Take My Heart
These exhortations were given by me between 1999 and 2005. That was a long time ago, and I have grown a lot since then. They may not reflect my current beliefs.
I am going to begin this morning by reading Psalm 27:
The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident. One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD. Hear my voice when I call, O LORD; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek. Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior. Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me. Teach me your way, O LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence. I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
That reading came from the New International Version, but most of the rest of my readings will come from the King James Version.
In hymn 111, we sing ‘Take my life”, ‘take my feet,” ‘take my voice” ‘take my silver and my gold” ‘take my intellect” ‘take my will” ‘take my love”, ‘take myself” and ‘take my heart”.
All of these ideas, obviously, have a Biblical basis. ‘Take my life” makes me think of men such as Peter and John who devoted their lives to the preaching of the gospel, as well as the countless others who did the same. ‘Take my silver and my gold” – every Sunday we have a collection, as we were told to. ‘Take my intellect” is a nice summary of the parable of the Talents.
Of those ideas, perhaps the most difficult one to understand is ‘take my heart”. What is the heart? On a simple physical level it is a muscular pump that forces blood around the body. On an emotional level it is something quite different: it is the core of our being, the centre of our personality. There are a couple of interesting illustrations of this in the gospel of Matthew, chapters 12 and 13.
Matthew 12, verse 35: ‘A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.”
A good person, then, has a good heart, and a bad person a bad heart.
Matthew 13 verse 15: ‘For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”
This verse shows us that the heart, as the Bible speaks of it, is the seat of understanding.
Sadly, at his heart man is not a Godly creature.
Genesis 6 verse 5: ‘And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
That is a terrible condemnation of the Antediluvian world, isn’t it? ‘The thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
The flood didn’t make a permanent change on the hearts of mankind. ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked,” wrote Jeremiah in Chapter 17 verse 9 of his prophecy.
How should our hearts be? There is, of course, guidance in scripture. Psalm 141 verse 4 says us: ‘Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity,” and Ecclesiastes 7 verse 25 says ‘I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness.”
Our hearts, the fundamental cores of our being should be inclined towards God and the knowledge of Godly things.
Christ expresses this thought beautifully in Matthew 6 verses 19-21:
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Or, as it is expressed in Matthew 22, verse 37:
‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”
As well as loving God we are supposed to love each other. The King James Translation of Romans 12:10 puts this beautifully:
‘Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love”
In the first letter to the Thessalonians chapter 4, verse 9, Paul writes:
‘But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.”
One of the reasons why we are to love one another is because of the impression that this gives to the outside world.
John 13, verses 34 and 35: ‘A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
When we are preaching that is an important verse to remember. It’s not ‘By this all men shall know that ye are my disciples, if ye attend every lecture, help out at the Bible Exhibition, and run a big website,” it’s ‘By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
Consider Ephesians 5 verse 2:
‘And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.”
We don’t love one another for the sake of it; its not secular love at all. We love one another because Christ loved us. This is why we are here today, to share the bread and the wine together, the reminders of Christ’s love for us.