A Change of Heart

FACTS

  • The average size of the adult human heart is about the size of two fists.
  • At around 4 – 7 weeks after conception the heart begins to beat.
  • The heart beats appx 100K times per day = 35M beats a year = 2.5B beats in an average lifetime.
  • During the average lifetime it pumps about 1M barrels of blood. That’s around 2k gal per day. To get a picture of this, you would have to turn on your kitchen faucet – full blast – and let it run continuously for about 45 years to equal the amount of blood your heart pumps during an average lifetime.

Obviously we’re not here to talk the blood pumping muscle that is enshrouded by our rib cage. We’re here to talk about that fragile part of us which breaks easily and often. I’m talking about the ever-changing heart which is tender and soft one minute then cold and hard at another. That part of us which we are encouraged to let guide our decisions. Just follow your heart. And it is this heart, which houses our emotions and desires, the central part of each of us which the Lord wants to transform. As it is with the physical heart, so it is with the spiritual heart sometimes. We will often ignore the signs of failure. Each of us has experienced spiritual heart failure. Some of you are experiencing heart complications as you read this. There is hope! Behold, the Kingdom of God is here. Today we’ll take a look at a passage from the prophet Ezekiel which will serve as a backdrop for the rest of this message. We’ll also look at other passages and discover what God says about the heart. Let’s read.

Ezekiel 36:22-28

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord,” says the Lord God, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 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. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. 28 Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.

Ok, so when we read passages like this, particularly verses 25-27, where God says that He will do something for us, I think that it is good practice to engage with the text and ask questions. In this case, we should ask two questions specifically: (1)  What’s wrong with the old heart? (2) What good is a new heart. “Imagine having your heart taken out and accepting the heart of another…person…who has given you this gift of life for no reason.”

What’s wrong with the old heart?

Well, to put it simply: The old heart is the soil of sin.

It was the heart of man which housed the world’s wickedness which eventually led to the world’s destruction. As it was during the time of Noah, when men and women were “eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage…” (Luke 17:27). When violence and corruption had filled the earth (Gen. 6:11). The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5).

Look closely at this verse and the Lord’s diagnoses of man’s heart. Words such as every, only, and continually addresses the fullness of the sinful condition of the heart. Apart from God, man is totally depraved and his depravity begins in the heart.

It is in the heart that the seeds of bitterness take root. The sin filled heart is fertile ground for hatred and murder, for jealousy and covetousness. Adultery and lust are planted there. Racism, elitism, and classism, spring up from the heart.

You might read Genesis 6:5 and disagree with the Great Physician’s diagnoses of your heart, “I’m a good person you say.” and you might want a second opinion. Well, if you’re not convinced that something is spiritually and innately wrong with your heart, go to Jeremiah 17:9. In Jeremiah 17:9 the Lord states that The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? That’s why it’s bad advice to tell your friends to follow their heart or to let their heart be their guide. The Lord Himself says that there is not a single thing more wicked, more deceitful, than your heart! Jesus said that, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34b-35). That’s why when someone cuts you off in traffic, without even intending to, you respond in anger. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21). “The inclination of your heart directs your mortal life…” (Stabnow, D. K., Holman Study Bible, NKJV).

In the heart, the craftiness of deceit is honed and the appetite for worldliness is carefully caressed. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies, pride, foolishness (Mark 7:21-22). Out of your heart proceeds divorce. Out of your heart proceeds homosexuality, pornography and sex trafficking. And from your heart you rebel against God and erect idols to replace Him. “The fool has said in his heart, there is no God…” (Psalms 14:1). The heart, in its natural state, is the soil of sin.

What good is a new heart?

A new heart is the soil of salvation.

As I look throughout the Word of God, I can see salvation taking its very first life-giving beat in the heart of man. What do I mean by this? I mean that, salvation doesn’t start in our heads. And this is a hang up for many people. When it comes to the  redeeming work of God it doesn’t matter how many academic achievements you have because ALL intelligence breaks down in the presence of God. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty (1 Corinthians 1:27).

Now, what I’m not saying is that you have to be an idiot to believe in God, What I am saying is that you cannot be smart enough to get to the point where you will believe in God. Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father draws him…” (John 6:44). The Apostle Paul repeats, “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God (Romans 3:10-11ff). For My holy Name’s sake, “I will sprinkle clean water on you…I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and a new spirit…(Ezek. 36:25-26)! “…a heart to know Me” (Jeremiah 24:7). The heart of man, redeemed by the Lord, is the soil of salvation.

Max Lucado said that “you change your life by changing your heart.” A new heart makes it possible to love God and neighbor. It enables us to look beyond a person’s race and ethnicity to see the intrinsic value of each person. A hard heart causes us to be tight-fisted and stingy (Deut. 15:7-8), but a new heart gives us compassion for the poor and the lost. With a new heart, we have the ability and power to forgive when we’ve been wronged, a new heart enables us to love mercy, to do justly, and to walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8)! Let the Lord till the soil of your heart today and let Him plant His Seeds of Truth deeply within you!

In Mark’s Gospel 4:14-15, Jesus says that “The Sower sows the Word” and it is in the heart – the new heart – that the Word of God is sown.  King David said, I have hidden your word…” Where? “…in my heart that I might not sin against you (Ps. 119:11). Paul say that God…made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). With the new heart we can exercise faith in God. Paul says that “we confess Jesus as Lord with our mouth, but we believe (trust) with our heart that He was raised from the dead (Romans 10:8-10). The mouth confesses what the heart has committed to. The heart is the soil of salvation.

Call to Respond

God’s promise to give a new heart, a heart to know Him, was fulfilled in my friend Will Hector. Will came to my office just over a week ago and he was going through a really tough time, he made pretty decent money working as a landman and he had a beautiful girlfriend, but still, life had not yet reached its peak of fulfillment. Will is one of the many people affected by the oil and gas slump, to top that off, his girlfriend packed up and moved to another state. Will talked and I listened as he poured out “his heart”, and he finally admitted that he had tried everything except for allowing Jesus to transform his heart. He confessed that he didn’t even know where to begin. How many of you know, that when you come to the end of yourself, that’s when you can find Jesus? I told Will, we can do that right here in my office, so we held hands and “called on the Name of the Lord”. The Word of God promises us that when we call on the Name of the Lord, we WILL be saved (Romans 10:13). Will walked into my office with an old heart, a heart that was failing, Will had ignored the warning signs for a long time, but by the grace of God, he has a new heart today!! Can we give God some praise for what happened in Will?

What about you? Are you going to keep letting your deceptive heart mislead you? Are you going to continue ignoring God’s warning signs that something is seriously wrong with your heart or will you allow Him to give you a new heart like He did for my friend Will? “Imagine having your old heart taken out, and accepting the heart of Jesus, Who, because He so loved you, He died on a cross for your sins so you wouldn’t have to?”

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