Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Heart 2

By Bessie Wilson

This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. (1 John 3:19-20)

What is it that helps us set our hearts at rest in His presence? The preceding verse (verse 18) establishes the context: “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” The immediate context is that if we see a brother in need and we have no pity, the question is, “How can the love of God be in us?”

Years ago, just after Mother’s Day, a friend (the wife of a pastor) told me that her young daughter had defied her and gone to a public park. She was wondering how to handle this when the child returned. My friend had been folding clean laundry and was about to take it to her daughter’s room when she remembered the loving card received on Mother’s Day. She put it on top of the laundry, took it to the room and handed the card to the daughter with some remark to the effect that the card was not true and she was returning it. It was an object lesson that words of love should be followed by action. I believe that it spoke to the child’s heart for her to see that her disobedience contradicted her words of love.

(Is this why we have difficulty finding a card to express our love on special occasions, birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, etc? We know our performance has not come up to our words.)

Rereading the phrase, “whenever our hearts condemn us,” we see the necessity of examining our own hearts. When, during such self-examination, we find that our heart condemns us, two things must be considered.

Does my heart condemn me because I have sinned? If so, sin must be confessed and forgiven on the basis of 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” This means real guilt for a specific sin of thought, attitude or deed. Does my heart still condemn me? Here we need to evaluate with the Lord’s help whether we are experiencing false guilt, a sort of confused, uncomfortable feeling of not making the grade and not knowing why. Perhaps verse 18 will provide some clue. Am I loving with words or tongue but failing in my actions and in truth? If my walk does not correspond to my talk, then I need to get back to evaluating by the Lord’s standard. He says we can set our hearts at rest in His presence if we check ourselves by His standard. For example, do I say I respect my husband but by my actions and words go against his wishes, denigrate him before the children or friends, act independently of his desires and undermine his authority in the family? Many of us would have to confess real guilt in this matter.

If, however, my respect for my husband is obvious to children and friends, I do not act independently, and I reinforce his authority, then my heart can be at rest in His presence. Remember God is greater than our hearts and He knows everything, so He is to be consulted as to whether, in His sight, I am loving in actions and truth.

Let’s use the same example in light of the husband’s responsibility. Husbands, do you say you love your wife but stand by idly when you see her struggle with the children, the laundry and the meals (and sometimes no money)? Do you discipline the children and teach them to honor their mother? Do you express your love and appreciations for her willingness to do without by telling her what her skills are worth in the present-day market and how much you would like to give her things of value? It does not mean giving her a gift you cannot afford, but she will find that the thought itself is a gift. The television or newspaper should not be a barricade behind which a man can hide while the “little woman” words herself into a resentment. “Cherishing your wife” as Ephesians 5:25 (KJV) says is to hold her dear by taking great care of her as a loved possession. Try this self-evaluation in His presence. It is a humbling experience but rich in benefits.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Heart

These next two posts are from a column entitled "The Heart" which was published in The Hammer (a CCM magazine) years ago.

The Heart
by Bessie Wilson

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23

Whether we know it or not, all of us have had or have at present heart trouble. Whatever part of the spiritual anatomy the heart represents, the Scripture is clear that it is the seat of the emotions, one’s very being from which thoughts, words, and actions proceed. Jesus said,

What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man unclean. (Mark 7:20-23)

The prophet Jeremiah gave God’s diagnosis:

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart and examine the mind. (Jeremiah 17:9-10a)

Therefore, the heart must be changed. He who did the diagnosis provides the remedy. This is God’s promise in Ezekiel 11:19:

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them. I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees.

This is the Old Testament equivalent of Jesus’ words in John 3 that we need to be born again to enter the Kingdom of God.
Jesus Christ is the heart specialist of all time. He told us in Mark 7 what evil can proceed from the heart of man. Humanism says the heart and mind of man can be relied upon from progress, morality and social reform. In reading Jesus’ diagnosis of the heart of man we see all the social problems of our day and the crime resulting from the illness within man.
The gospel of Jesus Christ, His death for our sins and His resurrection for our justification (Romans 4:25), provides the only remedy for the heart of man. This is the only cure for our heart trouble, a new heart given by a gracious God as we bring that deceitful heart to Him. Then we can sing with Charles Wesley,

Oh, for a heart to praise my God,
A heart from sin set free;
A heart that’s sprinkled with the blood,
So freely shed for me.

A heart resigned, submissive, meek,
My dear Redeemer’s throne;
Where only Christ is heard to speak,
Where Jesus reigns alone.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Heart ‘e-Value-ations’

By Bessie Wilson

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” (Luke 16:14-15)

God knows our hearts! This can be either a comforting or a terrifying thought. Jesus first analyzed the Pharisees’ attitude (“You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men”) before He told them that God knew their hearts. Then He clarified it even more by saying that this attitude before men was a very poor standard because what men put a high value on was detestable in God’s sight.
What is highly valued among men? Perhaps by itemizing some of the things men value we will see that we have, in some cases, allowed the world to press us into its mold. However, we can, by His grace, stop this and instead be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Then we will be able to test and approve what God’s will is (Romans 12:1-2).
Financial success is highly esteemed among men. Is anything wrong with financial success? The Pharisees “loved money,” and Paul pointed out in 1 Timothy 6:10 that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” It is not money but the love of it which is detestable in God’s sight. Where would the work of God in evangelism be but for the faithful giving of God’s people? Some have the gift of managing money for the glory of God. CCM donors have kept this ministry going. It is when money manages men that it is detestable in God’s sight.
Judging by the average TV commercial, we would also have to list sex as highly valued among men. Whether it is a car, gum or clothing that is advertised, more often than not the word “sexy” is used or implied. Call-in shows devote much time to the subject of sex, and the private lives of people are discussed freely.
Men and women now are casual about illicit sex, treating sex as a right rather than a privilege. God has placed boundaries around sex so that we are not hurt by it. In the sanctity of marriage there should be safety.
Hosea 8:7 aptly describes our condition as we face the plague of AIDS. “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.” Also in Galatians 6:7, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”
Fame is highly valued in society. Fame can be from politics, the arts, or theatrical success. We know how fleeting fame is in politics, for people are lauded one day and condemned the next. Fame in the theater and arts is dependent on the “trend-setters,” no matter how crude and revolting their practices. The many-times-married men and women are applauded as authorities on just about any subject. This is where the rot sets in and the decay pervades society. But remember, it is detestable in God’s sight.
God knows all hearts. “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5).
This led to the flood. What is His evaluation of our world today? Of your heart? Of mine?

Friday, January 06, 2012

CCM's Website

Something new – Community Christian Ministries has updated their website with downloadable literature and audio files. Check them out at www.ccmbooks.org!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The Least in the Kingdom of God

I wish to draw your attention to different expressions about entering the Kingdom of God.

“Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19-20)

Those who break commands and teach breaking them are called least in the Kingdom. Those who practice obedience and teach obedience will be called great in the Kingdom. The righteousness of the Pharisees is even less than those who break the commandments and teach breaking them.

“Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matthew 11:11)

Therefore, the disobedient, who are least in the Kingdom, are greater than John.

“And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’” (Matthew 18:3-4)

Those who practice and teach obedience are called great, and those who humble themselves are greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.

“Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!’ The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’” (Mark 10:23-25)

“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)

“Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.” (John 3:5)

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)