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CULTIVATING A HEART FOR GOD (2)
Elements Needed (1)
Victor M. Eskew
A. Last week, we began a series entitled: “Cultivating a Heart for God.”
1. The word “cultivate” is used because it involves promoting, improving, and developing by attention and labor.
2. We want to cultivate the heart because it is the seat of our spiritual lives.
B. In the next few lessons, we will be looking at the elements needed in our lives that will enable us to develop a heart for God.
I. A TRUE PERCEPTION OF SELF
A. The first step in this process is to see ourselves as we really are (Matt. 5:3).
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
B. Perhaps a better way of saying this is: “We need to see ourselves as God sees us” (Prov. 16:2).
All the ways of man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits.
C. This is not an easy thing to do.
1. King Saul
a. He was commanded by God to destroy the Amalekites and all they had (I Sam. 15:3).
b. He spared Agag and the best of the flocks and herds (I Sam. 15:9).
c. Saul’s assessment of his efforts (I Sam. 15:13).
And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord.
2. The Pharisees (Luke 18:10-14)
Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, and I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
a. Jesus told His apostles: All ye shall be offended because of me this night (Matt. 26:31).
b. Peter’s response (Matt. 26:33)
Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, ye will I never be offended.
c. All of us know the outcome. Peter denied the Christ three times that very night.
D. The key to heart cultivation is self-examination (II Cor. 13:5).
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
1. Three actions
2. Two standards
a. In the faith
b. How that Jesus Christ is in you
3. One alternative: reprobates
E. Do not leave this building, die, or go to the judgment thinking you are acceptable unto God when you are not (Matt. 7:21-24).
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
A. When we became Christians, honesty was part of our conversion (Luke 8:15).
But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
B. The definition of honest:
1. Free from fraud
2. Not given to lying
3. Not false or misleading
4. True, genuine
C. A Contrast
1. Eli (I Sam. 3:18)
And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth good.
2. Gehazi (II Kings 5:25)
But he went in, and stood before his master. And Elisha said unto him, Whence comest thou, Gehazi? And he said, Thy servant went no whither.
D. We have to be honest with:
1. Our sins and that which lures us
2. Our likes and dislikes about the Christian faith, the church, etc.
3. Our attitude toward our Christian lives
4. Our loves and passions
5. Our willingness or unwillingness to spend and be spent for the cause of Christ
III. LOVE FOR GOD
A. There are many things that we can love.
1. We can love the world (I John 2:15).
2. We can love our relatives (Matt. 10:37).
3. We can love pleasure (II Tim. 3:4).
4. We can love self (Matt. 22:39).
5. We can love money (I Tim. 6:10).
B. God is supposed to be our first and foremost love. He is supposed to be our supreme love (Mark 12:30).
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
1. The word “all” is used four times. “All” is defined as “the whole of” and “leaving nothing out.”
2. All is applied to heart, soul, mind, and strength.
3. Jesus also said this is the “first” commandment.
C. Most Christians do not hate God. They have divided loyalties. They want to love God and love other things.
a. Time for the Lord, but not too much time.
b. Money for the Lord, but not too much money.
c. Wear the name Christian, but do not want to be embarrassed by the name.
d. Want the blessings of Christianity, but do not want the cross.
2. Jesus’ words (Matt. 6:24)
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
D. How does a person develop a love for Jesus Christ?
1. Study and learn about His love for us (I John 4:19).
We love him, because he first loved us.
a. God loved us first.
b. It is hard not to love someone who loves us.
2. Make all of the other loves in our lives secondary.
a. Any love put before love for God makes it impossible for us to love Him as He should be loved.
b. Matthew 10:37
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
3. Pray to God for an increased love for Him (Phil. 1:9).
And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.
4. Practice diligent obedience to God’s will (John 14:23).
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
A. Some Bible greats were deeply concerned about the condition of their hearts.
1. David (Ps. 51:10)
2. Josiah (II Kings 23:25)
B. Our desire for each of us is the same desire Solomon had for the children of Israel (I Kings 8:61).
Let your heart therefore be perfect with the Lord our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.
C. To have a perfect heart, each of us must cultivate it every day.
1. It does not just happen.
2. If we do not cultivate our heart diligently, we can be drawn away from God (Heb. 3:12).
Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.