Matters Of The Heart

Title: Matters Of The Heart
Category: Devotions
Subject: Heart
Matters of the Heart

Solomon writes, "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23). The late W.A. Criswell explains, "The moral actions and attitudes of life are determined by the condition of one's heart or mind." The heart is the source of all human conduct: thoughts, words and deeds.

Our thoughts, words and deeds have consequences, some are temporary others are long-term and still others are eternal.

Jesus states, "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man" (Mark 7:21-23).

Later in Mark's account we see several scenes of Jesus' disciples in training. We find that each of these situations portrays different matters of the heart.

First we see the spiritual communion they experienced in Mark 14:12-26.

"Then [Jesus] took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it" (Mark 14:23). The apostle Paul writes, "I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread" (1 Corinthians 10:15-17). Then in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 records a review of the institution of the Lord's Supper. Believers are to commemorate the Lord's Supper on earth until we celebrate with our Lord in heaven (Revelation 19:6-9).

After high and holy times we are most vulnerable to temptation. In Mark 14:27-31 we read the self-confidence the disciples expressed. "But [Peter] spoke more vehemently, "If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!" And they all said likewise" (Mark 14:31). Someone warns poetically: "Beware of Peter's word, /Nor confident say, /'I never will deny Thee, Lord,' /But, 'Grant I never may.'"

W.H. Griffith Thomas shares the following in his book titled, The Apostle Peter His Life and Writings: "Self-confidence is always a mark of spiritual weakness and immaturity." Dr. J. Vernon McGee explains, "Simon Peter pledges his allegiance. He was sincere, of course, but he did not know his own weakness!"

Believers must beware of overconfidence and under-confidence because "It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man" (Psalm 118:8).

Hymn-writer, George Duffield (1818-1888), proclaims in "Stand Up!-Stand Up for Jesus", "the arm of flesh will fail you, /Ye dare not trust your own."

Mark shares that "they forsook Him and fled" (Mark 14:50). This reveals the shameful cowardice they exhibited (Mark 14:32-52) fulfilling the prophecies of Isaiah 53:12 and Zechariah 13:7. We read in Revelation 21:8, "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." Note that cowardice is first on the list.

George Duncan states in his classic devotional titled: Every Day with Jesus: "Failure never need be final." An Old Testament example of this word of encouragement is Gideon, the "mighty man of valor" (Judges 6:12), who was transformed from "a reluctant coward" (Judges 6:1-7:14) to "a ready crusader" (Judges 7:15-23) according to Dr. Elmer Towns. These disciples went from the "hiding in shame" to the "hall of fame". We see the process of restoration to fellowship for Simon Peter in John 21:15-19. Jesus ends with the words ". . . follow Me" in verse 19b. After Peter asks about John, Jesus re-emphasizes His command, ". . . you follow Me" (John 21:22b). Peter went on to preach a powerful sermon on the day of Pentecost resulting in a multitude of conversions and to pen two epistles that bear his name, 1 & 2 Peter that continue to encourage and strengthen believers as Jesus said he would in Luke 22:31-34. With the exception of Judas Iscariot, the fearful disciples became fearless followers who were faithful until death. For example, just before Simon Peter's martyrdom for his faith, according to tradition, his request was to be upside down on a cross because he felt unworthy to face death in the upright position like the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord speaks to His people through the prophet Ezekiel, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them" (Ezekiel 36:26-27). Paul the apostle shares with those believers in Ephesus, "that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love" (Ephesians 3:17). With David may we humbly pray, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23-24).