Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation.
Anyone here ever eaten an apple with a worm in it before?
You probably haven’t. Unless maybe you have an apple tree in your yard or something.
Yet, why then, is this such a common picture?
(Show worm coming out of an apple) - Leave up for a minute or two. Go back to series screen after this. Switch to title screen after the first verse.
And here’s another question: How did the worm get in there in the first place?
I guess I always assumed, it was crawling around, and dug its way in, cuz…well, apples are tasty! Who wouldn’t want to get inside an apple? It’s every young worm’s dream!
Yet, that’s not actually how it happens.
When the apple is still just a blossom, an insect comes by and lays an egg in it…which sometime later hatches in the heart of the apple as a worm.
The insect in its larval form.
So the worm, actually comes from inside the apple…not the outside…and then eats its way out.
And in the same way today…I want to show…from the writings of the Bible…that our sin…eats it way out to our outward actions…from the inside.
That it starts in the heart.
But before you get too nervous…it’s not just evil that comes out… good comes out of our hearts too.
So we’ll talk both today.
We are in the 2nd week of a new series called DiscipleSHIFT.
Where we are talking about how to be a disciple of Jesus with your whole self.
A disciple is someone who follows a teacher and their ways.
And that’s us. We want to follow the teachings of Jesus AND his ways.
We want to become like Him.
And we call that process discipleship
However, the premise of this series is that there needs to be a SHIFT in how churches actually go about that process.
Too often, we try and be like Jesus by just working 1 spiritual muscle.
We’re like the guys at the gym with huge biceps and bambi legs.
For a lot of people, they just try and learn the Bible…but never grow in other areas.
Some just serve others…but never learn the Bible.
And on and on.
But if we’re going to be true disciples, true followers, we need to become well-rounded followers.
We need to follow Jesus with our whole self.
With our heads (learning about Him & the Bible…which we talked about last week)
With our hearts…which we’ll cover this week.
With our hands…so serving others
And with our feet: Bringing the good news of Jesus to other people.
We see this type of holistic approach not only in how Jesus interacted with his disciples but even in his own words
(Mark 12:30) – NIV
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
“We must love God not just with our minds…but with ALL of our being.
The first two aspects of this series (the head and the heart) are the inputs of discipleship. That’s how we let God in…and the second two (the hands & feet) are the outputs
If God is shaping you through your mind and heart…than it should be reflected in your hands & feet.
And God does indeed want both your head and heart.
If you’re going to be a disciple of Christ…He has to have your heart. Not just your mind.
Otherwise…you’re at risk to be like the Pharisees…The religious people Jesus confronted.
The people who knew it all, but had cold hearts.
So I ask you this morning, does God really have your heart?
WHAT THE HEART IS
But what is the heart anyway?
Before we start examining if you’re following God with your heart or not, we’ve gotta define what the heart is. Biblically.
And not surprising, the Bible talks about the heart…A LOT.
In fact, the word heart, in its derivatives, appears over 900 times in the Bible.
In other words, the heart, is incredibly important.
The best summary definition of how the heart is used in Scripture is that it’s the most comprehensive term for the authentic person.
Who you really are inside.
It’s the part of our being where we desire and will.
The heart is the CEO of our person.
It’s where it all gets started.
And then the mind and the body and the mouth and everything else eventually carry out our will
(Proverbs 27:19) – NIV
As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.
The heart is who we really are.
And thus, the heart, on the inside, dictates what we do and what we become.
Again, Proverbs, which has a TON to say about the heart, uses this imagery to describe it
(Proverbs 4:23) – NIV
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Other versions say it’s a wellspring. The heart is a constant spring.
It’s like those springs they put pictures of on bottled water…
You know…the ones that just keep on flowing and flowing from the mountains…the ones where they “supposedly get their water from”
So your heart, is this ever-flowing source…that keeps flowing into your thoughts…your actions.
But let’s stop for a second…..
Cuz it’s possible that you’re thinking something entirely different than what I’m describing.
When I say everything comes from the heart…that sounds very “hallmarky”
Like, I love you from my heart
“This Valentines Day, roses are red, violets are blue, and from the bottom of my heart, girl, I love you.”
When you see a heart on a valentines day card, does it ever look evil?
Like a heart with a monster’s face on it?
Or a heart with a gun on it?
You see hearts with arrows through them…but that’s a different story.
See, as a culture, we kind of get the idea that our actions come from the heart.
That the heart is the source of who we are.
“BUT in our constant obsession with spinning all things about ourselves to the positive, we miss the truth.
The heart is also wicked.
(Jeremiah 17:9– NIV )
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
This is one of the most important doctrines of Christianity.
It’s called the doctrine of “original sin”
That every one of us is born predisposed to sin. We like it. We sin. We’re sinners. It’s a battle we face everyday.
If we weren’t this way, it would be possible for people to be perfect…and then, what would they need a savior for?
They’d be their own God.
And that’s eastern religion. That’s not Christianity.
See, like the apple, we were born with the worm in us.
Trying to tunnel its way out and into our lives.
Jesus only reaffirms these thoughts about the heart in his teachings
(Matthew 15:17-19) – NIV
17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.
Because, we by nature, our sinners, and it’s out of the core of who we are that we sin.
That’s not to say we aren’t also, as humans, made in God’s image.
Our ability to love and care for each other is unparalleled in the animal kingdom.
But unfortunately, so also is our ability to destroy each other.
Both things are true.
And both good and evil reign in our hearts.
But we don’t like to believe that.
We like to believe that we are naturally good.
That’s why we say things to our kids like this:
They just had WE Day in MN…a gathering of 18,000 kids. And on the news, I heard a clip of one of the speakers saying what I imagine kids hear every day, “Just believe in you…and follow your heart”
Listen, if I follow my heart…I’m going to end up dead. I’m just saying…I’m a wicked man…deep down in the depths.
It’s only by the grace of God in my life…that he fights that with His truth and His love with His change
But our culture thinks, “We couldn’t possibly be wicked?!?”
We live in a culture obsessed with blame. It wasn’t my fault. It was my parent’s fault. Or that other drivers. Or my culture’s fault.
That worm came in from the outside! Not the inside!
It was anyone’s fault but mine!
But your heart is a spring…welling into action.
And it’s either a fresh spring of water…or a spring of sewage…but it’s a spring.
And much of the evil we do…it comes from within us.
Like the worm coming out of the apple.
And even the evil that comes from temptations outside of us, still is only acted upon because the evil in our hearts wants it
So if the heart is really where both good and evil spring forth from….as you can imagine, what your heart is like…how much God reigns there…means EVERYTHING in becoming a better follower…a better disciple of Jesus.
And this is part of why we need a discipleSHIFT in what disciple is
Discipleship can’t just be about the head.
I mean, SO WHAT if you know everything there was to know about the Bible…but your heart isn’t changed.
You couldn’t really be much of a disciple of Jesus…if your mind is full of his teachings, but evil still reigns supreme in your heart.
It has to be both head and heart.
So the question of discipleship for this particular part of following jesus is: What’s in your heart?
Or…how much are you allowing Jesus to change your heart?
Did you just accept his salvation and leave it at that?
Or are you every day…opening up your heart to Him…the master surgeon…and saying…”DO your work”
The most important question though is do you have a new heart?
Before the birth of Jesus…God promises this through one of the Old Testament prophets, Ezekiel:
(Ezekiel 11:19) – NIV
I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
When you believe that Jesus died on the cross for you…and commit to following Him with your life…the Bible says the Holy Spirit comes in and lives with you…
And then it uses some great imagery to describe that process.
It says you are a new creation, made new, a new birth, not lost – but found, and then it says…like we just read…that God gives you a new heart.
And with this new heart, the Bible says you:
Have a greater desire to obey God…have more contentment, a greater love for wisdom, more joy, more discernment, and on and on
That new heart starts fighting against all the inherent evil in our hearts…and God starts changing us from the inside out.
He’s the pesticide to that worm inside of us.
So by far the most important part in becoming a disciple of Jesus is…are you really a disciple in the first place?
Are you a fan of Jesus or a follower?
Have you accepted that He died for you…and started following Him?
Do you have a new heart?
But even with a new heart, things can go wrong.
Just the presence of God in your life, doesn’t eradicate your life of sin and its mistakes.
It’s not heaven yet…
See, God can give you a new heart, but over time, the abuse of it…or the neglect of this new heart…can cause it to become (what the Bible calls) a calloused heart
(Matthew 13:15) – NIV
For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’
Just like if you work with your hands a lot…you can get a callous.
And when you get calloused skin…the skin dies…and becomes hard…but it remains.
But you just can’t feel anymore.
And the same thing can happen with your heart…even a new heart.
Through negligence of working on becoming a disciple…through ignoring God…through rebellion…lack of repentance…you name it…
The heart…can become calloused.
Sure, you’re probably still going through some of the same “Christian motions,” going to church…maybe even a house group…but God’s not very alive to you.
And your life…specifically your actions…are anything but Godly at this point.
And some of you are there right now.
But what happened? How’d you go from a new heart…and all this excitement about God…to where you are now?
How did the discipleship process go wrong??
Just like we talked about last week, there are pitfalls to under-developing each of the 4 areas.
And not working on your heart…leads to callouses…which leads to the deadening of your spiritual life.
And when you first started to walk away…you probably heard, in your heart…God calling out to you:
“Spend time with me.”
“Let’s talk. I love you so much. I died for you.”
“No…don’t go there…that’s not my hope for you my son…my daughter…my path is much better…with far less pain”
But eventually, we stop listening…the callous develops…and we stop feeling.
It’s like this: When Lindsey and I first got married, we moved into an apartment at Bethel Seminary.
Our apartment just had an air conditioner unit in the living room, so in the summer, it was quite hot, and you had to open the windows at night
When we moved in after we got married in June, that first night, we opened the window, and the apartment was just an 1/8 of a mile away from 694, so the interstate just roared.
I grew up in a small town and went to college at a campus that was basically in the middle of the wilderness, so I wasn’t accustomed to it at all.
I lied there the first night thinking, “That was a mistake…I’ll never be able to sleep”
But after about 2 weeks, I never even noticed the sound anymore.
And sadly enough, we can do the same thing to God’s voice.
We can let our hearts become calloused to His movement in our lives.
And it’s incredibly hard to notice it happening.
It’s like this: Ever been swimming at a beach...Maybe you’re playing catch in the water or some other fun game (Marco Polo)…not really paying attention.
And after a while, you look back at your stuff on the beach, and all of a sudden it’s not 20 feet away, it’s 100 feet away.
And while you were playing, you didn’t even notice you were drifting.
The heart is the same way!
And the evil that battles within your heart…doesn’t want you to notice it happening!
And I know I’m probably sounding redundant, but I mean this when I say it…this is why something like house groups is so important.
(Hebrews 3:13) – NIV
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
We are called to “encourage one another daily.” That’s some serious community. That’s people being in each other’s lives.
This is part of the reason why the general spiritual fervor of the American church isn’t’ very high.
It’s because most Christians prefer to just be isolated in some enormous crowd once a week on a Sudnay morning.
But the reality is…we all need a few people on the “beach of our lives”…to say…”Hey…I’m not sure if you noticed this or not…but you’re drifting out to sea”
“Your heart…it’s not as close to Jesus as it used to be. Come back!”
RENOVATION OF THE HEART
But here’s the amazing news.
Whether you’re a brand new believer in Jesus or one that’s just drifted away over time, God can renovate your heart.
Even if you’ve drifted out to sea, just call out to “God the Lifeguard,” and “He’ll come running like David Hasselhoff in a rescue scene”
The process, though, of letting him day in and day out…year in and year out…renovate our hearts…is one of the main ways we become his disciple.
We become like Him…when we let Him get inside the evil mess that is our heart, and let Him start tiding up.
Start turning those hateful thoughts into forgiveness.
Start turning that lust into love
Start turning that apathy into empathy
And just as we did last week with “the head,” I want to talk about HOW that actually happens.
How do you become more of a disciple of the heart?
If the heart is really “the CEO of our person,” how do you step off the throne of your heart and let Jesus reign there?
Well, for one, it’s acknowledging that you must change internally, not just externally.
That’s why I spent so long reasoning with you on this first…and not just going to the practical.
If you try and get all “religious” on me here and just try and change the external…it’s not gonna work.
You can try, and boy and have people tried, to change all of your behaviors on the outside, but if we really want to see deep AND lasting change, we must be utterly transformed in the depths of our heart.
Because the heart…is the wellspring for the rest of your life.
For example…let’s say your struggling with lust…
You could do all the right external things…
Get some accountability.
Be honest with a close friend about it
Get a filter or reporting program for your computer
And those are great things…but if you build a 100 foot fence all around an evil man, you just have an evil man inside a fence.
We need to let God get in, and start doing some renovations on the foreclosed mess of our hearts.
Listen, you could take a lusting man, and put him on a deserted island all by himself…and he could still lust in his mind.
This is why Jesus brilliantly diagnoses in Matthew 5 that if you have lust problem, in reality, it’s actually a heart problem…not an external problem.
He says in Matthew 6, if you have a problem giving back your money to its original owner, God, it’s not a bank account problem, it’s a heart problem.
WE need some heart surgery if we’re going to become disciples that actually look more like Him.
And that change will never come from trying really hard. It won’t work through just trying to change your behaviors.
From you saying, “That’s it, I quit drinking.” Or you saying, “I’ll never hit them again.”
That’s just what we call legalism. Just trying to be good on our own
But legalism doesn’t work.
Legalism wants the results without any cause for the results.
But a renovated heart can be a catalyst for results.
Remember, the Bible calls it the wellspring of live.
And the more Jesus changes your heart to good, the more your life gushes out actions that resemble Jesus
And thus, The more you actually become a disciple of Him.
This same sort of “spring forth” imagery (from the center outwards towards actions) is used multiple times in the Scriptures
You see it a lot in John chapter 15
It’s also explained well in a passage we’re actually going to cover in depth in November when we finish Galatians…
(Galatians 5:22-23) – NIV
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Those amazing things (love, joy, peace, patience), those come…those are the “fruit of” holding your heart up to the Spirit.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that passaged taught incorrectly.
People say…okay, let’s all go try hard to be loving. Or be peaceful!
But we’re never going to be disciples that look more like Jesus by trying harder.
The harder we try and do it on our own, the more we’re going to be disappointed with the relative lack of competence and evil our hearts continue to spew out.
What we need is the master surgeon.
What we need is just to say, “God, I’m just going to sit still in your presence, and let you start changing me. Do your thing God!”
And God will do it! He’ll do it. And He CAN do it!
This is one of the major differences between Christianity and a religion like Islam.
The Koran (the holy Book of Islam) says “Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves”
Our culture says the same thing, “People think the Bible says “God helps those who help themselves”
But in reality, the Christian God says, “Hey…you…you’re not good enough…not even close…but I’ll send my son to die in your place, and through my Spirit…I’M going to empower you to live a live of love.”
And this is where it really matters.
Like I just said…it’s not just that God is showing you how to live differently. He is LITERALLY empowering you to live life differently.
Because He IS changing your heart.
As Dallas Willard says in a book that helped name this very church, a book called “Renovation of the Heart,” he explains, “What we want is not to subscribe to trying to follow a different set of rules that avoids bad stuff…what we want is a heart that just doesn’t desire those things anymore”
So becoming a disciple of Christ…isn’t as bland and as boring as saying, “Okay, I’m a Christian now, I guess I better force my heart to not like drugs anymore. To not like porn anymore. To not like spending all my money and time on me anymore. Here we go L”
NO. It’s different. It’s that God will get in…Jesus the carpenter will get in your heart, and take out some of those old dirty walls, and put up some new ones.
New ones that say, “No, it’s not just that I shouldn’t do that anymore…I don’t WANT to do that anymore”
I want my God…I want life…I want real life. I want love…not hate.
And that can come from the very core of you…your heart!
If you let God renovate it.
And this is what God cares about. He cares about you becoming a disciple of the heart.
Listen, God cares very little about an outward show.
You can’t fool him with your church attendance or the fact that you dress a little bit more appropriately for church.
(Matthew 15:8) – NIV
“‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
He wants your heart, because He knows that your HEART, not your lips…not your outward actions. He knows your heart is really the core of who you are…and who you are becoming.
So how do you give Him your heart?
Well, if the head can be developed by reading, by studying, by listening…the heart can be developed by “quality time”
Every minute you spend with God is a minute He can be working in your heart.
So while you’ve been sitting here this morning…Jesus the carpenter has been brushing up some of the rooms in your heart
When you hear someone else sharing in house groups about how awesome God is …God’s doing work in your hearts.
But He tends to really do his best heart-work when you get alone with Him.
Just like the best work in a marriage relationship is done when you just get away together.
On a nice dinner date. To a bed and breakfast. Or even just on a nice walk.
It’s amazing how that quality time can draw two hearts together.
And God will work the same way with your heart.
You want more of that fruit? More of that love, joy, peace, patience. Self Control?
You want more of the fruit that’s not so full of worms?
It’s being committed to having a quality sit-down prayer life. Not just a drive-by or random texting prayer life.
It’s taking time in your car, or at home, to really connect with Him through worship music.
Come here on the 23rd, and have some extended time for him to work on your heart.
It’s going off on a prayer retreat with Him.
If you can’t do that…it’s going out for a walk with Him in this nice weather.
It’s simply giving him the quiet…and the time to work on your heart.
And HE WILL WORK. Oh my word will He work.
I think it’ll shock you how much God can do with your heart if you Give Him time to work on it.
So resolve to sit still enough for God do some heart work in your life.
And that’s not easy. We’re not so good at being still and silent.
But leave here this morning determined to find some time each day where God can get in and change your heart.
And I think you’ll be amazed at what kind of disciple He’ll turn you into.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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