Chapter 4 - God's Call Of The Heart


 

 

Chapter Four

God’s Call Of The Heart

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“But he is a Jew who is one inwardly … of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.”  Romans 2:29

 

“Now the Lord had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.’ ”  Genesis 12:1

 

“Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going … so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God.’ ”

Genesis 28:20-22

 

“God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’  And he said, ‘Here I am.’ ” Exodus 3:4

 

“Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord !  Let it be to me according to your word.’ ” Luke 1:38

 

“You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself?  You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal?”

Romans 2:21

Have you ever had that sinking feeling set into your gut accompanied by a sudden and literal fearful expectation of impending judgment?  The kind that overwhelms your body as either the Police or Highway Patrol turns on its lights from behind your car?  You are being pulled over for some kind of violation.  Maybe someone was with you and the very first words out of their mouth were: “Now what did you do?”  Next is: “You know the Police do not pull people over for nothing.  You must be guilty of something!”

 

 Maybe the action was somewhat more dramatic and unnerving as they also turned on the siren.  As if to literally scream at you: “Pull over or else.”  Else what?  That is a good question, but we never get that far in our minds.  Our heart is too busy thumping.  It seems that all we can do in that moment is to keep looking back through the rear view mirror wondering.  Wondering if they really caught you as you were speeding or otherwise disobeying traffic laws.  Maybe simply just wondering with shattering nerves exactly what it was all about?

 

I suspect the Police and Highway Patrol initially just turn the lights on so as not to make such a big deal out of pulling your car over.  However, when the siren goes off, that really gets the heart thumping fast.  I know, I have been there.  Usually speeding.  I am better about this now.  Still, on a long distance trip, this is something I need to keep working on.  I must confess that usually when the heart thumping goes on, at that moment “I am guilty as sin.”  At the moment I may even be angry with myself — that I got caught.  Sound familiar?  Maybe you’ve had an encounter of your own.

 

The terror we experienced when the Police “pull the car over” is similar to other horrifying experiences we have in life.  These would include getting a letter from an unknown law firm; getting served with lawsuit papers [the legal process unfolding against you]; and, appearing before any Judge in any Court for any reason.

 

If you can’t relate to these examples, how about the horror of watching your one year old baby fall down a long flight of steps and hitting the concrete floor in the foyer.  That is what happened to my daughter Patty last Saturday.

 

 

It was almost like slow motion and there was virtually nothing she could do to intervene.  My grandson Luke took a spill on the date of his first birthday party.  I saw Patty’s red swollen eyes and the fresh tears falling down her face.  I witnessed her terror and noticed the horrific thumping of her heart immediately after the event occurred.  Of course, one-year old Luke was fine and didn’t miss a beat from his busy play activities.  Isn’t that just like kids?  They move on fast from their trials in life; but we adults have to pick up the pieces of our traumatized souls.  Luke was fine, but his mom was traumatized.  Someone told her: “He’s okay: You can put your heart back in your chest now.”  No doubt that is exactly what she had to do.  For in that brief moment of time, Patty’s heart started thumping with tremendous anxiety about what had just happened.  Along with the fear of what the outcome would be.

 

As Luke’s grandfather, I saw everything immediately after the fact.  Luke came out into the garage party area and started to play “as if” virtually nothing had taken place.  He was only 12 months old and has been walking since he was 10 months.  Consider this: What if I, his grandmother or the both of us had been nearby witnessing the entire event as his mother did and equally being unable to do anything to stop it?  Do you think our hearts would have been thumping out of our chests also?  You better believe it.  Along with anyone else who witnessed the accident but couldn’t do anything about it.  Sheer terror sets in and it sets in fast during such events.  These are only a few of the many fearful experiences we suffer through while in this earthly existence.  Our fears extend beyond ourselves and to those we love.  Terror comes for our family members and us.

 

Patty may have remembered the time as a little girl she fell down her grandfather’s steps into his basement.  A huge set of about 26 steps that had a concrete floor at the bottom.  Nobody was there to witness; but, as she was ready to slam into the floor, her grandfather by sheer happenstance walked around the corner from his workshop and she landed safely into his quickly outstretched arms.  It was divine fate.  Yes, we all just marveled at God’s providence that day.  And we hated to even think “what if?”

 

 

 

The nature of these and other fearful experiences in life is identical to the kind of experience that willful sinners can expect at the hands of God.  Only magnify the fear and anxiety about 100-1000 times.  Great fear.  That is an important message for all Christians.  Reading further in Hebrews 10 we find out more of God’s Word on this subject of fearful expectation.

 

A Certain Fearful Expectation Of Judgment!

 

“For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth [Jesus], there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.”  Heb 10:26

 

“But a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.”  Heb 10:27

 

 It is those words “a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation” that captured my attention at 1:45 a.m. this morning.  I had just finished writing Chapter 3 and as I left my office, I was very tired.  So tired that I just meandered down the highway at a slow pace.  I wasn’t in a hurry and no one was on the road at close to 2 a.m.  It was foggy and my thoughts of the moment were to just take my sweet time driving home.  

 

 I hadn’t noticed that the local police were now following me.  They had seen me pull out of my office in the business section of the highway.  It was highly suspicious in their eyes since the local auto dealer next door often gets burglarized during the night.  They followed me up the highway to main street about two miles.  As I prepared to turn left, I still hadn’t noticed that I was being followed.  I turned and then within 1/4 block began to turn left over a bridge.  My house was less than a mile away; when suddenly, the police turned their lights on.  At 2 a.m. their lights lit up the sky and it seemed that they had every kind of strobe light and advanced light beam that was available in the year 2001.  At least that is what it seemed like to me.  

 

It was a very disturbing event and yet strangely enough I was absolutely calm and without any of the suspected typical “heart throbbing” that one can experience as the Police lights terrorize your soul.  When the officer came over to the car, I politely asked what the problem was.  He said: “We saw you drive out of the business area and were curious.”  I quickly explained that I was working late in my office and who I was.  I then asked if there was something wrong with my driving to which he responded: “No, your driving was fine.  We were just curious.”  I then proceeded on my way.

 

As I continued down the road, it dawned on me how calm I felt about the whole situation.  You see, I knew inside of my heart that I was totally innocent in the matter and that I had nothing to worry about with the Police.  It was the opposite of some prior experiences in which I knew I was “guilty as sin” and my heart thumped and throbbed heavily.  I was then “fearful” of what the outcome of the impending judgment would be.

 

I marveled at the strange inner peace that I had driving the rest of the way home.  I hadn’t gone far when God reminded me that this was His type of inner peace I was experiencing because “I knew” that I was not guilty.  

 

How and where did I know?  I just knew in my heart.  As a young man I imagine I gave my dear wife Jackie quite a lot of grief.  We have been married 37 years now and I have long since quit asking about how it was that “she knew.”  Of course this is the humorous communication issue that exists between men [especially young men] and women who just happen to think a little different.  In my younger left-brain only days, she would make a statement and I would ask: “How do you know?”  She would politely say: “I just know.”  Which, of course, would absolutely drive me nuts.  However, women are natural at “just knowing” and they needn’t have any reason for it.  They are just naturally intuitive, holistic and spiritual in areas that provide answers from within the soul and without reasoned explanation.  

 

Men should learn more about this.  I certainly have.  Nobody who “just knows” inside of them needs to explain themselves to others.  This time “I just knew’ that I was not guilty of anything and that I had absolutely nothing to sweat or to even get excited about.  God reminded me that the opposite of the peace that I felt was that fearful expectation I had felt at other times.   He reminded me that it applied to unrepentant willful sinners.

 

All of the fear that people feel in these types of situations stem from the uncertainty of the outcome of the Judge.  Now, if we can feel that bad physically over those in human authority that judge us, how much worse do you think it will be when God judges us — if we are guilty?  The writer of Hebrews continues on with further explanation in verses 10:28-31.

 

“Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.”

 

“Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?”

 

“For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine , I will repay,” says the Lord .  And again, “The Lord will judge His people.  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”  Hebrews 10:28-31

 

“It Is A Fearful Thing To Fall Into The Hands

Of The Living God!”

 

Those who claim salvation through Jesus will be held to account for their actions.  If they continue to willfully sin, they have cheapened the gift of God and “counted the blood of the covenant … a common thing.”  Now if you have just given someone your most prized possession, wouldn’t you be very angry if they didn’t take care of it, especially if they had no sense of “duty” to take care of it?  Those Christians who continue to willfully sin are in serious trouble with God.  “It is indeed a very fearful thing.”

 

Paul says that the “real” Jew is one who has the stuff inside their heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.  Do you worry more about men than you do about God?  This would include your boss, your neighbors, your clubs and yes, even the people from your church.  Does their human voice carry more weight in your considerations than that of God’s Word?  It shouldn’t.  If you call yourself a child of God, make sure your heart concurs and doesn’t betray you.

 

When you give your heart to God, you won’t have any trouble packing your bags and heading “west” like Abraham did.  Can you imagine the response of your parents as you tell them you are heading west?  Where to?  Oh, I don’t know.  Just west.  Why?  God told me to pack up and head in that direction.  Sure?  You can imagine the rest of the conversation with the family.  I suspect this is what the typical missionary suffers through unless they come from a family dedicated to God and everyone in it can bear witness to the call on the person going on the mission trip.  Without a heart for God, people think in human terms and this may color their judgment.

 

Then there is the Christian whose family isn’t supportive for various reasons.  Some churches teach them to say “get thee behind me Satan.”  No one should feed his or her parents that particular line.  Right or wrong, God still expects you to honor your mother and father.  It is unscriptural to simply dis your folks to have your own way in life thinking it is God’s will.  It isn’t.  Honoring your mother and father is the very first promise in the Bible.  The promise is that you will live a long life.  If your folks don’t agree with your choice, don’t alienate them in the name of God.  It is wrong.  Find another way to work with them on the issue.  A way that brings honor to your parents.  When you honor your parents [even when they are wrong], it is evident that God has your heart.

 

When you give your heart to God, you won’t have any problem calling Him Lord of your life.  That is what Jacob did when he made a vow to God.  Jacob was a thief.  Yet God was with him when he gave up his heart and Jacob knew it.  It was a moment of joy for Jacob.  His search in life was over.  God was now in control of the situation and life was going to be different, everything was going to be okay from that moment forward.  When you acknowledge that God is in control of your own life, God has your heart.

 

When you give your heart to God, you won’t have any problem saying: “Here I am” like Moses did when God called from the burning bush.  Moses was a murderer having killed an Egyptian.  Do you think he was interested in going back to Egypt?  Why me, Lord ?  God explained that He had chosen Moses for the task.  Moses yielded to God’s will.  It is okay to ask: Why me Lord ?  I have done this on several occasions.  However, when He gives you the answer that you are chosen, the discussion is over.  When you can yield your will to His , God has your heart.

 

The most important question to now ask yourself is: “How do I know that this [name your issue here] is God’s will for my life?”  How can I really discern God’s will for my life?  There are four principles that I have come to trust in concerning God’s will for my own life.  All four of these principles are important in discerning God’s will.  They are.

 

1. When God won’t leave you alone concerning a particular matter, then you will know it is God who truly speaks to you.  

 

2. When the issue at hand FULLY lines up with God’s Holy Word, then you will know it is God who speaks to you.  

 

3. When the issue at hand involves only the truth, then you will know that it is God who speaks to you.

 

4. When your own heart feels right about the issue and the spirit inside of you confirms to you that it is God’s will, then you will know that it is God who speaks to you.

 

Now let’s illustrate two examples.  I remember several times when I got a message in which “I just knew” it was God who was talking to me.  One of those times, I was shaving and looking in the mirror when the message came to me as follows: “Go and tell the pastor of the church that they need to change the name of the church.”  I think this was one of those times I looked around to see if someone was speaking to me out loud.  Of course, no one was there and I knew it was He .  I remember talking back out loud as I shaved: “Why should I go and tell them?  I don’t even belong to that church.  I am only visiting there.”  The response was to go do it for Me .

However, when you get one of these “I know it is God speaking” events, there is always a small additional thought that maybe your own imagination is getting carried away.  So, you just conveniently let it go.  You simply say: “That’s nice; I think I will forget about it now.”  That is you do exactly what I suggested you not to do with God.  You should not turn your back on Him concerning any issue.  However, the Father is an awesome God and He is not afraid to bring the subject back up for further discussion.

 

In this case, He knows you are ignoring Him but He persists with the matter anyway.  After about 3-4 weeks of getting the same message thrust upon me, I then know for sure that it is from Him .  That is because, as humans, we are good at setting aside issues and forgetting about them.  Unless, we are being reminded or nagged about them.  It’s a little like forgetting to make the bed or take the garbage out.  It is hard to forget if mom or dad is there to constantly remind you.   After 4 weeks, I finally told the pastor.  What a strange experience that one was.

 

I suppose it is somewhat also like the conversation that God had with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, which went like this:

 

“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ ”  Genesis 3:8-9

 

Do you believe for one moment that God did not know precisely the location of where Adam and Eve were hiding?  Of course He knew; but that is the kind of heavenly Father you have.   He has a certain amount of humor and playfulness in His character.   He is certainly willing to dialogue with you and to play the game in order to find out exactly where your heart is in the matter.  When the issue won’t leave you alone and no one human is bugging you about it, you will know it is God that is talking.

 

Another illustration comes to mind concerning a particular pastor I knew that was anxious to put someone into the mission field.  There was a conflict with a particular family and the parents of the wife.  To get his way in the matter the pastor counseled the couple to tell the wife’s parents “Get thee behind me Satan.”  The message from the pastor is that he was anointed of God and knows what is best for the couple in this matter.  The fact that the wife’s parents didn’t agree with the pastor meant that the wife’s parents were on Satan’s side and wanted to obstruct “the work ‘God’ had planned.”

 

A red flag should go up here because God has told you to honor your “father and mother” that you may live a long life.  God never promised you that your parents would always be right.  Does God’s Word speak to you?

 

If the word of God speaks to you, it would be time to tell the pastor that he is sinning against God.  The pastor would not preach the word of God and then violate it, would he?  Guess again!  Some pastors do exactly that.  It is not new and has been around since time immemorial.   Still, it is shocking to the unsuspecting believer.  Especially those who place their trust in a pastor and are ignorant of God’s Holy Word on the subject.  If you are naïve and uneducated in the Word, a pastor could simply pull a power play and you would be unable to discern the pastor’s wickedness.  Consider the words of Apostle Paul in Romans to teachers who do not walk the talk.

 

“Indeed you are called a Jew [the teachers of the day], and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law.”

 

“You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself?  You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal?  You who say, ‘Do not commit adultery’ do you commit adultery?  You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?  You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law?”

 

“For ‘the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,’ as it is written.”  Romans 2:17-24

As hideous as it may seem, your very own pastor may be leading you astray from God’s truth.  Especially concerning repentance.  Paul writes earlier in the same chapter the following words on the impenitent heart .

 

Impenitent Hard Hearts Treasuring Up Wrath!

 

“But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who  ‘will render to each one according to his deeds’ ”:

 

“Eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth,”

 

“But obey unrighteousness — indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek;”

 

“But glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For there is no partiality with God.”  Romans 2:5-11

 

If the Bible teachings from your church do not line up with the simple word of God, you might have to leave the church and find a fellowship of believers that stand in His truth.  However, before you go make sure you inform everyone you know including the pastor on why you are leaving.  Would you leave your friends in a den of thieves or a pit of evil?  Isn’t that exactly what Christians do when they leave a church filled with apostasy because of evil, but fail to counsel those that they know on their knowledge?  Don’t turn your back on evil.  God says to purge evil.  If you are in the position to fight for righteousness within your church—that is a better course of action to take.  Gather up a grievance committee and take the word of God to the elders, deacons and pastors.  If they won’t repent, make it public.

 

Remember, at least 98% of the Bible is “exoteric” and is meant to be understood by all.  That includes you too.  You can use the four principles I cited above as your guide to knowing God’s will.  When you can discern God’s will for your life and you choose to obey it, God truly has your heart.

 

When you give your heart to God, you won’t have any problem saying: “Let it be according to Your Word” like Mary did when she was informed that she was going to be impregnated by the Holy Spirit.  You can just imagine the family dynamics of that one.  Can’t you?  Still, do you think it mattered to Mary?  No.  God had her heart.  

 

Mary’s prayer was the same kind as Jabez’s prayer in 1 Chronicles 4:10.  It was a simple prayer from the heart.  It was: Use me Lord .  It was: Have your way with me Lord .  When you can pray like Mary and Jabez and really mean it, God truly has your heart.

 

These are some examples of the many people whom God has called and who said yes.  They were not perfect people.  Many had problems of sin.  However, they all decided to give God their heart and start anew with Him .

 

For me too, a day came when I suddenly met God.  Like others, I had ignored His call and wandered in my own wilderness for the first thirty-two years of my life.  Like others, God had never stopped calling me even when I wasn’t really listening.  Then one day “I knew” Him .  I had wandered enough and struggled enough on my own.  Much like Jacob and others, I had my own baggage full of sin.  It didn’t matter with God.  He was patiently waiting for me to exhaust my options.  I think that is exactly what happened to me on a spring day in May of 1978 when I finally looked upward and said: “I understand God.  From now on you lead and I will follow.”

 

That was the day I stopped trying to live life on my own.  That was the day my intellect became insufficient and my spirit started to kick in.  Looking back I now recognize all of the flag waving that God had done to get my attention in my early years.  How He orchestrated my life and placed me in position to get the Word eventually.  Why did it take me thirty-two years?  That is a question I now ask with tears in my eyes.  Tears of sadness that so much of my life was not lived to the fullness it could have been had I lived it with Him .  The tears come from a repentant heart knowing the depth of the love that God must have for a sinner like me.

How did I get to this point in my life where I would gladly be hung upside down and crucified on a cross before I would betray Him ?  How did I get to the point in my life that the depth of His love for me would permeate my entire being?

 

How did I get to the point in my life that I am able to share Him so freely with others?  How did I get to the point in my life when asked: “Don’t you do anything on your own anymore? — I can easily answer no, I don’t.”  And when asked: “Do you do everything that God tells you? —I can answer, yes.”  These are the questions that family and friends will ask of you as they now wonder what is going on in your life.  What happened to the Ed that I used to know?  Are you a religious zealot now?  Not really, I guess I am simply a changed man.  I am no longer the person that I used to be.  I have shed the old man and have now put on the new man.  For it is written ...

 

“If indeed you have heard him and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”  Ephesians 4:21-24

 

“Yes, I Guess I Really Am A Changed Man!”

 

How did I get to the point where I would dare accept His mantle of apostle and dare bring His message to you?  First, I gave God my heart.  Second, I listened to Him when He started speaking to my heart.  Third, I gave Him a true repentance from my heart.  And, fourth — I chose to accept His call upon my heart [life] regardless of the consequences that it may bring to me.  If you are reading this book, God may have a call on your life.  If so, the question for you is this: “Will you also accept God’s call?”

 

After True Repentance, Comes …

God’s Call Of The Heart



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© Rev. Edward Palmer 2013