Incline my Heart

Psalm 119:36 “Incline my heart to your testimonies,
and not to selfish gain!”

Hearts are easily bent in the wrong direction. Being human is to be vulnerable and in a world that caters to the flesh, it’s easy to be swayed.

When David prayed his prayer to God, he did so in self-reflected honesty. It’s one thing to know the reasons for our actions, but being honest about where those reasons originate takes courage and humility. We may claim we acted out of self-defense, or from a necessity to get ahead, but reasons become excuses when they become patterns. If our focus in life is bent toward self-preservation, gaining respect, or advancing in our social positions, we have chosen the lesser way. All of these things become diminished when we set our minds on Him.

Understanding the priorities of life is to walk in the knowledge of God’s leading. We can either attempt to figure out our lives on our own, or we can choose to follow God’s lead and discover value in our walk that extends into eternity. The heart turned towards God is blessed by God, the heart turned inwardly exalts the flesh.

James gave a strong rebuke against hearts that were turned inwardly.

James 4:1-3 “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”

Our natural inclination is to please the flesh. It wants to be comfortable, full, secure, and most of all it wants to be exalted. When our hearts are turned toward the flesh, the insatiable desire to be fulfilled collides with the reality of God’s purpose.

Reality reveals to us how the things our flesh desires do not fulfill our greatest need which is unity with Christ; and when we acquire what we think we desire and it turns out to be a false hope—-anger, frustration, and resentment ensues.

How do we shift our mindset so that our lives are in accordance with God’s plans for us?

Galatians 5:16 “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

Beginning with Prayer

A meaningful life that is committed to God’s plan begins with prayer and then follows with obedience.

“I am convinced that a prayer-less approach to God’s Word is a major reason for the low level dissatisfaction that hums beneath the surface of our lives”

Matt Smethurst

Something that may seem insignificant like daily prayer, becomes the key contributor for a desire to walk in the Spirit. If our prayer life is consistent, our growth will be consistent when coupled with an investment into God’s Word with prayer.

Ephesians 6:18 “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”

The mindset of pleasing the flesh will take a back seat when hearing God’s voice is the priority from the start of your day until it is finished. We often wonder how we keep digressing into patterns of self-serving and regret, and yet we often set ourselves up for failure by neglecting the pattern of joy.

A Mind set on God

If my mind is focused on the events of the day, frustrations from the previous day, or if I’m consumed with my circumstances, I’m allowing myself to start in the flesh. When I strive to correct past mistakes, think of ways to make it better, or ruminate over things I can’t control, I place my strength and ability at the forefront of my life——this creates anxiety and eventually despair.

Romans 8:5-6 “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”

Is your prayer to walk in the anointing of God? If it’s not, let me share with you why it’s worth pursuing.

First, it’s important to understand what it means to walk in the anointing of God.

God’s Anointed Ones

The primary purpose of anointing with the oil was to sanctify or to set the anointed person or object apart as qodesh, or “holy” (Exodus 30:29). Originally, the oil was used exclusively for the priests and the Tabernacle articles, but its use was later extended to include kings (1 Samuel 10:1)

Old Testament Israel had mediators who stood between God and His people. To empower the OT mediators, the Holy Spirit gave special administrative ability to carry out the management of the nation and military skills which enabled them to defeat their enemies. The Lord first anointed Moses with this ministry of the Spirit and then, in a truly dramatic scene, took some of this ministry of the Spirit and shared it with the seventy elders. Thus they were enabled to help Moses administer Israel. ( Numbers 11:17-25) When God anointed King David, Samuel brought the flask of oil and poured it on his head. The oil represented the holiness of God upon His servant. The anointed king was set apart as God’s leader among the people. In like manner, the people were to be set apart unto the Lord.

Leviticus 19:2 “Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.”

Today, the anointing oil still carries some symbolism but is primarily replaced by the “oil” of the Spirit. Any anointing that is made by God is now done in relation to Christ. When someone comes to Christ, they respond to the Father and accept His grace, by faith, and walk in repentance. A heart that is transformed is then anointed and sealed with the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 1:21 “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”

It is this initial anointing that cannot be revoked. It is not lost. It serves as a guarantee of salvation.

Where the confusion of “losing your salvation” for some people comes in is in regards to the daily anointing of the Spirit. It is the fellowship of Christ with the believer that can be broken when sin enters the relationship.

1 John 2:27 “But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.”

The heart that is turned toward Christ, turns daily in repentance. Not a repentance for salvation (the first anointing), but a repentance that realigns the heart and mind with God’s purposes.

John 13:8 “Never shall You wash my feet!” Peter told Him. Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with Me.”

When Jesus washed the disciples feet, He not only demonstrated servanthood but in practical form what it means to be cleansed each day. The need to be purified from becoming soiled by the world is a practice that God also incorporated into the church. The daily cleansing of sin through repentance brings the stained believer into the pure devotion of walking in the Spirit.

James 5:15-16 “And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.  Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

The burden of sin among believers is not a journey we are meant to take alone. The process of healing is given through the fellowship we have with the Spirit and we all can relate to sin. Confession and prayer is not relegated to a priest but is a vital component within the church of Christ, shared among all believers. Washing one another’s feet was a common practice that Jesus used to demonstrate a spiritual principle.

Far too often the church has taken foot washing literally. The greater responsibility is for one another’s spiritual healing and God has given us the honor of taking part in each other’s growth and strengthening through confession and prayer.

Stumbling into Sin

The believer that continually suffers under the effects of sin has not fully grasped the significance of a life lived in fellowship with the Spirit. I’m not referring to habitual sin without remorse, but rather a continued weakness that lends itself to falling on a regular basis resulting in regret.

Is there anything you lack in your relationship to Christ?

It’s quite possible that spiritual immaturity is the result of missing the importance of these precepts.

Walking in God’s anointing results in many benefits that lead to spiritual maturity.

* God’s anointing brings spiritual knowledge.

1 John 2:20 “But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.”

* God’s anointing brings the boldness for evangelism.

Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,”

* God’s anointing leads to both spiritual and physical healing.

Mark 6:13 “And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.”

* God’s anointing brings unity among believers.

1 Corinthians 1:21 “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God.”

* God’s anointing brings assurance of salvation.

1 Corinthians 1:22 “who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”

The heart that is inclined toward the Lord recognizes the need for daily fellowship with God.

The benefits of fellowship are manifold, what I listed was only skimming the surface of all the joys that are found in Him. There will be times when our faith is shaken, when fears try to creep into our lives, when unity seems distant, and sickness settles in for long periods of time.

It is during these times of trial that fellowship with God becomes our lifeline. When everything seems to be falling around us, our walk with Him sustains us through the storms. If times are good, practice these things. Learn the value of daily walking in His anointing, practicing purity and holiness, and when the darkness seems to surround you, the boldness of your faith will be unwavering.

Remember…when you are in Christ, your strength is found in Him.

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