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Monday, March 21, 2016

Day 29: Matthew 12:33-50 & Psalm 29 - What Kind of Heart Bears Good Fruit?

Today's Reading: Matthew 12:33-50 & Psalm 29

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What Kind of Heart Bears Good Fruit?

"Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil." - Matthew 12:33-35, ESV

A good, sound, healthy tree will bear good fruit for years, abundant and high-quality fruitfulness. If you have a tree putting forth bad fruit consistently, you don't blame the fruit, you look to the roots of the tree, the quality of the soil or the nature of the plant itself. In other words, you look deeper than the superficial level. 

Jesus said that a good heart, a heart full of good treasure, will allow a person to bring forth good in his or her life. If we have sinful or unfruitful patterns in our lives, we need to look more deeply. So, what kind of heart bears good fruit?

1. A heart with a good treasure is a heart that bears good fruit (v. 35). It wasn't Sigmund Freud who invented the "Freudian slip." Jesus said that we "will give account for every careless word." Why? Because our words reflect the treasure in our hearts. What do we treasure, deep inside: Money? Control? Praise from people? Pleasure? or Jesus? the Kingdom? God's attributes and His ways? It will show in our words.  

2. A believing heart and not a skeptical heart will bear good fruit (vv. 38-42). The scribes and Pharisees demanded a sign. Jesus answered in two ways: pointing them to the coming sign of the resurrection, but also condemning them for demanding a sign in the first place. He said that sign-seeking represents a heart of spiritual adultery (v. 39). Why? Because skepticism is a form of faithlessness, of betrayal. A skeptical heart is always demanding that God prove Himself, rather than trusting Him in those times when we don't understand or can't see what He is doing. 

3. A heart filled with the Holy Spirit, and not just cleansed of sinful habits, will bear good fruit (vv. 43-45). If we concentrate on ridding our hearts and lives of all the bad stuff, we will end up empty, with nothing to live for, nothing filling the treasure chest in our hearts. As nature abhors a vacuum, so the spiritual world will not allow a human heart to stand empty. You will give yourself to something or someone in your deepest core. There will always be an answer to: Who is your master? Who fills your heart? Will it truly be Christ or sin?

4. A heart that delights to do the will of God will bear good fruit (vv. 46-50). This is the kind of heart Jesus had, not just doing right to check off a list of requirements or get something good, but pleasing His Heavenly Father in all He did because of love, a delight to do the will of God.  

So, who can give us this kind of heart? Only God! God has the power to change us from the inside out. If all you have is the desire to have this kind of heart, know that the desire itself comes from God. So, you can know "that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6)."     

Prayer Based on Psalm 26:

Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.

Heavenly Father, You are indeed full of glory and strength. You are radiant and splendid, holding all things together by Your power and might. You are awesome and majestic, reigning as King and doing all Your holy will. No one can compare with You. No one can approach You. No one can match You in any of Your attributes - not Your wisdom, not Your power, not Your holiness, not Your love. 

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders,
    the Lord, over many waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
    the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
    and Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
    the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth
    and strips the forests bare,
    and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

Father, Your voice is powerful indeed. You speak and by Your word all things are ordered and sustained, created or undone, established or overthrown, filled with joy or brought down into sorrow. Only Your voice can accomplish such great and mighty things. I need Your voice to speak peace, righteousness, faithfulness and fruitfulness in my soul, to my heart. Jesus is Your voice and I need Him more than I could ever express or know. 

The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
    the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
May the Lord give strength to his people!
    May the Lord bless his people with peace!

O Lord, not for me alone, but I pray that You would give strength and peace to all of Your people - strength to overcome the enemy and all of his deceptions and peace to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Hear my prayer, Father, in the matchless name of Jesus, Amen!

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