MM00072 God's Stress Test
Mentoring Manna: God’s stress test
© 2003 Pastor Keith Hassell
Psalm 11:7 “For the righteous God tests the hearts and minds.” Proverbs 4:23 “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” The heart is one of the most important organs in the body. It is a blood pump. The blood carries life sustaining oxygen and nutrients the body needs. Without a continuous and fresh supply of blood, the body will die. Thus the heart is the life pump of the body.
In our modern age of luxury and ease, heart disease has become one of the leading health problems. One of the primary culprits in heart failure is coronary artery disease, also called “atherosclerosis” and “hardening of the arteries.” Heart problems can completely alter a person’s life and demand a complete change in their lifestyle. One of the primary ways physicians seek to prevent heart attacks and heart failure is through diet, exercise, and early detection. A heart that is severely damaged must be repaired or replaced.
I want to ask you a question, “How is your heart?” Before we receive Christ, our heart was as hard as a stone. We were cold and indifferent toward the things of God. We were once hardened in our sin. But when we receive Christ, we get a heart transplant: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” It is a surgery only God can do in the new birth. The life of God now flows through our spiritual veins!
Once we receive our new heart, it is up to us to keep it in good shape. Imagine how tragic it would be to receive a new physical heart and then return to the same bad habits that caused the problem to begin with! The writer of Proverbs tells us to keep our heart with all diligence. He is speaking of our spiritual heart. The heart is the seat of our affections, motives, and desires. Jesus said, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” Whatever is in our heart will manifest in our lives. Thus, we are to take heed to what we feed upon.
Sadly, many believers are not diligent to maintain a healthy heart. Sinful thoughts and attitudes are like bad cholesterol. Over time, the plaque of sin builds up in our spiritual arteries. Its effect may remain hidden until one day the damage is done, and our spiritual life becomes sluggish. God, our Great Physician, is faithful to schedule routine “stress tests” to reveal the latest hindrances to His divine life in our heart. Now, God already knows what is in our heart. However, the stress test is necessary to convince us of the problem so that we will embrace God’s pathway to recovery. Without this we would continue to believe the lie that everything is okay.
Through routine stress tests God reveals the condition of our heart. His testing reveals evil thoughts, attitudes, words, actions, and behavior. But God’s desire is to remove this plaque and to open our spiritual arteries. It comes through personal confession, repentance, and submission to the will of God. Once we do this, we will again sense the flow of His life in our spiritual veins!
Application: Have you been going through a “stress test?” If so, what does God’s diagnostic chart reveal---Bitterness? Resentment? Anger? Unforgiveness? Lust? Pride? Stinginess? Cursing? Disobedience? Apathy? Laziness? Rebellion? Hate? Self-pity? Fear? All of these things can block the flow of God’s life in our soul. The complications and side affects can steal our strength and vitality for God. If you are born again, God has given you a new heart. He has given you His Spirit to convict you of things that are hazardous to your spiritual health. He will convict you of secular television shows, of ungodly movies, of worldly friends, of lust, of distractions from God’s word and prayer, and desires that are selfish and contrary to the kingdom of God. He will show you the problem. We don’t like stress tests, but they do help reveal the problem. The question then becomes, “Are we willing to go the altar and face the Great Heart Surgeon’s scalpel as He cleans out the buildup of sin?” It is a painful process at times, but the renewed and revitalized life that follows is well worth it!
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, I embrace the “stress tests” of life that reveal what is inside. I realize that You already know what is in my heart. So reveal the things that I need to change and what I must do. I trust You as my Great Heart Surgeon and Physician. Teach me how to keep my heart so that it will always bring forth that which is pleasing in your sight. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”