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A Christian’s Heart
Today we’re going to begin a new series on the type of heart Christians are to possess. This morning I’m going to give you a little taste of this series as we look at three things I consider to be tantamount to anyone who calls themselves Christian, and then through this series we’ll look at even more qualities in even greater detail.
Why is it important to have such a heart?
What is the heart?
Medically speaking, the heart is a muscular organ that pumps life giving blood to all parts of the human body through the body’s circulatory system of various blood vessels (arteries, veins, and capillaries). This provides the oxygen and nutrients that our bodies need to survive.
A heart that is healthy pumps the right amount of blood at a rate that allows the human body to function as God created.
When our hearts fail to pump the way they should, when disease attacks it, or our arteries become clogged preventing blood from flowing in or out of the heart at it’s optimal rate, then we are faced with danger and possibly even death.
So I think it’s safe to say that the human heart is one of the most important organs God placed in the human body.
But I think it’s also safe to say that a person’s heart is also one of the most important spiritual organs God has given to us as well. But the heart that I am talking about isn’t the human organ. Rather it is the spiritual part of us where emotions and desires reside.
This spiritual heart is seen from the very beginning when the Bible tells us that we have been made in both the image and likeness of the Lord God Himself, Genesis 1:26. And so God has a heart. But it’s not the physical organ that resides within the human body, although God created it, but He has a heart, one that can be broken over our sins, and a heart we are to follow.
In fact, it’s this seeking after the heart of God that God commends and is Himself seeking after amongst His people. He is seeking a people whose heart is seeking after His heart.
God tells us that He wants His leaders to have His heart so they can rightly teach His word.
“I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” (Jeremiah 3:15 NKJV)
King David was such a shepherd and was commended by God for having such a heart. Look at God’s testimony of David.
“He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’” (Acts 13:22 NKJV)
And so we’re to be actively seeking the heart of God.
Now, in our natural condition, which is the condition known as sin, the heart of man isn’t even lined up with God’s heart. Instead it’s evil, wicked, filled with deceit and treachery. So wicked and so treacherous is the human heart that we are easily deceived by it, but not so God, He knows it well. In fact, He’s the only one who knows our heart’s true condition.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10a NKJV)
The Lord is saying, “I know the heart, I know what’s in there.”
Jesus knew this about the human heart as well, being God and all; therefore He didn’t give Himself over to anyone. It says that He didn’t commit Himself to anyone because He knew what is in man, John 2:24-25.
Listen to Jesus explanation of the human heart. He said,
“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” (Mark 7:21-23 NKJV)
And so what we need is a new heart, which is what the Lord promises in Ezekiel 36:26 to those who will seek Him for it, who will cry after it.
This was the cry of King David.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10 NKJV)
And the reason we need to pray this is because, as the Apostle Paul tells us, it’s with our hearts that we believe unto righteousness, Romans 10:10. Therefore Solomon tells us to guard our hearts.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)
It is for this reason that I’ve decided to look at the qualities of a Christian’s heart. In other words, what should a Christian’s heart look like. This morning in our time together I’m going to give you three aspects that I see right off the bat about what a Christian’s heart is and should be.
A Christian’s Heart is …
Let’s go back and look again at the condition of the human heart, and that is it is wicked and evil, filled with sin, deception, and treachery. But then we’re told that with this heart we’re to love God. Jesus said,
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37 NKJV)
Jesus said that this is the first and greatest commandment, Matthew 2:38.
But if our hearts are so full of evil, how can we love God with them, seeing that God cannot abide evil, Psalm 5:4; Habakkuk 1:13? The answer is to have God clean them up. And God does so through belief in Jesus Christ, accepting Him as our Savior and Lord.
When we do the Apostle Paul says when we’re new creations in Christ, and that everything of the past, that is, the old heart and the old way of doing things is done away with and everything now becomes new, 2 Corinthians 5:17.
In his letter to the church in Rome Paul calls this a circumcision of the heart accomplished through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, and not by the letter of the law, Romans 2:28-29.
And so a new heart, a heart that is in love with God is what we’re called to have as believers. Here’s the problem, however, how do we show God that we love Him with the whole of our hearts?
This is something that has baffled many Christians.
Jesus gave us the answer, however, as He goes on to say that the second commandment is like unto the first, that is, it is by this second commandment that we show God how much e love Him.
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39 NKJV)
God knows we can’t go up to Him and give Him a great big bear hug. So how can we show God how much we love Him, it’s by loving others with the love God has placed in our hearts.
This goes to the very heart of our vision at Living Waters Fellowship, and that is to make a difference in our community for Christ, and we make that difference by loving others with the love of God.
There was a little boy who was afraid of thunder and lightning. Every time a storm rolled through he would cry hysterically. His parents tried as hard as they could to comfort Him, but nothing seemed to help.
Eventually his parents explained about lightning and thunder and the atmospheric conditions that cause it. But they also said one thing more; that Jesus was always with there with him so he had nothing to be afraid of.
One evening a storm hit in the middle of the night and the little boy became frightened and began to cry. His parents came into the room and again tried to comfort him and calm him down, but nothing was working, so again they explained the process of lighting and thunder, and again reassured him that Jesus was always there with him.
The little boy shook his head in agreement, but then said, “I just need someone with skin on.”
We are the hands and arms of Jesus that God’s called us to use to love on others as Jesus would love them.
Now the Jewish scribe who asked Jesus the original question then asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor,” to which Jesus tells us the story of the Good Samaritan.
The answer is that our neighbor is everyone, whether we know them or not, even if they are friend or foe, we are to have mercy on them the same way the Samaritan had mercy upon the Jew, even though Jews and Samaritans are enemies.
This is at the heart of having a Christian heart, it’s a heart that is totally in love with God, and shows that love by having grace and mercy on everyone, even those that hate us.
The next thing we see is that a Christian heart is…
In the early 80’s, Eddie Espinosa wrote a classic hymn entitled, “Change My Heart Oh God.” He later wrote why and what caused him to write these words
“‘Change My Heart Oh God’ is a heart cry song that came to me after a time of being in the presence of God during a private time of worship. The experience that I had was very similar to that of Isaiah, chapter 6. During my time of being in God’s presence, sin and attitudes of the heart were suddenly glaring me in the face. I realized that in order for me to walk uprightly before the Lord, I needed a heart transplant. I desperately needed for God to change my heart in order to love the things that He loves and to hate the things that He hates.”
The song lyrics are simple but powerful
Change my heart oh God,
Make it ever true.
Change my heart oh God,
May I be like You.
You are the potter,
I am the clay,
Mold me and make me,
This is what I pray.
A Christian’s heart is then a changed heart, but it’s not “what” changes our hearts but rather “Who.” And that “Who” is the Lord, who is the potter who molds and shapes our hearts into a heart that is after His.
Such a change is what we call, “transformation.” It means to be changed from what we were into what God has called for us to be, and this isn’t through any external means that accompanies religion, like rituals or traditions. Rather it means a change that starts on the inside and then becomes visible to everyone on the outside.
The verse that speaks of this to the greatest degree is what the Apostle Paul said to the church in Rome.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2 NKJV)
To conform is to allow outside pressures to change who we are, which in this case is the world. But to be transformed happens through the renewing of our minds. Solomon said that as a person thinks in their heart, that is who that person truly is, Proverbs 23:7.
Such a transformation, such a changed heart can be seen in a tax collector from Jericho named Zacchaeus.
After meeting with Jesus Zacchaeus completely changed saying he would give half his goods to the poor, and anything he took through false accusations he’d restore fourfold. Upon this change Jesus said that salvation had come that day for Zacchaeus, and that’s because he had a changed heart, a heart totally in love with God.
And so a Christian heart is a changed heart filled with love for God. And lastly a Christian’s heart is …
After His resurrection and prior to His accession into heaven Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they were endued with heavenly power, until they were baptized with the Holy Spirit, Acts 1:4-8.
And while this is a promise, it’s what the disciples said and how Jesus responded that caught my attention. It speaks to the condition of our hearts, which is our willingness to follow God and His instructions for our lives.
After Jesus told them of the coming the baptism of the Holy Spirit, they asked if this would be the time that Jesus would restore the kingdom to Israel, Acts 1:6.
Jesus responded by telling them that wasn’t their worry. Basically I see Jesus saying,
“Don’t worry about it. You follow My instructions and be filled with the Holy Spirit and be My witnesses to the world. I’ll handle the rest of the stuff, you just follow Me.”
This in a nutshell should be a Christian’s heart, a heart that follows Jesus. In the classic verses on discipleship Jesus talked about what it takes to follow.
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23 NKJV)
Why do I say this is the heart of a Christian? Because Jesus said that if we desire to follow, and the desire to follow comes directly from the heart. Remember the heart is the spiritual part of us where emotions and desires reside.
And so through this summer we’ll be looking at greater detail at a Christian’s heart, more specifically “An Integrity Filled Heart,” “A Servant’s Heart,” “A Wounded Healer Heart,” “A Grace Filled Heart,” “A Spirit Filled Heart,” “A Forgiving Heart,” “A Praise Filled Heart,” “A Courageous Heart,” “An Obedient Heart,” “A Faithful Heart,” and “A Hope Filled Heart.”
Wednesday Evening Bible Study