What’s in your heart? Where is your treasure?

Scripture often reminds me of how much Jesus knew about what was in the hearts of people. Of course He did, He is God! The heart – the center of our being, not just physically but in a spiritual sense – is what motivates who we are and what we do. The Bible talks about the heart almost 1000 times. 

The Lord says that “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” Jeremiah 17:9.  This sounds pretty harsh, but God through Jeremiah was issuing a warning for us to be mindful of who we are in the natural….sinners.    

The best example of this can be seen in toddlers

I love my grandchildren, most of whom have not reached the age of accountability. So regardless of their actions, they would be a recipient of heaven if they died today. Praise God for that! It is amazing though how selfish and disobedient toddlers can be. This is the natural, undisciplined wickedness we are born with. It either grows into more rebellion as we mature, or changes once we enter into a relationship with the Lord, growing in love for God and spiritual discipline. Even then we are subject to relapses and failure, being human, which the Bible points out we need to learn from.

King David – an example of repentance and consequences

King David was identified as a man after God’s own heart. In Acts 13:22, the Lord said, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, he will do anything I want him to do.”

But wait, didn’t David fail in a big way when he committed adultery and murder to cover it up? Yes, he did. Here’s the thing though. In Psalm 51, King David pleads with God to create a clean heart in him after he commits these sins. Because of his repentance, he was restored but not without consequence.  

The good news? God restores us when we are honestly sorry, ask for forgiveness and learn from our sin. This means turning from that behavior in repentance, doing an about-face and choosing to walk in the light. But there are consequences to what we do, and it seems had David been using his time more wisely, practiced discipline and gone to battle with his men, this may not have happened.   

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also

I have heard it said that how a person spends their time and money tells others a lot about what matters to them. For the people of God, it should be obvious.  Jesus tells us, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moths nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”—Matthew 6:19-21 

This is pretty clear and there’s no ambiguity in this. Now, we are expected to be wise about taking care of and providing for our families which involves a certain level of planning, but it is planning with God at the center of it considering biblical principles. If our treasures are so earthly focused, making us no heavenly good in how we spend our time and money, there must be a realignment. In this me-focused world, it’s easy to get pulled into the “you deserve it” advertising, trying to keep up with what other family or friends have or are doing, or allowing social media platforms to consume too much of your time. 

If this is you – and admittedly over the years sometimes it has been me – we need to take a breath, pray, and remember tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. We can use this reminder to refocus our priorities on storing up treasures in heaven, where moth and rust can’t destroy and thieves can’t break in and steal. 

Today, let’s refocus our hearts on Christ, determine to have a heart after God and make His priorities our priorities. He knows your heart better than anyone, including all the good and the bad. It’s never too late to turn things around. With His help, you can.

If you would like to talk with someone about these things or know more about what it means to live life with Jesus, please contact us. We’d love to talk and pray with you.

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New Wine – God Pouring New Life into Us

In our church, we sing a song called New Wine. It has a lot to do with the condition of our heart. Jesus said in Mark that new wine is never placed into old wine skins because as the aggressive fermentation process permeates the skin – a previously used skin that is already worn and saturated will burst with the pressure.
 
Mark 2:21 – 22 (NASB) “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results. No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”

Mark’s implication is that our hearts are like wine skins, and God is always looking to pour new life from Himself into them. If our hearts are worn and saturated with an older fragrance, an older fermentation, we are not able to receive the new life He wants to pour into us.

Lamentations 3:22 – 23 reminds us, “The Lord’s lovingkindness indeed never ceases, for His compassions (mercies) never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (NASB)
In Isaiah He says, Isaiah 43:19 (KJV) Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
 
As creatures of habit, it’s easy to slip into even spiritual patterns that eventually become stale. While we may be content with the stale condition of our hearts, that sentiment may not be shared by the One who knows us and loves us most.

What God is looking for from us is a soft openness to His continual outpouring of His mercies (Lam. 3). That softness is actually what creates a new wine skin in us.

David said in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me”.
 
Paul put it this way, “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation. Behold, old things have passed away all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

That softness before Him gives Him the perfect conditions for creating something new in you and me. He pours in His newness of life and we are able to grow in Him as His Spirit permeates through the walls of our heart permanently becoming part of us down to the smallest fiber.

 
He instills in us a flavor and an aroma of His personal presence in us, and His character begins to flow from us as it matures into the fine quality of His vintage or timeless Holiness.
 
But, if we are stubborn, selfish, arrogant, rebellious or sullied by addiction to what we personally want, then He is unable to pour in Himself since the skins – our hearts- are too weak to sustain or withstand Him.

Today is a good day to start over… fresh.

 
Ask Him to create in you a new heart… to do something new in you… and show you how His mercies are new every morning.
 
check out The song, make it your prayer, and surrender to the work He is doing in your life today..
 

 
Author:
Lead Pastor, Faith Assembly

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Listening to God’s Call

The calling the Lord puts on your life – what is it?

 
I’m not talking about when you accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior. I’m talking about the calling that God puts on your life after that to further His kingdom.
I’m not sure I took this part of my walk in the Lord seriously enough early in my walk. When I first became a Christ-follower, I needed time to mature by reading the bible, praying, and just falling deeper in love with the Lord.
 
Still, when you embrace a love relationship with Jesus, His calling is already there waiting for you to live it out. At some point in our walk, we need pray that the Holy Spirit will show us what the Lord has for us to do through ministry in the Kingdom. The important part here is that the Holy Spirit – and your heart – are in line with His calling, then to obey and follow through with what the Lord has called you to do.
 
God’s calling for you could be serving in the church in some way, a ministry in your community, your neighbors and a multitude of more ways. There is no limit to what the Lord can call a child of His to do, and it is often a combination of areas. Remember though, the calling is to glorify God.
I love how the following scriptures call us to ministry:
Philippians 3:14
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
 
John 15:15
We did not choose Him, He choose us and appointed us to go out and bear fruit and it should abide (accept or act in accordance with this appointment).
 
Ephesians 4:4
There is one body and one Spirit- just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call.
 
I Peter 2:21 (our example)
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His footsteps.
 
When we talk about a “calling”, it can be kind of scary. However, in big ways and small, His Word lays out what His will is for our lives. Sometimes we make it too complicated. It’s really quite simple: God wants a servant’s heart willing to do what He asks, when He asks it, according to His will and guidance laid out in His Word. What has the Lord called you to do?
 
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The Challenge of Self-Control

Self-Control… those words roll of the tongue so easily, but are so much harder to live out.

I would like to look at this fruit of the Spirit through spiritual eyes, as opposed to the eyes of the world. Bible Gateway discusses self-control as being one of the basic Christian virtues, the mastery of self, and the exercise of restraint. Only through submitting our will to the work of the Holy Spirit can we expect to have self-control.

Self-control is a fruit that needs work on a daily basis. Just look at scripture and witness the choices people made in a moment of temptation. We can see some practiced self-control – and some did not. There are many places we can find the good, bad and ugly regarding self-control in the scriptures.
 
 
Here are just a few examples:
 

Genesis 3
Hello Adam and Eve. What if Eve would have practiced self-control, remembered God’s care and command, and simply said no? What if Adam would have stepped up as the leader God created him to be, said yes to self-control, said no to passivity, and no to temptation? Remember, Satan knew the right words to entice them to commit the first sin.

Genesis 39
Joseph is a slave in Egypt. At one point, the lady of the house tries to seduce Joseph, but he literally runs from her. Joseph made the right choice and used self-control. He resisted temptation, fled from certain death and as a result, fulfilled the destiny God had planned for him.

Proverbs 25:28
“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left with no walls. No walls means no defense, no safety and in time, certain destruction. When we talk of right and wrong on a spiritual level, we are talking about sinning or not sinning. So, when we decide on right or wrong in the sight of the Lord, we are choosing good or evil. And let us not forget – God hates evil – that is what sent His Son to the cross.

Galatians 5:19-23
There are 15 works of the flesh and 9 fruits of the Spirit all noted here. This shows Christ-followers this: we have to work twice as hard on the fruits of the Spirit to overcome the flesh. Our enemy knows the works of the flesh we deal with on a daily basis! Don’t be surprised – he will do anything he can to get our eyes off of Jesus and on to ourselves, tempt us to give in to what satisfies the flesh in an attempt to lead us away from Christ. So, know your stumbling blocks, and when the evil one comes to tempt you, use that fruit of the spirit – self-control.

Here’s the good news: God is always at our side to help us when we call.

 
We must call out to Jesus for help… every day. He has told us that no temptation is new, but is common to all. He has promised He will always provide a way of escape. Our job is to lean on the power of the Holy Spirit, look for the way of escape, and use self-control to take the right path. Lean into Him today, and let Him help you grow in self-control in every way.
 
Author: Ken Drew

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Defensiveness and Denial – The Two Issues of Cain – Part 2

The last time we visited the story of Cain, we looked at his issues with denial – and his refusal to acknowledge responsibility in his relationship with his brother. Today, let’s examine how denial played an even larger role in his relationship with God in Genesis 4:1 – 24.

The story opens with a brief introduction of the main characters – Cain and Abel – the two sons of Adam and Eve. When the boys become men, it’s time for them to take responsibility for their own relationships with God.

In time, they both offer sacrifices to God in worship from the fruit of their own labors. The next thing we know, God has accepted Abel’s offering of animal sacrifice but rejected Cain’s offering of grain. Cain responds to the rejection with anger and despondency. Later, he lures his brother out into a field to talk about it. In a moment of rage he strikes him, killing him.

I used to struggle just a bit with a small sense of injustice for Cain’s sake. How was he supposed to know God didn’t want an offering of vegetables? After all, God instituted a grain offering years later through Moses (Leviticus 2:1 – 15). Besides, this came from him and what he was good at doing. It kind of feels like the parent who doesn’t accept a small child’s art project because it wasn’t good enough.

Thing is, Cain knew exactly what he was doing. He was worshiping God on his own terms without care or concern for how God would feel about it. That’s not a healthy relationship. Let me explain…

 

The expulsion from Eden would have been far more devastating for his parents than we might think. The exclamation point of watching two animals get slaughtered to cover the nakedness of their lives after sin might have been far more personal than we realize… they weren’t likely just farm animals.

God’s covenantal relationship with them was established and sealed with blood, and Cain would have known the story all too well. For Cain, worshiping God on his own terms carries at least some similar characteristics to his parent’s sin. Cain wanted to be in control of the terms of the relationship rather than submitted to the expectations of someone else (God) like his brother, Abel.

Taking control places him beside God, which is similar to the enemy’s sin as well.

Even then, in a moment of mercy, God beckons Cain to see where he is, and to reach out in trust to Him when He says, “7If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7 NIV)

Denial keeps us from recognizing where we truly are by keeping us focused on only ourselves… our rights… our own version of justice or fairness. It keeps us from hearing the heart of someone else and finding the path to wholeness. Whenever that happens, both people are robbed of life. Often times, those effects play out in the lives of others in the vicinity.

 

Take a moment and ask yourself if you’re trying to be in control.

It may help you realize whether you’re in denial in your relationship with God and/or someone else in your life.

God was indeed reaching back to Cain. If only he had noticed God’s compassion before he crossed a line that stole Abel’s life… a theft that affected his parents, himself and all the members of the family he was about to have.

God is indeed reaching to you. Reach back to Him and let Him walk with you to restoration.
 
Author:
Faith Assembly

 


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Saturated and Full of God

One Sunday in November, Pastor Mike Gates and his wife (Living Hope Church, Elk Grove Village, IL) ministered to us while Pastor Jon and his family took some time off. During his message, he mentioned their church went through an in-depth study on being saturated by God, their ministries and church.
 
I tried to wrap my head around that idea. How does one be saturated by God? I looked up the definition of saturation and it said “to fill (something or someone) with something until no more can be held or absorbed”.
 
I remembered a message Pastor Jon shared with our church family using a sponge as his example. The sponge represented man. As the sponge absorbs water, it’s like man absorbing God. The result of man absorbing God is ‘saturation’ or the filling of our lives with the Lord’s presence and His ways. After thinking about this further, I concluded there are several areas of life we may need examine.
 

Our lives need to show those around us how the Lord is working in us – of course – but the real question is this: what does our heart really look like? Does it also shows the Lord’s work in it? Pretty important question since the heart is what the Lord looks at to determine where we are with Him. God works from the inside out.

 
How can we truly saturate ourselves with God?
We must actively give the Holy Spirit permission to reveal God to us – His glory, His path and all of His awesomeness.
When this happens, we start to absorb all the Lord has for us.
 

Ephesians 3:19 says: To know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge the you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. 

Acts 7:55 tells us: But being filled with the Holy Spirit he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
 

The bottom line for me is this: to know God to the fullest, serving Him completely requires we allow the Holy Spirit absolute control of every part of our life. By doing this, the natural outcome is to be saturated (or filled up) with God.

 
Let this song encourage you to pursue the fullness of God, allowing the Holy Spirit to consume us from the inside out.
 

Author:
Ken Drew, Elder

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