SCRIPTURE: Ezekiel 36:26 (TM) – larger reading Ezekiel 36:22-30
I'll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I'll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that's God-willed, not self-willed.
Isaac Butterworth tells this story: When I was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Levelland, there was a man in our church, the owner of a local business and a highly intentional Christian. The apostle Paul once said of himself that he bore "on [his] body the marks of Jesus" (Gal. 6:17). Well, this man bore the marks of Jesus on his life. His wife was the most annoying woman I have ever known. She was chronically ill, and her sickness had embittered her spirit. She demanded almost all of this man's time and energy, and she was never grateful for a single thing he did for her. She complained about life, and she complained about him. For his part -- I don't know how he did it -- but he remained gentle and serene, and he had the utmost patience with this woman. He never spoke ill of her. He never sighed under the burden of her criticism. He was truly a man of God. He had an intimacy with God that was not showy but nevertheless evident. If life had not rewarded him with outward happiness, he was deeply and inwardly joyful. God was his "portion," as the Bible says (e.g., Lam. 3:24; Ps. 16:5; 73:26), and he was satisfied.
Our spirituality is a heart issue as in “where your heart is…” One of the ongoing questions during the Lenten season was asking myself about the condition of my heart and how it stands before God.
Oh, I could have come up with an answer, but my answer was not the answer that I needed to hear. I sought the Lord. I needed to hear from God. As is true for most of us, lying to God or ourselves comes a lot easier that we would care to admit. The spiritual discipline of Lent is being honest… honest with ourselves and honest with God.
That’s hard. That’s very hard. That’s spiritually transforming hard. That’s life changing, never looking back hard. But if we ever want to move further along this spiritual journey that is exactly what needs to take place.
No more hiding. No more lying. No more dishonesty. Lent is laying our heart open and bare before God Almighty. If God is going to be our portion then there is no place else for us to start then where our heart truly is. Come on, get real, God already knows … we just need to admit to ourselves.
I believe help my unbelief. Help me to be open. Help me to be honest. Help me to face myself. Help me to become all that you have created me to be. Create in me a clean heart, O God.
From J. Stowell: Heart is used in Scripture as the most comprehensive term for the authentic person. It is the part of our being where we desire, deliberate, and decide. It has been described as "the place of conscious and decisive spiritual activity," "the comprehensive term for a person as a whole; his feelings, desires, passions, thought, understanding and will," and "the center of a person. The place to which God turns."