Looking Inward

Jeremiah 17:10 “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.”

Have you ever been falsely accused of something you didn’t do? It happens all of the time and there is a long list of people who have spent significant periods of time in prison for that very reason. In February 2020, a total of 2,551 exonerations are mentioned in the National Registry of Exonerations. The total years of these exonerated people spent in jails adds up to 22,540 years.

With the advent of DNA testing, many of the past cases have taken on new light. Those who were falsely convicted have a DNA signature that can determine their identity and if it doesn’t match up, they can be exonerated from guilt.

A friend of mine in Pakistan who is a faithful servant of the Lord, has known of many people accused of blasphemy against Islam. If someone doesn’t like you or wants to discredit your name, it’s easy to make a claim that you blasphemed the false prophet Muhammed. If you are a christian in Pakistan, that charge carries more weight since they believe your allegiance to Jesus is already an affront to Islam.

All around the world people are attacked for their faith. Hindus have increased their persecution of christians in India, muslims in Africa, Buddhists in southeast asia, or atheists in America; wherever Christ is glorified, persecution follows.

One man who endured tremendous suffering for exhibiting his faith was brother Yun in communist China.

In 1974, Brother Yun’s father became ill with lung cancer. His mother, who had been a Christian for many years but had become spiritually cold after the expulsion of Western missionaries during the Cultural Revolution, felt a deep sense of desperation because if her husband had died then, he would have left the family in dire straits. She thought of committing suicide. One evening, as she was lying in bed, she heard a voice saying to her that Jesus loved her. In tears and in repentance, she dedicated her life to God and gathered her family to pray for her husband. The next morning, her husband got better and as a result, everyone in the family, including Brother Yun, put their faith in God.

Matthew 24:4-9 “And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you over to be persecuted and killed, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.

Illustrated in the book “Heavenly Man”, when Brother Yun grew up and began living out his faith he was arrested by security police numerous times and was thrown into prison three times for sharing the gospel in communist China.

When Brother Yun was arrested the first time, he was only 17 years old. At that time, he was ministering at a meeting far away from home. After he was caught, he was thrown into a freezing cold prison cell. There was no heat in the cell and his winter coat had been thrown into the snow by the security police who had caught him. He began to sing Psalm 150 aloud. The more he sang, the more he was filled with joy. Gradually, his frozen hands and feet regained feeling and he no longer felt cold.

During his first imprisonment in Nanyang, Brother Yun felt that God wanted him to fast without food and water until he could see his family again. This fast lasted 74 days, which was humanly impossible but yet was made possible because he chose to obey God.

During those times when Brother Yun was in the hands of government officials, he was repeatedly beaten and tortured with electric batons. He was also kicked and trampled upon. Furthermore, he had needles being jabbed underneath his fingernails.

Once, Brother Yun was paraded through the streets with a red cross tied behind him for half a day. When night fell, he was locked and left alone inside a large interrogation room. The wooden cross was taken off his back but his hands were still tied up. All of a sudden, the rope that was used to tie his hands snapped by itself. He immediately walked out of the interrogation room and walked through the courtyard in the midst of onlookers. Nobody stopped him or said anything to him. It was as if God had blinded their eyes and they did not even recognise who he was.

Matthew 24:10-14 “And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”

Miracle upon miracle highlighted Brother Yun’s life, the God of all glory who he wished to honor….honored him.

What is it that separates those men and women who serve the Lord faithfully from those who only appear to be believers?

Service originates in the Heart

When God declares that He looks upon the heart, where do you think He is looking? I work on hearts for a living and I’m amazed at how complex it is but from a spiritual perspective there is nothing in the heart that shows a person’s intention or purpose.

Matthew 6:3-4 “But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”

The hebrew term for ‘heart’ is the word Leb, it means inner man or mind, so when the Bible refers to the ‘heart’ of man it is actually talking about the brain. The prefrontal Cortex and hippocampus are the most critical parts of the human brain for decision making. The ways we base the decisions we are making are founded in the values that we hold and the spiritual condition of our being. Those decisions are formed in the mind and determine the direction a person decides to go.

Anyone can hold values that are honorable. People who hold honor in high esteem show a sincere respect for others, and while human decency has a measure of importance it can exhibit values that are congruent with God’s Word—the difference between general morality and righteousness is determined by the position of the heart.

A heart that is unified with the Spirit of God has been transformed by God’s power. The righteous man or woman of God is directly influenced by the Spirit of God who dwells within them and leads them in righteousness. The moral person may have a sense of right and wrong based off any number of influences, but the righteous believer is compelled to walk in righteousness because of their unity with God—who is the very standard of perfection.

Psalm 40:8-10 “I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart.I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness
In the great assembly;
Indeed, I do not restrain my lips,
O Lord, You Yourself know.
I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart;
I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation;
I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth
From the great assembly.”

~The one who lives for Jesus, lives according to His moral law because they love the Lord and desire to please Him. True believers reflect God’s values in how they live because there is purpose in why they live. The voice of the redeemed cannot withhold praise from God nor can they help but tell others about His goodness. Yes, the Lord looks upon the heart but those who are discerning can see the evidence of the Spirit of God in the lives of other believers.

Examine your life by letting others give you honest feedback as to what emanates from your life. Everyone goes through struggles—tests and trials are apart of life but it is the long term patterns of faithfulness that reveals a life that has been transformed by Jesus.

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