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Mark 3:1-12

I do not think they are many more people who have lived throughout that were as hated as Jesus Christ.  When you think about the fact that Herod hated Jesus when he found out that Jesus was born, that means he hated Him when He was a baby.  Can you imagine hating someone as a baby?  Then Jesus starts His ministry at about 30 years of age, and it seems that everything He does feeds the hatred of the religious and civil community.  In Mark chapter 2 we have several accounts of this attitude mentioned to us (6-7, 15-16, 18, 23-24).  As you read through the chapter, you can see the problem building.  Then when you come to another scene in the synagogue, the setting is right for yet another attack on the ministry and person of Christ.  In verse 5, we are told what the source of the problem is.  It is the hardness of their hearts.  The heart is defined as the seat of our emotions. We say things like your heart’s not right.  Or is the Lord speaking to your heart?  I am going to pull some thoughts from this text this morning that show some hard areas of the heart.  We are also going to consider how a hardened heart can be fixed.

1.  Hard hearts watch wrongfully.  There was a setup In the making.  The Jews had either invited, or knew of a man that had a withered hand.  They wanted to see what Jesus would do on the Sabbath day.  May I say to you that that is the wrong attitude to attend services?  If it is either to see or be seen, it is wrong, and an indication of a hard heart.  Let’s watch and see where someone sits, let’s watch if they give.  Let’s watch how they sing.  Let’s watch if they fall asleep.  If you are watching everyone else, how can you possibly get anything out of the message?  That means you have wasted the portion of your week that has been allotted for worship.  Oops. 

2.  Hard hearts are ready to accuse.  They were watching with the purpose of making an accusation.  They were not just going to sit and watch.  They were going to watch and then condemn.  Once again, when the heart is that hard, there is no room for God to move.  And if God does not move, then lives do not change.  I have no problem with people taking notes during the preaching.  I take notes when I go to meetings.  The problem arises when the notes are taken to accuse instead of to remind.  On more than one Occasion I have been called on the carpet to answer for something that I said in a service.  I have to admit that many times I do not remember saying it in that way, but they have it right there in their notes.  People will make mistakes, even preachers will. 

3.  Hard hearts seek to destroy that which is good. I want to say that it is not intentional, but is a result of the fact that the heart is not being penetrated.  Think of all the miracles the people have witnessed in the very young stages of Christ’s ministry.  It wouldn’t be stretching to believe that there may be more where that came from.  Instead of softening and allowing the words and work of God to make wonderful changes, the heart is even further hardened, and they seek to destroy the very Son of God.  We see it every week as we try to proclaim the good news f the Gospel to a lost and dying world.  There are doors slammed, rebukes given, cursing, and everything else you could imagine.  The intent?  To discourage the messengers.  If they can stop the preachers, they feel they can destroy the message.  Thankfully, the message is stronger than even the hardest of hearts.  Jacket Illustration.  You wear his jacket well.

4.  A softened heart is the work of God.  First notice two illustrations in chapter 2.  You cannot put new fabric on an old garment.  The first time it gets wet and then dries, it shrinks at a different rate than the old cloth and it makes the tear worse.  Or the story of the wineskins.  Wine was put into a container made of animal skin.  Over time the skin would dry out and become brittle.  When new wine was put into the skins, the gases of fermentation would cause the container to burst, and both the wine and the container were lost.  We want to ask God to do things in our lives, but often they are not possible until our heart has been changed.

Ezekiel 11:19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:

Deuteronomy 30:6 And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.

Well preacher,  I don’t think my heart is hard.  I am not watching, or accusing, or trying to destroy good things.  How about this:  When God says move, do you?  When God says go, will you?  When God says change, have you?  Its in the heart where life changing challenges are given, and where life changing decisions are made.

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