Monday, November 30, 2009

Developing Your Christian Hands

Last in the series "Becoming a Whole Christian". Mark 12:28-31

Previously: Developing Your Christian Head and Developing Your Christian Heart.

Definition: Christian hands means: 1. action, work, deeds
2. willful action (not reflex)
3. based on & in response to head and hearts

Generally it is visible, audible, detectable.
On occasion it's otherwise. Examples: silent prayer, holding your tongue.

I. Christianity is a hands religion (action/deed/response to....)
John 14:15 Matt. 28:19-20 John 13:17
Heb. 11:1-2 2 Cor. 5:10 Matt. 25:34-36,41-43
Classic Verse - James 2:17-18,24,26
Summary Verse: Matt. 7:24

II. This does not diminish the importance of the head and heart. Rev. 2:1-5 (a)
Picture the three - head, heart, hands as a pyramid.

Head forms the foundation. Heart is next. Hands is the roof. Works is the pinnacle, not the foundation. IF you start with the roof, you get it all wrong. BUT, if you never get to the roof... the house is useless.
Luke 10:38-42

III. You can't measure faith by works alone. Rev. 3:1-3 (a) - got their reputation from their deeds.

IV. Works is a very important measure of the faith.
Matt. 7:20 Titus 1:16 1 John 3:17-19

Applications for developing your Christian Hands.

#1. Develop a proper foundation. (ie: head and heart)
Quiet time, Bible Study, Knowledge, Truth , Relationship with Christ

#2. Build on that foundation. (do something)

#3. Build compatible with the foundation. Christian works should match Christian truth!!

#4. Don't wait until your head is full.
Example: Apostles... developed theology, doctrine AS THEY WENT

#5. Don't wait until your heart is perfect.
Question? Does acting according to truth but contrary to feelings make you a hypocrite?
Answer: No. Should be doing what's responsible regardless of how you feel.

Here at the end of the series on becoming a whole Christian.
We don't possess a "faith meter". BUT, there are ways to measure our own faith, growth, progress.

Ask yourself: #1. What do I know? (head, not heart)
(How would you do on a test (written) on truths of Scripture?)
#2. What do I feel? (heart) Heart, longing, yearning, desire for...... God, Presence of God, God's Word, God's work, Kingdom, God's people
#3, What am I doing (hands)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is the most widely celebrated holiday in America. A survey showed that 92% of Americans have special gathering at Thanksgiving.

Why??? Giving thanks is natural, inherent, seems right and proper - all peoples, cultures, religions view giving thanks the same way. Even an avowed atheist in a book he'd written stated that he was "eternally grateful" ......

So, Question? are we to just follow our own feelings, intuitions, and instincts on this?

Answer: (as Christians) we have specific guidelines in Scripture.

  • Giving thanks was part of the Old Testament sacrificial system. Lev. 7:11-12 - fellowship/peace offering (thank offering) - brought as a result of thanks giving
  • the offering was voluntary but expected - Jews called it a mitzpah - a religious duty or good deed
  • it was always appropriate but especially appropriate when God had done something special (answered prayer, deliverance, protection, blessings Psalm 50:14 Psalm 107:12 (Jonah 2:7-9) prayed while in the belly of the whale
  • the offering gave God proper recognition as the source of blessing Psalm 50:23
So..... thanksgiving became a central part of O.T. worship - Psalm 100:1 Psalm 105:1 Psalm 107:1 Give thanks and make known publicly what He has done.

And.... thanksgiving became a central part of their public worship.
As an individual in public worship - Psalm 35:18
As a nation 1 Chron. 23:30 Neh. 12:31

(Naturally) in the New Testament, giving thanks is especially important.
Example: Jesus..... feeding the 5000 - Matt. 14:19 - this is included in all accounts!!
feeding the 4000 - Matt. 15:36 Jesus gave thanks before breaking the bread and fish.
So.... "giving thanks" was directly connected to the miracle! John 6:23

And so, naturally, the act of thanks giving became a central part of Christian life and Christian worship.

Some applications:

#1. We ought to give thanks - this is more than "be thankful" - (3/4 of Christians claim to "be thankful".
A survey taken states that "83% of people say special grace at Thanksgiving meal". BUT, what about the rest of the year??? Thanks should be expressed.

#2. We ought to give thanks to GOD. Psalm 118:28

#3. We ought to do it properly. Lev. 22:29
These are not new rules/rituals. A. give thanks
B. when due (often)
C. to whom it's due
D. with proper reverence

#4. We ought to do it always 1 Thess. 5:18
This does NOT mean 24/7 non-stop NOT for all things But, does mean it's God's will for you.

#5. We ought NOT overlook our greatest blessings
Luke 12:15 Greatest blessings are not material, but spiritual and relational because they are eternal.

Any thank offering can be proper and appropriate. BUT, the greatest thank offering is the of gift of yourself!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

How To Develop Your Christian Heart

Christians should love, serve, minister with head, heart, hands.
Mark 12:28-31

Last week - developing Christian head
Today - developing Christian heart.

Definition of heart: Comes from the Greek word cardia. Literally it's a physical organ, often considered the primary organ by most cultures because it is the primary physical organ for maintaining life.
Question: Why??? why more so than the stomach? liver? kidney? brain?
Answer: probably because: A. it's in the center of our body
and B. it appears alive!! it beats. we can feel it and hear it.
And, when obvious, visible activity ceases... life ceases!!

So... it's a natural, easy transition for "heart" to describe the primary, center and deepest seat of man's being.
"Heart" = the person, real person, the inner person, the hidden person
Therefore: a good heart means a good person and a bad heart means a bad person.
"Heart" blends our mental and moral activity. It combines, melds the rational and emotional
"heart" is feelings but it's more than feelings! It includes the mind but is deeper and more complex than intellect.

The Bible "heart" means the seat of our moral nature, spiritual life/ seat of grief, joy, our desires, affections, thoughts, perceptions, understanding, imagination, conscience, intentions, motives, purposes, our will......

AND it is also the primary seat of God's activity within us!!
God deals with the heart! 2 Cor. 1:21-22 Eph. 3:17
The heart distinguishes us from animals - we have a heart like God.

It is Complex!! Therefore, we need Scripture to aid in the definition and description....
Gen. 6:5-6
Ex. 25:2
Deut. 4:28-29
Deut. 6:5
Deut. 8:5
1 Sam. 13:14 (Samuel to Saul)
1 Sam. 16:7
1 Kings 3:9 (Solomon's prayer)
Job 19:25-27 (Job in his affliction)
Job 29:13 (concerning his goodness to the needy)
Ps. 14:1
Ps. 15:1-2
Prov. 2:2
Prov. 2:10
Prov. 3:5
Isa. 40:11 "the Sovereign Lord...."
Jer. 3:15-16 (the LORD speaking...)
Matt. 15:17-20 (Jesus.....)
Luke 6:45 (Jesus...)
Luke 7:11-13 Incidence showing Jesus heart....
Acts 2:37 - Peter preaches at Pentecost....
Acts 7:39-40 (Stephen's sermon...) "their hearts turned back to Egypt" - (not in physical actuality, geographically, not with feet and hands)
Heb. 10:22 purity, singleness of heart; an "undivided heart"
1 Pet. 1:22 Agape means active love (hands) but not to exclusion of heart!
Rev. 1:2-3 "take to heart" - consider, take it seriously, ponder and therefore prepare...

Word Pictures: Verbal descriptions that go beyond simple definition...
Ex. 28:29-30 - point being: proper heart to help make proper decision (head) so can pursue proper action (hands) blending mental and moral.

Summary verse:
Prov. 4:23 - watch over your heart, keep it with all diligence... for out of it flows all the issues of life!!! (things that affect eternal being come out of the heart)

(remember - we are all born with a tainted heart. But we are called to develop a Christian heart anyway)

SO, How to Develop Your Christian Heart

#1. Define Christian heart (what's a proper heart look like?)
The answer is found in Scripture NOT in your heart!!!
ask anyone on the street "describe a good heart". Answer will match the person being asked!!
Your opinion or description comes from a tainted heart!!! Jer. 17:9
In C. S. Lewis' book "The Great Divorce" he writes that "each occupant of hell is still justifying himself and defining his righteousness accordingly!"

#2. Discipline your heart. (your heart is largely controlled by YOU!)
Some scripture tells us to discipline our own heart.
Deut. 4:9 - guard
Prov. 7:2-3 - program, train
Prov. 23:19 - direct, correct, clean up
Joshua 24:23 - yield

#3. Open Your Heart (to God and to Christ)
(A conscious, deliberate decision and action....
A. initially Rom. 10:8-10
B. Continually 1 Pet. 3:15
C. Relationally Heb. 10:19-22 a

Developing Your Christian Head (mind)


Last week - loving, serving, ministering with the whole being.

So today - Developing your head (Christian mind) - thinker, feeler, doer

I. Definition .. the head/the mind - the intellect/perception/understanding, discovering truth(s), analyzing facts & information, acquiring knowledge of God and His will!!!

II. Some New Testament Usage. Luke 24:45
1 Cor. 14:15
Tit. 1:15
Heb. 10:16

III. The importance of developing Christian knowledge & understanding
As seen in....
A. Old Testament wisdom literature - Prov. 1:1-7 Prov. 2:1-5
B. Jesus' teaching ministry. Matt. 4:23 Matt. 5:1-2 Mark 2:13 Mark 6:34 Mark 10:1
(addressed as "Teacher") - John 3:1&2
C. The writings of the Apostles - (Paul) Rom. 12:2
(Peter) 2 Pet. 1:3-5
(John) 1 John 5:20
D. The word disciple Matt. 28:19-20
means to learn, acquire knowledge (note: an intentional learner) Therefore: disciple of Moses, John, pharisees/... Jesus!

E. Common Sense - can't do right until you know what's right!!
Possible scenarios: W.W.J.D.??? Answer: #1. Can't know unless you know!
And, #2. The correct answer can't be found in heart unless the info is in the head!
The Biblical model is: first in the head, then to the heart, and then out through hands.
Typical model is: fact/info starting in the heart (feelings), the to the head and out thru hands.

So, Developing Your Christian Head. (Mind - How to???)

#1. Recognize the importance of proper information
You need the proper info which leads to proper decisions, attitudes, actions, etc.

#2. Get the information
through: A. scripture 2 Tim. 3:16
by.... B. God's Spirit "Scripture is 'God breathed' "
C. God's people (ancient, contemporary..... individually, corporately)
Remember: disciple means intentional learner, not incidental learner

#3. Use the information
head is not the end of the equation but the beginning 2 Tim. 3:17
(John 13:34-35 John 15:8)

#4. Don't neglect your heart and hands (in the process)
The head is "primary to" the process, but not necessarily "more important than" the heart and hands (or in preference to)
Example: a house foundation is primary to the roof and walls
BUT, is it more important than them?????

#5. Remember the final purpose (outcome/result) is to know God.
it is more than knowing about Him - It is to know Him. John 17:3
for the sake of..... 'self. Those you love, lead, influence.
Those you minister to and direct toward Christ
Future generations.
God's kingdom

John 20:30-31

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Loving With Head, Heart, Hands - 11-1-09

Matt. 22:34-40 - focus is on Vs. 37.
From Deut. 6:5 Compare Mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27
Point being - with all your faculties/abilities

HEAD - Knowledge/fact/truth/understanding
Primarily intellectual contrasted with intuitive, experiential
Example: Know of God and about God through truths of Scripture.

HEART - does not primarily thought but feeling (used with caution!)
- means attitude, affections. passion, intuition, desire, sentiment, emotional experience
Examples: sincerity, purity, compassion, concern, longing, zeal.....
Like love. Heart is easier to understand than describe! "I just feel in my heart."

HANDS - works, deeds, actions. Generally external and visible
The Biblical term is "fruit". which is external evidence of internal nature.

Note: these three are not easily divided and tend to overlap.
"Know God" - with head?? or heart??
Where's the line between?
"Confession" - head?? - (agree) heart??? (remorse) hands??? (action)
"Love Neighbors" - head means value him Heart - care about him. Hands - assist him.
BUT... all three are valid, important and designed to complement one another.


Head - 2 Pet. 3:17-18
Phil. 1:9-10
Eph. 1:17
1 Tim. 2:3-4
2 Pet. 1:3

Heart - Matt. 5:3-8
Matt. 15:8-9
Heb. 10:22 a relationship between God and man
1 Pet. 1:22 relationship man to man

Hands - John 14:15
John 21:15
Matt. 28:18-20
John 13:17
James 2:14-18/26

So...... you can see the importance of each.
BUT, what if there is deficiency? imbalance??

Heart without head - John 4:22-24
Rom. 10:1-2
Head without heart - 1 Cor. 8:8-11
Head without hands - Rom. 2:17-22
Head and hands without heart - 1 Cor. 13:1-3

#1. Which constitutes loving God and Man?
Answer: all three in combination. - "obeying the truth from the heart".

#2. Which is most important? Comparison: air, water, food
On one hand air is the most vital. But ALL are necessary!! (without head, how can you measure heart and hands)

#3. On which should I focus? My tendency? or my deficiency?
Answer: Both!!! Tendency is area of giftedness, strength, passion
Deficiency is area of weakness therefore, must focus and develop

#4. How to adjust?
Head - study, get knowledge, better understanding of the Word and truth.
Hands - practice what you know and learn.
Heart?? (friendship meal) - A. Exposure to the Word
B. Sensitivity to the Spirit
C. Practice Spiritual disciplines - self examination, prayer/confession/worship
D. Develop a relationship with Christ
E. Continue to function with head and hands

Matt. 7:24 - concept/idea means: 1. Exposure (to truth)
2. Understanding Head - sift truth through head
3. Embracing Heart - welcome truth into heart
Responding Hands - practice truth with your hands.