Summary: God can chisel away at our hard hearts and replace them with a new heart.
“Removing the Heart of Stone”
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.
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?” Having a heart made of stone is not exactly something we should long for. 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.
The Bible teaches plainly that it really does matter what condition our heart is in, it really does matter what is inside of us. It goes beyond the things that we do, God is concerned about what we think and how we think.
In the movie Godfather III, mafia chief Michael Corleone meets with Cardinal Lamberto, reporting to the Cardinal that executives from the Vatican bank and even an Archbishop, have been involved in a massive case of fraud. After hearing this news Cardinal Lamberto moves to a fountain, withdraws a stone and says: Look at this stone. It has been lying in the water for a very long time, but the water has not penetrated it." He breaks the stone in two, shows the inside to Don Michael and continues, "Look. Perfectly dry. The same thing has happened to men in Europe. For centuries they have been surrounded by Christianity, but Christ has not penetrated. Christ doesn’t breathe within them."
Before our lives can change Christ has to penetrate through more than just your mind. Most people acknowledge the reality of God and the fact that Jesus is Lord, but it doesn’t always move from a head knowledge into the heart. Jesus needs to penetrate into the hearts of those who make up His church.
A little girl picked up a potato and said, "Look, Mommy, this potato is so big and nice, isn’t it?" Then the mother peeled it and cut it in half. How surprised was the little girl when she saw it all black and hollow in the middle.
There are many in the church like that. Outwardly they look great, they look like they are growing, they look healthy because they have all the outward signs of being a Christian, just like that potato had all the signs of being a good edible potato. Inwardly though many are rotten and hollow, and need Christ to take over inside them to make them clean. Jesus is the cure for a rotten inside.
One of the main functions of the prophets that God raised up was for them to call the people back to God. They would call the people to repentance, they would call the people to turn back away from their idols and false gods and turn back to the one true God. Ezekiel was one of those prophets.
Text: Ezekiel 11:1-19
I. How can you identify a hard heart?
When you go to the doctor for a persistent problem many times a diagnosis brings a lot of comfort. A lot of times it is relieving to finally learn what was causing all of the trouble so then you can look towards the next step, which is treatment of the problem.
This morning I hope that some people are able to identify a problem that may exist in their lives. In Psalms 139, David prayed, search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts, see if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. David’s prayer was essentially for God to reveal his faults and innermost inadequacies. I don’t believe that David was praying for the Lord to reveal his faults though, because he was overly excited by his own falleness. He wanted God to reveal to him the faults even of his heart to help him to correct the problem. That would give him a place to start.
Jesus was really hard on the Pharisees, and the main reason was because of their hardened stone hearts. It blows me away how people that possessed s much knowledge about God, and a people that did so much in the name of God, could have hearts as hard as they did. The Pharisees had hearts of stone. They could find joy in the disgrace of a woman caught in the act of adultery and take pride in the fulfillment of the law to stone her to death. They could look at the situations of Jesus doing good and find fault in them. Their hearts were made of stone. The hard hearted are not always the easiest to identify however. Just because a person is doing certain things that we think are good does not guarantee that their heart is not stone. Just because you come to church does not mean that your heart is not stone. Just because you read your Bible and pray does not mean that your heart is not stone. Just because you don’t drink, chew or go with girls who do does not mean that your heart is not hard. In fact, it was the people that were doing those things is Jesus’ day that he accused of having hard hearts made of stone. When I thought about hearts of stone a lot of names came to mind. I thought of people like Hitler, Bin Laden and other immoral people whose hearts were hardened from right from wrong. My name at times and many other names of people in the Lord’s church could be on that list as well though. Having a hard heart does not mean that you are an evil person; it doesn’t necessarily mean you are immporal. Maybe you are doing the right things, but your heart just feels cold. God calls us to more than just going through the actions. Perhaps today we you can make a diagnosis about the condition of your heart and the good news is that the problem is treatable and there is a cure that exists.