Categories
Theology

God Really Does Know Your Heart

In 2 Chronicles 32:31, we come across an interesting verse that seems to tell us that God has to test King Hezekiah’s heart to find out what is really there.

The background is that Hezekiah was sick, near to death.  He was restored to health, then became proud in his heart, was threatened with wrath, then repented.   God withheld his wrath from Judah after Hezekiah’s repentance.  However, Hezekiah then accumulated great riches and honor and became very proud with his achievements.  An envoy from Babylon paid Hezekiah a visit.  He foolishly showed them all his riches and cities.  He told Isaiah, “There is nothing in my storehouses that I did not show them” (Isa. 39:4b).

In 2 Chronicles 32, verse 31 says, “God left him to himself, in order to test him and to know all that was in his heart.”  Does God really have to test people to know their hearts?  Surely this can’t be the case, because the Bible clearly teaches otherwise and we know that the Bible does not, nor cannot, contradict itself.

Psalm 44:21 says, “For God knows the secrets of the heart.”  Psalm 139:2, 4 says, “You discern my thoughts from afar…Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.” Jesus, in Mark 2:8, shows that he knew the hearts of the Pharisees, “And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, ‘Why do you question these things in your hearts?'” Further, Acts 1:24 says, “And they prayed and said, ‘You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen.'”

So what does it mean that God wanted to know what was in Hezekiah’s heart? It means that God desired for Hezekiah’s heart to produce evidence of internal obedience instead of external religious allegiance.  God tests us, not to prove our faith to him, for he already knows the outcome of everything.  He tests us to discipline us, and so that we might have an opportunity to depend on and obey him.

For if God didn’t know what’s in our hearts, it could be argued that he is no different than human beings.  Let’s praise God for his supreme knowledge of all, even our deepest heart-thoughts and motives.

Categories
Life Theology

I’m Thankful for Toilet Paper, Coffee Cake, and God’s Love for Himself

Here are some things I’m thankful for that don’t usually find a place in your average Sunday praise song:

  • A quiet, dark morning with an open Bible
  • A turned-off television
  • Coffee cake
  • Toilet paper
  • Cars
  • Enemies who hate me
  • International vaccinations
  • Notebook computers
  • Sunshine reflecting off the frost
  • Headphones
  • Socks
  • A God who loves himself and is committed to fulfilling his purpose in me

You probably read the last one and said, “We sing about that!”  Really?  Do you really sing about God loving himself?  If God is committed to me, that’s fine and dandy, but if he fails to ever be committed to himself, he would no longer God because he would put something (namely me!) above himself.   Here’s how David says it in Psalm 138:

I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.

Before God exalts me or you or the church or anything else, he has lifted up high his name and his word.  His name is synonymous with his glory (Isa. 42:8; 43:7).  His word is Jesus, the perfect manifestation of who God is, because Jesus is God (John 1:1-14; Heb. 1:1-3).

There’s much to be thankful for today, even little things like cars and toilet paper and travel vaccinations.  But the greatest thing to be thankful for is that God loves himself, because if that weren’t true then we would have a God who isn’t supreme and sovereign and holy and unstained and preeminent.  He’d be like us.  And that would be no God at all.

Categories
Life Theology

Fearing and Hoping in God

In Psalm 147:11, we read, “But the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.”  We are called to both fear God and hope in him.  John Piper points out in his book The Pleasures of God that, usually, for us in life it is either one or the other.  If you fear someone, you hope in someone else to save you.  It’s not that way with God.

God’s wrath is awful.  He could punish us at any minute and could extinguish us from all existence for all eternity.  As the author of Hebrews says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (10:31), and so it is.  However, God’s protection and mercy is beautiful and wonderful.  It really does give hope.

The “fear” of God is not just respect or reverence, like you hear so often in third grade Sunday-school class.  It really is a terrifying chill that goes deep into your bones that says, “I deserve to be killed because of my sin.”  It’s like the genuine fear of a son for his father — a good father, yes, but one who is firm, tough, and intolerable of wrongdoing.

The “hope” in God is not a blow-out-the-birthday candles wish.  It is a sincere expectation with confidence.  When God promises deliverance, provision, help in time of need, and so many other glorious things, he means it.  We can hope in that.  God, the tough, severe, firm Father, also says, “Though you are surrounded with hardship because of your mistakes, I will shelter you, I will shield you.  I will hold you in the cleft of my hands so that you will survive.  Hope in me.”

What are we to hope in?  We are to hope in God’s steadfast love.  The love of God is firmly fixed, unwavering, not subject to change on his children.  That’s rock-solid hope.  If God’s love could change, if he was subject to temper-tantrums and emotional decisions as we are, if we could do something to lose that love, we would be in a heap of trouble.

Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love.
– Psalm 33:18

Categories
Theology

Psalm 119:116

Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope!

We cry to God because he hears us.

God does not save us because we call out to him.  Instead, we call out to him because we his word promises to us he is faithful.  God does not suddenly become faithful when we encounter trials and distresses.  He does not suddenly turn a good ear to us when life is hard.  God has been eternally faithful to himself and his people.  He has always been, and always will be, faithful; therefore we can come to him for grace and mercy anytime.

Our cries do not cause God to come with a strong arm of salvation.  His faithful, strong arm of salvation gives us a living hope, which is sure even in the darkest of times, so that we can be confident when we cry to him.

Categories
Theology

I’m Leaving on a Jetplane

I’ll be on my way to Denver at 5 am tomorrow.  Thursday morning, I’ll be on a 7:30 am flight to New York, followed by a 5 pm flight from New York to Johannesburg, South Africa.  I should be in Pretoria by 7 pm local tim on Friday, July 4.  Being in a foreign country on our nation’s holidy will be interesting.  It’ll be nice to miss the fireworks and drinking, though.

I will have scarce access to internet (as far as I know), while in Pretoria, so that’ll make blogging difficult.  I hope to post updates once a week.  Thank you to all who read and stop by the site.  I’m humbled that God would use this to be a resource of truth, grace, and encouragement to people all over the world.  Thank you for allowing me to be a blessing and know that I’m blessed by all of you!

When I started this post (just a few seconds ago), I wanted to include some last-minute thoughts.  However, I’m drawing blanks and can only just praise God for what he has done and is doing in my life.  The Lord is incredible, indescribable, and inexhaustible.  I’m amazed just to know him!  So, instead of my own thoughts, here are some verses that my heart has been clinging to in the past few months as this trip has been approaching

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment…The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
– Revelation 21:5-6; 22:17

The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.
– Psalm 12:6

How can a young man keep his way pure?  By guarding according to your word.  With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments.  I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
– Psalm 119:9-11

Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.
– Luke 18:29-30

For from him and through him and to him are all things.  To him be the glory forever.  Amen.
– Romans 11:36

And to that I sing, “Amen.”