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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Hearts That God Loves

By Dan Langerock

All through the Bible we see the examples of people who lived loving God. They had their problems just as we do, but were able to please God because they had the right attitude or heart. Here are a few examples of attributes God is looking for today in our hearts:

The Forgiving Heart

In the book of Genesis we see a prime example of the forgiving heart. Joseph, the second-to-last son of Jacob was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. He worked for a high official in the Egyptian army whose wife accused him falsely of trying to have sexual relations with her. Joseph spent many years in prison because of this accusation. He subsequently interpreted a dream for two of Pharoah's workers. This eventually led to Joseph being picked to head the food storage program for the upcoming famine.

Meanwhile, Joseph's family was getting close to starvation in a nearby country, and they heard that there was food available in Egypt. So his brothers were sent to get some. Joseph recognized them but his brothers didn't know who he was. After awhile he revealed his identity to his brothers, and then they became scared he would exact revenge for what had been done to him. Instead, Joseph forgave them and provided a place for them to live in Egypt with their families.

God expects us to forgive! Why? He knows it is good for us to get rid of the anger and all that goes with it as soon as possible so that it will not hurt us later on in life. It is like a splinter, the longer it is in your finger, the more it can give you pain and possible infection. But if you remove the splinter in a timely manner, the finger begins to heal. Do you have a forgiving heart?

The Repentant Heart

David, in the books of I and II Samuel is an example for this heart that God loves. He began as a humble shepherd boy tending his father's sheep. When the prophet came to anoint him king over Israel, his family didn't even want to call him because he was considered too insignificant. God had other ideas on the subject.

When the current king found out about David's new job-in-waiting, he tried many times to kill him by various means, even chasing him with the army at times. Through all this, David kept his perspective and waited for the Lord to do what He had promised.

When David made mistakes, he was quick to repent and realize the error of what he had done. This allowed David to remain close to God as He wants for us as well. If we hang onto our sins and don't repent, they clutter up our lives and block us from being close to God. So David was a twofold example, one of forgiveness as well as repentance. Do you have a repentant heart?

The Compassionate Heart

Jesus is our example for this one. Many times through the Gospels (the first four books of the New Testament) a part will begin with the phrase "Jesus was filled with compassion for the people". Another way we can see this in His life is that He looked for needs around Him, seeking to help the whole person not just what the person thought was needed.

How often it is so easy to send a check to a worthy cause, but are the people you are trying to help getting help in every aspect of life or just the felt need? The people we see as we live out our lives have deeper needs as well that need to be met. Do we care? Do we brush them aside mentally or physically and believe someone else will help? We certainly cannot help everyone who needs it, but can we help the ones that God shows us in various ways? Do you have a compassionate heart?

The Loving Heart

Think about what you want from others when you love them? Very likely, you want that love to be returned. What kind of love are you looking for from them: selfish, selfless, love with strings attached, and a whole list of others we could discuss?

As we mature, we should be working on having selfless love in our relationships, looking out for the good of the other person involved. Loving beyond the hurts and scrapes of life. If you read the Bible, this was the love Jesus was trying to teach us by example.

God's love is unconditional love, knowing we may never return His love for us, but He wants us to. As we grow, our goal should be to have God's kind of love in our relationships. This is the kind of love God wants us to show to others--a selfless, loving heart. Do you have a loving heart?

The Worshiping Heart

When we worship God, it helps us to think about His magnificence and power rather than the problems we are going through. It helps us to see how great God is and helps to build our faith in the trenches of our daily lives.

As you read the Psalms, you can see that David was a worshiper of God. Yes, he had more than his share of problems: people trying to kill him, a son who supplanted him briefly on his throne, death of a beloved child, and many others. But through it all, David returned to the worship of God as the antidote for all his problems.

God knows we have problems, but if we only focus on them rather than the magnificence of God, we will become depressed. God wants to be given your troubles because He is a lot more able to shoulder them than you and I are. He inhabits the praises of His people, the Bible says. Look for the blessings in your life and focus on them rather than all the bad stuff that may be happening to you. Sometimes they are hard to find, but they are there nonetheless. Do you have a worshiping heart?

The Heart of Service

The world's way is to exalt ourselves, get the upper hand, get ahead at all costs no matter who we hurt in the process. God's way is to be of service to others, letting Him decide when to promote you. It is a hard mode of thought to do because it seems to go against the grain of what is the normal thing to do, and it is.

The problem is, we as humans try to impress God with our goodness, and that can't be done because we are doing good for the wrong reasons. Letting God's love flow through us like a funnel is what He is looking for here. When you are blessed, bless someone else in Jesus' name. Then God will bless you even more, and the cycle keeps going.

It all boils down to how big God is to you. In each situation, our faith is tested about how much we trust God. How much do you and I trust Him to get a pay raise, supply our daily needs, find the right person for a relationship, buy a good car, etc. God is concerned about all the things we care about, and often worry over. Do you believe He knows what you need and cares about helping you? Will you lay down your self-ambition to get ahead and let God take control of your destiny? Have an attitude of service and see what God will do when you have the right attitude.

If you proclaim to be a Christian and are following God as you are supposed to, you can expect God to work in your behalf in the small details of life as well as the big ones. Psalm 37 makes this promise. Proverbs warns us in the third chapter to "lean not on our own understanding". Yet we sometimes feel we can do a better job controlling our lives than God can, until we come to our senses. If you are sincere about serving God in your life, put this serving to the test with the right attitude and watch the blessings roll in. Do you have a serving heart?

What attitudes do you have toward others and yourself? What are the motives behind those attitudes? Remember that God knows the reasons you do things, so you cannot hide them from His gaze. There is nothing hidden as far as God is concerned, even though people may be fooled. Do you care what attitudes you have, and how you display them? Tap into God's wisdom and let Him help you. He loves you and wants to be involved in every aspect of your life, but you must choose that for it to happen. Consider the attitudes of your life and allow God to help you with them. Above all, remember that He loves you with a love you cannot imagine.

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