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Sunday, December 1, 2013 am                        Purer in Heart Index

PURER IN HEART (20)
Maintaining a Pure Heart – 3
Zealous for good works

 We have been engaged in a yearlong study of  the Christian and purity of heart.  WE have noted so many things including identifying what our heart is, the importance of purity, qualities of a pure heart, and things that threaten the purity of our hearts.  As we begin to conclude this study, we are examining some things we need to do to maintain a pure heart.  In this portion of our study we have talked about the need to make up your mind, sanctify the Lord God in your heart (which includes putting away our “idols”) and properly choosing who and what we associate with.    With those thoughts it is time to get to work.  In our lesson today we want to talk about zeal in our efforts. 

 I.                    Be zealous for good works. 

a.        The ultimate goal of having a pure heart is to be living the type of life that is pleasing to God.  The pure heart is about motives, but it is not complete until there is application.  We have discussed some application in previous lessons – simplifying your life (getting rid of  the clutter), using your words for good, taking care of sins by repenting and taking steps to overcome them,         learning to love and developing the qualities that are part of purity – self-control, integrity, honesty, patience, humility, contentment, kindness, etc.   Today we want to discuss the zeal with which we are to do our good works.

b.       The idea of zeal is one who is earnestly committed to a side or a cause. (L&N 25.77, BDAG).  It is descriptive of one who is enthusiastic and fervent in his efforts.  In this case, it is a zeal to serve God.

c.        BE zealous for good works – Titus 2:14.  Christ redeemed Himself for us so that we might be zealous in our conduct toward Him.

d.       Consider Romans 12:11, “not lagging in diligence.”

e.       Ephesians 2:10,  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

f.         Throughout our study of the pure heart we have appealed to Matthew 5:8 which says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  Prior to that (and if you examine the beatitudes you will find some order there) in vs. 6 Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”  The idea of hungering and thirsting is a craving to be righteous.  Usually where there is a craving, there is intense effort to satisfy it.  Do we CRAVE being righteous?
Another thought: A craving to be righteous will prompt us to deal with our sinful conduct with just as much fervor.  In 2 Corinthians 7:11 where Paul describes true repentance he says that it includes “what zeal.” 

g.         Good works” that will promote purity of heart.

                                                   i.      In Matthew 12:43-45, Jesus gave the illustration of an empty house.  A demon is cast out and wanders finding no rest.  So he returns to his former abode (actually the heart of a man) and finds it empty, swept and in order.  So he returns with seven other spirits more wicked than himself and the latter end was worse than before.  The point is that when we have been cleansed of our impurities by God we need to fill that cleaned up space with godly conduct.

                                                  ii.      In our last lesson as we examined choosing who you associate with, we briefly mentioned the need to be busy doing good things.  The more time you spend doing good and productive things, the less time you will have left for the less productive activities.

                                                iii.      Study God’s word – more on this next week as we talk about meditating on His word. Psa. 119:9-11, “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.

                                                iv.      Prayer – 1 Thess. 5:17, Eph. 6:18, Col 4:2, Rom. 12:12, etc.  “Seven days without prayer makes one weak!”

                                                  v.      Supporting the Local church –1 Cor. 14:12, “Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.
How important is the church to you?  How you honestly answer that will determine how much effort you will put toward it.  We need to “invest” in it.  Think about investments – the more you invest in something, the greater interest you will have in it.  Concerning the church – how much do we contribute – our money, time, efforts?  Do we pray for her.  Do we participate? 

                                                vi.      Gal. 6:10 – do good as you have opportunity.

 II.                  Deal with spiritual boredom –

a.        When one first becomes a Christian he is usually “on fire”.  But what happens after the newness wears off? Quite often, one will settle into a routine where keeping the fire burning becomes a challenge.  We sometimes hear of people getting into a rut or their day to day activities becoming monotony.  Sometimes our worship can become monotonous if we are not careful (same thing week in and week out).  But it doesn’t have to be that way! 

b.       This was actually a concern addressed in scripture.

                                                   i.      Rev. 2:4-5– Ephesus had left their first love.  What this is usually attributed to is they were not as fervent as before.
Even worse, the church at Sardis in Revelation 3:1 was described as dead in God’s eyes. 

                                                  ii.      Because the Lord is delaying His return, there are many who live as if they have all the time in the world.  They have become desensitized to the reality that our time may be very limited.  (cf. 2 Pet. 3:4)  That is the SAME attitude that we as brethren have to guard against lest we think we can delay our need to obey.

                                                iii.      Hebrews 6:12, “that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

c.        Work at it – it is a matter of the heart – “stir up” – 2 Tim. 1:6, “stir up the gift of God that is in you.”

                                                   i.      Stir up your faith (pure minds) - 2 Pet. 1:13, 3:1 - reminders.  Remember that faith is trusting God (not just believing IN Him).  Do those things that will increase your faith in Him.
Recall your past – that which you have been delivered out of! Recall that which He has done for you – by sending Jesus to die, giving us His word, etc.

                                                  ii.      Stir up your initiative – 1 Cor. 15:58 – always abounding in the work of the Lord.  Become involved in the work of the church, do something, etc.  Don’t wait on others to start something.

                                                iii.      Stir up your hope – think about your goals. 2 Pet. 3:11-13.  We will address this more in a couple of weeks as we speak about the rewards of a pure heart.   Heb. 12:1-2 – looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith – is your eye on heaven?

                                                iv.      Stir up one another – Heb. 10:24 – stir up one another (provoke one another) to love and good works. Seek to bring out the best in your brethren so that they can encourage you.  Don’t spend your time tearing them down.  We need each other!  2 Cor. 9:2, your zeal has stirred up the majority.  1 Pet. 1:22,  Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,  

d.       Work at keeping your activities from becoming routine (without compromising the truth) –

                                                   i.      Keep growing!  2 Peter 3:18

                                                  ii.      Attend Gospel meetings and other opportunities to study that will build you up.

                                                iii.      Try to learn new songs.

                                                iv.      Engage in more in-depth studies, etc.  (More on this next week)

                                                  v.      Be active with brethren.  CREATE opportunities to associate with one another.  Don’t depend on others to initiate something.  BUT when you are invited to do something with your brethren – accept it if possible.

                                                vi.      Keep your ears, eyes and heart open to new methods to teach, learn and do good works. 
NOTE: Again I say this with caution lest we neglect God’s pattern.

e.       BUT realize that such things are superficial.  IF that is what you have to do to motivate yourself, it IS a band-aid.  Overcoming spiritual boredom involves a proper mindset – OR shall we say, “a pure heart”?  Boredom is more about YOU than about what is being done!  You have to work at serving God.  Isn’t that what Paul said in Phil. 2:12, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;

 

As we seek to purify our hearts and maintain purity, may we strive to be zealous for good works.   And as with much of what we have discussed, this is a 2 way street.  If your heart is pure, you will be zealous for good works and if you are zealous for good works it will help you purify your heart.  So we come back to our first lesson in this part of our study – make up your mind!  And the DO IT!