Summary: Jesus is the Word of God. He is living and active and He walks amongst His churches to examine our hearts. If He were to examine you and your church, what would He find?
Hello, hello. Well, thank you, thank you for sharing, brothers. Thank you for Andre sharing. I know that it’s not easy to really go deep into the issues of our heart, and that’s actually what I’m going to talk about today. It’s not an easy journey. I think we don’t often go too deep, and Andre has applied math from Caltech UCLA. I think he should have majored in English literature from some European university. So, thank you for sharing your journey with us. I think it challenges us to go deeper with the Lord. And thank you for Matthew.
We are in a, I think as a church we are in a season of uncertainty, we don’t know what the Lord has for us individually or even as a church but we know God is going to make it very clear which way he wants us to go. Okay, let’s read together two verses and then I’ll pray, Hebrews chapter 4 verse 12.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12-13, ESV)
Okay, let’s pray.
Father, we gather in your house, a house of prayer, and we declare that we are children of God, bought by the blood of Jesus.
Jesus, you’re the senior pastor here, and so, Lord, we avail ourselves to you. We pray that you would walk amongst us collectively, and even individually today, that you would share things about us that we maybe don’t even perceive about ourselves. So, Lord, we pray that you would uncover and bring forward the deeper things in our heart. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Revelation 2 mentions the church at Ephesus, and this is one out of seven churches that Jesus is walking amongst.
And while He’s walking amongst these churches, He is giving them kind of a midterm exam and telling them, “Here is your grade. you’re doing these well, you’re actually failing here.” And I wonder, if Jesus was walking amongst Hill Community Church, what kind of things might He say about us as a church? What might He say about us individually as we gather in His name?
Clearly, the church at Ephesus, one thing that becomes obvious is that they are doing well on many counts, but on the most critical issue, they are failing miserably.
And I would say it is a failure to obey the greatest commandment. They are not loving Jesus with heart, soul, mind, and strength. They’ve actually cooled off in their love for Jesus, and they’ve grown cold toward Jesus.
And if that is missing, you can have 100 check marks on your side. That one thing is actually more than 50% of the grade. And so if you fail that one thing, you’ve actually failed the class.
And then the passage that we read, Hebrews 4.
If Jesus is the word of God, that means Jesus is living and active, and he is coming, and he is dissecting, he’s doing surgery, showing us and bringing forward the deeper issues of our heart. And I think, just often, we don’t discern ourselves well. We just go through life and a season goes by. And we thought we were fine and then it just dawns on us that something happens. God suddenly reveals something or some way, in some form, God gets our attention. And he shows us that we were not doing well as we thought.
And Jesus, he is living and active. He’s sharper than a two-edged sword. He pierces to the deepest places of our being, to the dividing of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow.
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12, ESV)
Marrow is the center tissue of a bone. This is as deep as it gets.
And to us, it’s like we just kind of operate on maybe the first level. Maybe on occasion we go a little bit deeper, second level. But do we ever go to the deepest core of who we are that drives us, the why behind everything that we do?
Jesus is the word of God, and so he sees it all. He sees it all. So, deep change, I think, happens, as Andre shared a bit of his journey, as we begin to uncover the motives, the intentions, the thoughts, the attitudes of the heart, everything that lurks deep beneath the surface. Because we all kind of project, we’re OK. We’re leaders in God’s church. We’ve been attending church for so many years. But if Jesus is walking amongst us and he goes to the core of our being, what would come forward?
I think that’s something I’m not sure if you’re going to get an answer at this service, but I encourage you, as your homework, to bring your heart before the Lord and ask Him to bring forward the deeper things there.
Our garbage disposal, kitchen, sink area was clogged for many, many months. I tried Drano. I tried BioClean, these enzymes. I tried hot water. I tried vinegar. I tried everything I could think of. We called the plumber. They did the scraping thing.
None of it worked until finally someone did the, he said, this is the absolute last thing you can try. You can just jet water, very strong, poured into the pipes. If this doesn’t work, you’re going to have to pull up the floors, dig into the pipes, and probably change it out. So this was a last resort. And then he used that water jet, whatever it’s called, and out came all of this hardened fat and gunk. He showed it to me. It was hard. And he said it was not at the kitchen.
It was somewhere downstream, like deep, that you can’t even see it. It’s like that kitchen connects to another set of pipes. And at the T, where two pipes were connecting, there was this buildup. And no wonder, it’s like it looks like it’s flowing some days. But eventually, the issue is far down, kind of far away from the kitchen sink. But gradually, it will start backing up.
And then we see it overflow. And if God is just pouring out his affection toward us, and his love and his compassion toward us, are we able to?
To reciprocate that affection toward Him? Are we able to love Jesus with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength? Without restriction, without limitation, is our heart fully wide? Can we say that the affection that He gives, we are also able to return?
Or, if we’re honest, can it be said of us that our affections, our first love, whatever you want to call it, is not what it used to be?
And toward our neighbors, where there should be compassion and mercy flowing out that direction, is there mercy? Is there compassion, or is there apathy? Is there annoyance? Is there, well, that’s not my problem, judgment, criticism, whatever else that comes out? These are signs that there’s a clog somewhere in our heart.
Hebrews 4, when it says, Jesus discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart. The thoughts of the heart, I think, is not the best translation. I think “emotions of the heart” would be better because this word is inner passion.
It’s the emotional force that drives your thinking, your meditation, your reflection. It’s an emotion, and so this is the first part that Jesus is bringing our attention to. It’s the passionate idea that gets lodged in, and once it’s lodged in, all the inner affections that drive our reasoning are coming from this source, and so the emotions of the heart.
The thoughts, I mean, the intentions of the heart. I think it is more similar to a thought. And so it’s kind of reversed in many English translations.
But it should be what a person literally has in mind, what they’ve settled on. It is an opinion or an attitude that has been thought through. And so, I think these are the things that Jesus wants to bring forward. What is that attitude of your heart? What are the emotions that keep coming out of your heart? And I don’t know if you knew that our emotions have, I mean, our heart has emotions. Heart, soul, it’s really hard to distinguish like what’s coming out of where. It’s like it’s all the same.
It’s all coming from that inner person of you. And your heart has an emotion. your heart also has an attitude or a mindset.
We get clues of this in other places in scripture, like Ephesians 4:17. It says, “Now this I say in testifying the Lord that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to their hardness of heart.”
17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. (Ephesians 4:17-18, ESV)
So, there’s a relationship between our heart and our mind, and what causes the mind to become futile, what causes our understanding to become darkened. It is a hardened heart. And so, before you knew Christ, your heart was rock solid, closed off, sealed like a boba cup. There’s no, it’s just even if God is pouring out his love, it’s not getting it. Not even one drop gets in. And that can even happen as a believer, that our hearts can harden. And so, just a little bit of.
The Lord’s love, affection, compassion comes in, and that affects our mind, the mindset of our heart, the thoughts of our heart, the emotional state of our heart. We read about this in Luke 10.
Jesus looks at Martha and Mary, and Mary is doing fine as Jesus sees her. But there’s something about Martha that Jesus wants to bring to our attention, and he describes her in two ways: anxious and troubled. Anxious, we know, that is our worries, that’s the swirling thoughts like, “What if this happens? How are we going to take care of this?”
It’s those type of things that are very common to the human condition. The trouble, I think, is dealing with the emotions. It’s like you have an orange juice, and the pulp has settled in the bottom, and the water has kind of come to the surface. So, what do you have to do? You have to shake it violently. That’s the type of agitation that the Lord Jesus is perceiving in the heart of Martha. So, she has anxieties and she has agitations.
And so, now we have to start as if Jesus is here in front of you. He’s asking you these questions, and I want you to try to respond as honestly as you can to the Lord about these questions.
First is, what worries you? What worries you? What causes you to worry, and when did it start? What bothers you? Why are you bothered by this, and when did it start?
I don’t think you may not, you probably won’t be able to answer it in one prayer session or one service.
But if you take it with the Lord, like, why am I worried about such and such? I think the fact that there’s worry, that’s, you know, that’s an issue that you have to bring before the Lord. We should not worry; it’s a sin to worry. But the fact that there is a worry, why is it there? I think the why is very important.
For example, if your child is disobedient, or not able to focus in school, or all kinds of issues that as parents we see in our children, like their lack of motivation, their lack of work ethic, all of this, it worries us. It even agitates us perhaps, and what’s really driving it, I think, is a lack of faith. I think it’s a lack of faith.
Because look at us, look at how long it’s taken for us to work through our issues, and we’re still a work in progress. And yet, when we look at the little boy, the little girl, we think they should be perfect. We think that we need to fix this because is God going to fix it? I don’t know if God’s going to fix it. It’s an issue of faith.
The fact that we worry about children, spiritually, academically, societally, in terms of their development, all of this, if we ask why do we worry, why do we get agitated, underneath, I think it is a lack of faith. These anxieties, these agitations, they can arise from trauma from our past, they can just be our own issue, our own situation. Issue that we need to repent of, they can become, they can even, the source of it can also be unclean spirits and strongholds.
Did you know, a stronghold is not just a thought that you thought yourself and you kept thinking about it so much that it hardened into a stronghold? No, the source of a stronghold is spiritual.
Second Corinthians 10:4-6 states, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience when your obedience is complete.”
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (2 Corinthians 10:4-6, ESV)
And I think, in these three verses, we have two types of thoughts. One is the one that we have to take captive. So many of the thoughts are our own thoughts, and they’re not consistent with the Lord, and they will actually derail us and prevent us from actually obeying Christ.
And so, these thoughts we need to reign in, we need to take captive, we need to cast aside, they’re coming from ourselves. But the first verse suggests, and the second verse, that the stronghold, the source of the stronghold, is outside of us.
It came from an unclean spirit. And you might think, “Why do I think this way? I’ve been thinking this way for so long and you can’t locate exactly when it started and why you’re doing it.”
Perhaps if that’s the case and you’ve repented, you’ve tried everything, nothing does anything for this stronghold, then you know or you can probably presume that your disobedience is complete.
You’re dealing with some type of external force that attacks you, and it’s a deception from the enemy that you entertained for too long.
You opened the door for that lie and deception too long, and now it’s a stronghold, and you think this is normal. You think, “I can’t think any other way.” And so, the approach, whether it’s your own thought, you just, you just repent of it. You stop doing it. But if it’s a stronghold, the approach is we got to come into power and authority of Jesus Christ and pull it down. We need to cast it out. It’s a lot more offensive, and it’s a battle.
And so, we need to discern, like, is this issue in my heart that I feel that comes out, this thought pattern, is it from trauma? Then you ask the Lord to heal you. You can locate when it started. If it’s, if it’s yourself, you just need to repent. Stop doing that and ask for forgiveness. If it’s a stronghold, then we take it, we approach it offensively. We pull it down in Jesus’ name. We cast it out of our lives into the abyss. So, what do you think those are for you?
The worries, the agitations, and possibly even strongholds. I mean, there’s, it’s, it’s good to be faithful. It’s good to be faithful. It’s good to work hard. It’s, it’s a, it’s a gift of the Holy Spirit that we have not a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.
7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV)
And a sound mind is, is your very self-discipline, is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It’s good to be disciplined in your eating and in your exercise and your spiritual discipline. That’s all good. But there can, it can drift into.
Something very unhealthy, this perfectionism, even in Christian life, this workaholic, which can happen in your career, it can happen in your Christian life, that is not healthy. And we need to discern, am I being faithful? Or is it now, has it gone into this possible stronghold, this perfectionism, this workaholism, this feeling that you project a version of the Father that is not true?
As Andre shared, is He my supervisor?
That I just check in at the end of a week, I’m pretty much on my own. I check in with him at the end of a week, and if I’ve worked hard, I feel like, “Oh, he’s gonna say, ‘Oh, good job, good job, you’ve done well.'” Or is he, if you had a little bit of a tough week and you weren’t as disciplined, is he gonna be upset and is he gonna fire you? Is our Father like that?
Like we might have had a certain parent who modeled something for us that was not right, we might have had a spiritual leader who modeled for us something that was not right. We project that onto the Father. And that’s gonna clog up our heart. All the flow of God’s love to us and out to our neighbor, it’s gonna get clogged up by that wrong view.
Deep down, do we simply just want to be praised? It’s hard to discern.
We think, well, I don’t really think so, but do we really, if we’re honest with the Lord, do we want people to say, ‘Oh, you’re a great person, you’re a great Christian, you’ve done well in this life?’ And do we just want people to respect us and speak well of us? Do we want love from the world? Do we want to be famous? These are the deeper things, and we can easily say, ‘That’s not me,’ but let’s ask the Lord Jesus when he looks at us. The deeper things, is it there?
Only he can show it to us, and it takes some time to get there. Maybe you grew up in a family that just was constantly saying you’re no good, and you think your Heavenly Father looks at you the same way. you’re no good, and your whole, the why behind all that you do, is “I will prove my worth and I will silence the critics.” And there is this anger that drives the workaholic tendencies and the perfectionism that “I will show the world this person who said I’m not worth it.”
They will be utterly silenced in my presence. I will show them. There could be that deep thing that we just don’t think is there, but they’re clues and only Jesus is the Word of God. He can show you that and so you bring your heart before Jesus and you ask, ‘What is really driving me?’
John 14:26, ‘But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.’ Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:26-27, ESV)
Again, Jesus is very concerned about the condition of our hearts. He wants our hearts to feel peace. He wants us to be at peace. That is His gift. He gives us peace.
And He doesn’t like it when there’s trouble in our hearts, this agitation, this emotional shaking back and forth, like good one day, not good the other day, this instability.
He doesn’t want that in our hearts. He doesn’t want us to be afraid. There’s just many things that make us afraid and make us shrink back. We need to make a bunker and stack up all our food supplies because you don’t know what 2024 is going to be. We can live like that, or we can have faith. God is going to pull me through. If I need to do something, He will tell me. I don’t have to race ahead and get ahead of the Lord and predict what’s going to happen before it happens.
So, fears and trouble and this emotional instability, Jesus says, “That’s, I want your heart to be well. I want your soul to be healthy.”
In the final verses, Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, ESV)
So, when we deal with the deep things that are coming out of our heart, and there is peace, then Jesus says, “I will shield and protect you myself.” So, you might have uncovered a stronghold, and with Jesus’s help and His power and authority, you might have pulled it down.
If we keep dealing with the things in our heart, and our heart is well, and our soul is healthy, and we’re connecting with the Lord, Jesus says, he will be our shield and protector so that these strongholds will not be lodged in so easily.
And Jesus, that is his promise. That is how he can give us peace consistently, because he is our shield and our protector. So, let’s give Jesus all of our anxieties, all of our agitations, all of the attitudes of our heart. Let’s give all the fears to him. And let’s trust that he will give us peace and that he will protect us from the evil one.
OK, let’s pray. Amen.
Jesus, you are the word of God, and you are living and active. you’re sharper than a two-edged sword. You cut to the core of the issues of our heart in the division of soul and spirit, joint and marrow, the emotions of our heart, the attitudes of our heart, the agitations in our heart, the fears in our heart, the strongholds in our heart. We don’t know where it came from, but Lord, you do.
May you help us in this time and however long it takes as we pray to you continuously that you show us the source, whether it’s trauma, whether it’s our own sins, whether it’s strongholds that the enemy sent deceptively into our hearts.
We want to locate the source so that we can ask for healing, so that we can repent and receive forgiveness for our sins, and so that we can demolish strongholds in the power and authority of Jesus Christ. And the promise, if we go through this journey, is peace. There will be peace on the inside. We’ll be like Mary at your feet. Total peace. Not caring about anybody else. Her eyes fixed on you. your gaze is all that matters. your approval is all that matters.
Let the world think we’re fools as long as you say well done. Father, give us clarity in this time as we bring our hearts before you. Thank you, Lord Jesus. You allowed your body to be broken and your bloodshed not only to save us, but to fully deliver and heal us and to keep us delivered and protected until finally we see you face to face. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.