CHANGING THE HEART
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel awoke one morning to read his own obituary in the local newspaper: “Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, who died yesterday, devised a way for more people to be killed in a war than ever before, and he died a very rich man.”
But, actually, it was Alfred’s older brother who had died; a newspaper reporter had made a mistake. But the account had a profound effect on Nobel. So he decided he wanted to be known for something other than developing the means to kill people efficiently and for amassing a fortune in the process. So he initiated the Nobel Prize, the award for scientists and writers who foster peace.
Nobel said, “Every man ought to have the chance to correct his eulogy in midstream and write a new one.”
1. Brother and sisters, we are all going to die someday, that is of course unless the Lord returns first. But before we die, we need to ask ourselves this question:
a. Are there any areas in my life that I need to change before I stand before God on judgement day?
2. This is a vitally important question! We need to do a self-evaluation regarding our spiritual lives.
THIS MORNING, I AM GOING TO OFFER FOUR POINTS REGARDING THE CONCEPT OF CHANGE.
I. FIRST, GOD EXPECTS US TO CHANGE.
1. When we become Christians, we are a new creation; our old way of life must be replaced with a new way of life. A change must take place.
2. We are to be brand new people which means that our:
a. Thinking must change.
b. Behavior must change.
c. Commitments must change.
d. Everything must change that does not measure up to the kind of life that God wants us to live.
3. The change that God wants us to have is not just a one-time change at our conversion, for the Bible teaches that we are to continually change and model our lives to be more like Christ.
a. John means that our goal is to walk through our home, our workplace, the grocery store--everywhere--talking, acting, and thinking like Jesus because Jesus is the perfect example for us to model our Christian life after.
4. Brethren, God expects us to constantly strive to change our lives so that we may be the kind of people that He wants us to be.
II. SECOND, WE CAN CHANGE.
“The meanest man in the Texas Prison System” was a title well earned by Clyde Thompson. Two-time murderer at age 17, youngest man in Texas to be given the death sentence. But 6 hours before he was to die, his sentence was commuted to life. After that, Thompson engineered 3 unsuccessful escape attempts and then, murdered two fellow inmates. Of course he was labeled incorrigible and given a solitary confinement cell.
But after 28 years, He was released from Prison. He spent the rest of his life serving as a Minister until he died a few years ago by natural causes.
Now, what made the difference? Well, a guard gave Clyde Thompson a Bible to read and Jesus came into his life. Hmmm. A four-time murderer, in solitary confinement, changed completely. I wonder if there still might be hope for us?
1. If Clyde Thompson could change his life, do you think we can change ours?
2. Change is possible through Christ. In the NT, Christ changed many people.
a. Paul changed from a persecutor of the church to a lover of the church.
b. Peter changed from a fisherman to a fisher of men.
c. Matthew changed from a corrupt tax collector to a respected Apostle.
d. Zacchaeus changed from a thief to a man who gave half his possessions to the poor.
3. If you want to change your life, then change is possible. There is hope for a new beginning and a new way of life. If you know that you need to make some changes, then you can do it with the help of God.
4. When we evaluate what we think we need to change in our lives, what type of change do we usually think of? Probably we think of external changes that need to be made. Like (a) visiting the sick more often, (b) studying the Bible more consistently; or (c) coming to church more often. These changes are good and necessary, however, God wants us to do more than just change externally, He wants us to change internally as well!
III. THIRD, GOD WANTS US TO MAKE CHANGES TO OUR HEARTS.
1. Our hearts are important to God. What is the heart? The heart is the soul or mind of man. It is the foundation of our thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, and endeavors.
2. God wants our hearts to be right with Him and not just our outward appearances and actions.
3. In (1 Sam. 16), God told Samuel to go to the house of Jesse and anoint one of his sons to be the next king. Samuel saw one of Jesses’ sons, Eliab, and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”
4. It’s the heart that matters to God.
5. In the NT, Jesus condemned the Pharisees and religious leaders for outwardly appearing saintly and holy but inwardly remaining far from God.
6. Brethren, its what is on the inside that matters to God.
7. We sing a song in our songbook that goes: Is Thy Heart Right With God. That is the question that we need to ask ourselves.
8. But how do we know if our hearts are not right with God?
a. If you have not given your life over to God by being baptized into Christ then your heart is not right with God.
b. If you have bitterness, hatred, anger, an unforgiving nature, sexual immorality lingering in your life, envy and jealousy, if you are constantly critical toward others, or you have any type of sin in your life, your heart needs some changes.
9. If your heart needs some changes then the good news is that you can change your heart condition. Your heart can be renewed and given some spiritual treatment.
IV. LASTLY, HOW CAN WE CHANGE OUR HEARTS IN ORDER TO PLEASE GOD?
A. FIRST, WE NEED TO ASK GOD FOR HELP.
1. Since we are sinful people, we cannot create by ourselves the kind of heart that God wants us to have.
2. We need to go to God in prayer and ask Him to change our hearts.
3. Regardless of how far a person’s heart is from God; God can change it.
In a whirlpool in the Columbia Correctional Institution, a serial Killer named Jeffrey Dahmer was baptized by a Church of Christ minister. According the Christian Chronicle, a church member named, Mary Mott, saw Dahmer on a television show last spring in which he discussed needing “peace” in his life. So Mary sent him a package of all the lessons from the World Bible School series, and a Bible. And she said that immediately, Dahmer completed the lessons and sent them back to her, with a letter expressing his interest in baptism. Several days later, Roy Ratcliff baptized Dahmer.
After Dahmer’s baptism, the minister said that “he had a great deal of joy in his heart. He was very happy, very rejoicing.” In fact several weeks later, Dahmer wanted some copies of certain Bible tracts for some other prisoners because he wanted to start evangelizing to the other inmates. It seemed like a change had taken place.
Did Jeffry Dahmer get his heart right with God? According to Mack Lyon, we would never try to minimize the magnitude of Dahmer’s sins, but that anyone “who is a Christian and professes to know God,” would know that Dahmer was saved in the end. For we all know that a few months after his conversion, Dahmer was murdered in prison by another inmate.
4. Does God have the power to change the hardest of hearts? Yes.
5. Can he change your heart, yes, but you and I need to ask Him for help.
B. SECOND, TO MAKE CHANGES TO OUR HEARTS WE MUST GET RID OF SIN.
1. A few years ago, I went to my doctor’s office to get my cholesterol checked. Several days later, the nurse gave me the bad news. My cholesterol was too high (268). And so my doctor put me on medicine to get it down to a safe level. The reason why he put me on that medicine is because Cholesterol can build up in your arteries and cause you to have a heart attack.
2. Likewise, sin, like cholesterol, clogs up our spiritual hearts. That’s why we must get rid of it.
3. The point of (Isa. 59:2) is that sin separates us from God. If sin reigns in our hearts and lives, then we are alienating ourselves from God. We have a heart problem when there is sin reigning in our lives.
4. So what do we need to do to get our hearts back right with God?
a. We need to confess our sins to God.
(1) We can’t hide our sins from God, we must acknowledge them before God.
(2) When should we confess our sins? Right when the sin is committed.
(3) We must confess our sins immediately in order to guard our hearts from sin. A Proverb writer once wrote: (Prov. 4:23) “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
(4) We shouldn’t commit a sin and let that sin dwell in us all day. No, we need to guard our hearts from any type of sin that is trying to invade it! Just like Fort Knox has tight security around its facilities so that no one can come in and steal their money, we must have tight security around our hearts by not allowing sin to break in and get our treasures.
b. We need to turn away from our sins. Stop doing what God does not want us to do.
(1) This passage teaches that if we turn away from our sins, then God will forgive us and He will remember our sins no more. Isn’t that wonderful! That’s the kind of Loving God that we have. If we stop the sinning, then our hearts can be brought back to God.
1. God wants us to continue to change our lives. But not only does God want us to change our external characteristics, He wants us to change our hearts because it is the heart that truly matters to Him.
2. The way to change our hearts is to ask God for help by going to him in prayer because God is the one who can truly change our hearts. We must also turn away from sin and confess our sins to Him and above all else, we must guard our hearts and not allow sin to enter in.
3. So I ask you again, “are there any changes that you need to make before you appear before God on judgment day?”
For years, the opening of “The Wide World Of Sports” television program illustrated “the agony of defeat” with a painful ending to an attempted ski jump. The skier appeared in good form as he headed down the jump, but then, for no apparent reason, he tumbled head over heels off the side of the jump, bouncing off the supporting structure.
What viewers didn’t know was that he chose to fall rather than finish the jump. Why? As he explained later, the jump surface had become too fast, and midway down the ramp, he realized if he completed the jump, he would land on the level ground, beyond the safe sloping landing area, which could have been fatal.
As it was, the skier suffered no more than a headache from the tumble. To change one’s course in life can be a dramatic and sometimes painful undertaking, but change is better than a fatal landing at the end.
4. We are going to sing a song, “Is Thy Heart Right With God.” If your heart is not right with God, then please respond to the Lord’s invitation, as we stand and as we sing.