A Matter of the Heart

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

                                                     -Matthew 6:21 NIV

In the past weeks, I created a blog post entitled “What It Means To Me To Be A Christian.”  It was a synopsis of my experience on the surface as a follower of Christ.  It is my simple answer, and there is really so much more to it than that.  I love Proverbs 20:5 NIV which tells us:

“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters,
but one who has insight draws them out.”

There is something about our hearts that is very deep, and to ponder the heart means that we will be walking out into the deep to understand it.  There is so much that we can find hidden within our hearts, oftentimes, a lot of what is there can be very painful to face.  I believe that this is often why we stay busy and don’t search our hearts, because what we face can be dark and cold.  When we draw out those “purposes” that Proverbs 20:15 NIV speaks about, what we find is a reflection of who we really are.  That reflection cannot be hidden or covered up.  There are usually signs that we miss that reveals the true condition of our hearts.  In Matthew 15:18 NIV, Jesus says, “But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart…”

This was Jesus’ response to the Pharisees who were seeking to trap him.  He responds by referring to a prophesy recorded by Isaiah,

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’”

-Matthew 15:7 NIV

The Pharisees were leading the people astray by their teachings.  As a result, the people were honoring and worshiping God “in vain”.  I find it very interesting that despite what the Scriptures foretold, the Pharisees still sought to trap and kill Jesus.  This was evidence of the state of their hearts.

I am by no means bringing this to light to judge as that is just what the Pharisees were doing.  It is up to us to search our own hearts and find those “purposes” in our hearts.  Those purposes are two things, a purpose that we formed by our experiences in this world and a purpose that was placed there by God.  What the Bible tells us is that we should seek out those purposes so that our hearts can heal and so that God’s purpose can be revealed in us.

Simply put, becoming a follower of Christ is a heart matter and an act of surrender.  It is not the kind of surrender you might see on a cartoon when a character waves a white flag.  It is an admission to yourself and to God that you live in darkness and choose to walk in the light.  What is the light?  Walking in the light means that you let everything be exposed to God so that it can be placed into his very compassionate and merciful hands— our cares, our worries, our mistakes, our anger, our hatred, our selfishness, our unforgiveness, our bitterness, and even our deepest, darkest secrets; these are all burdens, and your acts in them are sin.  This is what the Pharisees could have done but refused because they had their own beliefs and agendas.  Even though they sought to trap Jesus so they could justify his crucifixion, they still could have found entrance into the light and found forgiveness for their wicked plots to kill Jesus.  Jesus wants to carry our burdens, because the weight of those burdens are too great for us to endure.

So nothing can change without a heart-change, and that cannot start without God’s help in searching the deep water of our hearts.  Once we do, everything comes into the light of God where miraculous things can happen.  We can experience deliverance from addictions, from broken hearts, from oppression, depression and so much more.  It is a place where miracles happen.

Go forth and be blessed, my friend.

 

What it means to me to be a Christian

Purple hydrangeas

What is a Christian, and what does that even mean?  Well, as a young girl, I was taught that being a Christian meant that you were being, or acting, Christ-like.  I made the decision to follow Jesus in October 2001 which means that at the time of this writing, I have been following him for nearly 18 years. Since I made the decision to become a Christian, I have learned a lot about the world and how it can affect me personally.  Over time, the true meaning of being a Christian is being lost, so I personally choose to call myself a “follower of Christ”.  To me, it is what best describes who we are as children of God.

In my time as a follower of Christ, I have heard so many comments and statements when people respond to this idea: What does it mean to be a Christian?  Some of those responses have been, “I don’t have the time to read an entire book to find out who God is”, “God is for weak people”, “God is a crutch”, and even “I don’t want to go to church, because it is full of hypocrites”.  I really don’t blame them for what they are saying, because, truly, they are answering the question to the best of their knowledge like anyone else would.  I have even had someone cuss me out in another language just because I gave them a pamphlet that explained who Jesus is.  This is the world we live in.  If you can think over the last week or so, how many times has someone responded to you in this way, maybe only because you are driving the speed limit, for example; it is how the world responds to something they don’t know or understand.

The speed of the world can cause us all to respond harshly to someone or even cause them to refuse to try to see God, because, to them, they just don’t have the time; or they respond in the same way someone else did – aren’t we all followers of someone or some-thing?  There are so many other reasons why people respond in these ways, and, truth be told, the origin is not from God.

In the Bible, we read many accounts of how people responded to Jesus.  There was Simon, called Peter, and Andrew who when Jesus said, “Come, follow me” they left their nets and followed him (Mt. 4:18-20 NIV), and there were many after them.  It was Jesus who said:

 

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  —John 8:12 NIV

So, what does being a “follower of Christ” mean to me?  It means that I am following truth and wisdom.  Jesus called himself “the truth” because God sent him into this world to bring the truth and to pay the penalty for our sin that separates us from God. He is the indisputable, actual existence of God in the flesh. I am reminded of four passages of scripture that speak of this:

 

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  —2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son [Jesus], that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.—John 3:16–17 NIV

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.—Romans 5:8 NIV

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  —John 15:13 NIV

Jesus was the purest example of all things true displaying honesty, integrity, humility, justice, and righteousness.

As we all follow someone, I prefer to follow Jesus, because He is as reliable as anything I have ever experienced.  I can count on him fully to be there for me as my Advocate.  He gave himself up for me, and every day I live with the wonderful benefits of being a follower of Christ.  I experience his love, his compassion, and his forgiveness every day.  He is the reason I know God, because He made the way for me.

So, I didn’t have to read the entire Bible to learn who God is, and, yes, God is for weak people, because, honestly, we all are weak.  While the Bible does not refer to anyone as a crutch, we should think of what a crutch really is – something to lean on.  We all at some point or another tried to demonstrate to those around us that we have it all together, but the truth of the matter is that none of us do.  We sincerely need the love of God to become better people; after all, He is our Creator.  Through him we learn to be what He intended which is a very good thing.

All it takes is reading a little bit of the Bible to find out who He is.  In the time it would take for you to watch a movie, you could possibly read the entire Book of John.  Let me invite you to do so, even if you too are a follower of Christ.  Every moment we spend with God is always profitable.  Bless you my friend.

 


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