The Thoughts and Intentions of the Heart

Today is Tuesday, the fourth of October, 2022, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, in the twenty-seventh week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be within your soul today

Day 23,581


Father in heaven, we people on earth are poor and needy. We are deaf and dumb, but you rouse us every day and call to us, "Ephphatha." We thank you for this, in gladness for all you do for our sake. Help us to become united in expectation for the great day when our Lord Jesus Christ will come, when before all people he will be proved your Son, the Savior in whom you, the Almighty, come to meet us. Through him you say again, "Let there be light! Let there be life! Let life break free from the darkness of death so that Jesus may come as the Savior of all, the Savior even of those who are still in deepest darkness." Praise to your name, O Father in heaven. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from

He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.
(Mark 7:34-35 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the “living and active” Word of God, and the many resources that I have to help keep me connected
  2. for that word, “Ephphatha,” that Jesus spoke, and how God continues to open my heart, my ears, and my mouth
  3. for the visions of worship around the throne in John’s Revelation
  4. for His drawing/leading toward humility
  5. for the confidence that God hears me when I pray
  6. for the patience and long-suffering of God, who, in steadfast love, understands that we are simply dust

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
(Hebrews 4:12 ESV)

Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. 
And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, 
"Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, 
who was and is and is to come!" 
And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 
"Worthy are you, our Lord and God, 
to receive glory and honor and power, 
for you created all things, 
and by your will they existed and were created."
(Revelation 4:4-11 ESV)

Exalt the LORD our God; 
worship at his footstool! 
Holy is he! 

Exalt the LORD our God, 
and worship at his holy mountain; 
for the LORD our God is holy! 
(Psalms 99:5, 9 ESV)

He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.
(Psalms 25:9 ESV)

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:29-30 ESV)

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
(Philippians 2:3-4 ESV)

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
(James 4:10 ESV)

"Worship, then, is an avenue which leads the creature out from his inveterate self-occupation to a knowledge of God, and ultimately to that union with God which is the beatitude of the soul;" (and here is the catch) "though we are never to enter on it for this, or any other reason which is tainted by self-regard." 
(Evelyn Underhill, quoted in Spiritual Classics by Richard J Foster and Emilie Griffin)

But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.
(Micah 7:7 ESV)

Let’s start way up at the top, with that verse from Hebrews. This has long been a memory verse of mine, probably as far back as my college days. But I noticed something today, and this, in itself, is proof of the first phrase that “the word of God is living and active.” Check the last phrase of the verse. ” . . . and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

The Word of God can discern my thoughts and intentions.

Am I to believe that a book can do this? Words on a page? As I contemplate this, I don’t think that it is so much the physical book, the ink on dead tree shavings, but rather the spirit behind those words. And, I suppose, we can even go so far as to include Jesus in this, as He is the “Word made flesh.” The Greek word logos is used in all of those instances, whether referring to Scripture or Jesus Christ.

It takes no great imagination to believe that Jesus can discern my thoughts and intentions. But it is a much heavier thought to consider that God’s Word, i.e. the Bible, can do so.

Definitely something to ponder.

Next I want to focus on that quote from Evelyn Underhill. Worship, true worship, leads us away from “self-occupation.” This ties in with Scriptures immediately preceding that quote, that deal with humility. We are told to do nothing from selfish ambition, and to consider others as more significant than ourselves. The first Other which we should consider, of course, is our Father in heaven. If we cannot even succeed in thinking that He is more significant than ourselves, we have a long row to hoe.

And this is pretty much what humility is all about. If we come to “worship” solely for the idea of what we can get from God, then we are not worshiping. This also ties in with my critique of modern worship music, which I have mentioned multiple times in this format.

But Ms. Underhill even brings a tricky catch into the equation. If we go to worship for the reason of getting away from our self-occupation, we are still entrenched in self-occupation. Do we understand this? If we go to worship for any other reason than God, we are missing the point.

And this is much harder than it sounds. I believe that is why God is patient with us. He understands our frame, our weaknesses.

For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
(Psalms 103:14 ESV)

What a comforting verse this is! Yes. I am dust. I am cynical; I am selfish; I do come to worship with self-occupations, desiring to “get something out of it.” But at the same time I want to get away from these characteristics, and become fully embraced in the Holy Spirit, and the Son, and the Father, and for my heart’s desires to be His desires!

I want to go to worship just to worship Him, to contemplate His greatness, His majesty, His glory, and to walk away knowing nothing other than Him.

And, in doing that, when I emerge, I am more concerned with others than I am myself, and more inclined to do nothing out of selfish ambition.

Father, You have given me much food for thought, meditation, and contemplation, today. If I understand that Your Word can discern my thoughts and intentions, I will read it differently. And I do want to read it with that thought in mind, because I want my thoughts, and, above all, intentions to be pure. I don’t want to have mixed messages coming from my soul. I desire for my heart to be completely united, that I might fear Your name, that I might learn Your ways and walk in Your truth.

I also pray that You will help me to approach worship with more of an attitude of simply being in Your presence and engaging with You, with no ulterior motive (thoughts and intentions?) of what I can get out of it. This is hard. But You know this about us, and You are patient with us. I am grateful for this, Father. If You were not patient with us, in steadfast love, we would have long been destroyed.

Father, I do believe that You raised Jesus from the dead. Because of that, if I do believe that, why do I struggle with believing that You would do something less powerful (if that even makes sense) like answering my little prayers? Help me, Father! I do believe! Help my unbelief! Seriously, if we believe in the resurrection of Christ, we should be praying in much greater expectation, waiting on You, looking to You, confident that You hear us, as that verse in Micah says.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!

But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.
(Micah 7:7 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.