Summary: Regardless of all of our plans and actions, if our hearts are not right, there is little accomplished.
1. Future Plans
Approaching eighty-five years of age, Mrs. Wells finally decided it was time to give up her home in North Carolina and move to Miami. She was given the name of a Florida realtor, who enthusiastically drove her all over Miami, extolling the virtues of every apartment they looked at.
"And this one, what a steal," he said, "the investment of a lifetime. Why, in ten years it's gonna be worth three times as much!"
"Sonny," interrupted Mrs. Wells, "at my age I don't even buy green bananas."
Age has a way of changing our perspective on time. When we were younger, we felt that we would live forever. But every year, we come more and more to grips with the idea that life is short, and every day is to be savored.
That's not to say that we shouldn't plan for the future (not buying green bananas is a little extreme!), but we should always live with the realization that we're not promised even one more day. Neither are we promised that our plans will work out as we intended.
In our Vision and Mission effort, one of our plumb lines is to "Plan in pencil." Things change. The unforeseen becomes a reality.
2. Today I want to remind us of a deep necessity in our efforts for God -- Our Hearts before God
In Paris, France in 1849, as the great Polish composer Frederic Chopin was gasping for air on his deathbed, he reportedly whispered, "Remove my heart after I die and entomb it in Poland." After his death, his sister apparently sealed his heart in a jar of cognac and smuggled it to Warsaw beneath her skirts. It passed through the family until it was buried in a church building. When the Nazis invaded Poland, they seized the heart, but it was returned after the war. Last year, Polish officials secretly exhumed the relic and inspected it for damage before reporting that Chopin's heart, thankfully, was still "in good shape." It now resides undisturbed in a pillar of Warsaw's Baroque Holy Cross Church.
Where does your heart reside? Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Luke 12:34). The heartbeat of the Christian is living for Him who died for us. As followers of Christ, we can no longer live for ourselves. We must live for Him and for others. Let's keep our hearts in good shape. Let's love Him and live for Him today with all our hearts.
If our hearts are not in "good shape" before him, our actions matter little.
3. The Heart is Key to our whole life with God:
a. Love God with all heart
b. LOVE Neighbor as self
c. By this shall all men know you are my disciples -- if you LOVE one another
d. Many touchy subjects -- like worship styles-- If our hearts are right, worship styles do not matter; if our hearts are not right, worship style do not matter
4. Luke 6.43-49
5. The Internal Heart is revealed in External Actions
I. Identification by Fruit
[Facial Recognition Photography + Man Who Refused to Salute Hitler
A. Trees Are Known by Fruit (among other things)
John Chapman, better known as "Johnny Appleseed," is remembered for planting thousands of apple trees in Pennsylvania and states farther west during the early nineteenth century. But planting apple seeds is like buying a lottery ticket; apple trees do not bear fruit identical to the seed that was planted. In Chapman's day, when a tree was found that bore a desirable apple, branches from that tree would be grafted to rootstock to continue getting the desired fruit. In other words, a tree was deemed to be good only if its fruit was good.
On more than one occasion, Jesus said the same thing: Bad trees produce bad fruit, and vice versa. That is, "a tree is recognized by its fruit" (Luke 6.43ff). Paul used the fruit metaphor to discuss good and bad in the spiritual realm when he gave examples of "the fruit of the Spirit"--traits of Christlikeness reproduced by the Spirit in the life of the Christian (Galatians 5:22-23).
Our primary responsibility is to examine the fruit we ourselves are bearing. If we claim to be of Christ, we must also be like Christ.
B. We Are Known by Our Fruit
1. Our Inside is displayed Outside
2. We may not be able to look on the hearts of people as God does --
For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart." 1 Samuel 16.7b
3. We can inspect the fruit
a. All of us deal with sin -- Romans 3.23
b. Some make sin a lifestyle -- 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.