Change My Heart…Why Isn’t it Working?

“Create in my a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).

I have a heart problem.

It is true that I have heart disease. I have four bypasses and sixteen stents in my heart because of my heart disease. But, that’s not what I’m talking about.

The sickness of my heart is a spiritual condition. You see, my heart longs for sin. My heart desires sin. My heart is enamored with sin. It doesn’t matter that God hates sin. My heart still desires sin.

Thus, I pray daily, “create in me a pure heart, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

As I pray this prayer, I sometimes wonder, “Is it even working?” I seem to struggle with the same things over and over. I can’t help but wonder, is there any change happening in me? Why am I not changing?

You see, the change I think I am praying is, “God, my heart is sick and diseased. Please change my heart.” And, in praying this prayer, what I’m thinking is that instantaneously I go from longing for sin and only longing for God. The change I am expecting is a change that is instantaneous and complete.

Now, that’s what I call a change! That would be awesome. That’s what I want.

But, change doesn’t happen like that. Sanctification doesn’t happen like that. Becoming more like Christ doesn’t happen like that. Change and sanctification happens incrementally. And because of the “slowness” of change, we can become discouraged and even distraught at the seeming lack of change.

But that doesn’t mean change isn’t happening. It doesn’t mean God is not at work.

Consider the tree in the spring. If you were to stand by the tree to look for change, you would stand by the tree for days, weeks, months and never see change. But that doesn’t mean change isn’t happening. You just need to give it some time.

In time, by late fall, that tree would have gone through a beautiful transformation. Compare the tree that is in front of the Little Church in the summer versus the tree in fall above.

It’s like that with us. God is at work. God is always at work in us. Trust in the process. Trust in God.

A Gift of Scarcity

“I gave you empty stomachs in every city and lack of bread in every town, yet you have not returned to me,” declares the LORD (Amos 4:6).

Blessings.

Whenever we think of blessings, we always think in terms of addition. Blessings are things we get. We rarely think of blessings as those things we don’t get.

God declares, “I gave you empty stomachs…I gave you lack of bread.”

That doesn’t sound like a blessing. That sounds like a curse!

Why would God give Israel empty stomachs and lack of bread?

So they can return to the LORD.

Sometimes, God gives us empty stomachs and lack of bread so that we can turn to the LORD. Sometimes, we forget that what we need is, not material things, but God.

So, sometimes, it is a gift not to have.

Why? God is more concerned with your spiritual and eternal welfare and maturity than he is with your comfort.

This is God’s Will

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

Christians often wonder what God’s will for their life is. Many Christians say that if God would only make his will clear to them they would surely obey. Many claim that the reason for the lack of obedience is, not so much because of the lack of desire to be obedient, but because the will of God is often so confusing.

If only God would just spell it out for us.

Well, if you are a Christian, let me clear this up for you.

I know without a shadow of doubt what God’s will for you is.

Yup. Without a shadow of doubt.

Our text makes it crystal clear: “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

Just in case you missed it, let’s break it down:

  • It is God’s will…you see that, God’s word says, “It is God’s will.”
  • So, what is God’s will? That you should be sanctified.

Sanctify means becoming holy.

  • It is God’s will that we become more like Christ today and everyday.
  • It is God’s will that we resemble Christ more today than yesterday.
  • It is God’s will that his holiness be more evident in our lives than it was yesterday.

So, then, how do we go about being sanctified?

Great question. Sanctification happens as we submit to the Holy Spirit. This doesn’t mean that the Holy Spirit has 100% control over our lives. That almost never happens. Sanctification happens when the will of the Holy Spirit has even the slightest greater influence over our thoughts and actions than our will.

Sanctification happens when:

  • Me – 49.9999999999999999999% control over thoughts and actions
  • Holy Spirit – 50.00000000000000001% control over thoughts and actions

As long as we live on this side of eternity, our flesh will constantly battle God’s Holy Spirit. But as long as the Holy Spirit has even the slightest greater influence, sanctification is taking place. We are becoming more like Christ.

This is God’s will – that you be sanctified. Got it?