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

Soul Food

Food for body and soulI live in the south and soul food is a menu of good tasting food that is really not very healthy. For example, I would call Bacon, Biscuits, Gravy & Grits breakfast soul food. Other “soul food” selections might be mashed potatoes, gravy, collard greens, pork chops and fried squash. I believe that lots of “soul food” is fried or cooked with lots of butter! I’m not an expert by any means, but I do enjoy good food. I admit that I have a tough time with boundaries on portions of good soul food.

The Jews had a strict diet. They couldn’t eat just any food. They also couldn’t eat certain foods in combination with other foods. Jesus was asked by the Pharisees and teachers of the law why His disciples didn’t follow their Jewish traditions when it came to ceremonial washing and eating. Jesus called out their hypocrisy with a passage from Isaiah. Check this out…

‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship is a farce,
    for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’ (Mark 7:6-7 Isaiah 29:13 NLT)

He then went further in explanation to His disciples. He talked about purity of our heart. The law implied that behavior modification was all that was necessary to follow the Lord. Jesus makes it clear that your behavior simply reveals what is going on inside the heart. Check this out…

14 Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. 15 It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.”

19 Food doesn’t go into your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.” (By saying this, he declared that every kind of food is acceptable in God’s eyes.)

20 And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. 21 For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” (Mark 7:14, 19-23 NLT)

I believe that Jesus was teaching something profound that we still struggle with today. We make a judgement upon people by their behavior. I do believe that behavior often reveals what’s going on inside the heart. Jesus was teaching that we need to feed our soul from the Word of God. I believe that if we spend our time working on our heart, our habits and activities will follow the heart.  Our behavior is a symptom of a diseased heart. The Lord wants to change us from the inside out and it begins in my heart. The Word of God is food for my soul – “soul food”, if you will. I want to make sure that I’m digesting the Word of God every day before I eat any physical food. This “soul food” does have eternal implications.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Stain Removal

Clothes with detergent and washing powder in orange plastic basket isolated on whiteI have been known to leave an ink pen in my pocket and then it goes through the washing machine cycle and then the clothes dryer where it spreads the ink to other clothes leaving ink stains all over the place. Recently, my youngest son did the same thing with Lip Balm and it left an oily stain on many of my clothes. My wife studies Pinterest and looks for remedies for stain removal. We have purchased many types of cleaners and chemicals that are designed to remove stains. There are some stains that simply can’t be removed. Some of my nice dress shirts became “work in the yard” shirts after being stained.

When I reflect on my life journey, I’m reminded that my life has some pretty significant “stains” on it. I’ve made stupid decisions in the past that left a scar on my soul. I’ve been forgiven, for sure, but the consequences or remnants of that sin often remain. I was reminded this morning of Jesus removes more than the stain of sin – He eradicates the sin itself. Check this out…

 But now he has appeared one time, at the end of the ages, for the removal of sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for people to die once—and after this, judgment— 28 so also Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:26b-28 CSB)

I’m reminded of His purpose here on earth was to restore mankind to the Father. Jesus made a way to have direct access to God. There was no longer a need for a temple made with hands, the Lord now dwells in the hearts of those who’ve accepted Him as their Lord & Savior. He also removes the stain of sin from my soul. He doesn’t leave evidence of my sin, and He helps me navigate the consequences of my sin. I’m so thankful that my heart has been washed clean and that He scrubbed my soul with His righteous life.

As I check my shirts and pants for stains today, I’m thankful that my outer wear is not “covering up” a stained soul. I want to be “stain free” from the inside of my heart to outside of my whole body and being. I’m forgiven. I’m saved. I’m redeemed by the Stain Remover – Jesus!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

The Temple of God

 

Human heart anatomy from a healthy bodyThere are times that I look at my hands and realized that these are the same hands that I’ve had my whole life. These are the same feet that I’ve run and walked on for years. I know this it a bit bizarre, but I take this stuff for granted very often. I wonder how I would live differently if I could go back to being 10 years old. I believe I would take better care of this body that the Lord gave me. I’ve never been a “hell raiser”, a drug user or heavy drinker. I have eaten my share of food that was bad for me. I have also eaten too much of food that was good for me.

As I reflect on things I’ve done with this body over the years, I’m a bit embarrassed because God lives here inside me. He built me the way I am. He has invested in me and I’ve not always managed His “investment” well. Check this out…

16 Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s temple and that the Spirit of God lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is holy, and that is what you are. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 CSB)

I think I’ve known that the Lord lives inside me for many years. I’ve just never thought about how disappointed He must be with how I treat my body. My body is a lot like the engine of a car that needs to be properly maintained with the belts and hoses inspected regularly. Since turning 50 years old, I do go to the “shop” (aka the Doctor’s office) twice a year for check-ups and blood work (aka Oil Analysis). These check-ups can reveal if I got health issues that I wasn’t even aware of yet. Some disease and physical issues can be managed if noticed early.

I am really convicted that I need to eat healthier and exercise regularly as part of my everyday life. I get so busy living that I don’t take proper care of the “carrier of God’s Spirit” – my body. I need to take seriously that He lives and breathes in me. I realize that my body doesn’t leave this earth alive unless He gives me an exit like Elijah. I should continue to surrender my soul daily to Him and let His Spirit live through me and direct my steps in all things. It’s sobering to think that The Temple of God is in my body.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

One NAME Alone

JesusJesus man of joyHe is RisenI remember accepting the Lord when I was in third grade. I wanted to follow Him. My parents and grandparents followed the Lord and I decided to do the same. I worked on my behavior and attitude and most days I performed well. When I went off to Bible college, it was to enter ministry. It was there I had a personal encounter with God. My faith became my own. I had been living off the faith of my family, but now I believed for me. I decided that even if my family ditched their faith, I believed in God. Even since that night of deep commitment, I’ve had to remember the simple call of the Lord.  He is not asking for my money, possessions or even my behavior – He’s after my heart. When my heart is committed to Him EVERYTHING else follows. Now, many years removed from my third-grade commitment to my profound belief in college –my heart is still after His heart.  I was so reminded this morning of my journey but just how significant it is to praise the NAME of the Lord. His NAME is above all creation and above every name in the heavens and the earth. The Psalmist pens a cool verse after naming the elements of heaven and earth (including animals and humans) and how the NAME of the Lord stands above them all. Check this out…

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for his name alone is exalted;
    his splendor is above the earth and the heavens. (Psalm 148:13 NIV)

The Old Testament and the New Testament all point to Jesus. I heard a profound truth last Friday that is still speaking to me. “The Cross on which Jesus died is the hinge on which the doorway of worship swings.” (Louie Giglio) My worship of God is born of my understanding of what I’d be like without Him. I am humbled by the fact the Lord has saved me. I’m not better than anyone else, but He is better than anyone. I want to pursue His heart all my days. A new song that is in my heart is called: Worthy of Your Name by Passion Band.

Rumors of the Son of Man
Stories of a Savior
Holiness with human hands
Treasure for the traitor

No ear had heard, no eye had seen
The Image of the Father
Until heaven came to live with me
A rescue like no other

Yes, You are worthy
You are worthy
You are worthy of Your Name
Yes You are worthy
You are worthy of Your Name
Jesus

You did not speak, You made no sound
You died for Your accusers
As Your blood fell to the ground
You redefined my future
 

On the day when You arose
The darkness ran for cover
For the King of kings has claimed His throne
Now until forever

Yes, You are worthy
You are worthy of Your Name
You are worthy
You are worthy of Your Name
Jesus

You’re my author, my maker
My ransom, my Savior
My refuge, my hiding place

You’re my helper, my healer
My blessed redeemer
My answer, my saving grace

You’re my hope, in the shadows
My strength, in the battle
My anchor, for all my days

And You stand, by my side
And You stood, in my place
Jesus, no other name
No, only Jesus, no other name

______________________

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Rescued & Blessed

Man praying with the BibleThere are times that I’ve felt trapped in conversation (almost all “one-way conversation”) with a person who “knows it all” and a friend will come up and interrupt and engage – I’m rescued. I have learned over the years how to disengage a person like that because the conversation isn’t meaningful for them or me – they know it all and insist on telling me they know it all, so my input and opinion don’t matter. I must admit that this type of person does get on my nerves a bit. Believe it or not, I do love people in general.

The Lord sees my every move. He knows where I am and where I’m headed. I believe it would blow my mind to know how many times over the course of my life that the Lord has rescued me from danger. I know some of those times because I’ve felt trapped and scared. He never just leaves me stuck or stranded – He rescues. King David was feeling blessed and grateful for the rescue of The Lord. Check this out….

I will sing a new song to you, my God;
    on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you,
10 to the One who gives victory to kings,
    who delivers his servant David.

From the deadly sword 11 deliver me;
    rescue me from the hands of foreigners
whose mouths are full of lies,
    whose right hands are deceitful.

12 Then our sons in their youth
    will be like well-nurtured plants,
and our daughters will be like pillars
    carved to adorn a palace.
13 Our barns will be filled
    with every kind of provision.
Our sheep will increase by thousands,
    by tens of thousands in our fields;
14     our oxen will draw heavy loads.
There will be no breaching of walls,
    no going into captivity,
    no cry of distress in our streets.
15 Blessed is the people of whom this is true;
    blessed is the people whose God is the Lord. (Psalm 144:9-15 NIV)

I reflect often on where I might be if I didn’t know the Lord. I think I’d be a miserable mess. I’d be self-centered and prideful. The Lord has rescued me from other people and other situations AND He’s rescued me from me. He has changed me from the inside out. He loves changing hearts because it leads to a changed life. He rescued my heart (I see my heart as my intellect & emotion so I guess it’s more like my soul.) from my control and He is still shaping and molding my life. My heart is the control center for my behavior.  Everything I do and say comes from my heart – and I’m continually surrendering that to Him. I am so blessed to know the Lord. I want others to know the peace that is hard to explain – that He has brought to my life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne