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What Does God Want Most From Us?

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What Does God Want Most From Us?

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What Does God Want Most From Us?

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What can we give God that He does not already have? God is creating us in His image and likeness, but this action that we only can give is vital to finish His creation.

Transcript

[Mr. Victor Kubik]: What can we give God that He doesn't already have? What can we give to God who has everything? He owns the entire universe, He created it. He's omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, He's omni-everything. God is huge. And who are we? What could we give Him? We're aware of Him but what can we give Him? So, if we were to give Him a gift, what would it be? What do you think that He actually would like from you? Because obviously, He doesn't need material possessions, He already owns everything. Anything we would offer would just be very very trivial. He doesn't need any advice from us. He doesn't need any scientific knowledge from us. Tell Him, “Hey, God, I discovered E equals MC squared.” He says, “Okay, wonderful. Here, I'll show you some formulas.” The universe is so complex and wonderful and so tuned in life here that there's nothing that we could really advise Him on.

There is something, however, that's meaningful that we could give God that He doesn't already have. And what could that possibly be, something that God does not have and something that God wants from you right now? In the beginning, man was created in God's image and likeness. We were given characteristics not given to any other form of life. We were made in God's image that means in His appearance, attributes, characteristics such as the ability to think, plan, make decisions and be creative. There are many other forms of life that come nowhere near to these functions, cognitive functions. You don't have mammals, monkeys, gorillas, or anything leaving a legacy behind it. Beavers who build dams don't leave behind a university how to build dams, they just -one generation after another- just instinctively does what they have been programmed to do from creation.

But in God's creation and His new creation of us, He requires us to participate in a creation module, I'll call it, that requires our input and our participation. As He's creating us in His image and likeness and, obviously, as part of his family because we look like Him and we're part of Him, He calls us sons and daughters, but He requires our input. He kind of stops everything and says, “Okay, input required by a participant.” It is something that God cannot create by Himself. Or He could create it but it really wouldn't be fulfilling the purpose that He would want it to fulfill.

And so, that one ingredient is the one that I want to describe in my sermon today. Actually, those were the last words of Jason Nitzberg, he actually fed right into my sermon by the last line of his sermon. That ingredient that God is looking for in us, I'll explain it in detail, is our heart. “Oh God, here's another heart sermon.” No, God does want our heart. But what does that all mean? I don't think we really fully realize just how powerfully and ubiquitously the word “heart” is used in the Bible. It's used 826 times, 826 times. There's just a lot said about the heart. While similar words that may overlap with heart, like mind or minds, are only used 111 times. So, the word “heart,” the word that's used both in the Old Testament as the Hebrew word “lev” and in the New Testament as “kardia.” Heart, kardia, cardiologist, heart. And also the word “spirit” is used overlapping some of the heart. But heart has its own distinctive definition, and that's what I'll be focusing on in my sermon today.

Unger's Bible Dictionary has a comprehensive definition of the biblical usage of “heart” supported by many scriptures. They said there's 826 references to “heart” and there are quite a few different ways and angles and views of how we can do “heart.” Now, I'll cover some of the high points of that but, obviously, I can't cover them all in all the passages but I will make a handout available online if you come up afterwards and ask me about it, then I'll advertise it too. From Unger's Bible Dictionary, or if you do have Unger's Bible Dictionary, which I think that many of you might, as a reference, one of the best references for the Bible that there is, you could go under the heading of “heart.”

The heart is described as, “The innermost center of the natural condition of man.” It's the heart of things. Number one is, “The center of bodily life.” This is the physical heart, I'll go over this very quickly. Our heart pumps blood, our heart has many functions that it oversees in the functioning of our bodies. When the heart stops, you no longer live. It is the reservoir for eating, drinking, and the strengthening of the body, and becomes the whole man, physical man.

Then the heart is also, number two, “The center of the rational, spiritual nature of man.” This is the part that we want to focus on. “The rational spiritual nature of man,” which is not there in animal life, unless it's by instinct. Where we are aware of ourselves, we are self-aware, as animals usually are not self-aware. Or they may be defensive but they're not aware of their grandma and grandma and they're not looking to the future necessarily, they exist because they've been programmed, created that way to do what they're doing. Thus, when a man determines upon anything, he's called to presume in his heart to do so, presuming his heart to do so. When he is strongly determined, he stands firm in his heart. He can do what he's doing gladly, willingly, and of a set purpose, and it's done with obedience from the heart. Again, scriptural references are in the handout.

The heart is also... pardon me. The heart is the seat of love and of hatred. Love proceeds from our heart, “I love you. I love you, Beth.” That's from my heart, it's not from my hand. Although it's not from my toes, it's from my heart. We love from the heart. But it's also the seat of hatred. When you hate somebody, the hatred comes to you, it's from the heart. The heart is the center of thought and conception. The heart speaks of, in Deuteronomy 29:4 Deuteronomy 29:4Yet the LORD has not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, to this day.
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, as “It knows,” the heart knows. The heart is also the center of feelings and affections, of joy.

Number three, “The heart is the center of moral life.” This is our relationship with God and the way we relate to Him by certain rules. So that all moral conditions from the highest love of God down to the self-defined pride is all within moral life as part of the heart. They're concentrated in the heart as innermost life circle of humanity. The heart is the laboratory in origin of all that is good and evil in thoughts. Those thoughts, they are manufactured in this little factory laboratory called the heart and translated into words and deeds. They are the rendezvous of evil lusts and passions that come from the heart. It's a place where God's natural law is written in us, it's in our heart, the law is written in our heart. It is the seat of conscience. Will you feel one way or another very strongly, that's part of your heart. There is so much connected right there in that heart. It is the dwelling place of Christ in us. It's also where the Holy Spirit is found, where the Holy Spirit comes into our heart. It is the center of the entire man and the very heart of man's impulse. So, that is how “heart” is defined in the usage in 826 places, in both Hebrew and Greek. And the definition for both languages is similar.

One of the first historic references to a dysfunctional heart is listed in Ezekiel, I should say, 28:17. So much of the Bible speaks about “dysfunctional heart” and also moving on towards a functional heart, a whole heart. This starts in pre-adamic times when we have an event occur in Exodus 28:14 Exodus 28:14And two chains of pure gold at the ends; of wreathen work shall you make them, and fasten the wreathen chains to the ouches.
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. Exodus... I should say Ezekiel, why am I saying that, Ezekiel 28:14 Ezekiel 28:14You are the anointed cherub that covers; and I have set you so: you were on the holy mountain of God; you have walked up and down in the middle of the stones of fire.
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. This goes back to way before Adam, before the creation of man, where the word “heart” appears historically first.

Ezekiel 28:14-17 Ezekiel 28:14-17 [14] You are the anointed cherub that covers; and I have set you so: you were on the holy mountain of God; you have walked up and down in the middle of the stones of fire. [15] You were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created, till iniquity was found in you. [16] By the multitude of your merchandise they have filled the middle of you with violence, and you have sinned: therefore I will cast you as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy you, O covering cherub, from the middle of the stones of fire. [17] Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty, you have corrupted your wisdom by reason of your brightness: I will cast you to the ground, I will lay you before kings, that they may behold you.
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– “You were the anointed cherub,” -Ezekiel 28:14 Ezekiel 28:14You are the anointed cherub that covers; and I have set you so: you were on the holy mountain of God; you have walked up and down in the middle of the stones of fire.
American King James Version×
- “who covers. I established you,” -God speaking here- “you were on the holy mountain of God, you walked back and forth in the midst of the fiery stones.” Verse 15, “you are perfect in your ways from the day that you were created,” -you were perfect- “until iniquity was found in you.” Here's the problem and here's where heart problems really begin. And this event really led to the whole process of redemption in the creation of man leading to the redemption through Jesus Christ and to where we come right now. Because Lucifer was perfect in all his ways yet he had iniquity that was found in him. Verse 17, and what was that first iniquity? “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty.” This is the first reference to sin, this is the first sin, pride. “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty.” So, while he was perfect, he was vulnerable. That vulnerability led to his heart being lifted up and him becoming the god of this world, one that created a huge amount of damage. “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty, you corrupted your wisdom.”

See, he was perfect, but all of a sudden, all the things that he knew and put together very well in God's way and so forth “was corrupted for the sake of your splendor.” You abused all the good things that God had done because of your pride. So, God said, “I cast you to the ground,” he was cast down to the earth, “I laid you before kings that they might gaze at you.” So, from this time forward, from Ezekiel 28, God has had a plan of redeeming, of creating mankind. And to where He will take care of Lucifer but will use what happened there in the refining of man to become wholehearted in being part of the family of God.

Now, let's take a look at the first human use of “heart” in the Bible. The first human use of “heart” in the Bible. This is after the creation in Genesis 6:5 Genesis 6:5And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
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. Genesis 6:5 Genesis 6:5And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
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. After Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, there were many generations until the time of the flood. In fact, it was 1600 years that passed, I mean almost one-fourth of the time of mankind's history was between creation and the flood. Verse 5,

Genesis 6:5-6 Genesis 6:5-6 [5] And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. [6] And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
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– “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth,” it was really going in a very bad way, “and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth. He was grieved, grieved by this response in His heart.”

People think that maybe that's figurative that, “Well, God has grieved, I mean God was kind of unhappy.” You know, God is very personal with us. When it says that God grieves, you know when we have grieved, when we're sad about something that we really feel badly about it. God, in the same way, felt badly about what was happening with mankind that His heart was going in the direction of evil. And it was so evil that God had to do the great reset, this is the first reset of civilization, where He had Noah build the ark, he was a preacher of righteousness and preached for decades and decades, almost 100 years, and only he and his family survived the flood. This is how corrupt and evil civilization had become.

Well, after the flood, history wasn't too much better. Tower of Babel was just a few generations after that where mankind still didn't really get it, “heart” was darkened. Sodom and Gomorrah. One event after another, human history has not been good. And when we come to our time right now, historically, what is the heart of man right now? What is the heart of society? What is the heart of Russia and its leaders? Of China? Of the United States? Of Europe? Of leadership? Is there any righteousness? Is there any righteous king out there?

Jeremiah writes... Jeremiah was a very frustrated prophet because he was one who really really felt... Jeremiah 17:9 Jeremiah 17:9The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
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, Jeremiah 17:9 Jeremiah 17:9The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
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where he describes a summary of what the heart is. Jeremiah 17:9 Jeremiah 17:9The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
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Jeremiah 17:9 Jeremiah 17:9The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
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– “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. And who can know it?” Jeremiah had a long ministry that was very frustrating as he tried to warn, he tried to teach, he tried to connect with leadership of his time. And the net result was really nothing. The nation of Israel, of Judah, was taken into captivity in Babylon.

In Hebrews 4:12 Hebrews 4:12For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
American King James Version×
, the Apostle Paul makes a reference to “heart” and what the Word of God does to illuminate the heart. Hebrews 4:12 Hebrews 4:12For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
American King James Version×
, “For the Word of God...” This is Hebrews 4:12 Hebrews 4:12For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
American King James Version×
,

Hebrews 4:12 Hebrews 4:12For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
American King James Version×
– “For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit of joints and of marrow and discerning the thoughts and intentions or the motives of the heart.” So, we have the heart, which has its problems, but we have the Word of God that is "sharper than a two-edged sword" that really understands where that has come from and what we need to be doing about it. He knows our heart. “No creature is hidden from His sight.” God sees everything. God is knowing what's in your mind. He knows what you're thinking, He knows how you present yourself, He knows what's down deep. “Nothing is hidden from His sight but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

Now, you may not know the Bible but the Bible knows you. The Bible knows everything about you. It knows your motives, it knows how you work, it knows how you hide things, it knows the secret things of your life. As Psalms 44:21 Psalms 44:21Shall not God search this out? for he knows the secrets of the heart.
American King James Version×
just quickly here, “He knows the secrets of the heart that's in you.” So, you can present an image outside, all of us do, we've been covering this so much now in 1 John in our General Epistles, you know, we appear one way but we all sin. We all have things that we do, think, and say that are wrong and need to ask God's forgiveness for them.

I'd like to tell you a story about a schoolteacher in one of the congregations that I was a pastor of. The schoolteachers in the summertime had a retreat where the teachers from a larger area went to a camping area, retreat area, getting to know each other better, and have a few exercises to learn certain things. So, they had a few get-acquainted exercises and he said... this one exercise was unbelievable, they wanted to discover what was in each other's hearts and thoughts through a series of anonymous exercises. First of all, they did something altogether, men, women. The one thing that they did here was they all went out on the lake in canoes, had a good time. And then they had gotten together and then they were to say something about another person anonymously on a slip of paper and put it into a hat. What they thought about that person or what some of their ideas were or how they felt about others but nobody would know who said it.

He said that they picked out the pieces of paper from the hat or box and read what was there, he said, “You would not believe how many evil things were there. Nice people and they were saying things that were lustful, there were things that were angry, things that were jealous, envious. These things that are in a person's heart about one another.” And the exercise was to peel onion skin layers away from what we appear like to others and get down deeper to the real core of what we are. He said, “I wanted to get out of there,” he says, “I didn't want to find out about others, I didn't want to find out about myself, about what's in my heart. I wanted to get off of this. There were vain thoughts, lustful thoughts, silly delusions that people came up with. Things that they wouldn't say to one another but they could publicly admit or privately admit.” This teacher said, “I didn't want to get anywhere deeper into the core because I don't like what I see in others and in myself.”

But Jesus Christ mentioned this when He was talking to the Pharisees in Matthew 15, Matthew 15:19 Matthew 15:19For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
American King James Version×
, I always quote and go through this passage with those who I counsel for baptism. Because this describes the natural human mind, the natural human heart. Matthew 15:19 Matthew 15:19For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
American King James Version×
, Jesus Christ is responding to a complaint by the Pharisees that the disciples in Christ were eating with unwashed hands. And Christ said, “You are defiling yourself.” And Christ said that, “No, what defiles a person is not what goes into that person, a little bit of dirt maybe possibly, but what defiles the person that comes out of the man.” And so, here is what he says comes out of the person. Verse 19,

Matthew 15:19 Matthew 15:19For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
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– “For out of the heart,” out of the kardia, Jesus Christ said, He talks about general humanity, “proceed,” -here's what proceeds out of mankind- “evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications,” -sounds like the script to many of our movies- “thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” I mean it's a list of evil things one after another. And why do people like to watch sex and violence right there? Because that's what people are. They relate to that, they find that entertaining, proceed all these evil things.

And I tell our people who are baptized, and also when I was baptized, the pastor who counseled me three times before I was baptized, he wanted me to admit that I had these things in me, that I needed to repent of them, that I needed to be cleansed of this way of thinking. I needed the Spirit of God, that's why the Spirit of God is given to cleanse us of what we are in our inner core, as we take away the vain show, take another onion skill layer off of some of our motives, and down to what we are. Because Christ said, “This is what appears, this is what proceeds out of the heart of men.”

Then Jesus also had another incident with the Pharisees, the strongest conflicts that He had were always with the religious people. Not necessarily with the government people but with the religious people. The Pharisees, in chapter 12 of Matthew, were accusing Jesus of casting out demons by the chief of demons, Beelzebub. This was not only insulting but this was just totally untrue because Jesus Christ did cast out demons, but the Pharisees found an evil motive for that. Christ responds, verse 34,

Matthew 12:34 Matthew 12:34O generation of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
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– “Brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak good things?” He just basically told the Pharisees, you know, “You say those ugly things, you're making those vile accusations because you're evil. So, naturally, you're not going to be saying good things, you're going to be saying evil things.” And then He said, “For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Out of the abundance of what's in your heart, you ultimately will be saying those things. You can only hold evil and anger and resentment and ill-temper and moodiness so long inside of you. Because of the abundance of the heart, what's in there ultimately is going to come out. It all comes out eventually.

I'd like now to turn to an Old Testament example. I've said some pretty raw things about human nature, as we see it right now, but God is working with the heart of men. Because when we make the right choices and when we move towards a heart that is like God's and move to giving our heart to the Lord, so to speak, He wants a certain heart, He doesn't want just any old heart, He wants a clean heart to be given to Him. I'd like you to turn with me to 1 Samuel 16. So, this is a story of heart, one of the classic stories about how God looks and judges people, and this is from the Old Testament. This was a process of selecting the second king in Israel's monarchy. The first king was Saul who failed, failed miserably. And partially it was because the people didn't look upon what he was like. First of all, God wasn't necessarily wanting the people to have a monarchy but the people wanted a monarchy, they wanted a king like the nations around them had kings. And Saul was just a man who fit the bill. He was tall, he was charismatic, he was cool, he moved around real well. He was bold and bad. But he didn't listen to God, he compromised.

So, he was removed from his position, even though he was still living. And God said, “I'm going to choose another king through...” the judge of that time who was called Samuel. And the story is related in 1 Samuel 16:1 1 Samuel 16:1And the LORD said to Samuel, How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill your horn with oil, and go, I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.
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. So, here's the selection process of the second king of Israel.

1 Samuel 16:1 1 Samuel 16:1And the LORD said to Samuel, How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill your horn with oil, and go, I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.
American King James Version×
– “The Lord said to Samuel” -verse 1- “‘How long will you grieve over Saul since I have rejected him from being king over Israel?’” It's a big event, the first king came into power, and then he really messed up. And even if a person messes up, people are still, “Well, he was our king, you know, how could this be?” Even though he had been moody, even though he had gone to a witch, even though he didn't obey God's commands, and even though his whole history is just of being a very, very bad king. He says, “Samuel, fill your horn with oil,” that was a sign, that was a way that a new king was anointed by pouring oil on him, “I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” So, a new king was going to be chosen from Jesse, who was from Bethlehem, and he had seven sons.

We come down to verse 6, and the selection process is ongoing here. “When they came, he looked on Eliab,” -Samuel looked upon Eliab- “and thought, ‘Surely...’” He looked upon the first son, they're all gathered there and they're going to make a selection from one of them. And so, Jesse presents his sons, “Hey, here's my boys. Look at them, look how wonderful they are. I'm so honored to have my son be one of the candidates, my sons as candidates to become the next king of Israel.” So, he first went to Eliab and thought, “Surely, the Lord's anointed is before him. But the Lord,” -verse 7- “said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature.’” This was exactly the problem with Saul, the first king, that's all that people saw or that's what they looked upon. He was a good speaker, he was a person that was dressed well, he was handsome, and he was a head taller than anybody else. “Hey, that's our man, that's our king.” “Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance because I have rejected him for the Lord sees not as a man sees.’ He says, ‘Make sure that you judge as God judges. Man looks on the outward appearance but what does God look at? The Lord looks on the heart.’” That's the test for the character of the person of who God wants.

Well, okay, the first one was rejected because he didn't meet the qualifications there and God said, “No, I don't want him.” “Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel.” So, he kind of walked through, perhaps given introductory speech, whatever was done, “And he said,” -Samuel said- “‘Neither has Lord chosen this one.’” Nope, this is not the one. “Then Jesse made Shammah pass by and he said,” -Samuel said- “‘Neither has Lord chosen this one.’” Somehow God was communicating with Samuel. “And Jesse,” -verse 10- “made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. So, seven passed and Samuel said to Jesse, ‘The Lord has not chosen these.’” Hey, none of these fit the bill. Then verse 11, “Then Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Are all your sons here?’” Is this all of them? “And he said, ‘Well, there remains yet the youngest. But behold, he's keeping the sheep,’” somebody had to watch the sheep, out on the pasture and, obviously, he would not be considered because he was the youngest, he had seven brothers, there were eight sons altogether. I said seven.

He says, “Somebody had to watch the sheep,” tend the sheep out there, he was too young. And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him for we will not sit down until he comes here.” Because God already said, it's got to be one of Jesse's sons, and seven of them disqualified. So, it's kind of tightening up here as to how this is going to work out. And he sent and brought him in. Now, he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. Okay, that's okay too but he was also very young. And the Lord said, “Okay, this is the one. Arise, anoint him for this is he. He's our man, he's going to be the next king of Israel.” “Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him, that was by pouring this horn of oil over his head in the midst of the brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward.” So, the decision, the criteria was, “What was David's heart like?”

Of course, we could give a series of sermons about the heart of David. David certainly wasn't a perfect person, he had committed sins. But also he was a person who asked forgiveness. He obeyed God. He loved God, he loved God's instructions and laws. A statement is made 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×
about David. In fact, a little more is said just in a little phrase about what it was about David that made him this way. But this was a sermon that Paul was preaching near Antioch.

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,” -Saul- “he raised up 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.’” The quality of David was he had the nature of God, God's nature kind of built into Him. But also He would do what God said, “he would do all My will.” He was one that prayed certainly every day, as Jesus has commanded us, “Your will be done.” He wanted to do those things that filled God. And if he made a mistake, he said, “God, forgive me. God, forgive me for what I am.”

So, what we had here is God making certain that the next king of Israel... and, of course, many other kings after this were more like Saul, but He wanted an example of someone who followed, obeyed God, and would be righteous. There's various instructions that are given to us about the heart. The New Testament, much is said. As said, the heart is this complex part of our body that's connected with the spirit, the Holy Spirit, the physical spirit, the spirit in man that has the ability to make decisions, has the ability to relate to God and relate to one another. And when Jesus Christ gave His first recorded sermon, and a lot of it had to do with the Kingdom of God, He gave certain basic attitudes that we all need to consider strongly as we prepare for the Kingdom of God.

Matthew 5, Matthew 5:3 Matthew 5:3Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
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, this is the Sermon on the Mount, famous Sermon on the Mount. First of all, He says in Matthew 5:3 Matthew 5:3Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
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Matthew 5:3 Matthew 5:3Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
American King James Version×
– “Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are those who mourn,” -verse 4- “blessed are the people who think little of themselves, small in their own eyes, people of humility. Blessed are the meek,” -verse 5- “blessed are the teachable. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness,” -they want to be righteous. They're not trying to find ways to get as close as they could to evil but they “hunger and thirst for what's righteous, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful,” which is not the case in Saul and many other kings. But verse 8 is the one I want to focus on, “Blessed are the pure in heart. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God pure in heart.” What you have on the outside, what people see on the outside when you talk to them is transparent. It's pure to their very inner being. “Blessed are the pure in heart.” That is one of the characteristics, qualifications you might say, of a person who will see God and be in God's Kingdom. That's why I'm talking about this subject here, it's important that you assess your heart of what's there is what's on the outside and how you relate to God but also how you relate to one another is what's on the inside, or are there two different people or maybe even three different people? Are you deceitful? Are you wicked? Are you thinking wrong thoughts? Are you envious? Are you jealous?

One term I remember, Ambassador College, I went there, human nature was described as four words, Mr. Dean probably knows, “Vanity, jealousy, lust and greed.” That's what people are. Vanity, jealousy, lust and greed. We kept walking around with that technique, repeating that over and over again, because that's what we are, the human mind is desperately wicked. With the cleansing of Jesus Christ of our sins by His blood and by our baptism with water and receiving the Holy Spirit, we start doing some cleaning, hosing down of what our heart is. Is that an ongoing process or do you kind of neglect it? Because if you neglect it, the old will come back. It's a maintenance work of continually praying and cleansing and saying, “God, forgive me. Forgive me my sins. Forgive me for making mistakes. Forgive me for whatever, you know, we do in our lives, whether it's at work or whether it's at home or whether it was other people. Forgive us our sins.” Then we become pure for they shall see God. Proverbs 4:27 Proverbs 4:27Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove your foot from evil.
American King James Version×
, I'll just quickly read this, I like this verse,

Prover s 4:27 – “Guard your heart or keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it springs the issues of life. Protect your heart, guard your heart.” In the paraphrased translation, it's translated, “Guard your affections, your feelings, your passions. Guard them, for out of them is the wellspring of life.”

Matthew 13, Matthew 13. And this is the chapter which has seven of Christ's parables. “For the hearts of the people,” this is Jesus Christ when He's going through the parables explaining why people didn't get them and He has to explain them to His disciples first, and what had happened here, and He describes it, Matthew 13:15 Matthew 13:15For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
American King James Version×
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Matthew 13:15 Matthew 13:15For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
American King James Version×
– “The hearts of this people have grown dull.” That could happen to us too. If we don't continually stay sharp, continually ask God to forgive us our sins to the blood of Jesus Christ, to wash away through baptism and cleanse what we are, we can become dull of hearing, we can become rusty, we can become unable to really be the kind of pure heart that God requires. “The hearts of this people have grown dull, their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes have they closed.” We'd be very careful that we'd ever get to this point. We'll begin to shut out those things that were clear at one time, things that were very exciting to where we just drift and drift and drift and have a hard time even coming back, where they don't even seem to be important anymore. And so, He gave these parables for them. At that time, the people didn't understand them but He gave them to his disciples.

Deuteronomy 6, Deuteronomy 6. The passage that we often read about loving God loving mankind, and this is part of it, the two great commands. Deuteronomy 6:5 Deuteronomy 6:5And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
American King James Version×
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Deuteronomy 6:5 Deuteronomy 6:5And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
American King James Version×
– “You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” This is how God is advising and teaching the people of Israel you might say in theory how they were to be. “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” But previously, in the chapter before, He had given them the 10 Commandments all over again, this is Deuteronomy, giving again the law, repetition of the law, verse 29, where He gives the law again, 10 Commandments, but then laments that there was a problem, there was a systemic problem with the people. And what was that problem? Verse 29 of Deuteronomy 5, “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever.” He says, “I really wish they had the right heart.”

So, at this point now, as we come in what I'm talking about, God has created mankind. He has not given Him everything there quite to be whole. He's created Him in His image, His likeness, and given a lot of characteristics to Him but there's a missing dimension. And He's revealing knowledge of that missing dimension to people at various points in history. He has done that with you and me as we have come to repentance and baptism and having that new heart be given to us, to be able to love God with all of our heart and mind and strength. But the people there did not have that tool, did not have that availability. “I wish there was such a heart in them,” but God is not going to forsake them, He will be with them and He will give them the tools that they need.

A new heart will be given to Israel and this flaw will be remedied. It's not God's fault, it's just that God wants to... when He delivers that tool to us, He wants us to make the decision, free-will decision, to follow Him and obey Him from our heart. If God was to just make us do those things and be perfect, we would be like Lucifer who was perfect in all his ways. Beautiful. But there was something wrong, a flaw in his character to where he became very aware of himself and wanted to dethrone God, became the originator of evil. It's quite a study, I think about these subjects very often.

Ezekiel 11:19 Ezekiel 11:19And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:
American King James Version×
, prophecy of the future. All prophecies, of course, of the future. Ezekiel 11:19 Ezekiel 11:19And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:
American King James Version×
, He talks about what will be given to Israel,

Ezekiel 11:19 Ezekiel 11:19And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:
American King James Version×
– “Then I will give them one heart and I will put a new spirit within them and take the stony heart out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.” The problem is that the stony heart is a result of people not making the choices that they should and, of course, no availability of the Holy Spirit. But God will give them a heart which will have a new spirit, and that is the Holy Spirit, and take out the stony heart of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh. Right now we are a microcosm of the Kingdom of God. We are the Kingdom of God in embryo right here. We're growing because we have the Holy Spirit of God. We're showing God what it's like to have that spirit and grow by it, to make changes, to overcome.

Ezekiel 18, since we're right there, Ezekiel, turn over a few more chapters, Ezekiel 18:30 Ezekiel 18:30Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, said the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.
American King James Version×
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Ezekiel 18:30 Ezekiel 18:30Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, said the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.
American King James Version×
– “‘Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to His ways,’ says the Lord God. ‘Repent and turn from all your transgressions so that iniquity will not be your ruin.’” The story and the subject of repentance is one that was paramount in the Old Testament. And in the New Testament, what did Jesus Christ say? “Repent and believe the gospel.” What did the Apostle Peter say on the day of Pentecost? “Repent and be baptized.” And that's what he's prophesying to Ezekiel here in Chapter 18, “Repent and turn from all your transgressions so that iniquity will not be your ruin.” When you receive the Holy Spirit of God, it becomes very clear what's good and evil and you see the outcome of each.

We don't have the Holy Spirit we can get dragged back into the world, the world looks... we had just this study here in 1 John 2:15 1 John 2:15Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
American King James Version×
with ABC about the world. “Love not the world and all the things that are in it,” -its philosophies, its ways that are toxic- “the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, the pride of life.” When we receive the Holy Spirit of God, we clearly see what those things are. We clearly see the outcomes of those things and we want God's way. Ezekiel 18:31 Ezekiel 18:31Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby you have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will you die, O house of Israel?
American King James Version×
, “Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?” God is creating a new heart in all of us right now. It comes through repentance. It comes through good habits, it comes through a way of life. It comes from the transformation of a person.

Even though the word “heart” isn't mentioned in Romans 12, 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×
, the Apostle Paul speaks about the new person in Christ. Romans 12.

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×
– “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice wholly acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Again, this is “mind,” which is not necessarily “heart” but it's similar. It's a synonym, somewhat close but not fully. It's a different Greek word, “nous.” “That you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” That's our purpose in life is to be able to understand this. God is wanting us to fortify ourselves, to be immunized, to be... hate to use the word “vaccinated,” but for us to be prepared against all the evil germs of worldliness around us.

Here's how David responded to God, Psalm 119, you see why David was a man after God's own heart, from the very beginning, he was chosen by God but also, throughout his life, he expressed joy in his expression, such as Psalms 119:1 Psalms 119:1Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.
American King James Version×
. Psalms 119:1 Psalms 119:1Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.
American King James Version×
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Psalms 119:1 Psalms 119:1Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.
American King James Version×
– “Blessed are the undefiled in the way who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are those who keep His testimonies and who seek Him with the whole heart.” “Nothing held back, God, I want You, I want You, I want a personal relationship with You. I'm opening myself up to You to cleanse me.” as David said, “Purge me with hyssop.” It's kind of a weed that grows... not a weed but it's a plant like a little broomstick, a wick could be made from it. It was dipped into blood and the high priest went around and sprinkled the mercy seat. “Those who seek Him with the whole heart,” is that what we do when we pray, “God I want to come close to You, I want to understand You, I want to have full understanding of your way.”

Then he says, in verse 10, “With my whole heart, I have sought You, O let me not wander from Your commandments.” The whole Psalm 119, the longest one of the Psalms of David, has the word “law,” “commandments,” “statute,” or something in every one of the verses. David upholds God's way, God's commandments, God's will. David was not afraid to say, “I love You, God. I'm seeking You with all my heart.” I remember this innocence... and I hope my son doesn't hear this sermon here today. I remember my son was a little boy and I gave a sermon similar to this about loving God. I remember, after the sermon, we came home, “Daddy, I love God.” I just felt so warm, he was just a little boy but it was so innocent. That's the way God wants us to come to Him, “God, I love you. My heart is open to You.”

God cannot robotically create a clean heart, that's a process that involves user input, let's put it that way. God opens the door and says, "Now I need to have response from you. I've created you in my image, you look like me, I have your characteristics, cognitive abilities, creativity. Some of you can sing, some of you can paint, some of you can do other things, but here's a step where I want your involvement, your hands on. I want a response from you. Until I get that, you're not fully created, you're still in the process of being created." That is to have that clean heart that we've been talking about here in this sermon.

The creation step has to be concluded by your willingness to have a clean heart before God. It's of your free will, it's of your choice, it is not something that God did for you. God wants us to love Him because we want to. And when we have the choice of loving Him or not loving Him. If we had no choice, then do we really love Him? We're just programmed as robots. And that's why we have the choices, choose, I said before, your good and evil. God could've made us robots, could've made us more like the angels, but He did not. Choose between good and evil, of free will. And you do it because you want to, not because you have to, or because you fear not to do it, or because you have no choice. He wants you to do it from your whole heart.

We show that by our thanksgiving for all the things that God has done for us. I go back and look at my life and say, “God, thank you for rescuing me here. Thank you for intervening in my life here. I'm so thankful.” I'm so thankful to God for all the people that I work with. So thankful to God for being the president of the United Church of God. I'm just so very very thankful and very grateful for the many wonderful blessings that I've had, how God has healed me and has carried me, expressing gratitude and prayers and in the way, hopefully, that I treat other people around me.

We continually seek God's help in changing our heart because if you don't continually stay in this maintenance mode, it can go cold, hard, go astray or become dormant. We find ourselves when we have our heart right with God, we're enthusiastic and zealous about the mission of the church and are excited to be a Christian where you say, “I'm thankful that I'm called now. I'm not just dragging around, I'm very thankful for being a Christian.” So, what can we give God? What is the most meaningful input for His creation to us at this point? Its giving our heart to Him in the way that we have described this afternoon. God only wants our heart. Not only does He want our heart, He wants a clean and pure heart.

I'll conclude by reading Psalms 51:10-12 Psalms 51:10-12 [10] Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. [11] Cast me not away from your presence; and take not your holy spirit from me. [12] Restore to me the joy of your salvation; and uphold me with your free spirit.
American King James Version×
. Psalms 51:10 Psalms 51:10Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
American King James Version×
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Psalms 51:10-12 Psalms 51:10-12 [10] Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. [11] Cast me not away from your presence; and take not your holy spirit from me. [12] Restore to me the joy of your salvation; and uphold me with your free spirit.
American King James Version×
– “Create in me a clean heart.” God, help me make a clean heart. It's my choice but help me with it. “And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” I mean He had all the elements there, the Holy Spirit was with David in the Old Testament. He understood that he had to have a clean heart. Well, we may repent and ask for maintenance and not for the sins that David had, certainly this could apply to many, many other issues, create in me a clean heart. Wipe away the jealousy. Wipe away the envy. Wipe away the lust and the vanity putting myself forward. And don't take Your Holy Spirit from me. In fact, add to your Holy Spirit. “Restore to me the joy of your salvation,” -verse 12- “and uphold me by your generous spirit.”