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Get A New Heart!

(15)

Sermon shared by Daniel Habben

September 2002
Summary: Get A New Heart! 1) A heart that recognizes its own sinfulness 2) A heart that treasures Godís forgiveness
Denomination: Lutheran
Audience: General adults
Sermon:
With it beating an average of 100,000 times a day itís surprising that the heart doesnít give out more often than it does. After all, have you ever heard of a car engine that ran 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 70 years without the need of a tune-up? Still, there are times when the human heart goes bad from lack of exercise, failure to eat right, or bad genetics. In some cases the heart may be so damaged that a new one is needed.
How is your heart feeling this morning? Is it beating with strong regular intervals, delivering an adequate supply of oxygen throughout your body? Even if you havenít had so much as a heart flutter, God tells us this morning that we all need a new heart. Of course heís not talking about this thing beating inside of us, heís talking about an attitude. God wants us each to have a heart, an attitude, that recognizes its own sinfulness and treasures Godís forgiveness. If we donít have such a heart we are to get one because itís a matter of eternal life or death.

Although they didnít know it, the people of Ezekielís day were badly in need of such a heart transplant. Ezekiel lived through the second sack and deportation of Jerusalem and was among those carried off to Babylon. He had the task of telling the Jewish exiles that Jerusalem and the temple would be completely destroyed because of their sins.
The people, however, werenít willing to admit that their sin had brought this judgment. Instead of repenting they quoted the following proverb: ďThe fathers eat sour grapes, and the childrenís teeth are set on edgeĒ (Ezekiel 18:2). What the exiles were saying is that since it was their fathers who had eaten the sour grapes, why should they, the children be left with the bad aftertaste? In other words why should they be punished for sins their fathers were guilty of?
Now it was true that their fathers had been guilty of thoroughly turning away from the Lord. Forty years earlier, King Manasseh had led the people to commit more sins than the Canaanites before them (2 Chronicles 33:9). He not only sacrificed his own children to idols but also filled the Lordís temple with foreign gods and killed Godís prophets. Tradition says that Manasseh even had the prophet Isaiah sawed in two (2 Chronicles 33)! In contrast to their fathers, hadnít they, the people of Ezekielís day, returned to the Lord under King Josiah? Hadnít they started celebrating the Passover again and faithfully offered their sacrifices? How could Ezekiel claim that it was their sin and not their fathersí that had brought about this calamity?
Yes, King Josiah had brought about a reformation destroying the idols his grandfather Manasseh had made, but unfortunately this was a superficial reform for not everyone appreciated what Josiah did (2 Chronicles 36). While the people of Ezekielís day may not have been sacrificing their children to the idol Molech, they were guilty of bringing their sacrifices to God out of a sense of duty, not love and thankfulness, and their weekday lives didnít match their weekend worship. They cheated on their spouse, they harbored grudges against their neighbours, and they lied to get things done. No, the people of Ezekielís day were not without guilt and the worst part of it was they didnít recognize it and blamed others for the hardship that they had brought upon themselves.
The sad thing is that our heart is not any better.
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