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Summary: The Kingdom of God is not based on Doctrines it is based on matters from the heart.

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THE HEART OF THE MATTER

Deuteronomy 6:1-9

New International Version (NIV)

Love the Lord Your God

6 These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. 3 Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.

4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Mark 12:28-34

New International Version (NIV)

The Greatest Commandment

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[b] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c] There is no commandment greater than these.”

32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

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I want you to understand the significance of the human heart today. We beat around the bush if we do not address the natural inclination of our hearts. Firstly, Jesus said that 'out of the heart come evil thoughts, lies, murder, slander, adultery' (Matthew 15: 19). Secondly, God said that he intended to replace our hearts of stone and give us new hearts - hearts of flesh that will happily obey him (Ezekiel 36:26). I am going to add a third: modern neuroscience has found that the human heart has 40,000 times more electrical energy than the brain. It now speaks of 3 brains: the brain itself, the heart brain which it considers the most significant, and the stomach or bowels as a brain.

(Science now speaks of a stomach brain. This is due to the immense number of neurons located in the gut and around the heart. The enteric nervous system contains around 100 million neurons, which is more than in the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system.This illustrates why we experience what we call ‘butterflies in the stomach’ (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=gut-second-brain&print=true). The bowels are where we experience the feeling of compassion. Compassion is derived from two latin words that combined mean ‘to suffer with.’ The greek words which it translates are Splanchthna and Splanknizdomia. These express a bodily reaction to the needs of others. They depict the bowels as the seat of compassion. They literally mean to have a gut feeling about something, particularly for another person’s needs. All strong emotions have an organic association. In other words we tend to feel an emotion in a certain part of our body.)

The heart and stomach are far more intuitive. What I wish to highlight by mentioning neuroscience is that 'The Bible' has always referred to the heart as the core of our being. If we do not address the condition of our hearts we live in denial of the seriousness of our human condition. Hence I have chosen as a thematic statement for this sermon: 'The Heart of the Matter.' I am only going to consider three aspects of The Heart of the Matter: The heart of our wellbeing; the heart of the kingdom; the heart of the home.

THE HEART OF OUR WELLBEING

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