Our Hearts Burn Within Us
Our Hearts Burn Within Us
During the second Iraq War a young man from our church was in Iraq, fighting near Fallujah. I was led to send him this scripture:
“A thousand may fall at your side
Ten thousand at your right hand
But it shall not come near you.” Psalm 91:7
I was glad when he returned home alive and un-wounded.
We do not know who wrote Psalm 91, and we do not know to whom this Psalm in particular was addressed. It contains powerful promises to the person who seeks their refuge and defense in God. Verse six says,
“You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.”
Verses fourteen through sixteen say, “ ‘Because he loves me, ‘says the Lord,’ I will rescue him, I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.’ ‘He will call upon me and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.’ ‘With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.’”
The question is, “how could I know this Psalm was addressed to the young man to whom I sent it,” and “how can someone today know it is addressed to them?” I have only one answer, and that is what the Westminster Confession calls the “inward testimony of the Holy Spirit.”
Many of us have had the experience of a particular scripture or scriptures “burning in our hearts,” or being seared into our minds. Others have had the experience of reading a scripture many times, but then suddenly it really grabbed us for the first time. Again, to me, that is really the inward testimony or witness of the Holy Spirit as God shows you this scripture is especially for you.
Now sometimes we believe we are hearing from the Holy Spirit and later it turns out that perhaps we were not.
So how do we know if the Holy Spirit is impressing a particular passage upon us? I am not sure we can prove that we know, but I think we can have a strong impression of the Holy Spirit which we believe and receive by faith. God does speak to us today. After all, Jesus said, “my sheep hear my voice!” After all, on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24), when the risen Jesus was not yet recognized by his disciples, they later said “did our hearts not burn within us” as he opened the word to them as they walked on the road together.
As you read God’s Word, you will often be led to pray a particular scripture over your life again and again. As you read the Word, a certain scripture will reach out and grab you, and you will want to read it over and over again, to mediate on this portion of God’s Word “day and night” (Psalm 1:2.)
Trust God’s Word, and trust the Holy Spirit to impress portions of it upon your Spirit and to emblazon these words upon your heart. Keep reading those words, and keep praying them over your life.
Winfield Casey Jones is a retired pastor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.