While walking through the halls at our church after a New Year's service, I passed a guy I knew and asked him a typical New Year's question: "What do you think this year's going to be like?"
He called back, "Oh, it is going to be the best year ever!"
A couple of months later, we crossed paths again, and I asked how things were going. He said, "It is just another stinking year, just like I thought."
He was speaking the right things, believing for good things for his future, so why didn't they take shape in his life? It's because his first statement was from his head, but the second was from the heart.
He was trying to produce cherries from a lemon tree.
What do I mean? Well, paying attention to your deep, abiding feelings will give you clues to your deepest beliefs. A second indicator of your personal belief system is the fruit – or result – of your beliefs in your life. Jesus said, "A tree is recognized by its fruit" (Matthew 12:33).
In other words, you can tell a lot about what you believe by looking at what those beliefs produce in your life.
A lemon tree produces lemons. No matter how much you want cherries, you will never find them on a lemon tree. In the same way, a misbelief will not produce good results in your life because it can't. So if you can't seem to get the results you want in a particular area of your life, you likely hold a misbelief in that area.
Our deepest beliefs are usually formed without conscious actions on our part. However, these beliefs, right or wrong, always result in outward behavior. Jesus said, "A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of" (Luke 6:45). Whatever you believe deep down in your heart, you will experience in your life. Your heart is your control center – whatever is going on in your heart will eventually become visible in your life.
Much of what happens in life results from these heart beliefs, yet few people take the time to understand what they believe to ensure it's right. More often we simply blame our circumstances when things go wrong. But your circumstances don't control your life; your beliefs do.
What does your behavior indicate about your deepest beliefs? What clues to your personal belief system can you find in the fruit – the results – in your life? Make no mistake, the two are related. Your deepest beliefs are powerfully shaping your life. Are those beliefs in line with God's truth?
The life you have right now is a snapshot of your heart. If you hold a misbelief in your heart, no positive affirmation or self-talk will change your life. That misbelief will produce negative results because it comes from your heart.
It's time to deal with your belief system by going after the truth in God's Word. If you are struggling to change, you're not alone. Spend time meditating on his Word. Find a life-giving church and become part of the growing community. Study to find out the beautiful plans God has for you and how much he loves you. God's plans for you are filled with his favor and goodness. He loves you, forgives you, and wants the best for you. Begin to believe the truth, and the truth will set you free in any area of your life (see John 8:32).
Leon Fontaine appears this Thursday on LIFE TODAY. Copyright ©2016 by Leon Fontaine. Excerpted from The Spirit Contemporary Life by permission of WaterBrook, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.