Talking with one of our men this past week who had had Covid. He said it left him with a bit of a-fib. I knew what that meant but thought I’d study up a little more.
Normally, your heart contracts and then relaxes to a regular beat. In atrial fibrillation, the heart's upper chambers beat chaotically and irregularly — out of coordination with the lower chambers of the heart. Some symptoms are:
- Palpitations, which are sensations your heart is racing or skipping beats or flip-flopping in your chest
- Weakness and Fatigue
- Lightheadedness or Dizziness
- Shortness of breath, even Chest pain
Treatment typically begins with medication. Other times the heart has to be shocked back into rhythm. In more serious cases, a cardiac ablation is necessary to locate and neutralize areas within the heart that are causing the problem.
But the goal of each of these treatments remains the same: Reset the rhythm to stop the inappropriate action of the heart.
The Bible uses the heart as the control center of the life. We know that the heart is the most vital muscle we have because blood flow is crucial to our physical life. But symbolically, the heart takes on a commanding role, of which Solomon would write: Prov 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.
Jesus made it the location for what we treasure: Matt 6:21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Treasure means that which is most valuable to us. Which can take a negative turn.
Matt 12:35 The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil.
Matt 15:19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.
Matt 12:34 You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.
When God had Moses record the story of the flood, He showed us two reasons: 1) to cleanse the land of the curse from the Garden, 2) to remove the compromised evil of His people mixing with the people of the world. Paul gives us a third: a deterrent to remind people of the consequence of compromise.
1Cor 10:11-12 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.
We are to learn from their mistakes.
Gen 6:5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
The intent of man’s thoughts being evil takes the problem directly to the heart, and from the heart to the life. God, who examines the heart, found the hearts of the people of Noah’s day full of evil and continually expressing that evil in daily living. Which is what the heart does. What is expressed in the life is first determined in the heart.
We hear words like Love the Lord with all your heart. Return to Me with your whole heart. Impress these words of mine on your heart. Write my commandments and teaching on the tablet of your heart.
It makes our heart, from the perspective of the control center of our lives, our connection point with God. We don’t discover Him by our intellect. Or figure Him out by our own calculations. We open our hearts to Him.
Through Jeremiah God said: Jer 24:7 I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.
I heard a preacher on the radio this past week say that our sin nature was a gift from God to help us discover our need for Him. No, that was the Law. The sin nature drives the impulse to be our own God and determine for ourselves what we think is best. The sin nature takes us away from God by dividing our heart into split loyalties, compromising our devotion.
Paul tells us we are compelled by the old nature or the spirit. He says: these are in opposition to one another. That means if we try to operate with both in charge or the wrong one in charge, the rhythm of our hearts is off-beat. Part of it wants to obey, the other part wants to resist. Our heart is divided.
God wants undivided hearts seeking Him. All of our hearts, devoted to Him, following after Him. Lives driven by hearts that want what God wants for us, choosing His way above their own way.
That’s what David told Solomon when be was about to make him king: 1Chron 28:9 As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.
How did that play out? Let’s go back to the lineage God was establishing from Adam and how He had to protect the purity of that lineage.
When you read Matthew’s lineage of Jesus, he takes us back to Abraham to prove Jesus was a genuine Jew, and brought it through David to prove Jesus was of the royal bloodline. Luke takes Mary’s lineage back to Adam. These lineages stay the same until after David.
Matt 1:6-7 Jesse was the father of David the king. David was the father of Solomon by Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon was the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asa.
Let me turn Luke around to read like Matthew: Luke 3:32 David was the father of Nathan, who was the father of Mattatha, who was the father of Menna, who was the father of Melea, who was the father of Eliakim,
Matthew wanted to show Jesus as King by following the royal lineage down to Joseph. But we know that isn’t really the lineage of Jesus since Jesus was virgin born.
But, Luke takes a different path by going with another son, Nathan, and carrying that lineage through to Mary. Why? Because it was her lineage that counted and it showed us how God kept the purity of the lineage intact.
Both of these sons had the same mother – Bathsheba. Making them sons from the illicit relationship that included adultery, conception and murder. That always has seemed troubling to me that God would sanction that marriage and continue the line to Jesus through it.
But realize we have a God who is both Merciful and Gracious. In Mercy, He doesn’t give us what we deserve and in Grace, He gives us what we don’t deserve. We never ask for God’s justice. Justice is God giving us what we deserve. We seek His Mercy and Grace.
You remember, after the affair with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah her husband, David was confronted by the prophet, Nathan. David melted before the Lord, confessing his sin and throwing himself onto the Lord’s mercy. That act of humility exposed David’s heart. In it, God saw a broken man acknowledging the evil he allowed into his heart and taking responsibility for the actions that came out, but now repentant, he was running toward his God for forgiveness.
David did what God wanted him to do. As a result, God cleansed him of the stench of his unrighteous behavior and reaffirmed him as a righteous man. It reset the rhythm of his heart.
Ps 51:2-4 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge.
No excuse, no justification. David opened his heart and exposed himself as a man standing wrong with God, crying out to be right with God. It was a reconciling moment through which David was restored. But it did more.
Though in our books, David violated God’s commands and deserved justice. He should have been excluded from any expected favor from God from here on out, but God had other plans.
Realize this: David already had several other sons through whom the legacy could pass, but it was the son born after this failure that God used for His own purpose.
2Sam 12:13-14 Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." And Nathan said to David, "The LORD also has taken away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die."
The child conceived through adultery was both the product and evidence of the evil in David’s heart. If we had written this story, David would have died and the child live but that’s justice, not mercy and grace. We would have written David off.
But for the Child of God, because of Mercy and Grace, sin isn’t the end of the story. When David opened his heart to the Lord. God forgave him and restored what the Enemy had tried to steal away. And, not only forgave him, but sanctioned the marriage with Bathsheba and the children that came from it.
After that, David had a much deeper appreciation of forgiveness:
Ps 32:1-5 How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit! When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"; and You forgave the guilt of my sin.
Ps 103:12-14 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.
Our past doesn’t define our present or our future. When God cleanses us, we start over right then.
Back to the lineage: Solomon was born after the baby died, after his father was forgiven and after their marriage was sanctified by God. Solomon meant beloved of the Lord, perhaps as a reminder of God’s love to restore David. Then, after Solomon, came Nathan. Nathan was undoubtedly named after the prophet God used to restore David’s life. Both became constant reminders of this powerful moment of resetting David’s heart.
But, why would God have taken Mary’s lineage down Nathan’s path and not Solomon’s? The reason goes back to the same distinction God made between Cain and Abel, Seth and the other descendants, Esau and Jacob, Judah and the other 11 brothers. Solomon’s heart turned away from God, and never came back.
1Kings 11:4 For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. That was the legacy he passed on to his sons.
His heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord. In other words, his loyalty was so divided that ungodliness had left little room for God to operate. The intent and thoughts of his heart was evil continually. God rejected him and took the lineage down another path. How else does a man of such promise as Solomon, who in the early days wrote the Proverbs, say in his later years in Ecclesiastes: emptiness of emptiness, all is emptiness.
We have no other information about Nathan, but since God made the choice of running the line to Jesus through him, we know he had a heart that beat like his father’s as would his sons following him. Where Solomon allowed his heart to become a polluted offense to God, Nathan undoubtedly maintained the heart of righteousness God demanded.
Here was the example he followed: Acts 13:22 After God had removed Saul, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, A MAN AFTER MY HEART, who will do all My will.'
Even though David so violated God’s laws that anyone would have justified God for throwing David away, Mercy and Grace said, No. Yes, he sinned, but after he was confronted, in his contrition for his sin, David sought to be restored to the God he had offended.
How does this help us Live Biblically? We’re going to do the same thing David did. Maybe not as egregious a sin but we are going to allow our heart to get so filled with desires that it takes us away from God’s best. We will get consumed by evil thoughts, leading us to evil actions. Living Biblically says, though we will do what David did, we also can be restored as David was. Do you realize how important that is?
His sin caused his heart to stop beating in sync with God’s heart. When God touched him, cleansing him, forgiving him, the heart came back into rhythm.
Ps 51:16-17 For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
God, I compromised my commitment to You and can’t fix this. I made a mess of things and I can’t clean it up. I disappointed you and I can’t make up for what I’ve done. All I can do is throw myself onto your mercy and ask your forgiveness. God says, that’s all I expect.
1John 1:5-10 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Living Biblically keeps us aware of the rhythm of our hearts and prompts us to go to the Lord whenever we discover our hearts are beating out of sync with His.
AFib is a serious condition that needs medical attention but it’s a fixable problem. A heart out of sync with God needs the touch of God’s Grace and Mercy and the forgiveness that restores it to beat in rhythm with God’s heart. It, too, is a fixable problem.
Ps 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
- There is no life that is beyond the reach of God’s mercy and grace.
- There is no point of no return after which God will toss us away.
- If we will confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- It is the cleansing of our heart that puts it back in rhythm with God’s heart.
- Never write yourself off but leave room for God’s mercy and grace.