Why Standing Stones?

Why Standing Stones?

In ancient Israel, people stood stones on their end to commemorate a powerful move of God in their lives. It was a memorial to something God spoke or revealed or did. Often these standing stones became reference points in their lives. Today, we can find reference points in the written Word of God. Any scripture or sermon can speak something powerful into our lives, or reveal something of the nature of God. In this blog I offer, what can become a reference point for Christians, taken from God's ancient word and applied to today's world.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Heart Conditions

I’m a wonderful person…really!  I like me.  I love my family.  I’m a wonderful son and father.  I’m nice to people; compassionate.  I don’t drink or use drugs.  I’m not a liar.  I’m generous and I don’t kick my dog.  I’m just about perfect, except that I was born with a heart condition.

There was a problem with my heart that caused damage to my body.  It looked fine.  It wasn’t misshapen or broken; it just didn’t do what it was supposed to do.  In fact, as a human being I have two heart conditions, a physical one and a spiritual one.  Today I want to post on the spiritual heart condition, from this one verse:

Jeremiah 17:9 (NKJV)
17:9 "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?

Heart Conditions

A heart condition is what we call it when our heart doesn’t work like it should.  Basically, our hearts are just pumps.  Blood enters the heart; the heart constricts and pushes the blood forward.  Then, it expands and blood enters the heart again.  That’s what happens when our hearts beat.

Sometimes, though, it doesn’t work like it should.  It doesn’t move blood efficiently.  It beats erratically; or the valves don’t work:  Something doesn’t work right; that’s a heart condition.  I’ve just described a physical heart condition. 

The word heart in a spiritual sense isn’t referring to that physical pump that moves blood.  The spiritual heart is the Bible's way of referring to the center of our emotions, personality and character.  The “Spiritual Heart” is who each of us is as a person.  The longings and desires you have for your future, the way you respond to your fellow man, your courage, your outlook on life, your patience, those things make up your spiritual heart.

When our spiritual hearts are functioning well we exhibit the attributes of God.  Long-suffering, mercy forgiveness and love; those are the attributes of God’s heart, but the question is, “Are those things found in your heart?”  The fact is that we’re all suffering from spiritual heart conditions. 

Our text describes a spiritual heart condition:  The Heart is desperately wicked.  We weren’t created that way.  We were created in the image of God; in the likeness of God.  Our hearts were created to be like His heart.  God’s heart isn’t desperately wicked.  Wickedness isn’t a part of whom God is.  It isn’t a condition of God’s heart.  It’s only a condition of ours. 

There was a change that took place in the Garden of Eden.  That change caused a corruption that changed our hearts, forever.  There was a mutation; a breakdown that caused a corrupt heart to be passed down from Adam and Eve to all of us.

Romans 5:12 (NKJV)
5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned--

God doesn’t struggle with being righteous.  It’s who He is – But we struggle, don’t we?  We often don’t do what’s right.

Romans 7:15 (NKJV)
7:15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.

Even the apostle Paul struggled to do the right thing.  So, if he struggled, how about you and I?  Do we struggle, too?  Oh, I think we do.  Are you ever envious?  Yes!  Do you get jealous?  Yes!  Are you rebellious?  Do you have bad attitudes?  Are you a liar and a thief?  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Are you ever just plain mean?  You know you are!  Your heart is desperately wicked.  Wickedness, sinful attitudes, and sinful behavior, unfortunately that’s who you are.  That’s who we all are – That’s the condition of our hearts.

I just told you how wonderful I really am.  I’m Mr. Wonderful, but the Bible says my heart is desperately wicked.  I have a spiritual heart condition.  Just like Paul, I do things I hate, and the things I want to do…I struggle to do.  It’s my stinking, corrupt, deceitful heart.  It’s so deceitful that when I am doing the wrong thing, it sometimes lies to me and ,makes me think it’s okay.  I can justify it to myself. 

“I can hate those people – I’ve been oppressed.”
“Well, he was a jerk first – He deserves what I did to get even.”
“They don’t pay me enough – That’s why it’s okay for me to steal this thing.”

Our hearts are deceitful above all things.  People can easily lie to themselves; I’ve seen it at least a million times. 

So, what can we do with a heart like that?  How can we be saved with a heart like that?  We will always default to the dark side – just like Darth Vader.  We have to really fight to be right.  We need a spiritual “Heart Transplant”.

A Heart Transplant

David recognized his need for a new heart:
 Psalms 51:10 (NKJV)
51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

David’s asking God for a heart transplant.  Take this filthy, wicked, stinking heart and replace it with a clean one – a pure one:  A heart like yours, God.  That should be our prayer as well.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a heart that led you to do the right things instead of the wicked ones:  A heart that prevented wickedness?  Wouldn’t it be nice to know that you will always be godly – like God?  How wonderful to not have to battle temptation.  How wonderful to not destroy yourself through sin.  How wonderful to always do the right things – without fail.  Did you know that that’s a promise of God?

Ezekiel 36:26 (NKJV)
36:26 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.

That corrupt, wicked heart, that’s hardened by sin, God says He’ll take it out; remove it and He’ll replace it with a new one – a tender one. Is that the kind of heart you want?  That’s what David wanted.  That’s what David longed for.  David was a man after God’s own heart.  He wanted a heart like God. 

God said that about him, “He’s a man after my own heart.”  That’s the kind of man God was looking for to lead His people:  Someone with a heart like His.  That’s the kind of man that God can use.  Do you ever pray for a heart like God’s?  Are you contending to be more godly?  Godly means to be like God – to have the attributes of God:  long-suffering, mercy, forgiveness, love.

There is a way to get that.  There’s a way to get a heart transplant.  To start you have to repent.  Repentance is a change of heart.  You have to have a change of heart about sin.  You have to have a change of heart about your lifestyle.  You have to have a change of heart about priorities.  That’s repentance.  That word repent literally means to turn around, as if you’re traveling in one direction – away from God.  Your becoming less like Him and more like your father the devil, (John 8:44), and you change your mind about the direction you’re traveling.  Then, you turn around and travel toward God.  That moment when you have a change of heart that’s when the heart transplant has taken place.  That’s a heart transplant, right?  Take out the defective one and replace it with a new one:  One that works properly; a heart that’s tender toward the things of God.  The stony heart is gone and is replaced with flesh.

That’s why when you get saved you look at the world differently.  You look at people differently – with compassion.  You look at sin differently.  It becomes ugly and disgusting.  You look at God differently.  Pleasing Him becomes important, instead of just pleasing your own carnal, animal nature. 

Were you different after getting saved?  If so, that’s that new heart pumping strongly in your chest, moving pure blood throughout your carnal self; purifying, changing, removing the filth of sin.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)
5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Have you ever heard the expression, “I feel like a new man.”?  That’s the power of repentance.  As the heart functions properly, you become stronger.  You feel good again.  You’re a new man.  When it’s a spiritual heart transplant the Bible says you’re a new man – literally.  You’re a godly man, a man or woman that’s like God. 

Remaining a Man After God’s Own Heart

Romans 2:5-7 (NKJV)
2:5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who "will render to each one according to his deeds": 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;

After a transplant we have to keep our new heart healthy.  We have to commit to caring for, and guarding our new heart.  We need to protect it.  The scripture calls it “patient continuance in doing good.”  Why patient?  We'll continue to endure temptation.  When you get saved sin doesn’t go away.  The Devil doesn’t just back off: “Oh rats, they got saved; well I guess I have to leave them alone, now.”  It doesn’t work like that – The world continues to be the world.  The temptations continue to tempt.  The attitudes continue to work on you.  People are still people, right?  You still want to kill some of them. 

The difference is that now you have the tools to stay away from that.  You can avoid trouble.  God will meet your needs and help you to avoid sin.

Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)
4:16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Come boldly to Him.  Cry out for help to Him.  “God I don’t want to sin – I need your help.”  Paul said “Who will deliver me from this body of death.”  He’s talking about sin.  I think we can all agree that Paul was saved.  How often has that been your prayer?  “Oh God, keep me from sin.” 

A prayer like that will inspire courage and endurance in you.  Jesus won’t leave you there to struggle alone.  He will always be there for you, but you have to reach out to Him.  That’ll keep you saved. 

Hebrews 13:5-6 (NKJV)
13:5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." 6 So we may boldly say: "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"

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