“I have inclined my heart to perform thy statutes always, even unto the end.“
For several weeks this past winter, my husband had taught the devotional for our teenagers at church. We have often talked about what he had presented and it has resonated in my thoughts for weeks. He had tried to impress upon the teens that the choices they make become their inclinations-what they will probably continue to do in their lives. How important it is for us to make sure that our hearts are inclined to the Lord. Our standing with Him will often determine what we do and who we become.
Of course he talked about several examples of characters in the Bible and how their choices affected them. Two that my thoughts keep returning to are Lot and Daniel. Two different men with different inclinations. Lot had returned from Egypt with Abram. Both men had prospered and had great flocks. When they returned to Bethel, they were not able to dwell in the same place. Abram told Lot he wanted no strife between them and their herdsmen, so Abram told him to look over the land and take the section in which he wanted to live. His inclination was to look for the best, to see what was “good”, to see what he could gain and therefore pitched his tent toward Sodom. It wasn’t long before he was sitting at the gate with the men of the city. In Genesis 19:7 we see that Lot had become so corrupted by the lifestyle of Sodom that he called the men at his door “brethren”.
Daniel, on the other hand, purposed in his heart to serve the Lord. Daniel, with Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were brought to Nebuchadnezzar’s palace where they were expected to eat the king’s meat and drink the wine which the king drank. Daniel 1:8 tells us that Daniel purposed in his heart that they would not defile themselves with the king’s meat or wine. Because of this choice, God gave these four men knowledge and skill in all learning, and Daniel was given understanding in all visions and dreams. Because of Daniel’s faithfulness in following and serving God, he was later able to interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. All four of these young men were given roles of leadership in Babylon. Their faithfulness could have ended there in these high and important positions, but they chose to remain faithful to God and continued to purpose in their hearts to do right.
Later we read that Nebuchadnezzar made the golden image and required that all bow down to it. Daniel’s three friends would not worship this image. They all had purposed to obey and honor God before any of these things occurred. Because of their decision, they were thrown into the fiery furnace that had been heated seven times hotter than it had been. They believed God would deliver them. When Nebuchadnezzar looked into the furnace, he saw four men, the fourth being in the form of the Son of God. God was walking with them through this trial. Their faithfulness in serving God caused Nebuchadnezzar to make a decree that every nation and language would not speak against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Had not these Jewish men purposed to obey and honor God, the ending would have been so different. These men inclined their hearts to God.
The word “incline” means to lean, tend, or become drawn toward an opinion or course of conduct. God in His Word tells us to incline our hearts unto Him. We do that by knowing His Word and what He is saying to us. His Words are precious and we need to treat them that way. We need to open our hearts to what He is saying to us. We need to be ready to obey His commands and do His will as we hear from Him. Learning from scripture, hymns of the faith, and teachings of those who love and know God, help us to incline our hearts to Him.
So, why am I sharing these two stories of men of the Bible? It is because of what we do at Valley Classical School. Each morning we meet in worship to our God, the God of creation, salvation, and grace. We learn scripture which will settle into our hearts and be a weapon against the threats of Satan. We will have God’s Word deep in our beings to remind us of His goodness, leading, and deliverance when our hearts are inclined to go the wrong direction. We will have beautiful hymns teaching the doctrines of the grace and the debt we have to Christ for that wonderful love gift given at Calvary. When our hearts are “prone to wander,” we can call upon the Lord to renew our relationships with Him and be drawn back to Him. We have Bible Truths that remind us that we are sinners and sin’s penalty is death. Yet, even in that sin, we have a redeemer who endured the painful and shameful death of the cross that we might live in and through Him. We have a wonderful God who wants to draw us back to Him when we wander. He wants our hearts to be inclined to Him, His Word, and the truth of that Word. He wants us to know that we are His through salvation, He loves us, and wants to bless us as we walk with Him.
Our second quarter hymn, “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go” reminds us that we can rest in Him, be drawn back to Him when we go astray, and be stronger through His grace because of what we go through.
“O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer fuller be.”
Teaching of, pointing to, and exemplifying Christ to our students is a privilege we have. God is on our side. He has given us the tools to walk worthy of His calling. We seek to partner with our children’s parents to help the children be built up in the faith, to give them the courage to stand firm, and to be inclined to follow Jesus no matter what they face in the future.
Proverbs 2:1-5 says: “My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God.”
Let this scripture resound in our hearts, and the song below be what we team together to instill in the lives of the children God has entrusted to us.
"The Song Of Blessing"
May God give you eyes to see
All that is good, all that is good
The courage for anything
May you be strong, may you be strong
May God give you ears to hear
His loving voice, his loving voice
Speaking all around you
All around and deep inside.
1. Scripture taken from the ESV Bible
2. O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go by George Matheson 1842-1902
3. Above lyrics taken from the music video by Sara Groves performing The Song of Blessing (Audio). (C) 2017 Sponge Records http://vevo.ly/tYteIX.