How A Person Gets Back a Softness in Their Heart
DATE: 25 July, 2004 AM PLACE: BBC Ballincollig
I. Introduction (Dt 5:29; Mt 15:8)
A. Do you remember your first love? Did you know it is a Bible phrase? But it’s not about a girl or boy friend – but a thrill and joy just at the thought of Jesus?
B. I’m convinced, the biggest problem in life is not a health problem, a home problem, a habit problem, a money problem, a loneliness problem, a self-confidence problem - The biggest problem in every life is a heart problem
C. This was best revealed by our Lord’s statement about what was the greatest and most important commandment that any human being could ever obey – that of loving our Creator, with all our heart!
D. God’s greatest wish, is for the human heart to know love – not just know about love itself, but experience the greatness of what it means to love God! To have a heart FOR God – to know Him, and to be in love with Him!
E. Sounds strange in this modern world doesn’t it? Yet without it, the human heart degenerates, and disintegrates into loving darkness rather than light
F. To have such great love for God, from our heart, is not easy to have, much less, to maintain (Mt 15:8).
G. So, what you find as a dominate feature of the entire Bible (if you read it), is God constantly instructing, and dealing with the issues of the heart instead of the hands and the head
H. So this morning, I want to look at some issue of the heart that need to be reversed – I want to be a sort of heart surgeon, that takes a good hard look at your heart’s condition with you, and decides with you how best to correct some defects in the heart, so it can function, maybe like it hasn’t ever before!
I. That’s what Jesus does best – changes and heals the human heart!
II. Background – the different kind of hearts that there are
A. The hard heart (Zec 7:12) Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts.
B. The evil heart (Heb 3:12) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. Jeremiah calls it desperately wicked
C. The condemning heart (1Jn 3:20) For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
D. The faint/weak heart (Lam 5:17) For this our heart is faint; for these things our eyes are dim. Wanting to give up.
E. The slow heart (Lu 24:25) Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: - Hesitant, never sure, always stopping short
F. The cold heart (Mt 24:12) And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
A. A Heart For God Comes By Surrender (Lk 20:17-19)
1. We have to start here – surrender means to admit defeat, give up, resign
2. Pride is killing us – it’s choking-out our ability to love from the heart
3. It is the open door for the devil to come into our homes, and destroy everything that is precious
4. Surrender, is allowing yourself to be broken, hurt, vulnerable, exposed, defenceless, at risk
5. Not a great word these days – not when the world promotes and promises: Self-sufficiency; Inner Resolve; Determination; Stubbornness; Rebellion
6. Notice how that Jesus identifies Himself as THE STONE (Lk 20) that is rejected by some smart builders, who think it is not necessary to have such a stone – they actually end up casting it away – only to find out they threw away the most important rock of all time – the Messiah
7. Jesus then points out that people do not need to hug that Rock, or kiss that Rock, or worship that Rock (like the Charismatics say)
8. But that every person has one of two choices:
a. FALL on it and be thoroughly broken to pieces
b. Or resist, and have it one day fall upon you, and smash you to dust!
9. Did you know that THAT is the Gospel in a nutshell?
a. God wants you to lose yourself, lose your reputation, your future plans, goals, strengths, abilities, your will – lose them all
b. And let them all crumble and break at the foot of the cross
c. So that Jesus can put them all back together in a new and marvellous way that can only be called a new birth!
d. He cannot do it, unless you let go!
10. It means surrender your rights to everything (1Co 6:19,20; Mk 9:43-47)
a. Some of you still have Rock and Roll music in your homes – you won’t let go, so you walk around depressed like death warmed over
b. Some of you still have a bitterness that goes way back – and you won’t let go and so you just stay angry 24 hours a day
c. Some of you are so concerned about the future that you never can enjoy the blessings of God TODAY – let go of your problems for a few hours and see if the Lord can fix your disasters while you get back to worshipping Him!
11. Surrender is the key to the required softness, gentleness, flexibility
12. Without it, there is no ability to change you!
13. You need to tell God, I hereby let go of anything that has been more important to me than you!
14. Surrender is where your life, plans, and desires end, and real life begins.
15. If there is not a surrendered heart in you, then there is only going to be a harder, more evil, more condemning, weaker, slower, and colder heart!
B. A Heart For God Comes By Sorrow and Repentance (2 Cor 7:10)
1. Quite thinking what you do and don’t do doesn’t matter
2. Look at our lives - honestly
3. Look at this world around us – we have to start thinking that our actions reap harsh results – and that most of the results are NOT good!
a. Like force feeding millions of kids thousands of hours of sex and violence and rebellion is gonna have an “adverse” affect on their ability to obey don’t you think?
b. Telling four generations now we all evolved from amoebas and dirt has encouraged every one to only see life as something that must be fought for and conquered in the interest of the survival of the fittest!
4. Our hearts hold a lot of grudges and hurts, and memories, and resentments, and bitterness about what other people have done to us – we hate the fact that people don’t even have the courtesy to say Excuse me, and I’m sorry, and please forgive me when they are rude, or rushing past us, or talking down to us, or even plainly stomping all over us.
5. Well, the simple truth is, we don’t know how to say I’m sorry for the things we have done to hurt God (Ps 51:1-3).
6. Do you know WHY God was grieved that He even had made the world?
a. Because it had gotten to the place where there was no heart left for Him to work on
b. He HAD to destroy everyone – except for Noah and his family
c. No one else had the softness required to repent and be sorry for their sin
7. Truly ALL have sinned – that is easy to acknowledge
8. But isn’t it easy to see also that most are not sorry that they sin?
9. There is a hardness of heart that is just getting harder and harder – like an adamant stone – simply because we are too proud to let some things go, and say I am sorry, please forgive me, let’s start over!
10. The strongest, and happiest heart in here is the one that has all its sinfulness forgiven, and all its guilt and regrets forgotten!
11. Therefore, sorrow is a good thing – all the time, God is trying to get people to come to the point of REPENTANCE (2Pet 3:9; Acts 20:21)
12. As long as you find it hard to say I’m sorry – to anybody – the harder your heart will become, and the harder it will be to break it!
13. Start this morning by swallowing your pride, and going to someone you know you have hurt and say, I’m sorry – it will heal your own heart even more than it may heal the heart of the one you offended!
C. A Heart For God Comes By Salvation. Praise God!
1. Unusual concept – actually wanting something spiritual in your life! Something the Bible calls, the free gift of Salvation
2. You cannot have a heart for God until your heart belongs to God (Mk 12:28-34) – think about this!
a. Don’t let religion and religious efforts fool you
b. No amount of religious activity and prayer and good works can take the place of a new heart (Ezek 36:26,27)
c. Same is true in a home
1) You can obey, you can sit close next to someone, you can smile
2) But if your heart is not changed and real towards that person, it is a wasted effort
3. That’s why all the emphasis in the Bible is on PREACHING instead of only kindness and good works and miracles
a. All the miracles in Egypt and in the wilderness never changed anybody – murmurrers and complainers all the way
b. All the miracles done by our Lord never changed anybody’s heart
c. All the kindnesses of God towards sinners doesn’t motivate them to get saved – only gives them boldness to go worse!
d. Only preaching brings about change – and the purpose of preaching is to save sinners (1Cor 1:18-21). Straight up, black and white, heaven or hell preaching! As with the preaching of John the Baptist!
4. Salvation is not just something that takes place in heaven – name written down; angels shouting for joy. It is something that happens here as well – new heart, full of joy, unspeakable, and a love for God
5. If your heart is only hard towards God, and towards God’s people, then you may only have a heart of stone, and need a whole new heart
6. It only comes by salvation – by getting “saved” (Rom 10:9,10)
a. Starts with a person who surrenders, yields, gives up – admits defeat
b. That person sorrows for all the sin they have done against God, and then clearly repents of their sinfulness, and constant hurting of God
c. THEN, that person can call on the name of Jesus Christ, from their heart (Rom 10:9,10), and be certainly saved from the wrath to come
7. Not every body that claims to be a Christian, really is one – They may be very religious, and know how to honour Jesus with their lips, but their heart is far from Him!
8. If your heart was not given to Jesus for replacement, don’t waste another day trying to live the Christian life with the old heart – it is fruitless
D. A Heart For God Comes By Sowing the Gospel (Psalm 126:5,6) Soul-Winning
1. Every Christian in this room needs to see what’s really happening in the world (Lam 3:41-51). Let the world’s events break your heart, and cause you to grab a fist full of tracts and go out into the highways and hedges
2. Do you know what stepping out of your protective shell will do for you?
a. It will humiliate you – you will be identified as “one of those…”
b. It will terrify you – at least at first
c. It will empty you – you will be more drained than ever because it is the most intense of battles
d. It will force you to depend totally on the power of the Holy Spirit
e. And thankfully, It will transform your heart
f. You will see how people really are living, and struggling, and dying
g. Not like Hello and Ok! And Now magazines – but like it really is!
3. Most Christians got saved because some courageous believer interrupted their life with the Gospel and provoked them to think about eternity – but they themselves will never get out and do the same!
4. NO WONDER our hearts are cold, and hard and evil and weak and dark
5. Do you want to get back a heart for God, like you used to have when you were first saved? Get out and go soul-winning with us on Tuesday or Thursday evenings, or Saturdays!
6. It’s GUARANTEED to work folks!
7. Stand up for the Lord Jesus on the job, or at school – quit hiding behind “it’s not legal” or “I might offend someone.” YOU MIGHT SAVE SOMEONE!
E. A Heart For God Comes By Saturation (Ps 40:8)
1. Wouldn’t it be grand if you just always WANTED to do right, and always knew God’s will daily and just LOVED to do it?
2. Well, one of the important keys to having a heart that LOVES to do God’s will, is when God’s word has filled your heart - saturated
3. Anywhere I go today, I find a complete societal wash-out with concentrated reprogramming taking place – of even Christians:
a. Reprogramming people’s ideas of what life is all about and what’s important
b. Re-wiring the family – same-sex couples, partners and not marriages
c. Re-wiring what love is – it is now only spelled physical lust
4. Look at all the resources and ammunition the world is throwing at us
a. The music – just go into Virgin-Megastore and see rows and rows
b. The videos – how many have ANY morals at all?
c. The reading material – how many books have you read that brought you closer to God and His word?
d. The stupid TV programs – a-musement
5. If you want to have a heart for God, you are going to have to get a WHOLE LOT OF GODLY INFLUENCES BACK IN THE FOREFRONT OF YOUR LIFE
a. Loads of Church – Sunday morning and evening
b. Lots of Bible studies, discipleships, personal time in prayer and study
c. Force yourself to be with other godly Christians! I know it is hard ;)
d. Lots of Bible reading – ten chapters a day!
6. Don’t kid yourself, and don’t try to kid God
7. You will NEVER have a heart for God until you untangle the busyness of your life and make time for God’s word, people in your life! Every day!
F. A Heart For God Comes By Satisfaction – Contentment with what God gives you (Rom 1:21)!
1. When you forget to be thankful
a. At meals – rush in to eating
b. At rising from sleep
c. At getting into bed
d. At the touch of a family member’s hand
e. At every blessing
f. At every trial
2. When you forget to be thankful, you heart becomes spoiled and demanding for more
3. But when you are ever thankful, your heart is so blessed with even the little things
4. God changes from being someone who is holding out on you and punishing you, to someone who loves you more than you deserve, and is blessing you above measure!
IV. Conclusion – the different kind of hearts there are:
A. The hard heart (Zec 7:12)
B. The evil heart (Heb 3:12)
C. The condemning heart (1Jn 3:20)
D. The faint/weak heart (Lam 5:17)
E. The slow heart (Lu 24:25) - Hesitant, never sure, always stopping short
F. The cold heart (Mt 24:12)
G. Do any of those describe YOUR heart?
H. Did you know Christians can get those kind of hearts – by neglecting the great truths – let’s see if you remember:
1. A Heart For God Comes By Surrender (Lk 20:17-19)
2. A Heart For God Comes By Sorrow and Repentance (2 Cor 7:10)
3. A Heart For God Comes By Salvation (Mk 12:28-34; Ezek 36:26,27)
4. A Heart For God Comes By Sowing the Gospel (Psalm 126:5,6)
5. A Heart For God Comes By Saturation (Psalm 40:8)
6. A Heart For God Comes By Satisfaction – Contentment with what God gives you (Rom 1:21)!