Tilling the Soil of the Heart: The Body of Christ - First15 - February 2, 2018

Tilling the Soil of the Heart: The Body of Christ

Weekly Overview:

This week we'll look at a vital spiritual practice to all those seeking to grow in God:tilling the soil of the heart. Jesus spoke in Matthew 13 of two different types of soil—hard and soft. God longs for us to till the soil of our hearts that we might be receptive to the seed of his word and bear fruit. May your heart become more responsive to the presence, will, and love of God this week as you cultivate good soil with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Scripture:“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” Romans 12:4-5

Devotional:

One of the most useful gifts God has given us for making our hearts receptive to him is each other. The church is both a beautiful and broken group of people. Beautiful because of the grace of God working in each of us making us more like Jesus. Broken because we have yet to walk in the fullness of what Christ did for us on the cross. Most of us have been wounded by something that happened in a church. Most of us have felt anger, frustration, or annoyance with a fellow believer. But if we are to walk in the fullness of what God intends for us here on earth, we must continually forgive and ask forgiveness from each other, submit ourselves to a group of Christ followers, and share life with believers in accordance with God’s word.

The Bible is clear that the best place for us to thrive is in community with fellow believers. Romans 12:5 teaches us that we are all “one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” And Ephesians 4:15-16 teaches us that “speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” We need each other. We’re joined together as the body of Christ made to function as one—both for our edification and the fulfillment of God’s eternal purposes in the world.

In order to make the soil of your heart soft and receptive to God, you must have help from those God has placed around you. We are created to worship with the body of Christ for all eternity, and that includes right now! Don’t wait to live out the promises of God. The church is not perfect, but it is God’s Bride. His desire is for his people, and he loves to pour out his presence in unique and specific ways when we gather together. There is edification you need that can only take place in the presence of fellow believers. There is blessing that can only be received when you open your heart to the family of God. We all have wounds; we all need grace; we all need each other. The very person who most annoys you might need you the most. Just as you need what fellow believers around you have to offer you, others need who God has uniquely designed you to be.

God asks us to humble ourselves before him and each other. Philippians 2:3 teaches us to “do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” When you humble yourself, you will find a peace that is never available in living for your own ambitions. When you submit yourself to imperfect people, you give away your sense of entitlement and find the grace of God that’s poured out on those who truly count others as more significant than themselves. It’s in the submission to others and giving away of our own rights that the soil of our heart is made soft and receptive to God. It’s in spending time with fellow imperfect people that we become edified and are spurred on toward spending more time with God.

Often it’s in the extending of grace and forgiveness to each other that we become most like Christ, the one who suffered and died in the ultimate act of humility to we who are unworthy. Offer love to those who don’t deserve it. Place yourself in community with those who are imperfect. Open your heart to those who might not treat you with perfect kindness. Find your unique place in the body and serve the community God has placed you in with faithfulness so that you might be fashioned in the likeness of Christ.                       

Guided Prayer:

1. Ask God to show you the community he would have you be a part of.Whether this answer comes immediately or through seeking and visiting churches, trust that God will guide you to the local body he has planned for you.

2. Ask God to show you your place in the community.This will change over time, so it’s good to continually ask God this question, especially if you feel out of place.

3. Now ask God to show you how he feels about the church.We aren’t meant to live and love out of our own strength. Instead, we are to seek God’s heart for his people and align ourselves with him.

God’s desire for the church is vast and powerful. He has loved his people in perfect faithfulness despite all our transgressions and wandering. When we fail to show grace and love to those around us, we fail to live out of God’s heart for his people. If you want to live a life as near to God’s heart as possible you must search him out with the rest of his body. One day we will all be made perfect and be able to worship together face to face with the living God. One day, every tribe, tongue and nation will declare together the wonders of God’s amazing love. Live in light of eternity today. Worship here as you will in heaven, and watch as heaven invades earth around you with the glory and love of God.

Extended Reading: Ephesians 4

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