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CULTIVATING A HEART FOR GOD (7)
Victor M. Eskew
A. Thus far, in this series of lessons, we have done two things.
1. We presented a general lesson about our spiritual hearts.
2. In the next five lessons, we examined fifteen (15) critical components needed to cultivate a heart for God.
B. In this lesson, we want to examine some heart contrasts.
1. Most of the time, the Bible contains the best illustrations of its concepts.
2. The Scriptures often contrast two or more people. These contrasts show us different types of hearts that individuals can have.
3. Let’s look at four examples in this lesson.
I. CAIN AND ABEL: Worship
A. Worship is a vital part of the Christian experience.
1. Matthew 4:10
…Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
2. John 4:23
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
B. In the account of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4, we see two different hearts coming before God in worship.
1. The first was Abel.
a. His worship (Gen. 4:4)
And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of the flock, and of the fat therof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and his offering.
b. In Hebrews 11:4, we are given some insight into Abel’s offering and why it was accepted by God.
By faith, Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain…
1) Abel’s offering was “by faith.”
2) Romans 10:17 tells us that “faith cometh by hearing.”
3) Abel heard God’s Word and obeyed His will.
2. The second Son to worship Cain.
a. Genesis 4:3 tells us that he “brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.”
b. God did not accept this offering (Gen. 4:5).
But unto Cain and his offering he had not respect.
c. Genesis 4:7 reveals that he had not done well.
If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.
d. Cain apparently heard God’s desires about what would be accepted as an offering, but he failed to comply.
1. Worship is either acceptable or unacceptable to God.
2. Just because a man performs an act attempting to honor God does not make it acceptable.
3. Worship must be done with a heart of faith. By this we mean we must be cognizant of what God desires for worship and do only what He has authorized.
a. If God does not want instrumental music, we should not bring it.
b. If God wants the Lord’s Supper to be done every Lord’s Day, we should do it.
4. Acceptable worship is not judged by sincerity alone.
II. TEN SPIES VS TWO SPIES: Challenges of Life
A. The Christian life is filled with all kinds of challenges. Some of these challenges can be very daunting.
B. In the example of the twelve spies who examined the Land of Promise, we see men facing a challenge with two different hearts.
1. The ten spies possessed a heart of fear and cowardice (Num. 13:31).
But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.
a. The spies knew what the will of God was, that is, to conquer the land.
b. They had seen the land and knew that it was a land flowing with milk and honey.
c. The presence of the giants in the land and their great, walled cities filled their hearts with fear.
d. Their fear led them to say: “This cannot be done.”
2. Two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb had a different heart.
a. Remember, they had seen the same giants and same strong cities.
b. The courage of the two spies:
1) Caleb (Num 13:30)
And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.
2) Joshua and Caleb (Num. 14:8-9)
If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into the land and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel ye not against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for are bread for us: their defense is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not.
c. The difference between the ten spies and the two spies was their trust in God. Joshua and Caleb knew their God was bigger and stronger than the giants of the land.
C. Application to challenges:
1. Fear and unbelief are often companions.
2. Satan wants us to believe that the challenges God wants us to accomplish are impossible.
3. We must believe that God is with us, and, that He wants us to succeed.
III. SAUL VS DAVID: Leadership
A. Leaders have always been an essential part of God’s Plan. To function well as a leader, a person’s heart must have the proper view of self.
B. Saul, the first king of Israel and David show us different hearts that leaders can have.
1. Saul was a man who got “too big for his britches.”
a. Saul started his reign as king well.
1) He recognized his insignificance (I Sam. 9:21).
And Saul answered and said, Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? And my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Wherefore then speakest thou so to me?
2) When he was going to be anointed king, he hid himself (I Sam. 10:22).
b. During his reign, he had many victories and gained confidence, confidence rooted within himself.
c. He became so arrogant that he believed he could disobey the Almighty God.
d. Sadly, he ceased being little in his own eyes (I Sam. 15:17).
e. His arrogance led to his rejection by God (I Sam. 15:23).
2. David was a man who had a heart after God’s own heart (I Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22).
a. David sinned, but his heart was not stubborn and cold.
b. David was a man who honestly said: “I have sinned” (II Sam. 12:13; Ps. 51).
1. The bane of leadership is pride (Prov. 21:4).
A high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.
2. Pride exhibits itself in many forms.
a. The way it walks
b. The way it talks
c. The way it treats others
d. It’s view of its own wisdom and knowledge
3. The way leaders overcome pride is to view their work as that of a servant (I Pet. 5:3).
Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
IV. JUDAS VS PETER: Sin
A. Every human being will have to deal with sin in his/her life.
B. Peter and Judas show us two different hearts dealing with sin in their lives.
1. Judas sinned when he betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
a. In Matthew 27:3, the text says that Judas saw that Jesus was condemned. It seems as if he never expected this.
b. Matthew 27:3-5 reveal the actions he took at this point.
Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priest and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? See thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
1) He did three things:
a) He acknowledged his sin.
b) He returned the money.
c) He hanged himself.
2) What were his thoughts?
a) The Lord will never forgive me.
b) The apostles will not forgive me.
c) I will always have this stigma.
d) He could not forgive himself.
2. Peter also sinned in that he denied Jesus three times (Luke 22:54-59)
a. Peter was just as convicted of his actions as was Judas (Luke 22:61-62).
And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he said unto him, Before the cock crow, Thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.
b. What were Peter’s thoughts?
1) I have sinned.
2) The Lord will forgive me.
3) If the Lord can forgive me, I can forgive myself.
4) If the Lord forgives me, what others think, say, and do is not important.
1. One’s reaction to his sins is vitally important.
2. Sin definitely can drive us to shame, embarrassment, and deep sorrow.
3. God does not want our sin to defeat us.
a. Jeremiah 33:8
And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me.
b. I John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
A. This lesson has attempted to do two things.
1. Illustrate different types of hearts as seen through various Bible characters.
2. Show us how the heart is involves in all that we do in life: worship, challenges of life, leadership and sin.
B. All of us need to get serious about our hearts.
1. God tries the heart (Ps. 7:9b).
2. My prayer is that all of us will cultivate hearts for God.