January 30, 2012

Ezekiel 11:19-20 “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.”

The expression, “hearts made of stone,” has been echoed in Country and Western songs and otherwise because it’s very graphic, even if biologically impossible. We can easily understand that it talks about hearts that are unresponsive, and that’s obviously something that needs to be corrected. God’s solution isn’t repair, it’s replacement! As this verse says, that is accomplished by pouring in the Holy Spirit, who dissolves the unresponsive heart and replaces it with one that is tender toward God. That process isn’t totally complete as long as we remain on this earth, but the change can certainly be dramatic. The difficulty lies in how much we tend to hang onto the old and fail to let go of it. That too is addressed in this passage, where the NIV says “an undivided heart” and the Japanese says “a single heart.” When God pours His Spirit into us, we must choose to welcome and obey Him. He does the “heavy lifting,” so to speak, but our wills are involved as well. A book came out several years ago titled, Flirting with the Devil. We do far too much of that, and the consequences are disastrous, with supposedly Christian homes and families all too often being indistinguishable from those that don’t pretend to be Christian. God’s Spirit is available to all who will welcome Him and commit to obedience instead of rebellion.

I know both sides of this picture quite well. I wish I didn’t know the rebellious side so well! As I minister to others I must not look down on them in any way, but neither am I to sugar coat the truth. I must always speak in love, but I am not to fail to speak from a fear of offending. I am to urge and to demonstrate full openness to the work of the Holy Spirit both in and through us. We don’t do well at all at cleaning ourselves up, but we do have to give Him the keys, and the permission to do whatever is necessary.

Father, thank You for the “house cleaning” You are doing in this church, opening people’s eyes to their own condition and making various adjustments. Those aren’t always comfortable at the time, but the results are always good. Help each of us trust You enough to let go of how things, and how we, have been, and accept Your better reality. I pray that You would continue to lead us from darkness to light so that we will not be deceived, but walk in the fullness of all that You have for us, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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