Our God Looks Upon The Heart

But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. I Samuel 16:7

Saul as Israel’s king had been rejected by God. He had been rejected because his pride, his selfishness caused him to reject God’s council. Therefore, God looked for a knew king. He sent the prophet Samuel to Bethlehem and ultimately to the house of Jesse, whose great grandmother was Ruth the Moabite. Now Jesse had eight sons in all, and seven of them had passed by Samuel and by God’s direction, Samuel had rejected all seven. David the youngest who had been tending the sheep was not present. But when David was later brought before Samuel, he was accepted by God to be the next king.

After the first son had passed by Samuel was convinced that this great looking young man should become the next king, but God said, “Do not look at the appearance or his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

The Bible tells us of another young man, he was good looking and had a keen mind. Among Christ’s disciples, he was considered the treasurer. He was considered a natural leader with great promise. Jesus accepted him into fellowship with himself and the rest of the disciples. Yet Jesus could look into Judas heart and knew that Judas would eventually betray him.

Still God afforded Judas every opportunity for his heart to change, to come into harmony with the heart of Jesus. Samuel was told to reject seven of the eight sons of Jesse, yet Christ allowed Judas to continue in fellowship with Him, hoping that the love of the Heavenly Father would enter the heart of Judas and change the direction of his heart.

For you see, Judas was conceited, worshiped power and hope to become next to Christ, when Jesus set up His earthly kingdom. What Judas failed to understand and many of us miss today is that Christ did not come 2000 years ago to set up an earthly kingdom, but to set up His kingdom in our heart. He longs to be one with us and commune with us, He wants to Tabernacle in (live in) our heart.

Although God can see the beginning and the end, He knew Judas would betray Him, He still strived with Judas to change his heart and He continues to strive with us today.

There is a picture of Jesus that is found in Revelation 3:20. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him and he with Me.”

Christ, our crucified and resurrected Saviour stands at the door of our heart and knocks and calls out to us. Even on the night Judas betrayed him, Jesus continued to strive for the heart of Judas. Not to save Himself from dying on the cross, but to save Judas. This gives all of us the assurance that no matter who we are or what we have done or will do, we have worth in God’s eye. He will not rest until all have made the decision to open their heart to God or like Judas to forever shut hearts door. “To him who overcomes (self and our selfish desires) I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame (showed the world the other centered, unselfish, selfless love of the Father) and sat down with My Father on His throne. Revelation 3:21.

He is calling, He is knocking, will you let Him in?

Grapevines And The Fruit Of The Spirit

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

When the 12 spies went into the promised land to scout out the land, they were gone 40 days and returned carrying a cluster of grapes This cluster of grapes was suspended between on a pole and carried by two persons (see Numbers 13:20, 23). From this point forward the grape vine was the national emblem of Israel. At the time Christ spoke these words in John 15:1, 2 to His disciples, there was on Herod’s Temple this beautiful symbol of a grape vine with its cluster of grapes. It was made of gold; it leaves painted green, but the grapes were of solid gold. Therefore, it seemed appropriate that Jesus would use this national symbol as an illustration to His disciples.

In this illustration given by Jesus to His disciples, the vine represents Christ while the branches extending out from the vine represent the disciples. But not just the eleven disciples that accompanied Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane, rather it represents all his disciples down through the ages until Christ comes again on clouds of glory.

The question we need to answer is, what is the fruit Jesus is mentioning? Why all this cutting and pruning?

Galatians 5:22, 23 gives us a clue what this fruit is. “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness 23gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Notice how the verse says, fruit of the Spirit and not fruits of the Spirit. It is when all these are duplicated in our life as they were in Christ’s life that we are bearing fruit. And according to Christ, the only way for this to happen is for the branches to be connected to the Vine.

Yet the text also says that the Father, our heavenly Father is the vinedresser that cuts and prunes the branches. How can this be.

To better understand this text, it is necessary to examine the care of grape vines at the time of Christ.

Pruning of the vineyards occurred at two principal times during the year. Immediately following the harvest, the vines were pruned severely, and all leaves were stripped from the plants. This induced dormancy. In the spring trimming of vines was practiced before blooming as well as after. These clippings were thrown over the mud brick walls.

After the pruning of the fall, in the spring when the plants brought forth new leaves and flowers. The shoots without flowers was removed as they would take away from the necessary nutrients to grow healthy grapes. The direct action taken on the vine would include the picking off shoots, removal of shoots, and needful thinning of foliage to allow full sunlight to the grapes to reduce the amount of fungus causing the grapes to rot on the vine.  At the same time, other branches called water sprouts that arise from the roots at the base of the vine are removed.

It is God’s desire that his faithful disciples grow the maximum amount of fruit and so this requires the trimming away of unfruitful branches that would block the fruit from the maximum amount of sunlight to produce rich succulent grapes.

So it appears the creator of the grape vine, understands best the care for the plant which symbolizes His church to allow maximum growth among His true disciples.

We are left with one last example, for on that very night Jesus gave this illustration, one of His own disciples failed to produce fruit and was thus cut off. Judas who had lived with Christ, listening to His every word had conspired to betray Jesus, Judas was not truly repentant for what he had done, therefore the vinedresser cut him off from the vine which was the source of life.

At the end of the growing season, all that had been cut off and thrown outside the wall, would be gathered up and burned.

Therefore it is vitally important for the true Disciple of Christ to remain connected to the vine, receiving the light of Christ’s righteousness and vital power from the Holy Spirit so that we can become fruitful and exhibit the same character traits of the vine, which are: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such there is no law.

 

A Kernel of Wheat

A Kernel of wheat is planted, it grows, matures, bows its head as it ripens, and finally it is harvested. Eventually it is crushed in the milling process. Then, the fine wheat flour is mixed with oil, water and salt and made in bread.

The flour for the bread was flour ground fine. All unevenness and all coarse particles are removed. This process represents the spotless life of Christ.

Oil used in the making of bread is symbolized by the working of Christ through the Holy Spirit.

The water used represent the cleansing power of the Word of God. Jesus gave himself for the church, that He might cleanse it with the washing of water by the word of God.

Salt used is a preservative and is a symbol of incorruption. When mixed with the fine flour and oil, water it preserves it and keeps it from becoming corrupted.

When all four ingredients are mixed together and then baked, they form our communion bread which symbolizes the broken body of Christ, who is the bread of life.

You see like the kernel of wheat, it must first be planted, grow, mature, then be crushed that it might bring life to others. The fine flour is a symbol of Christ, who was planted on this earth, grew, matured and was bruised then crushed for our iniquities.

It is through the crushed wheat a symbol of Christ that you and I have the hope of life in the earth made new. For it is when the wheat is bruised and then crushed that it brings life to others when it is made into bread. So, it is with Christ who is the bread of life.

This is why at this time of year, we stop and celebrate the birth of our Saviour that was planted upon this earth, grew, matured and was finally bruised for our inequities. He suffered and died that we might be blessed both spiritually and temporally as we partake of the bread that nourishes us and temporally and the bread of life that nourishes us spiritually.

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