Proverbs 4:23 “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
In searching for some good Christian resources for our Wednesday evening Small Group Bible Study on the topic on relationships, I came across an excellent broadcast on DVD by Focus on the Family. Each week, we feature a different conference Speaker to view and then discuss the subject matter of their presentation. This last week, Teacher Steve facilitated an excellent lecture by family psychologist Dr. Gray Smalley. Smalley explained that beliefs are in our heart. There are two basic beliefs: (1) Take care of yourself. Watch out for number one is the classic “I/me” problem of self-centered pride and the devil’s lie. Not much room for God and others in that heart.
Matthew 22:37-40 And He (Jesus) said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
(2) God and others. This belief is that God is my life and we love Him with all our heart. And if we love God, we naturally love others. Loving ourselves is a given. Our heart controls our beliefs. Just think of the implications of freeing yourself from the bondage of self-seeking, unrealistic egotistic expectations that serve us and our interests to love and serving God and others.
Galatians 5:13-14 “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.””
Smalley states that all of our stress in life comes from expectations of the world. This big, bad world doesn’t owe us a thing. Love is the fruit of the Spirit. We must avoid thinking that if others change, improve and do what we want, then we will be happy. The truth is that we need to desire God to change us. Jesus Christ is the vine and we are the branches (John 15). Realize that apart from the vine, we are dead twigs and can do nothing – 100% helpless. The Lord is in the heart-changing/life-giving business and He will make His home in any heart that invites Him in. God only gives Heaven to the helpless ... "You must be born again" (born from above by the Holy Spirit).
Ephesians 2:1-4,8a clarifies, “Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.” But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) God saved you by his grace when you believed.
Romans 10:9-10 “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
You cannot manufacture God’s love. Change your heart and it will change your life.
In Christ, Brian