Community Group Study Notes
- Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching.
- Read Proverbs 4:23 out loud in your group. Why do our hearts need such vigilant guarding?
- What is the consequence of an un-guarded heart? What implications does that have in your life?
- Read Romans 8:13. What does it mean to put to death the misdeeds of the body? Why is it necessary that we do this “by the Spirit” – and what does that mean?
- What is one action step you can take in response to what you heard on Sunday?
All right, good morning everybody. Good morning to all of our campuses, all those that are watching online or on television. Good morning also to those that are listening, not watching, listening on WDCX radio live right now. My name is Jerry Gillis. Um ... they don't know.
I'm going to ask you to turn in your Bible to Proverbs 4, Proverbs 4 is where we're going to be in just a moment as we continue in our series called, "Proverbial Wisdom."
As you're going to Proverbs 4, I want to tell you about my recent experience on July 4th. On the Fourth of July, like so many of you maybe were looking to get caught up on some house projects. And so, I decided to, along with a lot of the rest of the world, go to the home improvement store on the morning of the Fourth. And one of my projects required some corrugated metal roofing, some of you are even impressed that I would even know what that is. But I had to get some corrugated metal roofing, and I cut it in the store so that it would fit into my car.
So I was loading up all of my stuff, and really excited about the productivity that was going to happen that day. So I was loading everything into the back of my car, of the SUV, and the metal was the last thing to go in the truck, into the SUV. I picked up the metal, and I put it in the back of the hatch there. All of a sudden it felt like my leg was wet, like somebody had splashed me with some water, but that wouldn't have made sense in this instance. Or like maybe someone drove through a puddle.
But whatever, so I closed the hatch, and I get in my car and I sit down. And that's when I realized that there was blood flowing from my knee all the way down my leg. Streams, streams of blood, okay? Now, just as a start, I'm the person that's like too squirmish with blood that I can't even watch Grey's Anatomy, all right? My wife puts it on and I say I'm going to go in the other room, okay? I can't even watch that kind of stuff. So I'm that guy.
My sock, my shoe, soaked. Soaked, soaked, soaked. And what happened is the metal was so sharp that I didn't even feel it puncture my skin. I'm thinking, this is where it ends, this is where it ends. I'm in the parking lot, I didn't even get to finish that project. I'm thinking this is how I go.
Well, I grab some napkins, some Starbucks napkins from the glove box and I'm trying to channel like every war movie I've ever seen. Like, "Apply the pressure! Stop the bleeding! We need a medic!" You know, that kind of a thing?
It's my right knee and I had to drive home. So I'm like this, you know, and I'm trying to apply pressure on my knee and I'm trying to drive, super safe. Blood flowing and I'm feeling it, I'm getting anxious because I'm like I'm going to bleed out in the car, this is my wife's car. I'm getting more anxious and I'm convinced that that's making my heart beat faster and pumping more blood to the knee and there's more blood and the napkins aren't doing anything. It's everywhere. Did I mention that there was blood?
How was your Fourth of July? So that's true, that really happened. It's one thing to learn about the circulatory system that's in our body, and I was in biology class a couple of times and ... I didn't say I did well, I was there, sometimes. I did that in high school and in college, but whatever. It's one thing to learn about it, it's another thing to really be experiencing it. Like, wow, okay, the heart is pushing blood all the way to that wound and I'm going to pass out.
Somebody texted me after the first service and said that they were never closer to passing out in church than when I told this story. So, apologies in advance. I'm squeamish too, so it's fine.
William Harvey, you might not know that name. He was a doctor, a resident physician to the King of the England in the 1600s. William Harvey was the first person to put forth this idea, the circulatory system and how it works, that we now take for granted. Like, that's common sense. He was resident physician to the King of England in the early 1600s, and he said, "No, this is how it works."
The heart, the heart pumps blood to the extremities, animates us, if you will. Gives us movement, gives us life, allows us to live and move and have our being, if you will. And so, this was William Harvey who did that. And by the way, the King that he was serving under was a guy named King James. You might have heard of King James in England before.
But 26 centuries, you got that? 26 centuries before William Harvey, Dr. Harvey, before King James, there was another King who made a statement that I want us to pay attention to as it pertains to the heart. And it's this verse from Proverbs 4:23, which says this, "Above all else, guard your heart. For everything you do flows from it."
"Above all else, guard your heart. For everything you do flows from it." That King was named Solomon. And Solomon the King is not making a medical statement, he's not making a scientific statement. But what Solomon the King is doing is drawing our attention, he's highlighting truth about something tangible to teach us another truth about something that intangible. Because Solomon doesn't have in mind the heart that is the muscular organ inside the chest cavity. But what scholars would often refer to, and do often refer to, as the seat of human emotion and decision.
That the heart is more than just that organ, but what Solomon has in mind is the seat of human emotion and decision. Maybe we could even say it this way in our modern vernacular, the command center of your life. The command center of your life.
And so, whenever you respect the heart is the source, and that's what Solomon wants to show us, just like the heart, the organ, pumps blood to our extremities giving us life and ability to move and do all these things, just like that there is another heart that is also a source. There is another heart that is a source, as Solomon said, "Guard that heart, guard that source, for everything you do flows from it."
If we could paraphrase this proverb, and this proverb is pretty memorable all by itself, but if we were to paraphrase it to help us understand it better, it might sound like this, "The source of your life determines the course of your life." The source of your life determines the course of your life, just like a river flowing. In fact, maybe that's a good analogy.
Think about the Niagara River for a moment. It's source is Lake Eerie. And there's things that are about Lake Eerie, things that are true about Lake Eerie that influence the kind of river that the Niagara River is. Everything about the quality of its water, or that may be dependent on a subjective opinion for whatever it's worth. The quality of the water, the elevation of Lake Eerie in relation to Lake Ontario, it takes the speed of the water or the very existence of Niagara Falls. All of these things that are true about the source influence what flows from the source.
And so, the source of your life determine the course of your life. That's why Solomon is telling us this, because this isn't just logic, this is wisdom. There's a reason that this is not just logic, "Well, yeah that makes sense, it flows from its source." But the reason that this is wisdom, and the reason that Solomon says above all else, or like some translations say, "Keep your heart with all vigilance," the reason that this is wisdom is because there are huge implications. Guard the source, because if you don't, or if you do, there will be huge implications.
But what about that word guard? That might seem too generic, that might seem too broad. What do we even mean when we say guard? We use that in a lot of ways, don't we? We use that word in a ton of different ways in our English language. So when you're driving on the 290, there are guard rails, right? Our neighbor has an obnoxiously loud guard dog. I typed guard into Google, I was like, well, what's the first thing that comes up? So I started guard, Guardians of the Galaxy.
So this is all over the map, right? What do we mean? Are we trying to guard, to keep things out? Or are we trying to guard to keep things in? Well now, this Proverb as it was written, was first spoken and then first written down, not in the English language but in the Hebrew language. And embedded in this statement that Solomon makes, has at its core the idea of keeping something or someone in custody. Keeping something or someone in custody, like a prison guard.
So what does that connote for us? What does that bring up for us? Well, that's someone who is paying really close attention. That's someone who is not nodding off or taking it easy, because the consequences would be disastrous. A prison guard is vigilant, is staying awake, alert, and watching at all times, never taking a day or a moment off.
This is what's at the core of this statement that Solomon makes. And so, he says, "Guard your heart." And our hearts need that kind of guarding, don't they? Because if you're like me, there's things and there's times when something will slip out of our hearts that we wish wasn't so. There's all sorts of stuff that's in our hearts that will sometimes spill out, and it's when we were caught off guard. The times that you're bumped. The inconveniences, the things that maybe you didn't see coming, the things that spill out. And it sounds like this, "Well, I didn't mean it." Or, "That really wasn't me." Or, "I promise you that's completely out of character."
What's happening there? There's things that are in us that spill out and we may not like what happens when it does. You know, it's kind of like carrying a cup of coffee that you filled too high, have you ever done this? Where maybe you were talking to someone, "Oh, yeah, that's cool, right?" And then you realize, this is too high. But it's too hot, so you can't sip it down to a level that's good to walk with, right? So what do you do? You do that really weird walk that you do. You hold it out like this and you're like, kind of your eyes get really big, and I hope nobody bumps into me.
That's what you're thinking the whole time, "I hope nobody bumps into me. I hope nobody bumps into me." Right? Because you don't want to give yourself third degree burn. And so, what inevitably happens when you're in that spot? The co-worker, the toddler, the dog, have somehow installed a homing beacon in on you right when you have this cup too high of a hot liquid. And then, they bump into you. And what do you do in response to that? You do kind of that awkward back up thing, you're holding it out, maybe if I just burn my hand it'll be okay. You know, that kind of a thing.
Well, what happened? The co-worker, the toddler, the dog, they didn't create what's in the mug. But they did bump you. You've got a full cup here and whatever it's full of is going to spill out when you're bumped. Jesus said something very similar in Matthew 12:34. He said, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. Or the heart will spill into your words, whether you like it or not, when you're bumped.
So what happens when you're bumped? What happens when you're caught off guard? I supposed you could hope that nobody bumps into you by removing yourself from all human contact. But unless you're like Tom Hanks in Castaway, you know, good luck with that, right? So, it might not be the co-worker, or the toddler, or the dog. Or maybe not even the spouse, or the friend, or the neighbor, but you're never going to remove yourself from circumstances that might create that bump. Because it could be the person at Tops in front you, who brought 36 items into the ten items or less lane. Which is inexcusable. And you have to start to do battle with the thoughts that are running through your head, right?
Or it could be the person on Facebook who has an opposing political view from yours. Or it could be just the officer that pulls you over when you are already late. What happens when you're bumped? What spills out? You see, guarding your heart requires constant attention, because you don't know when or how you'll be bumped. And you might even walk into a day and walk through a day thinking those same thoughts like the cup of coffee, "I hope nobody bumps into me. I hope nobody says the wrong thing." Or maybe it's even stronger than that, you walk into work and you're thinking, "Nobody better say the wrong thing to me today." Right?
What happens when you're bumped? What spills out? This requires constant attention. You see, some might even find their identity in how well they guard their hearts. Or maybe I should say it this way, how they think, how well they think they guard their hearts. Some people could even maybe look for their identity in those things. And for some, that's the reason that they would consider themselves very religious. And for others, it's the very same thing that would make them think they don't need religion at all. At the core of both of things is self-righteousness, because I'm not like that person.
The religious person might think, "Well, I'm the good guy." And the good guys are in and the bad guys are out, and I'm obviously the good guy. And the person over here who maybe doesn't have any use for religion is like, "Well, I'm not narrow minded like him, I'm open minded. I'm up for anything." And those are the ones that are the knuckleheads, right? And what's at the core of both of those things? Self-righteousness. Looking down on somebody else from your point of view, that you're able to guard your heart better than they can.
Jesus addressed this too. He told this story in Luke 18. It goes like this, "To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable, this story. Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed, 'God, I thank you that I'm not like other people, robbers, evil doers, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' Jesus continued the story, but the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but he beat his breast, hand over heart. And said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God."
The Pharisees were like the self-proclaimed examples of goodness and righteousness. And the tax collectors were widely considered to be the lowest rung on the ladder of humanity. And it's the tax collector who goes home with the right heart, because he acknowledged his own brokenness and mess. It's the person, the Pharisee in this story, who stood up and said, "I'm so thankful that I'm not like this guy. I'm so glad I'm not like these evil doers." And he named some outward crimes.
But even in his words, he betrays the own wickedness he has in his heart. Because self-righteousness is disastrous. It will wreak havoc. You see, we may be can take confidence or even find our identity in the fact that maybe we can guard our hearts better than other people. And so, what we've actually just done is become really good at sin management in socially acceptable ways. I'm not a drunk, I'm not an adulterer. But what are sometimes called the Christian sins, gossip and gluttony? Well, I'm in process.
What have we done? Convinced of our own righteousness, looking down on everybody else. This is a problem, because if we think that that's what it takes to guard our hearts, we actually betray ourselves with even our words. Because, like that Pharisee, the wickedness of self-righteousness is just as reprehensible as anything else he named.
See, God sees through all of that. Even though the Pharisee thought he was guarding his heart, he couldn't even conceal his own wickedness. The source of your life, that determines the course of your life.
But there's a second related, though slightly different idea I want to show you. The course of your life reveals the source of your life. The course of your life reveals the source of your life. You see, you can try to convince other people. You can try to convince yourself. But there's one person you cannot fool and that's God. You can try to convince other people, shine up the exterior, put on the façade. You can try to convince other people, you may even convince yourself and be successful at that. But there's one who you cannot fool, and that's the maker of your heart.
Solomon's dad was named King David. And David told his son these words in 1 Chronicles 28:9, "And you, my son, Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father and serve him wholeheartedly, with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind. For the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. The Lord sees." God sees when no one else sees, even when you don't yourself. You see, the junk that's in hearts, that stuff that sometimes spills out? If it's never dealt with, it will create a larger problem that will make its way out. It's like water, it finds its way out.
And so you can exhaust yourself trying to contain and conceal, but over time, the course of your life, how your life has gone will reveal what your source has been the whole time. God will not be fooled in that. God is not mocked in that. We reap what we sow. He's not fooled.
Earlier I talked about being bumped, those inconveniences in life that catch us off guard. But there are other times that are a little more severe. And I would refer to those as the times when we're squeezed, not just bumped, but squeezed. And here I have in mind that when we walk through trial, when we're walking through difficulty, or when we're facing temptation, these are the times when we feel that squeeze most intensely.
For example, I've got this orange here. It wasn't just a mid-sermon snack, if you were wondering, if you saw it up there. I've got this orange, let's say that I am this orange. But I say to you, "I am an apple. I'm an apple." You say, "Well, that kind of looks like an orange." "No, no. I am an apple. I promise you I've been made new. I am an apple."
All right, well, when you squeeze an orange, what comes out? Everybody, every campus should know this answer. When you squeeze an orange, what kind of juice comes out? Tell me? Orange juice. All right. So whether you've done that yourself or you paid $27.00 at Original Pancake House for them to do it for you for like, um ... whether you've done that, you know what comes out of an orange is orange juice.
So, when you see me go through the squeeze of life, whether that's difficulty, trial, or facing temptation, when you see me go through the squeeze of life and the vice grip of circumstances starts to put pressure on this peel, and orange juice comes out, I can't say, "That's not the real me. This is a fluke. I promise this never happens." No, no, when you squeeze an orange, orange juice comes out. I can't say, "Hey, I'm an apple." Go through the squeeze of life and orange juice comes out. Those don't work together.
So when you're squeezed, what comes out? When your world starts to shrink, or feels like it's shriveling up. When you lose somebody that you love, or you just received that reprimand at work, or maybe there's more month than money that's left. Or when you're facing temptation and you're offered an opportunity to maybe step around the system, to find a loophole, or to just find some release, when you're squeezed, what comes out? Because the course of your life reveals the source of your life.
What happens in those moments reveals what's inside. You can't see beyond this peel, but you know an orange, orange juice. The course of your life reveals what's in there. And we can't say, "Well, that's not the real me." Well, what came out was already there. What came out was already in there.
You see, we say things or we even hear things like this sometimes in those squeezing moments. "You made me so mad. You made me mad." What are we saying there? The anger that you just witnessed? Not my fault. The anger that you just saw, that outburst that you just witnessed? Not my fault, I'm not responsible for what flowed into my life. Or how about this one, "Well, she was making advances on me." That lust that's unchecked? Not my fault. "Hey, if she hadn't," or, "If he hadn't." I'm not responsible.
But again, even our own words betray us. "That person really brings out the worst in me." What are we admitting? There's some worstness inside. Our own words betray us. You see, the Proverb goes, "Guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." Not, "Guard that person's heart, for everything you do is really their fault." Guard your heart. Other people's hearts are not the source for what our lives look like. Our hearts are the source for what our lives look like.
And listen, if something flows into our lives, it had to flow from somewhere. And the painful reality for us will be when we admit that it was our hearts from whence it came. Jesus warned us about this. He said this in Matthew 15:17, "Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person's mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person." These are what make a person unclean. When you're squeezed, these are the things that come out and they come out from your heart.
So let's say you give the lust in your heart an outlet, as an example. Let's say you let that lust out of its cell from time to time. And you are excusing that because you say it's not hurting anybody. It's not effecting anybody, it's not impacting my work, it's not impacting my relationships. If you're married, you're saying it's not impacting my marriage, it's not impacting any ... okay. It's just me and my computer. It's just me and my phone.
If you continue to give that lust an outlet, if you continue to release that lust out of its cell and are not vigilantly guarding your heart, it doesn't matter that you hold the keys, because just like when you're bumped, you aren't in control of when you're squeezed. And so, when you go through that squeezing process? If you've been allowing this lust to fester and even to feast, to grow? And you think, no, it's fine, I can lock it up when I need to. It's just over here in this one corner, it's fine. I can put it under lock and key. What happens when it moves from your computer to your co-worker? And now there's an opportunity in front of you that you didn't have before?
These are the stories that I listen to a lot as a pastor. "I didn't think it would hurt anybody until our marriage was in trouble and this person said this to me." Jesus says, "Out of your heart come these things." Out of your heart comes this wickedness, and so, are you paying attention to the things that are in your heart? Am I? Am I paying attention to that?
Jesus understood this proverbial wisdom, "Guard your heart above all else, because everything you do flows from the heart." So keep a close watch, or else it could wreak havoc on your life. If you're lazy in this regard, it could wreak havoc. It could impact your relationships, it could impact your work. It would impact your spiritual growth and development. You don't even know the destruction it could cause.
So what's in your heart? What's in your heart that you would hate for somebody to find out about? That you would be so ashamed of? That you would want to run and just hide if somebody found out about? What is in your heart that you would hate for somebody to find out about?
And what have you been trying to do to keep it in and keep it down? To keep it under lock and key? To keep it hidden? And what amount of anxiety is introduced into your world, into your life, into your mind, into your heart when you try to conceal that? What amount of anxiety comes from that? You know it's wrong, you know it doesn't belong there. What amount of anxiety is introduced into your world unnecessarily just from the work of trying to keep that hidden? Keep it concealed and keep it contained? And how exhausted are you from that?
You see, our hearts, as we try to guard them, are not compliant prisoners. Just when you think you've got it under control, he sneaks out the side door, he breaks out of his prison cell. The heart is not cooperative.
Jeremiah the prophet wrote these words in Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" The heart is deceitful, some translations say desperately wicked. The heart is not cooperative. The heart is not in a good place. The unregenerate heart is far from God, and what are the stakes of that? What's the cost of that? More than just a reputation, more than just a long lasting fulfilled marriage, more than just healthy relationship with your kids, or good close friendships.
The stakes are actually much higher than that, because a heart that is in this condition as Jeremiah just reported to us? The heart that is in that condition will carry you further and further and further away from God. And while you start out near the shore, you will start to drift and drift and drift. And you will start by saying, "I can reach the shore, it's right in my vision." You will start to drift further and say, "I can still see it." You will start to drift further and say, "I can kind of make out a speck." And you will drift further until you're in the middle of the ocean and have no way of knowing which way is the right way.
That's what happens to a heart that is desperately wicked, deceitful beyond cure, beyond understanding. But I have good news, it doesn't have to stay that way. It doesn't have to remain that way.
Here's the third and final thought for today, next statement, if you want a new course, you need a new source. If you want a new course, you need a new source. What has to change? If you don't like the way it's going, don't just ante up on religion, don't just apply more willpower, don't just try to get up the gumption or say, "I just need more classes or I need more sermon podcasts." You need a new source.
One of the things that God used in my life to wake me up from my self-righteousness stupor was also from Matthew 15:8, which says this, "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." And that landed on me like a ton of bricks. Because growing up in a church, in this church, having parents that were in ministry, and are in ministry, knowing what the expectations were on a pastor's kid, I got really, really good at the game. I knew exactly how to shine up the exterior.
And like the Pharisees that Jesus corrected, you're like a whitewashed tomb, pretty on the outside, dead on the inside. And I don't know when that realization really hit me, sometime in my teenage years where I recognized Jesus' words from Matthew 15:8, and I thought, "What if Jesus said that about me? He honors me with his lips, but his heart is no where near me." And in that moment, I realized something has to change.
And so, that's why I say if you want a new course, you need a new source. God does for us what we could never do. He gives us a new heart. The Prophet Ezekiel spoke of this. He prophesied it in Ezekiel 36, look at these words, "I will sprinkle you with clean water and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws."
If you want a new course, you need a new source. And God says, "I'll give you the source you need. I'll give you the heart you need. The heart that you have? The heart that you started with? It's taking you and far and far and far and further and further and further away from me, and you can't even get yourself back to the starting point. I'll give you what you need. I'll take your heart that is sick, that is desperately wicked, that is beyond cure. I'll take that heart that is deceitful, I'll take that heart and I will give you a new heart."
God gives us what we need. He gives us a brand new heart. The New Testament talks about it as new life. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says this, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, then new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here." You're a brand new creation. You've got brand new life. You have a new heart that's beating within you.
But you might be thinking, "Jonathan, okay, I get that, I understand that, but why then does the battle still exist within me? Because sometimes I still feel that pull to the things that I know God saved me from. What then with this battle, how do you reconcile those things? What do you do with that? Well, here's the truth. We've got this new heart residing within us, but the old heart continues to try to seize control of the command center. And if we're not careful, those things can happen repeatedly. And guess what? If we're lazy about it, we may even feed into it and leave the door unlocked.
That's why the Apostle Paul says this Romans 8:11-14. He says, "And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies, because of his Spirit who lives in you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation, but it's not to the flesh to live according to the it. For if you live according to the flesh you will die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God."
Did you see that twice in that passage? That there's a new Spirit living in you? Listen to this, when God gives you a new heart, he just doesn't give you any new heart. He gives you his own. And he takes his own heart very seriously. Is this Spirit not living in you? Is this Spirit not living in you, that's Paul's point.
So now you have an obligation, but it's not what it used to be, to live according to the flesh, your old way. Now you have an obligation to put to death the misdeeds of the body, to put to death the old way once and for all. You see, this old heart is defeated, but it's not going quietly.
And so, since you have this resident Holy Spirit, since you have this new heart beating within you, you now have the power to say no to sin and temptation. You now have the capacity, the God given capacity by his Holy Spirit, to put to death those things. God gave you his heart and now when you're guarding your heart, this new heart, you're not guarding it alone.
I didn't say that, the Apostle Paul told us that in Philippians 4. Look at this, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God and the peace of God, which trans all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
In everything, with prayer and supplication make your requests and the peace of God which transcends all understanding, even when you don't understand your own heart and self, the peace of God which transcends all of that understanding, will be right there guarding your heart with you. God takes his heart very seriously.
You see, the ancients would talk about anxiety. You might be thinking, why does anxiety and prayer get brought up in this? And what does that have to do with us guarding our hearts? The ancients would talk about anxiety differently than sometimes how we talk about it today. But that doesn't mean that they were wrong.
They would speak about someone who was anxious as being troubled in spirit. Almost like there was a cauldron that was being stirred up, or choppy waters. Things that make you anxious, things that unsettle you. Maybe we would even say the times that you're bumped or the times that you're squeezed. And those things maybe used to be moments that would reveal all of the junk that was in your heart. Those times used to be the things that would reveal all of that junk that was inside.
But now you're a new creation with a new heart. You still experience some of the same moments. You still experience some of the same bumps and some of the same squeezes throughout the course of this life. But now, those things aren't an opportunity to reveal the junk that's inside of you because you've been given a new heart. Now those things are opportunities for people to see Jesus inside of you.
Because here's what I know, when you walk through difficulty, when you're walking through trial, people are paying attention to you. People are watching you. You, because you're a Christian. "Let's see how they respond to this." So when someone you love dies, what's your response? You see, these things, these bumps, these squeezes through life, sometimes without Christ, those things could be triggers for us. Triggers for sin.
We walk through something that's difficult and we don't know how to deal with it or process it, and so, sitting on the other side of the desk from someone in my office who's telling me, "Yeah, I was walking through this and I've had a problem with an addiction in the past and then this happened, and that triggered it all over for me all over again." Look, those things happen. And whereas they used to be triggers for sin, now with the new heart that's residing within you, those now become platforms for the Gospel.
See, maybe you lost someone that you loved when you were younger and you went on a bender. And it was like days that you were trying to escape from the pain. But now, with Christ within you, when you walk through that same grief, when you walk through that same loss, when you go through that squeeze, what comes out of you is not the old you. What comes out of you is the Gospel, the message of Christ. Or at least that's the opportunity that's in front of you. Because maybe you would just descend into a pit of trying to escape from the pain, now with prayer and supplication, your requests to God is this, "Jesus, I want them to see you in this, not me. I want them to see your beauty, your majesty, your goodness in my life. Not all of this old stuff. I want them to see you in me."
And so, instead of a trigger for sin, it's now a platform for the Gospel. When you walk through losing a loved one, now because of the unshakable confidence that you have in the resurrection, you don't grieve like those who have no hope. But you know that you will live again one day because of Jesus. And you know that they will get up from the dead because the same Spirit who got Jesus up from the dead is at work in their life as well, so you don't grieve like everybody else. This is a platform for the Gospel.
Or when your marriage is in difficulty, when things aren't going well, things aren't going smoothly, people know that. People can see it, the people that are closest to you at least. And so, what maybe in the past without Christ would have been an opportunity for you to say, "I'm just ... I don't feel the same way I did." And this is an opportunity for you to step out of your marriage, now because of Christ that's within you, this isn't a trigger for sin, this is a platform for the Gospel.
Because people know that things aren't going well, but when they see your faithfulness to your spouse, they can see a glimpse of Christ's fidelity to his church. That though his church is broken and sometimes loses their way, and we know that because that's us, Jesus never gives up on his bride. Now you've got a platform for the Gospel.
You see, there's a new heart within you. And so, where these old things that would have caused anxiousness and really just troubled you, and maybe even led you to do some really terrible things, now become a new opportunity that's in front of you. And you can say, "That's what I want." This is how you guard your new heart. Those are just two examples.
But this is how you guard your new heart, daily dependence on the source of your life, which is Jesus, every single day. Before you're bumped and before you're squeezed, daily dependence on the source of your life, who is Jesus. Do that with all vigilance, for everything you do flows from it.
There are some here today who maybe have received that new heart from Christ, who have been given brand new life. But maybe you've said, "Yeah, Jesus, I want you to furnish me with that eternal salvation and I need to be a better dad or a better mom or a better spouse or a better friend. So, I just you to clean things up a bit. But you touch this part of my life, but don't touch this part. Yeah, I need that heaven, but this is my money that I earned. This is off limits. This part of my heart? Don't touch."
That's not an option for a believer. To say, "Hey, this part of my life, my heart, is not open to you, Lord." That's a contradiction. Someone has said if he's not Lord of all, then he's not Lord at all. Some of you have been keeping a part of your heart away from Christ, because you know what it will costs. So whether that's lust, appetite for power, greed, a substance, whatever it is. Some of you, your next action step is to say, "Jesus, here it is, my whole heart. Clean house."
Some of you, though, have never even received that new heart in the first place. Some of you have never even begun that journey of faith in Jesus. And so, your next action step is to say, "Jesus, here's my old heart of stone. I need you to give me a brand new heart. Your heart, because I want to live for you." Some of you, that's the next step you need to take.
You may have even been blinded by your own self-righteousness and thought you were good. And you were honoring Jesus with your lips, but your hearts were far from him. Today's the day that you can receive that new heart.
Let's bow together for a word of prayer. With your heads bowed and your eyes closed, I ask you, if you don't have to move right now that you don't, just out of respect for those around you. We'll be gone here in just a minute.
If you need to know more about what it means to follow Christ and have that new heart, that new life in him, when we dismiss in just a moment, I'm going to invite you to come by the Fireside Room here at this campus, which is just across the atrium. You'll see it, it's labeled Fireside Room and you can walk in there and say, "I need Jesus."
There's some prayer partners who are there who would love to give you a Bible if you don't have one. They would be able to explain to you what it means to walk with Christ, and let you know that you've got people in your corner who want to help you on this journey. Someone loved us enough to explain that to us, we would love to be able to explain that to you, help you on your journey if that's what you're looking for. So come by the Fireside Room.
So, God, I ask that your truth would take root in our lives, that we would recognize, Lord, the implications of our hearts. Take this seriously, because you do. That we would want to have lives and hearts that are devoted to you, fully and wholeheartedly devoted. And that when we walk through this life, and there will be times when we're bumped, and there will be times when we're squeezed, Lord, that people would see Jesus more than anything else. That the old heart would not be able to seize control of the command center, but that we would live by the Spirit by faith.
We trust that you will do that in our lives. In Christ's name, amen.