With All My Heart

Valentine’s Day is not usually a big holiday around our house.  The most important aspect of February 14th to us is that it is our Gotcha Day—the day back in 1976 when we got our sweet Robbie, eight days old and straight out of the hospital!  But as far as making it a romantic celebration—well, it’s kind of hit or miss usually.  Most years Bob and I will exchange cards, at least.  Once and a while, he’ll bring me flowers or chocolates.  A few times over the years I’ve made a nice candlelit dinner for him.  If we don’t make a big deal out of it, though, it really doesn’t hurt my feelings.  Bob’s the kind of man who doesn’t want to be dictated to by the card and candy companies.  He likes to surprise me often throughout the year with flowers or chocolates just to say “I love you,” so if February 14th comes and goes without much hoopla, it’s okay.

He won’t even be in town this year on Valentine’s Day.  I’m going to celebrate anyway—without him!  You should see my stash of Valentine’s stuff I’ve been collecting little by little the last few weeks!  Heart-shaped bowls, heart-shaped plates, heart-shaped chocolates, paper plates with hearts on them—even heart-shaped ice cubes!  Then there are the pink candles, pink flowers, pink tablecloth, pink napkins and glasses, pink serving dishes.  I am making rose-shaped chocolate lollipops and special filled cupcakes in large rose papers.  All of this, not for my love—but for my girlfriends!  It’s my turn to host our dominoes night this month, so I have gone all out!  Well, what can I say?  I love them, too, you know!

Those heart-shaped ice cubes…I’ve been making them for days now.  I got the two little silicone trays from Target’s dollar section.  They’re cute but small and will probably melt quickly, so I am trying to fill up two or three gallon size ziplock bags with them.  I chuckled to myself last night as I struggled to pop them out of the silicone trays with freezing fingers, “Talk about having a cold, hard heart!”  They might be cute in a glass of pop, but no one wants to have a heart made of ice!

Did you know the Bible has a HUGE amount to say about hearts?   I’ve been focusing on hearts this week, but when God’s Word speaks about hearts, it is not referring to Valentine hearts, or even the organ that circulates blood throughout our body.  The heart the Scriptures refer to is the spirit that lives within us.  The Lord is very specific about the heart that He wants each believer to have as we grow in Him.

First of all, He wants us to be whole-heartedly His.  He wants us to love Him with our whole hearts.  And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.  (Deuteronomy 6:5)  And when we love Him with whole hearts we will be obedient, as well.  This day the LORD thy God hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments: thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.  (Deuteronomy 26:16)  He wants us to be dedicated to living for Him and not focused so much on the world and the things of the world.  With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.  (Psalm 119:10)  Then when our hearts are wholly His, they will be filled to overflowing with love and praise for Him in all that He has done for us, and given to us, and simply just for who He is.   The Bible says in Psalm 9:1, “I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.” 

Our desire ought to be to stand before God with a pure heart, a clean heart.  Salvation comes through trusting in Christ alone.  There is nothing we can do on our own to win that salvation.  It is our responsibility, however, after we have been saved, to resist temptation, to flee from evil and to keep our hearts pure before him.  Psalm 24:4, 5 tells us, “He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.”  Our daily prayer should be, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”  (Psalm 51:10)

There are times when we do fall, though; times when we fail Him miserably.  Those are the times when we ought to have a broken and contrite heart.  He hears our pleas for forgiveness and restores us into fellowship with Him.  The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. (Psalm 34:18)  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.  (Psalm 51:17)

How can we help but rejoice when our hearts are right with Him?  Joy does not depend on outward circumstances but on our relationship with the Lord.  The Bible tells us that He gives us a glad heart; a deep joy, comfort, peace and hope within when we are in fellowship with our Heavenly Father.  Thou hast put gladness in my heart…  (Psalm 4:7)  Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.  (Psalm 16:9)

There are other characteristics of a heart that is right with God.  It will be a trusting heart.  It will trust when it does not understand what God is doing and when it does not know the way.  Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and He shall direct thy paths.  (Proverbs 3:5, 6)  It will trust that the Lord is there to help when there are obstacles and trials along the way.  The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.  (Psalm 28:7)

Even when the spiritual battles are overwhelming and the Enemy is great; when we are fearful and we feel that we cannot go on, the Lord helps us to have a courageous heart.  He says in Psalm 27:1, 3, 14, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?  Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.  Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” 

Our day-to-day life may not always require great courage, but we ought still to have steadfast hearts, unwavering in our Christian walk.  We persevere, we endure, we press on through life’s journey as our hearts are fixed upon Him.  With that steadfastness comes the joy and the strength we need to carry on each day.  My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise. (Psalm 57:7)  He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD. (Psalm 112:7)

As we grow in the Lord and walk with Him daily, He gives us not only joy and strength, comfort and courage, but we begin to grow in wisdom, as well.  He wants us to desire to have wise hearts.  Psalm 49:3 says, “My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.” and Psalm 90:12 adds, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”

All of these characteristics of the believer’s heart speak mostly to our relationship with our Heavenly Father, but there is one other heart that affects those around us, as well, and that is a merry heart.   The Bible tells us in Proverbs 15:13 that “A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance…” and in Proverbs 17:22, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine…”  We may have the “joy, joy, joy, joy down in our hearts,” but when it is waaaaaay down deep in our hearts it does no one else any good.  We ought to be bubbling over with the joy of the Lord and the peace only He can give.  Our faces should reflect that joy.  Our demeanor should be uplifting and not a “downer” to others.  Our merry heart should be an encouragement and inspiration to others.  Proverbs 15:15 says “…he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.”  I would not want to be at a feast all by myself.  Let us share the feast with others!

Only God can see our hearts.  Others may believe we have a right heart within us, but God knows the true condition of our hearts.  For the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.  (I Samuel 16:7)  We may fool others; we may even fool ourselves, but God knows the truth.  Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.  (Proverbs 21:2)  Our prayer should be, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts.”  (Psalm 139:23)  Our desire then should be to be men and women after God’s own heart.  Nothing could say more loudly and clearly to Him, “I love You, Lord–with all my heart!”

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