Week 1: Jesus, Reset My Heart a fresh start through prayer
The reset that Jesus offers begins with you and me. When we allow our lives to be reset from sin, cynicism, and self-reliance to faith in Jesus—his grace, his love, his transformation—all the other resets we want and need can and will follow.
Welcome to the first installment of our new series, Reset: Jesus Changes Everything, a four-week experience that promises to do just that . . . to help us reset whatever it is in our lives that is not functioning well.
To “reset” something is to restore it to its original design, its original purpose, its original intent. It is literally to set again. To reestablish. To reengage. To reorganize. The idea is to “reset” something back to how it was supposed to be all along.
For those of you who play the piano, when you want to play the note C, it should actually sound like C. If it doesn’t, you get the piano re-tuned. You reset it to how it was designed to sound.
When your smartphone is sluggish and doesn’t seem to have the energy to do anything you ask it to do, it needs to have all its apps shut down and its power rebooted. It needs to be reset.
When your marriage turns into a series of irritable moments and misunderstandings, it needs to be reset to effective communication, quality time, even enthusiasm.
When the team you’re on at work fails to hit its numbers once again . . . excellence has slipped, client issues have gone unresolved, agreed-upon goals haven’t been met . . . the team needs accountability, fresh ideas, new incentives perhaps. It needs to be reset.
When you realize it’s summer and hotdogs and ice cream have become a regular diet and you’re five pounds heavier, what your health regimen needs is a little restructure, some boundaries, something green for goodness sake. It needs to be reset.
We can all relate to these types of “resets,” these common, everyday needs to have our connections reestablished, our systems restructured, our routines re-imagined. And we all know that these can be powerful, even life-changing interventions.
What we may not be as quick to realize is that there is a type of reset that is far more powerful, vastly more life-changing than even these. There are times when not just the externals of our lives, but our inner workings need to be reset too. There are times when what we need more than anything else in life is a total and complete, full-on reset of the soul.
We are going to spend the next few weeks working through four key resets that promise to reinvigorate the core of who we are—who we really are when we go God’s way instead of our own. The resets we will look at are actually four one-line prayers. They go like this:
- Week 1: “Jesus, reset my heart.”—This is the resetting of our faith where all other resets begin. (We’ll talk more about this idea here in a moment.)
- Week 2: “Jesus, reset my mind.”—The resetting of our thoughts, the center of our belief.
- Week 3: “Jesus, reset my voice.”—The resetting of our words, what we say, why we say it and more specifically, how often we take the opportunities to talk about God.
- Week 4: “Jesus, reset my hands.”—The resetting of our work, the motivations for what we do, as well as the mechanics.
There is a natural progression to these four different categories of being reset, but the part that unites them is this: We were made for something more than the worry and anxiety, the heavy challenges of this world, the exhausting and frustrating experiences too many of us are enduring today. And Jesus is that something more.
So for the idea of “Jesus, reset my heart,” we’re going to look at Psalm 24. We are going to focus our attention on just a couple of verses, but let’s start by reading the entire psalm so you see better what’s going on.
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob.
Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty—he is the King of glory.
This psalm, set to music, was likely used in corporate worship where the people outside the Temple would sing and call out to the Temple gates to open up and let the King of glory in.
From inside, the priests or another group would ask, “Who is this King of glory?” Outside the people would respond in unison, “The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle,” proclaiming His great power and strength. The exchange would be repeated, and then the Temple gates would swing open, symbolizing the people’s desire to have God’s presence among them.
David wrote this psalm, and most Bible scholars agree that he wrote it as a song to commemorate the occasion of his bringing the Ark of the Covenant to the place he had prepared for it, the tabernacle that we can read about in 2 Samuel 6:17-18.
17 They brought the Ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the special tent David had prepared for it. And David sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord. 18 When he had finished his sacrifices, David blessed the people in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
Now, the Ark of the Covenant had been built four hundred years prior to this turn of events. It was built by Moses at God’s request. In Exodus 31, God directed Moses to employ two artisans, whom God himself had selected, to build the Ark (not a boat but a box) that would house the second set of stone tablets that had the Ten Commandments written on them by God, along with other holy artifacts.
An “ark” is just a fancy word for a box—in this case, a box made of acacia (a-kay-sha) wood and gold. But because this was the Ark of the Covenant—ofGod’s covenant —and because the building of it had been commissioned by God himself, this was far more than just a box. The Ark of the Covenant represented God’s solemn pledge to His people, that if they would obey Him and His laws, He would bless them all their days in mighty ways.
Now let’s not forget the opposite was also true, according to the divine deal. If they refused to obey God, instead choosing to run their own lives and go their own way, they would be subject to the natural consequences that happen whenever we remove ourselves from the protection and provision of God. Like so many of us sitting here today, the Israelites would learn this lesson the hard way.
So, here is what we have so far: David is returning the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, to the special place he had prepared for it. As he brings it back to its rightful place, he is singing a song—a psalm—to God about God’s goodness and power throughout the earth, about the importance of having clean hands and pure hearts before God, and about the foolishness of trusting in an idol or swearing by a false god.
And while this all seems well and good on the surface, there is a world-rocking takeaway for us that we’ll only discover if we look a little more closely at what was going on here.
You see, the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt for more than four hundred years and crossed the Red Sea in a miraculous sort of way as they escaped and then based themselves at Mount Sinai, where their leader, Moses, received the Ten Commandments from God. Soon after that, the Ark of the Covenant was constructed, and as the Israelites continued their journey out of exile and into freedom, that Ark led the way—literally. I’ll tell you how literal.
Joshua 3:1-5 says,
Early the next morning Joshua and all the Israelites left Acacia (a-kay-sha) Grove and arrived at the banks of the Jordan River, where they camped before crossing. 2 Three days later the Israelite officers went through the camp, 3 giving these instructions to the people: “When you see the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God, move out from your positions and follow them. 4 Since you have never traveled this way before, they will guide you. Stay about half a mile behind them, keeping a clear distance between you and the Ark. Make sure you don’t come any closer.”
5 Then Joshua told the people, “Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do great wonders among you.”
So the Ark of the Covenant lead the way to the Promise Land, the land that God wanted to give them. Now I will say the path was not a direct path to the Promise Land. See the Israelites didn’t exactly make a beeline to the Promised Land, did they? No, they took the scenic route. They wandered in the desert for a little while—and by “a little while” I mean a full forty years.
God was frustrated with their lack of obedience to Him, so through Moses He told them that because of their infidelity, they would wander in the wilderness, and He would just wait until they all died off and then let their children—the next generation, and hopefully a generation more faithful than theirs—inherit the land.
Now before, during, and after those years in the desert—really since the beginning of human history—the Israelites contended with the people known as the Philistines. The Philistines were their bitter rivals. These two groups hated each other and were very committed to the other’s destruction. They would face off in major battles seven times, the most famous one involved 12 year old David and the giant Goliath.
The battle that pertains to our discussion today was a battle in which more than four thousand Israelites lost their lives. With sad, disillusioned hearts, the remaining Hebrew leaders gathered together to figure out what to do. Their troops had been defeated, overwhelmed and slaughtered by the Philistines of all people.
And since they couldn’t stand for this, an idea swept through the ranks. “Hey! We have the Ark of the Covenant, representing the Holy God—His power, His strength, His superiority over all things . . . including the Philistines! So why don’t we just trot out the Ark, and show these Philistine twerps who’s really boss.”
In that moment, the Ark of the Covenant to the Israelites was more like a genie in a bottle, a magic box ready to indulge their every selfish whim.
But God is no genie, and He will not be mocked. The Israelites were still maintaining a posture of rebellion against God, and now they expected Him to show up in strength on their behalf? Hmmm. How do you think that went?
In the rest of the story, we to learn that the Israelites brought out the Ark, the Philistines reengaged in battle, and this time, 30,000 Israelites died. Even more devasting, the Philistines nabbed the Ark for themselves and took it home. If they didn’t believe it carried supernatural power and authority before, they would soon come around.
Because the morning after they positioned the Ark inside their temple to their false god, Dagon, they returned to the temple to find that the permanent statue of Dagon, that they’d built long ago, had fallen to the floor right in front of the Ark and now appeared to be bowing down before it.
The Philistines, thinking this was a fluke, stood the statue of Dagon back up and left. The next morning, they returned to find that not only had the statue resumed its bowed-down position before the Ark, but also both its head and arms had broken off. To add insult to injury, the Philistines throughout the town began to have sores break out all over their bodies. And then they noticed that their city was being overrun by rats. Of course, they wondered what was all this about?
The Philistine leaders didn’t want to concede the fact that this wooden box could hold such power over them, but they’d had enough. They shipped off the Ark to a neighboring city, and within hours, that city’s people were overcome by sores and rats. For seven months, this craziness went on, until finally the Philistines decided to send the Ark back to the Israelites. Not surprisingly, their sores began to heal. And the rats retreated to their dark, damp holes.
The Link to Us Today
What was true for the Israelites is true for us here today. God created them in His own image. He purposed them to love Him. He set them apart for His glory and equipped them for every good work. He established a covenant arrangement with them—really for them—where God would provide for them, protect them, give satisfaction to their souls, a deep fulfillment they could never manufacture on their own, in exchange for…..according to the covenant….do you remember what all of this was in exchange for? It was in exchange for, simply, letting God be God in their lives.
There had to be a catch, right? That’s what we all think.
All the fulfillment. All the satisfaction. All the contentment and joy and peace you stand. All the protection from awful circumstances and from mean-spirited enemies. All the provision—food and water and clothing . . . not to mention a captivating vision to devote themselves to, a meaningful mission, unique gifts and talents—all the provision they could ask for. And in exchange for all of it, all that was required was a wholehearted “yes.”
Yes, God, you can be God.
Yes, God, you can pave my path.
Yes, God, you can chart my course.
Yes, God, you can meet my needs.
And yet “yes” is not what the Israelites said.
Interestingly though, they didn’t quite say “no” either. As in:
No, God, we’ll be our own god.
No, God, even though you just rescued us from four centuries of terrible slavery in Egypt, you can’t pave our path.
You can’t chart our course.
You can’t meet our needs. (Manna? You call that food?)
In response to God’s offer of goodness and grace, provision and peace, the Israelites didn’t say “yes,” and they didn’t exactly say “no.” What they said was . . . “maybe.”
God said, “Will you let me be God in your life? Will you let me love you and lead you, protect you and provide for you a life that is really life?” And in response, the Israelites said, “Maybe.”
Do we ever say “maybe” to God?
To be clear, some of us say “yes”—a resounding, wholehearted, overjoyed “yes”—to God’s offer of faith that leads to fulfillment. We know we make for a sorry god, and we can’t say “yes” fast enough.
And there are surely some of us who have said, and maybe continue to say “no” to Him. “No, thanks, God—if there even is a God. I got this. I’m good. All set.”
But if I were a betting person, you know what I’d put my money on, in terms of how most of us respond to God?
You got it: “Maybe.”
Here’s how I think it works: To God’s lavish invitation of grace and purpose and acceptance and love and fulfillment, we say, “Wow! That’s great. I’m in.” Then moments later, when we want something that “people who love God” aren’t meant to want, we decide we would be better off on our own and promptly revoke the power and authority we ever so recently granted to God.
That thing we aren’t meant to want is independence, however you want to define it. It might look like meeting your need for clothing by over-shopping and over-spending. It might look like meeting your need for community by people-pleasing and manipulation. It might look like meeting your need for success by steamrolling colleagues and elbowing your way up the corporate ladder. It might look like meeting your need for a romantic relationship by dating every Tom, Dick or Harry around. Independence means trying to meet God-given needs in ways that don’t honor Him at all.
He gave us every need we possess. And then He promised to meet those needs in supernatural, super-consistent, super-mind-blowing ways. To which we said, “Uh. Let me get back to you on that.”
But then we didn’t get back to him, did we? Not until we found ourselves in a real pickle, needing some serious strength from on high. Sure, then we come running home. “God! Help! Do something!!”
I can’t pay this bill!
My parents found my supply!
My girlfriend says she’s pregnant!
My husband is threatening to leave!
My teenager flunked . . . again!
The company is doing more layoffs!
The test results were positive!
The IRS is onto me!
The Philistines just slaughtered a thousand of our best guys out there!
Something trips our switch, and then, and only then, do we trot out the fancy box we’ve been keeping God in and beg of Him with the rarest of confidence, “Show yourself strong, Mighty God! Do what you do best! You’re on!”
To which He says, “Hmmm . . . maybe.”
What does independence from God look like for you?
What does your “maybe” look like?
How does it show up in your life?
Friends, today God is inviting us into something more than “maybe.” Today, Jesus offers us a heart reset. He is inviting us into a faith, a reset of full-on faith. Jesus says, “Listen, this is how this is going to work: You draw near to me, and I will draw near to you. You first. But once you take that step of faith, I will draw near to you, and then you will be sealed—forever, for always, for your good.”
Scripture calls this being “grafted in” by faith, and do you know what the requirement of us is, in order to remain grafted into Christ? According to Romans 11:23, it is that we “do not persist in unbelief.”
Choose faith in Jesus.
And then He will draw near to you.
The Rest of the Story
David, now an adult, leader of the Israelites, the writer of the Psalm 24 passage we started with today, was one who had seen plenty of “maybe” faith in his time. He hailed from a long line of faithlessness and famously wrestled with staying faithful himself. One example would be escapade with Bathsheba and her husband.
And yet when the history books were written, David was remembered as “a man after my [God’s] own heart,” Acts 13:22. He was remembered as one who had allowed God to reset his faith and as a result, had profound impact both on his generation and on every generation to follow.
Let me say this as plainly as I can: If you are weary of running away from God, if you are tired of going at it alone in life, if you sense that there is something more for you than what you’ve experienced this far, you’re right! If you are sick of the sores and the rats and the darkness and drudgery of a sin-stricken life, then what you’re craving is a reset.
And the good news is that you can be reset today. Right here. Right now. Before you get into your car to head home. And listen, you will not be the first!
Over just the past few years alone, hundreds of thousands of men, women, college students, middle-schoolers, high-schoolers, grade-school kids, grandmas, grandpas, friends, neighbors, single moms, aimless dads, addicts, criminals, cutters, abusers, the hopeless, the poor, the downcast, and those living totally wracked by fear—they have been given this same invitation:
Jesus is offering us a reset!—and in response, they didn’t say “no,” they didn’t say “maybe,” they said “yes.” They have mustered their courage, boldly stepped forward, and said, “I’m done being my own god. I need help. I need rescued. I need to be reset, and I want it to happen now.”
They have said “yes,” and so can you. You can have your faith reset today.
So let’s look at the three benefits of a reset heart, from faith-in-self to faith-in-God, that David mentions in Psalm 24. Look at your bulletins for the scripture.
- Those with reset hearts reject impurity.
When we draw near to God—when we “ascend the mountain of the LORD,” as Psalm 24:3 says—we are named among those who have “clean hands” and “a pure heart.”
The purity we have been longing for? It is found in Jesus alone. We come to Him and He comes close to us, and He begins to communicate His thoughts, His ways, His responses, His desires to us. And we begin to resemble him. We begin to be transformed. Purified. Made whole.
Draw near to God! Your hands will be cleansed. Your heart will be made pure.
- Those with reset hearts trust in Jesus alone.
Look at the end of verse 4. Remember, we are talking here about those who “ascend the mountain of the LORD,” those who love God, who respond with a “ready yes” to Jesus’ offer of a reset, who do not “trust in an idol or swear by a false god,” but instead put their faith and trust in Jesus alone.
Listen, the thing other than God that you’ve been putting your faith in, someday—at some point in time—that thing is going to fall just like the statue of Dagon at the feet of Jesus and beg for mercy. It could be your spouse. Your pastor. Your parents’ faith. Your good words. Your habits and addictions, the “likes” on Facebook.
Whatever it is you are putting your faith in today will someday bow down before the living Lord and say, “I am not worthy.” And you know what? It’s not. It’s absolutely not worthy of your faith.
Jesus is worthy of your faith, and those with reset hearts trust in Jesus alone.
- Those with reset hearts stand in God’s holy place.
This is what it means to “ascend the mountain of the LORD.” We come into the presence of God. Do you understand what this means?
We don’t have to spend our days standing in a desperate place.
Or standing in a depressed place.
Or in a fearful or sinful place.
We can plant ourselves in the presence of God.
We can stand in a holy place all of our days—near to ultimate power, near to ultimate victory, near to ultimate love and grace.
We can stand firm despite the howling winds around us when we are standing on faith in Christ.
Call to Action and Prayer
I’m about to lead us all in prayer, and if you are ready for a heart reset, a reset from faith-in-self to that of faith-in-Jesus, a reset in any part of your life, your relationship with Jesus, your relationship with your spouse, your kids, your attitude, whatever it is, you can pray in your heart the words I pray aloud. Just between you and God, you tell Him that you’re after this reset we’ve been talking about.
Father, we are done coming up with our own rules for living, our own strategies for success, our own coping mechanisms, our own paths to fulfillment that never lead anywhere close to fulfillment in the end. We are done! We come to you asking you to receive us, as you promise you will. Cleanse us, Lord Jesus. Purify us. Strengthen us. Give to us life that is truly life. We ask you to reorient us, Father. Remake us. Restore us. Reset us Lord here in this moment of surrender—your children, before their King.
Forgive us for running. Forgive us for sinning. Forgive us for keeping you in a box. May we see with fresh vision your holiness, which beckons us to right-living and real change. We hereby draw near to you, Father. And we eagerly await your mutual drawing-near to us. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Now, here is what I want us all to do:
If you prayed that prayer with me, then take a pen and a sticky note from your table and write on it what specifically you are asking Jesus to reset in your life. Maybe it’s something general, such as “faith.” Or maybe it’s something particular, such as “my closeness with God” or “my continuous need to control my life.” Whatever the reset you’re asking Jesus for today, write it on a sticky note and post it on the cross.
Next week this will be moved inside. And every week, you can add to it or pray over what you put up this week. The prayer team will be praying over these with you for the next four weeks.