The Heart of a Servant
THE HEART OF A SERVANT
November 12, 2006
The Bible offers guidelines to take us through life, like a plumb line builders use to see if a wall is perfectly straight (Amos 7:7-8).
Listen to the following examples from God's Word and line your life up against them to see if you have moved away from "plumb" or being perfectly straight. If a wall is no longer straight, the foundation, rather than the wall, may have shifted. The foundation of a Christian life is a love relationship with God.
TO BE A SERVANT YOU MUST FIRST SET YOUR HEART TO FOLLOW GOD
"Set your heart" (2 Chron. 11:16) means to make following God your number-one priority. Nothing else can be more important to you than following God in every area of your life. Nothing else can take first place in your life. That position must be reserved for the one who can put everything in perspective. "'Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33).
Joseph had the responsibility of his young bride Mary and a newborn baby. It was crucial for him to have a heart that leaned toward God. God spoke to Joseph in a dream about the danger Herod had planned. At that point, Joseph's obedience deter-mined whether his son would have a future. It is just as true today. Fathers, your obedience to God influences the future of your children. Your children are watching you! So set your heart to follow God.
THEN TO BE A SERVANT YOU MUST YIELD YOUR HEART TO GOD
"' Now then,' said Joshua, 'throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel" (Josh. 24:23). Yield is translated in other versions as incline or be always leaning in God's direction. A friend who served as a cam-pus student ministries director told his student council that there would be no excuse good enough for missing council meetings. Even in the case of death they had to be found pointing in the direction of the student building. Our first and immediate inclination in any situation must be toward God and his standards. Yield to God
THEN CLEANSE YOUR HEART FOR GOD
The prophet Samuel instructed his people who were in great peril. "If you are returning to the LORD with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods ... and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you" (1 Sam. 7:3-4).
To commit our hearts to God we must give up those things in our lives that have given us "heart trouble." Even a hint of these things remaining in our lives can lead to major heart trouble. When we see words like anything and everything and all in Philippians 4:6-7, we can begin to see how thorough God intends to be in cleansing us for his use. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanks-giving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ ,Jesus" (Phil. 4:6-7).
From what do you think the peace of God should guard your heart? How much better off would you be spiritually? The list could include greed, impure thoughts, hatred, and sexual immorality Do you see the contrast between those things and the peace of God? God will help us be cleansed when we turn loose of dissension, discord, rage, and envy. Commit your heart to God
THEN GUARD YOUR HEART
When Jesus was asked which of the commandments was the greatest or most important to keep, he said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind""' (Matt. 22:37). Your heart is the key to your relationship to God.
"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."
You can determine to guard your heart against those things that would diminish your devotion to God. You can decide not to be put into compromising situations that would call into question your determination to serve God or cause your character to be suspect. You can place around you things to remind you of your love and commitment to God and ask fellow Christians to hold you accountable in your relationship to God (Job 1:10). You can refuse to give in to the temptations which follow closely behind you.
Guarding your heart means to put a hedge of protection around it because it is "the wellspring of life," the source of life-giving water. Guard your heart.
LASTLY, TO BE A SERVANT OF GOD, YOU MUST NOT HARDEN YOUR HEART
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts" (Heb. 3:8). Hardhearted people are often associated in the Bible with being "stiff-necked" (2 Chron. 36:13). These terms describe a people who will not bow their heads to God and who live in willful rebellion against him.
Hardening of the arteries results from a buildup of fatty material on the artery walls. It restricts blood flow from the heart, often leading to heart attack, stroke, or damaged organs. Just as hardened tissues can cause great peril to your body physically, so a hardened heart can bring great harm to your spiritual life. Rebellion, pride, independence, anger, resentment, and bitterness can cause your heart to harden.
There is a cure. God alone has the cure to soften a hardened heart: repentance and release of our lives into God's hands. God says, "'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. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God"' (Ezek. 11:19-20).
Let's stop at this point and take a breath. You may be asking, Who possibly could meet up to this God-sized challenge?" I mean, if you ever met a person who met the entire criterion, you might not feel worthy to walk in their footsteps'. That's the point. We really are not worthy, because the only one who truly matches this criterion is Jesus Christ. But Christ in us can make the impossible possible. The Bible commands us to put on Christ. "All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ" (Gal. 3:27). We are to clothe ourselves with Christ. "Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord .Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature" (Rom. 13:14). God has also provided for us to become like Christ. "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers" (Rom. 8:29). These are hefty demands!
These demands are God's strategy, his method to help us experience the full and abundant life Christ has to offer. "It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose" (Phil. 2:13). God knows; We are flawed creatures because of sin. In reality, most of the great people God used had major character flaws. From Adam to Abraham, from Moses to David, each one demonstrated how frail humanity is. With the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, our will comes into line with Christ's will; our purposes begin to parallel his.
Our hands, feet, and mouths become God's tools to touch people we meet day after day. We begin to see God working in the lives of those we thought were hopelessly doomed. We begin to see people as Christ sees them, their needs, their spiritual hunger, their emptiness filled with worldly imitations of God's truth.
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations" (Eph. 3:20—21).
Each of us must begin where he is. We can't just jump into perfection or completion in Christ. God looks at our hearts and at the direction we are headed. If we set our hearts on God, he will set his heart on us. His role is to bring us to completion; our role is to let him and to cooperate with him.
Philippians 2:12—13 states this paradox: "Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling [your part], for it is God who works in you [his part] to will and to act according to his good purpose."
Here are some things to THINK ABOUT—PRAY ABOUT
God is in the process of making the ordinary extraordinary. If you are willing to let him take your life as a potter takes clay, you are already underway in an exciting journey with Almighty God.
Try this mental exercise:
· Think of two people in your life who show consistency between their actions and inner convictions. Now think about your own character. Do you show consistency between your actions and your convictions at home? at work? in private?
· Acts 13:22 says, "'I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do." Are you willing to do everything God wants you to do? Pray about your willingness to become a man after God's own heart.
Reflect on this:
· Not calling for justice is equal to giving birth to evil. We know God has said in his Word that the result of sin is always the same, even if it is explained or justified by men. Our failure to do good can cause great evil to abound. We see this in the laws of the last few decades – abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, safe drug sites, an impotent legal system which fails to punish criminals. Great evil abounds. What are we doing about it?
· As leaders in our homes, churches, and workplaces, we must fear God. We should root out anything that dishonor God or would lead others astray. We may face permanent consequences if we continue to sin. The fear of God produces holiness in our lives. Ask yourself, what kind of example am I to my children, my fellow workers, my extended family?
The last thing I want you to examine this morning is your walk.
· The Holy Spirit is seeking to empower you to want to do his will. Cooperate with him to change you, mold you, and prepare you for his will for your life. Those who resist, quench, grieve, or put off the Spirit will do so at the cost of their relationship with God. To resist the prompting of the Spirit in your life is to say you have lost your love for God. Meditate on this verse, "`If you love me, you will obey what I command" (John 14:15).
Let’s take a moment to thank God right now for his love and his care for our lives.