John Mayer has a line in the chorus one of his songs that says, “will it wash out in the water or is it always in the blood”. If you listen to this song you’ll see Mayer asking about change. Acknowledging his families influence on him, he’s leading towards this question: Do I have to stay the way I am or can I carve out a new life for myself some how, some way.
This is really a heart question, isn’t it. In our recent Sunday conversations we’re diving into this. We should all know this: what goes on inside our hearts is bound to come out. That’s why digging deep and seeing what needs to change is so vital. Your heart can change. You can change.
King David would agree here. One of his most profound and sincere prayers was he asked God to ‘create in him a clean heart’. He asked God for a new heart, a fresh heart, a new start really.
A few weeks/posts ago we were reminded that our hearts are worth guarding – they are worth protecting. But what if, the current state of your heart needs work? What if it needs a renovation before you install the alarm system?
I recently gave our laundry room a refresh. Painted all the walls, the cabinets, the counter. I removed the ugly yellows and peaches (from the previous owner) and added greys and whites. MUCH BETTER 🙂 If you’re like me, you wanna just get started on a reno job. If you couldyou’d start painting and fixing instantly. There’s one problem, you have to clear out your junk first. Our lundry room is also a bud room, a storage room, a ‘people are arriving in 10 minutes’ room, so needless to say, it was messy in there. I had no choice but to remove everything, clear it out, clean it, empty it. Only then was I able to start renovating.
Any kind of renovation job requires a cleaning job first. Same goes for our hearts. If we want to reorient our hearts in a different direction, we must first make the time to take inventory of what’s already there, what’s taking up space, what has been there too long, what is making a mess, what’s become garbage, get rid of it, and begin the transformation.
Here’s the thing, if your heart is worth guarding, it’s worth clearing.
(CLEAN my heart)
David penned these words that are known as Psalm 139. They are renovation words, restoration words, reclamation words – repenting and redemptive words.
1 You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
That was David’s intro, but the end of this piece is where we hear, not just David’s acknowledgment of relationship and intimacy, but his prayer for change…in him.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
He’s asking God to discern his motives and his actions. David asks God to check his heart, his thoughts.
We all need a heart check from time to time, don’t we? A life altering one and a regular check-in & check-up as well. The BIG life altering one is transformative…some of us can attest to this and have a story to share. However, the regular check-ins can be just as transformative.
Eugene Peterson paraphrases this well: Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about (where my heart is at).
In David’s other heart/soul searching psalm (51) we see him asking God to clear out the sin that’s developed in there. Create in me. Re-create in me. God, make a fresh start in me…a genesis…a new beginning.
Here’s what David admits: If you’re going to renovate my heart, then you might as well start from scratch. Take away all the unnecessary things that have been stored up, my ill-motives, my man-made idols, my false loves, my perverse thoughts…take it all away. Start again God.
Remember, this is David’s post adultery prayer. We’re talking about some serious mistakes, sexual sin, murder, build up and then of course, consequences. David’s admission is clear: I’ve allowed some grey matter to enter in. God, only you can remove it and make my heart new again.
So…as much as guarding your heart is essential, let’s take some inventory of what we’re guarding. Invite God to do his work, and then begin your protective measures to ensure that nothing you don’t want in there, gets in.
(FILL my heart)
If your heart is worth guarding, it’s worth clearing. If it’s worth clearing out, it’s also worth filling.
Are you just going to leave your heart empty, or will you allow God to fill it with his values, his ways, his love, his grace.
What’s this reno job going to look like once God is done with it?
Augustine said (famously) ‘our hearts are restless, until they find rest in you’. He believed fully that our hearts were made to follow God and be filled by God.
Let’s go back to Proverbs 4. Last time we focused on verse 23 (guarding). Look at what Solomon precedes those words with…
20 My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
Before he gets to the guarding, he stresses that there is something that needs to get into our hearts that is worth guarding. Wisdom. What is the main thrust, the message of wisdom that we gain from reading the scriptures? JESUS.
With that in mind, lets land on Jesus words in Luke 12 & Paul’s words Colossians 3.
And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. (Jesus)
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Paul)
Brian Walsh (from UofT) says that ‘setting our hearts above is to allow your imagination to be liberated to comprehend Christ’s legitimate rule’. ‘This allows your vision of life, your world view, your most basic life orientation, to be directed by Christ’s heavenly rule.’ William Barclay, an old commentator said, “Because you are raised with Christ, your old self has died, like baptism, you emerge a new person. Your heart is oriented in a different direction, being filled with new life and new values. Giving above getting, Serving above ruling, Forgiving above avenging.”
We fill our hearts with God’s ways for a reason – a purpose – to live a new life, a Jesus oriented life, a love & mercy driven life.
Because you have to bet your life on something. We all wager, we all bet our life on something. David, Solomon, Paul, all say, bet on God…and more importantly, Jesus says, bet on me – wager on me – put all your chips on me – throw your heart on the table too. I want it all. Risk it all.
God is saying…Clear your heart, Fill your heart, Guard your heart, and find out where we can go together.
We’re all going somewhere, it’s just a matter of what direction we’ve chosen.
Proverbs 4 says, your heart is the well spring of your life – everything you do flows from it. It’s your compass. If the compass is off, even a little bit, there’s a really good chance that a crash is in your future.
So…you think you’re heart is in good shape? Maybe it is. I Hope so. However, a prayer you will never say in vain is the same one King David prayed.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
small(er) group discussion questions:
What was your last reno job (DIY)? How did it go? What is your most favourite and least favourite part of working on project? How do those experiences compare to the work that’s going on inside our hearts?
Read Psalm 139:16, 23-24. What is encouraging about the first 6 verses? What is difficult, yet important about verses 23-24?
What’s the difference between a life altering heart check/transformation and a regular or routine heart check up? (Big change and incremental change)
David prays, ‘Create in me a clean heart’. Would you describe those words as scary, loving, authentic or helpful? What would lead you to pray those same words?
Why is it important to differentiate the work of clearing your heart verses the next step of filling or reorienting your heart? How do Jesus’ words in Luke 12 and Paul’s words in Colossians 3 help us understand this?
Wanna take two minutes in silence before your group closes in prayer to invite to cross examen your heart?