A Devotion for 30 January 2020 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
Ps 22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee. 23 Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel. 24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard. 25 My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him. 26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever. Psalm 22:22-26 (KJV)
Can you imagine anytime in the future when you simply do not exist – no thoughts at all, no memory, no feeling? It is difficult to imagine. Of course, every one has a soul that has a destiny – a destiny of either a blissful eternity with God the Father, or an ignominious eternity in outer darkness. But every soul was created to exist forever.
The Holy Scriptures often make reference to the heart as the seat of the soul. It is in the heart where the treasures of the soul are on deposit. The heart is an over-flowing fountain either of the Living Waters of Life, or the putrid poisons of the dark Prince.
In the recent movie, TITANIC, the producers took much license in adding to the historical drama; but in the case of the theme song of the movie, they got the picture partly right. Below is a single stanza of that theme song:
Near, far, wherever you are
I believe that the heart does go on
Once more you open the door
And you’re here in my heart
And my heart will go on and on.
In watching that movie, the clear intent was to some transcendental aspect of the human psyche; but if we simply change the perspective to depict the relationship between the soul of man and the Father of Lights, the stanza makes absolute sense. The heart indeed ‘goes on! Whether God is near to your soul, or far away. When He sends the Holy Ghost to draw you to His bosom, He becomes the Door of the Sheepfold to redemption. That Door is Christ (John 10). No one can open or close the Door but the Good Shepherd – not some romantic lover. Our Lord Jesus Christ comes into the heart to sit on the Throne thereof. He will vanquish the enemy and make no room for the evil winds of the world. When we are in Christ, our hearts will continue in the security of our election until the Trump sounds and we are gathered together with the hosts of Heaven. If we are outside that Ark of Salvation (Christ) the fervent fires of judgment shall be our fare at the last. That love on deposit in our hearts will forever characterize us.
I have written often of the Old Testament Law and its fulfillment in the New Testament of Grace. The Law was given as a teacher and as a plumb line for Israel. It demonstrated beyond any doubt that man could not be righteous in his own merits. He required a Savior – the same foreshadowed in Genesis 3:15, 21. The Promise made to Abraham was of a Redeemer. The Old Testament Church was comprised of those who believed the Promise made to Abraham – not those who believed in their own righteousness under the Law. Christ did not annul the Law, but, instead, made it more binding. Instead of filling the coffers of the Temple, He desires the very heart of the believer. If the heart belongs to Christ, every other element of the man will belong to Christ. The great change is not in the outward man, but the inward. Christ is first our Savior and Redeemer; then, He is our Plumb Line.
“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Jeremiah 31:33 The impersonal Tables of Stone of the Commandments were a laundry list of what the believer should, and shouldn’t, do. They were enforced by harsh penalties and a judgmental priesthood. But the Law took on a different nature entirely with the Coming of our Lord. He withdrew the Tables of Stone and wrote His Law upon the soft sinews of the heart so that the Law of God was obeyed, not out of compulsion and fear, but out of love and a high sense of duty – the sense of duty a child has to maintain the respect of the father by righteous living. “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God;” Hebrews 10:16-21 (KJV)
Christ Himself hung both Tables of the Law on that element of LOVE. “ 35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Matthew 22:35-40
Notice how our obligations to God are enforced by Love? The first four Commandments are our direct duty to God. The fifth is a transition Commandment between our duties to both God and Man. God is also our Parent! The last five are our sole duty to others (enforced, again, by Love).
Daily we are storing up treasures in our hearts – some are storing up treasures that are in a secure trust in Heaven; others are storing up ‘treasures’ of ruin and sorrow. It is the heart that defines our character, our loyalty, our devotion, our honesty, and our Love. “For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,”
All of us have laws written in our hearts either by the habit and indifference of sin, or by the Loving finger of God whose Finger also wrote upon the Wall before Belshazzar at Babylon and in the sand of the Temple before the woman taken in Adultery. “Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, A people in whose heart is My law; Do not fear the reproach of man, Nor be dismayed at their revilings.” Isaiah 51:7
Is your heart filled with luke-warm sentiments toward God, or perchance a perverse hatred of all things Holy? Or do the treasures of your heart consist of an unbridled love and perseverance for His Word and its propagation? The Gospels are quite clear on the foundations of righteousness seated in the heart of Love. “34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. 36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. Matthew 12:34-37 (KJV)
What sacrifices does God exact from His people? Will ten percent of your first crops suffice, or a perfect young lamb each Passover? Not at all. Christ has become our Pascal Lamb. He is our sacrifice. No other sacrifice can benefit except one which God will receive as a sweet smelling savor – “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Psalm 51:17 (KJV)
The lyrics of the Titanic theme song are true if directed between God and man and not between merely human lovers. We are to be lovers of God, and He will love us as His chosen children. We are the Bride of Christ, and He is our Bridegroom. Should this not represent the highest degree of Love in all of Heaven and earth?