John 15:1, 4, 5, 8 ““I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.””
As Christians, we know that life change begins with heart change. Try as we might, though, we can do nothing to change our heart. God and God alone can change the heart. But that doesn’t mean that we have no responsibility with regards to what God does. He doesn’t barge into our lives uninvited. He doesn’t do whatever he wants unless we allow him to. For our part, we must position our heart in such a way that it can “see” God and make the change possible. This transformation is not so much about doing as it is about being. The process of heart change can only happen when we are connected to him. We are the ones who choose to either be connected or disconnected. We are the ones responsible then, for whether our heart is in “position” for God to use it to produce fruit. Fruit is the sign of a “true disciple”. Without the connection, we can produce nothing. A disconnected branch is only good for the ‘burn pile’. We will not see the “fruit” of heart change, then, unless we choose to abide in Him. When we connect, we are saying ‘yes’ to God doing his work in us.
Pray: “Dear Heavenly Father, my hope of heart change does not rest in your willingness but in my choosing to position my heart so that it is connected to you. In Jesus’ matchless name, I choose today to connect my heart to the vine…do your work in me, Oh Lord – Amen.”
Colossians 3:2 “Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.”
Proverbs 4:23 “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
God never changes, never moves. If our heart is not focused on him, it is not because he has gone anywhere. He is not out of position…our heart is. So, what does it mean to keep our hearts focused on him? How do we make sure we stay ‘connected’? After all, scripture is quite clear that it is up to us. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul said we are to “think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth”. We are the ones who control what we choose to toss from our heads and what we choose to linger and dwell on. The “things of earth” will always seek to distract the heart and tempt it away from the “things of heaven”. That is why in Proverbs, Solomon tells us to “guard” our heart. It doesn’t say God will. It says we must. Guard it from what? A guard’s job is to insure nothing dangerous is allowed entry. We decide what we choose to let in and what we choose to exclude. The heart will never change if it is constantly being pulled towards heaven and earth at the same time. But only you can choose which one will win out.
Pray: “Father…I cannot allow both you and the world to fill my heart. I must choose. In your Son’s powerful name, help me to guard my heart, to think only on things of you, and keep out those things that will keep my heart from real change – Amen.”
Ephesians 1:18 “having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,”
Describing the heart as having “eyes” is a personification meant to indicate that the heart can “see” something. The heart we talk about is not the blood-pumping organ we think of but the seat of all we believe, desire, and hold dearest to us. It can be thought of as a lens through which we see the world. The position of the heart, then, will determine what the heart sees. If it is constantly looking behind, it will only see what has been and what it used to be. If it focuses on the chaos and trouble around us, that is all it will see. That is what will “inform” the heart. But we choose what we leave our gaze on. When Peter climbed out of the boat, his eyes were clearly focused on Jesus. His heart trusted in what it saw and so he was able to do what he would never be able to otherwise. As soon as his gaze wandered, the “old” truth rushed in which said you can’t be standing on this water…and he sunk. It is only the truth that can cause the eyes of our heart to be “enlightened.” And that truth is not found in the world. It is found in God’s word alone.
Pray: “Lord God, let your word cast the scales from the eyes of my heart that the world has placed there. It must see the truth if the truth is to change it. In your Son’s holy name, let your word light my way I humbly pray – Amen.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”
2 Peter 1:3 “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.”
God wrote a book. It wasn’t a book for our entertainment although it is very entertaining. It wasn’t a work of fiction since everything in it is both historical and accurate. It isn’t a work of fantasy though many futuristic things are spoken of and unexplainable, supernatural events happen. It isn’t a romance…although it is a love story. It is the most complete “how-to” book ever written. It is a guidebook for our journey. It is a trouble-shooting manual for all of life’s problems. It is also a biography of our creator…our God. It is not the sum of all wisdom and knowledge but it points us to the sum of all wisdom and knowledge. It teaches truth and so it can also be used to correct error. It gives us confidence that right and wrong do exist and can be known and understood. It has a purpose: to prepare us for the good works God has commissioned us to do. It contains “everything” we need to live a godly life. It is for that reason we are to “trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Something will position your heart. It will either be God’s word or the world.
Pray: “Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of your word. No book ever written is more important. No book can change lives and change hearts like yours. In the name of my blessed Lord and Savior, let it never gather dust on a shelf but let it be read, studied, meditated on and engraved upon the tablet of my heart – Amen.”
Philippians 1:6 “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
As the church comes together to learn, study and share God’s word both in corporate Sunday worship and in more intimate small group surroundings, it provides an opportunity for us to “knit our hearts together in love” (Colossians 2:2) and to “bear each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). We encourage each other in the word. We give hands to the scripture that teaches us to “do good to everyone – especially those of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). Many people give Christianity “a try” but soon abandon it when they don’t get what they want from it. They usually blame God for everything not working out. Sadly, they don’t fully understand that God never fails but we often do. Even believers sometimes struggle. They know that at the beginning, God was everything. Everything was new, amazing and eye-opening. But soon the world reminds us that we aren’t home yet. We sometimes look back longing for the way things were – believing perhaps that our best times with the Lord are behind. But if God is continuing the “good work” he began in you, then we can be assured that the best days for us are still ahead. Devotion to God and devotion to each other are sure signs of a changed heart.
Pray: Lord God, I don’t want to be a ‘consumer’ in our family’s “house” – I want to be a giver. But I cannot give what I do not have. In Jesus’ mighty name, teach me that I might have something to share, change me that I might be willing to share, and in my abundance let me remember that all I have belongs to you so that my hands will always be ready to let go when someone is in need – Amen.”