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Settle It In Your Heart
Reflections on Luke 21:10

Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A.

Number 69

Feeling unsettled because of conflict, pressure, anxiety, rejection, failure, or frustration?
 
Certainly some sense of being unsettled in such circumstances is normal. After all, if you didn't feel anything you'd either be 1) incorrigibly psychopathic or 2) dead. Since you're neither  #1 nor #2,  there's hope. Since you're a Christian, there REALLY is even more hope. There really is!
 
After all, the best coping mechanism one can have comes from five simple words of Jesus. "Settle It In Your Hearts." These simple words are really Jesus' "secret formula" for remaining strong even in the greatest adversity. "Settle it in your hearts...."
 
Biblical Background
 
In Luke 21, the Disciples were spell-bound by the things of the world. Browsing through the streets of Jerusalem and marveling at the great stones of the nearly-finished gilded Temple of Herod, they exclaimed, "What amazing stones!"
 
Jesus' response was one which was aimed at their crass externally-driven behavior. After predicting the ruin of the temple in which not one stone would rest on another, Jesus described how nations, stars, the sun, the moon, the earth and everything in the universe would be shaken and destroyed. So much for "amazing stones!"
 
It was almost as if Jesus responded to the disciples' attachment to externals by saying, "Look, guys, there's nothing in this world that will endure. As long as you base your hope on the things you see, touch and feel, when things go awry and out-of-control, you'll be goners if your trust is in these things."
Jesus' Advice
 
"Settle it in your hearts," Jesus told them. In fact, these five words weren't just a words of advice, they were a command. The original Greek uses an aorist tense to indicate that this should be a one-time action. "Set it down." The verb for "settle" comes from the Greek word "tithemi". It's primary meaning is to "set" or "put" something in its place.
 
The various meanings of this word indicate that Jesus is telling the disciples to set in their hearts an unshakable confidence in God. Just put it there. Don't let it move. Deposit it, guard it, and don't let anything--even the total collapse of the entire cosmos--interfere with it.
 
The Disciples' Threats
 
Certainly this was important advice. In a matter of days Jesus, their constant companion for the better part of three years would be betrayed, beaten, and crucified. As a result of their witness to the Gospel, they were to be imprisoned, tortured and killed by their adversaries. Through it all, whether they confronted ridicule, disappointment, persecution or the sword, they were not to be terrified. Neither were they to fret and brood on what they were to say as they were brought before malicious and evil rulers, even if condemned to death.
 
How could they endure? How could they face such hardships? Not by might or by power, but by an absolute trust in God's power and promise to them. It was that absolute trust that they had to settle in their hearts.
Settle It In Your Hearts...Now!
 
The best defense and coping mechanism, Jesus taught them, was to settle their confidence in God in their hearts once and for all.
  • When scared...settle it in your heart that God will help you overcome the fear;
  • When attacked...settle it in your heart that God will give you the defense necessary;
  • When threatened...settle it in your heart that God's power will uphold you;
  • When worried...settle it in your heart that God is able to subdue your worry;
  • When the world is falling apart...settle it in your heart that God is in control;
  • When Satan works to destroy the church...settle it in your heart that the gates of hell shall not prevail;
  • When doubting whether a church can be renewed...settle it in your heart that God promises to build His church.
Settle it, settle it, SETTLE IT! Those were Jesus' words. Just settle it in your hearts, right here, right now. Trial will come, severe difficulties will arise, things will get out of control. Settle it in your hearts that not a hair on your head will perish and that those who oppose you--even if they threaten death--cannot rattle you.
 
Nothing shall separate you from God's presence. Nothing shall separate you from God's promise to build His church. Nothing shall separate you from His remarkable plan even in the bleakest times. Settle it in your heart. Place it there. Guard it, keep it, and don't ever lose it. Just keep that hope there...settled steadfastly in your heart.
 
What To Settle In Your Heart
 
What do you need settle in your heart?

1) During attacks, conflict, betray, or other traumatic circumstances, you don't need to be frazzled. Though you produce the output, the outcome is out of our control. Settle it in your heart.

2) Though you should faithfully, zealously and earnestly endeavor to produce the greatest and most effective ministry output possible, at the same time you must let go of outcomes. God is in control. Let Him do it! Settle it in your heart.

3) No matter how badly things are going in your church, God will take care of the situation in His time. Settle it in your heart.

4) Whatever the circumstances, if your heart is not settled on the firm foundation of God's loving providence in your life, your heart will not be settled. Settle it in your heart.

5) You will get what God graciously wills for you, whether you think it's good or not. But, you'd better believe that it will be good! Settle it in your hearts.

6) Even in the worst adversity, even when you're outnumbered, God is with you. With Him by your side, regardless of the current pain, you'll win! Settle it in your heart.

7) When you're in the midst of conflict or striving toward a wonderful ministry opportunity, let God bring about the victory. He'll bring victory in His good time. Don't be anxious. Don't be impatient. Don't force it. Just... Settle it in your heart.

8) The life of faith is one that does not focus on your works of weakness or pride, but on what God can, does and will accomplish in you. Live it, preach it, teach it and believe it. Settle it in your heart.

9) When things go awry, don't prepare a speech, don't be overly pre-occupied and obsessed with the issue, don't worry about it, don't get bent out of shape. Instead, in the face of trauma, Jesus said, "Settle it in your hearts." God will be faithful. So, just go the cross and do as Jesus said, "Settle it in your hearts."

They Settled It In Their Hearts

When one considers all the heroes of faith in the Scripture, one thing they had in common that they had settled the issue of God's control in their heart. Whatever He willed was always good. They settled that in their hearts.
Settle THAT In Your Heart!
 
What's bothering you about your ministry at this time? What's unsettled in your heart?
 
Are you still trying to negotiate with God? Are you still trying to manipulate God like an Aladdin's Lamp to get the results you want? Are you still trying to hang on to externals and resisting giving up your control over them to God? Are you still feeding ministry expectations that you feel are essential but that probably really don't matter to God at all? Are you willing  to let God take control now?
 
If you are, settle TWO things in your heart.
 
First, settle it in your hearts that pastors really don't do very well in ministry by ourselves. We're weak, we're human, and we're sinful. Martin Luther pointed out that left to himself, he'd actually destroy the church by his own incompetence and weakness. The same is true for each of us. We really don't have control of our ministries because we're not in control. God is. Settle that in your heart.
 
Second, settle it in your heart that "Unless the Lord builds the house, the builder builds it in vain" (Psalm 127:1). If you think you're the one whose done everything in your church, to the degree that YOU are building the Lord's house you will be unsettled...and so will that you believe you have built. Let God do His work in your church. He can do it with or without you. Settle that in your heart...and watch Him go!
 
Don't Be A Monkey!
 
It can be hard to let God take over. Sometimes the only way we will do it is when we finally realize that it really is out of our control...and panic.
 
Sometimes we're like the monkey who just can't let go of the hunter's bait. When monkey hunters catch monkeys, all they do make coconut bait. They make this bait by getting a coconut, draining it, and then making a small hole in the coconut in which they put a stick of sugar cane. They put the bait out and then hide..
 
Soon, an unsuspecting monkey, sees the bait. He grabs the coconut and, looking inside, finds his favorite snack: sugar cane. He really wants that sugar cane so the monkey puts his hand inside and grabs the sugar cane stick with his fist. But, since his clenched fist holding the sugar can stick is larger than the hole in the coconut, the monkey can't get his hand out unless he first releases the sugar cane. Since the monkey wants the sugar cane, the monkey keeps struggling to pull the stick out. He'll keep trying and trying to pull it out, making all kinds of noises. As the monkey yells, screams and screeches, his commotion alerts the hunters. 
 
When the monkey sees the hunters approaching, he still won't run away and leave...because he's settled it in his heart that he's not going to let go of the sugar cane inside the coconut. He's got to have it. He won't let go. The monkey is going to remain attached to the coconut...even if it kills him. Sometimes it does.
 
Where's Your Heart Settled?
 
What's the "sugar cane" in your ministry coconut that you're clinging to? What is it that you're so focused on that you can't let go...even if it hurts you? Is it control, is it recognition, is it fear, its it the admiration of others, is it having to have the biggest, best and fastest growing ministry? If it is, let go of the sugar cane and the coconut. Settle it in your hearts that the only thing to which you'll cling to--and never let go of--is the confidence that God will see things through.
 
Let go and let God sustain and empower your ministry. He does anyway. Let Him deal with the worrisome stuff. He can handle it. Consider God's power, grace, goodness and faithfulness. Then "settle it in your hearts" and see just how faithful He can be in your life and ministry!
 
Now settle that in your heart!
Thomas F. Fischer

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This page was revised on: Tuesday, October 05, 2004 11:03:43 PM