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Seeing with the Eyes of the Heart

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					                            Seeing with the Eyes of the Heart
                             Series: The Greatest Sermon Ever Preached

                                    Dr. Jon H. Wilson, Senior Pastor
                                   Canoga Park Presbyterian Church
                                           February 21, 2010
Matthew 5:8

Today we come to Jesus‘ Beatitude, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” In Max
Lucado‘s book The Applause of Heaven, he gives an illustration that cements Jesus‘ point in this
Beatitude. At one time, Max and his family lived in Rio de Janeiro working as missionaries. Once,
when they were leaving on a week-long trip, Max remembered he had forgotten to unplug his ham
radio. He dashed back into the house and pulled the plug, and then he dashed out. Unfortunately, he
pulled the wrong plug. The radio sat on their freezer, which had been newly stocked with meat and it
was now unplugged. To make matters worse, they were gone for seven days and it was summer in
Brazil, which Max says redefines hot. When they got home Max‘s wife, Denalyn, decided to get some
meat out of the freezer. Max says, ―It was a ‗moving‘ experience.‖ Because it was Max who
unplugged the freezer, it was Max who got to clean it. With tongue in cheek he writes: ―What is the
best way to clean out a rotten interior? I knew exactly what to do. I got a rag and a bucket of soapy
water and began cleaning the outside of the appliance. I was sure the odor would disappear as I
buffed and wiped and polished. But, when I opened the door, the smell was revolting. No problem, I
thought. I knew what to do. This freezer needs some friends. I‘d stink too if I had the social life of a
machine in a utility room. So, I threw a party. I invited all the appliances from the neighborhood.
Everyone played ―pin in the socket‖ and had a few laughs about limited warranties. I was sure the
social interaction would cure the inside of the freezer, but when I opened it up the stink was even
worse. I had an idea. If the polish job and a social life wouldn‘t help, I‘d give the freezer some status!
So, I bought a Mercedes sticker and stuck it on the door. I installed a cell phone on the side and I
opened the door—still repulsive. I could think of only one other option—pleasure. So, I bought
copies of ―Playfridge‖, the publication that displays freezers with their door open. I rented some foxy
films, my favorite was ―The Big Chill―. I even tried to get my freezer a date with the Westinghouse
next door, but she gave him the cold shoulder. After a few days of supercharged, after hours
entertainment, I opened the door. I nearly got sick.‖ Lucado concludes, ―I know what you‘re thinking;
the only thing worse than Max‘s humor is his common sense. Who would concentrate on the outside
when the problem is on the inside? Do you really want to know? A housewife who battles with
depression! What is the solution offered by a close friend? Buy a new dress; get a job. A husband is
involved in an affair that brings him as much guilt as it does adventure. The solution? Change peer
groups. Hang out with people who don‘t make you feel guilty! But, a person is still plagued by
insecurity and restlessness. The answer is not a trip or a vacation or maybe a change of style. A
new look, a new car, some flash cash that will give you the lift you need; case after case of treating
the outside while ignoring the inside. And what is the result? Oh, the depression, the guilt, the
insecurity leaves for maybe a day, maybe a week. But, it always returns and usually it is worse. The
outside is altered; the inside has faltered. One thing is clear: cosmetic changes are only skin deep.
The real and lasting answer is that true happiness comes from the inside out. By now you can see
the part of the Beatitude that the only way to change your life is to change your heart. Because
“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”
Let us recall where we are in the Beatitudes. The first Beatitude is ―Blessed are the poor in Spirit.‖
God‘s gladness is not received by those who earn it, but by those who admit it. The poor in Spirit are
free from the power of sin, but it must also mean something more. Notice the progression of the
Beatitudes and the dealing of sin:
    1. The poor in spirit die to self through brokenness, humility and dependence upon God. The sin
        of selfish pride is torn down as we acknowledge our need for God; ―Lord without you I can do
        nothing.‖
    2. Those who mourn align their hearts with God and grieve over sin. Personal sin, the sin of
        other believers and the sin within society breaks our heart; we want nothing to do with sin.
    3. The meek surrender their strength to God. The bit and bridle serve their purpose keeping us
        from saying the wrong thing or turning to look the wrong direction. We choose to submit to
        God‘s control and live like Christ instead of our sinful desires.
    4. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness have been declared righteous by God, and the
        dynamic power of the Holy Spirit is at work within their life, setting them free from the power of
        sin. God equips and empowers us to live in victory over sin.
    5. The merciful have an unfailing love for God. Without love our lives are empty and
        meaningless; love has become our motive for everything we do.
    6. The pure in heart shall see God. Do you get the idea that being ―pure in heart‖ means more
        than just being clean or unstained by sin?

What does “pure in heart” mean?

It is interesting that Americans are increasingly concerned about purity. We want to breathe pure air;
we want to eat foods without chemical contaminants; we want to drink pure water. But, as important
as those things are, Jesus addressed none of them. Instead, He says we must have a pure heart.
That means we need to understand Jesus‘ definition of purity.
      ―Pure‖ is translated from the Greek word ―katharos‖ which literally means ―free from dirt,
         unsoiled‖; pure, clean or clear; to be unsoiled, unmixed, unpolluted; and it is used to indicate
         ―no impurities‖ such as pure water or pure gold. In Jesus‘ day the primary use of the word had
         to do with ceremonial purity. This conception regarded purity as a matter of ritual obedience to
         a set of regulations. For example: Before a Jew could sit down to eat, he not only had to
         wash his hands, but he had to cleanse them in a certain way.—not in the interests of hygiene,
         but in the interests of ceremonial purity. William Barclay describes it, ―First of all a person had
         to hold each hand with the fingers pointing upwards, and pour water over the hands until it
         reached the wrist; then he had to cleanse each palm by rubbing it with the fist of the other
         hand; then he had to hold the hands with the fingers pointing downwards, and pour water from
         the wrist so that it ran down the hand and off the fingers.‖ The slightest deviation from that
         process rendered a man unclean. Can you parents, or grandparents, imagine trying to get
         your kids to wash their hands before a meal in that way? You‘re just glad they wash their
         hands at all. There were hundreds of regulations that a Jewish person must keep in order to
         be pure. For them, purity was completely externalized. Purity was a matter of observing
         certain ceremonies. Jesus completely contradicted that concept with two words. “You must
         be pure…in heart.” He used the word, not as applied to ceremony, but to the inward being, a
         not so visible clean. ―Karthos‖ in Jesus‘ context means ―unmixed‖ or ―undivided‖ without
         pollution in reference to a man‘s relationship to God. Secondly, to be pure means to be free
         from corrupt desire; from sin and guilt; to be blameless and innocent; to be holy, to have a
         single purpose. The understanding of purity flows from a moral, ethical, and spiritual sense.
         Purity is seen as being in a blameless state before God. It is to be cleansed of the penalty of
         sin and set free from the guilt. This is to be given a guilt-free standing. The Greek word for
         pure is also the same word where we get our English term ―catharsis‖ which is a psychology
         term that means to be free from guilt.
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      The second word is ―heart‖, or ―kardia‖ in the Greek. Greek scholar, W. E. Vines explains that
       ―Physically, the heart, the chief organ of life, occupies the most important place in the human
       system. It was an easy transition from the physical to the spiritual. Spiritually, the word
       ―kardia‖ came to stand for the central part of one‘s personal life. Their entire mental and moral
       activity, both the rational and emotional elements. In other words, the heart is used figuratively
       for the hidden springs of the personal life.‖ We use the word ―heart‖ in a similar sense even
       today. We say, ―Don‘t break my heart.‖ A hit song many years back was ―Achy, Breaky Heart‖
       and ―I Left my Heart in San Francisco‖. That song writer wasn‘t talking about a transplant at
       some hospital in California, but how he left his inner self, his yearnings and longings back at
       the Bay Area. The way Jesus used it, the heart was the totality of our person, the cockpit, the
       control tower, the seat of character, the origin of affections, perceptions, intentions, purpose,
       will, and faith. Do you see what Jesus was trying to get across by using these two words
       together—―pure‖ and ―heart‖? From the Jewish point of view of purity, a man might have within
       his heart arrogance, malice, pride, thoughts of lust or bitterness, but as long as he observed
       the outward rituals correctly, he was pure. From Jesus‘ point of view, even if a man‘s outward
       actions were impeccably correct, even if he observed every detail of the ceremonial law with
       meticulous devotion, he might still be utterly impure because the thoughts and motives of his
       inner self were not right. That is why He said to the hypocritical religious leaders of his day,
       “You are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead
       people’s bones and all sorts of impurity!” (Matthew 23:27 NLT) This is like putrid freezers that
       shine on the outside, but are spoiled on the inside. We might say, ―How dumb to think they
       could be right with God by external observances when internally they were impure.‖ Really?
       Don‘t we do the same today? Is it not still possible for a person to consider themselves
       ―religious‖ and right with God because they are doing all the correct things, going to church,
       giving, being respectable, while all the while in the eyes of Jesus the person has no
       relationship at all with Him, because the inner recesses of their heart are not pure. The
       combination of Jesus‘‘ words—pure heart—is clear. Regarding the happiest people, He is
       saying ―The blessed person, many times over is the person who has undivided affections for
       God.‖ The key word here for this Beatitude is ―integrity‖. Jesus is telling us a big piece of the
       puzzle for happiness is not what you do but who you are; not external action, but internal
       attitudes. Happiness comes when you are the same on the inside as you are on the outside.
       In order to have the happiness that God promises, Jesus says you need a ―karthos kardia‖ a
       pure heart. The Full Life Study Bible says, ―The ‗pure in heart‘ are those who have been
       delivered from sin‘s power by God‘s grace and not strive without deceit to please and glorify
       God and to be like him.‖

Who are the pure in heart?

Are the pure in heart half-divine, half-human beings? Do they have no normal desires, no healthy
drives, and no emotional feelings? Are they saints who have lost all contact with the real world? Are
the pure in heart the perfect individuals who have never sinned? Of course not! Jesus addresses
ordinary people who have ordinary problems and He gives them an extraordinary way to experience
happiness. He offers them sound advice, which if followed will always lead to a better life. Who are
the ―pure in heart‖?
     The pure in heart are those who are cleansed. An initial cleansing happens when a person
       commits his or her life to Jesus Christ. Purity cannot be produced by any human will. In fact,
       Ezekiel said, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will
       take away the stony heart out of your flesh.” (36:26) Such purity is produced only by becoming
       a new creature, experiencing a new birth. To be saved, however, is not enough. A pure heart
       is not the result of a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Justification is a one-time event;
       sanctification is ongoing, daily. It is produced from daily confessions of our sins which result in
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       continual cleansing from them. Failure to realize this explains the unhappiness of some
       Christians‘ lives. They become cluttered with sin and happiness becomes a matter of the past.
       We must remember John‘s promise, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us
       our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (John 1:9)
      The pure in heart are those who have one goal in life. Purity also means singleness of mind;
       to be guided by one purpose. If our heart is out of line, if impurities have pushed us off course,
       we will surely miss the highest goal that God has in mind for us. The pure in heart are those
       who have one aim in life: to glorify God.

How will the pure in heart see God? This Beatitude clearly states that those who are pure in heart
will see God. But, how you ask? The pure in heart will ―see‖ God by experiencing his reality not by
beholding him with physical eyes. During our Lord‘s earthly ministry, multitudes looked at him but
saw nothing, unaware that they had viewed God in the flesh. To see God is to experience God and
become sure of Him. Purity removes obstacles that blur and distort his true image. That is why the
pure in heart will see God.
     The pure in heart will see God by meeting the requirements. This beatitude seems to teach
       that in order to see God, you must be pure in heart—that is, to be cleansed from sinning to
       have God‘s glorification as your aim. All of this is possible only as we daily commit ourselves
       to God‘s will.
     The pure in heart will see God by believing that this experience is available to all. A vision of
       God is a possibility within the grasp of each of his children. It is not simply for some great saint
       who is nearing the sunset of life. It is not simply for a remarkably devoted person who has
       committed his or her life to some area of Christian service. It is for all Christians of all times.
       The pure in heart will see God by claiming this experience today. Too often we stress the
       future tense used in this Beatitude. We say, ―Yes, they shall see God.‖ Of course it is true that
       later we will see Him face to face in eternal life in Heaven. But, it is equally true that God
       becomes a living reality and a friend closer than a brother in the present. To see God is to be
       certain of God, to experience Him in the midst of life.

Why are they blessed? The Beatitude promises, “Blessed are the pure in heart.” And the Answer
to why they are blessed is given in that same statement: “for they shall see God”. The pure in heart
are happy because they see God. And, when they see God, they see themselves.
    They see themselves. When Job saw God he was able to see himself clearly as he truly was.
      Job said, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore, I despise
      myself and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6 NIV) When we see God, we are made
      painfully aware of our sins. And, when we see our sins we commit them to the Lord and purity
      becomes a reality.
    When they see God they are transformed. A view of God does more than reveal our own
      sinfulness; it transforms us into the kind of people God wants us to be.
    When they see God they gain courage. It is said of Moses that he endured as though he saw
      God. There is something about having this inner vision of God that provides courage and
      determination. When we take our eyes off God and focus on the oppositions and trials that we
      face, we are apt to quit too soon and thus not win the crown.
    When they see God they become useful. The person who has seen God is the most eager to
      serve hm. A vision of God always imparts a burning desire to serve him. No sooner does God
      call for volunteers than Isaiah replies eagerly, “Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8). And Paul,
      having met Christ on the Damascus road asked, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts
       9:6)
      When they see God they impart a sense of God‘s presence. Those who had seen the
       disciples close to Jesus “took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13) It
       is impossible to see God and to spend time with him without emanating a sense of his
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       presence. A little boy was asked, ―What is a saint?‖ He replied, ―A saint is a person who lets
       the light shine through.‖ Evidently, he got this idea by watching the sun shine through the
       prophets and other great people of God in the stained-glass windows of his church. But, he
       was certainly not far off base. A saint or a person who is pure in heart will let the light of God‘s
       grace and mercy shine through. As that person‘s heart remains pure, it remains transparent to
       God‘s light.
      Secondly, it refers to something being unmixed, as having no double allegiance. Warren
       Wiersbe said it refers to integrity, singleness of heart, as opposed to duplicity or a divided
       heart. Jesus said in Luke 16:13, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one
       and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” You cannot serve
       both God and money. The person Jesus blessed is single-minded in his commitment to Jesus
       Christ, which is reflected in a passion for a cleansed character free from the weight of sin. I
       read about a couple from Bakersfield, California, who had just purchased a new boat, but they
       were having some serious problems. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn‘t get their 22-
       foot boat going. It was very sluggish no matter which way they turned, no matter how much
       power was applied. After about an hour of trying to make it go, they putted to a nearby marina,
       hoping someone there could tell them what was wrong. A thorough check on the topside of
       the boat revealed that everything was in perfect working condition. The engine ran fine, the
       out drive went up and down, and the propeller was the correct size and pitch. Then, one of the
       marina guys jumped in the water to check underneath. He came up choking on the water
       because he was laughing so hard. Under the boat, still strapped securely in place was the
       trailer!  When God looks underneath your reputation, what does He see in your character?
       Are you still strapped to some thoughts or emotions or choices that are slowly pulling you
       under?

How to become pure in heart – What does it take to become genuine, to have an undivided heart?
How can we be pure in heart?
        Step One – Understand that God knows your heart. The real condition of your heart cannot be
hidden from God. Psalm 44:21, “Wouldn’t God have figured this out? We can’t hide things from him.‖
(MsgB) He knows the secrets of the heart. (NIV) Your life is an open book to God. Nothing is out of
His sight. God not only sees what you do, but He knows your motive, the reasons why you do and
say things. In 1 Chronicles 28:9, “God examines every heart and sees through every motive.” (MsgB)
As long as you think you can hide from God your heart will remain impure. The divided heart not only
tries to deceive others, but even more so an unclean heart deceived self. An impure heart is blind to
its own hypocrisy and double-mindedness. Jesus called the Pharisee‘s (the religious leaders of the
day) “blind guides”. (Matthew 23:16, 24) These religious leaders believed they were living righteous
lives pleasing to God, but Jesus saw their hearts were full of sin. Instead of having pure hearts, their
hearts were filthy and stained by sin. Matthew 23:25-26, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and
Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed
and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside
also will be clean. (NIV) The first step to coming clean with God is to realize He already knows just
how dirty you really are. You won‘t surprise God by uncovering a sinful heart; He already sees it. Do
you think God is surprised by Tiger Wood‘s confusion of sin? God knew all along it was Tiger who
needed to come clean.
        Step Two – Ask God to give you a new heart. Receive by faith the cleaning only God can
bring to your heart. The nation of Israel, God‘s chosen people, had rebelled and turned away from
the Lord. God punished their sin and sent the nation into exile for a time. However, even before the
people asked God to forgive their sin, God made it known that He was willing and able to transform
their hearts. God will give you a new heart. He will bring about a transformation, a pure heart in
exchange for a sinful heart. God will purify your heart the moment you ask. We receive God‘s
cleansing by faith and through faith God purifies our hearts and makes us new! Hebrews 10:22, “Let
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us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to
cleanse us from a guilty conscience.” (NIV) God will not turn you away, or ignore you. God wants to
restore a relationship with you. Jesus died and allowed His blood to be poured out so your heart can
be made pure.
         Step Three – Accept trials and hardship as God‘s cleaning fire. Let God turn up the heat to
expose the impurities and cleanse your heart. Fire is used to burn away the impurities within
precious metals. Gold or silver is only pure after the fire has been applied to the ore; the fire
separates the precious metals from the dirt. God will purify your heart just as the goldsmith or
silversmith purifies precious metals. The Bible says, “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
but the Lord tests the heart.” (Proverbs 17:3 NIV) God accepts you just the way you are, but He loves
you too much to leave you like that. God wants you to be just like Jesus. Therefore, He purifies our
hearts in the fiery furnace of trials. In 1 Peter 1 5:7, “So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead,
even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while. These trials are only to test your
faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purified gold—and your
faith is far more precious to God than mere gold.” So, if your faith remains strong after being tried by
fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed
to the whole world. (NLT) What difficulty or hardship are you going through right now? You may want
to run from the fire, but God will follow you wherever you go. He will not leave the work he started
unfinished, but will bring it to completion (see Philippians 1:6). God wants to make you to be just like
Jesus.
         Step Four – Live your life with a pure heart. Take the necessary action so you live a holy life
just like Jesus. Don‘t let yourself become a passive bystander. Cooperate with God in the work He is
doing. It is our turn to take action! In 2 Timothy 2:22, “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue
righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (NIV)
Some things in life you need to run away from; it is not enough to just say ―no‖. Run! As you run
away from sin and your evil desires, RUN TO GOD. Pursue God with all your heart.
         Step Five – Keep your eyes on Jesus. Don‘t lose sight of your goal: the pure in heart will see
God! In 1 John 3:2-3, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet
been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as
he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” (NIV) With a goal in
sight we are willing to endure just about anything. The bride and groom to be are willing to go
through the hassles associated with planning their wedding because of the goal set before them. A
college student will endure the all-nighters to study for an exam or early classes because of the goal
to work in a certain career. Pursue the goal; do whatever it takes to see Jesus.

Marie Yudina was one of the greatest pianists of the 20 th Century, although she remains largely
unknown outside of Russia. She has a fascinating story. She was born in 1899, died in 1970, and
was graduated with honors from the St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music. When Germany invaded
Russia in 1941, Maria was in Leningrad where she stayed during the siege of that city. Freezing,
hungry, and not far from death herself, she kept playing concerts and recording for the people of her
city who needed some hope and reason to continue to struggle. In 1944, with the end of the war still
a year away, a new music institute was opened in Moscow and Maria was brought in to be a teacher.
Through all of these duties she kept up her schedule of concerts filled with Bach, Beethoven,
Schubert, and Schumann. What makes her even more special and more fascinating is that she was
a Christian who defied Stalin and lived to tell about it. Throughout all the crackdowns on religion, she
kept going to church, corresponding with theologians, and refusing to cower before the threat of the
tyranny of Stalin.

The great Russian composer Dimitri Schostakovich told a remarkable story about her. During the
latter days of his life, as Stalin began to get more and more bizarre in mood and behavior, he sat one
night listening to the radio on which played Mozart‘s Piano Concerto No. 23, performed by Yudina.
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He called the radio station and told them to send him the record of the music. Actually, there was no
record because the radio broadcast had been live, but everyone was afraid to tell Stalin the truth. So
they immediately called in Yudina and an orchestra in the middle of the night to record the piece so
that it could be sent to the dictator. It took a whole night‘s work, but the recording was finished in the
morning. Not long after that she received an envelope with 20,000 rubles in it, sent directly from
Stalin, himself. She wrote him a letter. In that letter, she said, ―I thank you Joseph for your aid. I will
pray for you day and night and ask the Lord to forgive your great sins before the people and the
country. The Lord is merciful and he‘ll forgive you. I gave the money to the Christian church that I
attend.‖ The letter was an act of suicide. An order to arrest her was drawn up by Stalin, but
strangely, nothing happened. He never signed it. It was this recording of Mozart that was found
playing on his record player when he was discovered dead in his home. It was the last thing to which
he had listened. One author said about her: ―Maria Yudina knew how to separate eternal values
from the vanity of everyday life, in her selfless service.‖ Everything else looked unimportant. The
rough and tumble of everyday life certainly had its toll on her but never touched her soul. She lived a
life that was bubbling inside her and it was there that she was looking for harmony and purity.

Maria Yudina reminded me of Linda Wilson. (no relation) She lived in our affordable housing complex
in Santa Barbara. She had lived there since she quit making a living some four years ago after
becoming a Christian. She quit the only way she knew to make a living for the past 30 years. She
openly shares about her life as a prostitute for all the years since she was molested as a young girl.
She had two children, both pretty much disowned her when they were old enough to know what their
mother did, but four years ago she met Christ and her life changed; her son was there for her funeral.
Linda had learned to keep close accounts with people. In a recent Bible study, I was teaching about
forgiveness and the importance of keeping short accounts with one another, when another woman in
the study stopped the study and confronted Linda about something she said that had been hurtful and
that had been brewing on her for several days. We stopped the discussion and focused on the two
women as they both shared, honestly and openly; both cried, and one moved over to sit with the
other. Then, they both cried, forgave one another, hugged, and then we all prayed. That was just a
few weeks before her death. She died at 52, a young woman who appeared to be 20 years older.
She got around the village community with a walker for the last few years, as she had incurable,
untreatable cancer, among other things wrong with her body. However, she had an indomitable spirit
and was bubbly and full of life until she lapsed into a coma the last few days of her life. I was one of
three ministers who performed her memorial service which frankly was one of the more unusual
services of which I have ever been a part. I was able to say that I was sure Linda was in the
kingdom, not because of any outer purity, but because the Lord Jesus judges on purity of heart and
because she had invited Jesus to be Lord of her life and constantly sought his forgiveness as she
tried to live a new life. For the final years of her life, I know that she wanted nothing more than to see
and do the work of God. She shared the Lord with everyone she met; she was on fire for the Lord
right until the very end.

Jesus says that the pure in heart are blessed because they have developed a unique ability to see
the heart of God. They are people who like Maria and Linda, who are bubbling inside because of a
pure heart, always wanting to do what they could do to please God.

My hope is that our goal, like that of Maria Yudina and Linda, is to discover harmony and purity of
heart that bubbles over into everything we do. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see
God”




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