Sunday Worship time to 9:30 am with Bible Study to follow.
43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
What determines a person’s actions, words, attitude, etc.? How can we be better behaving Christians? How can our family relationships and our work ethic better match God’s desire for us? It comes down to what is in your heart?
THis week, as a congregation, we’ve been reading through the first chapters of the book of Luke. I hope that you have enjoyed this endeavor and, you can be reassured that God will accomplish good with every verse you plant in your heart. Isaiah 55 promises that God will accomplish his purposes through His Word being read and heard and pondered:
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
That verse correlates with the passage above from Luke 6. There is good treasure and evil treasure. Put God’s Word in your heart and there will be good treasure from which to have good words, good thoughts, good actions, good attitudes, and good desires. BUt, as might be all too common today, fill up your heart with Not-so-righteous words, music, videos, thoughts, your actions and words will go quickly south; and that is not a good thing.
So my encouragement to you this week is to filter out the bad things that can enter your heart. Consider what enters your eyes, your ears, your thoughts. What kind of music are you listening to? Is that book you are reading God-pleasing? Would you feel ashamed or proud of the movies you watch as a couple or as a family? Does the content fit godly desires or does it push the envelope toward raucous? What we fill our hearts with determines our actions, attitudes and words.
Let’s see how filling our hearts with the Word of God can make a difference - the pure and holy Word of God. Blessings as you fill up with the Powerful Word of God!
The Name above all Names
Remember the message from this last Sunday: The size of your “Alleluia” determines your ability to adapt and sacrifice and cope. If God is small to us, our willingness to live for Him will be small. It is those individuals who have met the living God, with his Holy and Perfect nature, who are most empowered to live large and even give up BIG things in life just because God is amazing and awe-inspiring to them. They are the ones who care more about the Holiness of God and the integrity of His people. They will sweat and labor even though it is dusty and difficult. They will strive and be faithful even when all others fall away from the cause. They stick to it - not out of pride or work ethic - they stick to it because they have sensed the holiness of God and they are truly in awe of Him; God has become LARGE in their Alleluias. The bigger your God, the more willing you are to sacrifice anything for Him.
Would you release control over your reputation, your comfort, your desire for a specific direction in life? Would you give up your cup of coffee, your coat, your children, your life? None of this matters as much as knowing the true God in his holiness and in his mercy and grace.
How big is your God? Do you know the bigness of God? And do you know how this massive, Holy God has placed significant worth on your soul?
At the Tower of Babel, God had become very small in the eyes of humanity. He was maybe even non-existent to them. They wanted, they craved, they strove instead to make a name for themselves. They sought to create their own worth. Could it be that our human worth, how we sense our importance of lack of it, becomes the basis for all we do? That seems to be what was brewing at the Tower of Babel. We, as personal beings, want to be known and loved. We want to be great. We want to remain untarnished in how others see us. We fight to make a name for ourselves.
I know how this works in my own heart: I’m in conversation with someone and they bring up something that I recently “did wrong.” My heart swells up and jumps into defense mode or makes a sweeping explanation of why my actions were appropriate at the time. Then there are days I would rather place myself in the judgment seat to take the reins and steer this judgment away from my guilt so that my pride can be assuaged. I want to find fault in what they have done instead. Because i fear that my name would become less in their eyes, anyone’s eyes. In other words, I don’t like being wrong because that makes my name, my worth, seem small. I will do everything in my power to prove that my “wrongness” is justified, minimized, misunderstood, etc. I want to prop up my name at all costs. Why can’t I just humble myself and be wrong? Because I want so desperately to retain some semblance of a name for myself. This is one of the mistakes that occurred at the Tower of Babel.
The holy Word of God speaks to all of us when it says, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12)
I don’t want to be humbled. But because of that very strong part of myself, I find the paradox to be true; I will not be exalted. The exalted names of the Tower of Babel soon walked away from that tower, with their proverbial tails between their legs. They were humbled. And there is probably a ziggurat in Mesopotamia today that is either a copy of the Tower of Babel or a literal remnant of that attempt to lift up the name of humanity (humanism). Where is our world today? Or to be more personal, where is my heart today?
I’m still in need of a good name. But I’m daily chopping my name and reputation down to smithering, smouldering remains. Sin has that impact on all of us - it sets our reputation of ablaze. I’ve broken relationships - and there goes my name, broken with it. I’ve stolen success and I can’t maintain an image of greatness. I’ve squandered time and my name gets chipped and tarnished. Is there a solution to my broken name?
Two verses from Holy Scriptures (and there are many others as well) give us hope:
I am convinced of this very thing: that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).
. . . I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, which no one will know except the one who receives it (Revelation 2:17).
Sin breaks our ability to retain a good name. Jesus begins a good work in us by faith and will continue that work to the point of absolute perfection. We have been given a new name that signifies our place in the family of God, loved by the Father and possessing a permanently fixed reputation based on the Son of God, our Savior. He has redeemed our reputation, our name!