The Heart of the Matter
is the Matter of the Heart!
When we use the word "heart" we are usually referring to that very important organ in our chest cavity which pumps blood throughout our body.
The Bible uses the word "heart" many times but rarely uses it of the physical organ. One place where it does refer to this organ is found in 2 Kings 9:24---"And Jehu drew a bow with his full strength, and smote Jehoram between his arms, and the arrow went out at ___________________, and he sunk down in his chariot" (2 Kings 9:24). This verse is speaking of the physical organ, the heart, which is a rare usage. Most of the time the term "heart" in the Bible has another meaning.
The physical heart is found at the center of a person's body, not the end of a person's leg, nor near a person's elbow. The term "HEART" in the Bible usually refers to the central core of a man, the inner person. The "heart" is the way to speak of THE WHOLE PERSON. When the Bible speaks of someone's heart, it is speaking of the inner PERSON. The heart refers to the whole person, including the personís mind, will, emotions, etc.
The physical organ which we call the heart is vitally important. We cannot live without it, and if it stops beating we will die. Heart disease is a serious killer of men and women. So also the inner "heart" of man is of utmost importance. All that we do and think and feel flows out of the heart. It is the center of our inner being.
The heart is the center of man's thinking: "For as he ________________ in his heart, so is he (Prov. 23:7). As I think, so I am. The clothes we put on are not who we are. The food we eat does not make us who we are. What we do for a living does not make us who we are. We are who we are in our mind, in our heart. Our physical body is not who we are; it is just the house we live in.
"But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the ________________" (1 Sam. 16:7). People look on the outside, but God looks on the heart, on the inside. God is not looking at the physical organ, but at the inner person. God sees what the person is like on the inside.
"Keep thy ________________ with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (Prov. 4:23). Keep or guard your heart. The heart is the core of your being. The heart is the key to a person's life. Keep your heart more than all the other things you keep. Regard it as the very citadel (fortified place, stronghold) of your soul. Out of the heart are the issues, the springs, the outgoings of life. The heart is the source. The heart is the substance. The heart is where decisions are made. Everything you express comes out of the heart. All the affections and feelings are in the heart.
Keeping the heart right with God is more important than anything else. A person could graduate with high honors from a very prestigious college, but keeping the heart right with God is more important than that. A person could win an Olympic Gold medal or earn a Nobel prize, but keeping the heart right with God is more important than that. A person could climb up the corporate ladder and find a job which pays an annual salary of more than three million dollars, but keeping the heart right with God is more important than that. Suppose a person could take a magic pill which guarantees that he will never get sick or ill for the rest of his life, and guarantees that he will live to be at least 100. Keeping the heart right with God is more important than that. "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (Prov. 4:23).
"My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my _________________ and my flesh crieth out for the living God" (Psalm 84:2). In this verse, soul and heart are used in parallel fashion, both referring to the person. This person has a longing for the living God, to know Him better.
Man's sinfulness comes from the center of his being. "For from within, out of the _______________ of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders" (Mark 7:21, and see verses 22-23). The heart refers to the person inside. The person is defiled by sin. Every person has received this sinful nature from Adam. Every person needs to know the "_____________ of his own heart" (1 Kings 8:38). Every person needs to recognize that he has a serious heart problem: "The ________________ is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked [incurably sick]" (Jeremiah 17:9). Only God has a cure for the sinful heart of man, and that cure was made possible by Calvary's cross.
The heart is the center of man's understanding. Solomon knew that on his own and by himself he could never handle the responsibilities of being king over all Israel. So he asked God for understanding: "Give therefore thy servant an _______________________ _______________ to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?" (1 Kings 3:9). And God answered this prayer: "And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an ________________________ ____________; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee" (1 Kings 3:11-12).
"But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with ____ ______ ______________ and with all thy soul" (Deut. 4:29). The heart has to do with the person. All of your heart, all of you, all of your soul─your whole being─is to be seeking God. Give your whole heart to the pursuit of God. Do not seek God in a half-hearted way. When your whole person approaches Godís whole Person, then you will find God.
According to Jeremiah 29:12-13, what must a person do in order to find God? _____________________________________________________________________________ Does God reward people who seek Him in this way (Hebrews 11:6)? _______ Those who seek after God with all their heart will not be disappointed.
Genesis 4:19 speaks of a man who took unto himself two wives. Because of this, his heart and his affections were divided. He could not give one wife all of his devotion because he had two wives, and both of them wanted his attention. His affection had to be shared between the two. You can imagine the problems this might create. Solomon had hundred of wives and his heart had to be divided between all of them.
When it comes to the believer and God, God does not want the believer to have a divided heart. Suppose you had two bosses. It would be impossible to give one of them all your service and labor because you have to try to please both of them. The Lord Jesus spoke of this problem of a divided heart: "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24). God wants all of our devotion.
The living God wants all of our love and all of our devotion: "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with _____ ______ _____________, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might" (Deut. 6:4-5). Because there is only ONE GOD (verse 4) our devotion does not need to be divided. We are to love Him with ALL OUR HEART.
"And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with ____ _____ _____________ and with all thy soul" (Deut. 10:12). The entire person is involved.
"Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in __________________ of ______________, fearing God" (Col. 3:22). The word SINGLENESS means without duplicity, simple, clear, united, connected. With singleness of heart, serve and fear God. Donít have a divided heart. Leave God in the center of your heart. Give Him all your heart. Give Him your complete allegiance.
As you observe people and the way they live, what are some of the signs of a divided heart? What are some of the signs of a heart that is undivided and fully devoted to the Lord?
Who knows all about your heart, and whether it is divided or not (Psalm 44:21)? __________
"But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me: for all the house of Israel are impudent (stiff) and _______________________" (Ezekiel 3:7).
The Pharaoh in the book of Exodus was known for his HARD HEART. He repeatedly refused to do what God told him to do.
"Today if ye will hear his voice, ______________ not your hearts" (Hebrews 3:7-8). When we hear God's Word, and fail to do what it says, our hearts get hard. When we continue to hear God's Word, but fail to heed God's Word, then the heart keeps on getting harder. The harder the heart gets, the harder it is to do right. When we hear God's Word and look to God and humbly seek to do what God's Word says, then the heart softens.
What is God looking for? Heís looking for a heart that is tender. The word "tender" is used of a little twig, a tree just developing. "Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon an high mountain and eminent" (Ezek. 17:22). A twig is not like a large branch. It is very small, tender and bendable. The word "tender" is used of a little child, a tender child: moldable, soft, weak, supple, submissive, easily bent like a twig, easily changed.
King Josiah had a tender heart: "Because thine ______________ was ___________ (easily bent, bowed), and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the LORD" (2 Kings 22:19). He was tender, soft, easily bent. We need to have a soft heart that is pliable, teachable, moldable. The problem is that we get old, stiff and inflexible. We need to stay childlike.
"Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all
your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new
____________ also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you:
and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you
an _____________ of flesh" (Ezek. 36:25-26). A heart of
flesh is a soft heart. To have a soft heart, we must look to God:
"For God maketh my heart _________" (Job 23:16).
The word SOFT is the word TENDER. God mollifies and tenderizes my heart. Otherwise I would have
a hard heart. God does that. He wants us to be soft, flexible, easily
"For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away ______ ____________ after other gods: and _____ ___________ was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David, his father" (1 Kings 11:4). Solomon was unlike his father David who gave God all of his heart. Solomon allowed his foreign wives to turn his heart away from God. "And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because _____ ____________ was turned from the LORD God of Israel" (1 Kings 11:9).
The Lord warns us about a departing heart: "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an __________ ____________ of unbelief, in departing from the living God" (Hebrews 3:12). Faith brings us to God (Hebrews 11:6); unbelief takes us away from God (Hebrews 3:12). God wants us to be constantly DRAWING NEAR to God, not departing from Him: "Let us __________ ___________ with a true _____________ in full assurance of faith" (Hebrews 10:22). If a person draws back from God, is God pleased (Hebrews 10:38)? ______
Daniel 1:8ó"But Daniel purposed in his ____________ that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself." He purposed; he laid it to heart; he set his heart on the right course. He determined that he would not defile himself but that he would keep himself pure for the Lord. What determination have you made in your heart? What course is your life set on? What is your focus and goal in life? What is the one thing you are concerned about more than anything else?
HOW IS YOUR
Is Your Heart Right With God?
David, toward the end of his life, gave a very important message to his son Solomon: "And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect ______________ and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever" (1 Chron. 28:9). A perfect heart is an undivided heart, a heart that is fully and completely devoted to the Lord. God searches all of our hearts and He knows whether or not we have a perfect heart. If your heart is not right with God, it is never too late to fix it: "If thou seek him, he will be found of (by) thee" (1 Chron. 28:9).