Condition of The Heart

Condition of The Heart

I want to start off this morning’s message by talking about one of my friends, his name is Jose Alvarado. I want to explain to you a little bit of who Jose is and a picture is worth a thousand words so let me put a picture of him up first. This is my friend, Jose, he goes to our church. He has 7 daughters. I know, whoa, right? I have 5 boys and we talk about switching, you know what I mean? It’s harder to decide which ones I want to give up than I thought it would be. So, here’s Jose, this is a great picture of him because look, he is surrounded by all of these smiling girls and then you have him in the middle, grumpy old Jose. This is Jose. When he showed me this picture, I was like, “Why aren’t you smiling?” and he said, “I only smile in pictures 2 times a year.” Anyway, he has tattoos all over his arms, he looks like he is straight out of Compton. I’m still not sure if he has actually killed someone before or not. He is this really hard dude. And we’re going out to get some food one day. He said let’s go to this taco shop. We stop and this is the smallest taco shop I have ever seen. It had a rating “C” in the window which are the best ones to go to by the way, they taste the best. So, we go to this taco shop and there’s only 2 tables out front and at one table there is a guy who had been drinking a lot. You know people who can really hold their alcohol? Not this guy. Okay. He is sitting there so we go to the other table and sit down, kind of trying to ignore the loud noises that are coming from that table. Well, the guy stands up, he is like 6’3”, 280 pounds, he is a big guy, he stands up, walks over to our table and sits down with us. But he doesn’t just sit down with us. He sits right next to Jose. I’m telling you, like no room for the Holy Spirit there, they were dating at this point. He sits right by him! And I’m looking at this situation and inside my heart, I hear my heart say “Don’t do it, Neil!” But, before I could listen to my heart, stuff was already coming out of my mouth. So, we’re sitting there and I say “Hey man, my friend Jose right here” and Jose is kind of feeling really uncomfortable “my friend right here, he LOVES hugs!”. And I’m telling you, if I ever doubted that Jose has killed someone in his life, I know right now that he has by the way he looked at me when I said this. And this big guy hugs Jose and holds on to him for like 10 seconds. It was the best 10 seconds of my life, okay? Anyways, we had a good time with the guy after that. You guys know how sometimes inside of our hearts, out of hearts flow compassion and love for people. We have this compassionate side. But, sometimes our hearts are devious things, aren’t they? They come up with all kinds of things out of the same heart. What does the Bible say about what is inside of our heart? Jeremiah 17:9 says this:

The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?

Jeremiah 17:9

And I’m doing this research on our heart and I’m reading this book and I see this incredible thing by a guy named Dr. Frost. He has done 150 heart transplants. And he starts talking about the heart from the medical view. God says it’s desperately sick. Dr. Frost has done 150 heart transplants and he says that heart transplants are the marvel of modern medicine. To be able to take one heart and put it inside of someone else and for everything to work right and to flow right, it’s a marvel. But even medicine cannot fully explain the heart transplant. There are things about the heart transplant that are hard to believe. I’m going to tell you these things right now and maybe you will have a hard time believing it. I encourage you to go look online because it’s incredible the research that is done. But, he says out of his own mouth, studies show that the heart secretes its own brain-like hormones and has cellular memory. That means this…that when a heart recipient takes on a heart from the donor, there is actual cellular memory inside the heart that impacts the recipient. Isn’t that incredible?! You guys want some stories about this? I’ll tell you what I’m talking about…

There is this lady named Claire Silva, she had a heart transplant. Before her heart started going bad, she was a clean eater. She never ate junk food, she never went out to eat, she always ate well which is a bummer because her heart went bad anyway. She always ate well. Totally normal life. Her favorite color was pink. She was just normal. She has this heart transplant that takes place. Pretty soon, she says, “I started liking new things, my appetite changed a little bit.” And she says, “I’ve always loved the color pink, it was my favorite color but all of a sudden greens are looking so much better and I think I like the color green more than I like the color pink.” No big deal. She says, “I’ve never liked junk food but now, I have a love affair with chicken nuggets.” A lot of us in here know what she’s talking about. She said, “I’ve always stayed away from beer but now I love the taste.” But lastly, which I think is even more interesting, she said, “I dream about motorcycles all of the time.” So, later on, she gets a chance to go back and visit the family of the donor where the heart came from and she starts explaining how happy she is about her 2nd chance at life and all of these new cravings that she has that she didn’t before and the family starts crying. And they said this, “You know, our son died on a motorcycle. Motorcycles were his life. Chicken nuggets were his life and sadly, beer was his life, too.” It’s interesting because this is not just her that this happens to. This is a regular thing. Dr. Frost calls them the tribe of the transplanted. The heart transplants that fully take 100 percent root, they start coming out with different cravings, different appetites, different desires, different wants. And, I love that because hasn’t God been saying all of history that He wants to transplant hearts? Hasn’t He been saying all of history that He wants to transplant hearts? Let’s read this scripture:

And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 11:19

That is a heart transplant, isn’t it? God says to all of us, “I want to take out your heart of stone and I want to give you a heart of flesh. And like the regular heart transplant in the physical, with My heart transplant you can have My desires, My cravings, My attitudes, My appetites.” Isn’t that amazing? Praise God! Remember when you gave your heart to the Lord? Go back to that time, do you remember what came with it? All of a sudden, new loves and new desires and new appetites and new wants and new cravings. Do you remember you wanted to be at church all of the time? Do you remember you just wanted to be in the presence of God, you wanted to tell everybody about Him? It was because you took on the cravings that He had. You started loving what He loves. And, you wanted other people to know about it. Remember, all of a sudden, you were a compassionate person. You used to be a road-rager. And then all of a sudden you stopped for a little while. And now, we’re all back on that, right? Do you remember the things that took place? Let’s keep reading about these heart transplants.

Moreover, the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.
Deuteronomy 30:6

The more that we allow God to transplant our heart, the more we actually really get to live, you know that?

Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Psalm 51:10

Create in me a heart that loves You more and more every year. That is inclined to You more and more every year. A heart that has Your blood pumping in it, not blocked, no plaque, just pumping fully in it. God has been wanting to do this for all of history and for all of our hearts. But, this goes far beyond just accepting Christ as your Savior. Just because you’ve accepted Christ as your Savior does not mean that we live fully in the transplanted heart, does it? Because it needs to be cultivated. Remember when I talked about when you gave your heart to the Lord, all of those appetites and cravings you had, the question that we need to ask ourselves is do we still have those cravings and appetites? Do we still want to be in God’s presence as much as we did back then? Do we feel like we have a heart that has no blockage, no plaque, no build up, not going to have a heart attack at any time, no French fries stuck up in there, right? It’s fully pumping the blood of God through us. What would that heart look like? Well, I’ve got a litmus test. This is a test we can ask ourselves… to what extent is God’s blood flowing through my heart? To what extent have I blocked the flow, let plaque build up, let things get in the way and block the flow of God pumping through my heart. This is an important thing to ask. So, I’ve got a short litmus test, we’re all going to ask, to find out where we are at the beginning of this message. First off, what does a fully transplanted heart look like?

It’s a heart that loves the lost

This is a question we all need to ask. The Lord loves the lost, do I love the lost? When was the last time I prayed for the lost? When was the last time I sought out the lost? We have a perfect time next week for us to love the lost and bring them here. There is a lost and hurting world, do I love them?

It’s a heart that desires to help people through hard times

Do you desire to help people? One thing I love about Christians is, for the most part, we help a lot of people, don’t we? When people outside the church want help, where do they go? A lot of times they come here. They say, “I need help” and they come here. Why? Because the heart to help people runs in God’s hearts here. Do you desire to help people?

It’s a heart that is quick to overlook a wrong

Oh, Neil, you had to go there? Right? A heart that is pumping the Lord’s blood through it is more than just a saved heart. It is a heart that overlooks wrongs. How good are we at overlooking wrongs? Look to your spouse and say, “I’m sorry”. How good are you at overlooking a wrong from your spouse or from your co-worker? How much of the Lord’s heart do you let out when you’ve been wronged? Or how much of your heart do you let out? It’s a heart that says, “I know what I want Lord, but what do you want?”. It’s a heart that is inclined towards Him. Do you have that heart? Is the Lord’s blood fully pumping through your heart? It’s a heart that responds to the Father’s heart. It’s a heart that craves the things of the Father and has the same appetites of the Father. When was the last time we prayed, “Lord, let my heart be more like your heart. Let me love the things that you love. Let me hate the things that you hate. Let me break for the things that break you and let my desires be your desires.”? You know, when you pray like that, that is getting that plaque out. That is letting the Lord fully pump through. He wants to do heart transplants. Let’s go back to that verse, Ezekiel 11:19, we’re going to read the next verse. Verse 19 is the verse that says I want to take out your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh, the next verse says this:

that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.
Ezekiel 11:20

I want to give you a new heart, that they…so that…in order. This is why God wants you to take on the full heart, He says, “that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then, they will be My people and I shall be their God.” This gives us 2 things that happen when we fully embrace the heart transplant. Not everybody that gets a heart transplant actually take on the cravings of the donor, do they? Bill Frost calls the ones that take the full heart transplant are the “tribe of the transplanted”. How do we become the tribe of the transplanted of our donor? It gives us 2 things right there.

Two Promises a fully transplanted heart receives:

Walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances

I love this. When we fully take on the full extent of the heart transplant, when we don’t have anything blocking our arteries and the Lord’s blood is pumping and His desires are our desires, it becomes infinitely easier to obey Him, doesn’t it? Have you guys ever realized how hard it is to obey God sometimes because our hearts are deceitful and they are desperately sick? But when God comes upon us and takes it on, all of a sudden, following God becomes infinitely easier. Because we were never meant to be able to follow God half-heartedly. Did you know that? We were never meant to keep His statutes with partial heart. God says, “I want to help you fully.” Have you ever tried so hard to follow God but in certain areas you kept failing? Could it be because you don’t have enough of God’s blood pumping through your heart? The more you have pumping through your heart, the more righteousness you love.

I’m going to tell you guys a story about my mom right now, Linda Hoffman. My mom has always had migraines. It’s been a regular part of her life, she has migraines, they are debilitating. So, my wife Heather and I are over at my parent’s house and my mom says, “You guys, it’s been great, I haven’t had a migraine forever. It’s been a long time!” And I said, “That’s wonderful, Mom, what did you start doing? Is it a new exercise or a pill? Essential oil or something like that?” And she says, “No, I started drinking water.” And, that’s all that she said. And Heather and I said, “And then what?” and she said, “Nothing, I started drinking water.” And instantly, all of my childhood made sense and I was like, “What were you drinking back then???” She just didn’t drink a lot of water. It just wasn’t something that she did. What was the secret to her migraines? Was it something so complicated that she had to put a lot of energy into? No. She just needed more water.

For a lot of us, to gain victory in areas, it’s something similar. We don’t need to do a bunch of things. What we really need to do is just the simple things. “Lord, give me more of your spiritual water inside of my heart”. That could be one of the greatest prayers that you can pray to gain victory because God cares about our heart. And the closer our heart is to His, the easier it is to obey and the more victory we will feel. And the strong support of the Lord starts pouring on us. How many of you want to have the strong support of the Lord in your life? He gives it. It’s for every one of us. He says, “My favor is for you.” I want all that He has for me, and to get it all it’s the closer my heart touches His heart.
They will be My people and I will be their God

The 2nd part of that scripture, Ezekiel 11:20 says, “So that they will be My people and I will be their God”. You know, the truth is that we will never fully understand what it means to be His people if our hearts are not fully transplanted into His. We will never fully understand what it means for Him to be our God and our Father until our heart is fully pumping with His blood. You know, you can be a Christian for 1 year, 10 years or 50 years, you’ve accepted Christ and you’ve gotten on the honor roll system for going to church. You have your own chair and parking spot outside. But, the truth is, that doesn’t mean our heart is fully pumping with His blood, does it? There is so much about God that we get to enter into. And the question is how much of it have we entered into? To what extent has our heart formed to be His heart? When we become fully part of His people, fully under His control, the kingdom of God is opened up around us in ways that we have not been able to experience otherwise.

I’ve told this story before but I don’t care, I love this story. Chelsea Cox, she goes to this church and she loves God, she really follows Him. She is at Panera Bread… I think I told this a number of year ago, I don’t remember. She goes to Panera Bread, she feels the Lord draw her heart in there. She goes in and she sees a lady sitting at a booth, a young girl, and she feels the Lord draw her heart to that girl. But she does what so many of us do, “Oh no, that’s just me, that’s not the Lord.” She walks and passes her and her heart is beating fast. So, she says “Okay Lord, I’m going to order a cookie here and if she is still there by the time I get the cookie, then I know it’s you and I’ll go do it.” How many of you have done that? So, she doesn’t look and she gets the cookie and she is thinking, “Don’t be there.” She turns around and the girl is there along with her boyfriend. And now that just makes it harder, doesn’t it? So, she is thinking, “Never mind, I don’t think I can do this.” This fight between the mind and the heart. So, she walks by the booth and she gets about 3 steps beyond the table and boom, the Lord grabs her heart and she just felt inside of her heart the Lord say “Where is your boldness? Where is your boldness?” And the thing is that she is in tune with God’s heart. She stops, she turns around, she walks immediately to the table and she says, “Excuse me, the Lord has something for you, can I tell you?”. And the girl nods her head and she says, “The Lord says, ‘I see you, I love you and I know you. And even when you feel unseen, I still see you’.” The girl breaks down crying and Chelsea leaves. She does nothing else. So, Chelsea comes back about a month later just to do some work and she is sitting at a booth and this girl comes up to her, a month later, isn’t it cool when we get to hear the rest of the story? This girl comes up to her and she says, “Hey, you’re the one that told me what the Lord said, aren’t you?”. So, Chelsea says, “Yeah, please sit down.” The girl says, “I was sitting at that table with my boyfriend and we were getting ready to go have an abortion and you gave me the word of the Lord and I’m still pregnant and I’m not having an abortion.” Isn’t that amazing!? It’s amazing what God can do, not just for us but through us when our hearts are pumping His blood, when our hearts are in tune with Him. You know, maybe some of us would have walked in there and we would have never heard God tell us to talk to that girl. Maybe God sent 5 other people but their hearts weren’t in tune with Him. They were Christians but they just weren’t pumping His blood. But then, someone whose blood and in her veins was the Lord and His spirit and His goodness and she was able to receive and move on that call.

You know, it’s a great thing when our arteries aren’t clogged, when that full transplant takes root in us because other people feel it. We feel it when we start to love righteousness. So, how important is the condition of our heart to God? Like, I’m a Christian, I gave my heart to you, you know, how important is the condition that my heart and your heart is in? Let’s look to scripture to see what God says. The one I want to highlight right now, this one I love. It’s the story of Samuel. God says, “Samuel, I want you to go and anoint the next king, it’s going to be from Jesse’s family.” So, Samuel goes to Jesse’s family, and he says, “All right, bring me your sons, the Lord wants to anoint one.” So, the first one comes in and he’s strong and he’s handsome and he’s tall and Samuel says insides his heart, “This is the one.” This is how the Lord responds:

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7

On what basis did God reject him? For what reason? He looked the part. This person was rejected off the basis of his heart and David was accepted off of the condition of his heart. So, now we have to ask ourselves a question. There is another scripture, God’s eyes search to and fro throughout the earth for those whose hearts are His that He may strongly support them. So, we have to ask ourselves this question. When God looks at me, does He look me over because of the condition of my heart? Or does He give the strong support because of the condition of my heart? God has so much to give us, to do for us, and to do through us. But, the condition of our heart is of utmost importance. What is the condition of our heart today as we stand here? Here is the neat thing about God, the condition of your heart does not mark you for life. Because God is all about cleaning out arteries, isn’t He? God will take plaque out of our heart and He will do heart transplants on us because that is what He has been wanting to do in each one of us for all of our lives. I want to look at an area of scripture where God speaks exactly to 4 types of hearts. Every single one of us are going to find ourselves in one of these 4 hearts right here.

The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out. Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up and produced a crop a hundred times as great. As He said these things, He would call out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Luke 8:5-8

What a great parable! What does this parable mean? Later on, He goes on to explain this parable, He says that the seed is the Word of God. Does the Word of God change? No! It doesn’t change, it’s the same. The Word of God does not change. This passage is not about the Word of God. Was it the weather that changed? Was it the sunlight that changed? Was it the gardener that changed? What changed? Just the soil, only the soil changed. This parable is about the soil. Let’s read verse 15. Verse 15 tells us what the soil is.

But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.
Luke 8:15

In an honest and good heart, this scripture, this parable is all about the condition of our hearts with the Lord. Nothing else is a factor here. So, I want to look in verses 11 – 15 God explains this parable. I’m going to explain it backward. We are going to start with verse 15 and go backwards. (Verse 15) This is a fully functioning heart, the one with the good soil. It holds fast and it bears fruit with perseverance. This is the heart that is fully pumping with no blockage inside the heart. What does this person look like? This is the person who has fully developed the transplant and there is nothing stopping it. A lot of us in here are these people. We love being in God’s presence. It’s the person who loves to read His Word, that gains from reading of the scripture, that is engaged. It’s the person that wants to be in His presence, that asks questions throughout their day like, “Lord, what do you want me to do in this circumstance?” It’s the person that takes God, not just at church but brings Him to work and into their family and does devotions with their kids. It’s the person that has their heart purring with His presence inside and experiences the full support of the Lord. That is what the fully transplanted heart looks like. Is that your heart? Is that how you would say your heart is? Because there are other ones. Let’s go back one verse to verse 14. This is the heart that has a little bit of plaque built up. It has a little bit in the veins that is not letting the full move of God’s spirit inside of their life.

The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.
Luke 8:14

It’s the people that desire to be more like God, they desire to have Him more inside of their lives, they desire more but there are these areas in their life that keep getting in the way. Maybe it’s the want for riches and every time they have the chance, they choose the riches over the relationship. Maybe it’s the pleasures, and they let pleasures get in their way of them meeting with God. They go to church mostly but they put a lot of their vacations over church because God is fine with that, right? It’s the people that have a little bit of plaque built up. Is that you today? This is a question that we need to ask ourselves because God is in the business of getting plaque out and giving you more of His favor and more of His strong support. Let’s look at verse 13. This one has a little more plaque, a little more French fries wedged in those arteries.

Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root, they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.
Luke 8:13

These are the people that also desire to be more godly. But whatever circumstance comes up, they are the ones blaming God. Do you blame God? When something hard comes up, they’re the ones that are shaken the most. They’re the ones who have taken on the heart transplant but enough plaque has come into their lives and the Lord isn’t quite pumping His strong support and His favor in their lives. And, they don’t have as many experiences like Chelsea did where the hear the Lord sending them somewhere. But, there is still the desire to be sent, there is still the desire for the strong support of the Lord. If that is you in here right now, I want to tell you, the Lord wants to transplant that plaque, He wants to pull that plaque out and He wants to throw it away. He wants to completely open up your artery so that the full power of God’s blood can run through you and you can experience the full power of His strong support. Do you want to know how it works? You come before Him and you say, “Lord, I want my heart to be like your heart, I want to love what you love and I want to break for what your heart breaks for, I want my desires to be like your desires.” And when you pray that, that is one of God’s favorite prayers to hear, did you know that?
The last one I want to talk about is kind of my favorite one because this last heart has the most to gain. This last heart is ripe with hope. It’s in verse 12:

Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart so that they will not believe and be saved.
Luke 8:12

This is those that have heard the Word but never given their life to God. They have actually never taken part in the transplant. Let me tell you right now, if that is you in here, my prayer is that your heart is pumping right now and it’s going fast because God wants to transplant His heart inside of you. He wants to take your heart and give you something way, way, way better. Something that will change your life forever. Something that most of us have done in here when we accepted Christ for the first time, all of a sudden, we knew what it meant to live, didn’t we? All of a sudden, we were like, “This is what I was made for!” The Bible says that the Lord stands at the door of your heart and He knocks. And He says, “Anybody that opens it up, I will come and live in there.” It’s a free gift given. It is a free gift given to you, my friend, and if you have not given your life to the Lord, I am telling you right now, there is no better time than this morning.

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