Summary: The Sixth and Final Sermon in a post-Easter series on Love.
I begin this morning with this question…
(Slide 1) How healthy is your heart? I am speaking on two levels right now – the physical and the spiritual.
What do you know about your heart? That is, your physical heart?
From the Texas Heart Institute’s website, we learn the following about our human heart.
(Slide 2) It weighs between 7 and 15 ounces (16 ounces is one pound.)
(Slide 3) It is the size of our fist (Make a fist.)
(Slide 4) For a person who lives a long life it will beat up to 3.5 billion times.
(Slide 5) It pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood daily. (Now let’s see, gas is around $2.60/gallon and so 2,000 gallons at $2.60/gallon would be $5,200.00/day!)
What is required to keep this vital organ healthy? I checked several well-known websites and they said the same thing.
(Slide 6) Eat right and exercise.
Yet, there is another heart we need to care for just as much as our physical heart. It is our ‘spiritual’ heart. That part of us, which influences our decisions, values, and beliefs. Jesus had much to say about this heart.
In Mark 7:20-23 “It is the thought-life that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, eagerness for lustful pleasure, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness.”
When we began this series, we stopped at Matthew 22 where Jesus responds to a leading question, ‘“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” with a declaration about loving God with our heart, mind, soul, and strength and neighbor as self.
How do we, to extend this analogy (refer to slide 6) for our spiritual heart?
(Slide 7) I suggest this morning that we eat right by asking and allowing God to use the Bible, the Holy Spirit, and the all-important fellowship of the church to help us ‘eat right.’
Last July Newsweek magazine published an article entitled, ‘What Works.’ In the article, reporters Barbara Kantrowitz and Pat Wingert presented the findings of three of the ‘latest, greatest’ diet studies. What did they reveal about how to lose weight?
Keep a food diary. The article reported a study done by Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research that found that ‘diarists actually doubled their weight loss. Not only do they see how much they are eating, they also can spot problem areas…’
Deal with ‘weekend weakness.’ A study by Washington University indicated that Saturdays were difficult for a group of dieters. The suggestions offered to help combat the increased weekend food and calorie intake included weighing yourself daily and eating healthy before attending a party or other event where food is served.
Workplace weight loss programs. The article indicated that the ‘American Journal of Health Promotion found that work-based weight-loss programs were effective. In general, participants lost an average of 2.2 pounds to almost 14 pounds. Workplace programs also offer the advantage of a built-in support group since most employed adults spend almost half their waking hours at work. Many offer incentives to the most successful losers.’
How many here this morning have found or heard that being involved with tracking your eating, dealing with those challenging moments when eating is easy, and being a part of a support group has made weight loss easier?
Does not the same hold true in dealing with our inner heart or soul?
If we are to develop heart healthy habits so that our faith grows and we love God and self and neighbor in the Biblical way, do we not need to:
(Slide 8) Keep track of our spiritual diet by making the Bible a daily part of that diet?
In Hebrews 4:12 we read, “For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are.” That is a very potent statement!
But, if we want to know God’s will and seek guidance for our lives, if we want to have a healthy heart and thus a healthy love, the Bible must be a part of our daily life. We need to read, daily; think on it, daily; for God to use it to take root.
Now there are many good books to help us grow in our faith. And there are many good books that are interesting and helpful to read. But if we seek to develop and maintain spiritual heart health, the Bible needs to be a part of our daily ritual.
In doing so, God will help us keep track, if you will, of our what we are spiritually consuming that is not good for us to consume.
Today is Pentecost Sunday. It is the day that the Holy Spirit came, as Jesus said that He would, and filled those Jesus had told to wait with the power to proclaim the gospel message. Allowing the Holy Spirit to work in, through, and on us is another important way of developing a heart healthy faith and love. His power and presence is essential, very essential in the development of our soul.