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Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Guest Writer, Katie Burch–On the heart’s growing capacity…

(Katie is on the left)

If you are into the study this month, you know we are digging into the Psalm 119 ABC’s of “Word-comfort”. Katie has excellent thoughts about the “Daleth” portion of Psalm 119, particularly the portion in which the Psalmist says “I will run the course of your commandments,” (vs 32). Do you want to gain a larger heart capacity? This is the capacity that matters not just on the medical heart monitor, but the kind of line-tracking that never flat-lines; the kind of line tracking (unlike your exercise monitor) that never lies. It’s accurate and eternal. The Word is your eternal heart-health monitor! 

Katie says this:

With regular rigorous aerobic activity, the athlete’s heart begins to change over time, growing larger and stronger with increased capacity. (MedStar Health, Dr. Ankit Shah)

Every day we need to run God’s course. “Run in such a way that you may obtain it (I Corinthains 9:24)  The way in which we run is full of self-control (vs. 25). It is with certainty, abiding by the rules—the commandments (2 Timothy 2:5). It is filled with discipline and endurance (Hebrewa 12:1). With our goal ahead in sight (Hebrews 12:2). our spiritual heart begins to change over time. Our lives are a journey. We are not the same babes in Christ, but rather are maturing day by day.  With running in the course of our Lord, we lose those things that are weighing us down (Hebrews 12:1), and gain capacity from God, who enlarges our hearts.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Family Ties in the Social Distance #14: Proverbs 6:18–A Heart that Devises Wicked Plans

My husband, Glenn, is sharing these daily lessons  for our West Huntsville family as we are necessarily (because of the virus) spending less time physically together in worship, study and fellowship. We may be “socially distanced,” but  we’re a close-knit family and we want to keep it that way! One way to stay on track together, spiritually, is to think about a common passage and make applications for our lives together even when we are unable to assemble as frequently. I’m sharing these daily family lessons here for those in other places, whose families (or even congregations) might benefit from a common study in these uncommon days of semi-quarantine. There are Family Bible Time guides included, as well. You can adapt, shorten or lengthen them according to the ages of kids (and adults) in your family. Blessings.

From Glenn:

My Favorite Proverbs: A heart that devises wicked plans (Prov. 6:16-19)

These six things the Lord hates, 

Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:

A proud look,

A lying tongue,

Hands that shed innocent blood,

A heart that devises wicked plans,

Feet that are swift in running to evil,

A false witness who speaks lies,

And one who sows discord among brethren.

The KJV phrases this, “A heart that deviseth wicked imaginations.”  It isn’t the actual sin a man commits which is under consideration here, but merely the act of planning it. It’s a great example of God wanting more than our actions. He always wants our hearts.  This is abundantly taught in Scripture.

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Lk 6:45).

“But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Rom. 6:17-18).

“…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9).

“Clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart” (2 Cor. 3:3).

One more. This one involves Peter writing to Christian wives who were married to unbelieving husbands. He elaborates on what those wives can do to convert their mates.  “Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Pet. 3:3-4).

Perhaps our greatest challenge and goal in walking as Christians today is to focus and protect that “hidden person of the heart.”  That person is in a place others cannot see, and that hidden aspect alone makes this difficult. A man may appear on the outside to be devoted to Christ when his hidden person of the heart is full of filth and corruption. Eventually what’s in his heart will be revealed:  “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34).  “For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecc. 12:14).  

Take deliberate steps to keep your mind away from evil and on the things God approves.  Keep your Bible in a place of easy access and read it every day.  Meditate on what you read.  Pray without ceasing.  Seek out faithful Christians for your closest friends.  Always push back against Satan when you realize his wicked plans are forming in your imagination.

Story Time from Glenn and Cindy:  Genesis 48

1. In the close of chapter 47, Jacob was preparing to die. He asked his son, Joseph, not to bury him in Egypt, but to carry his body back to Canaan; to his family’s cemetery.  Joseph promised to do as his father asked. 

This might be a good time to gently, and in an age-appropriate way, discuss death, funerals, and burial with your children.  Put an emphasis on the fact that we do not bury people’s souls; we only bury their physical bodies.  Explain James 1:26, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also,”  Tell them that we all have two bodies: a physical one that people see, and a spiritual one that people don’t see.  

2.As we begin chapter forty-eight, we see that Joseph brought his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, to Jacob to receive their blessing. Explain to your children what a will is and how it works. Emphasize that a man can change his will before he dies however he chooses, but that, when he dies, the will is unchangeable and must be carried out precisely, if at all possible.  This lesson will be important for when you teach them later about the last will and testament of Jesus Christ, the New Testament (Heb. 9:16-22).

3. In order to give Joseph and his descendants a double blessing, Jacob adopted Joseph’s two sons. He made them as his own sons.

“And now your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine” (Gen. 48:5). 

God was guiding Jacob through this blessing, and Jacob put his right hand on the head of Ephraim and his left hand on Manasseh, thus giving the more favorable blessing, reserved for the oldest, to Ephraim. Ephraim was the youngest. Joseph tried to correct this mistake, but Jacob said he knew what he was doing .  “But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations” (Gen. 48:19).  

While you don’t have God guiding you in the way He guided Jacob,  He does guide you as parents through His word. Use this time to talk to your children about your dreams for them. Tell them you dream of the day when they will become Christians, marry Christians, and teach their children and grandchildren to love and serve Jesus. Talk to your older children, who are Christians, about the important upcoming decisions (college or not, friendships, dating, marriage and parenting) and how they will all be guided by the most important decision of serving Jesus. Try to make them see that many decisions have already been made because of that one big decision made in hearts as they surrendered to Jesus. 

4. Pray with your children. Make sure they hear Dad say often in prayer (provided there’s a faithful dad in the home): “Help _______ and ___________ and ____________ to grow up to marry Christians. Help the mom and dad of the children they will one day marry to, right now, be raising them up to love you more than anyone or anything else in this world.” 

5. Make sure small children can always fill in the blank of this sentence with the word Christian. “When I grow up, I’m going to marry a ___________________.” Practice this verbally tonight and very frequently.