The Heart of the Action

The Heart of the Action

By Erin Bird

Today, we conclude our series From the Heart. In the first three weeks, we saw that your “heart” (according to the Bible) is the seat of your emotions, thoughts, and will. We then made a shift last week to see how your heart affects your words and actions. Since we looked at words last week, let’s look at how your actions come from your “heart”.

In Jesus’ famous “Sermon on the Mount,” He gives us this memorable little nugget:

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

When I hear the word “treasure,” for some reason my mind thinks of a large wooden chest pirates search for knowing gold and pearls await within. But treasure is far more than just money. A “treasure” is anything a person finds valuable: a vintage baseball card, a stuffed animal, an heirloom, even a person.

For instance, if Jared “treasures” Julie, he will do whatever he can to gain and keep Julie’s affections. He might buy her flowers, write her a poem, take her to a nice restaurant, change her car’s oil, or wear her favorite cologne. Because Jared’s “heart” is for Julie, his actions reveal his heart’s intent and desire.

Last week, we saw how our words come from our heart.

But sometimes our words can actually run counter to our heart. For instance, if our imaginary Jared  tells Julie he loves her, but the actions mentioned above are being done for another woman, Jared’s words fall empty. So yes, your words come from your heart, but your actions reveal more deeply what you truly believe.

So let me ask you: what do your actions reveal?

Now hear me clearly: I am not trying to push you toward legalism with that question. But I do want to see you living wholeheartedly for Christ. So I encourage you to examine yourself by looking at your regular actions, then ask yourself “what do those actions reveal I treasure?” Do you treasure the gospel? Do you treasure your family? Or are you treasuring yourself or something else?

Words Matter

By Erin Bird

We’ve been in a series entitled From the Heart, looking at how the Scriptures view the “heart” of mankind. The past three weeks have covered the idea that your “heart” is the seat of your emotion, your thoughts, and your will.

Today, I want to make a slight shift. Over the next two weeks, I want to look at how your “heart” (emotions, mind, and will) affect your words and actions. Colossians 3:17 reminds us to do everything, whether “in word or deed,” for the glory of God. So let’s use this week to briefly consider how our words come from our heart and can be part of our worship of God. (We’ll tackle “actions” next week.)

Words Tied to Heart

In Romans 10:8-10, the Apostle Paul helps us see that the mouth and the heart are intricately connected.

“But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Romans 10:8-10 ESV)

Remember, as you see Paul use the word “heart” here, he is talking about a person’s emotions, thoughts, and intentions. And he is saying it is with that “heart” a person places their faith in Christ. Think about it: The moment of salvation…

  •     isn’t just an intellectual understanding,
  •     nor is it only a fleeting emotional high,
  •     nor is just a “good idea” made in the spur of the moment.

It is all of that mixed together. The Holy Spirit convicts a person of their sin (John 16:7-8), helps them understand the Gospel (Titus 3:4-5) which leads to an emotional, thoughtful, intentional response.

Because the “heart” is so moved by the Spirit in that moment of salvation, a person can’t help but utter it with their mouth. Saying the words “I believe” doesn’t “save” a person from their sins – only Jesus can do that. But when the realization that Jesus has removed our sin through the cross, we can’t help but declare the truth (i.e. “confess with your mouth”) that Jesus is Lord.

Which means, the words that come from your mouth are actually coming from your heart. But let me ask you: what words are escaping your lips?

Word Well

I have known some people who have struggled with their “words.” They try to clean up their language, or not tell off-color jokes, or lighten up their insults, but they easily slip back into their verbal ruts. Yet James, the brother of Jesus, tells us, “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” (James 3:10)

So if your words aren’t honoring to Christ, what do you do? I would suggest rather than try to simply change what you say, check your heart.

  • Are you struggling emotionally?
  • Have you been intentionally sinning?
  • Have you been lazy with your thoughts?

When your heart (emotions, mind, and will) is delighting in God through the Gospel, it’s easier to have words bubble up that encourage others and glorify God. And you’ll find the course joking, salty language, and rude words become less and less. (Ephesians 5:4)

So when you find your words not building others up or glorifying God, ask Him to change your heart, knowing that as your heart changes, your words will follow.

Worship with Will

Worship with Will

By Erin Bird

Alright, let’s get back to our series called From the Heart where we are studying the biblical idea of your “heart” (not the blood pumping organ) and how it helps you worship God. In the previous two weeks of the series, we’ve seen how the “heart” is the seat of your emotions as well as your thoughts. This week, we get to see your heart’s “will.”

The Oxford Dictionary defines a human’s will as “the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action.”We see the Scripture provide a foundation for this definition in Proverbs 16:

The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
(Proverbs 16:1)

The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps.(Proverbs 16:9)

The reason man makes his plans from his “heart” is because he was designed this way by God. In the book of Genesis, God created Adam and Eve with this “heart” to make decisions:

With their God-given will, the first humans made decisions, and put those plans into action. Likewise, whenever you make a decision and then put that plan into action, you are exercising your God-given will.

  • Headed to the gym to work out? Your will helped you make the decision to go.
  • Turning off the TV to head to bed? Your will is what you used to push the remote’s OFF button.
  • Saying “no” to dessert? Again, that’s your will in action.

So with this in mind, let’s talk about worship.

Worship with Who?
No, I’m not talking about singing songs to God with a friend named William. I am talking about using your “will” to worship God.

It is my belief that because God designed humans with a will, we should use that will to worship Him (and not use it to eat forbidden fruit!). After all, it is your will you use to get up, get dressed, and go to the Worship Gathering on Sundays. It is your will you use when you sit down to read the Scriptures. It is your will you use when you serve a neighbor or give a generous donation to help a person or organization.

In other words, your will is a key part of your worship of God.

But sometimes, if I’m being honest, I don’t always “feel” like doing some of those things. My sin-corrupted will can sometimes be selfish and tempt me to not worship God, but rather worship self or something else.

Thankfully, if you are a follower of Jesus, you are not alone when you exercise your will to worship God. Romans 8:11 informs us that, if you have placed your faith in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection for the redemption of your sin, “the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you.” This is why the Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 2:13 that “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

This means that exercising your will to worship God is more about surrender than effort. It isn’t about mustering up the strength and courage to worship. Rather it is about submitting yourself to God, allowing His Spirit to move your will/heart to give Him attention and glory even when you may not exactly feel like doing so.

One last thing: When you use your heart’s will to worship God consistently, it begins to become a pattern, a part of who you are, making it easier and more exciting to worship God rather than an internal battle. So let me encourage you today to do at least one small act of worship no matter your mood. It might be…

  • spending a moment contemplating a Bible verse
  • singing a song in your heart while doing chores or driving
  • stopping for 60 seconds to pray for a friend
  • or simply celebrating throughout your day by praying “God, thank you for Jesus.”

So may you worship God “willfully,”making a decision then acting upon that plan to give God glory and thanks in the midst of your everyday.

Worship with Your Mind

 

by Erin Bird

Last week, I kicked off a series called From the Heart. My goal through this short email-only series is to help you get a better understanding of what the Bible means when it refers to the “heart,” and by doing so, help you grow in your worship of God.

In week 1 of this series, we looked at the “obvious” part of your heart by looking at the topic of emotion. But I believe there is so much more to your “heart” than just your feelings. One of those other areas I believe includes our minds.

The very first book of the Bible states that our “hearts” is the place our thoughts come from:

“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5)

While that verse is commonly used by theologians to point out the depravity of humanity, it is also a great example to show how the Scriptures, even from the very beginning, use the word “heart” in place of the word “mind” at times. For instance, because the Apostle Peter was familiar with Genesis 6:5, he echoed its words in Acts 8 when talking with a “magician” named Simon. Simon wanted to buy the power of the Holy Spirit, but when Peter corrected Simon’s thinking, he didn’t refer to Simon’s head, but rather his heart.

This is why I said earlier that there is so much more to your “heart” than just your feelings. Your very thoughts, which you would say come from your mind, biblically also come from your “heart.”

Mindful Worship

Here’s what this means when it comes to your worship:

Worship doesn’t just come through how you “feel.” It also comes through how you “think.”

This is why a heavy proportion of the songs Jake picks each week for us to sing don’t simply repeat the same seven words eleven times (aka “7-11 Songs”). Not that there is something wrong with those songs (after all, some of the heavenly creatures sing “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,” without ceasing (see Revelation 4:8).) But a steady diet of lyrically repetitive songs tends to lead a person (or church) to engage the emotional side of the heart more than the mental side. But because Jake and I want you to worship God with all of your mind (Mark 12:30), he selects songs that seek to engage your mind as much as your emotions.

This also means worship doesn’t just happen in song. To worship with your mind can also happen while

Therefore, I encourage you to grow spiritually by worshiping God with your mind. Keep seeking Him, growing in “knowledge and depth of insight” (Philippians 1:9-10), so that you may worship Him with ALL of your mind.

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