Strength for the Loyal Heart

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him”
(2 Chronicles 16:9).

THE LORD IS LOOKING FOR THOSE WHOSE HEARTS WILL BE TRUE TO HIM. And He is eager to “show Himself strong” on behalf of such people, those who know the meaning of loyalty.

Asa, the king of Judah to whom the admonition was addressed in 2 Chronicles 16:9, was a good man in many respects. The general course of his life was commendable, but there were times when his decisions left much to be desired. Earlier, he had been told by one of the prophets, “The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you” (2 Chronicles 15:2). This warning was not always heeded, however. And when Asa deviated from his duty, he forfeited the help of a God who fights on behalf of “those whose hearts are wholly his” (Jerusalem Bible).

There is hardly a virtue more noble than loyalty. Consider the cluster of words in our language that denote this trait. Faithfulness and fidelity imply adherence to one’s vows or obligations — the fulfillment of duty and the keeping of promises. Allegiance means that one has been true to an authority to which he is subject. Fealty, an older word, once referred to the obligation of a vassal to a feudal lord, but now means faithfulness to a law or principle that one has pledged to uphold. And the word loyalty itself gives us the picture of a person who has such a steadfast and devoted attachment to something that he or she is not easily turned aside.

Think of the good things that would come out of a serious application of these ideas to our seeking of God. If we sought Him with a loyalty that He could count on — a faithful love that would hold us at His side — what strength He would make available to us! Our greatest need is for fidelity, the honor that holds steadfastly to all the truth we know of God, however little that may be at present. If we turn our back on what we know of Him, then, as traitors, we cut ourselves off from His help at the time we need it most. Our seeking must be with an allegiance that will die in battle before it will do any treachery to God.

“Lord, help me faithfully to journey along my road, holding my rightful place in the great procession of humanity” (Michel Quoist).

Gary Henry –

Calm Enough to Consider

“He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit” (Proverbs 17:27).

IT IS DANGEROUS TO LET OUR MINDS BECOME SO AGITATED THAT WE CAN’T CONSIDER OUR ACTIONS CAREFULLY. Our adversary, the devil, specializes in confusion. He loves to prey upon minds that are torn and upset by multiple worries, and he often has his greatest success in tempting us when we’re so beset by cares that we act on impulse, failing to consider the consequences of our actions.

Solomon observed that “a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.” But how can we have a calm spirit when many stressful things come at us at once, all of which have to be considered? There surely can be no question that this is one of life’s most difficult challenges, and there are no easy answers. Like most difficult things, however, cultivating a calm mind is a matter of training.

Our brains may have a more complicated connection to our spirits than the other parts of the body, but the brain (i.e., the physiological mind) is still a part of the body, and as such, it has to be trained to serve, rather than hinder, the spirit. Naturally unruly and seemingly with a will of its own, the mind has to be put in its place, disciplined, and taught to help us get to heaven.

Training our minds to be calm is like every other kind of training in that it has to be done in small steps. It’s a matter of incremental growth over time. What we do is put ourselves on a deliberate regimen of training, and we “exercise” every day. We find some little thing we can do today to help calm our minds, and that victory encourages us to do the same tomorrow.

At the very least, we need to consciously value a calm spirit. We need to pursue it, and when we find ourselves without it, we need to be wise enough to see the danger we’re in and make godly efforts to recover our calmness as soon as possible. If we can’t always be calm, we can certainly grow in that direction. Today, like every day, there is some step you can take that will lead to a mind that’s more peaceful — and more careful. What is that step?

“A calm mind is a great asset in this life. Without it your devotional life will not bear much fruit. If your heart is troubled, you are vulnerable to the enemy of the soul. When you are agitated, you are not able to make good decisions. You will stumble into snares” (Lawrence Scupoli).

Gary Henry –