It is incredibly sad when I see someone who works hard and is diligent but it seems that they still just cannot get ahead. As you know from the things I’ve taught you about establishing boundaries from our heart beliefs, this person is always struggling against their own internal boundaries and, in fact, it has nothing to do with what is going on outside of them. Accepting that the problem is internal is one of life’s greatest challenges.
We have many ideas about what will produce miracles that are neither born out in Scripture nor proven in life. One such concept is that faith will produce miracles. People should certainly be taught the principles of faith, but this concept has somehow degenerated into beating people up and making them feel condemned for not having enough faith.
Unfortunately, many people who love God and are very sincere about serving God are completely unaware of the boundaries they have established by their heart beliefs. When they do not see their goals and dreams come to pass, just as the Scripture warns, the heart becomes sick. Hope deferred always makes the heart sick! Then they begin to pass judgments about themselves leading to even more wrong conclusions about their limitations. From these judgments they generally establish a plan to improve themselves that does not include developing their heart. Our Western culture has become so externally focused that the idea of developing our heart never comes to mind. We always think we need a better education, better connections, a new network of people, or to discover a new market. Some people spend their entire lives trying to better themselves by changing the externals. Others try to better themselves seeking higher education. All of those things can be somewhat fruitful. When these things become the source of our hope for a better life they replace God in our heart. All this laboring without developing the heart is laboring in vain!
The prophet Isaiah gave one of the most stirring prophecies I’ve ever read about putting our efforts in the wrong places. Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you — The sure mercies of David (Isa 55:1-3).
There are some aspects of this prophecy that are easy to understand. We all know it is vanity to spend our money or time on sin or destructive behaviors. I think, however, there’s a bigger message. In the New Covenant everything God does for us, with us, and through us is done in the heart. God meets us in the heart. God speaks to us in our heart. When grace works in our life to make us able to live in righteousness it happens from our heart. In the New Covenant there is nothing that happens with God outside of our own heart. Therefore, we can understand that it is also vain labor to do all of the right things intellectually and circumstantially but fail to establish our heart. God’s solution for the person who labors in vain is “listen carefully to Me.” Listening to Him happens when we turn our ears inward to hear His voice in our heart!
The Book of Hebrews tells us there is a rest the people of God never actually discovered under the Old Covenant. We know that entering into The Promised Land was a type of rest that would have its ultimate fulfillment in Christ. The rest God had in mind for us is the life of faith concerning our position in the resurrected Lord. Faith is an immovable trust that works from the heart. When we are operating in faith from our heart we facilitate the grace of God empowering our lives. When God is our Source we can benefit from all of our external efforts. A great education can be very beneficial to a person who has a heart to utilize it. Meeting new people and opening new markets is something that will bring lasting success if we have a heart for that type of success.
But the truth is, even if we get all of those things and fail to expand our heart beliefs we will still encounter destruction. As I shared with you for years, the person who ventures beyond the beliefs of the heart will always experience self-sabotage. Our heart is where we store our sense of self. Our sense of self determines how we see the world around us. This is why two men look at the same thing and see something different. One man looks at the circumstance and sees opportunity. Another man looks at the same circumstance and sees limitations. The difference between these two men is not education; the difference is how their heart interprets what they see. That is based on what they believe about themselves in their heart.
Sometimes it sounds like I am saying we should develop our heart and not our intellect. That is absolutely not what I am saying. But I am saying our intellect will only benefit us after we have developed our heart. A heart that sees the opportunity for success, has a sense of confidence to pursue that success, and can follow God’s direction in pursuing that success, coupled with the right information will experience unlimited success in any area of life. It doesn’t matter the situation, i.e., before doing finances, health, or marriage, etc. we first want to establish our heart, then our intellect! One thing that helped me so much is the fact that I got my degree in theology before I got degrees in other subjects. Because the Bible was the root of my understanding I was able to take the information I learned and judge it based on the Word of God. My hope was never in the information I learned. My hope was in God. Therefore, I only applied the information based on my sense of God’s wisdom.
Our tendency is to lean on our understanding and judge God by our intellectual information. This is always a recipe for disaster. The Bible tells us to lean not on our understanding but to trust God and acknowledge Him in all of our ways. That word “acknowledge” means to know, see, perceive, and understand God in all of our ways. It is essential that we follow the Lord as our Shepherd and experience Him in all our paths. It is feeling that intimate connection with God in our heart that makes us feel secure when we walk through difficult or troubling situations. But as long as we sense His loving leading and have the capacity to hear His voice in our heart, then we understand what the psalmist meant in Psalm 23. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil; for you are with me. When we experience Christ in our heart we feel safe in any situation.
When we connect with God in our heart He gives us insight and understanding about how we can succeed in any situation. He is the God of hope. This means He is the God who always gives us the confident expectation of good. And the Bible says that we will never be ashamed of this hope. In other words, we will always see these good expectations come to pass. But too many times our good expectations are based on our intellectual observations. We present these observations/opinions to God and ask Him to bless them. We think we’re working faith but the truth is we’re trying to control God. We’re trying to control the process. We want God to work in the way that makes sense to us.
In the Old Testament God said His ways were above our ways. In the New Testament God shows us Jesus, the logos, the logic and wisdom of God. We should understand God and His ways more today than any Old Testament prophet, priest, or king. We should understand the secret of following God as our Shepherd because we know Him in our heart and hear His voice. However, hearing the voice of God is not something that just happens automatically. It’s much like learning a new language, and in this language we learn by listening.
…Sanctification is a time of setting ourselves apart both physically and emotionally from anything that would distract us from hearing God. It is in these times alone with God that we develop our capacity to recognize His voice. As we become accustomed to hearing Him in this place of peace and isolation we soon become able to recognize His voice no matter what’s going on around us. But the journey must start alone with Him. Few people are able to follow God if they wait until they are in a crisis and attempt to listen!
In Psalm 73 the psalmist talks about how he nearly backslid. He looked around and saw the wicked prospering. It seemed their lives got better no matter what they did. He began to envy the wicked. He was soon swayed as he started to believe there was no value in godly living. However, in verse 17 he says I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood… This word “sanctuary” is used in reference to the temple, the tabernacle, or any holy place. But the following from the Theological Word Book of the Old Testament gives us new insight into the concept of the word “sanctuary”: “the state of that which belongs to the sphere of the sacred”. The word occurs in several dialects – with the basic meanings “to be clean, pure, consecrated. …is used most frequently to describe the state of consecration.” The sanctuary is as much a state that one enters into as it is a place!
In the New Covenant we are the priesthood; we are the holy nation; we are the sanctuary. Most importantly, our heart is the Holy of Holies. Our heart is the place where God meets with us, speaks to us, and teaches us. When we connect with God in our heart we are in the sanctuary; in fact, we are in the Holy Place. It is holy because God is there! In this place God ministers grace and truth! When God speaks to us He doesn’t just give us truth, He gives us grace and truth (Jn 1:16). This means that along with the truth we experience the strength to apply the truth. It seems that our Teacher, the Holy Spirit, is not as interested in telling us the right way to interpret Scripture as He is in teaching us how to live Scripture. Therefore, when God speaks truth and understanding into our heart He always gives us the grace (the capacity, the power, the ability that works from our heart and comes by unmerited favor) and makes us able to be and do what that truth says.
By all means, develop your mind. Sharpen all of your skills, but don’t labor in vain. Any endeavor you choose to pursue, start with your heart. First and foremost, look at the cross of Christ. Find the Scriptures that show you that Jesus overcame any of the limitations you encounter. Spend time acknowledging to God that all of those limitations are dead because they are part of your old man. Then renew your mind by reading, pondering, and considering all the promises that are yours through the resurrection of Jesus. Find the promises that assure you that you can have, do, and be the very thing that you pursue. Then put on those promises by meditating.
Meditation occurs when we ponder something until it becomes real in our own heart. When something becomes real in our own heart it alters our sense of self. It changes the way we see ourselves and, therefore, changes the way we see our circumstances. When something becomes real in our heart the ability to do it is effortless. It becomes the way we see and understand reality.
After you have developed your heart you will know what intellectual information you need to pursue. Then you can understand what to study and what not to study. Then you can invest in your life and it will not be in vain.
For complete understanding of how to expand the invisible boundaries that continuously limit your life be sure to check out my new book and teaching series entitled Moving Your Invisible Boundaries.