Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Attitudes of the Heart
Midway through Rick Warrens prayer today during President Obama's Inauguration, this paragraph of repentance grabbed the attention of my heart.
When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget You, forgive us.
When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone, forgive us.
When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the earth with the respect that they deserve, forgive us.
I realized Pastor Warren was repenting on behalf of our nation to the world. It started to sink in as I hurried out the door to pray with my intern class this morning. When I walked into prayer time, late I might add, I had already sent a message on ahead to pray for our nation today. People were struggling to pray. They were dealing with judgements, disappointments, fears, and various other heart attitudes that were coming to the surface on this day, during this moment in history.
That was when that first line in the repentance paragraph of Rick Warren's prayer jumped out at me again. (I had stopped to write it down...why I was late)
When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you, forgive us.
You see I was struggling to get my heart right before God this morning. I had a fight with a family member yesterday. I needed to repent. There I was, focused on myself, fighting with someone else, and forgetting God in the midst of it. It struck me as I was listening to this prayer that we can make this mistake in our relationships on every level, when we take our focus off God, and begin to focus on ourselves. In our marriages, in our families, in our churches, in our cities, and yes even in our nations.
Three simple choices down the path of destruction
1. focusing on ourselves
3. failure to respect
I know I am getting awfully preachy here, but I am preaching to myself, believe me! It really was the Lord disciplining my own heart. But by the true grace and mercy of God I was able to be transparent in the midst of it with the interns and I was able to share this truth with the kids.
We started our prayer time by focusing on the steps to having a right heart. We used the Beatitudes to repent by allowing the Holy Spirit to line up our hearts with the Word of God in personal repentance. Then we were able to pray for our country. It was a time of humility spent before His Throne this morning.
If you want take a minute to read through the Beatitudes to give your heart a check up today I am going to post them right here for you. They are certainly a good reminder of what God looks for in the attitude's of our heart.
3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. (our sin)
4 God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (repentance)
5 God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. (humility)
6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. (God's justice,not ours)
7 God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. (forgiveness)
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. (washed by the Blood of the Lamb)
9 God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. ( He is the Prince of Peace)
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. (now we can take the heat of persecution, because of a right heart)
11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.
12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
Matthew 5:3-12 NLT
In the parenthesis are just my notes that I jotted down in my Bible as I was repenting this morning. I must admit I had never quite seen this progression in the Beatitudes before. I had only studied them as separate issues, instead of a progressive one of the heart.
I thought the last part of President Obamas's speech was a fitting end to all that God was showing me today.
"And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes, even when we differ. "