“If you want to know where your heart is, look to where your mind goes when it wanders.” A young lady that i know posted this quote on facebook a couple of days ago. This is the type of quote that i would normally “like” and comment about how true it is, but the more i began to think about it, the more uncomfortable i became with it. This is definitely the kind of statement that seems good, and that seems right, but that if lived out can lead to destruction.
If i let my mind wander (unrestrained) invariably it will end up drifting into sin. It will drift into thoughts and areas where it should not be. Verses 16-20 of Matthew 15 say; “Jesus said, ‘Are you still lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; …‘” Is that where my heart is, or is that the sin in my life trying to rise up and consume me?
Once you get to know me, you can get a pretty good idea as to where my heart is… what i am passionate about. Two big things that i’m passionate about are family and God / the Scriptures / Christianity / the church / Christian life. These are things that mean a whole lot to me. They are life consuming. But, if i let my mind wander, too often my mind will meander to the areas of raw passion. To emotions and desires unmet. If you would, to areas of the ID (related to the Ego and Superego). Are those thoughts my heart, who i am as a person? They can be if i allow them to be! Those are my raw emotions and passions, and if i allow them to be, they are my heart!
Colossians 3:2 says: “Set your minds on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” II Corinthians 10:5 says, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” We must take every thought captive. We must make it a decision to set our minds in the right direction. If we let a meandering mind set the direction of our hearts, we will end up being consumed and ruled by our passions which will end up destroying us and all that we care about.
If you want your heart to be more than just your destructive raw passion and emotions, you must take your thoughts captive lest you become consumed. The only way to have the strength to truly overcome your raw passions and reach all that you are meant to be, is to seek the one who created you in His image and from whom emotion and passion originated.
Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.
After going through Exodus like this; i’ve come to understand it a little bit better. Exodus is more than just about YHWH bringing his people out of Egypt and rescuing them from Pharaoh. It’s more than about bringing them through the wilderness to Mount Sinai. It’s even more than about bringing the people of Israel face-to-face with God. The conclusion that i’ve come to is that Exodus is about fulfilling a promise and it’s about giving the people true worship.
YHWH had made a promise to Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob about their descendants; that he would make their descendants a great nation and that he would bring them out of Egypt. This is the beginning of the fulfillment of that promise. The people of Israel have become vast in number, yet they have turned against each other. In fact, they have united against Egypt and become a unified nation in spite of being 12 separate tribes. YHWH has led them out of Egypt and brought them to Himself. He made promises to Moses and to the people as well, and is fulfilling them.
What is worship, and what place does it have in our lives? The only understanding of God that the people of Israel had was that He was the God of their fathers, and what limited experience and information had been passed down through the generations. The people knew that there was a God of their fathers, but they had no understanding of who He was / is and what His purpose was for them. There was a need and a desire for God. There was a drive to know and worship Him. There was a pursuit of God, but there was no fulfillment. That, i believe, was YHWH’s greatest gift to the people of Israel in the book of Exodus. Not the parting of the Red Sea… not water from a rock… not manna… not the destruction of Egypt… not even freedom from slavery or the unification of a nation. No, the greatest gift that YHWH gave to the Israelites in Exodus, was the ability to worship Him. It was the fulfillment of their need and purpose. That’s the true jewel of the book of Exodus.
So the tabernacle and all that it will contain has been made. Now on to the court and the alter. If i thought that the ark of the covenant was small, the alter is HUGE! At 5 cubits long (~7 1/2 feet) and 5 cubits wide and 3 cubits (~4 1/2 feet) tall, this thing was not small at all. But then again, when sacrifices included bulls, size does matter!
So the court of the tabernacle is underway with its pillars and linen hangings. All around the tabernacle are these hangings of fine twisted linen connected to pillars of bronze with hooks of silver. The entryway was to the east, to the rising sun, and the work of making all of the tabernacle and its tools of worship is finished. All that’s left is the priestly garments, putting everything together, and… the results.
All of this came together with structure and a plan. It took time, and effort, and finances to make it happen. It wasn’t just God doing it because it would be faster and easier for Him to do it Himself than to rely on humans to do it. He gave us the work. He gave us the plan. He gave His people the desire to make it happen. Do we have a structure and plan for our spiritual growth? Are we willing to invest ourselves into that plan? Are we willing to put our time, effort, and finances into loving God and loving others, or are we only willing to do the absolute minimum in order to get away with the least we can. Are we giving our firstfruits or our leftovers? Do we want to enter the court of the King, or are we satisfied with just passing it by and knowing that it’s there if we need it?
You could say that this is where it ends, or you could say that this is where it starts. Either way, Jacob and his family are on their way to Egypt. There is a much bigger plan for them than any of them can see right now. It is a plan that won’t be fulfilled for 400+ years.
Jacob makes a wise decision. Even though his lost son has called for him to come down to Egypt with all that he has and that he will be taken care of, he still seeks the advice of Elohim; the God of his fathers. Jacob wants to make sure that this is what God is directing him to do. What’s important to note here is that even when faced with something he desires more than anything in the world, Jacob does not just accept and do what he desires with all of his heart. He seeks God’s will before he makes the choice.
As a result God blesses him. God tells him that he is to go. That He (God) Himself will bring them out, and that Joseph will be there to see him off on his death bed. At this point there is nothing more that Jacob desires. We will see more of this plan of God’s in the coming books, but understand that all that occurs in the meantime is a part of God’s plan.
Do we jump into doing something that we want so badly just because we want it without consideration of the consequences or whether it is God’s will. Many times i have seen an amazing situation that i really, really want and think that it must be God blessing me, but i may forget to actually ask Him if it is from Him. Other times i seek God’s will and accept what He tells me; then when things fall apart i wonder if i really heard God or if i was just doing my own thing.
Just because it is a blessing, does not mean it is God’s will. Just because it has led to frustration and trouble, does not mean that it isn’t a part of God’s plan.
Everything changes… again. God has taken the promise that He made to Abram and has taken it a step further. This is not God’s first promise, nor even His last. God has made many promises throughout the scriptures and in individual lives, and He always fulfills them. But this is a bit different.
A promise is something that you make to someone. It is a fact; “I will… to/for you.” The honoree honors his promise because he made it. It becomes valid due to the validity of the name and honor of the one who makes the promise. If it is broken, it destroys the honor, name, and respect towards the one who made the promise. Ultimately, a promise is a one-way street. Two people may make promises to one another, but those promises are both one-way.
A covenant, on the other hand, is something you make WITH someone. It is a relationship; “I desire… with you.” The covenant maker honors his covenant because of the relationship. It becomes valid due to the other person, and the validity of the relationship. If it is broken, it destroys not only the honor, name, and respect towards the one who made the promise, but also the trust and relationship between the people and thereby the relationship with the self. Ultimately, a covenant must be a two-way street. A covenant broken not only destroys the relationship with the other, it also destroys the relationship with the self.
Covenant’s should never be made lightly, and the breaking of a covenant will always do as much (if not more) damage to the self as to the other. At the same time, a covenant is the fulfillment of what it means to be a man (or woman). We were formed and created for relationship. We were designed for covenant. In our very nature and purpose is a desire and need for covenant. Covenant with God, but also with other people: “It is not good for man to be alone.”
Are we people of promise, or of covenant? Do we exist for our relationships, or do our relationships exist for us? God made covenant with Abram, and Abram with God. We are a people of that covenant when we pursue (and are pursued by) God. Have you pursued God today?