At The Core

This morning, God is taking us on a journey together straight into the core of who we are.  At the core, we learn who we are, why we perceive things as we do, why we think the way that we do, why we make our choices and actions, and where we need to allow God to make changes.
When we stop and think about God’s creation around us, it is overwhelming!  Even with all of our advanced technology and our ability to see not only light years away at NASA, but also to observe the smallest particles at CERN, we still have barely scratched the surface.  We still have more answers than questions in understanding all aspects of God’s creation.  We still have far more theories than laws in the scientific community.
We marvel at the mystery of life.  When God spoke and created life here on the earth, He created it in such a way that it can multiply very rapidly; reproducing itself over and over and over again.  Not only can living creatures produce multiple other living creatures by two single cells combining, but even our existing bodies are constantly being renewed as our various cell types duplicate and split during the process of mitosis.  This delicate, but robust process is all controlled by a program coded by God that we call DNA, which is executed by proteins.  This DNA is located at the core, or in the nucleus, of cells.  If anything goes wrong in this process, it results in all kinds of disorders, diseases, and cancers.
All of life on the earth is so unique and vast.  In fact, we’re still finding and identifying new species and forms of life here on the earth today!  However, we all are so very similar at a cellular level; plant life and animal or human life.  It amazes and perplexes us as we ponder this reality!
At the core of most fruits, vegetables, and nuts are seeds.  There are only a few rare living plants that have their seeds external such as strawberries.  The same is true for animal and human life, and of course, microorganism life.  At their core is where everything necessary for multiplication and reproduction exists.  It is at the core where everything else is determined and derived.
God has ordained this structure and process for life.  This process is much the same in our spiritual lives as it is in our physical lives.  It is God’s will that we be constantly renewed and transformed spiritually just as we are constantly renewed and transformed physically.
Romans 12:2
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
There is a program, or pattern as Paul understood it 1,955 years ago when he wrote this letter, that the world follows that is designed and controlled by Satan as he leverages the desires of our flesh.  We may not like to think about it this way, but it is our reality and truth.  We, however, are to live life by the Holy Spirit and live by God’s program and design for all issues of life.  We are to allow God to rewrite the core of who we are by allowing Him to renew our minds.
Although we have entered into the Kingdom of God through adoption, it is God’s desire that we begin to allow the DNA of Heaven to be written into our lives.  In this way, we can experience and reproduce the Kingdom of God here on the earth.  After all, if the Holy Spirit can write the DNA of an entire human life (Jesus Christ born of the virgin Mary, conceived by the Holy Spirit), then how much more is He able to write within our lives the spiritual DNA of Heaven?
How is this program that we are to live by and reproduce in those around us revealed?  It is revealed by the Holy Spirit within us through the very word of God.  When we read, memorize, meditate the word of God, it begins to reprogram us at our core.  When our core has been rewritten, we then begin to live out the word written at our core, in our hearts.  When we begin to live out God’s word written at our core, we are able to reproduce His truth in others; a process known as discipleship.
Our spiritual life is designed by the same one who created all physical life.
1. We reprogram ourselves at our core (our spiritual DNA)
2. We execute the program through our lives
3. We reproduce our program in the lives of others
This is how physical life all around us exists, as God has ordained.  It is also how our spiritual lives are to exist.  I know that this may sound like a new age concept or scientific idea, however, it is God’s truth and our reality.  We actually read it from cover to cover of God’s word in black and white clarity.  There are far, far too many references to review for time’s sake, so we’ll cover only a few this morning.
Proverbs 4:20-23
20 My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.
23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Psalm 119:9-11
9 How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Matthew 15:7-20
7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
8 “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’”
10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”
12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”
13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”
16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person;but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”
Ezekiel 11:19-20
19 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. 20 Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.
Our heart that the scriptures refer to over and over again comes from a Greek and Hebrew word that literally means the core of who we are.  So often in the church, we teach what to do and what not to do; what to say and what not to say.  Dare I say that God is not concerned about our actions and words.  Our actions and words are simply revelations of who we are at our core.  God is far more concerned about our hearts because He knows that when we have been transformed by the reprogramming of who we are at our core, our actions and words will follow.
I am convinced that we will not and can not follow God’s word until we have a new heart and the Holy Spirit.  Until the Holy Spirit begins to renew and reprogram us at our core, we will not be able to understand or live out His word.  As God’s very own word states:
1 Corinthians 2:14
The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
To further illustrate the need for us to be renewed and reprogrammed at our core, let’s turn to the book of first kings and look at an awesome example of being programmed by God at our core.
1 Kings 2:1-4
1 When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son.
2 “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, act like a man, 3 and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go 4 and that the Lord may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.’
David charged Solomon to be strong, act like a man, and to walk in obedience to God’s decrees, commands, laws, and regulations; His word.  God charged David’s descendants to walk faithfully with all of their heart and soul; literally translated from the Hebrew word lebab (la vav) meaning the inner man or at our core.
David then passes away and Solomon establishes his throne and his rule over Israel.
1 Kings 3:3-14
3 Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.
4 The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for that was the most important high place, and Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar.
I think here it is interesting that according the the written letter of the law of God’s word, Solomon was sinning severely against the Lord and he knew it because his dad had taught him this.  However, according to the spirit of the Law, God knew that Solomon’s heart was to honor, serve, and worship the Lord.  Even while offering sacrifices at a place detestable to the Lord, the Lord chose to visit and bless Solomon.  What places might we be avoiding out of a religious spirit that God may be wanting to visit through us?
5 At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
6 Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.
7 “Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties.8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. 14 And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.”
Now when asked, most all of us would say that what Solomon asked God for was wisdom.  This, however, is not accurate at all.  Wisdom was a byproduct of what Solomon asked for and what God actually gave Him.  What Solomon asked for in the Hebrew was a shama leb (lav), literally a listening and obedient heart.  Solomon’s concern was that without this listening and obedient inner core, that he would not be able to discern right and wrong and be able to justly govern his people.
God, of course, granted his request.  Also, because Solomon was allowing God to reprogram him at his core, He also gave Solomon great wealth and honor unlike any other king in his day because he would be able to steward it well.
With the upcoming election, we should be on our knees crying out to God in prayer to give our new leadership, at all levels of government, a shama leb (lav); a listening and obedient heart.  Imagine what transformation could take place across our nation if our leaders were to possess this at their core!
This morning, I believe that the Lord is giving us a warning.  Remember, David told Solomon to be strong, to act like a man, and to walk according to God’s word.  God, however, charged David that if his descendants were transformed, or reprogrammed, at their core, that they would prosper and that David would never cease to have successors to his throne.
Our spiritual life is designed by the same one who created all physical life.
1. We reprogram ourselves at our core (our spiritual DNA)
2. We execute the program through our lives
3. We reproduce our program in the lives of others
David skipped the first, critical step that God charged him with.  Too often in the church today, we do the same.  We teach people to walk out God’s word, or to execute His program through their lives.  We teach people to look, act, and speak like good Christians.  However, this is futile and foolish without the first step.  We teach people to act like something that they are not.  Christianity is all about the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in our lives as we yield and submit ourselves to Him.  Christianity is not about the good works that we can do, it is all about the work that God can do.
To look, act, and speak like something that we are not is hypocritical.  Jesus called that out in the Pharisees and He didn’t apologize for offending them for it.  We too often think as David thought and charge people to “man up”, to be strong in the Lord, and to simply walk out God’s word.  The truth is that this is the second step in spiritual growth and cannot happen without the first step.  We first need to be born again spiritually; literally reprogrammed at our core before the results of this transformation will begin to happen.
We need to be far more concerned about the work of God in our lives than about the work that we do with our lives.  Looking, acting, and speaking like a Christian will automatically happen as a person yields their lives to the Holy Spirit and allows God to reprogram them at their core.  God’s prophetic desire for His people given over and over again through the prophet Ezekiel is that God would be able to give us a new heart and place His Holy Spirit within us.  That is step one, step two and three just naturally come from the first step.  To do either of them without step one is foolish and hypocritical.
The result from skipping the first step in this process is much like the result from when our natural body’s cells do not replicate correctly.  The church becomes disorderly, diseased, and cancerous.  People who have been programmed to execute God’s word through their lives without being regenerated by the Holy Spirit at their core reproduce others that do the same.  The result are a people to look, act, and speak like Christians, but are void of God’s love and the fruits of the Spirit.  Unfortunately, the church is filled with such people.
We need to allow God to reprogram us at our core.  Our actions will reveal whether this has actually happened or not.  No matter how hard we may try to understand and walk out God’s word on our own, we will be unable to do it.  If we have skipped the first step, it will be revealed easily because our lives will reveal that we do not possess joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, or self control.  Though we may speak as God desires us to speak and do what God desires us to do, the core of who we are will be revealed.  Our hearts will show through the results of our service to God.
Jesus taught that not everyone who does what they ought to do are actually members of His kingdom; those who skipped the first step, but perform the second and third steps.  He said that not everyone who calls Him Lord and prophesies, and drives out demons, and performs miracles are members of His kingdom (Matthew 7:21-23).  In fact, Jesus literally calls them evildoers.  Paul dealt with this very issue with the church in Corinth.  Some of its members were doing the right things, but they were wrong at their core.  How do we know this?  Because anyone who has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit through the first step will do steps 2 and 3, but do them with the right motive and attitude.  The results will produce the fruits of the Spirit and will be all done with the love of God that we can only possess and give away after the first step.
1 Corinthians 13
1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecyand can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror;then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
This morning, God is taking us on a journey together straight into the core of who we are.  At the core, we learn who we are, why we perceive things as we do, why we think the way that we do, why we make our choices and actions, and where we need to allow God to make changes.
This morning, God is urging every one of us to stop thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to.  He is calling all of us to return to the basics of step one.  He desires to do a mighty and powerful work in our lives that only He can do.  We need simply yield our lives to Him and allow Him to change us at our core.  He desires to reprogram us at our core so that we can be who we were truly created to be.  God desires us to be truly spiritually alive and not simply claiming to be.  God desires our lives to be overflowing with the fruits of the Spirit and with His love.  God desires that we stop producing disorder, diseases, and cancers in His body and to begin producing spiritually mature, complete, and healthy disciples; true disciples of Jesus and not of His written word alone!  Will you yield your life to Him?  Will you allow Him to do His work to regenerate your life at your core?