The Heart of Stone

Perhaps the choices you made over the past year were hard on your heart.

By Kathy Pollard

I know what a stony heart feels like, don’t you?

  • It’s when I am indifferent to the needs of others.
  • It’s when I am disengaged in worship week after week.
  • It’s when I’ve been involved in sin and my conscience is no longer pricked.
  • It’s when I withhold forgiveness.
  • It’s when I no longer hunger for the Word.
  • It’s when I stop thinking souls.
  • It’s when Calvary doesn’t move me.
  • It’s when my heart has become divided instead of devoted.

It is an unhappy thing when you know your heart has hardened in any of these areas but you lack the desire or discipline to do anything about it.  Perhaps the choices you made over the past year were hard on your heart.  Perhaps you can tell you’ve drifted away from God, or you’ve allowed your connection to your church family to grow cold.  When that happens, it’s easy to become disheartened, discouraged with yourself, or indifferent in your spiritual walk.  Have you ever looked in the mirror and asked, “What’s the matter with me?  How did I get here?”

Listen to what God said to His people.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).

God gave this beautiful promise to people who had misrepresented His holy name.  They weren’t acting like people who belonged to Him.  Those who saw them acknowledged their hypocrisy.  In modern terms they said, “They call themselves ‘Christians’ but they don’t act like it” (v. 20).  Yet God still wanted their heart.  He wanted to redeem them and give them His Spirit (v. 27).

This encourages me.  There are times when my heart problem is obvious to others.  But there are times when only I am aware of the hardening while I continue to go through the motions.  Either way, I can know that God still desires to cleanse me and save me (v. 29, 33).  God is willing to act on my behalf for my good (notice all the “I will” statements He makes in v. 23-38).  This may not be pleasant at first.  It may be in the form of exposed sin or an unhappy trial.  But I can see how necessary it is to shake me out of my complacency.  It reminds me of the song, “Break my heart, dear Lord.”  I am thankful for the opportunities God gives me to soften my heart again.


Revive Me #51–Spend Time on the Mountain

Revive Me, Week 51– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Spend Time on the Mountain

Moses went up Mount Sinai to receive the testimony of God and then “went down to the people to tell them” (Ex. 19:20-25).  Jesus “went up on the mountain and…opened His mouth and began to teach” (Matt. 5:1,2).  He took what Moses had shared and elevated it.  He made it a matter of the heart (5:21,22, 31,32, etc.).  What Jesus taught is easy, except for when it’s hard.

The “Sermon on the Mount” is a familiar text.  And yet there are moments when I realize I haven’t spent enough time on the mountain.  Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (5:20).  The scribes and Pharisees knew the law and they looked the part.  They were seen as religious leaders.  But they had a heart problem.  They liked to tell other people what to do while not practicing it themselves (Matt. 23).

I can talk about the command to forgive but what about when someone really hurts me?  I can say gossip is wrong but what about when my loose lips blurt out something that never should’ve been shared?  What if a sister wrongs me and I go to her one-on-one and she humbly apologizes, but I still feel angry and keep thinking of more things to say to put her in her place?  What then?  Well, I need to spend more time on the mountain.

  • Be gentle, merciful, a peacemaker (5:5-9).
  • Turn the other cheek (5:39).
  • Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (5:44).
  • Don’t just love those who love you (5:46).
  • Forgive others (6:14,15).
  • Do not worry about your life (6:25).
  • Don’t judge others harshly while overlooking your own faults (7:1-5).

What Jesus taught is easy, except for when it’s hard.  Does my righteousness surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees if I’m not practicing these in my own life?

Jesus said there would be those who stand before Him and say, “Look at all the religious things I did!”  But because they ignored the will of the Father, He will say to them, “I never knew you” (7:21-23).

“When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed…[and He] came down from the mountain.”

(Matt. 7:28-8:1)

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Read the Sermon on the Mount every day this week (Matthew 5-7).
  2.  Underline or highlight anything Jesus taught on the mountain that you personally struggle with.
  3. Pray for God to give you the humility to see your own “logs” and the strength to remove them (Matt. 7:1-5).


Revive Me, Week Two

Revive Me–A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord, Week Two

Open Your Heart Again

It may be that your heart is already wide open.  You express your love for others daily and look for ways to prove that love with action.  You keep your eyes open for those who are needy or who slip through the cracks.  You are quick to reach out to those who are hurting.

Or maybe you’ve been so overwhelmed with everything going on in your life that the idea of caring for one more person exhausts you.  You’ve been stressed and worried for so long that you find yourself unable to feel.  You’re starting to resent being asked to help someone else.

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4).  Loving God involves investing in His people.  And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also (1 John 4:21).

It is all too easy to get caught up in our own interests.  When that happens, a heart check is in order.  Some questions to consider:

  • Has your heart become numb?
  • In an effort of self-preservation, have you withdrawn from others or limited your love to mainly those who are in your family?   
  • Have you become indifferent to the prayer requests in the announcements?
  • Does it feel like it takes too much effort to look others in the eye and engage in meaningful conversations?
  • Do you find yourself coming up with more and more reasons to leave right after worship?     

Surely Satan is thrilled when we resist going to effort of loving others.  We serve a God of love (1 John 4:8).  The church is supposed to be made up of loving people (Rom. 12:10-13).  And the world is to recognize us by our love for one another (John 13:35).   Someone said, “Interaction is really where true love is truly expressed.”  Let’s go far in reaching others with God’s love this year.

Suggestions for this week:

  1.  Have a heart study.  Focus on verses that have to do with the heart and what God wants from it.
  2. Jot down names of those who are struggling or hurting.  In addition to praying for them, reach out to them in some tangible way (hug, conversation, card).
  3. Encourage every member of your family (young and old) to make an effort to build up others each time you meet (Heb. 10:25).
  4. When you run errands, be intentional about really “seeing” the people around you.  How can you open your heart to them?
  5. Consider memorizing 1 John 3:18      

Pray it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

Free Heart Check Quiz!

Answer a few questions, and you can learn all about yourself.  If you want to know what kind of personality you have, you can take a test and find out.  (I’m a Melancholy.)  There are quizzes that help you know what kind of colors you should wear.  (I’m a warm autumn.)  What kind of exercise best suits your body shape?  (Apparently I need every exercise in the book.)  There’s no end to the types of quizzes out there.  What breed of dog should you own?  What kind of spender are you?  Which career should you pursue?  With a few keystrokes, you can find out anything you want to know about yourself.

It takes a little more effort to really know yourself.  In Psalm 139, David begins by saying, “O Lord, You have searched me and known me” (v.1).  He ends the psalm by saying, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Test me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me” (v. 23,24).”  And in between those two verses, we see David acknowledging that God knows him better than anyone.  God knows everything he does and even thinks (v. 2).  God understands him, everything about him (v. 3).  God knows everything he says (v. 4).  God is with him at all times (v. 7-12).  God knows him from the inside out (v. 13-15).  God had plans for him in His book before he was even born (v. 16).  No wonder David asked God to test his heart, to help him know himself!  Am I up to taking that test?  It might look something like this:

Check the one that best describes you:

____A.  I use the Word as my mirror every day to see the areas I need to change in order to look more like Christ (James 1:22-25).

____B.  Many times I only use the Word when I’m preparing a lesson or trying to prove a point.

____A.  I listen to people older than me in hopes of learning from their knowledge and spiritual maturity (Prov. 12:15; Psa. 25:9).

____B.  I feel that older people are out of touch and can’t really relate, but I’m willing to tolerate them.

____A.  I can’t do enough to show my gratitude and love for my Heavenly Father so I eagerly serve Him with my whole heart (Psalm 119: 34,35).

____B.  If it’s not specifically mentioned in the Bible, I’m not doing it.  Why go out of my way to do something I really don’t have to?

____A.  I never want to cause anyone to stumble, so I’m careful about what I say and the choices I make.  Just because I CAN do something doesn’t mean I SHOULD (1 Cor. 10).

____B.  If I have the right to do something, I’m going to do it.  It’s not my fault there are ignorant Christians out there.

____A.  I build up the body of Christ by looking for ways to encourage others (Eph. 4:29).

____B.  I’m not afraid to criticize the works and efforts of others, or point out their flaws and weaknesses.  Somebody has to keep everyone else in line!

Your Results:  If you checked more A’s than B’s, congratulations!  Your heart is humbly trying to follow Christ’s example of compassion and commitment.  If you checked more B’s, it could be that pride is keeping you from seeing your own shortcomings (Gal. 6:1-5).

This is just one example of how we can learn about ourselves from the Bible.  If I want to know what kind of wife I am, how brightly I shine the Light, or my level of soul-winning efforts, I must be careful not to compare myself with others in order to feel satisfied or justified (Luke 18:9-14).  For a true gauge, I must humbly and honestly turn to the One who knows me better than anyone else.  I must be willing to put my heart to the test.  “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two -edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).

Prayer for Today:  Search me, O God, and know my heart.  Test me, and see if there is any wicked way in me.

Photo credit goes to Angelo Storari
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