Softened Hearts

Has it ever occurred to you that God is a person?

Scripture: Mark 3:1-12


Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, dear radio friends. How in the world are you? You doing alright? Oh, I trust so. Bless your heart. I’m fine. Thank God for the privilege of being alive and able to broadcast the gospel– the blessed Word of God — to hearts that are hungry for that bread of life.

Jesus, our blessed Lord, as recorded in the third chapter Mark, has gone to church on the Sabbath day. And now, people are there not to share in the blessing, but they’re there to criticize. “They watched in that they might accuse Him”. Well, “He looked round about them”, it says, “with anger, being grieved, for the hardness of their hearts”. We were talking about that the last time we got together. Pharaoh hardened his heart because of what it would cost him to obey God. And the wise man says, “He that being often reproved hardeneth his heart”, and the unwillingness to go God’s way and to submit to His guidance and His discipline. On the part of the believer, leads to real chastisement, “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth”, the Bible says. If you’re going to be hardhearted toward the Will of God, you can be sure that God is going to deal with you lovingly, but in real discipline.

Small thought here about this word grieved. It says, “Being grieved for the hardness of their hearts”. Had you ever thought that your unwillingness to say yes to the Will of God hurts His feelings? Grieved. The Bible says, “Grieve not the Holy Spirit or by your seal until the day of redemption”. The Spirit of God can be grieved, He’s a person. The Lord Jesus was grieved, He’s a person. You hurt God’s feelings when you refuse His guidance, His will, His loving concern for you.

Now, you know how it feels to be hurt, don’t you? Somebody snubs you. Somebody that goes against the plans that you have made. Somebody leaves you out of the committee that’s appointed to do something important. Somebody forgets to say thank you when you’ve knocked yourself out to do a good job. Somebody perhaps lies about your misrepresents you — you feel hurt. Has it ever occurred to you that God, a person — we’re made in the likeness of God. It says we’re persons. He’s a person. He gets His feelings hurt. He feels bad about you. He’s God, He’ll get His will done. God is sovereign. My old for theology prof, Dr. Champion, in the seminary used to say, “God will have His Will done either with you or without you”. Oh, how he thundered that at us. Yes, God is sovereign, I know that. And His will ultimately will prevail. You and I know that. But when we say no to Him — when we decide to go our own way — when we refuse the pleadings of His indwelling Holy Spirit, it hurts your Lord. Want to think about that the next time you’re tempted to be selfish? I think it will make a difference in the way you and I react to the guidance of God’s Spirit being grieved, it said, “for the hardness of their hearts.”

Well He said to the man, “Stretch forth thine hand”. The obedience of faith. God asks you to do something that ordinarily you wouldn’t do. And when you obey, He does the miracle. Now, I can’t say what that’s going to mean in your life because I don’t know your circumstances. But I know the principle applies. When you’re praying about a given situation or problem or need, God the Holy Spirit, who in dwells within the believer, will whisper to your heart something that you ought to do. One of the ruling principles of my life has always been: when you pray, listen for what God has to say that He wants you to do next. When you pray in faith, there is always a next step — as He is in the light we have fellowship one with another. There is always a next step when you pray in faith, will you remember that? And so you listen for the direction of God, concerning that next step of faith and obedience.

For this man, the first thing was to go to church. The second thing was to realize the Savior was there. The third thing was to obey when He called him out, “Stand forth”. And he said, “There he was” — and now, the next step for him was to make a conscious effort to use that hand which had been useless –for who knows how many years. And he said, “He stretched it out in his hand was restored, whole as was the other”. The obedience of faith. What is God asking you to do as you pray?

My dear friend Ben Weiss is now with the Lord. But for many years, he was a counselor and a friend and sort of a mentor to me. A former principal of a large high school in Los Angeles, and a dear man of God. I was talking with him one time about this very thing and I said, “You know when you’re praying about a need, what happens?” Oh he said, “Very frequently, God lays somebody else’s work on my heart and I go home and write a check for them”. Isn’t that interesting? He said, “Often times when I’ve been praying about our own work” — he was head of the Christian Teachers Fellowship there for many years — he said, “When I’ve been praying about the needs of our own work, God lays somebody else’s work on my heart and I go home and write a check and send it to them”. Then he said, “God always supplies the need”. Well, I don’t know what God may suggest to you, but I know this: often times, when I’ve been in prayer, God has suggested to me in that wordless language of the soul of the Holy Spirit of God uses, God has suggested to me certain courses of action, which when I followed them, were productive. The best advertising ideas I ever got when I was doing all the advertising for Youth for Christ, came out of prayer meetings. Some of you old-timers may remember the mixed metaphor that we used in the advertising of Youth for Christ in those days, “Geared to the times, but anchored to the Rock.” Every grammar and English teacher in the world groaned, I’m sure, about that mixed metaphor, but it was descriptive — and I have to tell you, it came to me while we were praying one day about needs and what to do about promoting and advertising and I was in charge and so I was praying earnestly for my own responsibilities. And that phrase came to me. Oh, ideas for action come out of willingness to obey. Ideas for action, come out of willingness to obey. Listen to what your Lord is saying to you. When you pray, always have a little notebook handy and a pen or pencil so that you can jot down the ideas that come to you. Because the action — the obedience of faith — opens the door for God to do the miracle that only He can do.

Simon Peter said, “We are His witnesses of these things and so is also the Holy Ghost whom God hath given to them that obey Him”. Alright? So, “The man stretched out his hand and it was healed, it was restored, whole as the other”. Oh, by the way, when God does anything in your life it is complete. W-H-O-L-E, means complete. God doesn’t do any halfway jobs in your life. “Ye are complete in Him”, Paul says to us in the letter to the Colossians. “The fullness of Him that filleth all in all”. You can have everything that you need, “Christ is made unto us”, Paul said to the Corinthians, “Christ is made unto us, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption”. Everything you need is in Christ.

When God does something in your life, He does a thorough complete job — trust Him for it. Well, was there rejoicing because the man was healed? Not at all. If you go to church to criticize, you will miss the blessing, it’ll go right by you. I asked somebody one time years ago, “Did you enjoy the revival?” He said, “What revival?” He’d missed it. There wasn’t any consciousness of blessing at all in that person’s heart because he wasn’t in a mood to be blessed.

So, what did they do? The Pharisees went forth and took counsel with the Herodians against Him. Now, these people never talked to each other, otherwise. Pharisees and the Herodians were a political party who believed that you ought to submit to the domination of Rome in order that your nation might prosper. I’m oversimplifying their position, but that’s about what it was. Herod, the king — they call themselves the Herodians. We are for the present administration — in other words, they would’ve said. The Pharisees were people who were intensely nationalistic as well as being thoroughly committed to all of their hundreds and hundreds of religious traditions and rules. They were self-righteous, they were nationalistic, they had no time for people who are willing to kowtow to the domination of the Roman Empire. And so normally these people didn’t have anything to do with each other, but it says they took counsel with the Herodians against Him, on how they might destroy Him.

David Morkan said to me many years ago said, “Bob, unbelief cannot rest until it is organized in opposition to God”. And I think that’s a true statement if ever there was one. Unbelief cannot rest until it is organized in opposition to God, “They took counsel how they might destroy Him”. Well it says, “Jesus withdrew Himself with the disciples to the sea and a great multitude from Galilee followed Him from Judea and Jerusalem and Idumea, and from beyond Jordan and from Tyre and Sidon. A great multitude. They came and so he said, let’s go out in a little boat here so that the multitude wouldn’t mob us, for He healed many and they pressed upon Him to touch Him, as many had plagues and unclean spirits when they saw Him fell down before Him and cried saying, ‘Thou art the son of God’, and He straightly commanded them, they should not make Him known. Then He went up into a mountain and called His disciples and ordained them to be with Him”.

Let’s just think for a moment — about what we just read here. “Jesus withdrew with His disciples to sea. The people came to Him, they pressed upon Him, wanted to touch Him. The unclean spirits, when they saw Him, fell down and cried ‘Thou art the son of God’”. What is all that? Number one: wherever the Lord Jesus is, people will gather. Where He is in power, people will gather.

Now, I believe in promotion. I’ve done a good deal of advertising in my time, as some of you know. I like to do direct mail and I like to do advertising and promotion –still do. But having said that, you know that the real draw — as we say — is the activity of Almighty God in people’s hearts. And when the word gets around that Jesus is doing something, folk are going to come to see what happened. I remember the church where there was a time of revival on a Sunday morning in the Chicago area. And the people were confessing their sins and getting right with God. And one man who had never been a tither had gotten convicted about it and he emptied the entire contents of his checking account gave it to the pastorate — it was a check in four figures. The dear pastor fainted, but recovered in time to grab the check, I’m sure. And there was a great time a revival. The meeting was a Sunday morning meeting — it lasted until 1:30 in the afternoon as people were getting right with God. You know what happened? That night the church was full and every night thereafter for two solid weeks. With no evangelist or no advertising, the revival was on because people heard that God was doing something. Oh, let the Lord Jesus begin to work in your life beloved, and you’ll find you get plenty of attention from hungry hearts all around you.

Dear Father today, may our hearts be tender toward Thy will. May the Holy Spirit have His way in our lives. And may people know that Jesus is working in us, Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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