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Sunday, November 10, 2013            Purer in Heart Index

PURER IN HEART (17)
Creating and Maintaining a Pure Heart - 1
Make up your mind!

 Today we resume our theme for 2013.  Throughout this year we have engaged in an extensive study about purity of heart.  We have examined the Biblical heart and the subject of purity.  We began by noting the importance of the pure heart.  In Psalm 15 we find David asking the LORD who may dwell in His tabernacle.  The answer includes truth of heart.  Psalm 24:3-5 says, “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the Lord, And righteousness from the God of his salvation.  This in essence is the purpose of this study.  Jesus in Matthew 5:8 said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.   I am convinced we want to see God and spend eternity with Him – that is WHY we are here and thus the importance of this study.  It is my hope that it has been beneficial and will be useful well beyond this year.

In this study, we have noted the extensive use of the expression “pure heart” in its various forms throughout scripture.  We have also devoted considerable time to the qualities of a pure heart including – 1) It is undivided, resolved and prioritized, 2) It has integrity (virtue); 3) It is honest; 4) It exercises self-control; 5) It is patient and humble; 6) It is content; 7) It is kind and dignified in its dealings with others; 8) It manifests confidence and 9) It loves as we read in the Bible.  These are qualities that we can examine in our lives and if they are present, you will likely find a pure heart.  IF they are not present, developing the qualities that are lacking is where you will begin growing a pure heart in your life.

In addition to this we have also noted that there are many dangers around us.  These are the things of this world that will compete for your loyalty to God. SOME of them we have discussed including: 1) Sensual lust; 2)Pride; 3) Covetousness; 4) Ignorance and unbelief; 5) Busyness and clutter; 6) Bitterness and other unhealthy attitudes such as hate, envy, etc.; and 7) The tongue which James warns us is a spiritual indicator.  As with developing godly qualities, we need to avoid these attitudes and the circumstances that promote them if we are to have a pure heart.   In examining these we have noted several actions (including developing the godly qualities) that will help us deal with the specific dangers.

In the portion of our study that we begin today we want to notice some things we can do to maintain purity of heart in our lives. For many, the things we will address is nothing new.  They simply serve as reminders of how to get saved (purify our hearts) and stay saved (maintain that pure heart).  I humbly submit these thoughts for myself and all who hear these words.

 I.                    Purifying your heart begins with God –

a.        Turning to God is the first step in the purification process by removing your sins.  

                                                   i.      Acts 15:9.  The expression, “purifying their hearts by faith” is a reference to Cornelius and his household obeying the gospel. 

                                                  ii.      We can manifest all the good qualities discussed above and avoid the ungodly dangers with perfection, but if we have not obeyed the gospel, we will NOT see God.  So that is where it has to begin. 

                                                iii.      The blood of Jesus cleanses us of all sin (Acts 22:16, Rev. 1:5, Heb. 9:14, etc.)

                                                iv.      BUT, let it be noted that before God can purify your heart, YOU have to take the necessary steps to come in contact with that blood – Acts 2:38, 3:19 – “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.

b.       If we sin as a child of God, again we need to take care of it.

                                                   i.      1 John 1:6-9 – in this text we find that to take care of our sins, we need to confess them in prayer which is what vs. 9 is about.  However, before we can do that we need to “walking in the light”.  That does mean living a perfect life, but it DOES mean that we are taking care of our sins. 

                                                  ii.      In other words, we need to repent – which means to change one’s mind and go to God in prayer (Acts 8:22).  More on repentance in another lesson.  

 

 II.                    Make up your mind

a.        If you seek a pure heart this is where it is going to begin.  If you are to develop the qualities we have studied this year and if you are to avoid the dangers and pitfalls to the pure heart, it will begin with a resolve that cannot be shaken.  Not a superficial, emotional response – but a deeply, rooted decision that will affect the direction of the rest of your life.

b.       Is this not what Jesus called for when He said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Matt. 16:24)

c.        Josh 24:14-15 - Choose who you will serve – In his farewell address to Israel, Joshua issues a challenge to them.  They have already begun showing signs of wavering by failing to fully obey the Lord’s instructions to drive out the inhabitants completely from the land.  He then said, “Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

d.       1 Kings 18:21 - On another occasion, Elijah was serving God as a prophet during the reign of King Ahab in Israel who has the distinction of being the most wicked king of their history to that point.  He had married Jezebel who completely turned him away from God and to the idols of Baal from Sidon.  Elijah was a thorn in Ahab’s side because he exposed his wickedness.  1 Kings 18 records an occasion when he challenges Ahab (and Jezebel) to a contest on Mt. Carmel. An offering was to be made to the Baal’s and to Jehovah God.  Whoever’s offering was answered by fire was God. The prophets of Baal, for most of the day, tried everything to get their so-called gods to respond but nothing happened.  Then Elijah drenched his altar with water 3 times and called out to the LORD.  Fire came from heaven and consumed the sacrifice, lapped up the water and the altar itself.  There was no question that YHWH is Almighty God.  At the conclusion of the offerings for the day, the prophets of Baal were seized by Israel and executed (we read there were 450 prophets of Baal and another 400 prophets of Asherah).  
As he began this challenge, Elijah said the following to Israel, How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word.” (1 Kings 18:21)   Elijah was saying, MAKE UP YOUR MIND! 

e.       God does not like wavering –

                                                   i.      Eph. 4:14 – we are to be ground so, “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,

                                                  ii.      Jas. 1:6 tells that when we pray, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

                                                iii.      Rev. 3:15-16, to the church at Laodicea the Lord said “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.

f.         God demands your total commitment.

                                                   i.      Returning to the account of Joshua challenging the people to choose Whom they would serve, we note that Israel says, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods…” (vs. 16)  But Joshua responds by saying, You cannot serve the Lord, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good.”” (Joshua 24:19–20).  
NOTE: Why did Joshua say this?  Could it be he knew they were a fickle people?  Their “decision” was based upon emotions and not from the heart.  Friends, when we make up our minds it is NOT to be a passing decision!  It is a commitment!

                                                  ii.      Jesus, in dealing with potential followers dismissed their excuses.   He called for complete loyalty. Luke 14:26-27 – Jesus said that he who does not forsake all other things cannot be His disciple.

                                                iii.      Luke 9:57-62.  He challenged them to forsake all and follow Him.  In other words, MAKE UP YOUR MIND!
On another occasion He said, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” (Luke 11:23)

                                                iv.      Matt. 6:24, in the sermon on the Mount Jesus said you CANNOT serve God and mammon.

                                                  v.      2 Cor. 6:14-18 says, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.”

g.        Friends, when it comes to our hearts, we have to fully make up our minds to follow Him.   There are all sorts of people in this world who come face to face with some decision that is going to affect the rest of their lives.  They have a few options.  1) They can procrastinate and try to put it off (see last week’s lesson), 2) They can try to “take the fork” or hold on to both paths – but they will never be any good at either path, 3) They can go down one path but without real commitment OR 4) They can CHOOSE to go down one path with a determination that they have made a decision and they are going to do everything they can to make it work.  It is THIS final choice that we speak of.

h.       Living your life trying to serve 2 masters is NO WAY TO LIVE.  It is NOT a way of peace, but of misery!

i.         Serving God is a choice!  Never forget it!

 

So that is where we begin this portion of our study.  It is that defining moment in your life where you decide if you are going to be His disciple or not.  You cannot straddle the fence – because Satan owns the middle ground.   But it is NOT an easy choice as it comes with a price.  BUT, if you are willing to pay that price, in the end, when it really counts, you will not regret it.  And that is why we are here.  In coming lessons we are going to talk about this CHOICE that we have made and how to enhance your chance for success.