Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Pure Heart

Lately I've been praying the same words that David prayed so long ago:
"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." Psalm 51:10-12

It started back in the summer. I was out in the garden praying one day for God to help me with my speech when he revealed to me that my speech wasn't the problem. My heart was. He reminded me of Matthew 12:34 - "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." So, my words are simply a reflection of my heart. Thus began the start of this prayer. One day I was praying it..."Create in me a clean heart, O God, and..." and I was prompted to go look at that scripture in my Bible. When I did, I realized that I was praying for a clean heart and my Bible actually says pure heart. "So, what's the difference?" I asked. The illustration God answered me with is pretty cool.

If you think about two gold rings it makes a lot of sense. Say I have a 10 karat gold ring that I have just scrubbed up and polished. I also have a 24 karat ring but I had dropped it in the mud and haven't cleaned it up yet. The 10 karat ring is cleaner, but the 24 karat ring is still more pure. That's how it is with people. No matter how much I try to "clean up" my act and "do" good - that's just my attempt to get to God or self-righteousness. Unless I allow God to work on me from the inside out I'll be just like the Pharisees. "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean." Matthew 23:25-26. When I'm washing dishes I can get the outside of a cup clean and miss the dried up milk stuck to the bottom of the inside. But I can't scrub the inside up without it spilling over and cleaning the outside, too. In God's eyes the heart of the matter has always been the matter of the heart.

Getting back to David, now. Look at the man: he was full of lust when he saw Bathsheba, he acted on it, schemed and murdered her husband to have her for himself. Yet, God said that he was a man after his own heart in 1 Samuel 13:14. God knew that David would do all those things before he anointed him king. Maybe that's why David went on to write Psalm 103. You can go read that yourself. It's one of my favorites. See, David was quick to repent and understood grace, even before the time of grace had come to all people. It was still available.

That brings me great comfort. No matter what I have done in my life - it didn't rock God's boat. He made provision for it. He knows me. He created me. He knew all the times I would mess up and blow it. And I love Job 23:10. "But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold." You see, gold can't purify itself. The refiner must do that. And the interesting thing about it is that the more pure it becomes, the softer and more pliable it gets. Think about the 2 rings.

My job is to let my Father, the Refiner, do what he wants to do with me. I can't make myself pure. Only Jesus' blood could do that. As I sit at the Father's feet he will do in me what I can't do for myself; and I will become soft, pliable and pure in his hands. Then all of the stuff on the outside I'm dealing with will begin to disappear.

And here's one more thing that I found interesting. I'm not sure if 24 karat gold is as good as it gets here or not. But, if there is gold more pure than that I've personally never seen it. 24 karat gold is still 76% impure. We don't focus on it's impurities, though. We focus on the precious metal that is mixed in with all the other stuff. God is the same way. He doesn't look at my faults. He sees the treasure in this jar of clay.

Be blessed and Merry Christmas!

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