Wednesday, March 20, 2019

It's What We Do: Follow Our Heart

The problem with the Disney adage, "Follow your heart," is that we already do. Jesus said it this way, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21). We only need look at our words and actions to see our heart. Do you love entertainment and pleasure? There is your heart. Do you love escape, comfort or lack of conflict? That is where your heart is. Do you love food and self-indulgence? Your treasure reflects what you truly love. Are your decisions driven by what other people might think? Behold your god.

It's a painful truth. We go, do, speak, and decide based on what we want most... Truth be told, it happens to each of us, time after time, day after day. Grocery shopping ("I'll just pick up..."; "Ooh, there's Tom. I hope he doesn't see me..."), working ("If I ______, then I can get ____"; "I'll just take care of this so Bob will _______..."); going to church, ("Kids, once that car door opens..."; "Oh, hi, Gladys! It's SO good to see you!").  As my husband says, "Want to know how I know?" Because I've been there. It's where I live. That's my address.

As I spend time with good people, church people, family people, single people, I am convinced that we all struggle to understand Jesus. He is not an add-on. He is not a life-insurance policy or immunization against hell. Jesus is a way of life. He is life. Receiving Christ is more than assent. It is surrender--giving up my plans, my desires, my way, my heart--to His, recognizing that my way is tainted, insufficient, and cursed.

In our clouded, temporary, sinful way of seeing things, we have an understated apprehension of our sin, Jesus Christ's perfection, payment, and work. There is too little Christ; too much us. He is. He is everything good. He is all things. He holds all things together. He is the express image of the invisible God. He became sin for us. He conquered all that lies between us and our Creator. He is the way. He has made a way.

The choice is one of staying or going. Being or not being. The loving is in the doing.

Doing is not being. But being is doing. I can pretend, I can look, sound and act like a Christian, but that does not mean I am. However, when I have been bought by the blood of Christ, I look, sound, and act like one because I am. I'm His. In the end, what does that mean? Only God knows those who belong to Him. But we can know as we examine our hearts--the knowing is in the being.

 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’" (Matthew 7:21-23, NASB)

And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’" (Matthew 22:37)

Sunday, March 3, 2019

All to Jesus I Surrender

If we buy the fact that God is perfect, then we will want to be everything He created us to be. And if we agree that God created innocent man in His likeness, that we are corrupted by sin, but He has made a way to redeem (or buy us back), then we will cooperate with His work in our lives.

Not only does God tell us how to behave--which is where we usually get hung up--He tells us what to think and how to feel.

True? True.

So what does He say about our thoughts?
  • "...whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." (Philippians 4:8)
  • "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." (Isaiah 26:3)
  • "Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." (Colossians 3:2)
Most of us have to admit we spend much less time thinking the way God thinks than the way we do. Trouble, worry, anxiety, and frustration are a result of not thinking about what God has given us to think about. He's already done the thinking and planning for us-! ..but He's not doing it "my way!" Too often we want things He hasn't given us, we don't want what He has given us, or we want them done a certain way by a certain time. Instead of trusting Him to do what is best-- because He loves us!--and the proof of His love is Jesus. What would keep Him from giving us less than best when He already paid such a high price?  (Romans 8:32) Instead of trusting His love, we fight for what we, in our limited knowledge and experience, think would suit us better.

And what about our emotions? God says,
  • "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice." (Philippians 4:4)
  • "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." (Romans 12:15)
  • When we sin, "Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom." (James 4:9)
While teaching Matthew 6--do not worry--our pastor said, "What is important to God? What weighs on His heart? Are those the things you're worried about? Or are you worried about things He's already promised to take care of?"

Do my worries and concerns line up with God's? How do my responses to people and circumstances reflect His? It's important, not because I "should" or "have to," but because God's perspective is true. It's right. Good. Perfect. Healthy.

Adopting God's view and response to myself, others, and the world gives me freedom. Balance. Purpose. Dignity. Beauty. Seeing the world and my circumstances through His eyes makes life so much easier! I can trust Him to take care of my needs (Philippians 4:19). And even if it seems impossible, I can be content regardless of my comfort level (Philippians 4:11). The truth is that I can't see, think, feel, and respond the way God does on my own. I need His help. That's what the Bible means when it says "all things:" I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).

So, whatcha thinkin about?

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:5-11)