By David Stahl

No matter what we do (even for God) does not matter if the intent of our heart is wrong.  All of our service and good works in the church, money given, even our perfect attendance will not matter to God if our motives and intentions are impure.  It is the intent of our heart God is looking at and nothing more.  Now the performance based religious folks will doom me to hell for such words, but that is okay because deep in their heart they know I am telling the truth yet they lack the heart to speak the truth.  The Son of God (from the beginning of  eternity) held a position of equality with God. Nevertheless He willingly set this equality aside that He might take on an identification with mankind in order to pay the penalty for man’s sin. It was through obedience and suffering that He experientially entered into this position as Saviour yet the intent of His heart was never to ascend above His Father will for His life.  In Philippians we read the heart intent of Jesus Christ,  “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”  (Philippians 2:6-8)  His intent of His heart was settled and established not on the cross, but in the Garden of Gethsemane (which means where oil is pressed) where the Father pressed out the life and heart of Jesus.  I am reminded now of the story from Bill Pepper who shares of the Chinese father who attended an underground church until he was caught by the authorities.  The entire family was arrested and the authorities said they will kill each one of his family members, starting with his wife, unless he told them who the leader of the church was.  The father with tears in his eyes looked at his wife and family and said, “I will see you all in the morning.”  The father had an established heart and his faith was settled in believing though God or the government would slay him (or his family) yet I will trust Him.  Willfully Jesus submitted Himself to the disciplines and the testings of life so He might qualify through experience as well as by His identity as our Savior. The writer of the Book of Hebrews writes, “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered; and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey Him.” (Hebrews 5:8-9) Is the student greater than the Master?  Jesus had settled this issue within His being and His heart was right toward God. Inwardly He was determined to pay the full price for the outworking of the will of God though it would cost Him His physical life.  We often say brother or sister give me your testimony well guess what no test no testimony.  Jesus now had a testimony because He endured the test.  Because of His obedience to the will of the Father Jesus humbled Himself and became the Lamb of God upon Calvary’s cross and then died in our stead shedding His precious blood that our sin might be cleansed. Because of this the Father brought Him forth in resurrection life and then highly exalted Him. Again Paul in Philippians helps us here,  “Wherefore, God also has highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow and every tongue confess He is Lord.” (Philippians 2:9-10)  God cares not of the stature of a man, his abilities, skills, or talents.  I find it sad (wrong thinking) when sports players point up to the heavens after they score as to give God thanks for their ability to run the football or shoot a basketball, well God is not looking at their sports ability God is always looking at the intent of their heart.  We see this truth painfully play out in I Samuel, “And it came to pass, when they were come, that he (Samuel) looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him. But the Lord said to Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (I Samuel 16:6-7) Samuel would have chosen the one who outwardly appeared to meet every qualification. However the Lord revealed a different method of qualification — the intent of the heart. This principle is exemplified in God’s rejection of Eliab and in the selection of David for the throne of Israel. But later David was severely tested when Saul turned against him; but under extreme pressure David chose the LORD and His ways. His experience (his test for his testimony) during this time of testing is recorded in Psalm 27:1-4. God saw that David would choose Him in the difficulties that he would face and later declared him to be “ . . . a man after His own heart.” (I Samuel 13:14). Another example of this principle is revealed in the choosing of Jacob, a deceiver over his Brother Esau.  “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated(Romans 9:13).  At first glance this Scripture seems to indicate that divine approval is an arbitrary choice made by God. However the LORD’s choice is based upon a divine principle.  Outwardly it appears that Esau should have been the right choice. He was the firstborn and when his father requested meat he willingly went to get it for him (Genesis 27:1-4) But previously when under the pressure of intense hunger Esau despised the blessing of God and sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of soup and received a present temporal satisfaction (Genesis 25:29-33). Jesus faced this same test of hunger in the wilderness, but refused to turn stones into bread in order to feed His hunger when He said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)  a continual truth that must grip our hearts today. While Esau was seeking meat for his father Jacob deceived his father into imparting the blessing to him rather than to his brother. But later when Jacob was under intense pressure the true quality of his character came forth. Jacob had fled from Esau and was now returning home with all of his possessions. In Genesis 32:6-8 he was told that everything that he owned was in jeopardy as Esau was coming with 400 men toward him. Then Jacob humbled his heart before the LORD and asked for His help (Genesis 32:9-12). He sent all of his possessions toward Esau in two separate companies and then remained alone to see what would happen when the first group came to Esau. His plan was that if Esau destroyed the first group he could take the second group and escape still the deceiver, but  in the end after wrestling with an angel (some people say it was man and others say it was even God) Jacob received a change of nature, along with position, and power. The Bible says he “wrestled” well if it was God why would you want to wrestle with God?  I wonder what Jacob would have gotten if he would have not wrestled, but submitted to God? Maybe God had something much better than a name change  One thing for sure he would not have received a limp he carried with him all the days of his life.  Make no mistake my brother any time we wrestle with God we will come out on the short end of the stick. Make no mistake my friend any time we wrestle with God He will have to break our heart to get our attention so that we can align our intention up with His intention.  In the end Esau who had sought rather to satisfy the present hunger of his stomach lost out, but there was a change of his heart condition towards his brother (over the years of separation) Jacob now called Israel. I want to believe even though the Bible really does not say it, but I hope there was a real time of reconciliation between Esau and Israel.  God’s heart is never for brothers to be at odds with each other even in the face of their heart condition towards God and God’s heart condition towards them. Funny how God deals with us according to the intent of our heart, that is according to what we truly desire to be. The present state or condition in which we find ourselves will be changed by the LORD if we truly put Him first and then trust Him.  The Bible is full of examples like with David and Israel. At the end of the day is does not matter what you do for God it matters how you do it and the intent of your heart.