Sunday, August 31, 2008

SOTM - Pure in Heart


Psalm 24 “1 The earth is the LORD'S, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it. 2 For He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. 3 Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood; and has not sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive a blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 This is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face--even Jacob. Selah.
7 Lift up your heads, O gates, and be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in! 8 Who is the King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, O gates, and lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in! 10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah.”

Matthew 5: 8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Hebrews 12:14 “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.”
1 John 3: 2 “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

The Words:

Pure(katharos): Cleansed; this compares with the other similar words in Greek: hagion – holy, free from every fault; hosios – holy, free from defilement; eilikrines – pure, as being tested
We’ve been reading in the news about the listeriosis poisoning that is coming from tainted meat. 10 people have died so far from the pre-packaged meat. When I worked as the deli and bakery supervisor for a grocery store, we were always careful to follow the rules when dealing with meat. All our cuts were stored between 1 and 5 degrees C. We did temperature checks every 2 hours on both our coolers in the back as well as the refrigerated cases on the floor. When we cut the meat we sliced it and packaged it right away. It was dated and then put in one of the coolers. The meat slicer was then fully disassembled so we could clean it effectively. A lot of time each day taken for cleanliness. We know the reason. If there is bacteria left on equipment from not being cleaned, or on a cutting board, or a utensil, and then you use it on something else the bacteria is spread. If it is allowed to go too long it becomes dangerous to the body – it becomes a poison. Botulism from uncleaned vegetables. Pesticides from unwashed fruit.
Blessed are the pure in heart – God has made available spiritual bleach, if you will. He can cleanse us from sin. His holy spirit works in our lives so that sin no longer has mastery over us. This word pure refers to God at work in our lives! Refiner's fire - Purify my heart...

Heart (Kardia): It is the chief organ of the physical life, pumping the life sustaining blood. You can live without your arm, but you can’t without your heart. Because of the centrality of this organ, it came to refer to a person’s entire mental and moral activity. Another person described it as the hidden springs of the personal life. We are aware what happens if bacteria gets into springs, or the source of our water supply. The whole shebang goes bad. There was a town in Ontario a few years back that suffered through many people dying and getting sick before they traced the source of the problem to containments getting into one of the wells. We need to guard our hearts, to protect them from junk and bad stuff getting in, because it affects our whole person.

The beatitudes are not about salvation as we traditionally understand it, they are about becoming like Jesus. That’s why this beatitude isn’t first. This beatitude is for the person who recognizes he or she can’t do it on their own. They are poor in spirit – they recognize their poverty. They mourn over it. They understand that everyone has to deal with this before God so they are meek. But they want God, so they become hungry for Him. It is at this point we see Jesus saying pursue holiness. It is at this point that we find purity is extolled. Jesus is speaking to us Christians, us people who are religious, who know the church, the building the people. You say you follow me, then be holy for I am holy cries God.

The paradox:

Do you hear the promise? Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. The paradox is that we can’t do anything to become pure! It is God who makes us pure. All our actions and good deeds are as filthy rags to God. Purity is a result of surrender to God, not behaviour for God. Living for behaviour results in legalism, not purity. I mentioned this before, but one time Bonnie and I were driving to Alberta from Ontario. We cut through the US and we were on a road that crossed into Canada in southern Saskatchewan. Well, we were on a totally different road than what we thought, because Canada was not appearing ahead of us. Sometimes we get on the wrong road spiritually. We think we are headed for purity, when instead we are headed for legalism. Get off that road. It turns bumpy and crabby. Get back on the road called Surrender, for it leads to Christ-likeness.

Take it home:

We “shall see God in all things here.” John Wesley said that. What he meant is that if we are pure in heart, we will see God in the life all around us. There is a story and a film that came out several years back. It was called The Matrix. The premise is that all of what we see in this life is a dream programmed by computers. Our physical bodies are in bondage and used for their energy, but all of what we sense is like a computer game. At the end of the book the hero can see it for what it is. He sees binary code in the walls and the people around him, and so can defeat the bad guys. When we understand God, and pursue Him, and surrender all to Him, life makes sense. We understand sin and what it is. We can see the grace of God at work in people’s lives all around us. We know that nothing can happen except by God’s allowance, and that He is Sovereign. We see God in all things here. We may not fully understand His processes, but we are confident His grace and love are enough.

God will be revealed in our lives. Not only will we be able to see god around us, but people will be able to see God in us. 2 Corinthians 3: 18 “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” 1 John 4: 11”Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.” No one has seen God at any time, but people will see Him in our love, in our life.

We shall be in God’s presence for eternity. Life is about relationships, about presence. Listen to this truth as we find it in Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.” Death is about separation; that is why death was the penalty for sin. God cannot have sin in His presence and so those in sin are separated from Him. But the pure in heart will fellowship with God in eternity. Some people try to make it a bad thing to talk about heaven, because of the implications of hell. That is why we share Jesus, though, That is why we support missionaries and live pure lives, that God may draw people to Himself through us.
Don’t leave this place today with meeting God, without surrendering to Him. You can do it as we close in prayer. After we pray, and have a short discussion about what I have just said, come to the front if you need to meet God. We have the alter rails for that purpose. It is a decision of your will, not one born out of emotions. We don’t need to have quiet music to convince you about Jesus speaking to you. For centuries people like Paul and Peter would stand up and give the challenge to surrender to God. And immediately people would step forward and ask, “What must I do to be saved?” If God is speaking to you, listen, and do what He asks of you.

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