Dead Inside

I decided it was time to cut down this tree in my pasture.  It was kind of gnarly and didn’t produce many leaves in the spring.  The outside of the tree looked fine but something must have been wrong with it.  Some friends came over and we had a tree cutting party. When it was finally cut down, most of the tree had a hollow center filled with soft, dark paper-like substance. It was obviously infected by something, and was being eaten alive from the inside out. Over time, you could tell, even though the outside looked pretty good, the tree itself did not look good.  I was thinking about that tree this morning, and realized it is like many people today, who call themselves Christians.  We look pretty good on the outside, but what is going on inside, and what is going on inside will sooner or later, appear in some way on the outside.  Jesus would describe the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, and scribes this way: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every impurity. In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:27-28  Remember, Jesus was talking to “righteous” people, those who lived lives that they felt were godly and good, but they were mistaken. There is a lesson for all of us from my tree. What are we full of? Has the sins of the world crept in to start seeding itself in our hearts and minds, while we take up the stance of righteousness on the outside. Sooner or later, we will start to show the effects of what is going on inside, just like my tree.  So we start now, to clean out the inside! To confess to our Lord those things that have stayed hidden for so long. We confess to Him our inadequacy or failures to do the things He asks of us, even while He asks, and we pretend not to hear.  We become transparent, to show on the outside what is on the inside. That way, we can have others pray with us, pray for us, and earnestly seek the Lord to heal that which is growing inside.  I honestly believe it is NOT the totally pure who will finally seek favor from the Lord, but the broken and contrite. It is the one who honestly goes before the Lord showing on the outside what is unseen on the inside, for He knows already.  Is this perhaps you? We all, as believers, must look at ourselves instead of casting eyes on others, to look at their sin, while we have a plank in our own eyes. First we must take the plank out (confess the sin that disables us). Then when the inside is clean, we will be able to support and help our fellow man/woman with their planks. My fellow believers, now is the time to live a life of honesty and truth. Now is the time to open up our hearts, and cry out like the Psalmist: “God, create a clean heart for me and  renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not banish me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore the joy of Your salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit. Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways, and sinners will return to You.” Psalm 51:10-12 Let’s pray for each other. from Pastor Andy

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