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.
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.
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”.
“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?”
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.