Sunday, September 8, 2019

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Reflections of the Heart

Very early in life, my father taught me that a man isn’t a man if he does not keep his word and act as a man of integrity. The true character of a man is measured by his actions. If he does not keep his word, practices deception at every turn and works only for his own benefit, then he is not a man to be trusted.

All through my life I have tried to live in accordance to his lessons. Dad was a simple man and kept a very strict code of conduct for himself. As I grew up, I began to follow his example and make his character part of my own. Just as my earthly father taught me how to live by a code, my Heavenly Father has given me lessons that strengthen my character and continues to build upon those wonderful characteristics that Dad lived his life by.

One of the things that demonstrates the integrity of a man is his actions. You can tell a lot about a person through his or her actions. If you love the Lord God with all your heart, mind and soul and love your neighbors and give to them when they are in need without thought of recognition or earthly praise, then you are a person of integrity and have the heart of a servant. You are a person that will sacrifice for those in need. You will go out of your way to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. You will shelter the homeless and stand up for those who are oppressed. Those are the qualities that are demonstrated daily by those who have a heart devoted to God and his or her neighbors, including his enemies.

Jesus tells us in chapter 5 of the gospel of Matthew, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.   

It is very easy for us to love our neighbors and friends, but when it comes to loving our enemies that is something entirely different, or at least, that is what we think. Jesus tells us that we are to love and pray for our enemies and all those who persecute us. In order to be perfect, we have to demonstrate the love of our Heavenly Father and His son daily by loving all and not picking and choosing those who deserve our love and respect. 

By humbling ourselves and serving those around us, we show that we do not just pay lip service to Jesus’ teachings, but we live them daily. Paul, in chapter 4 of his epistle to the Ephesians, writes, “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.

By remaining humble to those around us and always making allowance for each other’s faults, we truly reflect what is in our hearts. In the twenty-seventh chapter of Proverbs, the author writes, “As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person.

Our hearts reflect our true nature by guiding our actions. If we have a hardened, stone-like heart, our actions will be equally hard and harsh to those around us. If we have a gentle, humble heart, then our actions will be done out of love. 

James writes in chapter 1 of his epistle, “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

When you look at yourself in the mirror, what do you see? Do you see a person possessing a Christ-like attitude who loves God and his or her neighbors as well as enemies?

When we live our lives in accordance to God’s will, we know that He will bless us for doing what is righteous. As we are blessed by our Heavenly Father, we should bless those around us by doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord. 

Paul, in chapter 4 of his letter to the Philippians, writes, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

When we focus on those things that are righteous and put into practice all those things that we have learned, we not only show the world the love of the Lord but also show them what is truly in our hearts. It is through our example to the world that the love of the Lord will shine like a light that can never be extinguished and that will drive darkness away. 

If your heart is not reflecting God’s love and you are not living a life dedicated to love, not only for God but also those around you, then it is time to look at yourself in the mirror and see what the world sees. Does your heart reflect a Christ-like attitude of humility, service and love to God and others? 

If you quickly forget what you look like spiritually and do not remember the details of your spirit, then it is time to reflect on your life and rededicate yourself to living a life devoted to God and showing the world what is in your heart.

Let your heart reflect the real you. Do not allow the world to dictate what you are. Live life as Christ Jesus would and live it in accordance to God’s will in all that you do and say. James writes, in chapter 2 of his letter, “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ‘Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well’—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.”       

When we live a life of faith, our hearts will reflect that to the world and show all those around us that we are more than just a series of words in a book. Our daily actions will not only reflect the love of the Father but also allow us to stand firm in His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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