A Heart After God’s Own Heart
“A Heart After God’s Own Heart.”
Sermon Notes – Ps. Jim White
Sunday 28th February, 2021
As most of you would know, about 30 of us gathered together recently to try and get a big picture view of what we think our community’s basic needs are – in an attempt to somehow work towards connecting with people in a genuine and meaningful way.
I have to say – I think we have come pretty close to the mark of hitting on some the real issues.
Thank you to everyone who had input, and thank you to those who are already working every day directly in areas of health, services for older people and the disadvantaged, drug and alcohol, community assistance and support, financial counselling, schools, etc., some of you also who have direct involvement with the court system.
We actually have a valuable information and resource base right here at Seacoast.
Which has prompted me already with where I want to go with my message this morning.
We have a fair way to go in sorting through the huge questions and issues – and we want to do it well – not necessarily duplicating existing agencies or ministries – and not over stepping our potential ability to make a difference either.
I keep hearing those words – Keep it simple! And keep it real!
It was when I started looking through all the notes that were taken that evening, that I realised how fundamental and how personal and relational a lot of the issues were.
Things like: loneliness, isolation, lack of connection or sense of belonging, and things like basic security and safety….
I think loneliness was probably on the top of the list.
Now that process will continue – probably with a much smaller group of passionate representatives from our church family.
But I’m encouraged – because we already have some wonderful people resources and physical resources like our building and our cafe – our office area – and I know that God will lead us forward.
But it leads me to the theme of this morning’s message.
We don’t have to wait for a program or a project to get up and running before we begin to respond personally to the needs that are around us every day.
That’s one thing. We all have a personal responsibility to make a difference.
But probably even more importantly, I believe we need to make sure that whatever we are doing – it needs to come from a heart of genuine love and compassion.
This is for me, the “real” aspect. We need to have a heart after God’s own heart.
I’m not interested in simply having a slick program that meets a few needs, and makes us look good. I don’t want a religious, dutiful response just because it’s the right thing to do.
My vision is for this community of Jesus lovers here at Seacoast, to carry the Father’s heart to those who are alone, displaced, frightened, isolated, distressed – whether that’s caused by financial distress, relationship issues, personal struggles, homelessness…. Whatever…
Or as someone mentioned to me during the week – what about those who appear successful, in control, people in places of authority and influence in our community – what’s our connection with them?
What difference and what influence are we able to have for good in all levels of our community?
Plus, not everyone who needs support shows it outwardly – and just because you are successful in some areas, doesn’t mean your life is perfect.
How can we be a support and an encouragement and an influence ourselves on those that we don’t necessarily think of straight away when we consider community needs?
And another thing…. If it’s the Father’s heart we are being motivated by, then we know it’s going to be wholehearted, and holistic. The Father cares about body, soul and spirit.
Let’s be careful not to turn every person into a project. But at the same time, let’s also not forget that we have found a peace and hope that transcends our natural world. His name is Jesus! And we can pass that on to others.
Two of the scriptures that I shared the other night with the group were these:
New King James Version
“for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’”
New King James Version
“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”
These words of Jesus alone are enough to inspire us and encourage us.
As we reach out to those in need we are ministering to Jesus.
This is Kingdom life! It’s not about agendas. It’s not about fear of being taken advantage of. It’s not about judging people.
It’s about letting the power of love and compassion break down walls.
No matter what place people find themselves in – if we care for them, it’s as if we are caring for Jesus.
I was really touched be a news story on Friday about a small terrace house in King’s Cross called “Lou’s Place.” It is a place where women who are homeless, or escaping violence or dealing with serious trauma can gather during the day – and be cared for – be referred on to other services – and can simply be loved on.
They can wash their clothes. There’s one washing machine tucked. Under a stairwell. They can learn the piano. They can make jewellery, have a shower….
They have a roster of volunteer chefs who make breakfast and lunch. How amazing is that?
They can get a pair of second hand shoes – or an outfit.
But probably the most valuable thing – they can find some peace!
And of course, they have women come in with mental health issues, drug affected, abused…. The ambulance service knows them really well. And some of these women are referred on to professional help.
But what I loved about the story was there was not one hint of judgement or condemnation.
I bet they have had to deal with some really bad behaviour. Dysfunction. All kinds of stuff.
But many of these women’s lives have been completely turned around because of the support and love they have been shown. For some – it has saved their life!
They’ve overcome shame, self condemnation, low self esteem. And intolerable abuse…
I don’t even know if it has a Christian foundation. Sometimes it’s simply kind hearted people who do a better job at genuinely connecting with the world around them – even moreso than the church does.
Am I suggesting that we do something like this? Not necessarily. But I love the heart of it.
What I am suggesting is that we get the right heart – God’s heart – first and foremost – before we even try to make anything happen.
The other scripture I shared with the group was:
New King James Version
“Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.”
I love that promise at the end…. Your light shall break forth.. your healing shall spring forth – quickly…. Your righteousness shall go before you…. The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard…. When you’ve done all these things…
You see, He wants to be in on this!
He wants to bless us as we bless others.
There’s definitely a spiritual dynamic to all of this.
And people will see the Light – they will experience healing, righteousness and glory.
It’s a far cry from the guy who stands on the street corner with one of those megaphone things – telling people that they are going to hell unless they repent.
People don’t hear loud words – they feel and experience genuine love and care. You don’t open a person’s heart to Jesus with condemnation and judgement. He said – I haven’t come to condemn the world – I’ve come to save it!
So I want to explore this link then with lovingly meeting the needs of others – and finding a spiritual spark that will break open their hearts.
I want to share the story with you, just for a moment, of the woman at the well. I want to take a close look at the way Jesus reveals kingdom truth.
New King James Version
“So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.”
Firstly, it says a little before this that Jesus said He “had to” go through Samaria. Something compelled Him to go. There’s some spiritual discernment going on here. Jesus was already in touch with what the Holy Spirit was doing.
We can be too. Discernment, I believe, is an underestimated and undervalued gift. We need discernment now more than we’ve ever needed it.
So he does a very ordinary, every day thing. He was feeling weary. So he sat at a well. And would you believe it, a woman comes out to draw water in the middle of the day.
Jesus starts the conversation with what seems like a very natural request. He asks for a drink of water. How basic is that?
And yet, simply by doing this, He has started a conversation which will lead to connecting with a deep cry of this woman’s heart.
We don’t need fancy words. We just need real words. Truthful words. Everyday words.
New King James Version
“Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.”
So things are little bit awkward here.
This woman knows that it’s really unusual that a Jew would be speaking to a Samaritan – but also that He is a man speaking to a woman.
Being in an uncomfortable and awkward situation is not a problem for Jesus.
And in fact, pushing through this kind of strange situation carries a message for us. Just because it feels awkward, doesn’t mean that you are off track.
In fact it may mean that you are already beginning to push beyond fears and insecurities – by not allowing barriers and walls to be an issue.
Jesus then goes into this conversation back and forth about living water – water that quenches the deepest thirst in a person’s soul.
And as much as she’s still trying to work it all out, she knows she’s hearing something new and fresh and it contains healing and a quenching of her inner pain of guilt, shame and brokenness.
Then Jesus has this word of knowledge about her past multiple relationships, and she recognises that He is some kind of prophet.
Now, we may not all be as confident to start telling people about their past. But we have all been given spiritual gifts to help strengthen, build up and edify others.
I don’t believe for a moment that Jesus mentioned the previous relationships to bring judgement against this women. But it was more likely that He was saying – I understand where you’re at – I get it that you’ve experienced a lot of heartache and pain.
But I also know that there’s a way to break free once and for all.
Your gift of love, mercy, compassion, discernment, prophesy, healing, helps…. Whatever it is that you can draw on at the time…. Let it flow through to those the Holy Spirit is connecting you with.
Jesus then let the woman direct the conversation towards more spiritual matters herself. And sometimes the best thing we can do when we’re sharing with people is to make room for them to ask the questions.
Interestingly enough in this case, her questions were about worship.
Jesus just spoke the truth, and in the end she couldn’t wait to go and tell all her family and village about what had happened.
What I’m trying to say is that people don’t normally get attracted to religion. They don’t necessarily get drawn to a church.
But they will engage with someone who cares about them and gives them some time.
There are a lot of people out there who are thirsty for the truth, for hope, for acceptance.
Jesus went to extraordinary lengths to meet with this woman from Sychar in Samaria. He had eyes to see her and to care about her eternal destiny.
Just like He cared about the sinful woman who washed His feet with expensive perfume.
Just like He spoke into the heart issues of the wealthy young man who asked Him what He should do to have eternal life.
New King James Version
18 Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
What an opening for Jesus to launch in with His message of the Kingdom. But what does He do? He asks the guy a question back?
19 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.”
Again – He is getting this young man to search out his own mind and heart. Why do you think I’m good? What is already going on inside you that causes you to seek after Me?
Jesus goes on then to tell him about keeping the commandments, but there’s a hunger and thirst within this man that knows there’s more to it than that.
So Jesus speaks straight to his heart – He speaks directly to the very thing that has become an idol in this young man’s life – his money. Jesus knew that it was his love for his riches that was hindering him in finding freedom within his soul.
New King James Version
“So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
23 But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.”
You can be rich – and it is an idol that is worshipped more than God. But you can also be rich and it has no power whatsoever over your faith and worship.
It’s not about how much money you have. It’s about what comes first!
Jesus discerned the man’s heart of idolatry. He loved him enough to tell him the truth.
The lesson here for us is not to go around telling every rich person they have missed the mark.
It is to ask the Holy Spirit to help us discern what fills a person’s heart – to know their fears, their hopes, their longings – because Jesus is all about the heart.
In my conversation with Matt the other day, I found him confirming – sometimes through tears – the theme of my message this morning. Of course it was more in relation to our relationship with Israel…. But it was very much about love and compassion and knowing God’s heart for people.
Well this scripture came up then:
New King James Version
“Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.”
Another version says:
The Passion Translation
“So above all, guard the affections of your heart,
for they affect all that you are. (That’s your identity)
Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being,
for from there flows the wellspring of life.”
We all have affections of the heart. It says a lot about who we are.
But that applies to every person walking on this planet.
And it’s out of the heart that all the issues of our life flow – like a spring of water bubbling up.
Part of our calling to carry the gospel to others is to pay attention to the welfare of their heart.
Jesus cares about the physically hungry and thirsty. When we minister to them in practical ways it’s as if we are doing it to Him.
But He most importantly cares about their spiritual position, and the healing for their souls.
For the guilty, He brings forgiveness.
For the rejected, He brings acceptance.
For the lonely and isolated, He brings His Father’s intimate love.
For shame, He brings His glory.
For curses, He brings blessing.
He covers our sins with His righteousness.
But you see – He has set us apart – you and I – to be His voice – His hands and feet – His ministers of reconciliation.
He feeds the poor, clothes the naked, visits the sick – through us!
What an incredible honour and privilege we have. We need to see it as an absolute joy!
I want to close with something that is kind of related to what I’ve been sharing this morning. It’s a letter written by a woman who was a Christian missionary to Iraq.
These few words are calling us to enlarge the place of our tent – lengthen our cords – strengthen our stakes – and to not spare. The very message that I started this year with.
This woman was violently killed in 2004 whilst still in Iraq. She asked that the letter be read upon her death.
She said: “I wasn’t called to a place; I was called to Him.”
She said: “The missionary heart – cares more than some think is wise, risks more than some think is safe, dreams more than some think is practical, expects more than some think is possible. I was called not to comfort or to success, but to obedience. There is no joy outside of knowing Jesus and serving Him.”
We are all missionaries. For most of us, our mission field is right here – our family, our neighbourhood, our town… But wherever we are called- as this woman has said – we are called to Him.
We’re closing with communion this morning.
Take a moment to unwrap those little packs sitting on your table.
Jesus, You came from heaven to rescue us – to take our place in death. You’re the only One who could – the perfect sacrificial Lamb.
But You are also the God of resurrection life.
And You have given us this incredible, eternal, life transforming gift.
Our prayer today Jesus, is that You would help us, by the power and Anointing of the Holy Spirit, to impart resurrection life to those around us.
Help us to care like you care – to have a heart after Your own heart.
Help us to step into the truth and reality of Your presence and Anointing in our lives – and claim also the prophetic words of Isaiah which You spoke about Yourself:
New King James Version
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty (freedom) to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are [b]oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
The Passion says – “I have come to share the message of Jubilee, for the time of God’s great acceptance has begun.”
Oh Lord, let our lives be that Message. Let the springs of water that flow from our own hearts be a reflection of who we are as sons and daughters of God.
As we take this bread and this cup – we receive You – we remember You – we celebrate You! And our greatest desire is to live for You.
In Jesus’ name.