Every time I’ve ever stepped foot into a doctor’s office, one of the first things the doctor does is check my heart. They listen to my heart beat. They check my pulse. Why do they do that? Because your heart is central to your body’s health; therefore, a key indicator to your overall physical condition.
Last Sunday we began a brand new message series at my Church called “After God’s Own Heart” (you can click here to watch it). And in my preparation for this series, I’ve invested so much thought and prayer about David and what it means when the Bible calls him “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22).
If I may be honest, I felt convicted by the Holy Spirit when I read what God said about David in 1 Samuel 16:7, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Of course the Bible is not talking about physical condition. More times than not, when the Bible reads heart, it’s referring to your internal, spiritual condition. So, after reading that verse I was forced to ask myself, “How’s my heart?”
Allow me to be transparent. I love Jesus. I’m completely sold out to Christ. I have no doubt that God is in control. But I honestly endure seasons when my heart is just not in it.
And there have been a variety of reasons why my heart’s not in it: exhaustion, burn-out, busyness, complacency, distractions, or even sin. Each reason has at some point led to my heart simply not being right with God and as a result completely committed to His purpose for my life.
So I started thinking about my heart. The times in my life when I’ve felt the most distant from God and the least effective for His Kingdom, has been when my heart felt hardened (which was caused by the above reasons).
A quick search of the Scriptures about “hard hearts” will turn up Exodus 7:13 in reference to Pharaoh, king of Egypt. It says, “… Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them…” In fact as you follow Moses’ plea to Pharaoh to set free Israel from captivity, you find Pharaoh’s heart described as hard or hardened seventeen times. And as a result of his hard heart, he disobeyed God’s command and suffered extreme consequences.
So what do we do when our hearts become hard rendering us disconnected from God and ineffective for His Kingdom? Here’s what I recently did to help.
1. Stop listening to your heart.
Our hearts have been infected with the curse of sin. Genesis 6:5 confirms this: “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” Your heart unreliable. The Bible says in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” When you’re not sure what to do, don’t listen to the bad advice that says, “just follow your heart”. Instead, rely on the counsel and power of God’s Spirit in your life. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26).
2. Tell God what you’re feeling.
Just because you have wandered away from God doesn’t mean He has withdrawn His presence from your life. As one of God’s children, He promises to always be with you. So when you’re feeling distant from God, tell Him all about it. Psalm 62:8 encourages us to, “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” In fact we’re promised in James 4:8 that if we’ll “Come near to God and he will come near to you.”
3. Fill your heart with God’s Word.
There’s nothing more refreshing for a hardened heart than God’s Word. It will serve as an oasis for your parched soul. God encouraged Israel in Deuteronomy 4:29, “But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.” There’s no better place for God to be found than in His Word! Deuteronomy 11:18 encourages God’s people to “fix these words of Mine in your hearts and minds…” The Word of God is God’s spoken, inspired and living words that have the power transform “the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (2 Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 4:12).
4. Draw near to God and worship Him.
Worship is to the heart what a cup of coffee is to morning mind. That first sip of coffee awakens the mental functions of sleepy thoughts. Likewise, no matter how you feel or what you’ve experienced, when you worship God, you begin feel God drawing near to your heart. It really doesn’t matter if you’re heart is in it. As you worship The Lord, your heart will begin to join in. In my personal experience, when my heart is hard, I don’t want to worship. But when I give in and do it, my heart changes. This is why the Psalms are full of phrases like, “I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever” (Psalm 86:12).
The trajectory of your life is determined by the state of your heart. Maybe that’s why Jesus challenged the status of our hearts in Luke 12:34 when He said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Is your heart distant and disconnected from God due to it being hardened? Follow my prescription above and allow God to renew your heart.
Daily examination will help to prevent hardness of heart. Let me encourage you to spend a few moments every day checking your heart. Don’t let exhaustion, burn-out, busyness, complacency, distractions, or even sin to take root and cause hardness in your heart. David, a man after God’s own heart, offers believers an excellent prayer example in Psalm 26:2, “Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.”
Finally allow Paul’s prayer to the christians in Ephesus to bless you: “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:18-19).