Words of the Heart

Matthew 15: 18

But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and those things defile the person.

Matthew 12:34

You offspring of vipers, how can you, being evil, express any good things? For the mouth speaks from that which fills the heart.

Jesus said that in the last days, wolves would come dressed as sheep so we must be adept at discerning who is of the truth and who is not. Jesus said you would know the wolves (and the sheep) by their fruit. Yesterday, I sent you the test. It comes out of Colossians 3 and Galatians 5. Here is another way to tell the difference between those who say they follow Jesus from those who actually do. Check the fruit of their mouth.

No one who is of Christ lies. Period. End of story. Does that mean if a person ever tells one lie they are devil spawn? No. It means they relaxed their guard for a moment, perhaps have not been spending enough time with the Lord. However, a habitual liar or one who doesn’t have a strong relationship with the truth is not a Christ disciple. I’ve said it before, lying comes from the devil’s house. You can’t dance to his tune and be in harmony with Jesus.

Other language will give one away too. Is the person’s language kind, gentle, peaceful, patient, filled with goodness and faith? Or are their words harsh, critical, and judgmental. You can tell what is in a person’s heart by what comes out of their mouths.

Wolves and Fruit

Matthew 7: 15-16

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.

Galatians 5: 22- 23

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Jesus gave us a warning in chapter 7 of Matthew. He told us that in these days there would be people who would represent themselves to us a part of the flock of Jesus but in reality, they are ravenous wolves who would devour us if we let them. Fear not though. There is a way we can tell real followers of Christ from those who pretend to be sincere believers. You will know them by their fruit Jesus said. “What fruit,” you ask. The fruit of their character.

Do not attempt discernment by listening to what they say. Anyone can say anything. That is what Jesus was pointing out when he said they would be dressed as sheep. They will say the right things and will sound convincing but ask yourself about their fruit. They can even quote scripture and sound all holy but Satan quotes scripture too. That is what he did in the temptation of Christ (Matthew 4: 6) Being able to quote scripture does not make you holy or a Christian.

Also do not let their works persuade you. These false people will do many of the things that the children of light do in order to appear as sheep rather than as their true selves. But our salvation and our redemption are not in works. They are in faith in Jesus Christ, our redeemer. As a matter of fact, these people may even be leaders in the church. They may be on every church committee. They may participate in charitable works. But these things don’t make you a Christian any more than swimming makes you a fish.

Jesus explained that the way we can know about people is to check the fruit that is on their tree. Galatians 5: 22 tells you what fruit to look for. While none of us is perfect, if Christ is really inside of you then, you should increasingly bear the fruit that is of Him. You cannot give yourself to Christ without His light showing through you. As you walk through life don’t be mislead by people who purport to be Christ centered. If they truly are, they will not have to tell you. You will see that their lives are characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

The Role of the Holy Spirit

John 14: 16               (Amplified Version)

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever.

I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s psalm, indeed that you are enjoying Psalm Mondays. It is a good way to start the week. Today I want to continue the series I began last week on the Holy Spirit. It is my hope that these several days we are spending on the Holy Spirit give you an inside look at who the Spirit is and what role he plays in our lives. You may want to copy these “Spirit” Words of the Day and paste them into a document of your own. Also, if you visit my website, www.iveyministries.org, you can search Spirit or Holy Spirit in the Daily Devotion tab and discover an entire treatise, practically, on the Holy Spirit.

The central role of the Holy Spirit and God’s main reason for sending Him to us is for the Holy Spirit to accompany us continually and aid us in whatever capacity necessary. That is why He is often referred to as the Helper. Jesus frequently called the Holy Spirit our “Helper.” If the kind of help we need is prayer, then the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. If we need strength, then He strengthens us. He was sent to us to be our constant companion, to standby us every minute of every day to help us in every situation. That is the role of God’s Holy Spirit. I think that is exhilarating. Just think, God’s own Spirit has been assigned the job of being with you constantly so that He can help you every second of every day. He is to stand by you and await any opportunity to aid you.

Now, some people may say, “Well, He doesn’t seem to be at my side helping me daily.” That could be true because one thing you can bet on is that the Holy Spirit of God is a gentleman. He must first be invited. He will not horn in on your life; He will not push his weight around on you. The Spirit of God is gentle. Remember that gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22). He is powerful but He absolutely will not force Himself on you. So just invite Him into your life. Give Him permission to take up permanent residence with you. You are going to experience a whole new life with God through His own Spirit when you do.

Armored Fruit

Proverb 3: 3

Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.

Within this short, little passage we have the makings of greatness. First of all, there is the command quality of the statement. It is a declarative sentence. It makes a statement, not a suggestion. Here wisdom is speaking; a wise father telling His kids what to do so that they will experience success. There is also a promise attached which is in the next verse. It promises favor and a good reputation in the sight of God and man if you will keep truth and kindness as your trademarks.

The command alone should be enough to compel us but if the command does not, the promise certainly should. Yet there is more. In this little verse we also see the application of the fruit of the Spirit and the armor of God. You see, kindness is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22). Truth is part of the armor of God (Ephesians 6: 14). Here God has combined his armor with the fruit of the Spirit. Your protection and success are here. God is leading us into success in all areas of our lives by teaching us to walk according to the Spirit instead of walking according to the flesh. If you walk by the Spirit, you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. The fruit will protect you from the lusts of the flesh. You have to decide to live by the Spirit though.

Secondly, God wants to protect you with His armor. Again, though, it is your decision to walk by truth instead of deceit. You have to choose to put on His armor. Then His protection surrounds you and you can call on all of His angels to reinforce you. Kindness and Truth will go before you like a guard. When you out of an act of your will, choose to operate in Kindness and in Truth, then you are marshaling the forces of God into your ranks as your soldiers. If you lie and deceive or behave unkindly, you are using the weapons of the enemy and you will defeat yourself.

God would have you wear kindness and truth close to you, even inscribe them on your heart. He wants you to do this so that He can cover you with His favor and bring all His blessings to your house. Don’t let the devil deceive you into lying and or being unkind. Don’t let him steal your blessings from you.

Fruit Bowl

Galatians 5: 22

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

We have seen that the Holy Spirit comes to us laden with gifts. When he moves in with us, he brings his gifts with him. The same is true of his fruit. Jesus told us to check people’s fruit, that in so doing we can know the nature of a person (Matthew 7: 16). Well, the Holy Spirit has fruit too.

As you re-read the list above, let me ask a question, is this the kind of person you would like to know? Do you want to hang out with people who bear this fruit? The Holy Spirit never loses control. He is always patient and kind, faithful and gentle and above all things, he is characterized by love. What a good buddy to have.

There is a second benefit to his fruit. When the Spirit moves in with you, his fruit fills the house. He lives in you and his fruit is also, therefore, resident within you. Most of us would like to be known to have the character traits listed in this verse. When the Spirit moves in with us, his fruit becomes part of us. We are learning that the Spirit is our leader, that part of his role is to guide us. He is also our teacher. As we follow his leading, we begin to release that which he teaches us. The more we follow him and yield to his ways and to those things which we learn with him, the more we manifest his characteristics. Becoming integrated with him yields the expression of his fruit.

The best part of this is that you do not have to change yourself. If you have been trying for years to become patient, quit. Yes, give up. Or should I say give in to the leading of the Spirit. You can spend the rest of your life trying to learn to be kind and probably never make it or you can simply yield to the leading of the Spirit and begin expressing kindness today. You can be an overnight sensation if you will let the Spirit lead you instead of yielding to your human frailties.

Invite him to become completely intertwined with you. Ask him to take up residence within you. Then begin practicing letting him speak to you and through you. It is a much less stressful way to live. I find that the more time I spend praying, the more I am able to release his ways. It is his desire to help you in everything you do today. He even wants to give you the fruit of his being. So, have a bowl full of Holy Spirit fruit and enjoy your day.

Power and Might

Daniel 11: 32

And by smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know God will display strength and take action.

God is not raising up a generation of weaklings. He has called us in strength and in the glory of his dear son. There will come those who will lead the weak spirited away. He will trick them by the eloquence of his speech but those who know the Word of God will recognize the lies. 

Jesus was tried by the tempter (See Matthew 4: 1 – 11). He tried to trick Jesus too but Jesus knew the Word. He could not be led astray. He defeated the devil’s scheme’s then and ever since. We learn from Daniel that because we are called according to Jesus’ victory, we too can display strength and we can take action.

Do not be fooled by those who come to you in smoothness of speech. Check their fruit. Are they demonstrating Galatians 5: 22 fruit? If not, step away. You are not required to be friends with everyone; you are only required to love them. Secondly, prepare yourself now for the trickster. We already know he is waiting like a prowling lion, just looking for someone he can devour (1 Peter 5: 8). Feed on the Word daily so that you will recognize truth from the lie and can protect yourself and your family. Adam and Eve didn’t abide in the Word and they were deceived. Look where that brought us all.

Be strong in the might of the Lord and in the power of His Word.

Fruit Inspector

John 9: 16

Some of the Pharisees said, “The man who did this is not from God because he doesn’t follow the traditions for the day of rest—a holy day.” Other Pharisees asked, “How can a man who is a sinner perform miracles like these?” So the Pharisees were divided in their opinions.

Jesus drove the Pharisees crazy with his continual neglect of the traditions of religion. He performed miracles on the Sabbath, didn’t wash his hands before eating and didn’t fast at all of the prescribed times. Wow! What a heathen.

As we wrap up our brief study of ritualistic worship and you ponder Christian ideologies on the sacraments, there are two thoughts I would leave you with. First, Jesus said, “So then, you will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7: 20). We are not supposed to judge people by their activities but we are supposed to observe the fruit they display. The Pharisees judged Jesus as “not from God” because he didn’t observe the same traditions as they. We should neither judge people as holy because they “do” all the right things nor as “unholy” because they don’t behave according to our religious traditions. As you see, some of the Pharisees were fruit inspectors. They said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform miracles like these?” Amen. They saw him extending grace and mercy to people and recognized that as a God trait.

Another interesting question we can ask is, “Who is Jesus speaking about in Matthew 7: 20 where he teaches us to inspect a person’s fruit?” He is talking about believers, church people, isn’t he. He wants us not to be misled. The way of Christ is the way of the heart. Whether we practice the sacraments or not is not the test Christ gave us. He recognized there would be among us people who put on the vestments of Christian faith but whose heart does not belong to Jesus. So Jesus told us to become fruit inspectors. This is what is important. Do not be misled by all the “churchy” things we say and do. Check the fruit. Jesus said that a bad tree cannot bear good fruit and a good tree cannot bear bad fruit (Matthew 7:18). Don’t be fooled by my regular church attendance, that I sit on four committees and that I am always the first to volunteer. Check the fruit which is hanging from my tree. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5: 22). These are the expressions of a sincere faith. 

Secondly, being a Christian is all about a deep, devoted, interpersonal relationship with Jesus. It is not about being a good Catholic or a good Baptist. I hear that expression rather frequently and it grieves me. The speaker almost always means that the person to whom he refers models prescribed denominational behaviors. All too often, those behaviors are not scriptural. They are merely the traditions of men. Jesus warned us about this all too human tendency. Be a good Christian meaning a devoted follower of Christ in all that he teaches. Jesus warned us that not all who call themselves Christians or followers of Christ will enter heaven. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven ”(Matthew 7: 21). 

It is not the practice or abstinence of rituals and sacraments which is important. What is important is that we humble ourselves in the presence of the Lord and worship him. It is that heartfelt love and admiration for the Lord which longs for expression which is important. Our best worship is in giving ourselves to his Lordship. Nothing else really matters in the big picture. This is what I wish to encourage with these words I write. I want you to abandon all of the trappings of Christianity and follow the trail of the heart.

Let your heart be at peace. Fret not. If rituals, rites, sacraments and even the pomp and circumstance of Christian traditions helps you to make a real heart connection with Jesus then use them. Perhaps singing moves your heart to a tender state or maybe you even dance to break down the walls of your heart. The key here is to seek God. Seek Him until you have a true, heart-felt connection with Him. Once we can connect with God in our hearts then He can lead us into the forms of worship which are best for us.

In our seeking, however, let us not judge others nor take upon ourselves the judgments of others. I hope you come away from this mini-series feeling validated. Whatever form of worship God ratifies in your life is valid. I sing and I hibernate in the Word. That is where I find Jesus. Because that is what is right for me does not give me license to judge someone who is highly ritualistic in their communion with God. In like manner, those who prefer a formalized structure of worship have not been given leave by God to judge those for whom the sacraments hold little power. If the fruit of my tree is good, then that demonstrates a true connection with the Holy Spirit of God because it is only with that divine union that I can produce good fruit. If I do a daily bible study, sit on the first pew at every service, serve communion at my church, and do every other external act of Christianity but do not exhibit the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control then you will know that I am really not of a true faith with Jesus, the Christ. This is the point that Jesus is makes in Matthew 7: 20. Don’t get hung up on the method of practice but rather observe the fruit. By this we will know all people. Do not be misled. The fruit, the specific fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22) is how we can recognize true brothers and sisters in the faith. In these last days it is very important that you become a fruit inspector.