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A Remedy for a Heart Condition

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There was a godly Christian woman who startled her friends by saying, “There isn’t a sin of which I am not capable. I could be a prostitute; I could murder; I could embezzle.”

Most of her friends were not impressed with her frankness. Instead they thought that she was displaying a false humility. Then she added, “You don’t really believe what I just said. I mean it—because I realize that any particular sin that crops up in someone else’s life expresses itself in me, but in different ways. Until I accept that, I am self-righteous, proud, and arrogant.”

Lord God, bless Your Word wherever it is proclaimed. Make it a Word of power and peace to convert those not yet Your own and to confirm those who have come to saving faith. May Your Word pass from the ear to the heart, from the heart to the lip, and from the lip to the life that, as You have promised, Your Word may achieve the purpose for which You send it, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Mark 7:14–15 ESV
And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.”
There is no place in this nation that is without problems. It doesn’t matter what region you choose, it doesn’t matter what the economy looks like. It doesn’t matter which political party is in control or what race, ethnicity, age or gender the chief executive claims. In human history, many and varied have been our efforts to build, create, spend or meditate our way into utopia. Even in the Christian church, efforts to create a sin-free Christian community have floundered on the rocks of sin. At the church in Jerusalem (), the efforts to create a communal community led to an effort by a husband and wife to fool the rest of the community into celebrating them as being generous contributors while hiding a portion of the proceeds of their financial transactions. If the Holy Spirit dealt with us regarding financial stewardship or other aspects of the ministry the way He dealt with Ananias and Sapphira, how many of us might be dead today? ()
In Jesus’ time, Judea and Galilee were under Roman occupation, with Judea suffering the further shame of the Herod family’s occupation of the Throne of David. People who held on to the promised hope of the Messiah may have had varied ideas of what that would mean, but few thought that what they were hearing from Jesus, compared with what they were seeing Him do, meant that He wasn’t coming to make some changes to the current scheme of things.
Sometimes we think enough of our spiritual sensitivity to say, “if we were there,” or “if Jesus were to come today, we would have received Him and believed in Him.” Perhaps, but if it took God the Father to reveal Jesus as the Christ even to Peter, I suspect that we are stuck in the same boat that they were. We may not have to come to terms with who Jesus is like they did, but we do have to come to terms with the Body of Christ, the Church. What we think of Christ, we think of the Church , for Jesus said,
John 15:20 ESV
Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
Jesus was not clear about the day of His return, but He was quite clear about His mission and about His expectations for those who make up His Body. We have been commanded to teach others concerning the Kingdom of God; we have been also commanded to love one another as He loved us. The evidence that we are doing the former is the fact that there are disciples being taught and baptized (). The evidence that we are doing the latter is that we have fellowship with one another (). A church that is doing neither also has evidence to support that claim.
Revelation 3:1–6 ESV
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “ ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
Revelation 3:1–7 ESV
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “ ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.
Even in a dead church, there remain those who wear clean robes. There remain those who have washed their robes and made them clean, by embracing and holding fast to God’s Word.
The Book of Concord Article XX: Concerning Faith and Good Works

[27] Further, it is taught that good works should and must be done, not that a person relies on them to earn grace, but for God’s sake and to God’s praise. [28–29] Faith alone always takes hold of grace and forgiveness of sin. Because the Holy Spirit is given through faith, the heart is also moved to do good works. [31] For before, because it lacks the Holy Spirit, the heart is too weak. [32] Moreover, it is in the power of the devil who drives our poor human nature to many sins, [33] as we observe in the philosophers who tried to live honestly and blamelessly, but then failed to do so and fell into many great, public sins. [34] That is what happens to human beings when they are separated from true faith, are without the Holy Spirit, and govern themselves through their own human strength alone.

[35] That is why this teaching concerning faith is not to be censured for prohibiting good works. On the contrary, it should be praised for teaching the performance of good works and for offering help as to how they may be done. [36] For without faith and without Christ human nature and human power are much too weak to do good works: [37] such as to call on God, to have patience in suffering, to love the neighbor, to engage diligently in legitimate callings, to be obedient, to avoid evil lust, etc. [38] Such lofty and genuine works cannot be done without the help of Christ, [39] as he himself says in John 15[:5*]: “Apart from me you can do nothing.”

So what are we doing? What are you doing? Are you walking in the footsteps of Christ, who “went about doing good?” When you speak to those who have grown weary living here, and who despair of any possibility of change for the better, do you tell them that Jesus is risen, and that He sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty? Do you tell them that He ever lives to make intercession for His people, and you belong to a church where His word is faithfully proclaimed regularly?
That is the message that comes out of churches that believe the Gospel. That is the message of people who are filled with His Spirit, and who are persuaded that He is able.
Mark 7:20–23 ESV
And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Not everything that “defiles” a person looks bad. Some sins can be camouflaged pretty well. Evil thoughts can be dressed up to sound so pious, slander can sound like righteous anger, murder like social activism - Jesus did say that when you hate some one, it is just the same as if you murdered him. It isn’t only the fornicators and liars that need to repent.
Lamentations 3:21–23 NKJV
This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
Oh, I can never repay you Lord for what You’ve done for me
How you loosed my shackles and you set me free -
How You made a way out of no way -
Turned my darkness into day.
You’ve been my joy in the time of sorrow -
Hope for my tomorrow, peace in the time of the storm -
Strength when I’m weak and worn.
You’ve been - Lord, You’ve been so faithful!
That is the message that can lift up a head that has been made heavy from the strains of living here in this time. This is the Word that can shine a light in the darkness of despair and of the hellish hopelessness that says that things will never get any better, because they never have.
This is the Word that went to the Cross on purpose, not in weakness or defeat, but to secure the victory! The Gospel of Christ is strong medicine for a world that is seriously, even deathly ill from the sickness of sin. You are here to day because of the message of the cross. It delivered you, and it can deliver the rest of this city, and all of this region, too!
So let the peace of God, that passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.
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