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A Prepared Heart

Tomorrow at ECBC we will remember Jesus’ death for us on the cross and the salvation He purchased on our behalf. This time each month is one of the most important in the life our local assembly. Let me illustrate.
This week, I finally pulled up the weeds in our garden. We didn’t really plant a garden this year, but several volunteer tomato plants grew anyway. But, the garden had been neglected. Once the weeds were cleared, you could observe some yellow toward the bottom of the tomato plants. The weeds prohibited the good plants receiving the nutrition needed from the sun and soil. Pulling the weeds exposed the plants to what they need, enabling them to grow stronger and produce abundant fruit (I hope!).
Every believer’s heart is very similar to a garden. God desires your life to produce abundant fruit and the seed of His Word is the source for that kind of life. But there are many weeds that attempt to choke out the good works the Lord desires from us. The observance of the Lord’s Table is an opportunity to “weed” the garden of your soul through repentance of wrongdoing and the reception of forgiveness. In fact, self-examination is a non-optional condition for taking the Lord’s Table. Paul insists that each person needs to examines him/herself.
The following represent a few categories for self-examination:
1. Wrong actions or words toward other people – I need to seek the Lord’s forgiveness and reconcile with others
2. Wrong responses to the wrong words or actions of others to me – Sometimes this is just a heart response that needs to be confessed to the Lord, other times it resulted in a sinful verbal response that needs to be confessed to and forgiven by another person
3. Harboring attitudes of pride, bitterness, anger, etc. toward God and/or others – These heart-responses form some of the most dangerous aspects of life. If, by God’s grace, I can identify areas where my thinking is unbiblical and harmful and then deal with it before God, much grief will be spared from the consequences of those heart-responses manifesting through harmful actions and words
Here are some symptoms of heart attitudes that indicate a disease:
1. Little or no desire to be in the Word of God
2. Mechanical reading of the Word with little devotional value
3. Consistently thinking about other people when I’m reading instead of my own heart
4. Difficulty having a sustained time of prayer
5. Reacting in harshness or frustration to those around me on a consistent basis
6. A seeming inability to successfully battle temptation
7. Growing desires for fleshly pleasures
8. Discontentment
9. Critical spirit
10. Difficulty finding reason to be thankful
Of course, those all represent consistent struggles of the heart, but if any of those areas seem especially difficult or that I’m losing ground, it could be an indication of other issues in my soul.
I am praying that the Lord will grant our local assembly a joyful time of celebration as we come before Him with hearts prepared to worship, cleansed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. How grateful we should be for the Word of God that identifies the weeds of sin and the sacrifice of Christ that “cleanses us from all unrighteousness.”
About the Author
Nathaniel Pringle serves as the pastor of Eastside Community Bible Church, Milford, Ohio. His goal is to fulfill the commission in Titus 2:1, "But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine." (ESV)