Tag Archives: change

How’s Your Heart?

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

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God’s Detours Brings About His Purposes

When Michelle and I lived in NY, I will never forget the day there was an accident that blocked the roadway on which I was traveling. Because the accident blocked the entire road the police department was detouring traffic from the roadway to one of the side streets. However, the community they were detouring the traffic into had only one entrance and one exit. You guessed it…. we entered and exited at the same point. The problem of course is that the traffic inside the community began to backup until there was no longer any room for another car. So, we sat on this side street in this unknown community for more than an hour waiting for the accident to be cleaned up. I can now look back and laugh but not so on that day.

In life, we are often faced with what appears to be detours. We are going along in life and suddenly we find that we have to change course. We don’t want to change course but we must. The detours of life could be almost anything. It might the doctor’s report that suddenly and radically changes our life forever. It could be unexpected financial loss that comes from a job loss or forced retirement. The detour may come in the form of a death of loved one or spouse. It could be a change of occupation or location of work. Or, it could be the transition of a pastor that was have loved and admired. Whatever the issue, life as you know it will never be the same as a result of the detour thrown at you.

In 1 Samuel 22, we see the story of David who was on the run from Saul. David had been anointed by Samuel to be the King of Israel. He was anointed king but now he is on the run. But wait, it wasn’t supposed to happen this way. He was suppose to be anointed King and Saul was to step down so that David could take the throne and begin his reign as king. But a different story is unfolding. It is a story that is hard to understand especially since God had personally selected David as the King. But, as always God has a better plan. He wanted to equip David in a way that he had not been equipped.

Instead of becoming king, David had to depart from Jerusalem and from there he escaped to the cave of Adullam. No kingdom just a cave. No throne just a rock. David experienced a detour in his life. While he was on the way to being king he landed in a cave alone and without anyone around him. He was chosen by God but His reign was yet to be.

But all is not lost. God had a plan as David had been enrolled in the school of leadership and trust. David just did not know it yet. You see God used the detour to change David’s life and to prepare him for his time on the throne. When experiencing God’s detour(s) we must realize that God brings change into our lives not to destroy us but to reroute us so that we end up where God wants us to be all along. In the cave, David feels worthless, useless, mistreated, and misunderstood but he was right where he was supposed to be. God designed this experience so that David would become a different kind of King.

It was here that God gave David a new assignment. In the detour, David was to reach those he would have never reached otherwise. In 1Samuel 22:2 we see that …everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became captain over them. And there were with him about four hundred men. Look at who God sent his way. He sent those who were in distress or as the Hebrew word suggests those under pressure. Others were in debt. They could not pay their bills. And he sent those to David who were discontented. They had bitterness in their souls because they had been wronged and mistreated. What a crew God sent to David, a worn out depressed and motley group. David’s assignment was to train a new army that would be loyal to him. And he did. Had he never experienced the detour he would not have experienced this new adventure and this new call from God.

For some, it may seem that God has us on a detour but, the fact is, God has us right where he wants us. Seasons of transition and God directed detours are an opportunity for us to grow if we understand that God is at work. We will be able to more clearly define who we are and what we are to be about as an individual. It is often in the detours of life that we can reach those who have not been reached thus far. So while it seems we are on a detour, God is at work. Trust in Him and wait on Him for in the appointed time God will reveal His purpose.

Questions to consider

What detours are you experiencing?

Do you see the hand of God in the detour?

What do you see God doing in the detour that is preparing you for a mission that is beyond yourself?

Who is God putting in your life in this time of detour that you can minister to?

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