Earlier this month the Holy Spirit opened my understanding concerning the altar. He began by leading my time of worship, prayer and meditation to a specific idea. That idea was that the Altar of Incense was the “heart” of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. In the outer court stood a priest, the brazen altar and the laver. The Holy Place, which was filled with the light coming from the Golden Candlestick (to the far right) and the smell of fresh bread off the Table of Shewbread (from the far left), had at its center, the Altar of Incense. Behind the Altar hung the heavy and wide curtain separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies and the Ark of the Covenant.
But, if you look upon that which Moses built, i.e., the Tabernacle vertically instead of horizontally, it forms a symbolic cross with the Ark at the top. And, in the middle or heart of it…the Altar. The Altar was Jehovah’s meeting place with Moses (Exodus 30:6)and as I have shared throughout my latest book, the Altar is where the Lord desires to meet with all of us. For the Altar was first a place, then a Person–in the Lord Jesus Christ and finally, a people–in the people of God.
The Altar of Incense was the “heart” of the Tabernacle. And like the heart organ in the center of our physical bodies, the spiritual heart described in Scripture stands for the center of our moral, spiritual and intellectual life. It is the meeting place between the Lord and the believer. In other words, the heart is our “spiritual core or center.” Perhaps that is why many believers learned the following song as children; “Into my heart. Into my heart. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus. Come in today. Come in to stay. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.”
How important is it to have the Lord in our “heart?” Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” (Matthew 5:8) and “For where your treasure is, your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). From these and other Scriptures it appears, in the words of Owen: “The heart in Scripture is variously used, sometimes for the mind and understanding, sometimes for the will, sometimes for the affections, sometimes for the conscience, sometimes for the whole soul. Generally, it denotes the whole soul of man and all the faculties of it, not absolutely, but as they are all one principle of moral operations, as they all concur in our doing of good and evil.”
The Bible speaks to the importance of having the Manifest Presence of God in our heart. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” And David said, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26). And Jesus told His disciples, “Let not your heart be troubled, believe in God, believe also in Me (John 14:1).
There are specific reasons for “having a heart after God” (filled with the Manifest Presence of the Holy Spirit).
A Contrite Heart.
First, when we encounter His Manifest Presence, we are made to realize our need of salvation. That realization takes place in our heart. Then, the more we experience His Manifest Presence, the more we want to experience Him. Such has caused me to realize my shortness and His fullness, which I believe has resulted in me being broken and possessing a “contrite heart” before Him.
During my prayer time the Lord has repaired, revived and restored my heart by turning my heart even more toward Him. Isaiah 57:15 says, “For this is what the high and lofty One says– he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” A “contrite heart” seeks after the Lord through prayer, worship, the study of the Word and the Person of the Holy Spirit. And, like the blood that pumps from the heart through our body, a contrite heart sends the nourishing Presence of God into all areas of our lives.
A Heart Full of Faith and Assurance
Secondly, as our hearts are filled to overflowing with His Presence, a “heart full of faith and assurance” develops. This heart enables us to overcome doubt, fear and unbelief. Jesus told His disciples in Mark 11:22-24, “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Having the faith of God is a result of being filled with the God of faith! When our hearts are filled with His fullness we reject timidity for the spirit of power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7). We no longer talk “about” the mountains we are facing, but by faith, we speak “to” the mountain and the mountain moves!
A Hearing Heart
Lastly, having our heart filled to overflowing with His glory enables us to have a “hearing heart.” This term describes the Lord Jesus during His time on the earth. The King James Version of John 4:3-4 says, “He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs go through Samaria.” By having a “hearing heart” our Lord “knew” that He was to “go through Samaria.” Jesus knew He was supposed to take a certain path because there was a certain woman with a certain need. We don’t know if He knew that He would meet that specific woman at Jacob’s well that day. We do know that He was led by His heart to that specific well and woman. His hearing heart resulted in a whole city getting to hear the Good News.
This level of spiritual relationship with the Lord causes our ears to hear and our hearts to understand (hearing and understanding). Being able to know the direction to go, or the words to say, or the actions to take in a certain situation, enables ministry on a whole new level. When we are able to hear what hasn’t been heard, or to see what can’t be seen or to know what we cannot possibly know in the natural realm, we are spiritually enabled to share spiritual wisdom and understanding with those that are in great need.
How can we develop the heart that I have described? This is my story. I find a quiet place to wait upon the Lord. At least once a day I find a place where I can be physically, emotionally and mentally quiet. I then turn off the media, the internet, the cell phone, the television and move away from the noise of life. This enables me to move away from anything that is confusing or distracting and to focus on being filled with His Manifest Presence.
I encourage you to do the same. And to meditate on His Word. Mull over a specific passage or Scripture verse. Spend the time singing and making melody in your heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to pray for and through you. Pray that your heart and mind be filled with the spirit of wisdom and understanding, in Jesus’ Name.
And remember, The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who wait upon and hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:28-31.
I love you!