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Thursday, January 30, 2020

It’s a Matter of the Heart – Part 3


        God didn’t create robots who would love Him by command or demand because love would not be the motivation. Love must be given willingly from the heart. God gave us hearts and a free will and told us to choose to love and obey Him.1 John 5:3: This is love for God: to keep His commands. And His commands are not burdensome. Jesus and John said that love for God is obedience to Him. Life is full of choices. Our choices can have life-changing consequences for the good or for evil – spiritual life or spiritual death, blessing or cursing. We make choices out of our heart and mind (intellect).  The choices we make must emanate from our love for God. God desires us. He wants us to desire Him.

God told Moses he was to love God with his heart, soul, mind and strength. Deuteronomy 6:5 This was not a new precept. Jesus repeated this scripture when asked what commandment was the greatest. God also went on to say to Moses, “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul….Deuteronomy 10:12 Jesus said in Mark 12:33 that loving God with all our heart, understanding, soul and strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves “is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”  Love for humanity whom He created in His image and likeness has always been God’s motivation. He wants love to be our motivation. 1 Timothy 1:5 tells us that the “goal of His instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”

Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength

        Matthew, Mark and Luke quoted the scripture regarding loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Having the full and abundant life promised by Christ begins with the heart and love.

Heart – Our heart and mind are the ruling and central places of good and evil that is translated into action. The heart and mind are the seat of our moral character, our appetites, emotions, passions and courage.

 Physically, we eat to strengthen the heart and body. Spiritually, we eat the spiritual Word of God to guide our heart, mind, strength and soul. The heart is what moves our physical body and its actions. Likewise, the milk and meat of the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit move our spiritual man and God’s spiritual Body, maturing us spiritually and moving us to do what is right and good. Our physical heart is center for physical, emotional, intellectual and moral activities. God wants to turn our fleshly heart into a heart that strives to do His will and walk in His ways to the glory of His Name.

  Jesus says that the “secrets” of our heart are betrayed by the words of our mouth. “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” Matthew 12:34-34 Solomon says, “a wise man’s heart guides his mouth.” Proverbs 16:23

  Jesus was talking to the religious leaders of His people. If you want to know who is truly serving our holy God, listen to the words of his or her mouth. If they are spewing hatred, division, cursing, and lies, they are bringing forth evil things, not the good treasure of one who truly serves God. Their character is not moral and good. Our words and actions reveal our character. “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 Jesus called these leaders a brood of vipers because they were evil. They were prideful and loved their position of power and continually went against Jesus. The Pharisees and Sadducees heaped tremendous burden upon God’s people through their added demands to God’s truth. The Truth Jesus was standing in front of them talking with them but their jealousy and lust for power blinded them to the truth. They thought more highly of themselves than they ought. One who is evil cannot speak good things. He or she will speak evil things that divide and degrade because this is in his or her heart. Jesus is warning us of this. Jesus knows our hearts.

Jesus also says that the fruit of a tree reveals its nature. “Either make the tree good and its fruit good or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.” Matthew 12:33  Jesus is telling us that we can know who belong to Him by their fruit. If they are producing the fruit of the Spirit in their lives, they are the good tree. If not, they are led by the devil and produce bad fruit. True believers will set their hearts on things above – good, spiritual character and deeds. The heart’s reasoning and actions depend upon our moral condition. We are to understand and discern between good and evil and embrace the good and stay away from the evil.

These are God’s instructions on discerning who is serving Him and who is not. 

                                              (to be continued next week)

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