Surrendering to the Work of the Master Artist in our Lives
“We know that whatever a man sets his heart on exercises a mighty influence on the life, and leaves its stamp upon his character. He that follows after vanity becomes vain. He that trusts in a god of his own fancy will find his religion an illusion. He that sets his heart upon the loving God will find the living God take possession and fill his heart.”
Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All
This week we come to the final devotional of our “Masterpiece” series. I’ve loved exploring and reflecting on what it means to surrender to the work of the Master Artist, the Lord God, in our lives. We’ve looked at the uniqueness of how He has created each of us. We've considered the garden of our hearts and appropriate boundaries and looked at how we can cultivate the mind of Christ. We've explored what it means to have eyes that see what God sees, ears that hear His voice, and mouths that speak His words of life. Sherry took us on a journey discovering how to live out our faith with the hands and feet of Jesus. Our prayer is that these devotionals have encouraged you to consider the unique beauty of the portrait the Lord is painting in your life. Before we leave this series I would love to spend just a few moments together on the surrendered heart.
So often I am asked questions about how to maintain life of intimacy with Jesus.
Surely the Lord calls us to minister to others and prepares us for that purpose as we grow in His likeness, but our number one ministry is to the Lord Himself.
How is it that we keep our hearts tender for the Lord?
All of your lives look different and we all face different demands from running a business, to raising a family, to maintaining a ministry and all that goes with it. The busyness of life can keep us from cultivating a heart of intimacy with God.
How do we cultivate and maintain a heart that feels what God feels?
How do we keep our hearts burning with that passion of our first love with Jesus?
“Restore to me the joy of my salvation.” Many of you reading today may feel as if your spirit is dry and worn out from busyness, pain and wounds, or simply the demands of life.
For me one of the best ways that I keep my heart tender for Jesus and my soul nourished is to give myself permission to take little mini soulcare retreats - extended time in prayer, in the Word, in solitude, in the beauty of creation - time when my soul-thirst can be renewed.
Is it hard for you to give yourself that permission?
When we don’t take that time to be with Jesus our hearts can become dry even calloused as Jesus said in Matthew 13:15 in the parable of sower. Matt. 13:13-16.
“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’
16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you,
many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what
you hear but did not hear it.
When we don’t cultivate that life of intimacy with the Father, we become desensitized to the things that draw us away from living a holy life. Sin can take hold of us and often we don’t even realize it. That is the enemy’s way. We stop seeing and hearing as God does. Indifference can set in when we don’t intentionally pursue maintaining the life of intimacy with Jesus. We choose other ways to spend our time, rather than studying the Word, time in prayer. We gradually lose the priorities He has established for the abundant life He has promised. The world can begin to consume us. It is oh so subtle, but so dangerous to the beautiful life that the Father has designed in His masterpiece that has your name written on it.
The Scripture says in v. 15 “This people’s heart has become calloused.” A callous take time to develop. It doesn’t come instantly.
Are you allowing your heart to become calloused?"
It can happen when we allow sin to intoxicate our hearts and when we don’t take the time to cultivate intimacy with God. That callous keeps us from hearing, seeing, and understanding His truth and plan for our lives
Maybe you’re in a place where you’ve lost your heart for your marriage, but you still believe in keeping the covenant you made.
Maybe you’ve lost your heart for your work, ministry or your family - you’ve just been hurt too many times. It takes a toll on our hearts.
Over the course of time, our hearts can become calloused. I’ve certainly been there, but God says, Above all else guard your heart.
That means that above the responsibilities of raising a family, earning a living, running a business, working in a ministry, keeping our finances afloat, above___________ (you fill in the blank).
" guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."
Now take a moment to reflect -
What is the above all else in your life?
Jesus is in the restoration business. He restores us by giving us Himself.
When you are lonely, Jesus can give you His sweet fellowship,
When you’ve lost your way and are full of despair, Jesus can restore your vision.
He can - and does - take hearts that have stopped feeling what God feels and imbue them with his passion, purpose, and concern.
He knows the direction that you need to take. Put your hope in God. He will restore your soul.
I recently came across this picture. I have always been drawn to the imagery of a garden gate. To me this one was so beautiful because the path was lined in lavender. We chose lavender as the signature flower for Restore because of it’s biblical meaning and the significance of "spikenard" or "lavender" in God’s eyes. When the word “spikenard” is used in the Bible it is believed that it refers to what we know as lavender.
"Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment." John 12:3
This familiar story is one that the Lord has often used to teach me about the beauty of costly, extravagant, lavish worship and love. I’m so glad that lavender flowers were used in the Bible as an expression of love for the Savior. I have always loved the scent. and so I was drawn to this picture because it is an image of the path of intimacy that we all can choose. First we must open the door of our hearts to the love of the Savior. We must choose to walk thru the “gate” and there we will discover the lavish love of Jesus. But what I love about this picture is how the lavender spills over the path, much like the love of Jesus. Imagine walking this path through the open gate - surely the soothing scent of lavender would cover you and linger wherever you pass by.
With a heart restored by the love of Jesus,
If are interested in reading the devotional blog entitled "Lavish Love" that explores more of the use of lavender in Scripture as a pouring out of worship to our Lord here is the link in the blog archives.
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