The Heart of the matter

 

Today’s Readings :Exodus 8, Luke 11:37-54

Today’s two familiar readings separated in time by thousands of years tell a sad but all-too-familiar story.

Pharaoh

Exodus 8 is another chapter in the unfolding story of the Israelites escape from Egypt. It seems this drama is playing out on two levels. At one level it is a showdown between “I am” the true God of the Israelites, and the false gods of Egypt. At another level it is a showdown between two men: Pharaoh king of Egypt and Moses, humble man of God.

Time after time we read of the Lord giving miraculous inexplicable signs of his power and sovereignty and Pharaoh’s hard-hearted response. Three times in this chapter alone Pharaoh is described as “hardening his heart” (vs 14, 16, 32) to God’s amazing demonstrations of power.

Pharisee’s

In Luke 11 a similar showdown in reaching it’s climax. The religious elite, trained in the God-breathed scriptures from birth are setting themselves against the humble man of God, Jesus. Like the story of the Exodus, time and time again Jesus demonstrates his authority and sovereignty by inexplicable acts of mercy and power with miracle after miracle. Like Pharaoh instead of bowing in submission to God’s Son, the Pharisees harden their hearts, time and time again.

Verse 39-41 make clear that the root of the problem is their heart.  Their religion is skin deep and has not penetrated to their hearts. They need to clean out the inside of their hearts and not just the outward appearance.

How did the Pharisee’s get it so wrong?

It would be easy to look down unsympathetically on Pharaoh and judge his hard-heartedness. After all, he was antagonistic to God from the outset wasn’t he?

However, I think the reaction of the Pharisees to Jesus cannot be disregarded so easily. The Pharisees were often sincere in their devotion to God – enthusiastic, even fanatical (as Saul was). They knew the scriptures. They “loved” God. They were devoted.

How then did so many of them get it so wrong?

It was not external conformity to the law that was required to know God, it was a change of heart.

How is your heart?

The question for me from these two passage of scripture this morning is “How is my heart?”

The bible teaches that the heart is “deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9). Paul in Romans 7 describes his own personal struggle with his sin nature. The author to Hebrews warns about not allowing our hearts to become hard (Hebrews 3:8)

Today I would like to resist the temptation to “look down” on Pharoah and the Pharisee’s with an inward smirk of self-righteousness. Rather today I think I need to look deeply at my own heart with sober judgement to ensure I heed the warning in these two passages against a hard-hearted response to the Lord’s power and grace.

Prayer Today

Lord, today give me a soft teachable loving heart like that of my saviour Jesus. Clean me, teach me and change me from the inside out, because you are the only one who can.

 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)

 

 

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3 thoughts on “The Heart of the matter

  1. Thanks Pete. I feel sorry for Pharaoh as God even hardened his heart. He didn’t have a chance really! Thank you Jesus for intervening for me. I too pray for a soft, loving and teachable heart.

  2. Thank you Peter. A constant reminder for the Christian is that, “God looks upon my heart and not on what is displayed on the outside”. When a person come to ask Jesus to be his/her Lord and Saviour at that moment God looks upon the heart. He sees if it is a real conversion or whether it is done in word only. At that instant God gives to the believer the Holy Spirit no sooner and no later, because at that moment our lives become a matter of the heart. Everything that is done in my life, God is looking at the “why”, its done. Only He sees the heart of a person. Only He knows whether a person is really saved or not. A good test for the believer as they grow in their walk is to see how we are growing in the fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and the one I constantly need more grace for – self control. We each must be made aware of what our own heart is capable of and then we cling to Jesus who gives us the grace so that our hearts can be in tune with how God wants us to be. Yes we will fail but we can still ask for the Holy Spirits help in growing into mature Christians who display the Fruit of the Spirit more and more.

    A heart that has been changed will desire to live a life that honors Jesus no matter how hard it gets. We must come to the end of self and ask for Gods power thru the Holy Spirit. Because this world needs to see authentic Christians.

  3. Thank you Peter for your wise and focussed comment today – the real challenge for me but praise God for his provision of his Spirit on the journey

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