Take a stroll through the woods and discover beauty just waiting to be found! (Just be sure to wear your bright orange during hunting season.)
This hollow log was silently screaming to have its picture taken, so of course I obliged. How long had it lain there on the forest floor before the moss took up residence and the inner core rotted out? It was lovely to look at, but not good for much else.
Quiz time! Do you know another name for that inner core?
It’s called heartwood.
Heartwood is the central, supporting pillar of the tree. Although dead, it will not decay or lose strength while the outer layers are intact. A composite of hollow, needlelike cellulose fibers bound together by a chemical glue called lignin, it is in many ways as strong as steel. A piece 12″ long and 1″ by 2″ in cross section set vertically can support a weight of twenty tons!Arbor Day Foundation
Twenty tons. That’s quite a lot of weight. That’s three and a half adult elephants, 30 cows or 40 grizzly bears. The tree depends on the strength of this heartwood in order to remain standing.
How’s Your Heartwood?
In much the same way as the heartwood of a tree, your heart supports your life both physically and spiritually. As it is vital to life, it needs protection just like the inner core of a tree.
Physically, your heart is located inside your ribcage to protect it from damage from external forces. A good diet and exercise help it to stay strong.
Your heart also needs spiritual safeguarding in order to avoid the process of spiritual decay. How do we go about setting up a system of defense? I’m glad you asked! Here are a few pointers from the Word of God.
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.Colossians 2:6-8 NIV
How can we guard against “hollow and deceptive philosophy”? By remaining true to the faith and investing time in our relationship with Christ. That includes prayer, praise, and spending time reading and studying His Word.
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.Ephesians 3:16-19 NLT
There’s a whole lot of power and strength in those verses, isn’t there? This prayer of Paul’s is a wonderful prayer to pray over yourself and your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”John 8:31-32 NLT
Truth is the best defense against hollow and deceptive philosophy. Where do we find this truth? God’s Word!
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.2 Timothy 3:16 NLT
Stay in the Word! Read it, study it, memorize it, and put it into practice. Then when you hear some “new” teaching going around, you have a standard of truth to compare it to and judge it by.
Do you need a starting point for praise? Read these verses from Ephesians 1.
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.
God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.
God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.Ephesians 1:3-15 NLT
Amen and amen! Let those verses be a springboard of praise to God from your heart, my friend!
You are blessed, you are loved, you are chosen, you are adopted into the family of God, you are holy and without fault in Christ, you are free and forgiven, and you have an inheritance waiting for you. And there’s so much more!!
Today is a wonderful day to improve your heart health, my friend! A good diet of Bible reading and study, along with exercising your prayer and praise muscles will go a long way toward spiritual strength and protection.
What steps will you take today to implement or improve your spiritual diet and exercise regimen?