Attitude of the Heart is Everything!

August 12, 2015


Attitude of the Heart is Everything

“Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.  Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor…” John 12:1-3 NIV

How absolutely amazing that scripture records three visits Jesus made to the same family, different circumstances surrounding each visit.   He spent time during the three years of His ministry with people…He was in the People-changing, Kingdom- building business…His Father’s Business…HFB, but one might think that He had so many people to teach, to tell…to train…to change, that He only had limited time for each appointment…perhaps offering one chance per person…HFB was urgent…and He only had three years.

But, Love and forgiveness change everything!  Jesus, with His heart and mind as God, and His body of flesh as a human, is in the People-changing business…Kingdom-building business…

The Truth is that the Attitude of the Heart is Everything!

Martha, Mary, and Lazarus were no doubt friends of God…we know because Jesus came to them at a very critical time in His life and in the timing of His ministry on earth. 

I remember the times of life when our family was preparing to undergo a transition…sometimes major transitions.  On the evening preceding the week-end wedding celebrations for our daughter, she asked to have dinner with her whole family…her grandparents, her brother and his wife, her aunts and uncles, and Bill and me…She wanted to sit at the dinner table with the people whom she loved…the people who had meant the most in her life…knowing that her life was transitioning.  As excited as she was for her future…she wished to celebrate what had been…and to embrace what was to come, encouraged by those who had given her so much love.

When my father-in-law was preparing to transition into his new life with His Lord, he designed the schedule of his final days so that he could spend time with each member of his family…his wife, his children, his grand-children…and his friends… He wished to celebrate what had been…and to embrace what was to come, encouraged by those who had given him so much love.

Through the years, I have been inspired by reading and studying the accounts of Jesus and His friends from Bethany, a village about two miles from Jerusalem on Olivet. In fact, I revisit these accounts and learn something new each time.  Scripture tells us that six days before Passover, the day before Jesus rode into Jerusalem for the last week of His life before His trial, crucifixion, and resurrection…He chose to go and to spend time with His friends…to attend a meal in His honor…to sit at the dinner table…to spend some of His final moments before the most dramatic and significant event in the history of mankind and of eternity…

There is no doubt that Jesus knew about His transition…He knew about what He would face…He knew about the upcoming events…and He chose to spend His moments with His friends… He wished to celebrate what had been…and to embrace what was to come, encouraged by those who had given him so much love. And, the Son of God came to encourage and to empower…to change the lives of His friends…yes, He is in the People-building, Kingdom-building business…HFB.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Ezekiel 36:26-27 NIV

I mentioned that I am encouraged and inspired when I read and study the accounts of Jesus doing life with these friends from the tiny village of Bethany.  A place, paling in significance to Jerusalem…with a woman whose first recorded impression lacked grace and humility…in fact, I venture to say that it reflected an attitude of selfishness, self-centeredness, narcissism…and devotion to self…as Martha chided our Lord Jesus, for allowing Mary, her sister, to sit and listen to His instruction …to His message…to His Truth. My first reaction upon really reflecting on this account was to be aghast that a woman in the presence of the Savior of the world could even think these things…and then to spew her frustration at her guest…

And then, the small voice whispers into my ear and the truth of the Word pierce my heart as I have made precisely the same accusations towards people… “Why won’t someone help me?  Can’t they see that I am busy working and serving and busy…busy…busy…” I have judged and criticized…I have been consumed with self-concerns…and I have been devoted to myself…

Allow God to change your heart…and your mind will follow!

Each one of these three friends of Jesus received a touch…a healing touch from the heart and the hand of their Lord, during their time with Him.  Mary, during Jesus’ first visit sat at the feet of Jesus and listened, in spite of the cultural norms concerning women and, according to scripture, gleaned Truth, the most needed thing. Then, Jesus, directly, boldly, and lovingly corrected Martha when she revealed her heart of anger, frustration, and self-interest…Jesus penetrated the hearts of each one of these women, and He began chipping away the hearts of stone…

And on another visit to Bethany, the sisters, in a panic, recognizing the urgency in the condition of their brother, Lazarus, who lay ill and dying, sent word to Jesus to come…They knew that Jesus was in the people-changing, Kingdom-building business…They called out for Him. They called out to Him…

And yet, Lazarus died a physical death and experienced four days in the tomb before Jesus arrived.

We are told that Jesus grieved for the broken hearts of His friends at the death of Lazarus…I think that I overlooked the experience of these two  women who witnessed the suffering of their brother…probably ministering to his physical deterioration…and then, experiencing the, agonizing moments of his death…To them, nothing made sense… Yes, I have been there…where nothing made sense…

In the midst of grieving, of loss, of fear, of loneness, of despair, the friends of Jesus believed as they witnessed the resurrection of their brother and experienced the Glory of God…and their hearts were changed…The Word of God tells us that…They believed…

He changed their hearts…and, their minds began to follow Him…

Allow God to change your heart…and your mind will follow!

For more than one-third of my life, I allowed, coached, persuaded and followed my mind, hoping that it would change my heart.  I had great desire for my heart to change…I worked diligently for heart-change…I thought great and wonderful thoughts…I thought silly and self-centered thoughts…But my heart remained a hardened and fleshless boulder lodged inside of my body and my mind. And then, belief came into my heart…and I experienced the glory of God…and He changed my heart and removed the stony boulder…and replaced it with a more pliable heart… And then, my mind followed, because of who He is!

Attitude of the Heart is Everything

When the heart shifts its focus…everything changes.

 The account of the friends of Jesus in Bethany is a life-changing story for me.  As each one of these lives was changed, Dr. Luke and John’s testimonies are powerful…power-filled.  The fact that Jesus chose to return to their home in His final hours is amazing to me…It literally fills my heart and mind with wonder and awe and intimacy with our Savior.

“…Here a dinner was given in Jesus ‘honor.  Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet…” John 12: 2-3 NIV

Here it is!  I absolutely love this!  She serves again!  Yes…As Jesus returns for a dinner with friends, in His honor, in the village of Bethany, Martha is serving dinner again…but this time, no fussy, self-serving words are recorded, nor does Jesus speak to correct her… She is preparing the meal… serving her guests food and drink…bringing dishes and removing them, no doubt hard work…But something has changed!   As we imagine the scene in this home, Lazarus, the one who Jesus restored, reclines at the table with other guests…and Mary anoints the feet of their Lord.

And, Martha…Martha is fulfilling a responsibility of great importance…but her heart is changed.  She, over time and through belief, has experienced the glory of God…Her devotion to self, has been transformed to devotion to and for the Savior sitting in her presence…Her problem had not been the activity, but rather it was in the timing…it was in the motive…it was in the attitude of  her heart. Yes, the attitude of her heart was everything…her motive was transformed…and her mind, her will, her purpose were changed…When the heart shifts its focus, everything changes.  The attitude of the heart is truly everything!

Allow God to change your heart…and your mind will follow!

Nine years ago, just as a dinner table was set for our daughter and our family as our lives were transitioning, two thousand years ago a dinner table was set for the Son of God to sit and to dine as God and as man, in the presence of those who served Him and loved Him…and those whom He served and loved, as His life was transitioning and as the course of history and eternity were being forever transformed.

Yes, Jesus came to this earth because He was and is the People-builder, and the Kingdom-builder, going about His Father’s Business…HFB.  And when God changes the heart, when He replaces the heart of stone, with His heart of love…everything changes.  The attitude of the heart changes…the motive and the focus of the heart changes…and the self-devotion is replaced with a heart of Jesus devotion…strong love and loyalty… expressed through various forms of worship, each and every day…through our hearts and our minds.

Lazarus celebrating the Presence of His Master and sitting at His table…remembering his changed life!

Martha celebrating the Presence of her Master as she labored and served Him food and drink…

Mary celebrating the Presence of her Master as she sacrificially opened the pint of expensive perfume and anointed the feet of her Lord…

Various forms of worship…

Allow God to change your heart…and your mind will follow!

I thank God that He gives second chances…that He allows us to come back into His Presence after an absence…to sit at His feet again.

I thank God that He is present in our life-transitions even when we think that they don’t make sense…and when we know they do…

I thank God that He gives us a softened and compassionate heart and allows us to serve again.

I thank God that He shifts our focus from self-devotion to Father-devotion.

I thank God that as He changes the attitude of my heart…He changes the attitude of my mind!

Yes…the truth is that the Attitude of the Heart is Everything! Allow God to change your heart…and your mind will follow!

Abundant Joy,

deborah signatuer copy