The Fruit of My Heart

Apple trees orchardI am not an expert on fruit trees. When I was a kid, we had an apple orchard. There are tasks to do to fruit trees to help them produce healthy fruit and become a healthy tree. For example, fruit trees need to fertilized and watered. Fruit trees also need to be pruned and treated for disease and insect infestation.  When cared for properly, fruit trees will bear beautiful fruit. Jesus compared our heart to a fruit tree in speaking to the Pharisees and religious leaders. Check this out….

33 “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. 34 You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. 35 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. 36 And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. 37 The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” (Matthew 12:33-37 NLT)

I believe that my heart is the gateway to my soul. My heart is not necessarily the pump inside my chest. My heart is the emotional epicenter of me as a person. I believe that my heart needs to be involved in decision making because love comes from my heart more than my head. I think Jesus is teaching that behavior flows from the heart. I believe it’s super important to take care of my heart. My heart needs to be watered and fertilized with the Word of God. The very Spirit of God prunes my heart and treats for disease that can destroy my heart. I also realize that the Lord is the ONLY ONE Who truly knows everything about my heart and everything inside my heart. He’s also the ONLY ONE Who can heal my heart when it’s diseased, broken, or deeply damaged.  He created my physical heart and He created my spiritual heart. The fruit of my life reveals the condition & the depth of my heart. He has filled my heart with love, compassion, mercy & grace. It should overflow into every relationship I have on this planet.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Example

Helping OthersI remember seeing the example of others for years. In my childhood years I watched my parents. I saw how they handled adversity or struggle. I saw their faith in the Lord. As I grew older I saw the example of my grandmother – “Mammie”. She was a strong woman but very humble. He had deep faith in the Lord and I learned a lot from her example. I also watched people over the years who set a bad example of faith lived out. The Lord is asking Ezekiel to be an example to the people. He’s hopeful that they will ask questions and learn. Check this out…

1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 ‘Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people.

3 ‘Therefore, son of man, pack your belongings for exile and in the daytime, as they watch, set out and go from where you are to another place. Perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious people. (Ezekiel 12:1-3 NIV)

 

I remember when I first believed in the Lord apart from anyone else’s faith or example. I remember that evening like it was yesterday. I was deeply moved in my heart and at that moment my faith became my own. I am supposed to now be an example to others. The Lord has called me to Himself. He wants me to be a light to expel the darkness in others. He wants my life to be an example of my faith to others. I’m so thankful for His Patience as I figured all of that out. I believe the Lord wants all of His kids to live out their faith and be an example of how to live in the midst of struggle, adversity or times of plenty.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Punishment

Teenage girl in trouble with parentsThis is one of my least favorite parts of parenting. I do not like punishing my children. It is however, a necessary ingredient to the recipe for raising a good kid. I believe that possible impending punishment is a motivator to help me do the right thing even if it’s for the wrong reason. I want to live right. I want to treat others right. I want to honor God by loving others. Some people are really hard to love, but the Lord tells me to love them anyway.

As I read the Word, I also see that the Lord is not afraid of punishment. He doesn’t always give me what I deserve (which would be really bad), but He gives me what I need. Sometimes he doesn’t punish me at all, He gives me an “all expenses paid vacation” to bless me – that is His amazing grace! In Isaiah he is about to pour out punishment on Babylon and He speaks this through the prophet. Check this out…

4 Listen, a noise on the mountains,
    like that of a great multitude!
Listen, an uproar among the kingdoms,
    like nations massing together!
The Lord Almighty is mustering
    an army for war.
5 They come from faraway lands,
    from the ends of the heavens –
the Lord and the weapons of his wrath –
    to destroy the whole country.
6 Wail, for the day of the Lord is near;
    it will come like destruction from the Almighty.[a]
7 Because of this, all hands will go limp,
    every heart will melt with fear.
8 Terror will seize them,
    pain and anguish will grip them;
    they will writhe like a woman in labour.
They will look aghast at each other,
    their faces aflame.
9 See, the day of the Lord is coming
    – a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger –
to make the land desolate
    and destroy the sinners within it. (Isaiah 13:4-9 NIV)

 

As a kid I hated punishment. As a parent I hate punishment. It is an important part of behavior modification. I am really trying hard to discipline my heart before the Lord so that He doesn’t need to discipline my behavior. I want the same for my children. I want them to seek a heart after God and their behavior will follow their heart. I believe this is exactly what the Lord wants. I think He hates punishment too.

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Judgement Day

vector scales of justice and gavelI can hardly put my head around what this is going to be like. I remember as a kid being so fearful of judgment day. I think I’m unsure of how it will unfold. I picture it much like John writes about in revelation, but then it’s hard to take the most symbolic book of the Bible so literal. I don’t know if there really is a written record of all the things I’ve done. I don’t know if I will go before the Lord in a courtroom setting. There is so much I don’t know about that day or that process. John’s recollection of that scene creates many questions for me and answers others. Check this out…

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15 NIV)

 

I believe that what I do speaks louder than anything I could say. I believe that my actions reveal my heart. I do believe that the Lord cares more about my “heart condition” than anything else. Everything I do & everything I say comes from my heart. If there is a problem with something I do – it can be traced directly to my heart. I believe that my heart is what the Lord will judge. I believe He pays attention to my “heart condition” daily.  I would be very wise to cultivate a heart after His heart. I believe this idea was the biggest “game-changer” in my understanding of judgment day.  I’m trying to think of every day as judgment day and guard my heart against the evil one. I want my actions to reflect a devoted heart to God.

Pressing On!
Dwayne

God’s Garden

planting gardenI love good garden vegetables and fruits. My father-in-law has a great garden. My parents also have a big garden every year growing squash, corn, green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, peppers, etc… The food that is grown there seems to just taste better because of the love and labor put into it. Sometimes the gardens are a family affair – meaning that we all pitch in and help.  The garden is the fruit of many hours of labor.

Jesus told the parable of the sower about how the seed that falls on different soil responds differently.  He tells the parable and then explains it. Check this out…

11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. (Luke 8:11-15 NIV)

I think at one point in my life, I’ve represented all four types of soil. I’ve been too busy, too shallow and too worldly-minded. This is “Faith 101” –we must cultivate our hearts and lives to take in the Word of God for it to grow and mature. I want my heart to be noble and good so that I can process the Word of God in my life each day.  The fruit of my life will shine forth and be noticed. My heart condition is my responsibility. God can change my heart and shape my heart to be like His ONLY if I present it to Him properly surrendered. He does all the work, my role is surrender. He can grow incredible fruit from a heart that is prepared for Him and His Word!

Pressing On!
Dwayne