February 18th 2018 2 Corinthians 5.20b-6.10 *Psalm 51.1-17 “Love Cleanses” first Sunday in Lent Pastor Jacqueline Hines
If you have ever gotten a blood transfusion or [slide # 1 blood transfusion] had any type of heart procedure or surgery, then you know what it is to get a new start with a clean heart. [slide # 2 heart surgery] Psalm 51 is King David’s prayer for a clean heart because he knew he definitely needed one. [slide # 3 ...clean heart…]
The heart is the only muscle that never stops working. It can beat over 4,000 times per hour, pumping 2,000 gallons. What a working machine we have, and with every job comes some trash that has to be eliminated. Our spiritual hearts need to be cleaned and cared for in the same ways as our physical hearts do.
Sometimes our hearts need - what advertisers are now calling - a heart-healthy diet. The heart is healthier when we eat a substantial amount of vegetables and decrease our intake of sugar to 28 grams a day and salt to 1500 milligrams per day. [slide # 4 healthy hear foods]
At all times our hearts are hungry for 150 minutes of exercise a week or for a solution to hurry up and come to fix a hard problem or some help to come and help us carry the heavy load [slide # 5 heavy load] of some heartache or heartbreak that has become our cross to bear.
The Lenten season is a time to examine our hearts [slide # 6 heart in eye] and ask God to show us something that we need to do or say to make our heart healthier. A healthy heart makes a healthy life. The Lenten season is a time to open our hearts and wait quietly for God to fill us with whatever God sees we need to be filled with. [slide # 7 glass filling]
We may come to God ready to receive one or two things that are very, very important to us. We may come wondering if we will leave empty-handed, though God never leaves us empty-handed. Still, during the Lenten season we need to come for God’s sake if for no other reason! [slide # 8 Grow in love with God]
In verse 4 of Psalm 51 David confesses his sins. He comes clean about his wrongdoing. He admits that he needs a change of heart. So, he takes the first step to becoming spiritually healthy. He confesses his sins, his limits, his weaknesses. Confession also effects his physical and emotional health.
King David chooses the best way to deal with an issue, which is to acknowledge that an issue exists. It takes most of us many years and many tears before we can admit to ourselves that we have an issue that may from time to time gnaw at our hearts and tear our guts out.
David confesses, and confession is good for the soul. Healing of hearts begins with confession to ourselves and to God. Like a child who has been caught with frosting all over its face when asked did you eat the cake, we have a choice to confess or to deny. [slide # 9 frosting face] God already sees the evidence against us, still it is good for us to confess and build good character instead of bad character.
Confession is an important part of prayer. [slide # 10 don’t be afraid….confession…] Would we really expect to have a good relationship with God when we are holding on willfully to some evil we are doing that breaks God’s heart or makes God mad?
Every family and every church gives some thought as to what is good character and what is bad character. Every family and every church winks at wrong or pretends not to see certain misbehavior. Most Christians do not keep a spotlight on each other’s sins. We leave that to the evening news. When we talk about each other, we want to do it in order to remain aware of our strengths and weakness so that the church can become as strong as we can be. When we speak, our motivation is to carefully build one another up, to speak for God - words that are encouraging, comforting, and uplifting. When we begin to sound rough, contemptuous, bullyish, or resentful, we need to back up and let God fill us with gentleness and calm.
Sometimes, we do not want to talk about people because we say they are not our business. But, if the person claims to be a Christian, it is our business to take care of Christian business. Sometimes, we do not say anything because a person might act angry and bitter or cold-hearted toward us. They may try to get revenge and do something to us that is unpleasant or threatening.
Still, we cannot get away with ignoring our issues or the issues of other Christians. [slide # 11 hands on ears] According to Corinthians 5.12, God will handle non-Christians, but we are to make wise judgments regarding Christians. If we ask, God will provide the answers as to what we are to do. [slide # 12 never give up…] Wise counselors say that relationships stay stronger when we speak or gesture 9 times more positive communication than negative. That is a tall order without depending on the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes more than others, we are glad when God’s answers seem to be slow in coming because we may not want to do anything anyway because we do not want to experience negative fallout. In the end, though, doing what God tells us to do regarding Christian misbehavior leads to good results. Proverbs 10:10 (NLT) says, “People who wink at wrong cause trouble, but a bold reproof promotes peace.” Lent is a time to rededicate ourselves to being peacemakers instead of troublemakers. [slide # 13 …peacemaker…]
The Lenten season is the 40 days [slide # 14 ..return to God] we set aside to ask God to show us [Slide # 15 God reveals] whatever we need to see in order to get our hearts right with God and right with each other. It is a time to clean house, for cleanliness is next to Godliness, which is one of those relevant sayings that is not found in the bible.
Lent is a good time to deal with any issues, problems, bad habits, fears, anxieties. It is a time to take heart and take initiative for things which matter most to God, for they matter to us more than we know.
What a privilege it is to go before the God of the universe and get a loving consultation and strong support in our journey to change. [slide # 16 hugged by Jesus] It is so good to get a cleansing blood transfusion or heart surgery to jump start our way to a healthier heart. [slide # 17 happy heart]
We can think of Lent as a spiritual spa, a wondrous time of refreshment, [slide # 18 I will refresh….] dinner out with royalty, a vacation from sin. In any case, it is good for us as Christians to think and not just emote, to reflect and not just react, to pray and not just stay where we are, but to grow more spiritually healthy. May this Lenten season be a blessing to you and all those around you. Amen. [slide # 19 Make Lent…]