New Hope Notes
Lives Heart First
The Irresistible Church
Pastor Elwin Ahu
There’s a heart behind the hands that allow us to worship every weekend. We will not compromise the presentation of the Gospel. We will not compromise the heart behind that presentation. God is not necessarily interested in what we do but more in the heart in which we do it in. God does not want us to only go through the motions of worship. God wants our hearts to be fully invested in what we do; otherwise He does not like it.
Back in the Old Testament times, God wanted Israel to be separate from other nations. He wanted them to be clean inside and out. So God created a long set of laws of cleanliness. The Bible even describes how to make soap. But Israel thought the clean Laws were an end instead of a means so later when Jesus came, he said, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." (Matt. 23:27-28) Jesus was not concerned with the outside of a person – Jesus wanted them to be clean on the inside. The Lord said to clean our hearts first. So how do we do that?
Doing flows out of being. You can do a lot of good things but if do them without heart – you are not going very far. President Clinton did great things but what do we remember him for? An affair with an intern. President Nixon did great things but what do we remember him for? Watergate. Various famous evangelists had enormous ministries but failed morally. The common thing they all had was the impurity they had inside of their hearts. As Jesus said, "These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me... For...out of a person's heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness." (Mark 7:6, 21-22 NLT)
Even King David realized that he was impure on the inside when he had an affair with Bathsheba so he prayed, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." (Ps. 51:10)
My wife Joy had a problem with our son Jared not keeping his room clean. So she kept making him clean his room over and over again. The lesson is that if you do not clean your heart good and right the first time, you will have to keep doing it over and over again. Sometimes we say that we clean our hearts by forgiving but we hold on to grudges in our heart just in case we want to use it against that person in the future. Your heart is important to God. You can join a church and small groups but still fail because inside your heart is still unclean. Whatever you do, do it with all your heart even if you think it is a small thing.
My little son Jared plays football but is not a starter. In fact he was only in on 6 plays the whole scrimmage and spent most of the time watching from the sidelines. When we got home, he asked me if I was still proud of him even though he only was in for 6 plays. I said that I was. He then asked if I would still be proud if he had only been in for 2 plays. I said I would still be proud because he played with all his heart. So how do we get our hearts in shape?
Make sure your heart is scrubbed and polished daily. Anything will naturally get dull when it is used constantly. If you do not take the time to renew passion – your marriage will get dull. So do your daily devotions to renew your passions.
Say this prayer before your devotions and as soon as you wake up in the morning, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way." (Ps. 139:23-24) God will not force you so this prayer gives Him permission to search your heart. After He has helped you purify your heart, then you can make good Godly decisions in life and reflect God’s light. So say that prayer as soon as you wake up in the morning.
It is not about being perfect but about purity in your heart. It is about a willingness to clean your heart. How pure should your heart be? Procter and Gamble invented Ivory Soap which was determined to be an amazing 99.44% pure. Well, God wants you to be 100% pure. Look at it this way, suppose you told your wife that you had been 99% faithful to her. What do you think she would do? You would be in big trouble!
Live life heart first. I know it is hard but the Lord wants you to have clean hands and heart. As the Bible says, "Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation." (Ps. 24:3-5) If we take care of our hearts, there are eternal rewards but it is up to us. One of the best ways to keep our hearts pure is...
Jesus came to serve. Great leaders lived for something greater than themselves. Remember, "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father." (Col. 3:17)
Pastor Tony Campolo happened to be in a rundown coffee shop at 330am when a bunch of prostitutes came in. He overheard that one of the prostitute’s name was Agnes and that her birthday was the next day and that she was sad because she never ever had a birthday party. So he asked the coffee shop’s owners if he could throw a surprise party for her the next morning. They were all for it because they said that Agnes was a very good person. The next morning Agnes was overwhelmed that they threw a party for her. She was so taken that she left to show her mom the cake. Pastor Tony led the rest of the prostitutes in prayer. The owner asked Pastor Tony what kind of church was he the pastor of? He said, “The kind that throws birthday parties for whores at 330 in the morning!”
Pastor Tony said that we should be more than a church that provides food and clothing – we should be a church that gives joy and love to everyone.
We should make inner purity a priority over performance and pray that God can help us purify our hearts. We should check our hearts daily and let God and others take precedence over ourselves.