Thursday, November 21, 2013

The New Heart: My heart story: Section 1 - God's "heart" story

Sermon - Sunday morning November 17 2013 at  the Pinehill church Sault Ste Marie Ontario

Good morning: Last time I stood here to give a lesson was almost a year ago. (I believe it was December 9 2012)

A lot has happened since then – as a family of God’s people we have experienced to full cycle of life.

We have rejoiced at new births (both  “physical” and even more importantly  “spiritual births” ), we have mourned the loss of loved ones,  we have experienced weddings and other joyful events and we have experienced illness and other challenges in our lives.

(As most of you know) the reason I have NOT preached a sermon for over a year is because I too have been  a part of that story of the “beginnings and endings” of life.

A year ago I thought I was as “healthy as  a horse” (sure I had a few aches and pains that seem to come as our bodies get older but  I (thought I)  was in very good health.  I was able to get the “A” rating for health insurance when we travelled.  I was blessed with good health and I have to confess I was (maybe more than) a little proud of that.

I should have heeded Solomon’s’ advise  (Proverbs 16:18)   

 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Within a month my “winning streak” had ended. I discovered that I had a serious problem and on February 14, I had open heart surgery to replace a “broken” aortic valve. It was the beginning of a new phase of living with a “new heart”. I praise God for the wonders of modern health care that I am well on the way to be able to say once again “I’m healthy as a horse” (and pray I’ll never say it again with ‘arrogance’)

Of course,  the “clinical” facts about my illness and the medical steps taken to “fix” my heart are  NOT the real story – the real story is the emotional and spiritual response to this “wild ride”  and  the life lessons learned.  And it’s not just about me – it’s about Linda, my earthly family and  very much about you -  my church family.

Over the past year I have had a lot of time to reflect on how  my “heart” story  could be used  as a means of thinking about and illustrating  God’s story of  healing ”broken spirits (hearts).   The following verses in particular came to my mind.

 Psalm 73:26  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,  and renew a right spirit within me.

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

Ezekiel 18:31   Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit

Ezekiel 36:26."A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh."—

The rest of the lesson makes comparisons between my “heart” story and God’s “heart” story.

First some context - a summary of the  great account of God’s love as revealed to us in the Bible. (likely a review of something all of you  already know)

1.      God in his divine love created humans as perfect beings (in his image)  but they “fell down” (sinned, became wicked in the sight of God)  when they disobeyed God’s single command  in the garden (Genesis 1-3)

2.     From that point forward, we all “fall down” – we all “fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). And are in the position that we deserve to suffer the consequences of God’s justice (we deserve punishment)(Genesis 4 and following).

3.     God went to work immediately on His plan  -  teaching, training and sometimes punishing  - so that  we -  his “fallen” humans would allow him to “pick us up” and “bring us home” so  we could abide in his love and receive protection from his justified anger at unjust and unrighteous people” ( see Genesis, Exodus, Judges  and the summary in Hebrews 11 for some of the  “chapters” in this story that show God working to renew  relationships with  fallen and broken  humans) .  (and  despite those efforts  we  humans”  had “ no hope and (were)  without God” (Eph. 2:12)

4.     As the climax of that plan he sent Jesus – His son (see John 3:16) to make available a “new heart” .  Through   Jesus and the power of God's  Spirit we are being “remade” into “perfect health” and (ultimately) will experience eternal life in the new heavens and new earth .  What a Wonderful thing!  To  “broken, sick, and sinful humans,   he sent  the “Great Physician”.

5.     We are now living out the concluding chapters of this story –  not yet written  -- until  the “new creation” is fully visible to us in that great day when Jesus returns (Revelation gives us this  picture of that  final chapter

Revelation 20: Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; …. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

... to be continued
God Bless

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