September 18: “It’s What’s In Your Heart that Counts”

8 Minute Read

Be Still

To the best of your ability, get rid of all distractions. Take a couple of minutes to breathe deeply, to quiet yourself in the Lord’s presence. Then, prayerfully ask the Lord to speak to you in this time and let Him know that you will be listening and will make whatever adjustments He will reveal to you.

Today’s Bible Reading:

Isaiah 28:14–30:11
Galatians 3:23–4:31
Psalm 62:1-12
Proverbs 23:19-21

Listen to the Lord

Slowly and reflectively read the following verses and listen to what God will say to you through them. Then, consider writing down any insights He reveals to you.

Isaiah 29:13 (NLT): “And so the Lord says, ‘These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.’”

Psalm 62:4 (NLT): “They plan to topple me from my high position. They delight in telling lies about me. They praise me to my face but curse me in their hearts.”

Reflections from Scripture:

It’s easy to read the Bible when it confronts the sin in others, isn’t it? We don’t mind it so much when the preacher is nailing the sin of other people. 

The problem arises when OUR sin is in the crosshairs. 

When we are confronted with our own shortcomings, we get very uncomfortable. We don’t like to think that we have inadequacies and sinful propensities that desperately require our attention, repentance, and Holy Spirit-led adjustments. 

So, we justify our sin, or get upset, or mentally check out. It’s just too uncomfortable to admit to ourselves, and especially to others, that we are sinful and remain in desperate, daily need of the Savior’s cleansing, and work of sanctification in our lives.

Isaiah 29:13 (NLT): “And so the Lord says, ‘These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.’”

As we read Isaiah 29:13, we are told there are “worshippers” who profess to believe and commit to following the Lord. Their lips say good things, and yet their hearts are cold and indifferent toward the Lord. So, their words are a farse. They are disingenuous and hypocritical. Essentially, their hearts don’t believe that God is deserving of their affection, so they settle for a dead, boring religion. We rightfully believe that they are worthy of God’s displeasure.

Psalm 62:4 (NLT): “They plan to topple me from my high position. They delight in telling lies about me. They praise me to my face but curse me in their hearts.”

As we read Psalm 62:4, it is no sweat off our back when we read of people who praised king David to his face and yet despised and cursed him in their hearts. We resent such people and such actions and may find satisfaction if they got what was coming to them. They are disingenuous and hypocritical.

Yet, as we find it easy to condemn such behavior in others, I wonder if we have the courage to admit that we sometimes do the same thing. We “worship” God with our mouths, and yet our hearts are cold and indifferent toward Him. We sometimes say kind things to someone’s face while harboring disdain or even hatred for them in our hearts.

Friend, ask God’s Holy Spirit to search your heart and see if there is any wicked way in it. Then, own what you become aware of. Loathe that sin, repent of it (turn from it), and ask God to create a clean heart within you. After all, it doesn’t matter what we do or say if our hearts are sinful. 

Work on cultivating a holy heart, and then you won’t have to spend nearly as much time focusing on the words and behaviors that come from that heart.

Spend Time in Prayer

Let’s thoughtfully, prayerfully offer up the words of Psalm 51:10,12 as the genuine prayer of our hearts.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me… Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. I pray this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”


Matt Ellis is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida (fbcpolkcity.com). His latest book is God’s Grace in the Real World. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

Photo by Online Marketing on Unsplash

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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