better. For several years I made many poor choices due to my misunderstanding of God’s love for me, and my lack of trust in him. These choices had many terrible consequences, some of which will remain with me until I am made perfect in the presence of Jesus.

As I teach my daughter what it means to give to others, share, love, show compassion, and serve, I want to be able to tell her why these things are important. I want her to grow up with more than a, “because I said so” response. But really, the ultimate teacher is the one who practices first what they preach. Being a doer and not just a talker, this is the greatest example we can give to those around us.

The next time someone asks you “why,” be ready to give a good Godly answer.

I challenge you to make your own list of purposes, then search the Scriptures to make sure they are in line with God’s Word as well as the “why” of that purpose.

Perhaps you could share one or two of them with me, so we can stand together in accountability. I look forward to hearing your responses!

Effective

Effective

“I pray with all my heart.” Psalm 119:145 NLT

It’s impossible to talk about the word of God and not mention prayer. The Psalmist says that he will not only obey with all his heart, seek with all his heart, but also pray with all his heart. This, of course, implies that we could pray with less than our whole heart. What would that look like?

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men….But when you pray, go into your room and close the door and pray to your father, who is unseen.” Matthew 6:5-6

Jesus knew there were many people who loved to give lip service and be seen and admired by men. He strongly urged his disciples to avoid this kind of prayer at all costs. While there is nothing wrong with praying in public, we do it every Sunday in churches all over the world, there is something wrong with praying to impress others. It shows a division of heart. The intellect is involved with fancy words and long elegant speeches, but the rest of the heart (acting out the truth with the will, for example) is not on board or backing up the prayer. Jesus also warned us:

“If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24

Prayer is a form of worship, just as much as singing songs, Bible study, or tithing. We are told that no gift should be offered when we are not right with our brothers and sisters in Christ. How many times have we persisted in prayer, study, and singing while knowing we were bitter against someone else or they were bitter against us? We are admonished to do all we can to keep peace and unity in order for our offerings to be accepted. We cannot change how people feel about us, but we can make every effort to make things right. 12 step programs often refer to this as “making amends”. While the person we seek to restore fellowship with may not accept our offer, we must make the effort in sincerity of heart in order for God to be honored and our gift to be accepted.  Perhaps when we pray and God is silent, it is because He is waiting for us to act in obedience to his revealed will.

“The righteous cry out and the Lord hears them.” Psalm 34:17

The word righteous in this passage comes from the Hebrew root word meaning “cleanse”, “clear”, or “morally right”. Thus, the believer who is pure in heart or cleansed is the just believer whose prayers are heard. I don’t know about you, but I want my prayers to be heard! This is a powerful motivation for keeping my conscience clean before God, and others. What good does it do to spend an hour in elaborate prayer when my prayers are not being heard?

A few years ago my brother in law was diagnosed with leukemia. There was a sinking feeling that it wasn’t going to turn out well, and deep down in my spirit, I knew the outcome, though I certainly believed that God could bring healing if it was His will to do so. This was a life-changing event for me. I knew God could heal, I knew God had a plan, but I also knew I was called to pray over the situation in earnest. God brought me to James 5:16b over and over again.

“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

The word righteous here is translated “holy”, “just”, or “innocent”. I realized that if I wanted God to hear me, I needed to have a clean heart before Him. Realizing that there are so many needs today for health, healing, freedom, truth, enlightenment, and wisdom (among many other things) was also a realization that praying for these things was a useless endeavor if my heart was not right with God. I was wasting my breath. I clearly remember this time of my life because God used it to motivate me to holiness, and being sold out to Him in living my faith.  Many times my prayers begin with confession as I come into the presence of a holy God and am reminded of my own ungodliness.

In order to have an undivided heart in prayer, we need to seek cleansing and purity before God. In order to be an effective prayer warrior, we need to ask God to convict us that we need a change of heart. God is the only One who can reveal to us faults we otherwise cannot see. I have experienced this truth time and again when asking God to cleanse my heart. There have been grievous sins committed on my part that I never even realized were sins until God opened my eyes to it! Once he did, I was horrified at my attitude! But unless I had asked him to search me and show me what needed fixing, I would have ignorantly gone on with an undivided heart probably wondering why my prayer life wasn’t as effective as it could be.

Just to be clear; I am not saying that the only way our prayers will be heard is if we are perfect. I am saying that God is clear in his word of what will hinder our prayers from being effective; willful disobedience, sin in ignorance, or a divided heart. I don’t want to be guilty of any of these things, and I pray you feel the same way! Let us obey, seek, and pray with a whole heart. Let us seek to be right before God in all we do, and keep a clear conscience in order to be the most effective prayer warriors that we can be!

Prayer

As I come into your presence, Lord, I ask that you reveal to me any secret sins I have hidden in my heart. I want to wholeheartedly serve you and I want to pray with a heart that is united to fear you. I want to be an effective prayer warrior; even more so I want to be right and have a clear conscience before you. Search me and cleanse me, give me a heart that understands your holiness and give me displeasure for the things that will divide my heart. Thank you for being merciful and loving to show me where I need cleansing!

Emotional

Emotional

“I obey your commands with all my heart.” Psalm 119:69 NLT

“I will put them into practice with all my heart.” Psalm 119:34 NLT

“Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” Psalm 86:11

“I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 7:35

“All the believers were one in heart and mind.” Acts 4:32

How many times have you heard someone say, “I know it in my head, but I need to know it in my heart”? I know I have said it!  We are designed very uniquely. We have a heart, or an inner being that is multifaceted. Our spirit is made up of our mind, will, and emotions. We can practice the word of God with our minds (look at the Pharisees in the Gospels) and not have our will and emotions in the right place.

The Psalmist understood that the word needed to penetrate every aspect of his inner being, not just his head. The word needed to be molded through every aspect of his heart. His mind, will, and emotions needed to be bent towards God.  It’s quite easy, actually, to have our minds bent towards the things of God, and not our emotions. Our emotions are often the thing that trips us up. We read the word, and even know the word intellectually, but our emotions tell us we feel different. Much of the world’s philosophies involve living on emotions. “Do what feels right.” Just because it feels right doesn’t mean it is right! The only way we can do what is right, is to know what is right, and to know what is right is to know God’s word.

We must come to the word of God asking him to unite our hearts to his truth; that is, unite our minds, wills, and emotions towards his truth. This involves taking captive our will to do what is unnatural to the word of God, and our emotions that often feel what is not in line with the word of God, and demanding they obey the word of God as much as our minds.

There will be many times in our Christian walk that we don’t feel as if God loves or cares for us even though we know it in our minds; we won’t want to do what we know is right with our wills, yet we must ask God to order all of our heart to obey! We must practice walking in the truth of God with our intellect, our emotions, and our wills. I believe the Psalmist knew how difficult this was, and that is why he stressed the point so many times in this chapter. I can personally attest to making very poor decisions when allowing myself to be ruled by my emotions. I am a very sensitive person, so this is a very hard subject for me. Hard or not, it is the truth of God’s word. I must ask him to unite my heart in order to be effective, stay away from sinful attitudes, and stay in his will.

The only way to stay on the path of holy obedience is to have a wholeness of heart.

Prayer

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complicated, Lord! Teach me how to love and obey you with all of my heart, not just my intellect. I want to know who you are, and I want the truth of your word to penetrate my will that I may walk in your ways, and my emotions that I may be sensitive to your truth.