"He that winneth souls is wise."
READING: EZEKIEL 18:20-25, 30-32
TEXT: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence; and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free Spirit. THEN will I teach transgressors Thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto Thee.” (Psalm 51:10-13)
[*] "There will be a meeting of the Board immediately after the service," announced the pastor. After the close of the service, the group gathered at the back of the auditorium for the announced meeting. But there was a stranger in their midst. He was a visitor who had never attended their church before. "My friend," asked the pastor, "did you understand that this is a meeting of the Board?" "Yes," said the visitor, "and after that sermon, I'm about as bored as you can get!"
[a] This morning, I mentioned that although it is the Lord’s will for us as Christians to be soulwinners, yet there are certain qualifications to be fulfilled.
[b] Let me quote to you our text for this evening..........
[c] The top priority, is that we have, created within us by the Lord, a CLEAN HEART!
[d] Often in the Army down through the years, people have spoken of ‘THE BLESSING OF A CLEAN HEART!’
[e] We mentioned this morning the words of Jeremiah 17:10, which states, “I the Lord search the heart.”
[f] The Singing Company song says, “If your heart’s right, you’ll do!”
[*] Unfortunately, all too easily, we can lose our way, and get so involved in the maintenance of the mechanics, that we forget the priorities. For example, the time, and effort we have, of necessity spent on fund raising, for this building.
[*] The crumbling, old church building needed remodeling, so the preacher made an impassioned appeal, looking directly at the richest man in town. At the end of the message, the rich man stood up and announced, "Pastor, I will contribute $1,000." Just then, plaster fell from the ceiling and struck the rich man on the shoulder. He promptly stood again and shouted, "Pastor, I will increase my donation to $5,000." Before he could sit back down, plaster fell on him again, and again he virtually screamed, "Pastor, I will double my last pledge." He sat down, and an larger chunk of plaster fell hitting him on the head. He stood once more and hollered, "Pastor, I will give $20,000!" This prompted a deacon to shout, "Hit him again, Lord! Hit him again!"
[g] We also mentioned the words of 1 Samuel 16:7, which says, “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
[h] To God, the heart is all-important - that is where spiritual living starts! It is where true service starts! It is where true commitment begins!
[i] We cannot live pure lives, if we have not got pure hearts! That has to be the starting point!
[j] Sometimes the face we put on, is not the true one, showing what's in our heart!
A woman invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to her six-year-old daughter and said, “Would you like to say the blessing?” I wouldn’t know what to say,” the little girl replied. “Just say what you hear Mommy say, “ the mother said. The little girl bowed her head and said, “Dear Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?”
[a] We are asking God to CREATE within us, this ‘clean heart’, which is an acknowledgement, firstly that we NEED IT, and secondly that HE, THE GREAT CREATOR HAS THE ABILITY TO PERFORM THE WORK!
[b] The fact of it being CREATED is also acknowledging that a MIRACLE needs to happen within us!
It’s not simply a cleaning job, with a bucket of spiritual flash and a mop - which is the picture some seem to conjure up - IT IS A COMPLETELY NEW HEART, WITH NEW DESIRES, NEW ABILITIES, A NEW CAPACITY TO LOVE, A NEW PURPOSE IN LIVING!
[d] God’s been doing heart transplants for many thousand years - so the thought is quite commonplace to the Christian.
[e] A clean heart is not within our own ability to bring about - it can only be done by the Lord!
[a] He also asks for a ‘RIGHT SPIRIT’ to be renewed within him!
[b] I think we all know what it means, when we speak of someone with a ‘bad spirit’ a ‘critical spirit’, or ‘an unforgiving spirit’.
[c] David was asking the Lord to re-program his thoughts, desires, attitudes to others etc. There’s an awful lot of Christians who need that!!
[d] Maybe you’re saying to yourself, I shouldn’t have those kind of feelings towards that person - or it’s wrong for me to have these thoughts.
[*] Just the other day, an officer was discussing with one of his soldiers, what to do with the basement under their hall. The soldier said, that was easy, just fill it in with concrete! The officer enquired if he envisaged any of the soldiery being left in the basement, when the job was being done!
[e] Perhaps YOU need to come before the Lord tonight, and ask Him to ‘RENEW A RIGHT SPIRIT WITHIN YOU’.
[a] In verse 11, David realises that he does not deserve anything from the Lord! He just deserves to be CAST AWAY!
[b] It’s true with every one of us - we are guilty Hell-deserving sinners who merit nothing!
[c] When we come to God we come totally dependant on His grace - it is ‘not of works’ as Paul told the Ephesians!
[d] David realises the need of the Holy Spirit, and asks that the Lord will not take Him away.
[e] Whatever you or I are, or become for God, is totally dependent on the work of His Holy Spirit in our lives.
WE COULD NOT EVEN CONTINUE AS CHRISTIANS WITHOUT HIS POWER AND SUPPORT DAY BY DAY
[a] In verse 12, David asks for the joy of his Salvation to be restored!
[b] As we have reminded ourselves previously, there is no one as miserable as the backslider, the Christian with sin in their life - THEY LOSE THE JOY OF BEING SAVED!
[c] It is essential that we have that joy restored in our lives, so that others may see it in place, and desire it for themselves!
[d] We don’t really want people to look at us, and say, ‘It must be some endurance test to be a Christian! How unhappy they look'
[e] Anyway, how could anyone try to enthusiastically share something that is nothing more than a memory to them?
[f] The last part of this verse, is a prayer for a willingness to obey the Lord and His will.
[a] THEN, AND ONLY THEN, WHEN ALL OF THAT HAS BEEN DEALT WITH, ARE WE READY TO BECOME SOULWINNERS FOR THE LORD!
[b] Often old-time Salvationists, would greet one another with "Is it well with your soul?" "Are you keeping well saved?" Or perhaps a simple, "How's your soul?"
[c] Well, How's your soul tonight? Is there a 'clean heart' created within you? Are you fulfilling the purpose for which you were saved? - Are you a soulwinner?
[d] If God has spoken to your heart - respond just now.
Songsters to sing 493 (688) as an appeal?