Archive for June 9th, 2009

 I hope you’re enjoying this “Heart of a Worshipper” series (HWS). We’re about half way through the series, so this blog begins with a review. You can click on any of the topics to go to the blog on that topic.

A Willing Heart

Time for review. When this series is completed, I’ll have written about seven characteristics of the heart of a worshipper. We’ve covered four so far. How many of them can you remember? Can you name them? Let me help. Reading about them interspersed with “life” can make it difficult to see the natural progression, so let’s review the first four.

  • A hungry heart – one that desires to know God more intimately. There are many scriptures we could look at that express this sentiment, but I like these two:

“Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you.
          Isaiah 26:8-9

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”
          Psalm 42:1-2

  • A pursuing heart – one that follows hard after Jesus. Proverbs 16:26 says: “The laborer’s appetite works for him; his hunger drives him on.” So it is with God. Our desire for Him drives us to get to know Him better – the hungry heart becomes the pursuing heart
      
    In His book The God Chasers, Tommy Tenney explains his title like this: “A God Chaser is a person whose hunger for God exceeds his grasp…whose passion for God’s presence presses him to chase the impossible, in hopes that the Uncatchable might catch him.”
      
    And the wonderful thing about our God is that He promises to allow us to catch Him! Review these scriptures if you have any doubts: Deuteronomy 4:29, Jeremiah 29:13-14, Matthew 7:7-8, and Proverbs 8:17. (There are lots more, but these should give you a good start!)
        
  • A transparent or unveiled heart – one that allows the Light of Life (Jesus) to shine through it so that He can reveal to us what is hidden in it’s deepest, darkest corners. When our heart is transparent, we can say with David “All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.” (Psalm 38:9) Having a transparent heart allows God to reveal our sin to us.
        
  • A vulnerable heart is the logical extension of the transparent heart – it’s the heart that suppresses our “fight or flight” response as we sit at Jesus’ feet and allow Him to change us. It moves from allowing God to reveal our sin to allowing Him to transform us into the image of Christ. It also means total dependence on God – trusting Him to make the right choices for you. It means giving God the right to make the rules and put the ball in play. And it means giving up our right to say “No, I don’t want to be like that,” or “I don’t like those rules.”

A Willing Heart – The Second Half of the Equation 
A key phrase in the last paragraph is “put the ball in play.” In other words, having a vulnerable heart that allows God to change us is only the first half of the equation…we must also have a willing heart that allows God to use us.

Chapter 6 in Isaiah is a fascinating illustration of the vulnerable and willing heart of Isaiah. Let me do a quick outline of verses 1 through 11 for you

Verses 1 – 4: Isaiah is given a glimpse of the throne room of heaven

…I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs…And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty…” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

Verse 5-7: Isaiah experiences conviction for his sin

Woe to me!…I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips…

Verses 6 and 7: God demonstrates that Isaiah’s sin has been forgiven by having an angel take a coal from the altar and touch his lips with it

With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

Verse 8: God makes a request and Isaiah enthusiastically responds

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Verse 9-10: God elaborates on the assignment, revealing that it won’t be a pleasant one

“Go and tell this people: “‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes…”

Verse 11: Isaiah remains committed to carry out his task

Then I said, “For how long, O Lord?” And he answered: “Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged…”

There are no words in scripture to give us an idea of what inflection to put into Isaiah’s response, but we do know that the last thing he said was spoken with enthusiasm or passion: “Here I am! Send me!” It seems reasonable, then, that the next line would continue in a similar emotion. So even though the Lord has told him to go do this seemingly miserable task, his response is “For how long, Lord?”

 I don’t think Isaiah was dragging his feet and saying “Oh man, how long do I have to do this?” I think He was saying with eagerness “How long can I do this for you Lord?” or “I’m happy to do it as long as you want me to, Lord. How long?”

Isaiah sees worship in heaven and his first response reveals his transparent heart “Woe is me, I am undone.” His second response reveals his willing heart: “Here I am. Send me.”

Oh, that I might be as enthusiastic when I receive assignments from God. I’m tempted to pray here, “Lord, make my heart and spirit cry with enthusiasm, ‘Here I am, Lord, send me,’ even when Your assignments mean obscurity or unpopularity or drudgery.” And that would be a good thing…but you know, sometimes my heart isn’t really there!

It’s at those times that I am tempted to feel condemnation because I think my heart should be always willing, no matter what the circumstances or assignment. So I try to get my heart to the right place…yeah, right!

One thing I’ve learned is that I can’t manufacture a change in my heart any more than I could manufacture the heart itself! I cannot rely on myself for such things. Charles Spurgeon made this point well in a book called All of Grace.

If we trust to ourselves for our holding on [i.e., continuing in Christ] we shall not hold on. Even though we rest in Jesus for a part of our salvation, we shall fail if we trust to self for anything…Beware of mixing even a little of self with the mortar with which you build, or you will make it untempered mortar, and the stones will not hold together. If you look to Christ for your beginnings, beware of looking to yourself for your endings. He is Alpha. See to it that you make Him Omega also. If you begin in the Spirit you must not hope to be made perfect by the flesh. Begin as you mean to go on, and go on as you began…

In other words, don’t look to yourself, look to God.  Don’t trust yourself, trust God. 

Returning to our passage in Isaiah, we see that he didn’t work up his own obedience – it was a natural response to having seen the glory of God. So perhaps my prayer shouldn’t be “Lord, make my heart and spirit cry ‘Yes Lord’ with enthusiasm;” perhaps the secret lies in sitting at Jesus’ feet in worship and praying “Lord, give me a glimpse of Your glory as you gave to Isaiah.” And that brings us full circle – it all starts with having that heart which is hungry for God and it leads to the wonderful privilege of being used by Him.

If your response to God isn’t as whole-hearted as you’d like it to be or you’re feeling condemnation from the enemy for lacking enthusiasm for the things of God, let me encourage you to take time to sit at Jesus’ feet in worship. Just for a while, stop doing things for God and simply spend time with God. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you in a new way. He delights to do so!

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