Thursday, December 26, 2013

365 Days with God - Day 6

I'm giving myself a challenge. Read the Bible each day for a whole year, following the ESV Study Guide 1-year plan. Each day, I will post whatever God has revealed to me in His Word, and how it is changing me. A friend of mine once said that nothing has changed her life as much as reading the bible each day - and I'm excited for how this will change me. Join me on an adventure into the heart of God - and day by day, we can learn more about who He is and what that means to us!

- Andy Catts

Day 6, December 26, 2013
Readings: Psalm 5, Genesis 6, 1 Chronicles 6, Luke 3:1-22

My firstborn child is outspoken. Anyone who has met her knows this - she's not afraid to say what she wants and what she's thinking. Often she is kind, generous and loving to everyone she knows. Often, however, she is also forceful, rude and defiant. I, of course, love it when she is kind, generous and loving - what parent wouldn't?

But I am also coming to appreciate the less pleasant outpourings of her heart. Not for how they make me feel, or for her attitude behind them. But I am thankful for her outspoken nature because it gives me a picture into her heart - to know exactly what she is thinking. I do not have to wonder if she is faking it. And I believe that God calls us to do the same in introspection. To look at our own hearts and seek out the truth within - and ask God to bring us to a place of sorrow and repentance. Where He can change our hearts.

John the Baptist, when beginning his ministry says as much to the Pharisees. They come out to the spectacle of the man clothed in camel's hair, calling to the crowds. Perhaps he is a prophet - and perhaps they should listen to him. If there's something God wants to add to their righteous routine, John might know what it is. But instead, John calls them out - for their heart, not their righteous actions.

He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." (Luke 3:7-9)

I am thankful that my child is so outspoken because the changes brought about in her bear good fruit. She does not pretend at righteousness, or do things just because she wants to avoid our wrath. And there is much I can learn from her example. The goal of any good behavior on my part should be for repentance - not merely behavior modification. There is a time for obedience, doing a deed because God calls me to do so. But the overall goal should be for a repentant heart - so that in the future, my heart longs to do good, rather than doing good by obedience.

And this, of course, is what God wants for all of us - and I want for my children. I want them to do the right thing because they have a changed heart - not for my approval, or anyone's approval. I want them to desire good. So when I consider what I will do, how I will serve, how I will respond, and how I discipline my heart and mind - I must ask: Am I working towards bearing fruit that is of a repentant heart?

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