This is the sermon for Wednesday night, February 18th, 2009.
EVERYDAY WISDOM PART 21
MATTERS OF THE HEART
Have you ever had a change of heart? I’m sure we all have from time to time throughout our lives. What brought about the change of heart? Well, it could be our financial situation, we received more information and changed our mind, had an ill feeling – whatever it might be.
Well, the book of Proverbs covers many things concerning matters of the heart. Tonight, we want to focus on what it covers in chapter 21, especially as it concerns the human heart. Let’s look.
God can turn hearts to fulfill His purposes.
Proverbs 21:1 CJB – The king’s heart in (The Lord’s) hand is like streams of water -he directs it wherever he pleases.
Though the context is talking about a king or those who govern people, it is true that God is able to turn hearts as He pleases, or to fulfill His purposes.
We have the ability to change the direction of streams and rivers. It takes a lot of hard work though, with backhoes, dirt and things of that nature.
God also can change the hearts of people. It is the central message of the Bible itself. It is He that has done the work to save us – by His right hand, by sending Jesus to die on the cross.
Philippians 2:13 ISV – For it is God who is producing in you both the desire and the ability to do what pleases him.
Notice that this passage in Philippians does not state that we produce the desire and ability to do what pleases God, but it is God Himself that produces both the desire and the ability to please Him.
He is the one who changes the human heart. He does so by His power.
Let’s go on further and see what else this chapter in Proverbs has to say concerning the human heart.
God evaluates the human heart correctly, while humans do not.
Proverbs 21:2 CJB – All a person’s ways are right in his own view, but (the LORD) weighs the heart.
Notice first that this verse says that a person thinks that their ways are right by their own views and determination. People do not like to think bad about themselves, they like to defend their choices and believe they are making the right decisions and heading in the right direction. People have their own opinion about things, and about themselves, and generally when people have an opinion, they believe their opinion is correct. I mean, it would be foolish to have an opinion that you believe is wrong.
People will even evaluate themselves or things and think their view is correct, but in reality, their opinion of things, others, and themselves are completely wrong. Why is this? Because we cannot perfectly evaluate, only God can.
It is the Lord that weighs and evaluates the human heart. He knows exactly what is in the mind and heart of man.
Let’s look quickly at the heart of man.
Before the flood, man’s heart was on wickedness continually.
Genesis 4:5 CJB – (The LORD) saw that the people on earth were very wicked, that all the imaginings of their hearts were always of evil only.
Many wives and riches can cause the heart of man to turn away.
Deuteronomy 17:17 CJB – he is not to acquire many wives for himself, so that his heart will not turn away; and he is not to acquire excessive quantities of silver and gold.
Our heart may make plans – but it is God who directs our steps.
Proverbs 16:9 CJB – A person may plan his path, but (the LORD) directs his steps.
Man’s heart cannot fully comprehend God.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 CJB – He has made everything suited to its time; also, he has given human beings an awareness of eternity; but in such a way that they can’t fully comprehend, from beginning to end, the things God does.
Man’s hearts are full of evil.
Ecclesiastes 9:3b CJB – Truly, the human mind (heart) is full of evil; and as long as people live, folly is in their hearts; after which they go to be with the dead.
Sin comes from the heart of man, not outside sources.
Mark 7:21-23 ISV – 21 For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil thoughts come, as well as sexual immorality, stealing, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, cheating, shameless lust, envy, slander, arrogance, and foolishness. 23 All these things come from within and make a person unclean.”
There is so much more we can cover concerning God’s evaluation of the human heart from the Bible, but we are going to go on to the next point because of time.
When it comes to the matters of the human heart, God wants us to do what is right more than our sacrifices of worship.
Proverbs 21:3 CJB – To do what is right and just is more pleasing to (the LORD) than sacrifice.
We judge a person’s spirituality different than God does. When we see someone with hands upraised and very vocal with their praise, or maybe we see them as so religious that they go around spouting off verses left and right, we think they are super spiritual.
God has a different view; Those who do the right thing and act justly toward their neighbor are spiritual in God’s eyes. Those who offer their sacrifices of worship may not have hearts close to God.
Matthew 15:8-9 ISV – 8 ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9 Their worship of me is empty, because they teach human rules as doctrines.’”
James 1:27 ISV – A religion that is pure and stainless in the sight of God the Father is this: to take care of orphans and widows in their suffering, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
Wisdom and plans that come from the human heart cannot succeed against the Lord.
Proverbs 21:30 CJB – No wisdom, discernment or counsel succeeds against (the LORD).
Mankind’s wisdom and best laid plans cannot succeed against the Lord and His wisdom and plans. Man’s strength, wisdom, plans and counsel is finite, whereas God’s is infinite.
We could go on, but we are going to end here tonight.
God knows what is in the heart of every man and woman. No matter how obstinate a person is, they cannot thwart the purposes of God.
It is also God who turns and changes the human heart, not the power and ability of people.
Our response to tonight’s message is we should be crying out to God for those whose hearts are opposed to Him, asking Him to change their hearts and draw them to Christ.