Today we are going to take a look at the condition of our hearts. We will see the spiritual condition of our hearts in terms which also apply to our physical hearts.
There is a war being fought in the world today. It is a supernatural war.
A war being fought between God and Satan, and so, a war between heaven and hell. This war is being fought for the hearts of men and women. God wants our hearts fully devoted to Him. And, Satan desires the same thing - he wants our heart's full devotion toward him.
One side wants us to have a heart of caring, the other side wants our hearts to be hardened and deceitful.
One side wants to fill your heart with joy and love and peace while the other side wants to fill your heart with pain, agony and despair.
One side wants to protect and guard your heart, while-the other side wants to attack your heart.
So, today we are looking at "heart attacks” and how they build us up or bring us down into a debilitative state.
Every heart here today is vulnerable to attack. No one is exempt.
The Proverbs tell us why this battle is so much a part of our lives
Proverbs 27:19 As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.
Proverbs 16:9 In his heart a man plans his course …..
The course our lives take will be determined by the condition of our hearts.
We determine several important actions of our lives. Our hearts determine:
-who we will live for -who we will serve -who we will love
-will it be the God of heaven ? -or the god of this world?
In the Word, we find that the heart and its functions are important to look at. That’s why the Bible mentions the heart 779 times!
We can begin to be sure today who will win our hearts if we can follow what King David tells us about the heart in Psalm 86.
Psalm 86:11-12 Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. 12 I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.
There is one particular word which distinguishes the condition of our hearts. It is in verse 11. Can you see it there? David asks God to give him an UNDIVIDED heart.
We are probably all familiar with heart attacks …..Heart related deaths are the #1 cause of death in America
-more than cancer -more than aids -more than crime and traffic accidents
-and when heart ailments don’t kill …..-they injure-they debilitate-they alter our lives.
How ironic it is. That the very instrument of life giving and life sustaining is also the cause of death for millions of people around the world.
Though only a minority of people suffer “physical” heart attacks …..-we all are victims of “spiritual” heart attacks. And, while spiritual heart attacks may not result in physical death they can be eternally fatal.
If we were honest many of us would say what the psalmist said …..
Psalm 25:17 The troubles of my heart have multiplied; free me from my anguish.
Psalm 40:12 For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me.
Why is an unhealthy heart so dangerous not only physically, but more importantly spiritually? Turn to Mark 7. Jesus here is teaching the scribes and Pharisees and is answering the question they asked of Him – verse 5 - “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?”
Then in verses 20-23 Jesus answers –“He went on: 20 ‘What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ 21 For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’”
That is also why Solomon said in Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
So, there are two elements of our lives - our physical life and our spiritual life.
Doctors and others trained in the medical field will tell us that we must practice preventative medicine. So today, we want to practice a little preventive medicine …..some early detection and early treatment.
Often the first sign a physical heart attack is blockage of the arteries. The old folks used to call that “hardening of the arteries.”
The first sign of a spiritual heart attack is the spiritual “hardening of the arteries” …..Several “arteries” pump life into people spiritually speaking
-prayer and worship -the Bible -fellowship -service
When people become hardened to these things they begin to grow spiritually weak and eventually spiritually sick. Some have even died --- spiritually.
Proverbs 28:14 says “Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.”
Every healthy relationship requires communication. The acts of prayer and worship are our communication to God. The Bible is God’s communication to us. A hardened heart silences that communication.
Fellowship is another vital part of spiritual health. An artery to a healthy spiritual heart.
It is impossible to be a healthy Christian and have a hardened heart toward other believers.
Having a healthy spiritual heart means more than just attendance at the same church. It means devotion to others. It means loyalty toward one another. It means concern for each other and commitment to one another.
Service is a vital “artery” that brings spiritual health. Blood flows in and out of a healthy heart physically as it should. The same is true of a spiritual heart.
A heart that only takes in and never gives out grows spiritually sick. A healthy spiritual heart will desire to be fed. And once the heart is fed it must serve. Being fed is taking in. Serving is giving out. Without that taking in and giving out people become spiritual patients as their spiritual health deteriorates over time.
Hear what Jesus says about the heart in Matthew 13:15. He is speaking to the disciples here: “For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.”
The Proverbs writer puts it this way in Proverbs 23:26 – “My son, give me your heart and let your eyes keep to my ways.”
And we come back to the earlier mention of the undivided heart when we hear Ezekiel speak in his prophecy (Ezekiel 11:19) “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone (hardened arteries?) and give them a heart of flesh (a heart beating as it should – blood in and blood out. Not divided in its duty, but fully functioning, giving life to the body.
Hebrews 4:7 ‘‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
The second attack is a spiritual “heart murmur”. T0hat’s when a person’s heart beats fast when it shouldn’t. It beats fast after the wrong things. Things like pleasure, the approval of others, riches. All the things that don’t satisfy.
When was the last time your heart beat fast for what God’s heart beats fast for?
Things like intimacy with him - Jeremiah 24:7 – “I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.
Our hearts should beat fast for truth and justice. Isaiah 59:15-16 says “Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice.”
Our hearts should beat fast for His people – Hear Isaiah again - 26:11 - “O Lord, your hand is lifted high, but they do not see it. Let them see your zeal for your people and be put to shame…”
The last attack of our hearts is simply “spiritual heart disease”. That slow eroding of a healthy heart. It is caused by countless little things that slowly eat away at a person’s heart over time. In the physical heart, this is the eating foods which contribute to heart disease and lack of exercise.
Spiritual heart disease comes from things like
-attitudes -relationships -patterns of behavior- -wrong priorities
Too often those things go unnoticed until it’s too late. And once healthy hearts become diseased hearts these spiritual heart attacks take over.
-hardening of the arteries
Whatever the attack, many of the symptoms are the same. Whether a heart gets hard, or a murmur occurs or heart disease sets in --- the result is the same.
We become spiritually distracted; we become numb; we stop feeling the things we should fee --- love, gratitude for God and care and concern for others, that is, compassion for hurting people.
Well, we’ve looked at the attacks and the symptoms. Now, what is the treatment?
Doctors today have developed many ways to deal with physical heart health. But, we need to understand that there is no human cure for spiritual heart disease.
We can’t fix our own heart. But, thankfully there is Jesus, who called himself “the Great Physician.”
Isaiah 61:1 “The spirit of the sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”
His treatment is always the same …..A transplant is required.
Let’s remind ourselves again of Ezekiel 11:19 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
He doesn’t repair hearts. He replaces them. Just as with physical heart transplants, spiritually transplanted hearts are vulnerable. That is why there needs to be a change in a person’s lifestyle after a physical or spiritual transplant surgery.
It takes medication
-a daily dose of the Holy Spirit -nutrition -a steady diet of the scriptures
-exercise -a regular routine of spiritual activities.
Those are the requirements for a healthy heart.
And finally, all that results in this: Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” The reward is Him.
I believe today, Jesus would say to each one of us the same thing he once said to the disciples John 14:1 ‘‘do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me.”
I want to close with two verses from the Psalms …..-I think they express what God wants to hear from us today…
Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”