A Pure Heart

Matthew 5 8

Matthew 5:8 NLT God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.

Do you have a pure heart toward God? What does it mean to have a pure heart?

Pure – Greek word katharos – means clean, clear, pure; chaste, as being cleansed.

Purity can only come to our hearts as we confess our sin to God and allow Him to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. In Matthew Jesus tells us in the Beatitudes that in order to see God, or to have a close, intimate relationship with Him we must be clean and pure before Him. Our hearts must be cleansed.

King David pictures to us a life that was lived in close communion with God. Even though his sin was great, he confessed it before God and expressed a desire for God to create within him a clean heart. It was said of him that he was a man after God’s own heart because of his willingness to repent and be cleansed of the sin in his life in order to do God’s will. (Acts 13:22)

Psalm 51:10-12 NLT Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me again the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.

David recognized his sin. He came before God knowing that he had sinned and the only way to have a clean, pure heart before God was to confess his sin and ask God for forgiveness. In order to see God, to live in close relationship with Him we must continually look into our hearts for sin and then confess it to God and experience His cleansing.

Psalm 24:3-6 Who may climb the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in His holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the LORD’s blessing and have right standing with God their savior. They alone may enter God’s presence and worship the God of Israel.

God knew that we would sin so He made a way for us to be pure and clean before Him. He made a way through the shed blood of Jesus for us to receive the cleansing that was necessary to stand before Him pure and clean. Jesus died that we might be forgiven of our sin.

Romans 5:6-9 NLT When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, no one is likely to die for a good person, though someone might be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s judgment.

Jesus died for us that we might be forgiven of our sin. When we invite Him into our hearts, confessing to God our sinfulness, and accepting the free gift of His salvation we become born again. Our hearts are cleansed from sin and we are forgiven and adopted into the family of God. This is the initial conversion experience where our hearts are regenerated, or re-born from their sinful state into a state of righteousness in Christ Jesus. We become a new creation in Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!

So once we receive Jesus into our hearts we become Christians, new people! The old life is gone and we are born into newness of life. So does that mean that we never sin again?

No, what it means is that when we were sinners we could not help but sin. Sin controlled our lives. Now we have a choice to sin or not to sin. Sin no longer has dominion over us but it is still possible that through choices we make we can sin. We have power over sin by choosing to live above sin, by choosing to live for Jesus and not for our fleshly desires. So, what if we sin? Can we be cleansed from sin once Jesus has paid the price for us to be forgiven initially?

Yes, God knew that we would still be human beings with the propensity to sin. So, He made a way for us to come before Him as sinless by making Jesus our advocate with the Father.

1 John 1:8-2:2 If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth. But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that His word has no place in our hearts. My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if you do sin, there is someone to plead for you before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who pleases God completely. He is the sacrifice for our sins. He takes away not only our sins but the sins of all the world.

The thing that happens to us when we sin after having received God’s forgiveness and birth into the family of God is that the fellowship of our relationship with Him is hindered because of the sin that we hold in our hearts. In order for us to have a sweet, close communion with the Lord we must continually search our hearts for sin and confess it to God quickly so we can be restored to a close fellowship with the Lord. Sin is like static in a radio; it hinders the reception from the one sending the message to the one receiving it. Sin hinders our being able to hear God’s voice. It creates a hindrance in our prayers being answered and it causes our hearts to be heavy and our consciences to be condemned. Sin blocks us from having a close relationship with the Lord and being able to come before Him in confidence.

1 John 3:21-22 NLT Dear friends, if our conscience is clear, we can come to God with bold confidence, And we will receive whatever we request because we obey him and do the things that please Him.

A pure heart is necessary for us to have confidence before God. It is necessary for our hearts to be pure and clean to assure us of a sweet fellowship with the Lord. A pure heart is essential for us in sharing with others about the saving knowledge of Jesus and how they need Him in their own hearts, to be forgiven of sin and to be in right relationship with Him. If the world doesn’t see the purity of our hearts, how can they know there is a difference between us and them?

David said in Psalm 51:13: Then I will teach your ways to sinners, and they will return to you.

David knew that it was only after he had confessed his sin to God and had received a new, clean heart that he would have any influence over those who needed the Lord in their own lives. He was aware that his heart had to be changed before others could see a difference between his life and theirs. A pure, clean heart before God is essential for us to influence the world for Jesus.

Father, I come before You this morning in the name of Jesus. I thank You for the blood of Jesus that cleanses me and saves me and makes me pure before You. Father, I ask that You would search my heart and reveal to me any areas of sin in my heart that hinders me from having a close relationship with You.

I pray for those this morning that don’t know You, that they would have the veil of blindness removed from their minds so that they can see the glorious light of the gospel of Jesus Christ and be saved. I ask You to penetrate their hearts with Your love and draw them to Yourself by Your Spirit. I pray that today they will choose to invite Jesus into their hearts to be born again, to receive Your free gift of salvation. Father, touch them with Your grace and cause them to see Your great love for them.

Father, for those of us who have received Your great salvation, may we always be tender towards You and quick to confess our sins that we might live in close communion with You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Jesus Is The Reason For The Season

The Birth of Jesus

Luke 2:1-7 NKJV And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and lad Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Tomorrow is the day that we celebrate the birth-day of Jesus! So, in the next few days we will look at the events surrounding His birth.

As the scripture reads it was time in Galilee for all who lived there to be taxed. A decree went out from the Governor that a census needed to be taken for the purpose of taxation. It was customary for the head of the house to go to where their ancestral records were kept to register for the taxation. Joseph, being of the lineage of David, had to make the trip back to Bethlehem, which was known as the city of David, to register. This would have been a difficult trip for Mary as it was nearing the time of her baby’s birth. But Joseph, being a just man who obeyed both God’s rules and those of man, needed to register to be in compliance with the laws of the land. Romans 13:1 tells us that we are to obey the government, for God is the one who put it in place. In going back to Bethlehem to register for the census Joseph was being obedient to God through obeying the government. The second verse in Romans 13 says: So those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow.

It is interesting to see how God orchestrated the birth of His Son, Jesus Christ. In order to fulfill the prophecy of Micah 5:2, Jesus had to be born in Bethlehem of Judea, which meant that instead of Joseph going alone to register for the census, Mary would need to go with him.

Micah 5:2-5 NAS “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.” Therefore, He will give them up until the time When she who is in labor has borne a child, Then the remainder of His brethren Will return to the sons of Israel. And He will arise and shepherd His flock In the strength of the LORD, In the majesty of the name of the LORD His God. And they will remain, Because at that time He will be great to the ends of the earth. And this One will be our peace.”

When God divided up the Promised Land He gave a portion of land to each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Judah was the tribe in which the city of Bethlehem was established. In Biblical times the names of people and places were significant to the upbringing of a child. A child would grow up in character as a fulfillment of what his name meant. So, let’s look at the significance of the names surrounding the birth of Jesus.

Judah – the name means “praise”. In Luke 3:23-38 Jesus’ lineage is traced back to God through the tribe of Judah. One of the names of Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. (Revelation 5:5) Judah was the tribe that led the Israelites through the wilderness; the praise-rs went before the Israelites into battle in 2 Chronicles 20 to confuse their enemies and God used them to set up the ambush of their enemies and secure their victory. We are told that Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit to give us the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness in Isaiah 61:3. Psalm 8:2 says that praise silences the enemy in our lives and strengthens us. Jesus referred to that scripture in Matthew 21:16 when He said “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise”. Praise is an important part of our relationship with the Lord Jesus. When we praise Him for who He is the devil can’t stay in our presence; his voice of condemnation and fear is silenced and we give Jesus the glory that is due His name! We better learn to praise Jesus here on earth because in heaven He is worshiped 24/7.

Revelation 4:8 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”

We will be joining in with that heavenly group proclaiming His praises!

Revelation 5:13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”

Bethlehem – the name means “house of bread”. Jesus called Himself the bread of life in John 6:48-51:

“I am the bread of life. “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. “This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever’ and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

Jesus is the bread of life. When we partake of His salvation that was purchased by Him giving His flesh and blood to pay the payment for our sin, we will live forever, eternally in His presence. We appropriate what He has done for us personally by exercising our faith to receive His death, burial and resurrection as the payment for our sins. It is through receiving Him into our hearts that we become born again. Jesus is the Savior of the world, the bread of life, the Lion of the tribe of Judah and worthy of all our praise!

Luke 2:6, 7 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

“the days were completed”…..Galatians 4:4, 5: But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

Jesus was born at just the right time; God’s appointed time. It was no accident that Mary had Jesus in Bethlehem at the time of the census when there would be so many people that there would be no room for them in the Inn. It was the right time, the appointed time for Him to be born. God knew there would be no room for them in the Inn. Nothing takes God by surprise. It may seem to you that the timing of what you are experiencing is the wrong time, but God orchestrates things in our lives to be for our good, not our harm. Mary had Jesus in Bethlehem in a stable at the “right” time! It was in the “fullness” of the time for His birth. The meaning of the word “fullness” is “that which has been completed”. The happenings of the world had come to completion for the birth of Jesus Christ. It was “time” for His birth.

“And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger….” Mary wrapped the first Christmas present in swaddling cloths. Strips of cloth were used to keep a baby warm and to give him a sense of security. Jesus was born of humble means because He laid His deity aside and came to earth as a human to submit to the obedience of His Father.

Philippians 2:5-8 NLT Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal’s death on a cross.

Hebrews 2:14, 15 Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he deliver those who have lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.

Jesus was born as a baby and laid in a manger to show His humble beginning in the purpose that God had for His life. He had to be born a human being in order to die on the cross to secure our salvation. He had to live a sinless life in order to qualify to be the Savior of the world. All these things that happened at the birth of Jesus were perfectly orchestrated so that He could fulfill the requirement of the law to redeem mankind from their sin. Nothing was left out of God’s perfect plan to secure our salvation. Everything happened just as God planned in the “fullness” of His time!

Galatians 3:13, 14 NLT But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” Through the work of Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, and we Christians receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith.

Friends, Jesus was born into this earth for the supreme purpose of dying on a cross to redeem us from the curse of the law; to purchase our redemption and make us acceptable to God as if we’d never sinned. At this time of the year when we celebrate His birth it is important that we do not get caught up in the “baby in the manger” and see Him as only a little baby. He is the Savior of the world; He is the King of kings and Lord of lords; the risen Christ! His birth was just the beginning of His purpose and mission as the Savior and Lord of all who would receive Him.

If you have not received Jesus as your own personal Savior and Lord, He is waiting for you to make that decision. What better time would it be than now when we are celebrating the birth of our King? Won’t you pray this prayer with me and sincerely mean it in your heart?

Father, I come before You this morning recognizing my need for Jesus as my Savior and Lord. I see Him as You gave Him to us to be the payment for my sin, my own personal wrongdoing and weaknesses in not being able to save myself. I know that You sent Him to be my Savior. I confess my sin to You today, the sin of being born as a sinner and the sin of my own willful choices. I believe that Jesus died for me, that He was raised from the dead and now sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven and that if I ask Him to come into my heart He will save me from my sins. I ask You to forgive me and save me right now and I thank You for doing that. Thank You for saving me; for making Your home within my heart and for changing my life. From this day forward I will live for You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer with sincerity of heart, you are now a Child of the King, a born again believer in Christ Jesus and your place of residence is now with Him from this day forward throughout eternity! You have made the best decision of your life. Welcome to the family of God!

And now, Father, I bring before You those who are hurting and lonely today. I ask that You would fill their hearts with a new sense of Your presence; that Your arms of love would wrap around them and carry them through this difficult time in their lives. Father, You are the God of all comfort so I pray that You will comfort them and give them peace. Thank You for being close to the brokenhearted and for healing the hurts that they are experiencing today. Thank You for giving us another Christmas to celebrate the birth of Your Son, Jesus Christ. May He be given the pre-eminence that is due Him at this Christmas time and throughout each upcoming day. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 Jesus is the reason

God’s Super + Your Natural = The Supernatural!

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”

Recently our Pastor asked my husband and myself to lead a class on marriage. For various reasons, neither of us felt qualified to do that. When I questioned the Lord about why we would be chosen to lead this class He simply stated to me that He doesn’t call the equipped; He equips the called. God doesn’t think like us. He chooses those who are not wise according to the world’s standards to fulfill the calling of God so that He can get the glory and not us. God rejects human wisdom because of its pride and self-glory.

Psalm 75:4-7 “I said to the boastful, ‘Do not deal boastfully,’ And to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up the horn. Do not lift up your horn on high; Do not speak with a stiff neck.’” For exaltation comes neither from the east Nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge; He puts one down And exalts another.

 

I like how the Living Bible says verses 6 and 7: “For promotion and power come from nowhere on earth, but only from God. He promotes one and deposes another.”

The horn speaks of strength so what the Lord is saying is don’t be talking about how you can do things in your own strength. That’s prideful and reflective of a person with an attitude that always is right. A stiff necked person has his feet planted in his own way of doing things. He always thinks he is right and there is no way but his own. But God brings promotion; not our own abilities or prideful attitude. He is the Judge; the one who decides matters and gives the decisions that will maintain or bring about a right state of affairs. We might think it’s our own abilities that gets us where we’re going, but God is the One who gives promotion.

1 Timothy 2:20, 21 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.

Your attitude makes all the difference in the world. If God has called you to do what seems to be the impossible, then He will equip you as You yield to Him. I’ve felt inadequate so many times, and yet when I stand before the people God always comes through for me. He has never failed to minister through me when I’ve yielded myself to do His will. That’s all He’s looking for…a person who is willing to stand up and be used; just a vessel that He can flow through. He chooses those people who feel that they are nothing so that He can add His super to their natural to make the supernatural!

Paul, who said he was the chief of all sinners, was humbled by the fact that God called him into the ministry. He said in 1 Timothy 1:12-15:

 

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief.

Paul said his ability to function in his ministry calling was because Christ Jesus enabled him and counted him faithful. He realized that it wasn’t anything that he did to fulfill his ministry calling, but it was Christ Jesus within him that did the work. God’s grace is exceedingly abundant! It was only as he yielded to the Holy Spirit within that he was able to accomplish the work that God had called him to do.

God qualifies a person by looking at their heart, not their exterior appearance. He doesn’t qualify a person based on academic level or their prestige in society. He looks for a person who is humble towards Him, easily teachable, and willing to be a vessel that He can flow through to touch the world. King David did not appear to Samuel like the one that God would pick to replace Saul as king and yet He told Samuel, the prophet, that He doesn’t judge by the exterior appearance of the person like men but He looks at the heart.

1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at this physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Samuel went down the line with all of Jesse’s sons, looking for the one that the Lord had chosen to replace Saul as king, but he didn’t find him in all the sons that were in the room. The one God had chosen was out in the field tending his father’s sheep. He hardly looked like kingly material; he was only a lowly shepherd boy who spent his time with sheep. How could he possibly lead a nation? And yet after God got through training Him, He was a mighty man of God leading God’s people with wisdom and strength. It is said of him that he was a man after God’s own heart. David was anointed with the Spirit of God to fulfill the calling that God had on his life.

1 Samuel 16:12-13 So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him for this is the one!” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah.

Once Samuel anointed David the Spirit of the Lord came upon him enabling him to do what God had called him to do. That’s the way it is with one who has been chosen to fulfill God’s calling on their life. The anointing to do the work of ministry comes as you step out in the calling of the Lord on your life. The Holy Spirit comes to anoint you for the work of ministry.

In whatever God has called you to do, He will equip you! Don’t think that you have to do it in your own power or ability. You just have to be willing, prepare yourself through prayer and Bible study, and then yield to Him for His power to flow through you as you minister. God’s super with your natural becomes the supernatural!

Father, I thank You for equipping those whom You call to do Your ministry. Thank You for not leaving them to do it on their own. Thank You, Lord, for flowing through them and anointing them to do the work that You want done. Father, I pray that as we yield to You that You will fill us to overflowing with Your Spirit and anointing to minister in Your name. Thank You for the ones that will come into the kingdom of God as You touch through each and every one of us as we step out in faith believing that You will use us. May You be glorified in us! In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

 

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