Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Daily Encouragement (11/12/14) "Responsive And Open Hearts"

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Maple in Mastersonville, PA
Enjoying the last weeks of fall colors

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"Responsive And Open Hearts"

"Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God when you heard what He spoke against this place and its people, and because you humbled yourself before me and tore your robes and wept in My presence, I have heard you, declares the LORD" (2 Chronicles 34:27). "One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message" (Acts 16:14).

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord,
Open the eyes of my heart;
I want to see You, I want to see You.

Do you have people you are praying for to accept the Lord? I would expect and hope we all do! One aspect of praying is found in today's passages with our petition that God make hearts open and responsive. Our first daily text is referring to Josiah who had a responsive heart.

LydiaThe second daily text records the story of a woman named Lydia and her response to the message of salvation. She was from the city of Thyatira, which is in modern day Turkey. She was "a dealer in purple cloth" indicating that she was a business woman. She was a "worshiper of God." Perhaps she was a devout Jew or in a group of monotheistic Gentiles in the ancient world who worshiped the God of the Old Testament, similar to Cornelius in Acts 10 prior to his conversion to Christ.

"The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message" (the Gospel).  The phrase, "The Lord opened her heart", has often intrigued me. It reminds me of the sovereign role of God in the salvation of individuals. We should pray in our evangelism endeavors that God will open the hearts of those to whom we share His message. In addition to our obedience in witnessing to others we should also consider the sovereign work of God in the salvation of souls. The word "respond" translates the Greek word "prosecho" which conveys the sense "to hold the mind towards, i.e. pay attention to".  Isn't that what we want?

We live in a world where most pay little or no attention to God and are careening toward a most certain judgment. We want them to stop and pay attention to God's message. What about the loved ones for whom you've been praying for many years? They just won't take you seriously. They may be like Lot's foolish sons-in-law who thought Lot was joking when he warned of the impending destruction of Sodom (Genesis 19:14).  Or they may just evade the issue. As you pray remember to ask that the Lord open their hearts so that they respond to your witness for Christ.

There is another great spiritual truth when I consider this. We need to pray not only for others, but for ourselves also; that we will have open, soft and responsive hearts. I will admit that my heart is not always responsive. Sometimes hardness will come over me; certainly not hardness toward salvation at this point, but a hardness that blocks spiritual receptivity to the things the Spirit of God is wanting to do in my life. He may be wanting to purge the impurities that clog my heart or He may be challenging me to a new level of spiritual growth. Perhaps He wants to develop a new gift unnatural to the inborn talents I was born with and this requires an extra measure of trust.

Sometimes there can be "scar tissue" from past hurts, disappointments, failures and even deep-seated bitterness that contributes to this struggle. Of course most illustrations have a breakdown point and we know that God can heal broken-hearts and give us new hearts as well in our pursuit of following Christ.

But I also pray that God will keep our hearts open and responsive to His Spirit all through life as believers. 

Soften my heart, Lord, soften my heart.
From all indifference set me apart;
To feel Your compassion, to weep with Your tears;
Come soften my heart, Oh Lord, soften my heart.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we lift up in prayer our loved ones who have yet to bow their knees and confess with their tongue that Jesus Christ is Lord. We never give up believing that someday they will come to faith through Christ Jesus. At the same time we pray for ourselves that You would make us pliable and yielding to Your touch which can happen only as we open our hearts to You. We want to be like clay in the hand of the potter and receptive to Your Spirit's working. The process can be painful as impurities are removed and reshaping goes against the gravity of our sin nature. But the end result makes us vessels fitting for Your honor, useful for Your kingdom, and exemplary as a believer to those we are praying for. We desire to glorify You today as our hearts are open to Your Spirit.  Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Soften My Heart"  Video  Maranatha Worship Singers   We used to sing this as a worship chorus and a call to consecration many years ago.

"Open The Eyes Of My Heart"  Video  Oslo Gospel Choir

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Personal Mission Statement "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
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