Tag Archives: Heart

A Person of Influence

Who are the people who have influenced your life – who have had an effect or impact upon your character, development, thoughts or behavior? How has your life been different because of them? What about them gave them influence?

Have you ever thought of yourself an influencer? The apostle Paul has some good news resulting from the birth of Jesus. “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son … that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts…” (Galatians 4:4-6)

Consider the phrase “God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts.”

Notice – the Spirit is given to us – we don’t need to ask for Him or do anything to receive Him He is given to us! He comes as a gift – He’s part of the inheritance package we looked at last week, part of the salvation life! We have been  influenced.

Be sure to catch the heart of this: God not only sent Himself to us, God sent Himself into us! We not only have access to the riches of God but we have God Himself! Recall God’s promise to Abraham: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” (Genesis 15:1) and the words of the Psalmist: “The Lord is my portion, O my soul…” (Psalm 16:5).

Yet I believe we have a problem. God works so constantly, so quietly, that sometimes we forget He’s in us. Someone has appropriately pointed out that our experience of the Holy Spirit is like wearing eyeglasses. The only time we really look at them is when we’re looking for them. Glasses are not made to be seen so much as to be seen through. They function best when we don’t notice them. We examine them to remove specks of dirt and dust and smears; but when they function properly they sit on our nose and we are all but unaware of them. We don’t see our glasses when we wear them, but when we wear them, we see! So it is with the Holy Spirit – when He’s doing His greatest work we will be totally unaware – but He is still at work.

And what is He doing? He’s remaking us, shaping us, growing us. Whereas our inheritance gave us position the Holy Spirit gives us regeneration. Paul points out that the Spirit has been sent into our hearts – not into our brains, nor into our intellect, but into the very seat of our affections, emotions, and desires. He resides in the center of our being. In Psalm 37:4 David wrote, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” For years I limited the meaning of this verse to the idea that if we delight in the Lord He would give us whatever we desire. But that’s only a half-truth; I now recognize that it has a double meaning. The whole truth is that when we delight ourselves in the Lord, He plants the good and proper desires in our hearts. So naturally He’ll give them to us! So yes – God gives us the desires of our hearts. And those desires pertain to godliness, to Christ-likeness.

Just as the heart pumps blood into all parts of our body, so the Spirit within us – God Himself – sends His influence and likeness into every fiber of our being – into every power, every faculty, every thought. That’s why Paul wrote so often about our constant progression – our sanctification – into Christ likeness. The older I get the more I recognize how much like my father I am becoming – in looks, posture, attitude, and behavior. It reminds me that I am also growing into the likeness of Christ, and that He who began a good work in me will bring it to completion. What an influence there is in me through the presence of Christ.

I invite you to dwell on these 2 facts.                                                                Fact #1 – God is in you wherever we go. When you wake up in the morning remember this. It will influence your plans. It will influence you when you’re alone or in a crowd. It will influence you in your business and your home. Realize the power and potential it gives you. It will change the places you go, the thoughts you think, and the things you do.
Fact #2: God sent the Spirit of His Son into your heart. God is within you! He influences you to influence others. You have the right and the mandate to act and live as a child of God – for so you are. And when you do, you will be a person of influence. Only God knows how many will be influenced by you – and ultimately by Jesus!

Live

Glasses – Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

“With All Your Heart” Photo by Brittney Burnett on Unsplash

Dove and Heart Photo from www.storyblocks .com

Good Roots

Before last week’s 50th reunion reflections I considered “Those Never-Ending Weeds” and “More About Those Weeds.”

I wrote that there was one more weeds blog to come. This is it. The question that crossed my mind in identifying and uprooting those weeds was “How do I identify and uproot the weeds in my life?”

The answer is “Develop a good root system.” A strong root system crowds out unwanted growth. The prophets repeatedly told the Israelites how to do so. When they spoke to the nation about sin their most frequent opening statement was something akin to “The Lord spoke to me” or “The Lord our God says.” It was their way of reminding God’s people that the only way to identify the sinful weeds was to look at our lives from the eyes and heart of God. Jesus demonstrated this principle during His temptation in the wilderness. Each time Satan tempted Him Jesus responded “It is written…” (Matthew 4:1-11). He evaluated the tempter’s offers through the lens of God’s words. That’s why the Psalmist wrote, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11) He understood that we identify the weeds only when the Word of God has taken root in our hearts. A strong root system crowds out unwanted growth.

When we look at our lives from the perspective of God’s Word we see more clearly that the foundation of most every sin is pride. In my book “7 Habits of Highly Healthy People – Antidotes for the 7 Deadly Sins” I pointed out, “As William Barkley wrote, ‘Pride is the ground in which all other sins grow.’ Think about it. Pride grows:

Envy – we are unable to permit the success or excellence of another
Anger – we cannot tolerate those who frustrate our plans, purposes, and desires
Greed – we need to possess more to be worth more and impress more;
Lust and Gluttony – we need to satisfy ourselves (or escape from ourselves)
Sloth – we lack love for ourselves and others

Pride is at the root of all of these sins. Pride is a powerful sin… “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.””(Proverbs 16:18)

Only when we have a good root system deep within our hearts can we spot our pride that leads to other sins. So with the Psalmist we need to hide the word within our hearts. The author of Hebrews described the dynamic vividly when he wrote “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

I’m learning how to identify and somewhat control the weeds in our yard and garden. In doing so I’m also re-learning how to do the same in my life. I’m recommitting myself to hiding the Word in my heart that I might not sin. A good root system will do the job.                           As Psalm 1:1-3 paints the picture: “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” Good roots – blessed life. Sounds like a plan.

 

 

What I Learned from Our Carpet

It had been a great extended holiday period. 3 weeks in the warm, sunny south – some of it with family which made it even better. The trip home was filled with mixed emotions. Part of me wanted to keep traveling but part of me was anxious to get home. The closer we got to home the more being home became the predominant emotion. So I was glad to pull in the driveway, open the door, and turn off the security alarm. Then I did what I always do first – I headed downstairs to turn the water back on. But this time it was different; this time it was not routine; this time the carpet squished under me feet; this time I heard water running; this time we had a problem.

Long story short – we have a back-up sump pump that is water fed. If the power goes off and the main pump cannot work, the water fed pump kicks in. The pipeline that feeds this pump is the only waterline we leave on when we go away. It’s really a great plan and system. Except this time the gasket connecting the water line and the pump piping sprang a leak – and water was spraying everywhere; and had been for many days. Yep – we had a problem.

But enough about the problem. The whole point of this narrative is that the squishy carpet taught me a lesson. I was amazed at the high saturation level of the carpet – at how much water it soaked up. If it hadn’t soaked up so much water the damage would have been even worse. As I contemplated the saturation level of the carpet, I thought of Scripture verses that talk about saturating our minds and hearts with the Word of God.

Moses told the Israelites (Dt. 11:18) “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.” Through Jeremiah God promised (Jer. 31:33 NLT) ““But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”” As Paul wrote the Colossians (Col. 3:15), “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” Like our carpet soaking up the water we are to soak up – saturate ourselves with – the Word of God.

A while ago I felt a cold coming on – my throat was scratchy and dry, my nose was plugging up. I inundated my body with Echinacea, Vitamin C, and a cold med. I saturated, permeated my body. I wanted to fend off infection. Remember Jesus’ time of temptation in the wilderness? Each time Satan assaulted Him Jesus saturation of the Word empowered Him. Here are Jesus’ responses. “It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” … It is also written: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test … Away from me, Satan!” For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10–11) He was not infected by Satan’s wiles. For Jesus, being squishy with the Word was not all bad.

Paul also knew the power of mind saturation. He said it helped us to know the will of God (Rom. 12:2): “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” What’s in our minds discerns what to do. Being squishy is not all bad.

That’s why a good quarterback spends hours studying the playbook and watching game films. He saturates his mind. He knows that when he is in a game and looks over the defense he needs to know his options, needs to know what is the right play and reaction. During a game there is no time to do more research; he must have enough information stored in his mind that his reactions will enable him to make the right calls and plays.

John Piper put it beautifully: “I spend this much time on Bible memory because I believe in the power of the indwelling Word of God to solve a thousand problems before they happen, and to heal a thousand wounds after they happen, and to kill a thousand sins in the moment of temptation, and to sweeten a thousand days with the ‘drippings of the honeycomb.’”(1)  Saturate yourself, get squishy with the Word. Let it permeate your entire being.

So while it’s been no fun cleaning up the mess in our basement I must admit the squishy carpet had a value the insurance company could never match. It taught me to keep saturating my mind and heart with the Word of God, because being squishy is not all bad. In fact, it can be a good thing. Let’s all get squishy!

(1) When I Don’t Desire God, 123