Peninsula Community Church
How’s Your Heart?
February 11, 2018
Proverbs 4:20-23 My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
Today, we hear a lot about the health of one’s heart. We measure cholesterol, triglycerides, heart rate, heart beat, and so on to determine heart health. The fact is, we have many ways of determining the health of our human heart, but how do we perform an appropriate evaluation of the spiritual heart.
Over the next few weeks, I would like to talk about the spiritual heart and how we can be assured that our spiritual hearts are in good shape. So, how do we measure the health of our heart? How do we know when we are healthy? These and other questions will be addressed during this series. To understand this process, let me make a few comments that will point us in the right direction as we have this conversation.
First, we must understand that too many today are not living according to the plan of God. When man was created in the Garden of Eden, he was created in the image of God. Think about this for a moment. Adam and Eve lived in a perfect environment. There was no sin. There was perfect harmony between them and with the world around them. They did not have arguments. They did not have to work, as God provided all they needed. Man’s greatest task was to name the animals and make sure that he was managing what God had given him. They were in essence living in the Utopia that so many long for today.
As we know by reading the story, man failed at the basic level of obedience. They had everything they needed, and yet they allowed the one thing that was beyond their reach to master them. Along with their desire and craving for what they could not have, and the enemy’s use of well timed opportunities and half truths, Adam and Eve were deceived. This changed mankind forever.
When that occurred, mankind moved away from God’s original intent of creation to live in a fallen state of mind and heart. The result has been that instead of living in the freedom that is ours in Christ we have allowed the issues. problems, sin, and the devil’s influence to form and shape our life. From the fall until now, mankind has been formed and shaped by so many forces. Think about it. We are being formed and shaped by the events of our life. We are shaped by both the positive and negative things that come. How many live in regret, fear, anxiety, loneliness, and so forth, all because of the events that have affected their life? How many live with emotions and feelings, and believe that this is just the way it is going to be without any hope for change?
Here is the point to be made. In God, we were created in His image, but because of man’s fallen state we are being formed and conformed into an image that was never intended by God. That brings us to one of the key points we need to make about this process. Because we have been formed and conformed to the world’s image, a non biblical view, we can also be transformed into a new creation. Scripture is replete with examples and admonition toward this process.
In Ezekiel, we have been promised that He will exchange our hardened heart with a heart of flesh. In other words, through the intervention of God’s work in us, we can begin to live again. You see with a hardened, stoney heart there is not much life. With a broken human heart there is a lack of blood flow to the rest of the body. As with the physical heart, when our arteries begin to harden, our life is diminished and without an intervention death or long term damage is possible. So it is with our spiritual hearts. We cannot live the life God chose for us when we are living life from the standpoint of a harden and callous heart.
Listen to Ezekiel’s words in Ezekiel 11:19-20. And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
Notice the process here. They will be given a new spirit and their heart of stone will be replaced with a heart of flesh. Think about it, a stoney heart is not very sensitive to God’s movement. But with a heart of flesh, we are more sensitive and responsive to the work of God in us. Notice too, the response to this change of heart. Those with a fleshy heart will be empowered to walk in His statures and the directives for living life. Notice, He will empower them to walking in obedience and in following His ways.
You see many times we struggle to fulfill His purposes. Perhaps, and just maybe we struggle in these areas because there remains some areas of hardness which has been untouched or unchanged. Here is the point, so often we allow God to touch certain parts of our heart, but we guard and secure our heart so that we do not allow God’s touch in other areas of our heart.The truth is God wants all of your heart, and He especially wants all of the hardened places of your heart.
Because we have been formed and conformed it is so easy to allow negative stimuli to impact us. Let me explain it this way. Have you ever had a difficult experience with someone. Perhaps you loved someone and you had a deep relationship with that person. At some moment in time that person let you down. Perhaps they lied to you. Perhaps they betrayed your confidence. Perhaps they destroyed your relationship. Perhaps they chose someone else over you to love. You were devastated.
If this happens once, we can take the pain and usually deal with it, but if this happens more than once, we can begin to believe we are defective and that no one could ever love us. What begins to happen is that we can refuse to let anyone into our life, because we are afraid we will be hurt again, even if there is no evidence of that possibility. The result is that it becomes very hard for us to have any significant relationships. We have been formed to believe that their is no hope and no chance we will ever have a positive relationship.
Perhaps we have been formed and conditioned to turn to food, alcohol, or other addictive behaviors to bring peace and hope. The result of this conditioning is that we never really deal with the issue of life. We just cover them up and whitewash them so they are never really dealt with. But here is the truth. God wants our heart and He wants all of us because He has answers to the deep hurt and pain we experience.
That is why Romans 12 is so important to us. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2). Paul counsels us to be transformed. How is that accomplished? It is done by the renewal of the mind. You see it is the mind that affects the heart more than anything else. Have you ever talked yourself into a certain way of thinking or action? Has that thought or action later produced a negative response that wore you down rather than building you up. The point here is that God through Christ wants to transform your heart and your life. What we have allowed to be formed in us God wants to transform.
As we close, let me share a couple of thoughts. I must admit that I have borrowed these from Ed Stetzer, the President of LifeWay Research. First, change comes by having a new life and not turning over a new leaf. Too often, we think if we just try harder, or do more, or act differently, we will be changed. God’s intent has always been a total change and not just a different action. The Scripture tells us that if you are in Christ, then you are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). The past is gone and the new has come. The fact is too often we are trapped by the past: past hurts, past mistakes, and past events. Perhaps, today it is time to move to a new day of freedom and life.
Secondly, real change is a process and not a destination. We never stop changing. On this side of heaven we do not arrive at perfection, but we recognize that we are always in a process. We are on a journey of progressive growth. Paul was keenly aware of this principle when he stated “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). Notice, Christ will continue this work until the Day of the Lord. This might be His second coming or His coming to you to bring you home, but He will keep the work going on your behalf until the end of your life.
Thirdly, real change is a process of letting go and grabbing hold of a new way of thinking and living. It is allowing God to transform the way we look at life and at each other. Listen to Paul. He says, But that is not the way you learned Christ! Assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:20-24). We must choose to follow God and to put off the old way of dealing with life. After all the goal is to become like Christ and be able to live in true righteousness and holiness, and not some false or surface righteousness or holiness.
So today, where are you stuck? Where have you roped off a piece of your heart like in a museum? Today is the day to begin the process of letting go and let God heal you. For some it may an instant result. For others it may take time, but God will heal if we open our heart to Him. And by the way if we ask Him, He will come to your aide and help you.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom