I’ve been working at cleaning and organizing the maintenance shop at camp with the help of my family — well, MJ has been helping and Susan has patiently watched movies while we worked. 🙂 As we have pulled boxes, containers, and items off shelves and out of corners one question keeps coming up, “What’s inside?”!
If you’ve ever sorted through years worth of things others have accumulated, you probably already know the secret to finding the answer to that age-old cleaning question, “What’s inside?” — you have to look, open, or empty the container and see what comes out! You quickly learn that the writing or label can say whatever it wants– that may, or may not, have anything to do with the actual contents.
That is kind of like life and people, isn’t it? We can dress up the outside and label ourself, and others, but at some point what is really inside comes out and is revealed. Jesus puts it this way, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)
Carl Evans shared a sermon tonight at Deer Run that challenged each of us to allow God’s Word and Spirit to check us for heart trouble. So, how do we do that? How do we check the condition of our spiritual heart and what do we do about what we find? Well, I have good news and even better news. 🙂
The good news is that this heart check-up is not difficult — it could be painful to see and acknowledge, but definitely not difficult. God says that if you want to know the condition of your heart then you should carefully observe just what it is you say and do. In Galatians, Paul writes that the actions of our sinful desires are obvious. He goes on to list many actions and activities that we would often put in different categories of very bad, bad, not so bad, and somewhat tolerable. Paul, however, says all of them are symptoms of a heart that is in trouble — so much trouble that God says if we choose to continue to live in these actions we will not have a place in His kingdom.
The even better news is that there is a cure to whatever heart trouble our spiritual check-up may reveal! 🙂 Paul follows up the list of actions that come from a bad heart with a list of characteristics that flow from a good heart — a Spirit-filled heart. In Ezekiel 11, God tells his people that he will call them back to himself and they will put away the actions that were in disobedience and rebellion toward him and he will put within them a new spirit — he will remove their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. The cure for our heart trouble is to repent from the deeds of sin and rebellion and live by the Spirit.
To fully recover from the heart transplant, Carl pointed out tonight some instructions that are commonly given when a person faces a physical heart trouble. To follow-up on our spiritual heart change, we need to change our diet and get appropriate exercise. 🙂 We must live, and feast, on a steady diet of God’s Word. As we allow God’s Word to fill and satisfy us, we must get appropriate exercise by actually doing what it says.
I pray that your container, your jar of clay, really does contain what the exterior says is inside. I pray that you spend time with God listening intently to what comes out of you that would reveal how accurate the label Christian is in your life. I pray that you are living with a changed heart and that you are maintaining that renewed heart with a healthy diet and plenty of regular exercise! 🙂