Crooked

My mother had a saying, “That man is as crooked as a barrel of snakes.”
Pretty descriptive, right? I tried finding an image for this devotion of a barrel of snakes and found some; they are too gruesome to use so I went with the crooked tree. That works too.

The poet says, “A crooked heart shall be far from me; I will not know evil.”

Good for him! I wish we could all be so certain.

Before we examine the “crooked” aspects of this, we must take a look at the heart.
That muscle faithfully pumping blood all through us has been our friend since we were snuggled in our mother’s womb. It survived the shock of our expulsion from that safe place into this dangerous world and has served us well ever since. We can feel it and hear it but we have never seen it.

Somehow in man’s attempt to understand the inner life, he has decided to call this hidden world within us, the heart. Like the muscle, we can feel it and hear it but we have never seen it clearly. We have little glimpses from time to time of the secrets lurking there, the good, the bad, and the unproductive. We resonate with the words of Jeremiah:

“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?”

The Crooked Heart
When we think of such a lofty theological concept as “The Fall of Man” it is difficult to realize what this really means. It means we come into this world with a crooked heart—a heart bent like that poor wounded tree in the picture, positioned next to a tall, straight tree with no sign of past trauma. A twisted, crooked tree is the result of a trauma when it was only a bendable sapling. It is twisted but it must be seen as a survivor, not at all pretty, but still alive.

This is how we are born, twisted by the sins of Adam and Eve and all our subsequent parents. For a few years we survive in our crooked form and then we are gone.

Except for Jesus.
He is the one who was born of woman but not of man, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. His heart was straight, a perfect example of the highest human potential. His heart never failed Him all through His life on earth: as an infant, a child, a teen, and as a young man. This was the heart that took on our sin because there was room in it for Jesus had no sin of His own to clutter it. This was the heart that broke and finally stopped beating on the cross when all His healing blood had been spilled to the earth. This was the heart Mary and the other women heard at the tomb and the disciples found again in the resurrected Jesus.

It is true we come into this world with hearts bent out of shape, but that is not the whole truth.
Our hearts were designed for better things:

  • To fellowship with God,
  • To be the dwelling place of God,
  • And the Temple of the Spirit of God, and
  • To host the Throne of God and of the Lamb.

We live from the heart out to the surface. Out of the heart flows the River of Life making us a healing force in this world.

Our hearts have been healed of the trauma and straightened by amazing grace. Now each of us is like a tree by rivers of water, tall straight, and fruitful.

Scriptures:
Psalm 101
I will sing of mercy and justice; to you, O Lord, will I sing praises. I will strive to follow a blameless course; oh, when will you come to me? I will walk with sincerity of heart within my house. I will set no worthless thing before my eyes; I hate the doers of evil deeds; they shall not remain with me. A crooked heart shall be far from me; I will not know evil. Those who in secret slander their neighbors I will destroy; those who have a haughty look and a proud heart I cannot abide. My eyes are upon the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me, and only those who lead a blameless life shall be my servants. Those who act deceitfully shall not dwell in my house, and those who tell lies shall not continue in my sight. I will soon destroy all the wicked in the land, that I may root out all evildoers from the city of the Lord.
Matthew 12:34-37; 15:18-20 NIV
For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.'”
Jeremiah 17:9-10 NKJV
“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.
Psalm 51:10-11 NKJV
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are the Keeper of my heart. You found it wounded and You healed it. You found it full of sin an selfishness and You emptied it. When You found it thus emptied You did not leave it there—You moved in to live there. You filled my heart with the Blessed Holy Spirit to make it strong and true, a heart to be trusted. With this redeemed, restored heart I worship You and that changes everything for the good. Praise You, Jesus! Amen.

Song:
Change My Heart, O God
Words and Music: Eddie Espinosa

Change my heart, O God,
Make it ever true.
Change my heart, O God,
May I be like You.

You are the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me, this is what I pray.

Change my heart, O God,
Make it ever true.
Change my heart, O God,
May I be like You.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer
How to find true-hearted people for your team: “Heart-Search”

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

 

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