How does one begin to claim that he knows the heart of God? Only by drawing close enough to Him that you can feel both what pleases Him and what disappoints His great loving heart. We can read the sacred writings and expostulate about them until the cows come home and still miss what our Father is saying (see John 5:39-40) unless we have become like David. God said, “I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will” (Acts 13:22 RSVA). I had to go through a heart change to see the things I share with you in this article. I used to study the Bible to justify myself and to get “ammunition” to condemn others. I soon found that Jesus was right—with the same measure of judgment I was doling out to others, I was getting the same judgment heaped back on me. That heart had to go.
Just what has been on the heart of God from the beginning of time? We see a hint of what He wanted in the earliest writings of the Bible narrative. “And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion who will help him.’” (Genesis 2:18 NLT). God had made Adam in His image and likeness right down to making him a lonely man, lonely like Himself. “He [Adam] gave names to all the livestock, birds, and wild animals. But still there was no companion suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:20 NLT).
God created man to be His companion. He walked and fellowshipped with Adam in the Garden of Eden. As we read further in the Old Testament, we find Him speaking of a wonderful intimacy that He desired with man:
Go and shout in Jerusalem’s streets: `This is what the LORD says: I remember how eager you were to please me as a young bride long ago, how you loved me and followed me even through the barren wilderness. (Jeremiah 2:2 NLT)
But Israel, the nation He chose to manifest His love for man, was unfaithful to Him and so, undaunted by their coldness toward Him (for Israel had become a harlot chasing after other lovers (see Deu. 31:16, Ezek. 6:9 and Hosea 2:1), He started speaking of a New Covenant with a new people.
This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the LORD. (Jeremiah 31:32 NLT)
Where the people of the Old Covenant were a people with stony hearts toward Him (thus their commandments were also written on tablets of stone), He would now create a new people and give them new hearts that would be faithful to Him as their Husband.
For I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. (Ezekiel 36:24-27 RSVA)
Yes, this people would be given a new heart and a new Spirit, His Spirit, and be gathered out of all the nations unto Him as His faithful Bride. God proved that all the law keeping efforts of man were futile. Unless God does a miracle, puts a new heart in each one of us, and puts His Spirit within us, there will be no lasting change. We will continue on as bankrupt lovers, unable to keep our hearts fixed on our heavenly Husband.
This, my friends, is the message of the New Covenant. Our Father has made for Himself a new people with new hearts that long to be with their Bridegroom, the Son of God, Jesus Christ. We who are His are caught up unto Him and devoted to Christ as our loving husband, not some religious counterfeit.
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:2-5 RSVA)
Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And in the Spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, (Revelation 21:9-10 RSVA)
So many Christians today still have not seen that God makes all things new! We have been given a New Covenant unlike the old one based on the works of the law. His righteousness dwells within us, not our own. We are made perfect in Christ. Why? Because we who believe have put on Christ and He is our only identity!
…for ye are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus; for as many of you as were immersed into Christ, did put on Christ. There exists neither Jew nor Greek, there exists neither bond nor free, there exists neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26-28 WAS)
As Paul quoted, “it is in Him we live and move and have our being.” There are no longer any walls of separation among us after the manner of this fallen world or men’s religions (see Eph 2:14-15). In Christ we no longer look on one another and think of ourselves in divided terms like Jews, Gentiles (or any other form nationalism or religion). We no longer think of ourselves in class distinctions and social stratum (bond nor free). And here is a big one, men! We no longer think of ourselves as better than our sisters in Christ, because in Christ God has made all things new and all the old divisions and curses that are a result of the fall of man are passed away and all things have become new (notice I said in Christ, not in ourselves).
How does this new found unity in the New Covenant work? What is the life transforming power that makes us not only see one another as new creations (see 2 Cor. 5:17), but that binds us together as a cohesive unit? What makes us the very Body of Christ in unity with Him as our only Head here on earth? In Hebrews we read:
Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchiz’edek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. (Hebrews 7:11-12 RSVA – see also Hebrews 8:1-7)
Jesus told us what this new commandment that goes with the New Covenant is. As we see in the above passage, with Christ as our Great High Priest after the order of Melchiz’edek, a new law came. What is that new commandment that Jesus has given us? He said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35 KJ2000)
So now, dear saints, we have come right back to where we started. God requires and also provides us with new hearts and fills them with His love, first for Him and then for one another. This is the love of the Bride of Christ. It is a love for Him and as a result a love for everyone He loves.
If you still cling to the Old covenant law, read Paul wrote:
Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10 RSVA)
If you can’t believe Paul, then believe Jesus:
And he [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40 RSVA)
Love! It is a heart issue that God is concerned with in man and always has been, not about the legalistic enforcing of rules and regulations. Jesus warned the judgmental law keepers of 2000 years ago who judged His disciples, “And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is lord of the sabbath.” (Matthew 12:7-8 RSVA).
It keeps coming back to love and mercy, not law keeping and condemnation. God is gathering a bride for His Son out of all nations, and she will be madly in love with Him, not focused on her own righteousness. His love is in her heart because her heart is His heart. Her spirit is His Spirit. His commandment to love one another as He loves His bride is her commandment. In this the world will know that we are a New Covenant people, that we have His love for one another. Even so Lord Jesus, come quickly… in us.
So much to chew on. And yet it is light and free. Thank you, Michael!
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You are welcome, my dear sister. He makes ALL things NEW, including YOU! Praise His Name!!!
yes indeed MIKE-Gods love makes all the difference–I have seen his love in action–not just read about it and boy what joy!
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Yes, Kenneth, so have I. I lived in community with some saints in the early 70’s and the love of God was poured out on us and it was like living the Book of Acts all over again. It totally messed me up for ever being content with “playing Sunday church.”
Yes Brother, the Lord will make everything new, just like he did when the natural Jews accepted their true Messiah in the NT times. As all these thing are wrapped up in the final fulfillment that Jesus said “Not one Jot or Tittle will pass away until all things be fulfilled”, I believe the healthiest place to remain is in an expectant hope for the things we do not yet see. Not speaking of these things as though they are fada comple, it’s simply delusional to think that these things are already fulfilled and therefore the people of God have no further hope but to rejoice in their present state. It’s not time to retire or to be settled on our lees, but to hope in that which we receive by the most holy faith. I look forward to the reality of all of these things, like the love of the brethren you all love to talk about, the reality of it is when “the world shall know you are my disciples by your love one for another” – that’s the reality I am waiting for, finally a true testimony of Christ!
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Good point, Robert. Our hope is in a total transformation of the body of Christ into the Sons of God who live unto HIS glory and not their own. Or as John wrote:
“Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.” (1 John 3:1-3 KJ2000)
Thanks, Robert for your comment.
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Michael, what a great piece. I was impressed that you received a new heart. I marvel that God can make a perfect heart, as the song writer has written. I believe that God has given me a new heart also, and I certainly needed it. New with God is not like a new material thing. It is better described as organic. It needs maintaining. Our new heart requires keeping. I was instructed by a sermon title years ago, “a kept heart brings life”.
The John 13 passage is so freeing.
Love and life in Him,
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Hi Pat, As for maintaining our hearts, Paul had the secret. “…nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12 KJ2000).
Truly, an excellent God-inspired article, Michael! ⭐
I admit that life here on earth is not necessarily (always) a funny and joyful thing. So it is good to be reminded of how to react in different situations God allowed to happen to us. The apostle Paul said,
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (Rom 12:12 ESV)
That says a lot, doesn’t it…
However, if we have been enabled by God to pray continually as that Scripture above pointed to, we have also learned to abide in Him. Then we know how to always return into His loving presence despite adverse circumstances. Finally, we will even be able to shout out like our merry brother Paul,
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” (Phil 4:4 ESV)
IN the LORD, God makes the impossible things possible…..
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Susanne, great wisdom in what you write here and I know enough about you from your writings and testimony that you practice what you have shared. You are an inspiration to me.
Thanks for sharing this great reminder about maintaining an attitude of constant communication with our Father (prayer)!
Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 RSVA)
Words to live by! Amen.
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You are more than welcome, Michael! And thank you, too, for your kind reply! 🙂
Amen to that Scripture – it is REALLY true. I trust so often in these verses and indeed God takes all anxiety, lets it disappear into nirvana, and eventually I feel wrapped in His peace.
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Hi Michael and everyone!
These posts and the comments below them always strike home. You always seem to say things I need to hear, and yet I feel so far away from living them.
I left The System (for good this time, or so it seems) a few months ago, after facing one more disappointment (there were too many to count in my 10 years of evangelicalism, thought not all was bad thank God). It’s taken its toll on me. The nail that sealed the coffin was the judgmental attitude of a pastor we loved and respected, someone who on the surface was almost perfect and yet it seems we weren’t. As long as he could share an opinion about us (and he had lots of opinions) it was fine; he was “discipling” us. But when we dared to question him and his methods, all hell broke loose.
Now I can’t come back to a church building even if I wanted to. I couldn’t face having to answer questions about my life, my marriage, my parenting style… I can’t explain to new brothers and sisters (many of whom are probably just as lost as I feel right now), that my husband has been basically unemployed almost since I met him 15 years ago (with some odd jobs here and there, neither of which lasted more than a year), that I’m the breadwinner while he takes care of our son when he’s not at kindergarten and I have no idea why or how to get out of the situation if there IS a way out (I don’t see it). I cannot explain because most people don’t understand. They seem to have read the book of Job with the pages upside down. Of course, if we’re here, it’s because we’re doing it all wrong. “He’s lazy and I enable him.” And they automatically get into advice mode. “Try this. Do that and this very week you’ll see a door open.” Been there, tried all of the recipes, recited and memorized all the verses, and no, it didn’t work. Sometimes all it takes to be a good Christian is an ear, and a big heart. Yes, sometimes a struggling Christian needs genuine love from a real brother or sister, and a word of comfort that comes not from a Bible memorization class, but from a fellow sufferer, someone who doesn’t know all the answers, someone who will not try to prove rationally that God is right and we’re wrong, but can tell from very poignant experience that God is real and close to us when we feel we have lost the last shread of faith we once had.
Ok, perhaps my comment is not very relevant to your post, but well, just wanted to say that on the face of human suffering (and there are tons of it, everywhere!) mere theories won’t do. External laws won’t do. Only love can revive a dead heart. Only love can help heal the wounds of bitterness, misunderstandings, and the endless disappointments we face as we sojourn in a world that is far from loving, especially as we go to human churches expecting to find what the world denied to us and discover that, in far too many cases, the treatment we receive is just as bad if not worse.
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I believe you are the fist to post a comment on this blog from Argentina! Welcome!
It was painful to read what you have been through in that church system. So many of us have been through similar things as you have. I am sure you have read some of our stories (You can read my own at http://wwww.awildernessvoice.com/ThirtyYears.html. I hope that this is why you have felt comfortable and safe enough that you could share your heart with us on here the way you have. Thank you for your openness, dear sister.
What a travesty it is to have church leadership (and as a result the follower-ship emulating their bad examples) treating the flock of God like what you have described. Is it any wonder that Zechariah described them thus?
I hear your heart’s cry for a show of the love and mercy of the Lord and not the pharisaic self-righteousness that Jesus was also up against as He spoke the message of the Good News of His Father’s kingdom everywhere He went.
Isaiah best summed up the message and nature of the gospel when He said, “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring the poor that are cast out to your house? when you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you hide not yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth as the morning, and your health shall spring forth speedily: and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then shall you call, and the LORD shall answer; you shall cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If you take away from the midst of you the yoke, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness;” (Isaiah 58:6-9 KJ2000).
Jesus stood in the synagogue in His home town and read another passage that was about HIM saying, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me. He has anointed me to tell the good news to poor people. He has sent me to announce freedom for prisoners. He has sent me so that the blind will see again. He wants me to free those who are beaten down. And he has sent me to announce the year when he will set his people free.” (Luke 4:18-19 NIRV)
Sister, please know that many of us on this blog are with you and will not cast dispersions on you in your situation, but rather we will be praying that God will provide all your needs form His riches in glory. If it is any help, we have several of our books that have been translated in Spanish available for free (including the shipping costs). You can see them here: http://www.awildernessvoice.com/LibrosInPrint.html. You can write back on here with your book order info and mailing address and I will not post it publicly.
God bless you richly with people who love you and show you HIS mercy, dear sister!
Hi Michael, thanks for another excellent writing on new covenant / new heart. I can very much relate to studying to “load up with ammunition”, although I thought it was to keep myself from being wrong or being deceived by something. It is unsettling and a dent to self and pride to know how contrary that motivation is and how “anti christ” it really is. It seems to be for me that is the training and pattern of much church / bible studies / knowledge that I was a part of and is so ingrained in me. Ugh.
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Bruce, no matter how you cut it, knowledge (even Bible knowledge) puffs us up, but the love of God edifies. His love abiding in us is all we need. And the only “knowledge we need” is that intimate knowing that Christ has with His Father.
“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:24-26, ESV2011)
Thanks for your honest comment, my brother.
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Well said, you have a way with words that speaks to the heart. Thank you.
I found in the noiselessness of our lives He teaches us to be still and know that ‘He is God’. In the reflections of those moments I am not alone, I realizes how infinitesimal I really am in comparison. And yet, I also realize His immense love. Teaching me patience; whatever I’m going through will not be for long and will work out in my best interest and/or for those around me.
We all are reflections of the Most High, if we choose to be, for He is love. If we abide in His agape-love whatever we are face with, we face it head on, trusting Him, for He sees the tomorrows of each of us.
It’s all about Him. His Spirit in us. We can honestly say ‘we are not alone’ for He is with us and we are a new creation, abiding in His love and spreading it forward.
Thank you, again.
Marana’tha! God bless you.
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LCB, thanks for your comment and input.
We know that Jesus said to the disciples, “I will never leave you nor forsake you, even to the end of the world.” We know this mentally, but for this to become heartfelt fact that we can trust in, He can stretch us through trials and terrible spiritual loneliness that seems that it will last forever. Some call this their wilderness and others, “the dark night of the soul.” The timing of this is totally up to Him and will be tailored to get to the depths of all that in us which struggles and strikes out at Him when things are not going our (the flesh) way. For me it lasted for 14 years.
God is a Master surgeon and knows just what is needed to take out of us that heart of stone and put in us a NEW heart that goes with the flow and leading of His Spirit. I had a LOT of self-reliance and pride that had to be cut out and it took a while because I thought I was doing it all (my ministry) in the name of the Lord.
But it was worth it for when I get off-course He can get me turned around in a shorter time now that that has been weakened (I still get a “refresher course” now and again to remind me, “Me God, you not.”
“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love.
Take my heart, oh take and seal it,
Seal it for your courts above.”
Or like Paul put it, “Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2Cor 12:10, KJ2000)
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