Ponderings for July 25 2018

Okay, here’s a real #FirstWorldProblem: Sue and I are on a remote island off the coast of North Carolina for a week of vacation with our family. Poor cell phone reception, very limited WiFi, and no cars. You can only get ‘round by bicycle or golf cart. Talk about unplugging!
So, back to my problem: My fancy golf cart pretty much died. The battery wasn’t charging. There must be something wrong with the charger, the means through which the cart gets power and runs well. Drat. 
Long story short—after much finagling of the charger, we have determined that the heart of the problem lies in the cart itself. It was not able to take a charge and was left to run out of power.
Okay, now for the application. The Lord reminds us time and time again of the condition of our hearts when it comes to hearing and receiving his Word. Used by the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures are truth and power for our lives when we read them and hear them taught. And yet so often, like my golf cart, I lose power and life when I should be being charged. There is nothing wrong with the charger (or the Scriptures), the problem is with me—my heart.
Jesus teaches a parable about soils and their receptivity to the planted seeds (the soils represent my heart; the seeds, God’s Word). Three soils find no benefit in the seeds. The charger doesn’t seem to work. Everything from worry to trials to shallowness to ego will keep the heart from receiving the necessary spiritual benefit from the Word. Those three soils remind me of what the psalmist says about Israel and their lack of power: “…a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not prepare its heart and whose spirit was not faithful to God” (Psalm 78:8).
Like my faulty golf cart, we need to have receptive hearts when we encounter the power source (the Scriptures applied by the Holy Spirit). These words from James tell us how to have a receptive heart to the Lord and his Word:

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listenslow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you (James 1:18–21).

Here are five marks of a receptive heart. Use them as your troubleshooting checklist:
1. An eager listener
2. A measured talker
3. A controlled anger
4. A deliberate avoiding of sin
5. A humble openness to the Word

Hopefully the power and life will be back in our lives soon! It starts with a receptive heart!  

Okay, that’s all for now. I have to get back to troubleshooting the golf cart.
See you on the other side.
Pastor Paul