It’s very important that we understand this subject about the heart because God talks so much about this in the Bible. In this sermon, you will see just exactly why this is such an important issue for all of us and that God wants to know just where our heart is. Is it in a relationship with Him and Jesus Christ or is in a relationship with the world in which we live?
Good afternoon everyone, very pleasant greetings to you on God’s Sabbath.
Today, what we’re going to do in the time we have allotted, we’re going to cover a topic that I think really strikes to the heart and core of our very existence as men and women, as human beings made in the image of God, more specifically as men and women called by God’s grace at this time. And it really addresses itself in light of scriptures we’re going to go through to help us understand just what it is we are battling on a day to day basis. I’ve entitled this sermon , Is Your Heart Right With God? It’s very important that we understand this subject about the heart because God talks so much about this in the Word of God and I think as we go through some of the scriptures you’ll see just exactly why this is such an important issue for all of us and that God wants to know just where our heart is. Is it in a relationship with Him and Jesus Christ or is in a relationship with the world in which we live? We’re told not to lust after the lusts of the eyes, the pride of life and the lust of the flesh because those are the things of the world. Those things are going to pass away in the process of time, but those who do the will of God will endure forever according to scripture.
But I’d like to take first of all, before we get into the heart and core of this, I’d like to give you a quote that was taken from Cruden’s Complete Concordance, under the subject, The Heart – and this is what is written: “‘ The heart is used in scripture as the seat of life (the very seat or core of life) and strength. Hence it means the following; it means the mind, the soul , (the very being as a human being ), the spirit (which is the spirit of man in us) and one’s entire emotional nature and understanding. ” That is what is meant when it covers the subject of the heart and it also is used as the center of the inner part of a thing. That we’re going to touch on later on, we’ll get back to that – the inner part of a thing, that thing that happens to be you and me. We are the thing and God is very concerned about what is going on in that inner part and it has to do with the subject of the heart.
You know there’s a special place in the human heart or the spirit in man that only God Himself can fill with His holy spirit. While we are physically created in the image of God as a physical complete creature, we are not complete spiritually, that’s why individuals have this emptiness within them, something is not right, everyone senses it but doesn’t know how to correct it, how to turn this all around. The answer is, it is through what is spoken of in 2 Peter 1:4 2 Peter 1:4Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
American King James Version× , that our very existence has to do with precious promises that tell us what? That we are to be partakers of the divine nature, now that’s the great revelation of scripture. We have human nature but revelation from God tells us our purpose in life has to do with receiving the divine nature of God Himself through the power of His holy spirit.
Well we’re going to examine a little bit more of that. First of all we have to go back to something that the bible addresses very clearly – and remember, Romans 15:4 Romans 15:4For whatever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
American King James Version× – everything is written for our learning so that we would know what to do, what to avoid, because how you do certain things has a very powerful impact on your destiny as a human being.
In Jeremiah 17:9 Jeremiah 17:9The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
American King James Version× , here God reveals something. In verse 7, backing it up a little bit, He says:
Jeremiah 17:7 Jeremiah 17:7Blessed is the man that trusts in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.
American King James Version× – “ Blessed is the man (and the woman) that trusts in the Lord …that puts ones confidence, ones trust in the Great Sovereign Lord… and whose hope is the Lord .”
If our focus is there, we’ve got a lot going for us. If we rely on our own human capabilities, notice in Verse 9:
Verse 9 – “ The heart …that I just read to you, with all it’s many ramifications… is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it? ”
This is the revelation of God’s Word concerning your heart, my heart, everyone’s heart. We have a flawed relationship with our God with our heart. We are not trustworthy of God in all things. Some things we do trust Him in, other things we don’t – and when we don’t, we sin and we create a problem between ourselves and our God because it says our sins separate us from our God. It even affects our prayers, He doesn’t even listen to the prayers, we’re just going through the motions and God wants us to understand the seriousness of this from His point of view and so God tells us a little bit more of what He’s doing in each of our lives as human beings. He goes on to say:
Verse 10 – “ I the Lord …what is it Lord… search the heart …So everyone’s heart is constantly being explored by God Himself and He says, I try the reigns.
Now you know when you have a picture or say a stagecoach or something of that nature and you have horses and you have the driver and he’s holding what? He’s holding the reigns and with those reigns, if he wants to slow things down, whoa – and he pulls on those reigns and if he wants to get going, giddy up, he lets loose the reigns. And so God is doing the same thing with us and our hearts. When we come up with certain ideas and plans and thoughts in our mind, it says we may go about doing that, but it is God who has the final analysis of where this is all going. You come up with something in your mind and God says, I’m going to give you a little bit more loose reigns and see where you’re going to go with this, we’ve all had that and sometime we get a little bit out of sync and God says, No, you’re going too far – whoa, pulls back on those reigns – why? Because He loves us, He doesn’t want us to go galloping off into some areas that are like the famous saying you know, “ Fools rush in where angels fear to tread .” And sometimes we’re very foolish as human beings and we do things that we think is right and of course the scripture affirms in Proverbs – “ There is a way that seems right to a man but the ends thereof are death. ” It ends in a destructive element when it’s all said and done.
You and I are told God does what? He tries the reigns of the heart to give to every man, as well as woman, according to his or her ways and according the fruit of his or her doing. In other words, God’s going to let you go in certain directions to see which way you really are leaning. Do you really trust, as verse 7, trust in the Lord with all your heart? Is He the one you focus your attention on, to Jesus Christ as the example of the scripture and why Christ came to be our role model? Or, are we going to try to do it our own way? The old saying, “ You are your own worst enemy .” We all are, we’re just our own worst enemy because we get self in the way and that really compounds the problems of our everyday existence. Let’s go to Proverbs, that wonderful book of Proverbs and go to chapter 4 if you will. Proverbs 4:23 Proverbs 4:23Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
American King James Version× . What do we find here from King Solomon who gave some of these very inspirational proverbs under the inspiration of God’s spirit? It says:
Proverbs 4:23 Proverbs 4:23Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
American King James Version× – Keep your heart …here again, the summation of all that we are, the emotion, the mind, the body, the spirit, we have to be vigilant and do what ? Keep your heart with all vigilance for from it flows the springs of life .
In other words, from your innermost being flowing out is what is going to be moving your life and the goals that you have set for yourself in your heart basically determine the direction of your life. What do you want to accomplish with your life? And where do you hope to end up? Because it will affect your eternal destiny is what the scripture is saying. That we are to be partakers of the divine nature, that has something to do in a far reaching plan and purpose that God is working out in all of our lives.
You and I in this life are bombarded with many distractions; we have to be alert to this because the scripture warns us that these distractions do what? They take and they steal our heart from God. They’re designed by the tempter to steal our attention and focus our life in such a way that we’re not mindful of where we should be going, what we should be doing. We think we’re all right when in reality we may not be all right. That is a warning that God gives to the Churches in the book of Revelation and I find that last one very interesting because that seems to be the one that is going to have the greatest impact on God’s people as we approach the return of Christ in the final days.
What it pictures is Jesus Christ, who the source of our life, pictures Him on the outside knocking on the door. Now wait a second, we talk about the door of our mind, our innermost being, what goes on inside there and is it saying to us, by God’s own words, recorded in there for our learning – remember, it is a prophecy, the book of Revelation – and what does it say? That this is going to be a struggle for people because if they’re not careful, they’re going to think everything’s all right and yet in reality, they do not have a close working relationship with Jesus Christ on the inside. That’s why He’s knocking – open up, let Me in! And that spells a serious consideration for all of us because we live in an outside world – everything is governed and geared to the outside. People judge, as Jesus said, according to appearance. How do you look, do you have the right approach to everything, do you please people? You and I were not called to please people, we were called to please our God and our Creator and to His will and His good pleasure.
And so people, who set their heart on many different things, they find themselves chasing after riches, they’re looking for position in society, some may get lost in their work, others find their heart in sports activities, I mean you see it all around you. This is the world we live in.
But what are you and I called to do? We’re called to come out of this world. We live in it but we have to come out of it. How do we do that? It’s how we think. Romans 12:1-2 Romans 12:1-2 1 I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
American King James Version×where it talks about the transformation that God is working in our lives through the power of His holy spirit. This becomes very important because there are other thoughts and other ideas and other elements and spirits knocking on the door of our mind, constantly saying, Open up to us. So Satan the great tempter is out there working overtime to lead people away from where they should be going. But you and I, in the Church of God, our involvement as brothers and sisters in Christ are called to see something very very important .
Hosea 10 – a book that was written to the house of Israel and in chapter 10:1-2, notice what God says. Remember, Israel, in the bible in the Old Testament, they were the people that the God of heaven and earth dealt with. He didn’t deal with other nations like He dealt with Israel; Israel was supposed to be a special people for Him. Now in the New Testament that takes on another application to the Church of God – we’re to be a very special people to Him; we’re to be a kingdom of priests and kings to serve in the Kingdom of God with Jesus Christ. This plays a very important part, realizing what’s happening to our nation and what we have got to guard against in our own personal struggles.
Hosea 10:1 Hosea 10:1Israel is an empty vine, he brings forth fruit to himself: according to the multitude of his fruit he has increased the altars; according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images.
American King James Version× – Israel is an empty vine, he brings forth fruit unto himself …
That means he’s self-centered, the nation became self-indulgent, self-engrossed in what it wanted to do, you and I are admonished don’t become self-centered, don’t get your mind on physical things thinking these things are going to make life successful for you, because again, if we get too comfortable in this world, that means we’re bonding with the world rather than with God and Jesus Christ. We are sojourners, we enjoy everything that God has so graciously granted for us, but this is not our final destination. Our final destination is to partake of the divine nature of God and Jesus Christ and when Christ returns and that transformation of the first fruits unto glory, honor and immortality will become a reality for all those who have passed the test of life, staying close to God in this manner. So He says:
V. 1 - … according to the multitude of his fruit he has increased his altars …
Oh yes, we’ve got churches on every corner, people are very religious in their form and ceremony but their heart is far from God. Timothy warns us about that and it says that they have goodly images – oh you look at some of these churches and they are just a knockout, they put money galore into these churches and they are impressive. Except God doesn’t dwell in buildings made by hand, He dwells in that which He has created with His own hands, human beings made in His image. And he goes on and says, concerning what happened to ancient Israel, what’s happening to the end-time descendants of Israel and what could happen to us if we’re not careful and don’t apply the scripture.
V. 2 – Their heart is divided …you cannot have a divided heart; you have to have a single heart in a relationship with God. We are reminded of this and He says: Now shall they be found faulty. He shall break down their altars, He shall spoil their images. In other words, false religion doesn’t deliver the goods and people can mouth all they want but that does not produce what God is looking for.
What comes to mind as far as where our heart should be is two elements – Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
American King James Version× , you know that, it says “ Seek first the Kingdom of God .” That’s our priority, that’s the mission for which we have had the plan of God revealed to us. But also in Matthew 6 we are told in Verse 21 something else. Notice Matthew 6 from the instruction given on the Sermon on the Mount as they like to call it.
Matthew 6:21 Matthew 6:21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
American King James Version× – “ Where your treasure is …whatever you treasure in life, notice… there will be your heart also.”
Now in this world we find that people today treasure money and it’s the love of money that is corrupting so many people today, dividing their hearts, programs on television do what? Programming and advertising, something like Survivor, I saw one little bit advertised here recently on TV and the man is saying, “Well it deals with manipulation…” and so forth, so they’re manipulating, trying to get a reward but they’re doing unethical things, they’re not doing honorable things, taking advantage of another human being in order to win and to get money at the end of the road I believe is what the goal is to get so much money if you accomplish this.
Well God is telling us that for where your treasure it, whatever it is you treasure, there will be your heart. You and I are told our treasure should be in God, He is the one who is our treasure and we are not to allow ourselves to be caught up in so many of these different areas where our hearts could be divided because again, the old saying, divide and conquer is Satan’s tactic. If he can divide and conquer our heart by using tactics, he can take us away from our relationship with God and you and I are commanded to have a strong viable relationship with God and to be able to recognize when it going out of its proper course of action. If we’re not going on the straight and narrow way that leads to life, which way are we going? Well Jesus put it this way, He says you can’t serve two masters, you’ll hang to one and then you’ll just kind of go along with the other one and you can’t serve God and mammon. Today people just live to see, did our Google stock go up today or did we lose money? And God couldn’t care less about Google stock! And He says you shouldn’t be caring about Google stock!
What you should be caring about is what’s your stock, how does it rate with God? And brethren, our hearts sometimes don’t…we’re going down on the scale; we’re not where we’re supposed to be. Jesus even put it this way – when the Son of man comes, will He find faith on the earth ? Faith in what, confidence in who? Confidence in God. Is confidence in God going to be shattered?
Well I can imagine what would happen when a lot of people thinking they’re all right with God and suddenly all this that they’ve been told is going to happen and how they’re going to fly away and be free from all the problems and difficulties that are going to come in the world yet to be shown on the horizon and suddenly what they thought they had is taken away, it’s going to be life-shattering to them. This is why you and I have to know where we stand on this and it is a fight brethren, it is not easy. Some days we do well, other days we do terrible. Let’s thank God we have a loving Father who is there to not throw stones at us but out of love, to show us, look, you’re going in the wrong direction and His spirit weighs on us and He says, look you’ve got to get your house in order. Because things are going to happen and when they happen, and as we say, Katy bar the door when it happens – you can’t, the horses are out, it’s going to be something else. So you and I are admonished to take note of these examples in the scripture.
When Israel, the people of Israel were lamenting, when they were caught in problems and difficulties and the bible in the Old Testament has plenty of those stories there, written for our learning. But how much of those stories do we really know, how many times do we understand what went on back there? It’s how God dealt with those people and how God will deal with us today. Now today most people are being taught the Old Testament is done away, it doesn’t apply, so therefore people don’t study this, they say, oh, we’re Gentiles anyway, so why worry about this thing called Israel? Boy just leaves you high and dry as far as really finding answers to the questions of life.
Well when the people of Israel came to Samuel, God’s prophet, they wanted help from God and here’s what Samuel told them in 1 Samuel 7:3 1 Samuel 7:3And Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, If you do return to the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts to the LORD, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.
American King James Version× . He gave them the following instruction. He says:
1 Samuel 7:3 1 Samuel 7:3And Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, If you do return to the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts to the LORD, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.
American King James Version× – “ If you are returning to the Lord (if this is really what you want to do) and you do it with all your heart ….notice, not a divided heart but with all your heart, to put your whole focus in this manner… then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you …in other words there’s got to be some changes made, you’re going to have to get rid of these things you’ve been hanging on to that are not helping you one bit. They are a part of the reason why you’re lamenting and having problems. He says… put those things away, direct your heart …direct it – to who? To God…when you direct your heart to the Lord and serve Him only, because that’s what He says, you shall have no other gods before Me, if you’re going to serve Me, I want you to serve Me, I don’t want you to say you serve Me and have this, that and what have you, all these false gods – they’ve got to go.
So Samuel, the prophet of God just made it very clear, he says, Look - he cried aloud in essence and was showing the people their sins – this is why you’re lamenting, this is why you’re having these problems.
Where do we have anyone crying out today in our nation telling us why we have these problems and difficulties? People want answers and they’re not getting these answers, there’s nobody standing up and telling them, the reason we’re in this hot predicament is because we have forgotten our God, we have filled the land with all kinds of false gods, false altars but give no credit to the God who gave us every blessing and when we even sing the song, America – God shed His grace on thee and we don’t even give Him credit for it! We don’t even mention Him at Thanksgiving anymore, we’re 70 years from the greatest time of trial we ever went through called Pearl Harbor and we’ve forgotten that, how God bailed us out of that terrible nightmare that affected so many in this country. Seventy years later – forgotten. Those men are just about ready to die, the last handful that were there at Pearl Harbor, and, who cares? Nobody knows, they don’t even know what happened a handful of year’s back- and when you say the war – what are you talking about? No wonder they call Korea the forgotten war because people don’t even remember Korea. And then you have Vietnam and now there’s been so many other wars, when you say “war” – are you talking about the Iraq war or the Afghan war? People just don’t realize what has happened in such a short period of time.
Well Samuel goes on to say, If you do that and you will serve Him only , it says:
V. 3 - … He will deliver you …
And we have the constant revelation of scripture that every time Israel, when they went astray, and they recognized their sin and they cried out to God, what happened? God came to their aid. The book of Judges is loaded with examples of this, they cry out to God, God would forgive them, God would send a judge and He would straighten out the mess and then what would happen? The people got lazy again and they strayed from God and then they would cry out to God. It seems like that’s the course of human nature, cry out to God, God delivers. Forget about God, the problems arise again and that’s the story repeated down through human history. You and I are told to be mindful of this and not to forget what happened in history.
Most people today are very very lacking in history because they don’t teach it in school, they don’t teach it really in college anymore, its playtime. Everyone wants to go party, everyone wants to play and they don’t really pay attention to events and what’s happening in the world around them. As long as they’re ok, that’s all that matters. Well its coming and everybody is going to be touched by these things and these events and that’s what God is trying to tell us. So Israel, when they would put away the Baal’s and the Ashtaroth’s and serve God, they excelled.
You know even in our own history it’s amazing, when we have Presidents who did what? Who got lax in things, the country would go down and when people would come along and try to reach for the inspiration like Ronald Reagan did during his administration, he put it up there and it inspired the people. The people were encouraged because they had a leader, because the leader prior to that? Whew, things were double digit inflation, people were hurting, but you know, some people can just dismiss all this what I’m saying and merely say, Oh that’s typical, it’s always happened. Rome said that they would exist forever too and they disappeared. Greece said they would be there forever and they disappeared. Babylon thought it was going to be there, the Persians thought they were going to be there. The history of mankind is the rise and fall because human beings will try to do it their way apart from God’s way. You and I are being shown all of this so we’ll never forget plus we have had our own experiences of things going up and down like a yoyo and we realize that something better is on the docket and that something better has to be God directing the hearts of human beings because again, as Matthew 6:24 Matthew 6:24No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
American King James Version× said:
Matthew 6:24 Matthew 6:24No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
American King James Version× – You cannot serve two masters …
Human beings are divided; they want to play like they’re good when in reality they’re not good. You and I are not good; we like to think of ourselves as good but we’re not good, we’ve flawed creatures, we have sinned and our sins have created problems for us down through our lives. You can go into your own lives and say, what have you sown over the years and what has come back to you? Because what you sow is what you reap and so we are reminded again of a man that God focused His attention on in the bible, his name was King David. King David is highlighted why? Because again, we’re told in Acts 13:22 Acts 13:22And when he had removed him, he raised up to them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, which shall fulfill all my will.
American King James Version× , let’s turn there please. And what is recorded here for our learning about the New Testament Church and how they were to look?
Acts 13:22 Acts 13:22And when he had removed him, he raised up to them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, which shall fulfill all my will.
American King James Version× – “ And when He had removed him …when God took King Saul out of the picture, notice… He raised up unto them …the Israelites… David to be their king, to whom He also gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, which shall fulfill all My will.’ ”
That’s what you and I are designed to do, to fulfill God’s will in our lives, as men and women, to fulfill His purpose, what He wants to accomplish. We weren’t put on this earth to run around and do our own thing, although God will allow it, He lets the reigns of the heart allow people to do what they want, people try to do the best thing, that’s commendable. Other people do terrible things with the free choice they’ve got, that God has given them and that is deplorable, but when we come to the reality of the scripture, it is saying our purpose is to be like David, to seek God and to serve Him so that we might be a man and a woman after God’s own heart.
Now David, when you study his word, you find that he was flawed, like all human beings and he strayed from time to time and he did some terrible things that he had to live with for the rest of his life, but he knew his sins were forgiven because again, God is a merciful God who forgave the sin once it was repented – but – the consequences of those sins carried on and that’s the reason why God says do not go contrary to My laws and commands because sin is the transgression of His law. His law is so important to us because it outlines how we are to live this precious life God has given to us. If you will, let’s go back again to the book of Hosea and we’ll see again something that God has spoken of here, regarding Israel of the Old Testament, we may be seeing the very same thing happen in the end time again as scripture talks here.
Hosea 8:8 Hosea 8:8Israel is swallowed up: now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure.
American King James Version× – Israel is swallowed up and now they shall be among the Gentiles, as a vessel wherein there is no pleasure .
In other words, we’re hearing stories that the high days, or the good days of America’s time are over, we’re just being swallowed up now as the Gentile nations rise according to this end-time.
V. 9 – They have gone to Assyria …we’re going to the Europeans and the strong economy of Germany today to try and see if they can solve the problem of the Euro Crisis because that’s all going to affect us, we’re going to be involved one way or the other…. Ephriam has hired lovers . In other words, using mercenaries, getting involved in things of that nature, having others to work. But notice how God, talking to the head tribe of Israel, Ephriam, He says:
V. 11 – “ Because Ephriam hath made many altars to sin …those altars can be religious altars, those altars can be monetary altars, they can be military altars, they can be all kinds of altars but basically God is talking again of the emphasis on religious devotion. And Israel went astray and Ephriam the head tribe…notice what He says in verse 12:
V. 12 – I have written unto them the great things of My law …notice, the great things of My law, that’s the Torah, that’s the books of teaching, the learning that God gave ancient Israel. He says… they were counted as a strange thing .
And that’s exactly how people look at the things of God today, the laws of God, oh, keeping the Sabbath? That’s Jewish isn’t it? That’s strange, why would I want to do that? Well we can learn a lot from history, that God said, Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy, that it would be a sign between Him and His people, that’s what He originally intended for Israel, that’s what He intends for His spiritual Church of God, that body of Christ because Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. He’s not going to give one group one thing, something else another when it comes to the laws of God. Christ followed the laws of His Father implicitly, He set the example, He did not sin and so God goes on to say:
V. 13 – They sacrifice flesh for the sacrifices of My offerings and eat it, and the Lord accepted them not, nor will He remember their iniquity… their lawlessness …and visit their sins, they shall return to Egypt .
What is the symbol of Egypt? Egypt is the symbol of sin, they came out of sin when God delivered them, but they’re going back into sin and into a form of bondage which is going to work against them as a whole. So here again, the Word of God is given to us and it says:
V. 14 – For Israel has forgotten his maker .” Boy does that say it all in a nutshell, we have a form and ceremony of religious observance, but it’s not where it’s all at. You’ll see some more examples of that here in a moment.
So King David, he was going to do what? He was going to be a man after God’s own heart; he had a desire to serve God, he wanted to build God a house, a famous temple of the Old Testament, but God said, No, you’re a bloody man, you have fought many wars and I’m going to let Solomon your son go ahead and do that. But David did have one request, the whole story is written in 1 Chronicles 29:16-19 1 Chronicles 29:16-19 16 O LORD our God, all this store that we have prepared to build you an house for your holy name comes of your hand, and is all your own.
17 I know also, my God, that you try the heart, and have pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of my heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy your people, which are present here, to offer willingly to you.
18 O LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of your people, and prepare their heart to you:
19 And give to Solomon my son a perfect heart, to keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes, and to do all these things, and to build the palace, for the which I have made provision.
American King James Version× and that’s where again, he asked the people and the people give an offering to God toward the building of the temple and they were very generous, they just poured out all they could for this wonderful opportunity and through the integrity of David’s heart, God allowed him to go ahead, gather all the necessary resources – but it was Solomon who worked hard to put it together as God intended.
But what kind of temple does God dwell in today? Physical temple was very important in Old Testament Israel, but what is the temple that God is looking at today? What is He examining that’s going on in that temple? He talks about things in the book of Ezekiel where He talks about – you see these type of things going on Son of man? You see the sunrise service that they’re doing as they worship God? Jeremiah 10 talks about, do you see how they follow the customs of the world, the vanity, look at the customs how the world is going right now, putting up the trees, the very thing that we’re told – learn not the way of the nations, the heathen – yet that’s exactly what’s happening today.
1 Corinthians 3:16 1 Corinthians 3:16Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
American King James Version× – this whole chapter reminds us of a very serious responsibility whether you’re a minister or whether you’re a lay person in the body of Christ, it says you better be careful how you’re building – are you building with the good quality materials, the precious stones, the gold, silver, precious stones? Or is it wood, hay and stubble?
These are things – one has to do ones homework and evaluate your own life. Then it goes through and says every man and woman’s work is going to be tried by fire, there are going to be things that are going to test it, to put it to the test to see exactly why because God says, I will try the reigns of the heart, I want to see whether are you with Me – is your heart with Me or is your heart divided or is your heart totally in the world? This is how God is laying the picture out for all of us to consider. And then he says in verse 16:
1 Corinthians 3:16 1 Corinthians 3:16Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
American King James Version× – Know you not that you …as an individual… are the temple of God and that the spirit of God dwells in you ?
Then he warns everyone, be careful, don’t defile, don’t do things, don’t get involved in vices and all kinds of terrible things, drugs and what have you that could tear you down and ruin this body. Why must you dress and keep and take care of the body to the best of your ability, which none of us have done perfectly? But why should we be very cautious about that? Because the spirit of God, in order to function and to work, has to have a body it’s designed with the spirit in man and the physical body to work in tandem in order to be a living, moving human being. And with the spirit of God added to it, then the whole spiritual dimension of God’s world opens up to us in a way we could never understand because only God can plug that hole in our make-up, only God can give us that peace of mind that passes all understanding, otherwise you live, as we heard recently in that Beyond Today program, you live in a chaotic world and your whole life is in a state of chaos, you’re never at peace, you’re never at home because our home is with God, our home is not this world. If this is where we belong in this world, we’re going to die with this world, plain and simple, it’s headed for disaster, people cannot see it.
You and I are called to be luminaries, to let the light of God’s spirit shine – our job is not to convert people but to show people by, as they come in contact with us, as they hear the message of the telecast, that God’s gospel is what? It’s designed to show us the better way of living life. That’s what Jesus meant when He said, John 10:10 John 10:10The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
American King James Version× , that you might have life abundantly. He did not want us to be walking around always moping and crying and suffering and yet that is what the world is doing, every night on the news, it’s crying, suffering, murder, mayhem. If this is the kingdom of God on the earth, we’re in a terrible state of affairs. That’s why we pray, “Thy kingdom come” – where the will of God will be here to stop this kind of mayhem once and for all.
Well the spirit of God is something very important and it guides us and it helps us in many ways. In 2 Chronicles 12:14 2 Chronicles 12:14And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD.
American King James Version× we see one of the failures that transpired in David’s grandson, Rehoboam:
2 Chronicles 12:14 2 Chronicles 12:14And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD.
American King James Version× – He did evil in the sight of God and did not set his heart to seek the Lord.
You find those kind of phrases used to punctuate the difference that God is looking at the heart and He says, uh uh, David was a man after…Rehoboam? Uh, uh, he was not doing it, he’s missing it.
You and I are constantly told to be evaluating our own heart and especially as we know Passover will be here before we know it.
If we go back in scripture, we find something that Jesus referenced when He was talking to a group of Pharisees. He was quite concerned because He said they look so good on the outside, He said they were like the whitened sepulchres, but He said inside, were dead men’s bones. God is concerned from the inside out, He’s not interested in the outside in as much as we are in this world. We worry about how people look at us, think about us and all this and God says, Look, I’m not impressed with all the outside show, what I’m concerned about, where’s that heart – are you with Me, are you on the same page with Me, are you trying to accomplish in your life My will for you? And that will is specifically spelled out in the scripture and you know as well as I do, I’m right in the same boat with the rest of you, all ministers should be doing what? They should be doing the same thing that the people are doing. They should not be living higher than the people, they should not be treated as if they’re something special above and beyond, they’re just one of the families, one of the team and one of our jobs as a minister of God is to do what? Prepare the people, as the motto of the United Church of God says.
And how do you prepare the people? Not from the outside, but from the inside, show them in the heart what God is looking for. If we’re to be prepared for what is coming, God wants to see what’s going on in our hearts and those reigns are going to be testing each and every one.
There was an example in the Old Testament that you and I are told to study his life, his name was Ezra. And after they came back from the Babylonian captivity or Persian captivity it actually was, he wanted to know something and he wanted to understand something. And in Ezra 7:10 Ezra 7:10For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.
American King James Version×it says:
Ezra 7:10 Ezra 7:10For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.
American King James Version× – Ezra set his heart to study the law of the Lord …notice, he set his heart, he wanted to know what God’s Word had to say and then he did what? He not only wanted to study, he then said, he would not only study the law, but he would do it.
Interesting that the New Testament constantly talks about not the hearers but the doers. We have to translate what God is telling us into action and doing on our individual day-to-day basis. Ezra was doing that, he wanted to study the law of God and to do it and to teach the statutes, that’s the job of the ministry, to teach God’s laws, His commands, His statutes, His judgments, not what we think or what some poet reads and some man thinks about something – what does God say? That’s very important.
A gentleman called me not too long ago from another area and was up in years, you know as we all pass through the stages of life, God intends us to grow old gracefully, He does not want us to be caught up in the Hollywood frantic facelifts and all the other stuff and if you put this magic lotion on you it will get rid of every wrinkle you’ve ever had – those things don’t work! That’s nothing but engineering to get into your pocketbook or to your wallet and make you think and get this craze to be young.
What God wants is us to be taking care of, dress and keep and grow old gracefully, to His glory, He doesn’t want us to be individuals worrying about so much the outside like all the Hollywood shows, it’s just all show. When you see some of these people who are “entertainers” you have to ask yourself, take away all this that they put on and what do you see? Nothing, there’s nothing there, they have to come up with all this gingerbread to create an appearance and God couldn’t care less about that outward appearance, again, He goes right to the heart of the issue. He reads people very well – when He read the disciples He could read them very quickly, He read the Pharisees and the Sadducees and He would go up to them and He would talk to them and then He would say, why are you trying to kill Me? They couldn’t believe it! Who’s trying to kill You? Well you guys. He knew what they were up to – how did He know? Because He could read their body language and their spirit, He understood that what was going on in their hearts was not right.
And God knows that each and every one of us needs to have this same attitude like Ezra – not only do we want to learn, but we have to do. In Luke 8:21 Luke 8:21And he answered and said to them, My mother and my brothers are these which hear the word of God, and do it.
American King James Version× – this is very important, to keep us mindful. Jesus said – when they said, well your brethren stand without, desiring to see you and Jesus’s answer was:
Luke 8:21 Luke 8:21And he answered and said to them, My mother and my brothers are these which hear the word of God, and do it.
American King James Version× – He said, “My mother and My brethren are they which hear the word of God, notice and do it.”
We become brethren of Jesus Christ when we not only hear what He has to say, as recorded in the scriptures but when we do it, when we’re committed to doing it and not just going through the motions. There’s so much today that it’s nothing more than religion going through the motions and God does not want that because He is concerned about the inner person.
2 Corinthians 4 if you will, join me there.
2 Corinthians 4:15 2 Corinthians 4:15For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
American King James Version× – For all things are for your sake that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of the many redound to the glory of God . Notice verse 16:
V. 16 – For which cause we faint not, but though our outward man …or woman… perish …we’re in the process of slowly growing older with the passing of time, we’re not 20 year old teenagers anymore, those who are teenagers, those who are youthful, rejoice in your youth, it’s a wonderful gift, we all wish we still had ours, it would be nice if we could have bottled that somehow and then had it – a cup of energy and youth as you get older, but that’s not the way it is, not recorded that way, but notice what is recorded… though the outward perish …life goes through its process but it says… the inward man …and woman… is renewed day by day .
That’s what God is concerned about, what’s going on inside, are we crying out to Him in our prayers, asking Him to strengthen us, to renew us from within so that our core values are not shaken by every wind of doctrine that keeps coming along, that we know who God is, we know what His purpose is, we know why He made us male and female, we may not know everything, because I can remember one of the classes at Ambassador College, years ago, it’s called the Old Testament Survey, we went through that class so fast you wouldn’t believe! There’s so much I don’t know that I still want to know and I ask God for learning every day. You can’t just fly through things, you have to take time and so we have to study, we have to show ourselves approved to God and it’s a full time job when you finally see that you’ve got an adversary out there who’s working overtime throwing all kinds of distractions at you to try and undo your spiritual foundation. And when we recognize that, then we realize, hey, we’ve got to fight, we’ve got to fight the good fight of faith, we’ve got to trust in God because it’s only His power that is going to deliver us.
As we were mentioning and talking this morning, people were worried back in the past decades, probably in the 60’s and 70’s, they were worrying about going to a place of safety and they were thinking, boy, if I could just go to a place of safety and they thought a place called Petra was the place of safety – if you’ve done your homework you don’t want to go to Petra because you’ll find out that’s a place where you die, you die, you don’t find safety there, that’s not the place at all. The place of safety is with God and with Jesus Christ and you run to Him because wherever He is, that’s where your place of safety is. And if it’s a place over there in the Middle East, fine, if He takes us there, if He takes us somewhere else, that’s for God to determine, not for us to worry about. God determines those things.
Sometimes people say a place of safety is just going to sleep in death and while it may seem like a place of release, personally I don’t see that as a place of safety, it’s just a place of avoidance from things that are yet to come. God is a God of the living, not a God of the dead and when we see the resurrection of Christ we realize why that is so important. Because many who have gone before us, we want to see again and so does God and so does Jesus Christ. He wants to see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all those in Daniel and all the prophets that are written and recorded, He wants to see you and me and all of us who are called at this time to be there. And you and I are living in the most historical period of time right now because these events are happening on a day-to-day basis and that’s why we’re told in Isaiah 55:6 Isaiah 55:6Seek you the LORD while he may be found, call you on him while he is near:
American King James Version× – we must seek the Lord while He may be found.
There’s coming a time He’s not going to be easily found by people, He’s going to hide Himself and people are going to be panic stricken when that time comes and scriptures address that, we’ll look at that in a little bit of time here. But once again, notice verse 17, this inward man, inward woman is renewed day by day, that’s through prayerful contact with God and notice how God looks at it, He says:
2 Corinthians 4:17 2 Corinthians 4:17For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
American King James Version× – Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works in us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory .
There’s something so much more wonderful on the other side of this temporary life that we have been given that is to inspire us, to keep us mindful of where our God is taking us – and notice He says:
V. 18 – While we look not at the things which are seen …and we live in a world where everybody’s worried about what they can see, we live by faith, what we don’t see from a human perspective, but we live by… the things that are not seen . For the things which are seen are temporal …they are here today, gone tomorrow… but the things which are not seen are eternal.
We move from a temporal, physical existence into a spirit dimension of life that is everlasting, that is the hope that is given to us and we are told in Proverbs 4:23 Proverbs 4:23Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
American King James Version× where I started this message to you, we’re to:
Proverbs 4:23 Proverbs 4:23Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
American King James Version× – Keep your heart with all vigilance …or diligence as some translations say… for from it flow the springs of life …or the issues of life.
Things that will affect you individually, how you think, will be affecting your life and how you think it should be governed by the Word of God. It will help you through the trials and the upheavals of life.
One final scripture, let’s go back if you will to Proverbs, the wonderful book of Proverbs.
There’s this gentleman that I talked to who was up in years and called me and asked me something that was very very heavy on his mind and heart at the time. He was concerned, because here he is up in years and having serious health problems and he wanted so very much to be able to study the Bible like he used to. And he couldn’t do it and he was feeling this terrible weight on his shoulder. And so he calls me and asks me, “Pastor, what would God have me do?” That’s quite a question. Lord, what do I tell this man now, how do I help him whose struggling with this? And it came to mind, I told him, I said, There’s a time and a place for all things and because of that you can’t always do like you once did when you were first studying and first learning, when you didn’t have some of the health issues you’re struggling with now, but there’s something you can do, you can stay close to God in your daily prayer life and it doesn’t matter, God will hear you, two, three times a day, you don’t have to do it 25 minutes, an hour, you can do it five minutes here, ten minutes there, always being in a mindful, prayerful attitude talking to God. But here’s what I would suggest for you, because I think this is what’s in a realm that you can handle. You want to study the Word of God and God has given us something wonderful, I referenced this before, I reference it again, He’s given us the wonderful wisdom of the Proverbs for our learning and every day, notice there’s chapter two, three, four etc. How many days are in a month, for the most part? 31 days, we’ve got 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs. What you do on the particular day that you rise up, if it happens to be on the second day, just go to the second chapter of the book of Proverbs and let that be your Bible study for the day. But don’t just read it through fast and quick and forget about it – take it apart verse by verse and ask yourself, what is God trying to tell me in this chapter? You will be amazed at what you discover. I said, does that help you? He said, Very much so.
And that’s again, you see, you can’t climb the mountain overnight, you can’t do many times what you did before, I don’t want any of us in God’s Church to feel guilty for all the things you haven’t done…because none of us have done, even if you could do it like you could, 100%, what did Jesus say? If you could do everything right, the way God wants it done, He said, call yourself an unprofitable servant, because you should have done that from day one and we didn’t do it. That’s why it’s by God’s grace we are saved through faith – trust in God, that very important premise that we heard about. If that’s the right premise motivating our lives and our desire is to keep our heart in harmony and in tandem with God, then we’re on the right track and God will see us through, as we sing the song. He always has, He always will. The record is on for our learning. When Israel cried out to God and said we’re sorry for what we did and we changed, He blessed them, He came to their aid. The same thing holds true – He’s the same yesterday, today and forever.
May God help us all to guard our hearts very carefully in this day and age because there’s a terrifying influence out there that is trying to divide and conquer the hearts of the people of God, that is part of the warning of the Laodicean church in Revelation 3. May God grant us the strength to endure to the end and overcome the adversary in all areas.