How is your heart this morning? How many here think that when you hear that question, immediately think of your physical heart? How many of your ‘inner’ heart? We can interpret this question in two ways. The first way has to do with the state of your physical heart. The second way has to do with the state of your being, your emotions, or your soul. Listen to several different passages out of the gospels with the word ‘heart’ appearing in all of them. Here they are:Mark 7:21 “For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come…” Then there is Matthew 5:8 that says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Next we hear the words of Jesus in a key passage of Luke 10: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,…”Then in Matthew 11:29 Jesus is quoted as saying, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls…”Mark 11:23 reads, “…if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you.”Jesus also made another important point about our hearts in Luke 11:24 “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” And finally, Jesus mentions the issue of the heart, to His increasingly troubled followers in John 14:1 “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me.
There are two important aspects of these seven passages out of the New Testament that deal with our heart, which is the spiritual dimension of our lives. The first aspect has to do with the disposition of our heart. By disposition, I mean the outlook or mindset of heart. Our attitude, our disposition comes out of that part of us deep within us – our heart. This attitude, this disposition of our heart was something that Jesus is speaking of. It was notably the Pharisees who Jesus did this to, because He observed that their hearts were hard and dead. In other words, their disposition was one of legalism and rigidity. Purity of heart, humility of heart, and peace of heart, or not, is evidence of the disposition of our heart. It is the evidence of the choices we make regarding how we are going to reply to our circumstances. Our disposition, when it comes to the issue of faith likewise has a corporate dimension. This is mentioned the places like 1 Corinthians and Revelation chapters 2 and 3. Paul’s writings to the various Christian communities of his day, address the issue of those communities’ inner dispositions. For example, in situation after situation in 1 Corinthians, Paul addresses attitudes of self-centeredness and selfishness. He calls the Corinthian community to task for their pride and constant conflict as evidence of the lack of pure and holy heart. In St. John’s vision, the Holy Spirit calls seven churches to account for their spiritual state of affairs. One is doing well but the rest need to make some changes by allowing God to change their hearts.
The second aspect has to do with the expression of our heart. As the Mark 7:21 passage indicates, it is out of the heart a whole host of evil intentions come. The two aspects are linked together. The disposition of our heart influences and directs the expressions of our heart. In other words, what comes out of our heart affects what our ears hear, our eyes see, our feet walk, and our hands do. Our heart disposition and expression affects the lives of others and makes our faith plausible or implausible. Likewise what goes into our hearts through our eyes, ears, hands, and feet, influences our inner disposition. I would simply remind us of what Jesus said was the cure for lust – ‘cutting off’ the offending hands or feet. In other words, to stop doing or seeing or hearing or going to people and places that cause us to sin. I think that Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus as recorded in Acts 9 illustrates both of these two aspects of our heart. We read in verses 1 and 2, “Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath. He was eager to destroy the Lord’s followers, so he went to the high priest. 2 He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains.” Acts 9:1-2 (NLT) The disposition of Paul’s heart was mean, biased, legalistic, and harsh. It motivated his ears to hear for certain things, his eyes to see for certain things, his feet to go certain places, and his mouth to say certain things. All of which were evil and threatening. Then Jesus stood across his path while he was headed to Damascus and confronted him about the disposition of his heart. As he was nearing Damascus on this mission, a brilliant light from heaven suddenly beamed down upon him! He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you, sir?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” (NLT) From that point, Saul would be different because he had a change of heart. A change of heart made possible by God. A change of heart that humanity needs because humanity is broken hearted. A change of heart that Jesus would make possible through His death and resurrection because it is a spiritual issue that requires a spiritual change
In concern for our spiritual health these days – mine included. I fear that we have been blinded by wealth; we sit unable to see the true wealth that is priceless and yet cost nothing. I fear that we have been deafened by the noise of entertainment (including religious entertainment) from all directions and now we are deaf to the voice of God and those who would help us hear God and thus life. We have been dis-abled and cannot turn to God and let Him heal us because our
hearts are have been hardened by so much that we cannot understand Him. This is not what the Lord wants, is it?
Hear the heart of Jesus in these words “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has appointed me to preach Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the downtrodden will be freed from their oppressors, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” Luke 4:18-19 (NLT) This was a mission of liberation, to open eyes to the truth of the human condition and the hope of salvation; to clear out ears deafened by so many voices who said, ‘this way’ or ‘this way’ or ‘that way!’ They point us to the truth, the promise, the hope that our troubled and challenged human hearts can be made to love, to care, to forgive, to grace, to change… because of what Jesus Christ has done for us. How is your heart this morning? Do not hold it back from God this morning. Let Him have it and let Him have all of you. Tracey will share a response . Lord, Thee I Love with all my heart.
This message by Rev. Jim Kane is brought to you by Grace Lutheran Church, Web and Park Street, Mountain View, Arkansas. For prayer or more information, contact Pastor Kenneth Taglauer by email: [email protected] A Pass it On Project