13th Apr 2014
An undivided heart
By Stephen Bones
AN UNDIVIDED HEART
As you know, this week is the 2nd of the unpacking and meditating on the weekend of prayer and fasting on 7-9 March 2013 i.e. just over a month ago. Last week Andy spoke on unbelief, despite all the signs and wonders Jesus had done, and this week we want to expand the theme of an undivided heart.
The theme of ‘division’ came up three times over the weekend – a chasm down the middle of the church; the word ‘division’; the two flocks of sheep , one larger than the other, and the larger group had hearts far from God.
What was God saying to us, and what should our response be?
Definition of an undivided heart
I would like to start with a better understanding of what an undivided heart looks like, and conversely therefore what a divided heart looks like.
I would like to use examples from the Bible. Let’s start with people who I think had an undivided heart e.g.
- were sold out to God (Romans 12:1 ‘Present your bodies as living sacrifices,...),
- they loved Him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27),
- they loved Him more than their family (Matthew 10:37 Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me),
- they sought first His Kingdom (Matthew 6:33 Seek first His kingdom..),
- they sought to be righteous whatever the circumstances (Matthew 6:33 ....and His righteousness...)
- they were obedient to God’s will (Matthew 26:39)
People who I think had undivided heart for God (though most still made mistakes, which is encouraging!):
- Jesus (Luke 2:49 Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" (NKJV); Luke 9:51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem; Matt 26:39 & Luke 22:42 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.")
- David (1 Sam 13:14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD's command."; 1 Kings 9:4 "As for you, if you walk before me in integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws,..; 1 Kings 11:4 and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.) And yet David murdered a man and committed adultery! However, he also humbled himself and repented.
- Elijah (1 Kings 19 – after travelling one day into the desert, he travelled a further 40 days and 40 nights without food to Mount Horeb just to meet with God! 1 Kings 19:9 And the word of the LORD came to him: "What are you doing here, Elijah?")
- Job (After Job had lost all his possessions and his family, except for his wife, it says in Job 1:22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. )
What about people who had divided hearts:
- His disciples initially – they all ran away or denied him;
- Eli, the high priest – (1 Sam 3:12-13 In that day I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them.) NKJV
- Solomon (1 Kings 11:4 As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God,..)
Steps to getting an undivided heart
If you think after the above examples you do have a divided heart, the question then is how can I get an undivided heart? I tell you now, we cannot do it by willpower and discipline!
I believe the Lord has given me three steps to having an undivided heart:
- Recognise and acknowledge before God that I do have a divided heart i.e. repent!
- Have a desire and hunger for an undivided heart.
- Obey Jesus commands – only He can give us an undivided heart, we cannot do it by our will power.
- Do I have a divided heart?
Each one of us needs to answer this question before the Lord. I hope the examples above assist you in reaching a decision.
However, bear in mind the following prayer from King David:
Ps 86:10-13 For you are great and do marvellous deeds; you alone are God. Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.
And this from a man who God said had a heart like His, ‘a man after his own heart’! Notice how obedience also is raised – walking in God’s truth.
2. If we acknowledge we have a divided heart, do I desire and hunger for an undivided heart?
A prayer of David when Nathan the prophet went to him (after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba). Ps 51:10-12 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Ps 42:1-2 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
- Finally, am I obedient to His commands?
Last week Andy spoke on John 12:37-50 regarding unbelief. An extract is as follows:
John 12:37 Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.............John 12:44 Then Jesus cried out, "When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me........John 12:47 "As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.
Interestingly, Jesus did not use the word ‘unbelief’ in verse 47, but ‘hears my word but does not keep them’.
In John 14:31 Jesus said ‘but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.’
As Jesus obeyed His Father, so He requires us to do the same as He said later:
John 15:14 You are my friends if you do what I command.
This is consistent with the sermon on the mount:
Matt 7:21-27 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
If we believe in Jesus, it is not just a head decision, but will lead us to obey Him, and consequently to know Him. Of the larger flock of sheep that was spoken of at our weekend of prayer and fasting, it was said that their hearts were far from God and they did not know him. Hence we have Revelations 3:20, also shared on our weekend of prayer and fasting:
Rev 3:20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
Jesus wants to have fellowship with us, more than we do with Him. Hence we need God to give us an undivided heart, as He promised in Ezekiel:
Ezek 11:19-20 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.
We also need to love one another much more, and even be prepared to lay down our lives for each other (John 15:12-13 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.)
End with true story of an American couple whose son went to Vietnam and came home an invalid (Angus Buchan book)
Time of prayer
We are now going to have a time of quiet reflection for each of us to examine our hearts, or ask God to examine our hearts, whilst a song is being played.
If you believe you have an undivided heart, great!
If however you decide you have a divided heart, then ask yourself ‘do I want an undivided heart?’ If yes, great; if no, prayer that God will give you the desire for an undivided heart, as indeed David did in Psalm 86:11 ‘give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name’.
The disciples also prayed the following in Luke 17:5 The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!". Interestingly, this was after Jesus had said we need to forgive one another seven times in one day!
We will then have an opportunity for prayer or sharing, whatever God lays on your heart to do. If it is to be reconciled to someone here, then let’s do it discretely, but let’s obey God.
Eph 1:17-19 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
Eph 3:16-19 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.Download Sermon Notes