January 15, Saturday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on October 4, 2014.

Spiritual Food for Thought for This Weekend

“The Heart Problem”

Jeremiah 17:9

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?” 

Many years ago, following the showing of “Schindler’s List” on national TV, the director Steven Spielberg made a special appearance to talk about why he founded a state-of-art facility museum called “Shoah” (“holocaust” in Hebrew).  Here, people can access, among other things, interviews with the holocaust survivors.  After stating that humans are not born with hatred, he asserted that they were taught and conditioned to hate by their social environment.  Spielberg’s hope was that by exposing children to the kind of educational tools available in his facility, they would learn not to hate.  

Of course, if education fails to eradicate hatred, then, there is always the force of law, such as hate crimes and ethnic intimidation laws, to eliminate prejudice against racial, sexual and cultural minorities.  

If that fails, then there is always the prison.  My wife and I, early in our marriage, led a weekly Bible study at a California Youth Authority that incarcerated serious young criminals.  Its founding philosophy was to rehabilitate the criminal mind through education, social programs, and job training.  One day, impressed by the positive responses I received from some inmates, I nonchalantly asked the guard as to what percentage of them return to prison after being released.  His response: “Close to 80 to 90 percent.”  During my involvement, I came to realize that one major problem in the prison continued to be hatred between races and gangs.  

Should this surprise us?  Not really, because though the sincerity of Spielberg and prison officials should not be questioned, the fundamental premise behind social problems is seriously flawed.  The truth is, social liberals have always clamored for more education and social reforms to combat various social problems (e.g., teenage pregnancy, racism), being convinced that all social problems are inherently due to either ignorance and/or bad social institutions.  

But that’s not how Jesus saw it, stating: “Nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’?  For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body. . . .What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’  For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly” (Mk. 7:18-22).   And there is only one cure for the deceitful heart: regeneration wrought through the Holy Spirit. 

This happens when we acknowledge our sinful ways and trust that Christ’s death has paid for the penalty of our sins (death).    It is in that moment that God renews us “by the Holy Spirit, whom he pour[s] out on us generously through Jesus Christ” (Tit. 3:6).  That’s the big start we need for a changed heart, followed by a lifetime of learning to walk with Christ.  

Are you lost?  Look inside, not out.  Ask God to give you the Holy Spirit. The Scripture says He will (Lk. 11:11). 

Prayer: Lord,let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God” (Bob Pierce).  Amen.    

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 16-17

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