Glimpses or Wellspring

Sunrise on the farm

One of our security cameras caught a picture of the sunrise as Mandee left to take Mia to school yesterday. I was talking with a vendor at work who commented on how beautiful it is here where we live, and I had to agree. We have beautiful sunrises, beautiful mountain views, and we see surprises of new beauty from nature every day. We also saw a new resident on the farm that we have named “Charlie”, or “Chuck” for short. We were sitting at the kitchen table eating lunch, and Mandee exclaimed, “What is that?! Is that an animal?” So I grabbed my “good camera” and snapped on a zoom lens and was able to get a quick picture of Charlie.

Charlie the Woodchuck

Since my wife was getting ready and putting on her makeup this morning, I read our family devotional with Mia, Olive, Pompom, and I all snuggled up in our bed. And as I began reading, Mandee chuckled to herself about the fact that it started out “Man looks at the outward appearance but I look at the heart” while she was putting on her makeup.

Jesus Always – Feb 26

But this morning’s devotional wasn’t just about the outward display of God’s handiwork, or just about glimpses of His glory in nature, or just about warnings about letting ourselves get hung up on outward appearances.

No, the most important piece of the devotion that we needed to hear was to “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” And in case we were too sleepy eyed, or distracted, or foolish to realize that was the most important thing — like a good teacher laying hints during review for a test — the Word of God clearly emphasizes this by starting out “Above all else”.

A Wellspring in Nature

“Above all else” seems pretty important, don’t you think?

My mom and I talked about the state of the church in America on the phone last night, and how instead of ” guarding their own hearts” and insisting it is a “wellspring of life” — it seems like much of mainstream conservatism has become complacent and primarily focused on telling people what they should be “afraid of”, what they should be “offended by”, what they should be “loudly opposed to”. Outward appearance and loud demonstration “against things” seems to have grown to be the keynote for too many religious discussions — while too few focus on asking:

“What is the source of this fear? What is flooding fear into our hearts, and therefore flooding words of fear from our mouths and fearful posts from our social media influence?”

“What is the source of this offense? What is flooding offense into our hearts,  and therefore flooding words of fear from our mouths and offended and offensive posts in our social media influence?”

“What is the source of this opposition and divisiveness? What is flooding divisiveness into our hearts,  and therefore flooding words of exclusivity from our mouths and divisive posts in our social media influence?”

Polluted Waters

Some might say with pointed fingers that “What THEY are doing is causing us to act this way!” But Jesus explains how defilement happens quite clearly:

After He called the people to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen [carefully] to Me, all of you, [hear] and understand [what I am saying]: there is nothing outside a man [such as food] which by going into him can defile him [morally or spiritually]; but the things which come out of [the heart of] a man are what defile and dishonor him. [ If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” ] When Jesus had left the crowd and gone into the house, His disciples asked Him about the parable. And He said to them, “Are you, too, so foolish and lacking in understanding? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile and dishonor him, since it does not enter his heart, but [only] his stomach, and [from there it] is eliminated?” ( By this, He declared all foods ceremonially clean.) And He said, “Whatever comes from [the heart of] a man, that is what defiles and dishonors him. For from within, [that is] out the heart of men, come base and malevolent thoughts and schemes, acts of sexual immorality, thefts, murders, adulteries, acts of greed and covetousness, wickedness, deceit, unrestrained conduct, envy and jealousy, slander and profanity, arrogance and self-righteousness and foolishness (poor judgment). All these evil things [schemes and desires] come from within and defile and dishonor the man.”
Mark 7:14‭-‬23 AMP

Yes, He is talking about physical food not defiling us, but we “consume” more from television and the Internet these days than we could ever consume with our mouths to fill our newly expanded quarantine bellies. Do we fear that TV show or website or vaccine or implant because we think that it might “defile us” and that it is the “mark of the beast”? Or is the real fear that the real source of the “wellspring of our heart” might be those things Jesus described as the true mark of the beast, the true means of discerning whose are children of a very different Father. Those things that rise up from within the ravenous wolves to be visible beyond the white washed outward imitation of sheep.

Let’s contrast what comes out of the heart of men:

out the heart of men, come base and malevolent thoughts and schemes, acts of sexual immorality, thefts, murders, adulteries, acts of greed and covetousness, wickedness, deceit, unrestrained conduct, envy and jealousy, slander and profanity, arrogance and self-righteousness and foolishness (poor judgment).” – Mark 7:

Now the practices of the sinful nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), idolatry, sorcery, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies], envy, drunkenness, riotous behavior, and other things like these. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” – Galatians 5:19‭-‬21 AMP

To what springs forth from the Holy Spirit of God:

But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature together with its passions and appetites. If we [claim to] live by the [Holy] Spirit, we must also walk by the Spirit [with personal integrity, godly character, and moral courage—our conduct empowered by the Holy Spirit]. We must not become conceited, challenging or provoking one another, envying one another.
Galatians 5:22‭-‬26 AMP

First, we must ask, “Does His pure life flow through me, or is my wellspring from something polluted and impure?”

If you see the need for change… for a new wellspring inside, beloved…

Do you believe with your heart in Christ as Savior, and confess your faith in Jesus openly with your life?

because if you acknowledge and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord [recognizing His power, authority, and majesty as God], and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart a person believes [in Christ as Savior] resulting in his justification [that is, being made righteous—being freed of the guilt of sin and made acceptable to God]; and with the mouth he acknowledges and confesses [his faith openly], resulting in and confirming [his] salvation. For the Scripture says, “W hoever believes in H im [whoever adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] will not be disappointed [in his expectations].”
Romans 10:9‭-‬11 AM

Do you ask Him for the Holy Spirit, this wellspring of life, an abundant supply of His character, nature, and presence in your life?

So I say to you, ask and keep on asking, and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking, and you will find; knock and keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking [persistently], receives; and he who keeps on seeking [persistently], finds; and to him who keeps on knocking [persistently], the door will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you, then, being evil [that is, sinful by nature], know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask and continue to ask Him!
Luke 11:9‭-‬13 AMP

Thank you, Lord, for being our wellspring. Amen.

[Spruce Pine] Proverbs 4 Questions

Chapter 4 – Heart to Listen

1) What did his father teach him? (Verses 4-9)

2) What do the wicked do? (Verses 16-17, 19)

3) What are we to guard above all else? (Verse 23)

4) What did we learn in chapter 3 verse 3 is supposed to be written there?

Cross References

How do Jesus’s words in Matthew 5:8 and Luke 6:45 agree with and confirm what we have learned in Proverbs chapter 4?

Our hearts on display

“Blessed  are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:3-12 NKJV

Many days,  I feel like a dead man walking. I examine myself to show myself approved and I find myself unworthy – I realize where I fall short of bringing glory and honor to God. I look at His perfect, blameless example and in comparison when I examine close enough, there always seems to be a blemish to be found in myself. So if perfection is my goal, I am doomed,  and my life is worth little more than being a warning to others about the wrath of God. Yes, this is the mentality that religion plants in our heads when we only get as far as measuring ourselves.

He searches the world for those poor in spirit, not those standing proud and strong under their own type of “goodness” under their own striving – because our works are filthy rags before a perfect, holy, and righteous God.

What do the proud, perfect, comfortable and secure of this world have to mourn about? But His Saints, we have much to mourn about as we walk this foreign land as strangers trying to swim against the current of a multitude of sinners chasing their passions and addictions and vices and pleasures in this world. I say trying because we too will slip at times when wearied and distracted and caught with our eyes off of the prize.

So we are humbled by our need for mercy,  and in realizing our own need for mercy,  we can keep ourselves level at the foot of the cross with everyone else. We can extend mercy instead of condemnation towards those who are trying, who are trusting God even when they cannot trust themselves.

Yes, it is our hunger and thirst for righteousness – a hunger for it, not the full possession of it – that leads us towards that eventual goal where our hearts might be profited so that we could see the face of God. But we are not discouraged by our constant measuring and examination and finding our shortcomings one after another. We are praying for the refining fires, the trials, the persecutions where we can demonstrate peace, where His Holy Spirit can be manifest in our life in face of the enemy traps.

The world would say, you fool, pray for wealth and success and health and a long life. But that prayer is for those who love their lives and love this world. We long for our Lord, and He is the only portion and prize that will satisfy our hunger and thirst. We have nothing of worth but our testimony about His Good News and our garments washed by the Blood of the Lamb – because this life is of no value to us until we are in His presence where we will be judged for every word and action.

We will be judged by our heart itself – by the source of our true desires – because faith does not exist in our words or even in our works. Faith exists in the truth about our guiding Spirit – and everything hidden in darkness will be brought into the light. Every secret, every hidden thing of our heart will be laid bare upon the altar of the Lord to reveal who we really are that day.

Lord, teach us, change us. Don’t let us remain in those old ways. Kill this old man of flesh that battles us daily, overcome these enemies that attack is from the shadows daily, and feed, nourish, and strengthen our Spirit to be in agreement with your Holy Spirit. Amen.

I can have my hearts desire

I can have my heart’s desire.

I wonder if that is as much of a warning as it should be, or if people glance over it as being a Hallmark greeting card, a promise for prosperity.

I wonder what percentage of most church goers’ budgets go to tithing, helping the needy, supporting orphans and widows. I wonder what percentage of their time is dedicated to loving God and loving others,  remembering Christ, surrendering their will to be a living sacrifice to honor the Lord?

I wonder what percentage of most organized religions budgets actually go to help the needy,  the addicted, the widows and the orphans who have no money to offer in return for the services provided? Compared to how much money is spent to provide services and benefits and comfort to those who will bring in more money.

How often do I examine my expenses to see what it tells me about my priorities?

How often do I examine the use of my time to see what it tells me about my priorities?

Is God clearly a priority or just an after thought?

Don’t my priorities truly reflect my heart’s desire?

If I am trusting an organization with the Lord’s money, what does their budget say about their priorities?

Do these priorities line up with the biblical call placed upon bodies of Christ followers serving as His Kingdom come on earth, as the body of Christ alive and at work reconciling this world to Christ?

Are they preferential towards those that can benefit them or are they open handed to the poor who have no material benefits to offer them?

Are they building up cults of personality following a charismatic teacher, there for the show,  just to have them all turn away when they encounter the cost of Discipleship,  a dedicated,  life-long commitment to becoming more like Christ?

“One who is  faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.  If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?  And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?  No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
Luke 16:10-13 ESV

Are we proving ourselves trustworthy with the resources entrusted to us by God, and are we using them to His glory and honor?

Are we trusting our eternally valuable souls to those whom we can’t even trust to make proper use of money?

We are to be like Christ.

1 John 2:6 ESV
Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

1 Corinthians 11:1 ESV
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

1 Peter 2:21 ESV
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Christ is perfect. We are to be reconciled to Christ,  glory upon glory,  becoming more like Christ. Striving for perfection, walking His walk.

John 13:13-17
You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV
To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Galatians 3:27 ESV
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Romans 8:29 ESV
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

Is it our heart’s desire to be more like Christ? Do we desire Him most of all?

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:36-40 NLT