A Christian’s Heart – Introduction
January 14, 2023

A Christian’s Heart – Introduction

As we begin this New Year, I’d like to share with you what our vision and goal will be for 2023, and what we’ll be looking at in our time together. And it all begins with an inside work through the type of heart Christians are to possess. And what I’d like to do in this introduction is give you a little taste of what this entails as we look at three things, I consider to be tantamount for anyone who calls themselves Christian of the type of heart they should have. And then through this series we’ll look at even more qualities in greater detail.

Now, why is it important to have such a heart? Well, the Bible says that it’s the condition of the heart that determines who we are (Proverbs 4:23), and how we relate to others (Luke 6:45).

But before we go any further, I think it’s important that we determine 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 then 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 it to be.

When our hearts fail to pump the way they should, when disease attacks it, or our arteries become clogged preventing blood from flowing at its optimal rate, then we are faced with various health issues 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, because as Jesus said to the woman at the well that God is spirit, and those who worship Him do so in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). But God has a heart, and it’s one that can be broken over our sins, and it is His heart we are to follow.

In fact, it’s this seeking after the heart of God that the Lord commends and is seeking amongst His people. He is seeking a people whose hearts are seeking after His heart.

Now, God tells those who teach His word that He wants them to have His heart so that 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 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 are 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, our hearts are 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.

Through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord said, “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. You don’t, but I do.”

This may well be why King David prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart.” (Psalm 139:23a NKJV)

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).

Look at Jesus’s explanation of the human heart, as He fully reveals its condition.

“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 Himself promises to His people. He said, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26 NKJV)

This was the cry of King David, saying, “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 like this, like David, is because as the Apostle Paul tells us, it’s with our hearts that we believe unto righteousness (Romans 10:10).

Therefore, Solomon says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)

It’s for this reason that I’ve decided to look at the qualities of a Christian’s heart this year. Therefore, in this introduction, I’d like to look at three qualities that I see right off the bat about what a Christian heart is and should be.

A Loving Heart

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 it is with this heart that we’re to love God.

What! We’re to love God with hearts that are filled with wickedness and that are in total opposition to His? And the answer is yes as Jesus said in the Great Commandment.

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)

But if our hearts are so full of evil, how can we love God with it, seeing that God cannot abide evil (Psalm 5:4; Habakkuk 1:13)? The answer is to have God clean it up. And God does so through belief in Jesus Christ, accepting Him as our Savior and Lord.

When we do this, the Apostle Paul says we’re new creations in Christ, that is, everything of the past, the old heart and the old way life, is done away with and everything now becomes brand new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Now, in saying that it is brand new, means just that. It’s not the old heart with a fresh coat of paint to make it look like new, but a new heart, fresh off God’s assembly line.

In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul calls this a circumcision of the heart, which is 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, which is where religion has stepped in saying that it’s through the keeping of their rules, regulations, and rituals, or the law.

Jesus, however, gave us the answer 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 we love Him.

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39 NKJV)

God knows we can’t go up and give Him a great big hug, but we can show God how much we love Him by loving others with the love He has placed in our hearts.

This goes to the very heart of our vision and mission at Living Waters Fellowship, and that is to make a difference in our community and world for Christ, and we make that difference by loving others with the love of God.

Let me share with you a story that I believe brings understanding to what is being said as to how we are to fulfill this commandment.

There was a little boy who was afraid of lightening and thunder. Every time a thunder 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 that Jesus was always  there with him, so he had nothing to be afraid of.

Well, one evening a thunder storm rolled through, 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.

Holding back his sniffles, the little boy shook his head in agreement, but then said, “I just need someone with skin on.”

We are the hands of Jesus that God has called to love others as Jesus would love them.

Now the Jewish scribe who asked Jesus the original question of what was the greatest commandment then asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor,” to which Jesus tells us the story of the Good Samaritan.

The answer given by Jesus through the Good Samaritan story 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 were 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 who hate us.

A Changed Heart

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.” (http://www.hymnary.org/text/change_my_heart_o_god)

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” changes our hearts. And that “Who” is the Lord God, who is the potter who molds and shapes our hearts into a heart that is after His heart (Isaiah 64:8).

Such a change is what we call, “transformation.” It means to be changed from what we were into what God has called us to be, and this isn’t through any external means that accompanies religion, like rules, 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 the greatest 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.

A Heart that Follows God

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 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 so you can 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 verse 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 that the desire comes directly from the heart. Remember the heart is spiritual as well, and it is this part of us where emotions and desires reside.

Conclusion

In closing, what I can say is that discipleship is all about transformation, where we put off the old person that we once were, that is, lost and dying in our sins, and put on a brand new person in Christ.

And again, transformation is an inside change that takes place when we accept Jesus Christ into our lives, when we become born again. And this change that take place on the inside will be evident as people now see who we have become. It is what has taken place on the inside that now becomes evident to everyone on the outside.

And so, it begins with a change of heart, with a new heart, and as we saw today it is a changed heart filled with love for God and that follows Jesus as His disciple.

And so, throughout this year we’ll be looking at a Christian’s heart, that is, what our heart should be like in greater detail. Let me give you a taste, as it were, of what we’ll be exploring together. We’ll look at a heart that is filled with the Holy Spirit, grace, forgiveness, faith, hope, and integrity, to name a few. Also, we’ll look at what it means to have a servant’s heart, healer’s heart, courageous heart, and a wise and obedient heart.

And so, as you can see this will be a transformative time, as become more and more like Jesus and the type of believers He has called for us and the church to be. Now, this is no small task that God has set before us, but one that will reap 100-fold in our lives and in the Kingdom of God.

 

A Needed Transformation

Over this past generation our country has gone through wholesale changes in what we stand for and believe in. There are things happening today that weren’t even contemplated a couple of generations ago.

In 1965, after reading Billy Graham’s manuscript entitled, “World Aflame,” Ruth Graham Bell said, “Billy, if God doesn’t soon bring judgment upon America, He’ll have to go back and apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!”

The specific chapter she was reading vividly described the sinful conditions in America. But forward 55 years and what we see is an increase in wickedness of biblical proportions.

Yet, when I look back and see that God was willing to spare Sodom and Gomorrah if He could find at least 10 righteous people, even as wicked and sinful as it was, that gives me hope.

And that’s because of the Christian presence in the gates of our country that has withheld God’s judgment. But for how long? The Bible says God is long suffering, but it never says He is forever suffering!

We are in need of a transformation. A change is necessary, but what sort of change?

We look to our politicians, or to a particular political party, to bring the change we need to keep our country from God’s judgment. And while this may be beneficial, there is no system of government that will save our nation.

What is needed is a transformation, which is apropos because transformation, by its very definition, is something that begins on the inside and works its way out.

The only thing that will save this nation are people’s hearts changing, becoming aligned with God, His word, will, and ways. It’s a heart change of the people, not a political realignment, but a heart alignment. And this is especially true in the lives of God’s people.

The Lord cried out, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

And we see such a cry from the Lord through the prophet Jeremiah.

Jeremiah said, “A voice was heard on the desolate heights, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel. For they have perverted their way; they have forgotten the Lord their God.” (Jeremiah 3:21 NKJV)

And the Lord responded, “Return, you backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.” (Jeremiah 3:22 NKJV)

So, A Transformation is Needed

And this will happen only when the Spirit of God takes over our lives, because when that happens, we’re no longer going to be the same, and those who know us will see us in a completely different light. No longer will we be classified as what we were, sinners, instead we’ll be seen as to who we are in Christ, and that is, saints and warriors for God.

Now, the reason I say, “Warriors for God,” is because we see this transformation in the story of David and Goliath.

Today we face similar giants who threaten all that we stand for, all that we hold dear as believers in Jesus Christ. These giants spew out their hatred for God, the things of God, and the people of God much the same as Goliath did.

When David heard these remarks directed towards God and His people, he became transformed, so much so that even King Saul questioned who he was. This is interesting because Saul knew David as a musician, a person who through his music could drive away the demons of depression.

But now Saul saw David in a completely different light. He saw David as a warrior, and so he asked, “Whose son is this youth?” (1 Samuel 17:55 NKJV)

Saul no longer saw David as just a musician, but now he saw him as a mighty man of valor.

Now is the time for our transformation. Our friends and family need to no longer see us as singers of hymns on Sunday morning, instead they need to see us as mighty men and women of valor.

But just as David refused King Saul’s armor, we need to refuse the weaponry of this world.

Instead, we’re to fight with God’s armor, that is, the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, the sandals of peace, the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, along with Holy Spirit directed prayer (Ephesians 6:12-18).

To fight the battles, therefore, a transformation is needed. This is why it’s my prayer that 2023 will be a year of transformation, where our hearts will be transformed, and we’ll be those men and women that God is calling for us to be, along with His church.









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