What is Your Heart Rate?

Several years ago, my blood pressure started to elevate above the recommended rate. I was advised by my Doctor to exercise. He told me that I should exercise enough to get my heart rate up for twenty minutes, three times a week. So I did what most people do, I went out and bought me a fancy treadmill.

This treadmill had an instrument panel that kept me inform regarding my heart.  It would show how fast, how far, what elevation, how much time, my heart rate, and how many calories I was burning. If there was something about my heart, it would tell me. It even had a CD player on it so I could listen to soothing music while I was walking.

At first, it felt like I was working pretty hard.  I would break into a sweat and pant for air.

Every time I walked on the treadmill, it became easier. I would increase the speed and elevation until I reached my desired heart rate. I did not sweat nearly as much as I did when I started. Unless, I would miss a few days.

What would have happened if I did not take my Doctor’s advice?

Well, I could take a pill to lower my blood pressure. I tried several different medicines but every time I took a pill to lower my blood pressure, it had the opposite effect. My blood pressure would go up!

If my blood pressure was always high, I was told I would be at a higher risk for a heart attack and stroke. I enjoy life too much to be handicapped with a bad heart or a clot on the brain.

Our spiritual heart is no different than our physical heart. If we don’t exercise our spiritual heart, we defile ourselves (have a spiritual heart attack). We become sluggish in responding to the needs of others. We become sluggish in working for the Lord. When someone wants to change something in the church, our physical blood pressure goes up and we make every effort to stop the change. We may even do it ‘in the name of the lord’. (In other words ‘self’)

17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”  Matthew 15:17-20(NIV)

How do we exercise our spiritual heart? We can exercise our spiritual heart the same way we do our physical heart. For 20 minutes, three times a week, read God’s word (God’s treadmill) and look for those things that God is challenging us to do, or do better. Look for those things that excite us and get us ‘fired up’ to do God’s work. Look for places where you can minister to someone in need. Attend church expecting to have your faith challenged.

Did you know that your spiritual heart has a heart rate monitor? It is called the mouth.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” Romans 10:9-11(NIV)

As Christians, many of us have adopted the policy of not confronting anybody.  We don’t want to say things that may offend them. We are afraid to tell fellow Christians the truth or in love, challenge them in their spiritual walk. Or heaven forbid, someone challenges you in your faith. We have developed a ‘political correctness’ that causes us to be lukewarm rather than effective in our spiritual walk. It causes us to have evil thoughts just like the rest of the world. We blend right in with society rather than standing out like a light to the world.

When you exercise your spiritual heart regularly, you will find that you don’t ‘snap back’ as frequently when people challenge your faith; you begin to trust God with your life and let Him guide you through the day; you stop worrying about the future, knowing that God is in control and that when you leave this earth, you will be with Him; and you will speak the truth in love.

I like what The Psalmist writes about acceptable behaviors in Psalm 15:

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?

The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart; whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others; who despises a vile person but honors those who fear the Lord; who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind;  who lends money to the poor without interest; who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things will never be shaken. Psalm 15(NIV)

When your spiritual heart rate is elevated on a regular basis, the actions described in Psalm 15 are the things that will come from the heart.

What is your spiritual heart rate? Has it been elevated recently?

 

Note: All scripture has been downloaded from www.biblegateway.com.

Salvation: Faith or Works

For a believer in Christ, Salvation means that a person is redeemed, justified, and will live eternally with the Lord.

  • Redemption: From the beginning of time, God has required the shedding of blood for the cleansing (forgiveness) of our sin. When a person sinned, they were required to offer a blood sacrifice for the ‘redemption’ of their sin. When Jesus became the blood sacrifice for our sin, He redeemed us. He paid the price for our sin.
  • Justification: when the offering was accepted by God, He justified the person. In other words, God’s eyes the person had not sinned. Because Jesus paid the price for our sin, in God’s eyes we become sinless.
  • Grace: when Christians sin, God overlooks our sin. We remain justified. In other words our behavior does not affect our salvation.
  • Eternal life: was made possible when God caused Jesus to be victorious over death. Because of this victory, Christians will also share that victory and spend eternity with God

Salvation is accepted by faith. Faith is believing that God has, or will cause something to happen even though it has never happened before. The Message Bible says it this way:

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd. Hebrews 11:1-2(MSG)

Salvation is not dependent on what we do or not do, it is dependent on our faith in God. It is possible that a Christian could commits a sin and not lose his/her salvation. That sin may even be murder, lust, improper sexual activity, etc. but the truth is that they have not lost their salvation because of those acts, even though many Christians wish it were otherwise…which by the way, is also sin.

Works refers to the activities that we do in our lives whether good or bad. You may ask: “What is the importance of works?”

The works that a Christian does determines the rewards they will receive when they get to heaven.  In fact, the Bible tells of two books used in determining rewards.

The one book is list of the names of the people who, by faith accepted the gift of salvation. The second book is the list of things that Christians have done. Because of God’s grace, only the good things a Christian has done are recorded in this book.

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second deathAnyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:11-15(NIV)

The second book is used to determine the rewards that a Christian will receive when he/she gets to heaven. This is what the writer of Hebrews telling about when he tells about faith in Hebrews 11.

 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6(NIV)

A person can do every good deed conceivable and never receive a reward because they do not have faith in God.  In other words, not everyone that does good deeds will receive a reward in heaven unless their name is recorded in the Lambs book of life.  However, they have already received their reward on earth.

Matthew 6 gives several examples of people who have already received their rewards. Some of these people are people who are:

  • practicing your righteous acts so you can be seen by others (v.1)
  • giving to the needy to get attention for themselves. (v.2)
  • praying to impress others. (v.5)
  • make a big issue out of fasting, so other people will see them. (v.16)

People who do good deeds for the purpose of bring attention to themselves, have already received their rewards, albeit temporary. Those who do good deeds so God is glorified, will receive an eternal reward.

Doing good deeds does not make one a Christian but being a Christian will cause one to do good deeds.

 

NOTE: All scripture in this blog were downloaded from Biblegateway.com

Controlled by the Holy Spirit…or Selfish Ambitions?

God’s desire for all Christians is that they be filled with the spirit and to live like Christ lived while he was on earth. In Galatians 5:13-26, Paul compares the behaviors that result when we follow our flesh (selfish desires) with the behaviors of those who are being led by the Holy Spirit.

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:13-26(NIV)

When you compare the list of behaviors of those following the flesh (self) with the behaviors of those who are following the Spirit, you will see there are more behaviors listed for those following self than there are behaviors listed for those who are following the Spirit. Sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, orgies, and the like are behaviors that are characteristics of people who ‘God has given over’ to their selfishly ambitions. (See Romans 1) These are also activities that we are told to resist. So if we are loving the one and only God the way He intended, we will not display these behaviors. In other words will be no spiritual counterpart to those behaviors Paul says that the Spirit and self are in “conflict with each other”. If you remove the behaviors for self that result from God giving us over to our selfish desires,  you will have nine behaviors left in the list. These behaviors are opposites.  In other words, we are moving either toward selfish ambitions or toward being filled with the Spirit. The pairs of behaviors are:

  1. Hatred v. loved
  2. Discord v. joy
  3. Jealousy v. peace
  4. Fits of rage v. forbearance
  5. Selfish ambitions v. kindness
  6. Dissensions v. goodness
  7. Factions v. faithfulness
  8. Envy v. gentleness
  9. Drunkenness v. self-control

Using a continuum with the nine behaviors of flesh on the left and the nine behaviors of the Spirit on the right and a rating of 1-10 between the two behaviors, you should have something that looks like this.

FLESHLY BEHAVIOR

RATING

SPIRITUAL BEHAVIOR

Hatred

1

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

10

Love

Discord

1

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

10

Joy

Jealousy

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Peace

Fits of rage

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Forbearance

Selfish ambitions

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Kindness

Dissensions

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Goodness

Factions

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Faithfulness

Envy

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Gentleness

Drunkenness 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Self-control

  Using the continuum, you can search your own heart and determine where you are in your Spiritual walk as it pertains to the nine behaviors listed.

(EXAMPLE:  suppose you display hatred about half of the time and love about half of the time, you would put a mark on 5 or 6.)

Use this procedure to evaluate your behavior on each line until you have completed all nine behaviors. Are you following flesh or Spirit?

If your evaluation yield “5” or less, perhaps you have not crucified the “flesh with its passions and desires” and are following your fleshly desires.  In the areas where you are rated low, you should pray that God will help you sacrifice your selfish desires and help you grow toward a Spirit filled life.

Repeat this evaluation process periodically. Then compare your current assessments to your earlier assessment to determine if you are moving toward spiritual behavior or fleshly behavior. Do not compare yourself to another Christian if you want to become like Christ because Christ is the standard that we need to use.

I would suggest that you start with the behavior that has the lowest rating. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit regarding this behavior. Then read passages of Scripture that deal with the behavior and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in determining what will help you have a better rating, or in other words what activities will help you become more like Christ.

NOTE: In the event you are consistently between “5” and “6”, you are in the same place as the Church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-22. You are only lukewarm. However, when you are “filled with the Spirit” you will have a consistent rating of “10” in all behaviors. God’s desire is for us to be “filled with the Spirit.” We cannot become like Christ if we are following our selfish desires.

Scripture used in this blog have been downloaded from Biblegateway.com.