The believer's path toward a troublesome hardened heart usually starts simply and innocently enough ... it's easy for us to become preoccupied with things that have little or no spiritual value at all. Once our eyes are diverted from God's view, it doesn't take much for that preoccupation to take up still greater amounts of our time. And then, before we know it, we become so absorbed in the diversion that spiritual matters are all but ignored.
As our spiritual life begins to wither away, we give up personal prayer, private devotion, and public worship. Oh we're good at this, we can think up even "holy-sounding" excuses to explain away our lethargy but the fact is they still remain mere excuses. If we are spending time with the Lord on a daily basis we are going to have pliable hearts. But if we allow ourselves to lay aside His Word we will be giving Satan an opportunity to jump in and complicate our Christian walk. Allowed to function apart from God, the heart is easily deceived and we often turn from Him, forgetting that He is our only hope in this world and in the world to come.
When our minds become preoccupied and our hearts grow distant from God, we can easily and quickly be swayed by the temptations and deceitfulness of sin. As our sensitivity to the leadings of the Holy Spirit is gradually encrusted by a cocoon or hard shell that's been forming around our hearts, we who have begun to just sort of drift along wherever the current is strongest, begin to find Satan's false promises more and more appealing and the temptation grows ever stronger. We can easily and foolishly begin to trust in the evil deceptions and become more deeply enmeshed in sin. Rarely does anyone suddenly decide on a whim to go out and have an illicit affair. Rather it's usually a slow process of exposing our consciences to more and more enticing thoughts until we get to the point where we begin to compromise and slip easily and effortlessly into temptation. This, in turn, leads to even greater preoccupation with non-spiritual matters and further neglect of our spiritual lives, until we find ourselves mired in full-blown sin.
We are never immune to the hardening of our hearts. We can become as insensitive to God's voice as an unbeliever, but we have a way to remove the spiritual callus that has been forming around our hearts. By prayerfully repenting and refocusing our eyes onto the Lord, we can return to devotion and worship in order to remain soft-hearted before our God. We are never left without options. They may not be options that sound appealing to us at the time, but they are options none-the-less. We might feel much like a child declining cotton candy only to be served a plate of bitter greens but a better option is available to us. We don't have to sin. We may be heading in that direction but we can stop at any time and turn around. The choice is ours.
Will we be strong enough to see through the temptations and into the consequences of our actions? That is entirely dependent on the amount of time we spend growing to know God better and better. We're totally dependent on the strength of our personal, intimate relationship with Jesus. Without that thriving relationship we are left with just a list of rules and regulations ... do this, don't do that ... that are basically meaningless to us. This personal relationship must be built solidly on our hearts, and not simply on our minds. We must keep our hearts soft and pliable by walking in our faith every single day, all day. Step after step. "Taste and see that the Lord is good," (Ps 34:8 and John 14:1)! We must trust only in the Lord and He will keep our hearts soft and sensitive to the Holy Spirit
I got an email from one of my cousins that lives down in the San Diego/Escondido area and they are having a very difficult time with the fires. The "Witch" fire, specifically. They had to evacuate their house and then they were allowed to go back and they were just waiting to see what the authorities want them to do next. Basically I guess they've got their cars packed and they're set to roll in a moment's notice. She sounded extremely stressed. It just breaks my heart to see our beautiful state burn. That is not just some of the most valuable real estate in the state, it is also some of the most beautiful. The problem is that they build so close to each other down there that if one building begins to burn it catches the building next to it on fire too. Especially with the winds! I can't fathom 500,000 people being evacuated. What hurts the most are the poor animals. And not just the pets. All the deer, coyotes, rabbits, etc., etc. I feel for the horses, cows, sheep, goats, and llamas that are trapped behind fences. This is just awful and it's pretty much 24-hr coverage on TV.
I need to get my cards written to my little flock today so I can get them mailed out tomorrow. That went fast. Seems like I just did that a couple weeks ago. And it's been 6. I can't believe how fast the time goes by lately. Here it is only a week until November and Thanksgiving and it's not too soon to be thinking of Christmas either.
Well, it's noon already so I better get busy and get things done around here. One of us will need to go to the Post Office sometime today. I noticed yesterday that I sent out Peggy's Get Well card a week early. I haven't had it returned to me yet so I don't know, maybe they're holding it for her. She was due to have her surgery today so I just hope it gets to her some time, some way. I was a full week ahead of myself there for a few days. I thought it was time to call on my summons for jury duty and had Michael call and then he noticed that it was still a week away. I stood there like an idiot arguing with him, only to find out he was right. I could have sworn we had this week last week. LOL!