ANNOUNCEMENT: This is a supplemental study to my new book, “Winning The Battle Between The Heart And Mind.” This is an 11 lesson study with 52 weekly exercises for application. Can you name one thing God has asked us to DO and BE that doesn’t relate to the heart?
ARE YOU FOLLOWING CHRIST WITH ALL YOUR HEART? -J.J. Turner, Ph.D.
Have you ever heard this song?
YOU GOTTA HAVE HEART
Your gotta have heart
All you really need is heart
When the odds are saying you’ll never win
That’s when the grin should start
. . . . . . .
You’ve gotta have heart
Miles and miles of heart
Oh, it’s fine to be a genius, of course
But keep that old horse before the cart
First, you gotta have heart
. . . . . . . .
But we’re laughin’
‘Cause we’ve got heart
We’ve got heart
We’ve got heart
Have you ever sung this song?
IS THY HEART RIGHT WITH GOD?
Have thine affections been nailed to the cross
Is thy heart right with God?
Dost thou count all things for Jesus but loss?
Is thy heart right with God?
Is thy heart right with God,
Washed in the crimson flood,
Cleansed and made holy
Humble and lowly,
Right in the sight of God (of God)?
The three verses out of the late singer, composer and actress Peggy Lee’s song, You Gotta have Heart, while intended for any challenge we face in life, has an application to the spiritual heart.
E.A. Hoffman’s lyrics, Is Thy Heart Right With God? asks an eternally important question.
Question: Have you ever watched someone involved in an activity and it was obvious they didn’t have their heart in it? You could tell by the look on their faces, slowness of movement, low energy, and other overt signs. The words “half-hearted” or “going through the motions” are used to refer to such behaviors.
I have observed, as I’m sure you have, numerous occurrences of person’s involved in activities they didn’t really have their heart in:
- When my son was nine he joined a Pop Warner football team. He, like most boys wanted to be an NFL or college player. As I sat on the sidelines watching the boys practice I noticed several boys who obviously didn’t have their heart in wanting to play football. I witnessed one father grab his son, who obviously didn’t have his heart into football, and shaking him and screaming, “What’s wrong with you? That ball was in your hands and you dropped it! How are you every going to make it to the NFL with such dumb playing? You’d better get with the program.” To boy was sobbing as his father tortured him with words and a physical shaking.
- During my years of teaching and training men to become teachers, preachers, and missionaries, I have seen those who, for whatever reason, come to a preacher’s training school who it was obvious, when it came to actually doing the work in practice sessions, didn’t have their hearts in it. When I asked one student why he had come to school, he replied, “I need a job.”
- It was recently said about a political candidate after he had lost the election, “He really didn’t have his heart in it. He was just playing around, hoping he might win.”
- We’ve all seen waitresses and waiters slowly amble up to a table, sad-sack look of their faces, and ask, “What do you want?” They obviously didn’t have their heart into the work of serving others. Their careers were usually short lived.
- Sadly, I have seen numerous marriages break up because one or both spouses no longer, if they ever, had their hearts into making it work, During the initial saying of vows the heart was in pledging the “ till death parts us.” But somewhere on the marital highways the head took over.
- I have witnessed numerous people’s sign up for personal improvement classes, seminars, and workshops, only to lose interest in self-improvement. The same is true of online courses. Many enroll but many soon lose interest, their hearts are no longer interested in education.
- I have seen many men initially excited and inspired when volunteering to serve as church leaders, e.g. elders, deacons, teachers, song leaders, Bible class leaders, ministry leaders, etc., only to drop out, slack-up, and drag their feet because their hearts were no longer in leading.
- Among the saddest, and perhaps most tragic, occurrence of people demonstrating by their attitudes and behavior that their heart is not in what they are doing, are the Christians who have fallen into the nominal rut of lukewarmness. I could fill page after page with the names of Christians who once demonstrated a commitment to serving the Lord with their hearts, but now their hearts aren’t in it. Sadly, many have left the road of faithfulness.
Regardless of the direction we look, sooner or later, we will see people muddling through activities they don’t really have their hearts in. Why? Let’s not get sidetracked, which there is a place to study, into all the worldly applications of people muddling in things that don’t have their hearts in, and zero in on Christians.
HOW THE SPIRITUAL HEART FUNCTIONS:
It is essential to the proper exercise, care, and feeding of the spiritual heart that we have basic knowledge about how the heart functions. Here are some biblical fundamentals about how the spiritual heart functions in every area of our daily lives, especially in our attitudes and behavior. Study the following very carefully:
1. First, it must be remembered that God does not use one cookie cutter to mass produce the hearts of mankind. Each heart is one-of-a-kind like a fingerprint and DNA, thus an individual. The Psalmist wrote: “He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works” (Psalm 33:15).
2. The spiritual heart receives, processes, accepts or rejects, and decides a behavior based on thoughts: “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).This is why the apostle Paul gave us a thinking agenda (cf. Philippians 4:7-10).
3. The spiritual heart is impacted by feelings and emotions generated by thoughts expressed in self-talk. In explaining why he terrorized Christian, Paul said: “Indeed, I myself THOUGHT I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth… and being exceedingly enraged against the, I persecuted them even in foreign cities” (Acts 26:9-11).
4. The spiritual heart is aroused by words and messages it listens carefully to and believes is true. This happened to 3000 on the day of Pentecost: “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’” (Acts 2:37).
5. The spiritual heart is activated by WHAT it hears (Mark 4:24) and by HOW is hears (Luke 8:18). This relates to the attitude relative to the information being presented.
6. The spiritual heart has the capacity to harden itself by resisting or rejecting what is presented overtly as well as internally. This is illustrated by Pharaoh’s rejecting of ten messages from God—“Let My People God.” Over and over the king resisted and created a harder heart (cf. Exodus 7:13, 14).
7. The spiritual heart has a tendency to make decisions based on biases, prejudices, traditions, and personal values. This was clearly the case relative to why the Jewish leaders stoned Stephen to death. They couldn’t accept his message. Their minds were closed (Read Acts chapter 7).
8. The spiritual heart functions out of love for God, His word, others, and self; even one’s enemies (Mark 12:29-33; Matthew 5:43, 44; John 14:15).
9. The spiritual heart renders obedience to God’s commandments without argument: “But God be thanked that though you were slaves to sin, ye you obeyed from the HEART that form of doctrine to which you were delivered” (Romans 6:17).
10. The carnal heart that wars against the spiritual heart tries to condemn us, rob us of the assurance of our salvation: “For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved. If our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God” (1 John 3:20, 21; cf. Hebrews 4:12).
11. The spiritual heart has the capacity to be the receptacle for storing the word of God that can keep us from sinning, if we will obey and follow it: “Thy word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).
12. If not guarded, exercised, and properly fed, the spiritual heart will become the victim of Satan’s thievery—he will steal the word (Luke 8:11, 12). This in turn will create a pathway for carnal behavior and sin (cf. Luke 8:13-15).
13. The heart generates wishes, desires, and plans for today as well as for the future: “May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose” (Psalm 20:4).
14. It is in the heart that God helps us develop strength and courage to do His will: “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart; wait I say. On the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14; Isaiah 25:9). The key is to be patient.
15. It is in the heart that we develop and sustain our trust and praise in the Lord: ‘The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him” (Psalm 28:7).
16. As Christians we do ministry—works—not out of a merit system for earning our salvation. Works are the product of the spiritual heart. “Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity, of heart, as to Christ; not with eye service, as men pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God form the HEART” (Ephesians 6:5, 6).
THE ULTIMATE QUESTION RELATED TO THE HEART OF A CHRISTIAN:
QUESTION: Can you name ONE thing God in His word has asked us to BE and DO that isn’t related to the HEART?
I haven’t been able to find one in either category. Everything God desires, expects, and commands us to Do and BE is related to and dependent on the heart—the spiritual heart. Here is a brief list of some of the things God is expecting us to DO and BE:
1. “Blessed are the pure in Heart” (Matthew 5:8).
2. Glorify God in the church (Ephesians 3:21).
3. Walk by faith and not by sight (
4. Be faithful unto death (Revelation 2:10).
5. Obedience to God’s will (Hebrews 5:8, 9).
6. Bearing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25).
7. Having the attitude of Christ (Philippians 2:4-8).
8. Praying without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
9. Serving others (John 13:1-35).
10. Singing praise and worship to God (Ephesians 5:19; John 4:23-25).
11. Repentance which means to “have another mind” to “have a change of mind” Acts 17:30, 31; Luke 13:3, 5).
12. Living by “every word from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:1-6).
13. Benevolence and helping those in need (James 1:27; Galatians 6:10).
14. Being a non-conformist to the world (Romans 12:1, 2).
15. Control and proper use of the tongue (James 3:1-12).
16. Refraining and controlling a troubled heart (John 14:1-6).
17. Living an exemplary life before God and others (1 Timothy 4:12).
18. Following church shepherds and leaders (Hebrews 13:7, 17).
19. Supplying virtue, etc. out of faith (2 Peter 1:5-11).
20. Resisting the Devil and fighting evil (1 Peter 5:8, 9).
This is just a beginning list of some of the things we must DO and BE that flow from a spiritual heart.
POSSIBLE REASONS WHY CHRISTANS DON’T HAVE THEIR HEARTS IN SERVING GOD.
Here is the biblical reason for following the Lord with all our heart:
“Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that he had answered them well, asked Him, ‘Which is the first commandment of all?’ Jesus answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with ALL your HEART, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the FIRST commandment” (Mark 12:28-31).
Christianity is ALL about a Christian’s heart condition. Why would a Christian stop following Christ with all his/her heart?
Obviously, the only way you can really know why a Christian no longer has his/her heart in following God, Christ, and the Bible is to ask the believer. In additional to that here are some documented reasons why many Christians no longer, if they ever did, don’t have their hearts into following Christ:
1. They didn’t understand or count the cost of total commitment when they obeyed the Gospel (Romans 1:14-16; Matthew 16:24).
2. If in the beginning they had a deep love for the Lord, somewhere on the transformation journey it has grown cold (John 14:15; 15:14).
3. Something has happened, if they ever understood, the amazing blessing of forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28; John 1:29).
4. In their transformational journey they have strayed from the light of God’s word, the light of Christ in their hearts, and the light of fellowship (1 John 1:7).
5. Some no longer have their heart in following Christ because they feel like their interests and needs aren’t been served or met. They have a “what’s in it for me” concept of Christianity,
6. There are those who have reduced their wholehearted service to the Lord because that have drifted back into a carnal mindset (Colossians 3:1, 2; 1 Corinthians 2:14-3:3).
7. Then there are those who are no longer serving the Lord with all their hearts because in their perceptions the demands are too great, Much of it was caused by a legalistic and dogmatic approach to Christianity and twisting the Scriptures (cf. Mark 7:7, 9).
8. There are some Christians who don’t serve the Lord with all their hearts because they don’t believe in either a heaven or hell; oh many heaven but not hell. The idea of Judgment isn’t in their thinking (cf. Hebrews 9:27; Luke 16:19, ff).
9. Some have allowed Satan to water down their heart’s desire to serve the Lord with all their being (Luke 8:12-15; 1 Peter 5:8; Acts 5:1-9).
10. The tragedy of all tragedies is the loss of heart relative to serving God is because of being overtaken by sin. Judas was such a follower.
Why do you think some Christians reach the place they no longer follow Christ with all their hearts?
Do you have your heart 100 percent in the following behaviors as a Christians?
1. Serving God and others (James 1:27; Galatians 6:10)? [ ] Yes [ ] No
2. Your stewardship of time, money, and abilities (1 Corinthians 4:1, 2)? [ ] Yes [ ] No
3. Studying God’s word (2 Timothy 2:15, KJV)? [ ] Yes [ ] No
4. Applying and doing God’s word (James 1:22-27)? [ ] Yes [ ] No
5. Attending church services and meetings (Hebrews 10:24, 25)? [ ] Yes [ ] No
6. Growing into the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-17)? [ ] Yes [ ] No
7. Loving your brethren, enemies, and self? [ ] Yes [ ] No
8. Glorifying God in the church (Ephesians 3:21)? [ ] Yes [ ] No
9. Bearing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25)? [ ] Yes [ ] No
10. Having the attitude of Christ (Philippians 2:4-8)? [ ] Yes [ ] No
11. Living faithfully unto death (Revelation 2:10; Hebrews 11:6)? [ ] Yes [ ] No
12. Worshiping God in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-25)? [ ] Yes [ ] No
13. Speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)/ [ ] Yes [ ] No
14. Helping others bear their burdens (Galatians 6:1, 2)? [ ] Yes [ ] No
15. Singing with enthusiasm and meaning from the heart (Ephesians 5:19)? [ ] Yes [ ] No
30 DAY HEART AWARENESS, STUDY GUIDE, AND APPLICATION EXERCISE
Here is a list of Scripture references to numerous functions of the spiritual heart. The suggested plan is to study and apply one each day for a month. Be sure to include asking: (1) what does this mean to me? (2) How can I best apply it to my life? (3) Who do I need to share this with? And (4) pray for wisdom relative to how to benefit from this truth.
1. The heart is the seat of rational desires (Psalm 20:4).
2. The heart guides our mouths (Proverbs 16:23).
3. The heart confesses what is believed (Romans 10:9, 10).
4. The heart is the first place God evaluates a person (1 Samuel 16:7).
5. The heart is the storage and hiding place (1 Corinthians 4:5).
6. The heart is the producer of moral behavior (Mark 7:21-25).
7. The heart is the seat of conscience (Acts 2:37; 1 John 3:20).
8. The heart has the capacity to be deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9).
9. The heart is commanded to love God, first (Mark 12:28-34).
10. The word of God is lodged in the heart (Deuteronomy 30:14).
11. The heart produces emotions (Proverbs 15:13; 17:22).
12. The heart thinks and reasons (Proverbs 23:7; Matthew 9:4; Mark 2:8).
13. The heart remembers, reflects, and meditates (Psalm 77:5, 6; Luke 2:19).
14. The heart determines what is learned (Proverbs 2:2; Deuteronomy 6:6).
15. The heart is a tablet, a place to write (Proverbs 3:3; Jeremiah 17:1).
16. The heart is where belief occurs and is sustained (Romans 10:10; John 3:16).
17. The heart is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23).
18. The heart creates character (Luke 6:45).
19. The heart is where purpose is created (2 Corinthians 9:7; Acts 11:23)
20. Discouragement occurs in the heart (2 Corinthians 4:16).
21. In the heart is where we discern between right and wrong (1 Kings 3:9).
22. The heart has the power to convict you (2 Samuel 24:10).
23. The heart clears of guilt (Job 27:6).
24. Only a pure heart can see God (Psalm 24:4; Matthew 5:8).
25. The imagination is a product of the heart (Genesis 6:1-8; Luke 11:51).
26. Intentions occur in the heart (Hebrews 4:12; 1 Peter 4:1).
27. Perceptions occur in the heart (John 12:40; Ephesians 4:18).
28. The seat of physical life is in the heart (Acts 14:17; James 5:5).
29. The heart is the seat of trouble, grief, and worry (John 14:1; Romans 9:2; 2 Corinthians 2:4).
30. In the heart is where acceptable singing occurs (Ephesians 5:19).
If you want to continue this study with new and additional materials, I encourage you to get my book, “Winning the Battle Between the Heart and Head.” Available on amazon.com