Godspell – what’s missing?

Godspell – what’s missing?

If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. – 1 Corinthians 15:17,19

1 Corinthians 15:13-20

 13 For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either.

 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless.

 15 And we apostles would all be lying about God – for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead.

 16 And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised.

 17 And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins.

 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost!

 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.

 20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead.

Godspell is a modern-day musical adaptation of the gospel of Matthew. It opened at the Cherry Lane Theater in New York on May 17, 1971. It was made into a film in 1973. Godspell features a series of parables, primarily from the Gospel of Matthew. It recounts snippets from the parables interspersed with music.

The opening monologue begins with the voice of God, as spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ, declaring: “My name is Known: God and King. I am most in majesty, in whom no beginning maybe and no end.”

Then things dramatically change with the piercing sound of John the Baptist blowing a shofar. John proclaims, “Prepare Ye, The Way of the Lord!” John baptizes the disciples and gives a brief sermon. The Lord Jesus Christ watches quietly and then comes to John and asks to be baptized. John counters and instead asks to be baptized by Jesus. The cast enters and sings “Save the People.”

The Lord Jesus Christ then relates His first parable. He has come “not to abolish the law and the prophets, but to complete.” The cast is somewhat opaque but slowly begins to understand the thoughts of the Lord Jesus Christ. A series of other parables follow. The cast acts out the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, a story of a master and a servant who owes him an enormous debt. The servant begs for mercy from his master. His master absolves it. The servant then turns to a fellow servant who “owed him a few dollars” and demanded that it be paid in full. The master, hearing this, then condemns the servant to prison. The Lord Jesus Christ explains the moral: “Forgive your brothers from your heart.” The cast then sings “Day by Day.” “Day by Day” reached #13 on the Billboard pop singles chart in 1972.

The cast then performs the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. On earth, the rich man feasts, and Lazarus begs but is ignored. Lazarus is rewarded with Heaven when he dies, while the rich man is in Hades. The audience is told to “Learn Your Lessons Well” or face eternal damnation. When the rich man asks Abraham if he would send Lazarus back from the dead to warn his brothers of their impending doom, Abraham says no with an explanation: “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead.”

Jesus teaches that no man can serve two masters (God and money). A cast member tells a story of a man who spent a lifetime acquiring the good things in life, then dies before he has the time to enjoy them. This character sings “Bless the Lord,” and then Jesus tells the cast not to worry about tomorrow: “Tomorrow will take care of itself. Today has problems of its own.”

The “Finale” begins, loud and in B-minor, with Jesus wailing, “Oh, God, I’m bleeding,” and the community answers: “Oh, God, You’re bleeding.” Jesus dies, and the music ends. The women of the cast sing “Long Live God,” and the men join in with “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord.” The cast carries Him out, either offstage or through the aisles. The cast then finishes with a reprise of “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord.”

What is missing? The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ!

REFLECT & PRAY

“The physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is essential to the truth and power of the gospel. There is no Christianity without His resurrection” (Stanley).

INSIGHT

What are the real-world consequences if Christ has not been raised from the dead? The entire Christian message is rubbish!

1 Corinthians 15:14 If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless.

The Greek word translated as empty, useless, or futile is kenos. Kenos connotes something worthless or vacuous and devoid of any advantage or benefit. The preaching of the message of the cross without the resurrection is pointless and futile. It’s nothing more than a lie, deception. Any faith that is based upon futile preaching is also in and of itself futile and worthless. Christianity is a cruel hoax, a delusion.

“Paul insisted that, if the resurrection of Jesus was not a fact, the whole Christian message was based on a lie, that many thousands had died trusting in a delusion . . .. ‘Take away the resurrection,’ he said, ‘and you destroy both the foundation and the fabric of the Christian faith’” (Barclay).

“If the fact [of the resurrection] itself is untrue, then the testimony to the fact is equally untrue. Even worse, it is a lie carried out in God’s name” (Fee).

1 Corinthians 15:17 If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.

The Greek word translated as worthless, useless, or futile is mataios. Mataios connotes something vacuous and devoid of significance. The word futile (1 Corinthians 15:14) is partially synonymous with worthless (1 Corinthians 15:17). Vain has the idea of lacking in reality or content, while “futile” means wanting in result, fruitless, or to no effect (Mark Taylor).

The message of the gospel is simple and straightforward. The Lord Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world. However, the death of the Lord Jesus Christ without the resurrection makes His death meaningless. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ demonstrates that His death resulted in the forgiveness of sins. If there is no resurrection, there is no forgiveness. The sins of the world have not been effectively paid for and forgiven. Whether living or dead, every person who has believed the gospel’s message is still guilty and condemned by their own sins. The human race would be doomed, culpable for their own sins, and facing divine judgment.

1 Corinthians 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

“The Resurrection is not just important; it is “of first importance,” because all that we believe hinges on it” (Wiersbe).

However, thank God, that is not the case.

1 Corinthians 15:20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead.

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

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© Dr. H 2022

The few ∙

The few

Don’t be afraid and don’t panic because of this huge army! For the battle is not yours, but God’s. – 2 Chronicles 20:15

Judges 7:2-7

 2 The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength.”

 3 “Therefore, tell the people, ‘Whoever is timid or afraid may leave this mountain and go home.’” So 22,000 of them went home, leaving only 10,000 who were willing to fight.

 4 But the LORD told Gideon, “There are still too many! Bring them down to the spring, and I will test them to determine who will go with you and who will not.”

 5 When Gideon took his warriors down to the water, the LORD told him, “Divide the men into two groups. In one group put all those who cup water in their hands and lap it up with their tongues like dogs. In the other group put all those who kneel down and drink with their mouths in the stream.”

 6 Only 300 of the men drank from their hands. All the others got down on their knees and drank with their mouths in the stream.

 7 The LORD told Gideon, “With these 300 men I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites. Send all the others home.”

During the battle of Britain, Germany’s failure to destroy Britain’s air defenses and to force an armistice was the first major German defeat in World War II and a crucial turning point in the conflict.

The British aircraft industry produced about 180 to 300 first-line fighters and 140 first-line bombers a month. Hermann Goring projected that the present strength of the RAF would decline, and the continued decrease in production would aggravate this drop-off. He anticipated that RAF would run out of frontline fighters. The Luftwaffe believed it weakened Fighter Command at three times the actual attrition rate.

The reports of downed RAF aircraft were consistently exaggerated. This created somewhat of a euphoric atmosphere. Quick victory seemed inevitable. This simply was not the case. The Luftwaffe leadership became increasingly separated from reality. Repeatedly, the leadership-asserted Fighter Command’s strength was diminished and near collapse. But they quickly discovered that the RAF could send up defensive formations at will.

August 5 was coined “The Greatest Day” when the Luftwaffe mounted the largest number of raids of the entire air offensive. Of 115 bombers and 35 fighters sent, 75 planes were destroyed, and many others were damaged beyond repair.

During the entire Battle of Britain, the British lost 1537 planes while the Germans lost 1887 planes.

Winston Churchill brilliantly summed up the battle for all time, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” Pilots who fought in the battle have been known as “The Few” ever since.

We often find ourselves up against enormous and powerful forces over which we do not stand a chance ourselves. But it is precisely at times like that when the Father fights the battle on our behalf.

Success is certain when there is a disparity of forces, and the Father is on our side. “The assurance of God’s presence was more than a theological statement; it was to be a source of strength” (Thompson).

When the Father fights the battle, little else is required except our faithfulness. “When we align ourselves with God and His will, the Lord takes the battle out of our hands and places it in His. Big enemies become small when God leads the charge” (Stanley). Sometimes the Father uses 300 (Judges 7:2-7) other times, He uses only one (Exodus 14; 1 Samuel 17:1-58).

REFLECT & PRAY

“One and God make a majority” (Frederick Douglass).

Father teach us to pray and encourage us to be strong and courageous, knowing that the final outcome is in Your hands.

INSIGHT

How does the Father win His battles? He encourages His children to pray for victory. In so doing, children of the King are called upon to achieve the Father’s will on earth as it is in heaven. That is our responsibility. We are to faithfully pray that the Father’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven. What other options do we have? We can do nothing, hope for the best, or pray to get what we think is best. The Scriptures do not encourage us to ask for what we want. But instead, we are to pray for WHAT the Father desires.

This is how the Father teaches us to pray!

MATTHEW 6:9-13

 9 Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.

 10 May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

 11 Give us today the food we need,

 12 and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.

 13 And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.

Sometimes the best we can do is begin to pray for what we want and allow the Holy Spirit to redirect our prayers supernaturally and mysteriously to the Father’s desire. What is required is that we pray and not remain silent.

So it was with Jehoshaphat.

2 Chronicles 20:6-9

 6 [Jehoshaphat] said, “O LORD, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You.”

 7 “Did You not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?”

 8 “They have lived in it, and have built You a sanctuary there for Your name, saying,

 9 ‘Should evil come upon us, the sword, or judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You (for Your name is in this house) and cry to You in our distress, and You will hear and deliver us.’”

Joshua 1:9 Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

“I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion” (Alexander the Great).

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Why don’t we listen?

Why don’t we listen?

Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others. – Proverbs 12:15

Proverbs 3:1-7

 1 Store my commands in your heart.

 2 If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying.

 3 Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart.

 4 Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation.

 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

 7 Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn away from evil.

If God wants to speak to us, why do we not listen?    

There are several reasons why we do not listen. Most of the time, we are inherently self-centered and selfish. We want what we want when we want it. We want it on our terms. If we heard the Father speak to us, we fear He might ask us to do something we do not want to do. Or perhaps, He will ask us to stop doing something we want to do. We want our own way.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.

We may be angry with God and blame Him for something that has happened.

Hebrews 4:7 Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.

The Father desires to speak to us. The Lord will speak to us if we are willing to listen. When there is a lack of communication between the Father and us, the source is totally on our end. He is ready and willing. The question is, are we?

REFLECT & PRAY

Faith keeps us dedicated to God and His plan for our life (Stanley).

Deuteronomy 6:3 Listen closely . . . and be careful to obey.

Father, I desire to release my own selfish tendencies and trust you as much as possible. I visualize myself helpless and prostrate before you, waiting for your command. I seek that I yield and continue to yield.

INSIGHT

Proverbs 3:1-7

 1 My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart.

 3 Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart.

 4 Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation.

 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

 7 Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn away from evil.

The Father has provided a way to open communication channels and allow us to receive and enjoy all the generous gifts He has prepared to lavish upon us. The Father intends that every child of the King becomes a listener. Eventually, listening becomes as automatic and intuitive as breathing.

At the top of the Father’s list of “Things to Do” is knowing the Word of God and living it out in real life. “The will of God is revealed in the Word of God (Colossians 1:9-10)” (Wiersbe).

Godly character is a wonderful byproduct when we listen to and internalize the Word within our hearts. Loyalty and kindness (steadfast love and faithfulness, ESV) become the delightful adornment in our lives. The Bible is not intended to be merely held and studied with our eyes and hands. Instead, the Holy Spirit needs to write it on our hearts (Proverbs 3:3, Psalms 40:8). But there’s more. The Father takes great joy and pleasure in doing good for His children (Jeremiah 32:41). His joy generates joy and delight in us and stimulates worship from the hearts of His children.

Jeremiah 32:40 I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me.

As we love and submit to the Father, He works to actualize His dream for our lives. He promises to direct our paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

The Hebrew word translated as trust is batach. Batachconnotes relying on, depending on, or having confidence in. It means to “lie helpless, facedown. It pictures a servant waiting for the master’s command in readiness to obey, or a defeated soldier yielding himself to the conquering general” (Wiersbe).

Tragically, we often choose to depend upon our own comprehension and thoughts. As a result, we miss the Father’s dream for us. So He cautions us against relying on our own understanding. Children of the King are not to turn off our brains and ignore our common sense and intelligence. “ It simply cautions us not to depend on our own wisdom and experience or the wisdom and experience of others” (Wiersbe).

Abraham did this when he went to Egypt (Genesis 12:10-20), and so did Joshua when he attacked the little town of Ai (Joshua 7). When we become “wise in [our] own eyes” (Proverbs 3:7), then we’re heading for trouble. (Wiersbe)

Isaiah 53:6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.

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© Dr. H 2022

We may give up on God, but He never gives up on us

We may give up on God, but He never gives up on us

If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is. – 2 Timothy 2:13

Jeremiah 1:4-10

 4 The LORD gave me this message:

 5 “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

 6 “O Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”

 7 The LORD replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you.

 8 And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the LORD, have spoken!”

 9 Then the LORD reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put my words in your mouth!”

 10 “Today, I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others you must build up and plant.”

It is well-known that Dr. Billy Graham became a Christian in Charlotte, N.C., in 1934 during a meeting led by Dr. Mordecai Ham. However, it is not well-known that a group of laymen, including W.F. Graham, Billy’s father, and T.W. Wilson, Sr., father of Graham’s associate evangelist, Grady, were responsible for the campaign.

Mordecai Fowler Ham (1877-1961) was one of the most well-known preachers of the American south of his day. More than 300,000 people were converted in his crusade-type meetings. Dr. Ham’s version adds some interesting details.

Dr. Ham relates: Two young high school boys attended our meeting. They thought everything I said was directed their way, so they decided to take seats in the choir, where I couldn’t point my finger at them. They didn’t pretend to be singers, but they wanted to be behind me. One night a man spoke to them during the invitation and said, “‘Come on; let’s go up front.” Billy and Grady both went to the altar. Billy accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior and became a child of the King. Grady dedicated his life to Christian service.

Billy didn’t like being told that he was lost and going to hell. He got out as soon as possible and said, “I am through,” but he was miserable all night and the next day and admitted, “I couldn’t get there soon enough the next night!”

I recall telling Billy and Grady to sit in the preachers’ section after coming forward. Billy sat there for two months. In Billy Graham’s thinking, at that time, his hero was Babe Ruth. Our meeting changed his hero from Babe Ruth to Jesus Christ. The Father was directing everything that took place during the meeting. There was no earthly explanation for what occurred (billygraham.org).

Mordecai Ham was converted when a young man. He felt the stirrings of a call to preach, but he resisted surrendering. Having watched his father and grandfather barely scrape by fueled his personal ambition. He was determined to make a personal fortune first. He attended a local college, studied law, and soon found early business success.

In 1899 his life was radically changed when he watched his grandfather die. At that moment, a mantle of sorts was passed from grandfather to grandson. Ham later referred to the experience: “Seeing him die did more than anything else to convince me of the reality of Christian experience” (billygraham.org).

There is something about fallen DNA. We often say no before we say yes. So it was with Billy Graham, Mordecai Ham, Jeremiah the prophet, and many children of the King.

REFLECT & PRAY

“When God calls, He equips us with what is needed to carry out the assigned task. For Jeremiah, it was the promise of God’s presence and deliverance from any threatening situation that the reluctant prophet needed to hear” (Huey).

Father thank You that You have called me to serve You. Like Jeremiah and so many others, I have resisted You. Thank You for not giving up on me!

INSIGHT

When the Father selects someone to serve Him as a prophet, He calls them into His service. Many of the prophets’ calls are recorded in Scripture. Among them are the calls of Moses, Samuel, Isaiah, Amos, etc. Jeremiah would have been well aware of those called to be among the Father’s servants. When the Father approached Jeremiah as a young man, he felt that he could never measure up to the likes of Isaiah or Moses. They were giants in Jeremiah’s eyes, the rock stars of his day. Jeremiah’s response boils down to, “Who me, I can’t do it!”

“Jeremiah hesitated as he looked at the work before him and the wickedness around him, and when he looked at the weakness within himself, Jeremiah was certain that he wasn’t the man for the job” (Wiersbe).

The Father was undeterred. He had chosen wisely. He could see the end from the beginning and was well aware of the struggles that Jeremiah would face and his ultimate success. He could see through Jeremiah’s lame excuse of being too young. He knew Jeremiah’s real problem. It was unspoken fear.

The Father assures Jeremiah that his mission was already mapped out. The Father would provide all the content of His spokesman’s messages. But more importantly, the Father promises Jeremiah His immediate presence in his life; He will be with him no matter what. “God’s reply demolishes both the given reason, inability, and the real reason, fear. The call is anchored in who God is” (Martens).

Jeremiah faced tremendous opposition and persecution. More than once, he broke down. He wanted to throw in the towel. He wished he could give up his call.

Jeremiah 15:15-18

 15 Then I said, “LORD, you know what’s happening to me. Please step in and help me. Punish my persecutors! Please give me time; don’t let me die young. It’s for your sake that I am suffering.

 16 When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies.

 17 I never joined the people in their merry feasts. I sat alone because your hand was on me. I was filled with indignation at their sins.

 18 Why then does my suffering continue? Why is my wound so incurable? Your help seems as uncertain as a seasonal brook, like a spring that has gone dry.”

Jeremiah was a conflicted man. He is almost schizophrenic. He’s a man of faith but also of fear. He is a man of courage but also great sadness and deep inner conflict. Of course, he blames God.

Jeremiah 20:7-9

 7 O LORD, you misled me, and I allowed myself to be misled. You are stronger than I am, and you overpowered me. Now I am mocked every day; everyone laughs at me.

 8 When I speak, the words burst out. “Violence and destruction!” I shout. So these messages from the LORD have made me a household joke.

 9 But if I say I’ll never mention the LORD or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it!

But ultimately, Jeremiah regained his composure and stood resolved, confident, and even joyful. Why? He knows the Father. Jeremiah also knows that the Father tests his children to approve them and give them confidence. The Father searched Jeremiah’s deepest thoughts and secrets. He wanted Jeremiah to recognize that He knew everything about him, and it didn’t matter. He was the Father’s chosen servant, and Jeremiah was under the Father’s protection.

Regardless, Jeremiah was so downcast that he literally wished he had never been born.

Jeremiah 20:18 Why was I ever born? My entire life has been filled with trouble, sorrow, and shame.

The Father’s response is classic. And stands His words of encouragement for all children of the King for all time.

Jeremiah 15:19-21

 19 This is how the LORD responds: “If you return to me, I will restore you so you can continue to serve me. If you speak good words rather than worthless ones, you will be my spokesman. You must influence them; do not let them influence you!”

 20 “They will fight against you like an attacking army, but I will make you as secure as a fortified wall of bronze. They will not conquer you, for I am with you to protect and rescue you. I, the LORD, have spoken!”

 21 “Yes, I will certainly keep you safe from these wicked men. I will rescue you from their cruel hands.”

The Father assures Jeremiah once again of Who is standing with him. But the Father is also beside him.

Jeremiah 20:11-13

 11 But the LORD stands beside me like a great warrior. Before him, my persecutors will stumble. They cannot defeat me. They will fail and be thoroughly humiliated. Their dishonor will never be forgotten.

 12 O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, you test those who are righteous, and you examine the deepest thoughts and secrets. Let me see your vengeance against them, for I have committed my cause to you.

 13 Sing to the LORD! Praise the LORD! For though I was poor and needy, he rescued me from my oppressors.

The word of God is like an unquenchable fire within the hearts and souls, the deepest recesses of His servants, the prophets. They cannot, not speak His message!

What burns within you?

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© Dr. H 2022

The pathology of a hard heart

The pathology of a hard heart

You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. – Hebrews 3:13

Psalms 95:8-10

 8 The LORD says, “Don’t harden your hearts as Israel did at Meribah, as they did at Massah in the wilderness.”

 9 “For there, your ancestors tested and tried my patience, even though they saw everything I did.”

 10 “For forty years, I was angry with them, and I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts turn away from me. They refuse to do what I tell them.’”

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Close to 700,000 people die from heart disease each year in the United States. That is approximately 25%, 1 out of 4, of all deaths. Heart disease is a catch-all term covering several different types of heart conditions. In the United States, the most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD).

Often heart disease is a “silent” killer and is not diagnosed until a person experiences signs or symptoms of a heart attack, heart failure, or arrhythmia. Many Americans are walking time bombs. Contrary to the depictions found on TV and in movies, the number one symptom of heart disease is sudden death. It just happens.

The human heart is a muscle. It pumps blood throughout our bodies. Every person on earth has an expiration date. It’s not stamped anywhere on the body and is unknown to us. Regardless, we expire right on schedule when our expiration date arrives.

But there is a form of heart disease, a far more severe condition, spiritual heart disease. It is a congenital disease that results from human DNA passed down from Adam and Eve. All human children are born with this condition.

Spiritual heart disease, referred to as a hardened heart in the Scriptures, is also a “silent” killer. Scriptural truths are comprehended and ultimately believed with our spiritual hearts. People with hardened hearts are dull of hearing. They are incapable of understanding and believing biblical truth without the miraculous intervention of the Father. He alone can open the eyes of our hearts that we might see and understand (Ephesians 1:18). Until that time, we are physically alive but spiritually dead. Tragically, they just don’t get it.

Ephesians 2:1-5

 1 Once, you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.

 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil – the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.

 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

 4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much,

 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)

REFLECT & PRAY

It may sound overly simplistic, but it is worth consideration. “The heart of every problem is a problem in the heart” (Wiersbe).

Father search me and know my heart. Test me, know my anxious thoughts, and see if there’s any wicked way in me. Purge me and make me clean so that I may wholeheartedly follow You.

INSIGHT

Psalms 95:8 The LORD says, “Don’t harden your hearts as Israel did at Meribah, as they did at Massah in the wilderness.”

What is the etiology of a hard heart? Psalms 95:8 contains critical terms that unpack the origin of hard hearts. They are hiding in plain sight: Meribah and Massah. These two terms are essentially codewords. With a bit of digging, their meaning becomes clear. The Hebrew term Meribah means place of strife, rebellion, quarrel, or contention. TheHebrew term Massah has the sense of testing, trial, temptation, or place of strife, conflict, or contention. The hardness of the heart begins when people quarrel or argue with the Father. Such dissent challenges Father’s Absolute authority. The Father allows people to put Him to the test. But never the best of ideas. Why? Because He is God and we are not.

Job 38:1-4

 1 Then the LORD answered Job from the whirlwind:

 2 “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words?

 3 Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.

 4 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much.

Israel’s actions and subsequent collateral damage found many places throughout the Scriptures.

Exodus 17:2 The people complained against Moses. “Give us water to drink!” they demanded. “Quiet!” Moses replied. “Why are you complaining against me? And why are you testing the LORD?”

The people of Israel essentially argued with the Father and tested Him. Rebellion and defiance is the first step to a hardened heart. Insubordination and recalcitrance are rooted in the fertile soil of unbelief. Their trust and faith were extraordinarily superficial and short-lived. They had seen the Father’s mighty hand at work in the ten plagues of Egypt, the pillar of fire and the pillar of smoke, the opening of the Red Sea allowing them to safely crossover on dry ground, and the destruction of the army of Egypt. It was fantastic but short-lived.

“But as soon as the initial glow wore off, they outrageously cried, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’ (Exodus 17:7). It was a fair-weather, herd-instinct faith – good until the first trial when it dissolved in unbelief.”

“The depth of their defective belief produced one other subsidiary characteristic – contempt/irreverence. Hence all the railing against God and his faithful servants. Thus we understand that the pathology of a hard heart originates in unbelief that spawns a hardened contempt . . . a hardness that works out in sinful disobedience” (Hughes).

Unlike strong and resilient cattle that turn into harsh winds and resist the storms of life, they were overcome and defeated.

Many people misunderstand and fail to see the warning signs of the onset of the silent killer of a hard heart within. Once they become apparent, the individual is already on a dangerous slippery slope. A hardened heart has seven warning signs: lack of understanding, bitterness and resentment, isolation from the Father and others, refusal to forgive, indifference, pride, and refusal to serve or receive service (crosswalk.com).

However, no one is doomed to live with a hardened heart permanently. The Lord Jesus Christ has provided a way out.

John 1:4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.

The Lord Jesus Christ came to shed light in the darkness of the hidden recesses of our hearts and souls. He knows everything. There are no surprises to Him. When we let down our shields and allow Him to shine His light on our defective beliefs, shallow faith, and erroneous perspectives, we begin to see things as they really are. We have only to let go, shift our positions, and commit to follow His magnificent leadership. The solution path is straightforward, but it isn’t easy. It goes against our fallen DNA.

Pray that your hearts will be flooded with light to understand (Ephesians 1:18).

¯\_()_/¯

© Dr. H 2022

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