Friday, April 15, 2011

The Giving Trees [or The Human Heart in a Nutshell]

As is our usual practice, we had a Bible study fellowship on Tuesday night, and I, being a bit burned-out emotionally, decided to pull back and only cover three verses. They were solid verses and worthy of instruction, but I usually only take five minutes to cover such for believers.

Well, God is smarter than I am, and He knows how we like to blow past small but vital information in our daily lives. Afterwards one of the attendees said, "I think this has been one of the better Bible studies. I liked the fact we did not cover too much material."

And he was right. Profound things need time to simmer in our brains. We are deceived by their simplicity unless experience and wisdom make us say "Hold up, hold up! WHAT did you just say?"

It is a child who believes many words equate wisdom; fools LOVE to babble. But if you can sum up an argument or a solution or any complex issue succinctly in a few words, you are a wise person indeed. You are looking past the leaves of the tree to the trunk, and then to the root of the issue.

And that tree metaphor? It is EXACTLY what the Lord of Creation used to describe our actions and our deepest inner selves.

The evidence of who we really are can be found on the branches of our lives - and to produce what is good, you've got to have it inside you first. We are all "Giving Trees" - giving out [or dishing out] what has been growing in our hearts.

No wonder we have to be transformed by being 'born again' if this is true. No wonder we are to avoid quarrelsome people - they want a fight, not a 'heart transplant.'

Well, I'm getting too busy applying these verses before you have read them yourself.

Read - and tell me what you think of Jesus' analysis of human behavior.

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Luke 6:43-45

Jesus Tells Us How to Know a Person’s Heart

”Better to keep one’s mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt!”

That verse of common wisdom does indeed warn us how opening our mouths sets us up for judgment – rightly or wrongly – from others. Especially today an information age, every word is carefully scrutinized – especially by your opponents – to reveal your faults and failures as a human being. Many wise people in a wicked world do chose to be silent to avoid such attention.

However, the focus of this passage in Luke is for the saint, not the unbeliever, to be discerning.

Not everyone who calls himself a Christian is truly a follower of Christ. They may mean only that they have a fondness for social justice, or that they like the messages of Jesus but deny His divinity and lordship in their personal lives.

I have found Jesus never speaks casually, and if He gave a way to be wise, we must use it. Those who love Jesus ask Him to take over their lives, their hearts, their minds. This is a work of the Holy Spirit, to be sure, and if THAT has been done, you will find the saint has a beatific view of even the worst situations. They perceive everyday circumstances differently and store up what is good so they can encourage and be encouraged. This leads to great anger from those who see evil and store it up in their hearts. They think the saint is akin to an ostrich with its head in the sand.

However, it is not a ‘positive thinking’ form of denial.

It is a refusal to cherish cruelty and curse God for being alive. Our heart controls everything else we do. Be careful what you store in it: it WILL grow. Proverbs 4:23-24 says it this way “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Amen.


Read in the round

Luke 6:43-45
43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.

44 “Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.

45 “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

1) What common sense measurement is found in the first verse here? If it is ‘common sense’, why did Jesus feel the need to say it to His disciples?

2) What have you learned from what people say out loud? Is it fair to use their own words to judge their thoughts – or is that too critical? [cf. Luke 19:21-23, Matthew 12:33-37]

3) When we say something mean or exclaim in anger, what are we really saying? Have you ever known something was wrong with a person because of their tone of voice?

Benediction
Ephesians 5:1-12, 19, 20


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Various Thinkers and Leaders on “What We Should Say”
  • A hot-headed woman told John Wesley, "My talent is to speak my mind!" Replied Wesley, "Woman, God wouldn't care a bit if you would bury that talent." – attributed to evangelist John Wesley
  • Human conversation is largely an endless attempt to convince others that we are more assertive or clever or generous or successful than they might think if we did not carefully educate them. –John Ortberg
  • Kind words do not cost much. They never blister the tongue or lips. They make other people good-natured. They also produce their own image on men's souls, and a beautiful image it is. –Blaise Pascal
  • Great minds talk about ideas, Average minds talk about things, Small minds talk about other people. –Unknown
  • Learn to say no. It will be of more use to you than to be able to read Latin. —Charles Spurgeon
  • Never argue with an idiot; they'll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience. –Anonymous
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Amen.

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