What’s in Your Heart? - Encouragement for Today - May 27, 2016

Wendy Pope

May 27,2016

What’s in Your Heart?

“Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies.” Psalm 24:4 (NLT)

Many years ago, as I read the book of Exodus, I was appalled to learn how God’s people created and worshiped idols like the golden calf. Later, my disdain turned into understanding when I learned the definition of idol and uncovered my own false gods.

An idol is any person or thing regarded or worshiped with blind admiration, adoration, intense love or extreme devotion. Studying this definition forced me to examine my life. When I asked myself what I adored and loved the most, sleep topped my list.

For me, there was nothing compared to changing into my pajama bottoms after a long day, curling up in bed with a good book and not waking up until I hit the snooze button a couple of times the next morning. If my kids or husband interrupted my sleep, it must have been for a very, very good reason! Some days (OK, many days) my first waking thought was, “I can’t wait to go back to sleep tonight.”

My extreme admiration for sleep had overtaken my desire to spend time with the Lord in the morning. Instead of getting up to read the Bible and pray, I’d roll over and dream. God wasn’t first, second or even third in my heart’s desires.

God knew the desire for us to create idols would be tempting. It’s human nature to go after things we can see (hence the phrase, “Out of sight, out of mind”), but as God’s people, we must remember to keep our spiritual eyes on Him.

Friends, this is nothing new. Moses warned God’s people about turning their affections away from their Creator and onto His creation:

“So do not corrupt yourselves by making an idol in any form … don’t be seduced into worshiping them … Remember that the LORD rescued you … in order to make you his very own people and his special possession, which is what you are today” (see Deuteronomy 4:16a, 19b-20, NLT).

Everyone’s idols will differ: money, marriage, notoriety, security. Whatever our idols are, they can’t remain in our hearts. Why? In Psalm 24, David asks who can be near God. The answer is found in today’s key verse: "Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies" (Psalm 24:4).

If we are to be in a close relationship with the Lord, we can’t have idols lingering in our hearts. Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money” (NLT).

Or sleep. Or ________ {you fill in the blank}.

It may not seem like a big deal for us to desire wealth, fame, relationships or other seemingly insignificant things. But when these take precedence over God, it is a major issue to Him. Scripture tells us that He is jealous for our hearts and will not — nor should He — share His glory with another (Deuteronomy 4:24).

Reality television has co-opted the word jealous: we see housewives jealous over handbags and luxury vehicles; chefs jealous over others’ delicious, well-executed dishes; bachelorettes jealous over fun dates other women go on. But they aren’t actually jealous; they are envious.

Envy longs for what belongs to others.

Jealousy passionately desires what rightly belongs to you.

You and I belong to God, so when anything claims our affections, time, money, thoughts or desires more than He does, He becomes jealous. He loves us and knows nothing can fulfill us like He can and nothing is better for us than His ways. In fact, Psalm 24:5 says that when we purify our hearts of idols, we “will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God [our] savior” (NLT). God longs to be the one thing you long for the most.

Every now and then, I still struggle with desiring more sleep than I need. But now, instead of settling in for an excessive snooze, it’s a lot easier to convince my sleepy bones to follow my heart’s true desire — to spend every moment I can with the One my heart longs for.

Lord, investigate my heart, search every part. Reveal anything that is keeping me from having a right relationship with You. Forgive me for elevating anything and anyone above You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

1 Corinthians 10:14, “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” (ESV)

Did you know it’s possible to be close to God’s presence and yet far from His heart? Join us for the study of Numbers on the First 5 app, where we’ll learn from the Israelites’ right and wrong choices, beginning June 6! Get the NumbersExperience Guide here and download the free First 5 app today.

To what or whom do you have blind admiration, adoration, extreme devotion or intense love?

How will you safeguard your heart against giving that thing or person first place in your life where only God belongs?

© 2016 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105

Originally published Friday, 27 May 2016.