Getting your heart right –
Answers to prayer is one of my favorite things to talk about. There have been so many answers to prayers over these last several days. Scripture says the effective, fervent, prayer of the righteous accomplishes much. So when we get right with the Lord, and right with one another, then we can get busy praying for the right things.
When you pray specifically and God shows up, specifically, it is so exciting. Your joy is made full. You’re getting skills here, and if you run out the door and your heart isn’t right, you’re in trouble.
Without being anchored in Christ, you won’t know how to steward success because of pride. Getting our hearts right is key.
II Chronicles 16:9a – “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”
God wants us to be in a position of complete surrender to Him. What you see above the surface is one thing, but what’s happening below the surface can be different.
Most important things I can communicate to you to prepare your heart:
#1 – Nail down your salvation.
I was burnt out. Wasn’t taking my Sabbath rest. Had panic attacks. Massive anxiety. I was wrestling with stuff.
Romans 10:8-11 – “If you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, YOU WILL BE SAVED. With the heart a person believes, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
Bible says salvation is like a wedding — Christ and the church. It’s a choice to trust someone enough to give them your life. It’s also like planting a garden, a whole bunch of fruit shows up later.
II Cor 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature, the old is gone, behold the new has come.”
In order to feel sure, I needed God to say it to me. God gives us a book that lays out how to test if your salvation is real – I John.
II Cor. 13:5-6 – “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?”
Seven proofs to test our salvation:
- God’s commands – believer wants to obey those commands (I John 2).
There should be a change in you now. Transformation and moving toward greater obedience.
• Who is Jesus? A good teacher, a good prophet, good example or God in the flesh?
• How do you respond to sin in your life – Repentance. I Jn 3:9 – turning from sin as an ongoing proof of salvation. When sin comes into our lives we don’t like it. Is it an ongoing battle? Yes. The struggle points to belief. Lost person doesn’t care. Romans 6 says He gives us the power to walk in freedom from sin.
• Rebellion? God’s discipline. In Hebrews, He responds like a Father, He disciplines them.
• Other believers? Your response to other believers. You should LOVE the brethren (I Jn 3:14, Romans 5). He gives us a love even for our enemies.
• Spiritual power – God’s Spirit shows up in our lives. I Jn 3:24 convicts us of sin, He leads us, He fills us, His fruit shows up. Eph 1 – Holy Spirit is guaranteed to show up in your life.
• What are you trusting for salvation? Jesus alone. His death, burial, resurrection.
As a gift to you tonight, I give you – I John!
#2 – Discover your identity in Christ
Ephesians 1 & 2 walks us through who we are in Christ.
- Indicatives – this is what you need to believe (Ephesians 1-3)
- Imperatives – this is what you need to do (Ephesians 4-6)
God told us to adopt. On the exact day the Lord spoke to me from scripture to adopt a little girl from China, is the day (we found out later) she was born – Valentine’s Day 2011.
She cried for 12 hours on the flight home to the states. She didn’t know who she was. No known family, pagan culture, no parents, in abject poverty, abandoned in a communist country.
She’s now Mia Elizabeth Kendrick. She’s going to be a United States citizen – FREEDOM. She’s chosen and accepted. She now has a caring Mom and Dad who love one another and love her. She has a rich inheritance as part of this family. Blessed with a bright future. She now has a Christian home, lots of siblings and cousins.
I challenge you to go through Ephesians 1-2 and start underlining what’s true about you in Christ.
Just from Chapter 2: Dead to sin, children of wrath, enslaved to lust, separated from God, hopeless, without God, and stranger/alien. NOW in Christ, we’re alive in Christ, beloved children, saved through faith, dwelling of God, God’s workmanship, brought near, and citizens of heaven.
#3 – Completely forgive everyone who has hurt you. (Ephesians Chapter 4)
Bitterness is a root problem. Why?
Gives place to the devil. No one has hurt us as bad as we did to Jesus on the cross. Who are we? Our audacity and pride, to hold grudges against those who haven’t hurt us near as bad as we’ve hurt Jesus. Mark 1 says when you’re praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive them!
Unforgiveness doesn’t hurt the person we’re mad at, it hurts us. Spiritually, if we don’t forgive others, He won’t forgive us. Then we dry up and it poisons us.
Hebrews 12 says it poisons our other relationships. Lowers resistance to disease.
Ephesians 4:32 says to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
If you want God to use you, unforgiveness will be a parking brake to hold you back.
#4 – Focus on abiding in Christ.
Message in church is try harder, do better, and be more committed.
Jesus uses the analogy of the branch connected to the vine. If you abide, fruit starts showing up. The Christian life isn’t about trying harder. It’s about repent and believe in and RELY upon Jesus. Turning from my self-reliance, leaning on His wisdom. I can’t love my wife as Christ loved the church, I need YOU to do it, Lord. An intimate relationship with God is not about a religion of rules. If you’re only hearing the message try harder, do better, and be more committed, it’s going to wear you down.
John 15:5 says apart from Me you can do NOTHING!
Here’s what scripture says we need to be doing:
- Getting clean before Him.
- Getting in word on regular basis.
- Staying in prayer – talking to Him, pouring our heart out to Him, praying for good things, turning anxieties into prayer before Him.
- Walking in obedience – into what He’s leading me to do.
- Walking in love.
You abide in Him, and the things in your life will start to get better.
#5 – Regularly ask God to fill you and lead you by His Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 5 directs us to be filled with Spirit of God. Galatians lays out to walk in the Spirit, order my steps, guide me in my decisions. The Holy Spirit is the engine of the Christian life. So many try to do good things in their own energy. It’s like trying to drive a car by pushing it. If you’re an organizer, you can try to get ahead of God. Don’t get ahead of God.
#6 – Obey the Lord promptly as His Spirit and Word direct.
He’ll prompt you to do things. He’ll start leading you to do good things. Galatians 5 says those who belong to Christ walk in the Spirit. Fruit will show up in our lives. His Spirit will not prompt you to do something that contradicts His Word.
So we end where we started, with II Chronicles 16:9. Is your heart completely His? Today is the day of salvation. When we hear the Good News of the simple Gospel, it transforms us. He gets the full glory for that.
Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
You can never earn your way. Are you surrendered to Him? Are you abiding in Him? If we do this, can you imagine what God can do if in our families, churches, and communities?
Scripture says He resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.