Altar Our Hearts
Today is the day we tame our flesh and slay our idols!When we find ourselves in a Galatians 5:17 stalemate (see The Squid in My Heart) – our flesh lusting against the Spirit and the Spirit against our flesh, with the two being contrary to one another so that we don’t do what we wish to do – we are not without hope! We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, God’s presence, and idols can’t survive God’s presence. He will deal with our idols and win.Our assurance, as I mentioned a few weeks (see Spare the Best, Lose the Rest), is in the promise of 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”Most of us understand grace, the word charis in the Greek, to mean the good will, loving-kindness, and favor of God as demonstrated in His unearned and undeserved free gift of salvation. And that is absolutely right!But there’s another meaning I discovered when writing my book, Holy His: Hope for a Life and a Nation Wholly His, that forever changed my understanding of the significance of God’s grace in my salvation and daily life:
The merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues (blueletterbible.org).
Before we even place our faith in Christ, God’s grace has already influenced our souls to turn us to Christ. Then, according to His merciful kindness, He continues to exert His holy influence upon us to keep, strengthen, and increase us in our faith, knowledge, and affection so that we will do what He wants us to do.This grace is sufficient, which in the Greek means it is the unfailing strength that suffices. It’s enough. It is our defense and that which wards off threats. It is the source of our satisfaction and contentment.When we can’t defeat the idols in our lives, His grace is the unfailing strength that suffices. His influence is enough to turn our hearts wholly to Him, and His strength is made perfect even in our weakness toward idolatry.He alters our hearts so we can altar our hearts.But listen, we absolutely must stop waiting for God to make the first move. He already did when He regenerated our hearts and sent His Holy Spirit to dwell in us, empowering us to do the things He knows we can’t do on our own.“His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). We already have everything we need!But like turning on a light, we must flip the switch. The electricity is there, but we won’t have light unless we flip the switch.In the same way, God’s indwelling power resides in us. For the born again Christian, it is always there; it surges when we obey.You see, there aren’t ten easy steps to tame our flesh and execute idols. God’s not complicated like us. There is just one step: to fall on our faces and declare, “The LORD He is God! The LORD He is God!” When we mean it in our hearts and not just with our lips, breakthrough will come like the rain!So let’s confront our idols and lay them on the altar.As Elijah took twelve stones to build an altar before the Lord (see Fallen gods), so will we.Whenever you choose, gather twelve small “stones.” These might be rocks from your yard, or for less than $3, you can find a bag of small stones at Hobby Lobby or any craft store.Maybe, like me, the Lord has already been showing you the things He wants you to surrender, to do differently, to lay on His altar. Maybe He’s speaking to you now or compelling you to start praying about what those things might be. Whatever the case, take a moment to pray, and then write each “idol” on your stones.You don’t have to write something on all twelve right this second. Just start with what you know belongs on your altar.Now, find a place to stack your rocks as an altar somewhere you’ll see them daily, where they can serve as a continual reminder of what you’ve placed before the Lord to change in your heart.For as He changes our hearts, our behavior will naturally follow.And our stones will become stones of remembrance, like the twelve stones of memorial God instructed the Israelites to stack on the edge of the Jordan after He miraculously parted the waters so they could cross over to the Promised Land on dry land.Stones that tell a story of the great things God has done and is doing in our hearts and lives as we walk according to the Spirit.The figuring it out is in the following Him.Hear us, O LORD, hear us. We want to know that You are the LORD God, and that You have turned our hearts back to You again (I Kings 18:37). Search us now, and know our hearts; try us, and know our anxieties; see if there is any wicked way in us, and lead us in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24) as we become more wholly Yours today.For the rest of the blogs in this series:
(NOTE: I shared this message at a mom's night out event and gave each lady a bag of rocks with a few chocolate hearts and a bookmark to tuck in her Bible. On the back, it has Psalm 139 personalized as a prayer for overcoming idols in our hearts.If you would like more information or a pdf of the bookmark for your own small group or event, just send me a note through my contact me page.)