Lord, Direct My Heart…

It’s Friday morning! Finally! Actually, the week hasn’t been that bad. There have been a couple of challenging days at work, but it’s been okay. And we think we have come to some more good answers for Stephanie, but it’s not all worked out yet. Bottom line, though, is that she probably won’t be going back to Keller High School. They’ll either send a teacher to the house to complete her senior year, or she will withdraw. And last, but certainly not least, THE RANGERS WON LAST NIGHT! (Sorry, MT, but at least we’re tied…)

I’m reading a book by Richard J Foster, called Sanctuary of the Soul: Journey Into Meditative Prayer. In this book, Foster describes something that I have encountered before, called lectio divina. This is a rather ancient way of reading the Scriptures which involves praying the Scriptures. Not just praying, though, but listening, as well. The art of meditation on Scripture has been virtually lost in today’s church. We are a loud church, these days. Not that I mind the loudness. I believe our praises should be loud. But we seem to be afraid of silence. As I read this book (I may read it twice through…it’s a small book), I intend to try to rediscover this concept which was introduced to me by Eugene Peterson several years ago, as I used a devotional version of The Message.

Today’s Bible readings:
2 Thessalonians 3; Jeremiah 23-24; Proverbs 22:17-23

Paul, in 2 Thessalonians 3, asks for prayer. Prayer for him and his associates, but so that the gospel might “speed ahead and be honored.” He also prayed that they might be delivered from evil men. He expresses confidence that the Lord will “establish and guard” the church against the “evil one.”
He offers one final warning, though, against idleness. He uses himself as an example, in the fact that he never ate anyone’s bread with paying for it. Paul admonishes them to steer clear of anyone who walks in idleness. He even goes so far as to say If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. (v. 10b) Paul is not cruel. He doesn’t wish someone to go without if they are not able to work. But if you are able, you’d better be doing something productive, he says. Why so insistent? The results of idleness are seen in verse 11. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. I love his play on words there. I wonder if it comes across that clever in Greek? “Not busy at work, but busybodies.” So, apparently, there are people in Thessalonica who aren’t working, but being busy getting up in everyone else’s business. Paul commands them to quietly earn their own living.
Finally, he encourages them to not grow weary in doing good. And if they do have to shun a brother for disobedience, they are not to treat said brother as an enemy, but warn him as a brother. (v. 15)
There is a good prayer for us in verse 5. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. We should pray this prayer (or one like it) for each other on a regular basis. It probably wouldn’t hurt to pray it for ourselves! “Lord, direct my heart to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ!”

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. Jeremiah 23:1 The prophet continues in verse 2. Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the LORD. Does this even need an explanation? As I observe the “church” of today, I see countless “preachers” who are guilty of exactly what is being condemned in verses 1 and 2 of Jeremiah 23. Even though these men appear to be outwardly successful and have “congregations” of thousands, their judgment is coming. I don’t pray against them. Rather, I pray that they would open their hearts and eyes to the error of their “preaching,” so that they can begin to lead “their people” in the right path.
Verses 5-6 contain a Messianic promise. “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’
In chapter 24, God uses a vision of figs to reemphasize what he spoke earlier about the people who willingly submitted to exile being safe. The exiles from Judah were the good figs, and the king of Judah, who remained in the land, and those who fled to Egypt, were the bad figs.

In Proverbs 22, the Lord once again emphasizes how close to his heart he holds those who are poor. Do not rob the poor, because he is poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate, for the LORD will plead their cause and rob of life those who rob them. We ought always to treat people fairly and justly. Not only are we to be generous, but we’d better be sure we aren’t ripping anyone off, as well.

“Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. Faith is the belief that God will do what is right.” Max Lucado, from Grace For the Moment.

Father, I pray that you would direct my heart to the love of you and the steadfastness of Christ. I pray this for all my brothers and sisters in Christ. For my wife, for my daughters, for my son-in-law, for all of the members of our lifehouse, for everyone at The Exchange, for our pastor, Joel Engle. Direct our hearts, Lord! You are the creator and master! You hold all things in your hands, and you are in control of all things. Direct our hearts!
As I return to this concept of lectio divina, I pray that you help me to descend with my mind into my heart and come face to face with you there. The idea that you, through Jesus Christ, dwell within me forever, is almost incomprehensible! But it is, according to you word, true. Therefore, I will meet you there. I need not travel hundreds or thousands of miles; I don’t have to go to a certain building at a certain time. You are here with me, all the time. Perhaps, in addition to our mantra, “God is good, all the time,” we should add, “God is here, all the time!” How would our lives look if we actually practiced your presence every moment of every day? That is a stunning question.
Lord, I pray for the kind of faith that Max Lucado describes. I believe I am close to that. I don’t always believe that you are going to just do whatever I want. But I do believe that you will do what is just and right, because you are God and that is your nature.

I pray for this day, Father. I pray for Christi and me to have a good day at work. I pray that Stephanie will feel better today. She is complaining of her stomach trouble again. Give her grace through this day, and I pray that we can work things out with the school quickly, so that, if she is to complete her senior year, it can be done in a timely manner.

May the Lord direct your hearts today…

Grace and peace, friends.