Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: The stone heart is resistant to God, the heart of flesh, created by God is open to and led by him. We need a change of heart from hard, resistant stone to soft, Spirit-pliable flesh.

1. Dinosaur Heart

It was 103°F in Hell Creek, South Dakota, one day in September 1993. Dinosaur hunter Michael Hammer was amazed at what he saw. Sticking out of the ground were the remains of a Thescelosaurus, a plant-eating dinosaur. The skeleton was almost complete. Hammer says he knew right away that it was "very special." Scientists reported that inside the dinosaur's chest was what seems to be a stone heart--the first dinosaur heart ever seen.

a. Having a stone heart usually is not a good thing. Cher had a line in a song that said: "don't you wish sometimes you had a heart made of stone?"

b. Having a heart made of stone is not exactly something we should long for.

2. We see that in the book of Ezekiel the prophet was calling the exiled people of Israel back to the living God. He spoke of their hearts that had been turned to stone. Ezekiel 36.22-32 (especially verse 26)

3. God changes hearts -- from stone to flesh

I. How to Know a Heart of Stone

A. Lack of Compassion -- Shepherds in Ezekiel 34

1. Refusal to Give to charity

A highly successful businessman was once asked to make a substantial donation toward an urgent charity appeal. The businessman listened to the case presented then said, "I can understand why you approached me. Yes I do have a lot of money, and yours is an important cause. But are you aware that I have a lot of calls upon my money? Did you know my mother needs 24 hour nursing care?"

"No we didn't" came the reply.

"Did you know my sister is struggling to raise a family of eight on her own?"

"No we didn't" came the reply.

"Did you know I have one son in a drug rehab clinic and another doing voluntary work overseas?"

"No we didn't"

"Well, if I don't give them a cent, what makes you think I'll give it to you?!"

2. Today -- Cecil the Lion vs. Baby Parts

B. Overwhelming Sense of Self -- Cain

1. Pride and the inability to admit wrong; repent

2. Self-gratification -- "My Way"

3. Selfish Ambition -- Obsessed with success

Possessions, Material

George Washington Truett was a preacher in Dallas for 47 years. He once visited a wealthy West Texas rancher and had dinner in his huge ranch home. After dinner, the rancher took Dr. Truett up to a veranda on top of his house, and lit up a big cigar. The sun was setting, and if you've ever been to West Texas, you know you can see a long way out there. The man pointed to the south toward some oil rigs and said, "I own everything in that direction as far as you can see." He pointed east toward some cotton fields and said, "And I own everything in that direction, too." He pointed north toward a huge herd of cattle and bragged, "And, preacher, I own everything as far as you can see in that direction." He turned to the west, and said, "And I own everything you can see in that direction, except the sun, of course."

Dr. Truett turned to the man and pointed straight up the sky and said, "And how much do you own in that direction?"

It's a sobering question for all of us. We are surrounded constantly by the "things" of this world, and it is so easy to think that these "things" are the things that matter most -- a nice car, a nice home, nice clothes (and don't forget all the necessary electronic gadgets!). And so, if we're not careful, we may seek to accumulate more and more, without regard to our relationship with God. As the rich fool discovered in Luke 12, we will all one day be forced to recognize that the material things we have accumulated have no eternal value.

Jesus said, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21).

How much do you own in that direction?

C. Deceived by Sin -- Hebrews 3.23-13

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

1. It does matter what we think and do -- there are far-reaching consequences

2. Sin is addictive and leads to more

3. The heart of stone is impacted by the externals (heat and cold) -- worldly standards are not God's standards -- you shall know that I am the LORD. For you have not walked in my statutes, nor obeyed my rules, but have acted according to the rules of the nations that are around you." Ezekiel 11.12

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