Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Heart Transformation

As Christians we have been taught that if we just put the correct boundaries in place (have a mentor, limit where we go, guard what we watch, be cautious whom we befriend), read the Bible and pray every day, etc. then we will be empowered to live victorious lives, free from choosing sin. But, I disagree with this school of thought. I am not saying these practices are bad, but I have seen in my lifetime many that put these safeguards in place and in spite of it all, still continually fall into deliberate repeated sin. I am convinced; the only way to live life victorious over sin is through a heart transformation. Once our desires align with an unquenchable thirst to please the Lord, then we alter our choices, we walk differently and talk differently. Christianity is not a set of rules and regulations, it’s a relationship with Christ, and just like we do not purposely behave in a way that hurts the hearts of our friends and family whom we love deeply, so too, we do not make choices that grieve the heart of our Savior and the Lover of our Souls. It really is that simple. If we love Him, we strive to please Him in every way possible. “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” ~John 14:5

Recently I learned through a very difficult lesson that this is not a one-time commitment. Having a heart that continually thirsts to know God more and to walk in ways that please Him, is a continual process. Each day I awaken, I must examine my heart and spend time with the One who created it to ensure that I am walking, living, and loving the faith to which I ascribe.

Once our heart has been transformed and beats to please the Lord, we find our choices being filtered through a desire to please Him. Then, when moments do arise that we fail, we will immediately be grieved in our hearts and instantly repent before the Lord and surely in our regret, will be careful not to repeat the offense again.

I was reminded of when a patient requires a heart transplant. The patient recognizes the value of the new heart, after all it cost someone else their life. If this patient is truly appreciative of the sacrifice that was made so that they may live, they will care tenderly and responsibly for the heart they have been blessed with. They will honor the person that made the sacrifice for them by caring and behaving responsibly with their new heart. Dear reader, the One that sacrificed His life for you, has given you a new heart. Honor Him today by caring for it in a way that pleases Him and shows how appreciative you are for His sacrifice for you.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." ~Romans 12:1-2

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

It Ain't Gonna Bake Itself

Those of you that know me, know that the Lord very often speaks to me in analogies and illustrations. I find it so endearing that the One who made me would obviously know the most beneficial way to speak to my heart. With that premise, I share what I was meditating on last night and this morning. I envisioned the process for baking a cake. Fetching the recipe. Purchasing all the necessary ingredients.  Gathering all those ingredients and utensils together to begin the process.
There is a chocolate cake that I make very often that most people love. I don't even have to look at the recipe anymore because I have the recipe embedded in my mind. Now, picture this, you've done all the footwork for this delicious cake but you stand and stare at the recipe. You stare at all the ingredients. You think about all the hard work you've already put into making this wonderful cake. You spend hours memorizing the steps and the ingredients.  But you do nothing more. What did it yield? Not only do you NOT have a delicious cake to enjoy, you have nothing to share with others. You had all the knowledge you needed to make the cake. You had all the ingredients, you just didn't apply that knowledge and mix those ingredients together and follow instructions to produce the desired effect. You could have displayed all the zeal and excitement you could muster up and it still would not have produced a cake. You could shout, wish, hope and cheer all the ingredients on. You could praise and exalt the recipe with as much enthusiasm you can manufacture and it STILL will not produce a cake.
Our Savior has paid the penalty for our sin. He has given us His Word as the instruction book for life (recipe) and the Holy Spirit, Who empowers us to live a life that honors Him.  And just like the chocolate cake recipe I have memorized, we can memorize the entire Word of God (and I am a huge proponent of the benefits of Bible memorization) but if we do not apply it to our lives it profits us nothing. James 1:22-24 says "Do what God’s word says. Don’t merely listen to it, or you will fool yourselves.  If someone listens to God’s word but doesn’t do what it says, he is like a person who looks at his face in a mirror, studies his features, goes away, and immediately forgets what he looks like." I remember when my son, Zach was very small, he had his memory verses from school and church each week. He knew so many Bible verses. One day he was talking about how happy he was that he earned $5 from a relative for quoting 26 Bible verses (one beginning with each letter of the alphabet) and I said to him, "Zach, I'd rather you memorize ONE Bible verse and live it out in your life then memorize the entire Word of God and never live one ounce of it."  When we apply God's Word to our lives and consecrate ourselves to Him, not only does it honor Him and cause us to walk in blessing but it speaks volumes to those around us. We can TELL others about the love of Christ and we can TELL them how right living leads to blessing and causes our hearts to be filled in the knowledge that we are pleasing the Lover of our Souls or we can LIVE it so they can see it for themselves. Words only go so far. Knowledge only goes so far. Show me a man/woman that WALKS in the character and integrity of God and I'll show you someone whose reputation will walk before and after them with little or no words at all. Acts 4:13 reads " When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus."
So, dear reader, I encourage you, I encourage myself, let's mix all the ingredients God has given us for a Godly life together and share them with those around us. Let's apply the Word of God daily to our lives and let's take the lessons He shows us along the way and use them to cause us to align our lives in ways that honor Him and cause others around us to know to whom we belong.
Matthew 5:14-16 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven." ~The Message