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by Margaret D. Mitchell
Week of October 30, 2016
"I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh." -Ezekiel 11:19 (NIV)
Soil of Our Hearts
Did you know that God will use persecution to correct us? He will. He cares about the condition of our hearts that much if this is what it takes. He will purpose to root out wickedness and fill up that empty space with Himself to make us more holy, like Him.
Isaiah 11:1 (NLT) informs us that Jesus is both a branch and a root that bears a crop of good fruit. This makes sense because He is both man and God—The Son of God—man being the branch and God being the root…
"Out of the stump of David's family will grow a shoot--yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root."
Isaiah 14:9 (NASB) informs us that the enemy is also a root and that he produces bad fruit…
“…For from the serpent's root a viper will come out, And its fruit will be a flying serpent.”
The Message (Bible) especially illustrates the multiplication of this bad fruit…
“From the death throes of that snake a worse snake will come, and from that, one even worse” (Isaiah 14:9).
Makes no mistake about it—good or bad, whatever is in the heart will spring up and multiply.
Do you know what kinds of roots are in the soil of your heart? Have you asked The Holy Spirit to search your heart and reveal any secret sins to you so you may confess and repent of them privately? Or do you hold onto any dark secret(s), too fearful to entrust them to the light of Christ?
Good or bad, whatever we hold in our hearts will spring up and produce fruit…and others will notice, even if we do not.
Evil Destroys Evil
By nature, evil is destructive and produces more evil unless it is harnessed as a tool used by God. In Isaiah 10:5-7 (NASB), God uses the evil in Assyria to destroy the evil in Israel to make room for His remnant to reign. In this case, He uses arrogance to attack arrogance…
"Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger and the staff in whose hands is My indignation. I send it against a godless nation and commission it against the people of My fury to capture booty and to seize plunder and to trample them down like mud in the streets. Yet it does not so intent. Nor does it plan so in its heart. But rather it is its purpose to destroy and to cut off many nations."
What’s more is that when God’s purposed destruction was made complete, He went after Assyria’s evil leadership by punishing “the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria…” (Is. 10:12).
It’s important to note that God also uses starvation as a tactic to kill evil. In Isaiah 10:16, He allowed destruction of Assyria’s “stout warriors” with a “wasting disease.” And later in Isaiah 14:30, He used famine to starve and destroy an evil root in Philistia.
God uses evil to prune evil so that the righteous can reign and rest in Him. God uses persecution against us to get our attention to stop sinning in ways we may not realize we are sinning. Our delivery from persecution is purposed and appointed so that all that remains at the end of the trial is the remnant of our submitted hearts.
How is God getting your attention through persecution? Are you feeling like a victim and ensnared in blaming your persecutor? Or are you asking God to show you His perspective on your circumstances?
The enemy desires we be deceived, worn out from fighting alone in our own carnal strength (i.e., strife) and feeling defeated. Persecution often requires longsuffering (patient endurance) to rise up in us and to be developed.
Divine Strategy to Defeat Persecution Cycle
This devotional was adapted from Margaret's forthcoming book, Enduring Grace. All rights reserved.