As soon as I woke up this morning, it felt as though God gave me the topic of his transforming work. It was quite simple, but of the not-so-easy variety.
Lesson Plan: to replace what I have hidden in my heart that is of the world, the flesh, and the devil, with what God would hide in my heart of his word and his Spirit. In a sense, there is nothing new here. In another sense, each return to a lessons feels like looking at the same subject, but from the next grade up, if you will.
Starting place: we all know what we have hidden in our hearts (the stuff we don’t want people to know about because we are afraid we will lose them). We all know the kinds of things inside us that are not of God. We also know we guard these things as ours, and ours to do with as we please. We are also quite willing to sacrifice others, even those quite close to us, on the altar of our self-protection, as long as no one, God included, discovers or uncovers what is in our hearts.
God’s transforming work: it all begins with this glorious reality in Jesus Christ, that, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14). It is because of this that we can also exchange whatever the world, the sark, and the devil, have put in our hearts, and what God is working into our hearts through the power of his word and his Spirit.
11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119)
- “I have”, not, “I’ve thought about”
- “your word” not mine; not even my thoughts about your word
- “in my heart” not my head (although the head must receive the word!)
Lesson: store the word of God in our hearts instead of all the sarky thoughts we have hidden there since childhood, or as the result of specific sins on our part, or specific sins against us by others.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3)
- "Let” = allow, surrender, actively welcome and receive
- “the word of Christ” = the whole word of God, but specifically with this personal element that this is Jesus our Savior speaking to us as the head of the body of which we are a part
- “dwell” = have a home in us
- “in you” = in our hearts, souls, minds; captivating our inner beings
- “richly” = none of the sarky limitations and justifications; only the desires of our new hearts to delight in the words of our Savior with all our hearts
- “teaching… admonishing… singing… thankfulness” ~ all things we could do if it was the words of Christ dwelling in our hearts; all things we see stymied and stifled when our sarks keep all those sarky and sinful thoughts in control
- “in your hearts” = obviously God is not the one encouraging us to think he is interested in our forced behaviors; he wants us to enjoy the free expression of our new hearts, and is telling us how he will do it
- “to God” ~ rather than to the glory of the world, the sark, and the devil
Lesson: our parts is to “let” this happen since God is clearly working it into his children. And, since faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the words of Christ, it seems pretty clear why the world, the flesh, and the devil want us listening to them instead of to him. Freedom comes when we “let” God switch it around. Willingly.
Note: While I was looking up the above verse, I read the one that comes just previously. It stood out.
15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. (Colossians 3)
Question: What would happen to us if it was the peace of Christ ruling in our hearts rather than the sarkiness of our self-protection demanding our complete subservience?
18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5)
- “be filled with the Spirit” is parallel to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly”
- The effect of both is the same; the way we address one another, and sing to and with one another, is determined by what we put into our hearts, and what, or whom, rules within our hearts
Lesson: to hunger and thirst for this transfer, that we could sing and make melody to the Lord with our hearts instead of whine, complain, fear, justify, hide, criticize, judge, and whatever else the world, the sark, and the devil, use to poison or hearts with their work to steal, kill, and destroy.
Am I honestly motivated by these lessons? Yes. Does it sound hopeful to me that such a transfer can take place? Yes. Do I accept that I must see the crud in my heart in order to clean up my act, so to speak? Yes.
It really is no different than so many things in life. An oil change is not adding new oil to old, but draining out the old and adding the new. A barn cleanup is not throwing new hay on top of manure-covered floor, but shoveling out the filth to make room for the clean hay or shavings.
God calls us to put off the old, and that has to include the old junk that is in our hearts. We are to live out of the renewed mind that is ours in Christ Jesus. And, we are to live out of the new self that is already created to be like Jesus Christ in true righteousness and holiness.
Everything is in place for us to have transformed lives filled with the love, joy, and peace, that is ours in Christ. It requires is to store God’s word in our hearts, to let the words of our Savior dwell in our hearts richly, and to be filled with the loving presence of the Holy Spirit. If we let the word and the Spirit of God fill our hearts, we will bear the fruit that makes people want to be in our church (us included).
Free Bonus: God even gives us a prayer that leads our hearts into his presence seeking these things with all our hearts. It goes like this:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
© 2016 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)