Has it ever gotten you into trouble?
Have you wished you could change?
In our ongoing study of Luke, this past Sunday we looked at Luke 6:43-45 where Jesus mentions “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks”.
All of us have times when we have allowed a lot of junk to come out of our mouths. We need to ask forgiveness for that. We also need to forgive ourselves. God has forgiven us. We need to move on. Sometimes we can get stuck in a rut believing we’ll never change. Or “that’s just the way I am”. Jesus, however, says that if we put the good things of God in our lives something amazing can happen.
It is possible to change! In Jesus’ teaching he says that we can transform from being bad trees with bad fruit to becoming good trees that bear good fruit. In other words, we can change those dirty mouths into good ones. To do that we need store good things in our lives, in our hearts.
If what we store in the heart is what comes out, then it is vital for us to be people who get God’s good things in our hearts! Two questions arise: What are God’s good things? And how do we get them in our hearts?
First, what are the good things? The Spirit of God and the word of God are the best good things, and as we talk about the next question, I think you’ll see why they are good things.
The next question is how do we get them in there? There are many ways. Here are just a few:
1. It starts with deciding to follow Jesus. When we decide to become Jesus’ disciples, that begins a relationship with him. It is a relationship that is based on seeing his ways as the best possible way to live. Thus we actively seek to make his ways our ways. He also promises to give us his Spirit to live with us. Becoming a follower of Jesus, then, radically opens the possibility for our inner life to be transformed! And when our inner lives change, the change in our outer life will follow.
2. Next practice humility and teachability to recognize the Climate and Culture we live in. We’re like fish in water. Fish are not aware of the water because it constantly surrounds them. Like the air we breathe, most of our life we have little idea about how our culture is affecting us. We are accustomed to it. But we need to be people who can accurately point out how, when, where and why our culture might be like that weed killer I talked about last week. Can you accurately evaluate culture? Are you able to watch a TV commercial or listen to a song (even if it has awesome music) and figure out if it is influencing you? Are you able to watch a TV show, read a book, or a video online and honestly say “yeah, that’s weed killer”? If you’re pouring weed killer into your life, stop! Stop pouring the bad things into your life. I get that this is hard because it is such a huge part of our culture to consume all kinds of media. I personally struggle with where to draw the line as far as what is good for me and what is bad for me. I would encourage you to use a resource like CPYU’s 3-D Guide to help you learn to make these kinds of decisions.
3. In addition to removing the negative influences in our lives, we need to get the good things into our lives. I encourage you to start with prayer. Maybe start your day with prayer. Or join us on Wednesdays at 7pm at Faith Church for prayer meeting. Another great idea is to practice the presence of God!
4. Add Meditation on Scripture. You might hear that word “meditation” and think of yoga or Buddhism, but there is a big difference between eastern meditation and biblical meditation. In eastern meditation, you are emptying your mind. In biblical meditation you fill your mind with God’s word. You read it, you think about it deeply. You pray about it, you ask God to help you to understand it and apply it to your life. In your personal bible study, I urge you to go beyond the Daily Bread and start to meditate on Scripture. If you aren’t sure how to do that, let me know, and I’d be glad to help you learn. Maybe add Scripture memory. See Psalm 119:9-11 for how powerful scripture memory is. Get involved in study groups. At Faith Church we have Care Groups and Sunday classes we’d love to invite you to!
5. A another way to get God’s good things into your life is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Have you ever heard the phrase “Your body is the temple, and God’s Spirit lives in you”? In Ephesians 5:17-21, Paul says we can be filled with the Spirit. Hearing that you might question if I already said that when we become followers of Christ that God’s Spirit already lives in us? Yes, but there is a difference between having the Spirit in your life and being filled with the Spirit.
Let me explain this way. In Acts 4:23-31 the disciples prayed for the filling of the Spirit. The Spirit had already come to them in Acts 2:1-4. But they wanted more of the Spirit. We can be a follower of Jesus and have the Spirit in our lives, but that doesn’t mean we are completely filled with the Spirit. We can be blocking off parts of our lives, not allowing the Spirit to have access to those parts of our lives. You can be rejoicing in the Spirit on Sunday morning, but soaking up pornography Sunday night.
This is why Paul says in Galatians 5:16-25 that we should seek to walk in step with the Spirit (obey!) and his fruit will come out of your life. If you’re filled with the Spirit, his fruit will come out of your life. So perhaps you need to be filled with the Spirit. Would you start by asking him to fill you? Then follow through by obeying his wishes for your life.
6. Finally, allow God’s good things to enter your life in Worship. I’m specifically thinking about musical worship. Is there a kind of music that you find helps you worship the Lord? Would you consider playing that music more often? I have found that when I’m driving or washing the dishes that worship music really encourages me. A few years when training for a half-marathon, I had to do a ten-mile run. The skies were looking gloomy, so I went to the gym and ran on the treadmill. Ten miles is a long time to be on a treadmill, so I listened to my Pandora worship station via my smartphone. At one point a powerful song came on and I had a worship moment I’ll never forget…right there in the gym, pounding it out on the treadmill!
What will you start doing to deposit God’s good things into your life? Take in his good things in and watch him transform your life!