Opening My Heart

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)

Trust is listening, accepting and doing the work of God. Before we can trust Him, we have to be willing to be open with Him.

Trust is a frightening prospect in any relationship, including with the Lord. It is a vulnerable place to be. Trust is letting someone else influence you. When you trust the Lord, you are willing to risk the opinions of the world to serve Him.

Before we can trust, we have to be willing to open our heart to the Lord. If we don’t fully open up to Him, we will always be held back in our trust. Asking the Lord to prove Himself before we are willing to walk with Him is a conditional relationship. He wants unconditional access to our hearts and our lives.

Opening our hearts means practicing coming before Him in our daily life and being willing to trust Him. If we hold back our willingness, we are holding back our connection with Him.

When you come before Him, ask yourself and Him if there’s any part of you that is being held back. Maybe there’s fear about what He’ll ask you do, or maybe you are afraid of Him not answering a prayer. Maybe you are struggling to submit your family to Him or your work.

The Bible talks about the Lord testing your heart. Ask Him to test it and find what’s in it that you are holding back. Where are your feelings closed off? Where are you shutting a door in your mind, asking Him not to go there?

As your willingness to open your heart before Him grows, your ability to trust Him will grow. You will experience His faithfulness and His gentleness in leading you through your day.

Trust opens doors to a deeper and more life-altering relationship with the Lord. We can’t force trust or demand it. Instead, we grow into it by being willing to be vulnerable with Him in our mind and hearts.

Am I Good Ground?

In the Bible, Jesus tells a story about a farmer who scatters seeds on the ground; some seeds take root and grow while others, for various reasons, don’t. The seeds represent people and how they react when they hear the truth of God. In the story, only one place that the seeds land  allows them to take root, grow strong and produce fruit. That place is the fertile ground that represents a willing and listening heart.

Most of us assume that we are the fertile soil. We think that when we hear the truth of God, that we are ready and able to lap it up and grow. Assumptions can blind us to areas that need work, though. Not everyone is good ground, but all can be if we open our heart and mind to the Lord.

Willingness to receive anything means that you are open to be given something. Openness invites in; it doesn’t shut out. It means letting the experience of God be worth the risk of being wrong. It defies the fear of being made fun of. It allows the new thing to be explored and learned about.

With each new idea that we encounter, we have to choose if we are going to let it in and then choose whether or not we will allow it to help change us. When we hear the truth of God, whether it is the first time we hear the gospel of Jesus or a new insight from His Word, we must make the choice to let it in. We have to mull it over and think about the truth of it and the practicality of it.  If we look into new ideas and seek to find the joy of God in them, we will be changed.

Good soil listens and hopes and celebrates as new ideas about God are brought to them. Applying God’s truth to our lives is the growth part of being good ground. We try on the new idea for size. We see if it fits us and what it means for our lives. Good soil is a willingness to change if the Lord desires that change within us.

God says, ”I create good soil and I nurture it and fill it full of good nutrients. When my Work falls on the prepared ground, I am there to help it grow and find life in my truth. Listen to me and be ready for all that I have planned.”

Following Christ

Following Christ is a very personal and internal decision. It is something that only you can determine to do. By listening to the Lord, you are able to live in His power and might. Each day we walk with Him is a day filled with joy and comfort. There are days, however, when we may not feel as confident that we’re walking in step with Him.

Each day in God’s presence is a confidence-building day. Walking next to Him builds our understanding of Him and helps us to grow in the knowledge of Him. Each day outside of His presence brings confusion. Walking apart from Him causes us to lose hold of our connection with Him and who He made us to be.

No one can tell if you have committed your heart to the Lord. However, others can see the fruit in your life and how it is helping you to grow. When you are filling your heart with the teachings of God, you grow in the good fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Growing with the Lord means seeing more results like these in your life.

Following after your own ways leads to sin growing in you. Old habits can come back or new sins can creep in. The good fruit in your life is inconsistent or non-existent. Judgment toward others clouds your relationships. You demand your own way and put yourself above others.

Growing in the Lord means that you are reaching for His Spirit and His truth. Finding your way in Him isn’t a path to perfection for the sake of self-improvement; instead, it’s a journey of joy to find freedom in Him.

Talk to the Lord about your walk. Ask Him if He sees you as a growing Christian. In addition, take a look at your fruit. There should always be change toward a deeper relationship with Him, no matter how long you’ve been walking along side Him. Find a fresh truth and awareness of Him and see more of an ability in your life to be free in His name.

God's Words both build us up and destory us - Jeremiah 1:9-10

To Destroy and To Build

Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” – Jeremiah 1:9-10 ESV

The book of the prophet Jeremiah in the Old Testament opens with Jeremiah talking about his call to be a prophet to the people. In this passage, as God is telling Jeremiah about the work he is to do, God tells him about the power of His words. God says that the words He put into Jeremiah’s mouth were, “to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” This dichotomy of purpose in the words Jeremiah will speak can be applied to our lives as well.

The first thing is to notice that the opposites here are referring to removing and giving. In other words, God will bring into our life, through us listening to Him, a flow of things. Sometimes things will come in, and sometimes things will go out. Ecclesiastes confirms this as well with the passage, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). We need to acknowledge that there is time for being built up and receiving and there is a time for allowing ourselves to be destroyed.

Wait, that doesn’t sound right, does it? Why would God want to destroy something in our life? The obvious answer is that sin is in us and needs to be taken out. Seems simple enough, but yet it is often this work of tearing down that we fight.

When we think about who we are, we often have an image that God will keep adding or giving or teaching us where we are at. We become more and more like Him and this is how we go for the rest of our lives. Have you ever opened a cupboard or closet door and had things fall out on you? The storage space was too full to hold in all the things that were supposed to be in there. This is what happens to us if we keep wanting God to add and build, but we aren’t willing to let go of anything.

What falls out of the cupboard when it’s opened? The dusty things in the back that are covered in other dusty things? No, the thing that we’ve just put in, because that’s what we don’t have room for. If we want God to be giving us new words and new understandings, we must be willing to admit there are things that have to go.

When we first become a Christian, this isn’t all that hard. There are many things we can pull out and get rid of. In fact, we feel lighter and lighter as we hand off burdens and cares. He begins to heal us and to grow us.

After we’ve walked with the Lord for a while, we start having trouble finding the dusty things that can be cleared out. The trouble is that now the things the Lord is destroying in us are deeper and more personal. Pride stands in the way and says, “That’s not a sin, that’s just my personality!” There are behaviors we do that are driven by fear or selfishness that we’ve done so long, we can barely recognize them as problems.

We find that instead of simply removing problem behaviors, God wants to start changing our view of our very identity. He wants us to stop defining ourselves by our past and our troubles and our reactions and instead start defining ourselves in Him. We cling to our identity very tightly. The idea of letting go of who we think we are, even if we know it’s to experience who we could be, is terrifying.

But it must happen.  He has to have access to destroy anything in the dusty, dark recesses of our spiritual cupboard that He knows is keeping us from being built up. Only then can we be ready to accept the new truth He’s teaching us so we can begin to grow and be built up. He will build us up; He promises. We have to trust Him enough to give up anything and everything He’s asking to destroy from out of ourselves.