#940. Our words are like a river that can be fresh or polluted (17/11/23)
This week, as we continue in our series in Luke, we have been reflecting on Jesus’ teaching from Luke 6:43-45 where we learn that our lives are to bear good fruit. Today, I want to switch the analogy from trees and fruit to a river and the promise that a good heart overflows with fresh, living water to the blessing of all around.
‘“[for] No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognised by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”’ (Luke 6:43-45)
Lesson: The ministry of the Spirit pours, like a river, from those who have a renewed, nurtured and protected heart.
You can listen to this devotional at:
What comes out of our mouths - our speech - is analogous to a tree and fruit, but today I want to liken it to a river. A river that is flowing with clean and fresh water has a clean and fresh source and no polluted inlets. A river, however, that is polluted and poisonous has a source or inlets that are polluted. Speech is the overflow of the health and what we are allowing into our hearts.
The church in many areas is changing its moral stance and values in regard to many things such as: Marriage, gender, the roles of men and women, how to parent… and I’m sure you could add to this list. I think that it’s no coincidence that these radical changes in values coincide with the rise of the many streaming (‘streaming’ is an apt term for today!) services that there are. I’m sure that you’ve experienced the saturation of very liberal and anti-Christian values in much of the entertainment that’s produced. Are we so foolish as to think that we can imbibe and drink from these polluted ‘streams’ without being affected? Like the proverbial frog in the warming water, are we allowing our tolerance and acceptance of sin to increase? Of course, like Christ, we are to love the sinner, but sinners are called to repentance and we are called to holiness!
Now, don’t think for one minute that I’ve got my life all together. What I’m writing challenges me, but is it true that I need to stop storing what is polluted and only store what is good? I love this prophecy about the work of the Spirit flowing out of the church that we read in Ezekiel:
‘The man brought me back to the entrance to the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple…Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live.’ (Ezekiel 47:1, 9
This river includes the many things that the Spirit does sovereignly but also what He does through His church - His temple. For today’s devotional, I want us to see that our words, if they are the gospel and truth, will bring life! In the book of Proverbs, we learn about how guarding our heart will lead to good things, like fresh water, flowing from our lives:
‘My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.’ (Proverbs 4:20-23)
Good words and evangelism - the sharing of the gospel - is the overflow of a healthy heart. As we do what we read in Proverbs 4, as we, ‘pay attention to what [God] says’; if we ‘Do not let [His Word] out of [our] sight’; if we ‘keep [the truth] in [our] heart’, we are promised that the work of the Spirit will flow from us.
The ministry of the Spirit pours, like a river, from those who have a renewed, nurtured and protected heart. Do we understand that our hearts are like a reservoir and river that need to be filled with what is good so as to pour out what is good? Are we guarding and storing only what is good in our hearts? If we want to share the gospel more effectively and bring words of life to those around us, it’s vital that we nurture and protect our heart. let’s Pray:
“Father, You tell me, “My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Help me to store what is good by listening and to protect my heart by listening and so to overflow with the fruit and words of the Spirit.” Amen.
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
How has God been speaking to you from His Word this week and how has this helped you?
3. Worship together
Let’s begin our time together by lifting our eyes and hearts to worship our great God. Perhaps you have readings and songs that you would like to use together. Let’s be open to the gifts that the Spirit wants to give in order to encourage one another.
4. Study and pray together
This week, as we continue in our series in Luke, we will be reflecting on Jesus’ teaching from Luke 6:43-45 where, in essence, Jesus is teaching that the loving life we’re called to (as we saw last week from 6:27-42) is made possible by the work of the Spirit in us - it’s the fruit of the Spirit.
Please read Luke 6:43-45
On Sunday we saw that ‘a true Christian bears fruity by nature and on purpose’; Why is it natural and inevitable that a ‘good tree’ - analogous of a Christian - bears good fruit?
What is the good fruit that the Spirit yields in our lives?
What are the destructive things that one can ‘store in the heart’ and what will the result be?
On Sunday we saw that ‘a true Christian bears fruit by nature and on purpose’; What are the ways that we can ‘store good things in our hearts’ so as to bear more fruit?
SIV - How will the good fruit in our lives help those who are outside of faith to come to Jesus?
SIV - Do we have any stories of how we have ‘Served, Invested, and inVited’ this week?
SIV - Let's now pray together that, this week, we will have opportunities to SIV.
Does anyone want prayer out of what we have reflected on together or for anything else?