When Barry Bennet heard those words his reaction probably wasn't the same as, unfortunately, the vast majority of people. Most people, even Christians, would fall apart at the seams, and most of us would say, fair enough. But Barry's heart is established. His heart is rooted and grounded in God's Word. For the next few weeks, we are super blessed to have Barry teach in our Upstream Home Church campuses around the world. This is the first blog from his teaching series entitled; 'An Established Heart'.
If you're a Christian, you should not be living in fear. And yet the world around us, especially in the last couple of years, has been engulfed in fear. Whether it be politics, economy, pandemics or war, fear is readily available to those whose hearts are not established. And yet Jesus said, do not be afraid.
Unmovable. As Christians, we should be unmovable when it comes to our hope and our faith in Him. So why are so many people, even Christians, struggling with fear? Barry says;
"A negative word came to me a couple of years ago. In fact, it was very negative. It was; 'Barry, you’re going to die, get your affairs in order'. When I was first diagnosed, I had a huge tumour on my pancreas and was told I had two days to live. I wasn’t expecting that news at all! And yet my heart was established to where I had zero fear when those words were spoken to me. Then, the spirit of God quickened me because I feed myself on the Word of God. You see, I’m in tune with what I feed on. That's true for us all. And, because I feed on the Word of God, I’m in tune with the Spirit of God which allowed me to hear the voice of the Lord speak to me in that moment and say 'Barry, you will not die, you will make it through this'. Praise God!
That Word sustained me for over a year of all the stuff I had to go through, but here I am because my heart was established in His Word. Now others I know that have had similar diagnosis don’t make it because immediately they go into fear. They don’t know what they’re going to do and they begin calling out for help, which is fine and understandable, but it’s because their heart is not established. This is so key, whether we’re dealing with sickness, the economy, politics, whatever is going on in your life specifically or in the world around you, you have to be established in God’s Word. It is the only way you’re going to get through whatever is coming to your life or upon the world.'
Wow! What an amazing testimony! Barry goes on to teach on where we put our focus. If you’re mainly focused on the news, the fear-mongering of the media, or the worldly mindset of Hollywood’s movies etc. your heart will not be established and will be easily shaken. Where is your heart? Are you afraid? Do you remember when the world ran out of toilet paper? How people reacted! And now the fuel prices are rising. There will always be something.
Who is your source? Who or what do you feed on? Like the old saying; 'You are what you eat!' It applies to food, sure, but it also applies to the Word of God versus the World's Diet. What are you feeding on?
So, what is an established heart? Psalm 27:1-3 is a great place to start.
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.
What is the strength of your life? Entertainment, sports, news? What feeds you is where your strength will be. So how do you establish your heart? Here are some notes to help you along.
1. The Word of God.
I’m amazed at how many Christians don’t know their Bible! No wonder they’re afraid.
Proverbs 4:20-23. As you read, consider these points;
Ears - what are you listening to? When it’s hard to hear, lean in further.
Eyes - what are you looking at? Whatever captures or excites your eyes, captures and excites your heart.
Heart - whatever goes into your ears and eyes goes into your heart. Guard your heart!
Keep the Word in the midst of your heart (via your ears and eyes).
Life and health - the Word is designed to bring life to the things it has contact with.
Keep your heart for out of it come the issues of life: your future, your reactions, your everything!
Your heart will have a reaction to what is going on around you. What reaction it will be is determined by how it’s fed.
Every need you have is met in the Word of God. The Word is alive and active. It’s a living thing. John 6:63. It carries the life of God and the more we spend time in it, the more it’ll establish our hearts in the good things of God. If you don’t know the Word, you can’t expect to live it.
His Word shall not return to Him void.
God’s word is the expression of His heart which is fully established.
Every word is like a seed, looking for the right environment - it won’t produce unless it’s in the right environment.
Everything about God's Word is designed to prosper it's recipient. That's good news!
Your heart is the right environment for the Word of God, but whether it’s stony or fertile is up to you (see Matthew 13 - the parable of the sower).
Open your heart to receive the Word and you will have an established heart.
Hosea 4:6 - Knowledge
This is what happens when we don’t incline our ear to the Word of God.
The world is being defeated and destroyed.
You don't need to be defeated or destroyed. You have the Word of God!
Proverbs 5:23 - Instruction
This verse and the last are interchangeable.
We must value teaching and instruction or we will fall apart.
Proverbs 10:21 - Wisdom
Wisdom - where are you getting it?
How are you cultivating wisdom in your life?
2 Peter 1:3-4
'By these' - these promises and words from God.
They are given to you so you are not partakers in the corruption that the world experiences. Hallelujah! But you have to know the promises and the words or they'll be useless to you.
If you value Jesus, you’ll keep and value his words above anything else.
That in turn keeps you living with Jesus and in peace.
And my words abide in you.
We are not talking about an occasional daily devotional here. You must meditate on it day and night and value it more highly than anything else.
He’s talking about being established in the Word. That leads to an established heart.
Jeremiah was dedicated to God’s Word.
What are you dedicated to?
We hope that's been helpful. Let us know how this has helped you and also how we can pray for you at Upstream Ministries. You can contact us right here on our website and send us prayer requests or ask any questions about how Upstream Home Churches work. You might even like to explore the idea of starting your own Home Church. We'd give you all the support you'd need to do just that.
Next week we will have more amazing revelation and teaching from Barry as he continues his series; An Established Heart.
Watch a short clip from Barry's teaching by clicking the image below.