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WHAT IS YOUR STORY?

We don’t sing the old hymns like we used to. Most churches have moved to the more contemporary style of music and occasionally pull out one of the old hymns of days gone by. I can still remember the lyrics of many of those old hymns I grew up hearing and singing and sometimes they give me such solace and peace. Recently, the Holy Spirit put one of those old hymns in my heart and mind and the chorus has been something that I find myself humming or singing throughout the day. When that happens, you know that God, through the Holy Spirit, is encouraging you to hold on to the message in those words. While the hymn’s title is “Blessed Assurance” written by Fanny Crosby in 1873, it is the chorus that is a constant on my heart and mind. The lyrics of the hymn are:

“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

{Refrain:}
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above:
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

{Refrain}

Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

{Refrain}

That chorus “This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior, all the day long; This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior, all the day long” is such a powerful and compelling message to those who claim to be Followers of Jesus Christ. This chorus being planted in my heart and mind, day and night, brought me to a point of self-examination and introspective searching. Can I truly say this is my story and this is my song? Or have I allowed other things to take the place of this being my story and praising my Savior is an occasional thing like Sunday morning in church or special occasions where I need to look holy to those around me? So let’s take a few moments together to give serious thought and honest evaluation to these questions.

God’s Word tells us ““The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be my God, the Rock, my Savior! He is the God who avenges me, who puts the nations under me, who sets me free from my enemies. You exalted me above my foes; from a violent man you rescued me. Therefore I will praise you, LORD, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name.”(1) Do you remember every waking moment that The Lord lives and we owe praise to our Rock! He is the Rock of our salvation and He sets us free from our enemies. So often when I hear men talking about their struggles with maintaining a close walk with the Lord my mind immediately goes to the instructions given to us in 2 Samuel. How can we have a close relationship if we don’t remember first what brought us into a close relationship with the living Lord to in the first place? If we are not praising and exalting the One that brought us out of darkness then how can we possibly maintain a close relationship? Satan distracts us with busy-ness and draws our hearts and minds to numerous other activities and things that removes the eternal mindset we owe to the One who Lives and who gives us an eternal promise. We get caught up in the here and now and when we do, we are prime candidates for the temptations of the enemy!

While there are many scriptures and passages of scripture we could use as an example of “this is my story”, I don’t want to turn this article into a book, so we will use a single passage that hits all of the key points.

David testified “The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD. Hear my voice when I call, LORD; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, LORD, I will seek. Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior. Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me. Teach me your way, LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations. I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”(2)

  • So, using this passage, let’s pull out some key elements that should be part of our story:
  •  Whom shall I fear, whom shall I be afraid;
  •  The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
  •  Though war break out against me, even then I will be confident;
  • One thing I ask from the Lord, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life;
  • For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling;
  • I will sing and make music to the Lord;
  • Your face, LORD, I will seek;
  • The LORD will receive me;
  • Teach me your way, LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors;
  • I remain confident in this: I will see goodness of the LORD in the land of the living;
  • Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD

While every man’s story will be different because of his life experiences, these elements should be interwoven in the story if he professes to have a personal heart relationship with Jesus Christ. While the language will be different because we do not necessarily speak as scripture is written, the essence of each item above will be in the story. All of God’s men must be prepared to share “their story” so that God may be glorified and others may learn and grow from the story we tell. So, WHAT IS YOUR STORY?


(1) 2 Samuel 22:47-50
(2) Psalm 27:1-14

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START 2013 WITH A HEART EXAM

As we step into the year of 2013, I suggest you have a heart exam.  Oh, I am not referring to your physical heart (although it’s not a bad idea) … I am talking about a spiritual heart exam.  The word “heart” is used over 700 times in the 1984 NIV translation of the Bible so it must have some significant meaning when it comes to God’s direction to us.  Unfortunately, men are hesitant to talk about issues of the heart because it is believed that such issues create vulnerability and Satan convinces us that a willingness to be vulnerable is a sign of weakness.  WOW!  What a lie and we know that Satan is the father of lies.  I am confident that some of you reading this right now are trying to convince yourself that you don’t need to read any further.  Well, push on and buckle up because it’s time for God’s men to get serious about the condition of their spiritual heart.

When the Lord was speaking to Samuel, He said “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”[1]  Satan has convinced men that it is what is on the outside that counts.  We say things like “the clothes make the man” and the world judges a man by his title, his accomplishments, the social company he keeps and status is based upon perception rather than fact.  God’s men must remember “As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.”[2]   When water is calm and clear it gives an accurate reflection but when it is dark and murky the reflection is distorted and confused.  The same is true of a man’s heart.  If the heart is filled with things that create confusion and distortion then it is difficult for the man to reflect the image that God intended.  Jesus said “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.[3]

All too often men are more concerned with behavior modification so they will be more acceptable to those they wish to receive acceptance.  Jesus told the Pharisees “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.”[4]  Too many in the church today are simply “playing” church.  God’s men must look at heart modification to be more like Jesus rather than just paying lip service to the Lord and letting the world dictate what is in their hearts.  Jesus also told the Pharisee’s You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.”[5]

 

OUCH!  Jesus wasn’t one for beating around the bush and His words go straight to the heart of the matter (no pun intended).  It’s uncomfortable to think that men are more closely aligned with the Pharisees of scripture yet when we look around it seems that what is important is being justified before men rather than pleasing our Heavenly Father.

 

Paul gives us the key to this spiritual heart examination when he said The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,’ that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.   For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”[6]  

 

So how is your spiritual heart?  Are you maintaining the proper diet and exercise for a healthy spiritual heart?  Studying God’s Word, an active daily prayer life, and yielding to the guidance of the Holy Spirit every day are critical to maintaining a healthy spiritual heart.  Dedicate yourself to regularly doing a spiritual heart exam.  Don’t forget that it’s a great idea to have an accountability partner that can assist with conducting the exam.  Carefully select your assistant (accountability partner) just as you would a cardiologist.  You want someone that has developed the spiritual heart examination skills so they will be able to properly interpret the results and then truthfully and accurately provide you feedback of what they have found.  This will result in creating a stronger and healthier spiritual heart!

 


[1] 1 Samuel 16:7b.  All scripture used in this article is taken from the 1984 NIV translation of the Holy Bible unless otherwise noted.

[2] Proverbs 27:19

[3] Luke 6:45

[4] Matthew 15:7-9

[5] Luke 16:15

[6] Romans 10:8-10