The plate of your heart

Salad Plate

A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled. Prov. 18:20

“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8

In this day and age that is a hard verse to swallow. These are the days when data is out about the ‘runniest’ cities and the healthiest towns. Individuals you would never dream of are running 5ks and more. Then there is the issue of childhood obesity which has gone all the way to the White House with the First Lady herself getting personally involved. Gyms are opening almost as quick as fast food restaurants around the country because everyone wants to be in shape, everyone is concerned about their health. “The Biggest Loser” has become one of the most popular shows on television.

Tossed Salad

For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. Luke 12:23

Look around during the lunch hour and you see many people out using that time not for food but walking to keep in shape. Every smart phone now has an ‘app’ to help you record steps, check calories, manage sugar and salt intake and the list goes on and on. It is a wonderful thing to see a generation looking after the one body they have, keeping it in optimal shape.

However, according to the words of Jesus as great as that is, it still isn’t enough.

Character checking VS Calorie counting

In Matthew 15 the Pharisees demanded of Jesus why it is that His disciples disobeyed the tradition of washing their hands before they ate. Reasonable question? Shockingly Jesus called them hypocrites, not because of their question but as He explains later, because of their hearts.

Jesus’ response may not sit well with many today because we are reminded everywhere that washing hands prevents the spread of germs, which by the way is true. Signs have been posted all over bathrooms telling employees to wash their hands before coming back to the job and hand sanitizer is now practically seen on the counter of every corner store .

Yet Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and told them they had made God’s word of no effect by these same man made traditions.

shrimp

For the KIngdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17

Like many today the Pharisees looked at outward signs to declare whether a man was spiritually clean or not. His heart could be far from God but as long as he washed his hands before eating and all the other traditional stuff he was essentially good to go.  As long as he was at church every Sunday did it really matter if he was always critical of the brethren?

What did it matter if he was disrespectful to his parents?

What did it matter if he neglected his responsibilities to his own children ?

What did it matter if he was unfaithful to his wife, or even a slacker on his job?

 The Word says in 1 Samuel that while man looks outwardly at actions and appearances God looks on the heart.

Jesus told the crowd in Matthew 15:11 then and He tells us now: “It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you, you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.”

 Some of us eat the very best food we can get. Our fruits and vegetables must always be organic, our steak always the best cut, no extra fat or skin on our chicken and so on. Our bodies are well taken care of.  We either have gym membership, follow along on exercise videos or we create our own physical training program which does wonders for our body.

Yet our hearts get offended easily.

We hold resentment against others.

We speak with disdain about family members or coworkers.

Jesus continued to say what we eat goes through our digestive system then comes out, but what comes out of our mouths represents what is actually in our hearts: evil thoughts, slander, sexual immorality, lying and more (Matt 11:19).

We can eat well all the time and still be very mean and selfish.

As important as it is to take care of our physical bodies it is so much more important to take care of our hearts. Taking good care of our hearts produces life both on the inside and outside.

What kind of people are we to watch our calories but not our mouths?

Spiritual uncleanness comes from within even if we look clean on the outside.

Proverbs encourages us to guard our hearts for out of them comes the issues of life. If you don’t understand why you say some of the things you do, look into your heart. You desire to be a kinder, more compassionate person but still find yourself being continually mean to others? It’s not just a bad habit, it is a heart problem.

Experts in the area of physical health tell us to make sure we have a rainbow of color on our plates when we eat. Colorful foods such as orange carrots, green cucumbers, red or green grapes, yellow bananas, blue berries, red strawberries are all foods that provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition.

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But what if we eat all the colors and still inside our hearts it is dark?

We think and speak of ways to get back at someone. We hold things against others or we keep records of the wrongs they have done us, rehearsing them over and over again. We decide that we will forgive some things but not others. We gossip about our workmates and our church family.

What really is on the plate of our hearts?

I don’t just want to count calories so that my body looks good and healthy. I want my character to be defined by what comes out of my mouth, not by what goes in it.

I am working at improving my physical health by drinking more water, walking everyday, not eating so much cake and candy (which has been very hard 🙂 ) and trying to eat better overall.

However I don’t want my stomach to be filled with good food and my heart filled with unkindness.

I want to be a woman who genuinely care about others and show it with my words as well as my actions. I don’t just want my children to emulate my good eating habits. I want them to take note of my words and my actions of love that accompany those words. I want them to see my heart.

I will purpose to continually look into the mirror of the Word to show me what my heart is like and then allow It to cleanse me (John 15:3).

Our initial scripture today tells us not to just look after ourselves physically but to take stock of our hearts, for the physical will only benefit us in this lifetime. What comes from our hearts and out of our mouths is what will last for eternity.

It’s time to watch what we put on our heart’s plate.

Pause and Ponder

What is the real state of my heart? That’s a question all of us should ask ourselves. Don’t let us define ourselves by what we eat and what we wear, but like the Word says we should search our hearts. Our bodies will only last for this time but what we put in our hearts will serve us for eternity.

Prayer

Lord, we turn our hearts over to you today. We are so grateful that never would You ask something of us and don’t help us with it. We thank You for Your Holy Spirit Who guides and leads us into all truth. Show us our real hearts and help us to keep watch on them, for we know that what we speak comes from deep inside. We thank You for continually washing and cleansing us, in Jesus name. Amen

Blessings and thank you for reading.

Vickie

Putting Down Roots

Some of you may have seen me post on social media recently about my new walking regime, where I started walking about a mile in the mornings after work before I get on the street car. On my second day of walking, I noticed this open space with what appeared to be remnants of a tree and as I looked closer my mind immediately went back to what happened.

Tree StumpOne day last week we got a forecast for some not-so-good weather. During the night we were expected to have a fair amount of rain and some winds and there was also a tornado warning for another county some distance away from us. I heard the report but didn’t pay much attention to it especially since the time the rain and high winds were supposed to come, I would be in safely at work so I just didn’t worry at all about it.

However, the next morning I heard that the rain and the winds were so bad during the night that some homes lost electric power and a few trees had fallen. On my way out later I saw a tree had fallen and completely blocked the street in front of the building next door. It spanned across the road so that no traffic could pass by and it was such a huge tree it literally blocked your view for quite some distance. According to the concierge of that same building it had happened about 4am and crashed on a car but no one knew if the driver survived. This morning, over a week later, as I walked by and looked at what was left of the tree, my first glimpse, I was still amazed that such a huge tree could come down with winds that didn’t even come during the hurricane season. Right there and then the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and said, you know, this tree started to be uprooted long before this actually happened. Immediately I saw the spiritual connection.

You would never believe that something was happening below the surface of this tree. It was one of many trees that lined this beautiful street and they all looked so secure, so strong and so sturdy. I’ve walked past these same trees dozens and dozens of times and have admired them not knowing that this was ever a possibility. Tree-lined streetIt’s like many lives we see around us day after day that seem to be doing fine, they have that outward look of togetherness, people who are always busy, some with great careers or they are on promising educational paths, but then winds of adversity come along and many are knocked off their feet. We wonder how could this have happened to someone who had it all together. As I continued to meditate on things I began to understand how just one night or one hour of bad weather didn’t cause this tree to tumble. Every time we had some inclement weather the roots were weakening but no one saw or knew. The winds and rain weren’t selective, other trees I’m sure got battered but only one came down. The fall finally came, I believe, because the roots gave way.

The Word is our foundation, it’s our security against the storms of this life. Not building and strengthening our roots leaves us open to attacks. The Word is what will keep us from breaking apart during a storm.

One of my favorite uncles is a carpenter and as a little girl I watched him build houses and saw him laying foundations. As I recall, a foundation took some time for him to build. He used different types of material and added different strengths of wood to make the foundation of the house secure. In Matthew 7:24-27 Jesus said, “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rains comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.” So too each time we study and obey the word we’re building and strengthening our roots in Christ. Each time we hear the word and purpose to act on it, we are fortifying our lives against the sure torrents, floodwaters and winds that Jesus said would beat against our house. In the same manner, hearing but not understanding or not having a fertile, willing or obedient heart is like building your house on sand and still hoping everything will work out. These things weaken us and destroy what little roots we have.

If you look closely at the photo above you will see that many trees were left standing.

1 Peter 5: 8 & 9 tells us to “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.” That tells me that it isn’t everyone that the enemy will be able to devour. Some people will be left standing. He is prowling around sending winds of adversity and the one who isn’t grounded in the word is the one who will most likely be blown over.

I want to encourage you today to give God’s word priority in your life. I don’t know where you are in your walk with Him but I know for sure, just like myself, you need the Word. I want change, you want change, but before the Word can bring any change or hold any value in our life decisions, we have to recognize how important it is. Commit to the Word. Purposely set aside time to read and study. A few minutes in the morning or at night while you’re sleepy (guilty many times 🙂 ) won’t bring the transformation you need. Saturate your mind with the Word so that it is fully renewed. Make time for the Word and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you. If possible at all, designate a time and place to meet with God, daily. Even though 5 minutes a day is better than nothing, it won’t bring the mind renewal that is needed to change us from the inside out. The more time you give to the Word, the more you will hear and the more you hear the more understanding will be given. Mark 4: 24 & 25. It’s not enough to just hear the Word from the pulpit or read what someone else has written. These are all good but we need to hear from God for ourselves and His primary way of speaking to us is through His Word by His Holy Spirit.

I can tell you personally that the Word has been my saving grace. I was a very weak person emotionally for many years but I have been strengthened on the inside and continue to receive strength daily from the Word. It has brought me from a life of no purpose to one of fulfillment. Yes, there are still things and changes that I desire in this life, but I am so content and happy in Jesus that I already feel as though I have attained it all.

None of us can escape the storms of life. Jesus, our Lord and Savior, our deliverer said, in John 16:33 “In this world ye shall have tribulations: but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” How do we overcome? We overcome by the Word. When hurricane force-like winds of frustration come, tornado warnings of bad economic times, and Tsunami waves of worry over your children, your job, your health, your marriage and even your future come, only the person who has built their house on the solid rock of the Word can stand.

“A healthy tree is able to move (flex) in the wind, which is exactly what prevents it from breaking apart during a storm (www.savatree.com).”

You don’t have to be destroyed because of a storm in your life but like a healthy tree you are able to flex in the wind. You may sway a bit under pressure, some fear may initially come because of a doctor’s report, you may cry when it seems as though things are getting worse instead of getting better. But If you have built your house on the solid foundation of the Rock, instead of worrying you can soar above your problems and use that stormy time to glorify God and encourage someone else who may be drowning.

For many years as christian I paid lip service to God. I wasn’t seeking Him with my whole heart, just reading and quoting a few verses here and there. Then I got sick and tired of the hypocrisy and started to prioritize God’s word in my life and as I dug into the word He began to reveal Himself to me. I am no more special to Him than you are and He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Heb11:6). We can have no permanent change without the Word of God. Positive thinking and good associations can only take us so far.

The life of God is in His word and it’s available to anyone of us who is willing to take the time to get to know Him. He wants to be known of you, do you want to know Him?

Pause and Ponder

Where do you stand when it comes to Scriptures? Do you just go through life making your own way and hoping God would bless it? If you have never taken the time to regularly study the Word you can start now. Don’t feel guilty if you haven’t been reading and studying the Holy Scriptures, the past is the past and there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Make the commitment today to start afresh and I invite you to come back here and share what this life-giving Word is doing for you.

Prayer

Father, we are so grateful today for your mercies. Thank You that everyday you give us brand new mercies for whatever we would face. We thank you for Your Word that is our hope in time of need and today we make a new commitment to devote more time to hear from you. We are grateful for Your Holy Spirit, our teacher, and we open our hearts with eagerness and excitement to hear from you. In Jesus name. Amen.

Blessings and thank you for reading.

Vickie

The Intimate God of Love!

For God so loved

The depth of God’s love is revealed by His intimacy and familiarity

It has been said that the healthiest relationships are the ones that are the most intimate. A relationship where a couple finishes each other’s sentences and knows what the other is thinking before it is even uttered. The intimacy is so obvious to those around and so natural to those involved. We look at a twin and are almost confounded as to the closeness between them, marveling at the phenomena of how they almost seem to be one person. As great as all that is, think about God and how close He is to His creation. His love is more intimate than any two human beings could ever experience. God’s love is displayed throughout the Word from Genesis to Revelation and He cares so deeply for His own that He never slumber nor sleep (Psalm 121:4). God is so intimate with man that He breathed His very life into him. That love was expressed in the Person of His Son Jesus Christ.

We can never truly understand or fully explain God and His ways, but let us take a moment and see how familiar God is with us that He knows us better than we know ourselves.

Look first at how He takes care of other creatures. The birds of the air, according to Matthew 10:29, are so cheap you can hardly put a price on them. One is worth a farthing, which in today’s money is like less than two pennies and five are worth two farthings. By all rights these birds are so useless who should worry about them? Yet, the  Word says God looks after these birds everyday. Not one time we see birds on the ground do they Birds of the air
look worried. They know they will be taken care of. Even in places where the signs say, ‘do not feed the birds’ there is always someone who will still bring a bag of bread or food for the birds. God has put systems in place so that all of His creations are taken care of. Birds are fed and flowers are maintained throughout their life span.

Think a little deeper about this: birds don’t ever look depressed. We don’t see them walking around hanging their heads wondering how they are going to eat today or where they will sleep tonight. The law of sowing and reaping means that when we plant we can expect a harvest and when we give we can expect to reap a blessing. Yet, the Word says these birds neither sow, nor reap and still their heavenly Father looks after them. Not one of them falls to the ground without God’s knowledge. He is such a caring God that He puts value on the valueless by taking good care of them. How much more are you worth than a farthing? Compare yourself to one of those two-penny birds that you see picking around the car park or on the back porch of your house. Do you honestly believe it when the Word says that you are worth much more than they? If you do, then know God will take care of you. God is very much aware of these birds and lilies of the field and He is committed to caring for them, so what about us?

Let’s have a quick look at the lilies: (Luke 12:27) they neither toil, spin, nor weave and I am sure they don’t take time to beautify themselves, yet when we see them they are so gorgeous. God provides water and nourishment so that their beauty is displayed gloriously even though they contribute nothing. They don’t work up a sweat to grow beautiful and pretty nor do they stay around for a long time, still He takes time to clothe them in beauty. What about you? What about you whom He created in His very image? What about you that He fearfully and Rosewonderfully made? Would He so carefully and intricately form us then leave or abandon us? Search deep and compare yourself to the lilies. Are you worth more then they? Roses and orchids are favorite flowers all around the world and people spend millions buying them, but aren’t you more valuable than a rose or an orchid, as beautiful as they are?

God loved His creation so much that He didn’t send a substitute when we needed a Savior. He sent His one and only beloved Son Jesus to die for us and promised that He would send a Comforter after Jesus went back to heaven. He kept His word. He promised to look after us and will not go back on that promise. Our job here on earth is to build God’s kingdom and God’s job in heaven is to look after us. He looks after His own and we belong to Him. What a great sense of security that should bring us.

Matthew 10:30 tells us the very hairs of our head are numbered. I have always had short hair so it has never been much of a problem to maintain. I see others with very long hair and I think to myself, it looks beautiful on them but I just wouldn’t want that much hair. However, as short as my hair is in comparison to others I still could never count the hairs of my head. Not my husband or one of my children could count the hairs on my head. To even try to think of it and start to do such a thing they would have to spend plenty of time with me. Still then I doubt they could get it done. God is an intimate God. He is so close to us that He knows how much hair each of us have on our head. Have you stopped and meditated on that? It’s either mind-blowing or hair-raising, just to think of it :).

I think that we read something like that and don’t take it literally but the bible never said it was a parable. It is a fact. God knows how many hundreds of thousands of strands of hair you have on your head and with my short hair He knows how many hundreds of strands I have. He doesn’t work in mass production. God knows each of us intimately.

As objects of His love there is no place we can go that He doesn’t know of, nor a word that comes from our mouths that He isn’t aware of even before we speak it. His omniscience is not something to overwhelm us when we think about it, but a sign of His protection and evidence of His love and care.

With this view in mind we ought to spend more time praising and thanking God rather than worrying about what we will eat, where we will sleep or what we will wear. To have the God of the universe so actively and intimately involve in our daily lives should be enough to cause us to sleep like babies at night. As christians we should be the most cheerful people around because we know that we have a God who is so familiar with every facet of our lives. His Word says that while the pagan world is greedily seeking after these things like shelter and clothing, our Father already knows that we need them (Luke 12:30) and provides them.

I want to encourage you today to take the Word and personalize it. Make it real to you. It is great to know that God is working in other people’s lives and we cheer them on for that, but isn’t it time that the applause was for you? Jesus says to YOU, “Do not be seized with alarm and struck with fear, little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” Take this now word that Jesus gave over 2000 years ago and stand on it today. Meditate on it so that it will be as real to you as the very breath you breathe. Life is much more than the physical that we see everyday. True life is found in Christ. As you seek Him out and draw close to Him, for sure He will draw close to you. He is so intimate that your face is indelibly imprinted on the palm of each of His hands (Isaiah 49:16). He breathed His very breath into you. Can He get any closer?

PAUSE and PONDER

Have you been feeling unloved lately? Take some time today to reflect on the fact that God cares for you. His love for you is not based on your performance but on what Jesus did. Don’t go by what you feel. Your feelings many times are a reflection of the questions inside you and they are not always reliable. Relate to God by faith, take Him at His Word and allow Him to reveal His love for you.

PRAYER

Father in heaven, thank You so much for sending Your Son Jesus. Thank You for revealing Your love for me today and showing me how much You care. Holy Spirit help me to open my heart and receive the love that God so freely gives. Lord, thank You for loving me so deeply and so unconditional, in Jesus name. Amen

Blessings and thank you for reading.

Vickie