Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hearts of Fire and Water

Today is the second day of our 24th week, reading the Bible through in a year.  Our scriptures today are:  Proverbs 19-20; Romans 16; Psalm 40.

In today's readings in the book of Proverbs, we come across two verses that shed light on the nature of the human heart.  

First, we find Proverbs 20:27, which says:

The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord,
    searching every inmost part.

Throughout the Bible, God's presence is described in fiery characteristics.  God spoke to Moses in a burning bush.  A pillar of fire led Israel through the desert.  Psalm 119:105 says that God's word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.  When the Holy Spirit descended on the gathered believers at Pentecost, tongues of fire appeared on their heads.  The heavenly beings are likewise described in fiery terminology:  "In speaking of the angels he says, "He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire (Hebrews 1:7)."  We who are created in God's image likewise have a fire burning within us.  Jeremiah 20:9 says that God's word is like a fire, shut up in our bones.  This fire, this word of God in our hearts, illuminates us and searches our every inmost part.  God's fire sheds light on our sin, but then His flame purifies us again.  

When our lamps illuminate our own inmost part, we engage in cleansing introspection and meditation.  God reveals to us those dark parts of our souls, and brings His light into those dark places.  But we would only be doing half the job if we simply shed light on ourselves.  Christians are called to light the world.  In Matthew 5:15 (NLT), Jesus says, "No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house."  This means that God's desire is to illuminate the world through us.  I hope that you're on fire for Jesus--and that you're sharing His light with those around you.

Then, Proverbs 21:1 says:

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
    he turns it wherever he will.

Since the king is only a man, we know that this verse also refers to the human heart, not simply the monarch's spirit.  What does it mean, that the heart is a stream of water?  As water flows downhill, following its prescribed path and eventually reaching the sea, so the human heart that follow's God's direction will find the fullness of God in due course.  Water does not resist the force of gravity, but allows the earth's pull to move it downstream.  So too, believers should not resist God's pull, but should flow with the movement of God's Spirit.  John 7:37-39 (ESV) says:

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Now, the Spirit has been given to those who believe.  So God wants every Christian to flow with His Spirit.

So the believer's heart is both a flame and a stream of water.  This is a paradox because, as we all know, water and fire work against one another.  But our God works miracles in our souls.  In us, water and fire work well together, shedding light both inwardly and outwardly, and helping us to flow with the spirit of God.

No comments: