Well today we are going to continue this series where we are focusing in on the most important area of your life…your heart. In this series we are trying to help you see this importance of your heart condition. And while we are having a ton of fun talking about how to wreck your heart here on a Sunday morning we are also giving you all the tools to engage your heart well. See that really is a big deal to us, to give you the tools to enhance your time with God. I am hoping by now 4 weeks into this series that you understand something very important. That the condition of your heart is a really, really big deal. The reality is that there is a spiritual battle waging all around us, and that battle is being fought over your heart. It is that important. In fact, it is the most important thing for us to take care of…that’s why we keep going back to Proverbs at the start of these talks and bringing to you these wise words.
Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. NIV
Above all else…the most important thing you can do is guard your heart. Why? Because it is the well spring of life! This is why this series is so important, and also why we wanted to get ‘The Heart Test’ to you early and often. Because your heart is that important, here’s more from Solomon!
Keep vigilant watch over your heart, that’s where life starts. …a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day. …a miserable heart means a miserable life. Provers 4:23, 5:13, 5:15 MSG
So one thing I’m hoping you understand by now is that your heart is a big deal! So here we go again…can you believe I’m opening with the same scriptures again! Well, we need to because it is such a big deal…we must guard our hearts! We must tend to the condition of our own hearts!
Can I ask you something? How in the world do I do that? I know you told me last week that I needed to prioritize God into my life, and be deliberate about my priorities and what drives my decisions, but how do I guard and tend to my heart condition? Well again it is going to take us doing something strategically, and very on purpose. We must become very away, and very focused on what we are putting into our lives. Because in the end, what you put into your heart is what will come out of your life.
It is funny the internal challenges that I face as I put these talks together some weeks I get all wound up about something that jumps out at me in scripture….sometimes I am so fired up to share a word that I feel God has laid on my heart for you…and well, there are other times where I think, really Sam, this is what I am to share today, and I kind of walk through the week wondering if what I am saying is too simple…and frankly I would like you all to think I’m a little smarter than I am! Well, today would probably be one of those Sundays for me where I wonder if this is just way too easy to see, but then I realized as
I prepared this week…this lesson sounds so simple but boy oh boy, is it ever hard to live out! So regardless of my thoughts on the matter let’s just see where this all goes because I think if we can apply this, it can be absolutely life changing!
Today we are going to talk about another way we can wreck our hearts. You want to wreck your heart and make a mess of your life? Never guard your heart, and never feed your heart well. Basically, never change anything you do to maintain a healthy heart condition. Which we are pretty certain is the most important thing you can do! Here is the reality in the end what you put into your heart and into your life…that is what comes out. Today I want to build this talk out of what Paul writes about in Galatians 6 about reaping and sowing. This will really help us see where we are heading today.
Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. NIV
So let’s start off right away in verse 7; ‘A man reaps what he sows.’ Well I’m no farmer but I think what I am reading here is that if I plant corn, I’m going to harvest…wait for it…corn! So if I want to have a harvest of apples, I should probably be planting apple seeds. Does everyone grasp this concept? I know it is a tough one to understand. This is pretty simple and very important for us to see because now we are going to take this imagery and turn it towards our own lives. Paul very quickly takes this imagery and makes it about you and I doesn’t he? This quickly goes from a lesson on farming to a lesson on our lives. Paul is saying that what you are planting into your life is what you will get out of your life. If you live to please God you will get a God pleasing life. If you plant sin, well that’s what you harvest in your life. Let’s look at this same scripture in the Message Version…
Galatians 6:7 Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others — ignoring God! — 8 harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life. MSG
Isn’t this awesome…and so profoundly clear! What a person plants he will harvest. In the end what you put in is what you will get out. I’d like to ask you a very important question today.
What is it that you are putting into your life? Really what I’m asking is what are you putting into your heart? Is that something you have you ever thought about? You know for many of us we haven’t ever clearly thought this out! If you aren’t really sure what it is you are planting into your life there is an easy way to figure it out. You take a look at what is coming out of your life. How do you act? What comes out of your mouth? How do you treat people? How would someone describe you? Think about this, what comes out of your heart? That is a big deal, and for many of us we need to start taking a look at what is coming out, because it will tell you whether or not you are doing the most important thing (guarding your heart) well!
So maybe the question isn’t do you know what you’re planting into your life? Maybe the better question is do you see clearly what are you harvesting out of your life? I think for a lot of us maybe that is the better question because we don’t see things this clearly, so we haven’t really focused on how we feed our hearts. I know for a lot of us we want to live a God life. We want to be on Jesus’ team and we want that life to the full that we hear about each and every week here at church, but we just don’t seem to be experiencing it? Have you ever kind of looked around and wondered why everyone seems to be growing in their faith and well, you just aren’t? Is Christianity just broken for you but it works for everyone else in your perspective? Well here’s the deal, if you want to see true life change in your life it starts by understanding that what we put into life is what we get out.
I think for many of us we come into a church environment and we ask God into our lives…then we expect life to be different, but in reality we aren’t doing anything different. We have decided that by showing up on Sunday we are on God’s team right? We want this spiritual maturity and health that Sam and Ken are always talking about but we continue to live every day of our lives as we always have. We are missing something really important, we are frustrated because things aren’t changing for us spiritually but we aren’t feeding our hearts well. We keep going back to the same fields, and we keep planting the same seeds that we have always planted into our lives and we expect to harvest a different crop. So we want a different harvest in our lives, but we aren’t doing anything to feed our hearts with God. And you know what, that just won’t work.
Today my advice for you is this…if you want to wreck your heart, never change anything and expect different results. Live as you always lived and wonder why Christianity isn’t changing your life. Now if you want healing…it’s time to make some changes, and it starts by what we are planting in our lives.
Many of us want to see spiritual growth in our lives. We want maturity and health, but we never do anything to become healthy. We have great intentions but we don’t change our behaviors, and we expect a different results in our lives! It’s a lot like watching a married couple fight over the same thing…over, and over, and over again. Neither spouse will budge right. They fight about the same subject every time it comes up…they just talk in a circle and go to bed mad only to fight about it again another day. Do you know why they can’t get out of the vicious cycle that they are stuck in? It’s because neither of them will do anything different! They won’t change anything…they keep planting corn, and hoping that the harvest will be tomatoes! You know at is funny? As easy as it is for me on the outside of the argument to see, is as hard as it is for us to realize that something has to change if I’m the one in the cycle! Now, Mashawn and I don’t fight or have disagreements because I’m a Pastor and I don’t have issues (LOL) but if we did I know what I would do when I get stuck in these ruts. I will just end up explaining it to her again only this time it’s louder or slower depending on my level of frustration, I may even add scripture references if needed! Yes, that should fix it! When I’m in the moment, or stuck in a moment like this, I just never think to change anything…why is that? Why can’t I see clearly in these moments of life?
Well I think it really ties into what Ken was talking about week one, and what I spoke to you guys about last week, life just pushes in more and more doesn’t it? I think we end up in the busyness of life and we spend a ton of time and energy just trying to make it through each day. I loved the way Ken described that earlier in this series as “that survival mode” and when you are in that survival mode, we just never seem to take the time or have the time or the clarity to think about what we are planting into our life. Last week and this week we are talking about thinking clearly and being strategic and starting to do things on purpose! That is just so hard to do in the world that we live in…a world designed to pull your focus off of God and onto anything, and everything else!
So many of us walk through life wishing that we were growing closer to God. You ever been there? Wondering why you aren’t at a higher level, day after day feeling like your starting over? Wondering why you haven’t reached a higher level of Christianity. (There are no levels by the way…this isn’t karate , there are no black belts of Christianity, it’s just you and I, learning, living and engaging God. We spend a lot of time wishing we were moving closer to holiness each day like we tell people we are? We keep learning about this holy life and frankly it sounds pretty awesome if you ask me and it just seems to work out for everyone but me at times doesn’t it? Wondering why it doesn’t work for you? Doesn’t it almost put you in a frustrated or just tired state to see others seeming to get it, while we can’t seem to get out of our own way?!?!? We want to see the fruit/harvest of God in our lives? Have you read about this fruit that you can have because it sounds pretty awesome?
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. NIV
So when you see what the product of a life with God can be…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…how does that sound. Awesome right? We all would love to be described that way right? But in many ways a lot of us don’t like the way we grade out on the heart test…and we certainly aren’t seeing this fruit in our lives. We come in here and we see people that seem to be moving along in their faith, and we feel like it’s just not working for us on a personal level…is this you?
Well you are not alone. Many of us struggle to see the fruit of the spirit in our lives…and if this is you, there is a very important question that needs answered today. What is it that you are sowing into your life? What are you feeding your heart with? Because in the end what you put into your life is what comes out. You know what Jesus says?
Matthew 6:22 “Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. 23 If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have! MSG
So if I want the fruit of the spirit in my life, wouldn’t it make sense for me to be really focused on what I am putting into my heart, mind, and soul? Watch your children sometime, if they spend their time watching shows where adults and parents are treated with disrespect and sarcasm is all over the place what do you start to hear come out of them? Yeah, you start to hear disrespect and sarcasm. If it’s a culture of violence and lust that is being fed into the windows of your soul…what do you think comes out? Yeah…lust and violence. Your eyes are the windows into your soul, and what you put into your heart is what comes out. Many of us ask Jesus into our lives and we just refuse to change any of our behaviors. Somehow we have convinced ourselves that we will be missing out on life if we stop doing what we did before right? Because becoming a Christian means life as we know it is now over right? Because you know, drinking 30 beers in a night waking up on the hood of an Impala somewhere and not being able to move for the next day or two and waking up wondering what you did the night before…those were the good times that Jesus is now taking from you right? LOL, remember the Romans series…there just is not middle ground. You need to go all in here. You are either on God’s side moving towards holiness or you are living for you…there is no middle ground.
1 John 2:15 Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. 16 Practically everything that goes on in the world — wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important — has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. (MSG)
What you put into your life, is what comes out of your life. So I can hear it now…Finally the shoe has dropped at MRC! Sam is telling me that I can’t listen to secular music, and that I can’t watch rated R movies unless Jesus is in them, and I can’t drink and I can’t chew and I can’t date girls that do! I knew this day would come! Um, no…that isn’t what I’m saying at all. I know especially in the church world we can all get a little too caught up in the rules and the regulations, and things get crazy in a hurry when we focus on them but what I am talking about is the principle that we have been learning about all day. What you put into your heart is what comes out of your life. If you plant a corn seed, you will produce corn. An apple seed will not produce a pumpkin for you. If you want to reap a different harvest in your life than the one you have been reaping you need to take a look at what seeds you are planting in your life! What action are you taking to feed your heart? What is it that you are putting into your life?
I have to be honest here, I enjoy pushing in on the ‘do’s and don’t do lists’ at church. I love how everyone get’s so wound up on the ‘do’s and the don’t do’ lists. Personally I find those arguments silly. Especially since we have learned that the whole point of what we believe is that we can’t live up to them…you get that right? The whole point of all the ‘do’s and don’t do’s’ that we saw in scripture was to show us that we CAN’T LIVE UP TO THEM and even though we fall amazingly short of God’s holy standard, God loved us enough to send Jesus to cover up our sin…that is what it means to be a Christian! Understanding that God loves us and is taking care of all our issues for us! Grace is bigger than our mistakes! Now speaking this way is terribly unnerving to someone focused on the rules, because they think when I tell you about grace what I’m saying is that you can go out and do whatever you want. It’s a free for all right? WRONG! This amazing grace doesn’t give me license to sin and act horribly but it does cover up all my imperfections because I in fact am imperfect! When you engaging God, you are spending every day trying your best to move towards holiness…but seriously let me know if you ever achieve perfection on this side of heaven! Good luck with that one…listen to what Paul says here…this really can drive the rules person nuts…
1 Corinthians 10:23 Looking at it one way, you could say, “Anything goes. Because of God’s immense generosity and grace, we don’t have to dissect and scrutinize every action to see if it will pass muster.” But the point is not to just get by. 24 We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well. MSG
How awesome is that? Well let’s go back to the NIV because I think it’s just that much more clear.
1 Corinthians 10:23 “Everything is permissible”-but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”-but not everything is constructive NIV
So for some they will use this as an excuse to live however they want…that is an abuse of God’s grace and if you truly get grace you would never do that. Paul is saying, while grace covers all and you can do whatever you want…not everything is beneficial. Not everything is a smart thing for you to do! Not everything is going to help you produce a good harvest in your life. Are you tracking with me today?
So if you are out there and you want to live different and you want to grow in your walk with Jesus the big question really is, what are you feeding your heart with? If you are not seeing a harvest of the fruit of the spirit in your life, maybe it’s time to change something. Maybe it’s time to look at what seeds you are planting in your life because as we have learned if you want to grow corn, you need to plant corn. If you want to grow pumpkins you need to plant pumpkin seeds. If you want to harvest a God life, a life that is producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control (the fruit of the spirit) into your life…you must be planting God into your heart.
I think it is awesome that you have made the decision to put Jesus into your life…but I think what can be very scary to me is that there are a lot of people out there that are stuck in that survival mode mentality. They aren’t clearly thinking about what they are allowing into their hearts…and the reality is that what you put into your heart is what comes out! Maybe you are sitting in here today wondering if you are tending to your heart well but you just can’t be sure. Well there is an easy way to know what you are putting into your life and that is by looking at what is coming out of your life. What you put in, is absolutely what will come out. Are you unsure where your heart is? Just look at your life. Listen to the words you speak, look at the relationships all around you. Look at what is coming out of you. The product of a life filled with the spirit of God is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. Is that how you would describe your life? I know there are times where I wouldn’t want to ask that question of my own life…and those are typically the moments of my life when I am not engaging God as I should. It’s when I’m tending to the condition of my own heart, and feeding my heart with God’s love that I see the fruit of the Spirit living and active in my life. See this is why we try to push in on you about what you are doing in your own time with God. This is why we pray each and every Sunday that this MRC thing will be real. Because if it is real, we are doing something different in our lives. I think it is awesome that you want to have Jesus in your life, and that you want to live a life for Christ.
But if you are out there today and you are looking around wondering why everyone seems to be growing up in their relationship with Jesus, while you seem to just be stuck, I want to tell you something…it’s not that they are luckier than you. It is not that Christianity doesn’t work for you…it very well could be that it’s time to take some big action steps in your own life. It’s so cool that you have accepted Jesus into your life…but you must now engage him! If you don’t put God into your life, you can’t expect God’s love to be coming out of your life. The scary thing is that for many of when we ask Jesus into our lives we think we have crossed the finish line and we stop moving forward. We feel really, really good about the good things we are doing and we don’t see the need to change our behaviors. Well the finish line is actually at the end of your life…it’s not today! We now must spend the rest of our days moving towards God. Listen I’m not trying to heap a lot of religious hoops on you to jump through today…that’s a whole other way to wreck your heart reserved for another day…what I am trying to help you see is this…we must guard are hearts. How do we do this, well we spend time with God, and we feed our hearts with God’s word, his love and that is what comes out. If you plant corn seeds you should expect corn to grow. If you plant pumpkin sees you should expect pumpkins. If you want to harvest a life filled with the spirit of God, well what do you think we need to be feeding our hearts with?
What you put into your life is what comes out.